Research by the University of Southampton in conjunction with IPSE found that mobile technologies are enabling freelancers to work more flexibly than ever before. The study which involved 549 freelancer professions also found that social media is becoming increasingly important in marketing and networking.

Freelancers indicated that mobile technologies are crucial for running their businesses, particularly for those working in business and finance occupations as they work from varying workplaces or do not have a fixed workplace at all. The research showed that freelancers use mobile devices for a variety of tasks, most commonly for collecting information, accounting and data processing and presentation.

Social media is regarded as important for the work and business by 53% of freelancers, and particularly by those in engineering professions and IT professions.

Freelancers are selective in what social media platform they use for their work and business, on average they use 1.6 platforms. LinkedIn is by far the most relevant platform, used for networking across a range of professions. Having a LinkedIn profile is a requirement for securing contracts in engineering and IT professions, and it allows displaying details of clients’ testimonials, references and recommendations.

Twitter is the second most frequently used social media network, largely for gathering information, and less so for networking and marketing. Facebook, YouTube and Google+ are used by a notable amount of freelancers, for networking, marketing purposes and raising brand awareness. Even though Facebook and Google+ are less often used by freelancers than LinkedIn or Twitter, those freelancers who do use them, value social media platforms greatly for their business because they help maintain existing business contacts.

The executive summary of the report can be downloaded from the CRSE's research library. 

Please contact the authors at D.Reusche@soton.ac.uk or A.H.Wilkins@soton.ac.uk in order to obtain the full report.