We’re guessing that when you think about the countries where freelancing flourishes, you don’t immediately think of Serbia. You probably imagine the US, UK or India leads the way.

But a new report from Analyticshelp.io, looking at numbers of digital freelancers working via online marketplaces, has revealed that Serbia has the highest number of digital freelancers per 1000 people.

Countries where freelancing is booming as a career choiceDigital Freelance Hub Serbia

Serbia only has a population of 7 million, so its chance of ever being the country with the highest number of freelancers is close to none. But when we’re talking about the proportion of the population that freelances digitally, it tops the charts, with 3.52 people per 1000 working in this way. And it’s not the only eastern European country high in this chart either.

Close behind is Macedonia, with 3.41 people per 1000, while Armenia (4th place, 2.18/1000), Montenegro (6th place, 1.58/1000) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (7th place, 1.55/1000) also make the top 10.

Other countries with a high digital freelancer to population ratio are Jamaica (3rd, 2.43/1000),the US (5th, 1.72/1000), and the Philippines, Malta and Barbados (8th, 9th and 10th respectively).

Many of these countries offer low wages for traditional employment, so it’s understandable that digital freelancing, with the opportunities it affords to work for companies in other countries and set higher rates, has become popular in these places.

Yet while low wages are an issue in countries like India and Pakistan too, the proportion of people that choose to freelance in these countries is significantly less. Bangladesh is only 60th, with 0.34/1000 people, while Pakistan is 65th (0.32/1000) and India trails behind at 89th, with only 0.18 people per 1000 in the digital freelance market.

As for the UK, we’re sitting in 31st place, with 0.82/1000 of our population involved in digital freelancing on online marketplaces.

Countries with the highest number of freelancers

When it comes to countries with the highest number of freelancers, countries with a high population obviously have a big advantage, so it’s unsurprising that here, India comes in 2nd with 245,342 digital freelancers, although that’s still way behind the US, in 1st place with 558,965.

This time, the UK makes it into the top 10.

3             Philippines                           162,233

4             Pakistan                                62,442

5             Bangladesh                         55,449

6             United Kingdom                53,889

7             Ukraine                                 53,529

8             Russian Federation          44,534

9             Canada                                  41,170

10           Egypt, Arab Rep.               33,610

The US and the Philippines are the only countries to make it into the top 10 for both the proportion of digital freelancers in the population and the number of freelancers.

What are digital freelancers doing?

The report also looked at the particular areas in which the world’s digital freelancers work. ‘Web, Mobile and Software development’ is the most popular, with 481,648 freelancers working in this category. Let’s look at the rest of the top 10:

2      Design & creative                             430,300

3      Writing                                                 410,681

4      Admin Support                                 377,504

5      Translation                                          207,707

6      Sales & Marketing                           197,677

7      Customer Service                            169,313

8      Accounting & Consulting               128, 372

9      IT & Networking                               116,514

10   Engineering & Architecture         92,955

So what about the UK’s digital freelancers?

Looking at subcategories, in the UK, Article & Blog Writing is the most popular area of work, keeping 9,744 of our digital freelancers busy. That’s followed by Graphic Design (7,903), Creative Writing (7,142), Copywriting (7,014) and Logo Design & Branding (6,761).

Other subcategories in the top 10 are Web Content, Web Development, Editing & Proofreading, Other Design & Creative and General Translation. It seems we UK freelancers are primarily creatives, leaving the more administrative tasks for freelancers elsewhere.

Are you surprised by these numbers? Where are you based and what’s your area of work? Please share your thoughts.