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The freelance revolution is 'growing': Publicist CEO

Lara Vandenberg, Publicist CEO & Founder joins Yahoo Finance's Zack Guzman to discuss the state of the freelance work force amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: Obviously, in this pandemic, we've been highlighting on the show the increasing number of job losses here in terms of historical precedent in the pandemic. And obviously, you can look at that as a negative, but perhaps, as a new employer or a new employee looking for jobs here, potential silver linings in the flexibility that other opportunities out there tied to the freelance market might offer.

And it's the focus in today's Road to Recovery segment presented by International Well Building Institute, taking a look at the freelance market and how the pandemic has influenced the jobs specifically tied to that. And joining us now is Lara Vandenberg, Publicist CEO and founder. Now the company is interesting, as an online marketplace to source premium pre-vetted marketing and communications experts on demand.

And Lara, I mean, talk to me about what you're seeing in terms of the trends because it does seem like a lot of freelance opportunities out there are getting nabbed up right now by a lot of people looking for jobs.

LARA VANDENBERG: Yeah, and thanks for having me, Zack. So what we're seeing-- and we were actually seeing it before COVID, but COVID has really accelerated it. What we were expecting to happen in three years happened in three months.

And, you know, earlier in the pandemic, we saw brands, both big and small, really downsize their marketing team. So we saw brands layoff a lot of specialists and really keep the generalists as it pertains to advertising and public relations agencies. A similar thing happened when brands downsized the scopes of work.

So we saw a lot of incredible advertising and marketing talent in the market. And then media houses, I mean publishing companies, the same thing happened. So there is a surplus of unbelievable communications and marketing talent in the market right now that have found themselves as first-time freelancers or consultants in between jobs.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, and it's surprising to see how large of a chunk of the economy this is. When you look at the recent report from Upwork, another one of those freelancing giants, they are around 35% of the US workforce. 57 million people are freelancers here. It seems like a big piece of the pie that might get overlooked in terms of what we're seeing play out in some big corporations.

So when it comes to maybe the demographic and how that's changed here in 2020, where do you expect the size of that to go here beyond this year?

LARA VANDENBERG: Yes, so I actually think that statistic of 36% or 37% was actually February of this year. And so, right now, you're right, everyone is trying to figure out the state of the freelance revolution. And the fact is that it's large and it's growing.

And we're seeing public marketplaces like Upwork expanding, from their revenues to their talent pool to the size of their clients. And so I only think that we're going to see that grow drastically from both general and niche marketplaces.

ZACK GUZMAN: And for those people who might be looking to freelance for the first time here, the pro/cons, people might push back and say, oh, you don't get those benefits tied to traditional employment. But you also get the freedoms of maybe working on your own schedule here. So what does that look like maybe when you highlight how it's different than a traditional 9 to 5?

LARA VANDENBERG: Yeah, and we're seeing a lot of it. I mean, a lot of these people are finding themselves-- they've had 20 and 30-year careers, and for the first time in their career, they are out of work and freelancing. And I think the increased flexibility, being able to select your own clients, work from home, you know, we're seeing big trends in seasonal labor where you can pick up jobs when you want them and then relax when you want to as well.