APAC’s top freelance talent network and workflow app for content teams ContentGrow released a fresh study it conducted titled “The State of APAC’s Freelance Writer Economy 2021.” The tech company surveyed 1,200 freelance writers and journalists across seven key markets on the bloc: Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, China, India, and Australia.
The report includes actionable intel on things like rates, languages, and popular niches for content teams, brand marketers, and publishers alike. It also proves useful for regional freelancers whose livelihoods are built upon the local gig economy. All respondents claim to be operating in a part-time or full-time capacity as freelance writers or journalists in 2021.
According to ContentGrow’s data, when asked what their minimum acceptable rate for a 500-word piece of written content was, freelancers in Singapore and Australia revealed themselves to be the most expensive in the region at a range of US$100 to US$300.
Interestingly, those in Hong Kong and China price themselves more moderately, on average, at US$50 to US$100. Meanwhile, freelancers in Indonesia, the Philippines, and India quoted far more modest prices at US$15 to US$30.
ContentGrow noticed a strong correlation between how freelancers in each market tend to price themselves and the strength of the local currency against the US dollar (e.g. at the time of this writing, the SGD and AUD are an exact match).
When asked how many languages they operate in for client service, Singapore and Australia were once again in near lock-step. 72% of freelancers in Singapore said they use English only, while 28% claimed to use two languages or more. In Australia, 70% reported using English, only, while 30% claimed to use two languages or more.
43% of those in India reported using English only. In Hong Kong, 29% claimed to serve clients in English only, while in the Philippines and Indonesia, the figures were 18% and 11% respectively.
When asked which top three categories they seek to create content in, respondents in the region heavily favored the ‘lifestyle’ niche. Interestingly, even as the pandemic persists in 2021, many freelance content professionals in APAC still brand themselves as travel writers (likely because it’s the category where most of their past work samples come from).
In Singapore, the most popular categories among freelancers were Lifestyle (23.7%), followed by Luxury (7.5%), and Travel (7.2%). In the Philippines, category preferences were nearly identical -- Lifestyle (24.2%), Luxury (12.1%), Travel (9.1%). Preferences in Indonesia varied slightly, with the most popular category being Lifestyle (20.7%), followed by Travel (10.3%) and then Fashion (4.1%).
In Hong Kong, the preferred categories were Lifestyle (28.8%), Marketing (8.2%), and Entertainment (8.2%). China reported Travel (23.1%), Lifestyle (11.5%), and Science (11.5%). India’s freelancers said they favored Lifestyle (14.8%), followed by Travel (12.1%) and then Technology (10.8%).
Australia was an outlier in terms of topic preference, with freelancers indicating Marketing as their top choice (16.7%), followed by Finance (9.4%) and Travel (9.3%).
Average pricing per category
Looking at all freelance respondents across different categories in APAC, ContentGrow arrived at an average price per 500-word assignment in each category.
Lifestyle carried an average price tag of US$62.39 per story. Marketing was just a hair behind at US$62.38. Finance came in third place at US$60.32 per story, while Luxury stories were priced at an average of US$56.96. Technology clocked in at US$56.07 per story, while Fashion garnered US$55.35 on average. Travel was priced the cheapest at an average of US$50.67 per story.
When asked what their core writing disciplines were (being allowed to choose more than one), 60% of respondents claimed to have pre-existing journalism skills, while 28% said they were competent in copywriting. 19% mentioned branded content as a forte, while 9.4% said they had experience in B2B and technical writing. Only 9.1% said they had pre-existing experience in public relations (PR).
Average pricing per discipline
On average, freelance writers in APAC priced a 500-word piece of branded content at US$82.67. Meanwhile, while there were fewer folks who claimed to specialize in PR, the ones who did gave an average rate of US$79.94 per press release. At the same word count, copywriting averaged US$64.33, while B2B and technical writing averaged US$63.09. Interestingly, while a great many freelancers in APAC named journalism as a core competency, the average rate they stated was the lowest at US$61.17.
- While markets like the US have become fairly standardized, APAC's freelance writing and journalism market is the antithesis of homogenized.
- Components like rates, languages, core competencies, and topic preferences are highly fragmented among the region's freelancers.
- Freelance writers and journalists in Singapore and Australia command some of the highest rates in APAC, while those in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines are the most affordable to work with.
- The majority of writers in Singapore and Australia serve clients in one language, while those in other countries operate multilingually.
- The region's freelancers overwhelmingly seek to work with clients that commission lifestyle-related content.
- There’s an interesting consensus among the APAC's freelancers that they can charge the most for branded content and PR. Meanwhile, they tend to price journalism, copywriting, and B2B content relatively cheaper.
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