Hush Naidoo is a freelance photographer and vice-chairperson at Safrea.
- Photographer and Safrea vice-chair Hush Naidoo says freelancing could help reduce SA's high unemployment rate.
- Galegake Rakgokong, a freelance videographer and photographer, says freelancing should be compulsory for unemployed people.
- Pretoria-based Onalerona Seane said freelancing allowed him to work on different projects and have several income streams.
Photographer Hush Naidoo says freelancing could reduce South Africa's high unemployment rate, which was 32.9% of the population in the first quarter of this year.
Naidoo is the vice-chair of the Southern African Freelancers' Association (Safrea) and a freelancer with over 30 years of experience.
He told News24 that in the face of high unemployment and scarce full-time employment opportunities, freelancing could see more skilled and qualified people earn an income, build their profiles and learn valuable lessons along the way.
He said the high unemployment climate meant people needed to take the initiative, create opportunities and be willing to start small.
“Young people come out of varsity and want to walk into a company and be the CEO. They don't want to start at the bottom, working for as much as they can make in that job,” he said.
Naidoo said there was a need to educate young people about the different aspects of freelancing, including invoicing, tax compliance, networking and finding work.
He said the young people he had come across had the necessary skills but did not understand what it meant to start and maintain consistency in freelancing. He said freelancing was similar to running a company.
You can't just approach a brand and ask to work for them. They will ask if you are tax compliant, for example. These are things that are never discussed with youngsters in varsity. Our freelancers don't understand that they need a business side and a creative side.
Naidoo said Safrea published annual rate reports to help new and aspirant freelancers better understand how to conduct their businesses and charge in line with industry rates without “killing the market”.
“We interview 500 and 1 000 freelancers to get their input. Young freelancers look at the rate of R1 000 per hour but want to charge R200 per hour. This kills the industry. We have a fair rate they can use while they build themselves up,” he said.
Galegake Rakgokong, a freelance videographer and photographer, said freelancing should be compulsory for unemployed South Africans.
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Rakgokong has been freelancing since 2017, after he lost his full-time job.
He said freelancing enabled him to maintain relevance in the job market.
He said waiting for a job instead of freelancing was a recipe for disaster considering South Africa's high unemployment rate.
“It's better to freelance than to be unemployed. It's not easy getting employment in this country. It's better to take gigs while you wait for full-time employment instead of sitting around waiting for a job,” he said.
He added that building one's profile as a freelancer increased the chances of full-time employment that most young people sought after graduation.
Imagine sitting, doing nothing, and one day you get an interview for your dream job, and they ask what you've been doing, and you say, ‘I was waiting for this opportunity to come around.' When you freelance, you prepare for your dream job or company. The tricky part is getting a job in this country could take three or 10 years. You don't want to sit on your hands.
Rakgokong said there were pros and cons to full-time employment and freelancing.
“You can make a lot of money as a freelancer. The bad thing is that you don't have an income when you don't have clients. The downside of being a full-time employee is that you can't take on other projects or freelancing jobs. You can do less, but you can't do more. It's good if you're looking for security but not so much if you want to make more money,” Rakgokong said.
Onalerona Seane, a copywriter and poet, has been freelancing since 2018.
Onalerona Seane is a freelance copywriter and poet.
News24Supplied/ Onalerona Seane
Seane's talent and reputation saw him being recognised by the Global Citizens' Young Artists Collective as an emerging creative.
He used to work as a call centre agent before pursuing freelancing. He said he made more money from his gigs than a full-time employee.
He said he would recommend freelancing for unemployed people because it exposes them to opportunities.
Seane said online platforms like LinkedIn and WhatsApp group were essential for freelancers to network and find work.
He said the pros of freelancing included:
- Owning one's time.
- Collaborating with like-minded people.
- Having several income streams.
- Working on different projects that expand one's thinking.
He said the cons were the high competition and people who charged less or worked for free in exchange for exposure.
StatsSA's quarterly employment figures accounted for freelancers. “Employed persons are those aged 15–64 years who, during the reference week, did any work for at least one hour or had a job or business but were not at work (i.e., temporarily absent). This means anybody who has done any job, whether freelancing or otherwise, during the reference week, even if it was for only one hour, is considered employed.”
Galegake Rakgokong, a freelance graphic designer and multimedia journalist, said freelancing should be compulsory for unemployed South Africans.
News24Supplied/ Galegake Rakgokong
A World Bank's 2021 report stated that freelancing and other forms of self-employment were different from full-time or permanent employment.
It said self-employment stood at 10% and could reduce the country's high unemployment rate.
Wolfgang Fengler, World Bank programme leader, said: “If South Africa were to match the self-employment rate of its peers, it could potentially halve its unemployment rates.”
He added that South Africa fell behind countries, including Turkey, Mexico, and Brazil, whose freelance figures were at 30%.