What the Wall Street Journal Did Not Tell You About The Freelance Market


Last week the Wall Street Journal published a story on the robust freelance market for software developers. I was interviewed for the article and was happy to provide insights to the reporter on the trends, pay and demand for software developers. It’s a topic that can be discussed extensively. Indeed, we have written about its dynamics here, here and here.

But there are only so many column inches available each day and the Wall Street Journal left out a few key points that I thought deserved further observation and clarification.

First of all, the article was only interested in freelancers in the United States, and by only focusing on the highest possible rates that exclusive developers could theoretically make, overstated the money that could be made. When the reporter asked what hourly rates I thought freelance coders could make, I said that talented, experienced developers could make $100 to $200 per hour. If you know how to market yourself and have other important skills like time management and client communication, you can easily make more than you would by working a traditional full-time job for a company. In the Wall Street Journal article, this became “easily make up to $200 an hour.” I don’t believe this is the case, because you do need to work hard to earn rates that high and keep yourself booked with client work.

Additionally, when U.S. companies are hiring freelance developers that are working remotely, they have access to other markets besides the U.S. where rates are much more affordable. If you are willing to work with developers in countries Latin America (Colombia, Brazil and Argentina for example), costs can easily be 50% less. If you can find the right freelancers who have strong communication and technical skills, the productivity is similar. For startups this can save precious capital and double a company’s runway.

I appreciate that the Wall Street Journal covered this story, however, forward-thinking companies are considering not only the U.S. freelance market, but also taking advantages of international marketplaces like Scalable Path to source the best talent for the lowest price.

  • JP Stones

    Great point. The US centric viewpoint is too narrow with such a global industry.