Softmarket Analysis - Freelancing and Freelancer Jobs between 2001 and 2008

Based on the numbers available on the still public jobs we could create a realistic picture of the sofware creation market. We can safely presume that this numbers - at a smaller scale - reflect the trends in the market. Also we can safely estimate the number of successful Freelancers (at least in percentage). The numbers are very interesting - at least because of the clear trends that are shown and also because it clearly raises a flag for both buyer and freelancer. Most freelancers do not even get to their first job. They create accounts, bid on jobs, but never land one successful job. Rent-a-coder has in Marc 2009 approx 35.000 coders that won at least one job won, and has the whopping number of 244667 registered coders!!! wow.. so at less then 15% (!!!) get to win a job!
Also We can clearly see that most successuful Freelancers land under 10 jobs per year and more then 80% of this "successfull" freelancers make less then 1000$ per year. Only as little as 0.5 - 1% of the winning Freelancers make more then 5000$ per year! I know we do not have the private jobs and all the bonuses one freelancer makes in this table. but even if we suppose them at double of the visible income this is not an income that can be sufficient for most of them. And do have in mind that 85 % of freelancers DO NOT EVEN GET a winning bid.

Also We can clearly see that most successuful Freelancers land under 10 jobs per year and more then 80% of this "successfull" freelancers make less then 1000$ per year. Only as little as 0.5 - 1% of the winning Freelancers make more then 5000$ per year! I know we do not have the private jobs and all the bonuses one freelancer makes in this table. but even if we suppose them at double of the visible income this is not an income that can be sufficient for most of them. And do have in mind that 85 % of freelancers DO NOT EVEN GET a winning bid.

Of course there are a lot of successfull developers, but they rise from a mass of over 240.000 people. amaizing.
In the next table we can see the evolution of income and number of jobs in Rent-a-Coder for the last 8 years. Do have in mind that this figures DO NOT include: bonuses that buyers may pay the freelancers and NO private auctions (and i assume that most private auctions are high value). So we can safely presume that more realistic figures would be around twice the grossed sums in the table. But the statistic distribution of the sums and number of jobs should be proportonal tho these numbers.
Also all programming language specific statistics are not 100% accurate in absolute amounts, but as a trend and as an order of magnitude these are quite accurate. Most of these trends do correlate with real events (like for instance the Mambo - Joomla Fork back in 2005).
We can see analysing the following table that a large number of posted auctions go without a winner. Most of them are cancelled by the initiator or get to expiration without a chosen winner. This is good to know when you bid on some auctions and you do not get results. Advice: keep trying!

  2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 7372 24794 38708 35934 45140 64850 77486 90783 30554
Nr Cancelled Jobs 4520 14464 21663 20154 27402 41298 50613 37973 3926
Nr Finished Jobs 2830 10110 16355 14605 16069 20953 24256 27421 6877
Grossed Sums  $264,314  $1,036,028  $1,681,808  $1,676,800  $2,264,978  $3,071,236  $3,802,762  $4,125,758  $695,546
Average Price per job  $93.40  $102.48  $102.83  $114.81  $140.95  $146.58  $156.78  $150.46  $101.14
Nr distinct paying Buyers (Auctioneers) 731 2443 4370 5926 6258 8100 9120 9109 2094
Nr Distinct winning Sellers (Freelancers) 463 1473 2855 4273 4780 5865 6482 6668 1820
Nr Freelancers with jobs completed 1-10 395 1232 2466 4041 4511 5477 6021 6099 1726
Nr Freelancers with jobs completed 10-50 66 226 373 226 266 379 444 551 92
Nr Freelancers with jobs completed 50-100 2 15 11 5 2 8 17 15 2
Nr Freelancers with jobs completed >100 0 0 5 1 1 1 3 0 0
Nr Freelancers grossing 1000-5000 / year 68 228 361 371 496 695 835 903 141
Nr Freelancers grossing 5000-10000 / year 4 23 35 24 41 46 62 76 6
Nr Freelancers grossing 10000-50000 / year   7 11 3 12 19 28 22 2
Nr Freelancers grossing >50000 / year             1 1  


Very interesting is the trend in the Average Price per Job. There seems to be a correlation with the exchange rate of USD against foreign currencies (and that should be so - since most coders are not located in USA). Also very interesting is the average number successfull of jobs posted by auctioneers per year - it seems to evolve around 2.8-3 /auctioneer /year
The most amazing part is the fact that only 1 company makes more then 50.000 per year in Rent-a-coder - Tometa Software (number one in Rent-a-coder for the past 5 years!) Here is a nice graph that show the trends of the freelancing business. As you can see the incomes of rent-a-coder keep on rising from year to year - with just a small plateau between 2003 and 2004 (mostly i think due to the early 2000's recession)
Even the 2008 credit crunch only affected in small the growth of Freelancing business. You can see the growth is not as steep as between 2004 and 2007. But this could be also due to a begining of saturation of the market. There are now a lot of niche freelancing sites and more and more blossum every month.

Fact: The business for freelancing sites is booming.


Further we analyse the trends for specific Programming languages.

PHP   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 428 2528 6136 4368 6240 9535 11725 16684 5284
Nr Cancelled Jobs 324 1794 3912 2698 4057 6488 8092 7401 669
Nr Finished Jobs 104 732 2217 1647 2163 3027 3595 4962 1305
Grossed Sums 15380 105161.76 260253.85 205742.27 309426.34 446485 539283.61 829868.37 160908.16




C/C++   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 2002 5646 7751 4182 3478 3561 3440 3395 1037
Nr Cancelled Jobs 1122 3062 4622 2483 2609 2741 2616 1520 137
Nr Finished Jobs 876 2570 3112 1682 854 813 806 776 196
Grossed Sums 59705.8 254528.52 331437.93 195838.1 210949.24 207536.96 218584.36 226650.7 29949.24




Java   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 818 2478 4795 3380 3147 4199 5325 7982 2711
Nr Cancelled Jobs 504 1450 2786 1855 2227 3031 3947 3611 352
Nr Finished Jobs 314 1022 2009 1507 909 1162 1362 2106 575
Grossed Sums 28076.8 92323.84 182567.11 136199.44 168980.26 172946.81 240510.76 446387.2 81261.48




Action Script (Flash)   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)           2 729 2263 759
Nr Cancelled Jobs           2 535 1044 116
Nr Finished Jobs             185 548 123
Grossed Sums             40628.99 176640.75 22474

 

We can see the trends of PHP versus C/C++ Jobs in grossed sums.


The turning point for PHP developing was clearly the release of PHP5 - we can clearly see the effect after 2004 - PHP overthrowns C/C++ in the incoms and number of jobs. Take a look at the number of jobs in C before 2004 against those after 2004. Astonishing.
PHP is clearly the winner in the freelancing business. This is why today there are also a lot of amateuristic approaches towards PHP, and this also leads to the misconception that PHP is sort of a lesser programming language. But the graphs show something else.
What i have to make attentive to - is the rise of Action script.The Category was introduced in 2007 and it overpassed more established languages like Delphi and Python. I clearly sense a niche growing, and i clearly recommend to consider getting on the Action script wagon now. There is clear opportunity and the market is still young - this way you can enter before the players are established.

C#   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 142 954 2537 1749 2148 2891 3111 4079 1294
Nr Cancelled Jobs 110 668 1711 1159 1511 2089 2234 1720 176
Nr Finished Jobs 32 284 826 584 626 798 868 1092 234
Grossed Sums 5186 41390.8 121258.76 105807.16 141106.37 164720.21 195182.23 279063.98 41437




Delphi   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 148 1098 2024 1139 1172 1017 935 863 272
Nr Cancelled Jobs 120 728 1300 747 765 710 688 368 30
Nr Finished Jobs 28 370 722 389 403 306 245 234 71
Grossed Sums 3818 61435.56 116515.33 58394.82 77284.75 56605.35 48962.54 71071 8127




Python   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)     133 178 201 326 430 801 316
Nr Cancelled Jobs     93 116 143 258 328 374 43
Nr Finished Jobs     40 62 58 67 99 158 65
Grossed Sums     14237 15770.7 7491.5 17304.19 20141.96 28399.9 7094




Iphone   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)             58 633 564
Nr Cancelled Jobs             49 263 39
Nr Finished Jobs             9 95 46
Grossed Sums             1570 42417.98 15050

 

Delphi seems to recover in 2008 from a very bad hit in 2003 when Borland released the more then controversial Delphi 8


We can clearly see that C# (C Sharp) is clearly a winning horse. For the first time in 2008 it surpassed C++ and as you clearly see the trend is ascending. Very strange is the almost stable sums that are spent on Python. There seems there is a steady and predictible customer base. Worth looking upon this niche!
For comparsions reasons i added the rise of the Iphone apps business in 2008. I think this will be interesting in 2009 to follow. The potential is there (it the trend keeps, there could be a 100% growth in job numbers and income in 2009)

Now we take a look at some special cases. These are not programming languages, but merely frameworks in specific languages (mostly PHP) . I added Ruby (that is a programming language for those that hear it for the first time)

Oracle   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)   70 485 345 301 348 444 564 165
Nr Cancelled Jobs   44 290 235 236 283 371 278 40
Nr Finished Jobs   26 195 110 62 65 71 80 19
Grossed Sums   2360 20737.99 21953 35209 10574.66 12729 28180.89 2754




Ruby   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)         15 295 469 640 217
Nr Cancelled Jobs         11 238 383 339 38
Nr Finished Jobs         4 57 82 118 34
Grossed Sums         2020 13253.75 31627.5 52340.9 5928




Joomla   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)         40 704 1644 2274 754
Nr Cancelled Jobs         27 489 1158 1042 74
Nr Finished Jobs         13 212 470 642 201
Grossed Sums         1320 35477.3 80049.01 101172.97 19732.94




Mambo   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)   2 24 86 322 277 149 74 20
Nr Cancelled Jobs   2 13 61 227 193 114 27 2
Nr Finished Jobs     11 24 94 84 33 20 4
Grossed Sums     1750 2234 17338 16029.98 4899 5565 800




Drupal   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Nr Jobs (grand Total)     5 7 52 224 487 858 243
Nr Cancelled Jobs     4 5 36 166 369 393 25
Nr Finished Jobs     1 2 16 58 113 215 41
Grossed Sums     25 140 5546 9749 23002 56824 14615

The clear winner is Joomla with a fantastic growth from it's birth in 2005. Joomla did not only take users from Mambo (its preccursor) but it seems it got a lot of followers on its own
There seems to be a good vibe for mature and modular CMS frameworks. Both Joomla and Drupal seem to get a large Userbase and more - even larger budgets for freelancing jobs.
There is a small growth rate decrease (the second derivate of the growth function). But i assume this is due to the 2008 credit crunch and subsequential recession. We will further see that these trends revesed and the growth will continue in 2009 with an alert growth rate

2008 the year of the great Credit Crunch

To see the effects of the 2008 depression and credit crunch, we selected a monthly based graph of Rent-a-coder incomes and the incomes for Joomla Jobs in 2007 and 2008 on a monthly basis.

2008 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 4977 6573 6839 11767 11326 6693 7098 7358 7222 7563 6976 6391
Nr Cancelled Jobs 3263 4371 4549 6925 3311 2202 2766 3356 2453 1850 1284 1643
Nr Finished Jobs 1520 2008 2068 3655 3087 2027 1986 2271 2265 2274 2192 2068
Grossed Sums 233660.2 308207 348631.5 651210.1 440352.9 286324.7 280744.9 345442.7 321789 349995.1 292997.3 266403.1
                         
2007 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 6107 6174 6709 6421 6462 6506 6420 6821 6126 7088 6717 5935
Nr Cancelled Jobs 3952 4044 4408 4187 4225 4143 4146 4346 4043 4696 4461 3962
Nr Finished Jobs 1899 1874 1984 1976 1990 2128 2020 2283 1960 2255 2083 1804
Grossed Sums 294154.1 262489.3 316221.5 319067.9 322418.5 334136.9 329349.6 371432.7 282616.2 352359.7 334762.7 283753.3


You can see in the month of Jun and July how the trends reversed. There is a clear decline in income and in percent of successful jobs in the highlighted months. Althou the situation recovers in September , the absolute numbers of jobs seems to be the same, the grossed sums are lower then those of the previous year. But the trend of 2007 seem to be followed (with slight decrease of jobs in cedember due to hollidays). The good news is that for the beginning of 2009 numbers seem to get up again (we will post the numbers after the end of the month in order to have a full first trimester)

There is an interesting trend in Joomla Jobs. There was a downfall of sums in the late spring of 2008, but the jobs did recove and we can clear see that the trends are positive. December is a surprise - being the best month of 2008. I would have expected that december would be one of the worst months. But that was not the case.
Also from the total of 3110 number of joomla skilled users in rent-a-coder there are 1526 that landed a job in these years. THAT IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE from the average 15% that overall coders in Rent-a-coder have. What does that mean ?
a) Joomla coders are MUCH more reliable then average coders on RAC and
b) Joomla Buyers are much more determined to get their job done

Joomla 2008 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 108 103 152 104 115 132 129 154 142 203 149 153
Nr Cancelled Jobs 78 81 121 64 93 82 92 104 100 140 110 93
Nr Finished Jobs 30 22 30 36 22 48 34 48 41 62 37 60
Grossed Sums 4506 2076 8038 5753 3147 8051 10062 8000 4673 7366 5173.01 13204
                           
Joomla 2007 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Nr Jobs (grand Total) 116 160 162 313 282 164 169 203 195 168 187 155
Nr Cancelled Jobs 81 119 121 228 77 62 73 104 70 34 33 40
Nr Finished Jobs 35 41 41 61 85 48 35 57 59 52 76 52
Grossed Sums 3840.25 7323.5 7242 14790 10046 9603 3806.25 10048 6877.98 11580 9738 6277.99
 
 
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