Latest SAFREA Report Reveals Difficult Realities of South African Freelancers

20 Apr 2018
Latest SAFREA Report Reveals Difficult Realities of South African Freelancers

The Southern African Freelancers’ Association (SAFREA) has released their second annual SA Media Freelance Industry and Rates Report, which provides up-to-date insights on the country’s freelance media industry. The overall picture, despite positive for a fraction of freelancers, shows that the majority of freelancers are not thriving.

Compiled from the responses of almost 400 freelancers, the report, in SAFREA’s words, “aims to understand the nature of the industry and identify some the challenges – and opportunities – for freelancers working in media and communications in South Africa.” It also rates trends for various media disciplines, “including writing and editing, graphic design, social media, and photography” – a useful pricing and benchmarking tool for freelancers.

SA’s freelance media sector, according to the report, is dominated by women, with a majority older than 30 years old, and are concentrated around Gauteng and the Western Cape. Most work is produced for digital and online platforms. While freelancing provides media professionals with “a channel […] to remain economically active” during a time of high unemployment, the economic reality for most freelancers is a troubled one.

Many rates for freelance services have remained unchanged since last year, with some even dropping. The average income for most freelancers is still less than R10000 per month. (Less than 10% of freelancers, the report states, make more than R40000 per month.) This is despite, as the report shows, that “freelancers are highly educated and skilled”: 48% of respondents hold a Bachelor’s or Honours degree (or similar); more than 16% have a Masters. More than half of respondents have more than 10 years’ experience in their speciality.

“Our last report (2016/2017) revealed the average freelancer income to be less than R10,000 a month. It’s disappointing to see that this is still the case,” said SAFREA Chair, Meneesha Govender, in the report. “We know that our economy is struggling and everyone is affected, but the fact that rates for many media services remain unchanged is a concern. This has been a stagnant trend for too long.”

SAFREA continues to profile freelancers as highly skilled, professional consultants who must be viewed as an alternative channel to a highly skilled labour force which can add value to businesses and the economy.

“With the gig economy on the rise and freelancers set to become the workforce of the future, it is time to take the ‘free’ out of freelancing. SAFREA is committed to advocating for, and supporting, freelancers so that they don’t just survive, but actually thrive,” concludes Govender.

The full report may be found here.