Seventy-eight percent of people buy their gift recipient a physical object rather than a service or experience — but science has proven time and again that a material present matters less.
For the freelancer in your life testing the waters of an ever-uncertain job market, you could be worried about whether they’ll sink or swim, and you want to give them the best advantages possible. Whether they’re new to working remotely or have spent years developing their freelancing skills, they need a support system that will help them grow.
Here are services and experiences that can give freelancers an edge in the career world, many of them well within a tight holiday budget. While a new pen or a standing desk can be a thoughtful Christmas present, you’ll find that gifting an experience is more likely to land you in someone’s good graces.
Is your freelancer breaking into digital marketing, but they’re stumped on social media? What if they’re a web developer who needs to brush up on Java?
An online course can be a good alternative to returning to school to learn a new skill. Companies like Udemy and Coursera offer a wide variety of training courses, sometimes reasonably priced or even free. Some sites are even niche-specific, such as Udacity for technical training and Brain Sensei for project management.
If your freelancer likes LinkedIn, you could even pay for their LinkedIn Learning subscription, which gives them access to a library of courses for $29.99 monthly, or $299.88 annually. Just be sure they don’t already have access through another one of LinkedIn’s subscriptions!
When going this route, Lauren Kuchugurnyy of Comprehension Content recommends certified training: “Training can improve a freelancer's current work, and — if that training is certified — it can also advance a freelancer’s career prospects by providing credentials.”
Networking is one of the most mystifying and scary parts of freelancing, but it’s an absolute essential. At a conference, freelancers can further their learning, meet potential clients and colleagues, and trick-or-treat for business cards and connections.
A freelancer’s networking skills will only get better with time and practice, so they should take as many opportunities as they can to attend events in their field.
Find conferences in your freelancer’s area and industry and buy them a ticket. Make sure you know whether they’ve already booked the event!
Clients usually see a freelancer’s profile photo on social media or even some project bids, and an unprofessional photo could hurt a hopeful’s chances. Grainy selfies and bad lighting are naturally unappealing. Even if a client means to judge based on experience, the ubiquity of profile photos will probably inform their choice.
Book a professional photoshoot for a freelancer, making sure that the date and time works for them. Working with a photographer who’s experienced with business headshots can even boost your gift recipient’s confidence.
Graphic design services
We’re in the age of aesthetics — presentation matters. So make sure your freelancer puts their best foot forward through strong digital presence.
You can gift a freelancer logo design services to help them establish their personal brand. Most freelancers want to do this themselves and save money, but logo design doesn’t have to break the bank and it can be worth the cost.
You can also hire a graphic designer to create business cards, stationery, and social media cover photos. These professional accents can put a freelancer a step above the competition, and so purchasing a design service — or giving your freelancer the money to do so — can be a great Christmas present.
Freelancers are constantly on the job hunt. Because of this, their social media profiles and resumes need to be perpetually updated and optimized.
If your freelancer ever sends out their resume with a project bid or application, it could be worth having a resume writer or editor review their work. Top-of-the-line resume writers can optimize your documents to pass ATS scans and catch a hiring manager’s eye. They can teach you HR trends and timeless resume conventions that can make any freelancer more competitive.
Social media auditing
Many resume writers now offer to comb through your LinkedIn profile in addition to fine-tuning a resume, so this is something else you can help your gift recipient take advantage of. Buy them a package with social media review so they can highlight their best skills online without flubbing their digital presence.
LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media platforms for this type of audit. If your gift recipient doesn’t like writing or doesn’t know how to use LinkedIn, professionals can help.
Virtual assistant services
We’re getting to the pricier end of the list, so be aware that a virtual assistant doesn’t usually come cheap. But if your freelancer is booked out and struggling to complete their tasks, manage events, and respond to every email, a virtual assistant could be the perfect solution.
Success in the freelance space comes with a tight schedule. Virtual assistant services are a great gift because they can manage client relationships and outreach while your freelancer keeps working.
Make sure, however, that you hire from a reputable company or website! You'll want this VA to have a track record of success.
Co-working space rental
Employees working remotely should try out co-working at least once, even if it turns out it's not their thing.
For those who don’t know, property owners can rent their office space to groups and individuals, often creating a melting pot of various companies and experts. For the small startup or aspiring entrepreneur, a co-working space is a solution that helps them network while getting them out of their home.
Some people love co-working because of the connections they make; others like it because it’s cheaper than renting a building in an office park. For your freelancer, co-working can put your freelancer in the mindset for work in a professional environment and uplifting atmosphere.
You can find thousands of co-working rentals online, and if your budget is sizeable for this gift, you can probably find something for the right price.
Pro subscription to a freelancing platform
Do you know what your freelancer uses to find jobs? Is it Upwork? Toptal? LinkedIn? Fiverr?
Sometimes these platforms have add-ons and pro subscriptions that make it easier to get noticed by clients.
For example, Upwork’s Freelancer Plus subscription lets you get a peek at competitor bids and allows you to bid for up to 70 jobs per month. Sites like Flexjobs require a monthly subscription for access to the job board.
You can pay for a couple months of a subscription to help your gift recipient decide if it gives them an edge over the competition.
Subscription to freelancer tools
I would have loved for someone to pay my yearly subscription to The Chicago Manual of Style when I was editing. It was an essential tool for my work, and so a gift subscription would have been a thoughtful present.
Likewise, many other freelancers have a tool or service that’s taking a monthly cut. From Adobe to Canva to ahrefs, nearly every remote worker has a subscription that’s necessary for their business. Do a little digging and ask what tools your freelancer needs and whether or not they have to pay up for them. Is the subscription yearly? Monthly? Can you gift one?
This is probably a service they already use, so you know your gift will hit the spot.
Laurice Wardini of ClothedUp seconds this idea: “Subscriptions for pro services would be my number one idea that I would love to receive as a gift. For example, I was been gifted an ahrefs membership for a year and it’s amazing.”