Is the Freelancer Economy Really Free?
Dog-walking, house-cleaning, business plan creation, ride-sharing, house-sharing…this is definitely the age of the freelancer. It’s becoming rare to have a friend who doesn’t do some odd freelance work on the side or as their main gig. Freelancers tend to agree that doing contractor work is preferable to working in an office because they can choose their own hours and work location.
Some freelancers also enjoy the variety in tasks. A typical day for a professional freelancer might include shopping for a busy executive, writing a blog post, checking a guest into a living space and completing some online surveys. Finally, that well-rounded education can come in handy!
Freelancing is not just a freedom choice. For many freelancers and independent contractors, the life outside of a traditional 9 to 5 is the only real option to make a solid living. While there are always jobs in retail and fast food, the minimum wage can be prohibitive for the cost of living in many cities around the United States and worldwide. Contract gigs offer freelancers the ability to schedule tasks in order to make more money in a day doing work that can often be difficult to find in a regular 9 to 5 job market.
So this begs the question, is the freelancer economy really free?
Let’s look at 2 sides to the question – platform freelancing gigs and self-promotional gigs.
- Platforms to find freelance gigs
Working on a platform, any platform, is going to require a processing fee of some kind. There are 2 main kinds of freelancing platforms:
b. Task-oriented platforms – apps such as TaskFriend, TaskRabbit, Freelancer, Upwork, Thumbtack, Takl and others give users the ability to post jobs/tasks and bid on jobs/tasks
Both of these types of platforms offer differing relationships with their taskers or freelancers. For example, TaskRabbit requires its taskers to wear company t-shirts, pay for a background check and operate under the insurance of the company. Uber drivers are required to keep their vehicles in a certain condition and fall under the insurance of Uber. Freelancer requires a subscription and maintains strict anti-spam policies, but freelancers have the freedom to complete projects as they see fit. TaskFriend connects local individuals in an effort to complete tasks in a quick, timely manner without imposing any rules on how the tasker completes the task.
- Self-Promotional Tactics
A large portion of freelancers rely on their own promotional activity instead of, or in addition to, working with a third-party platform. Whether that is through social media, a personal website or word of mouth, these freelancers do not have to conform to third-party rules or pay additional fees to complete the work. However, these freelancers have only themselves to rely on.
Most independent contractors employ a combination of the above tactics – third-party platforms and self-promotional tactics. Typically that is what works the best, too. But the real question, the important one for the sake of this post, is the freelancer economy really free?
No. And yes.
Freelancers still have to adhere to the tax and business standards within their own country. They still have to complete the work per the client’s specifications. If they work through certain platforms, they have to adhere to the platform’s guidelines, such as TaskRabbit’s rule about wearing their logo.
But freelancers also have more freedom than typical employees. They can make their own schedule and, if they choose the right platform, they have the freedom to complete tasks in any manner they choose, wear whatever they want and even take away 95% of the payment. Basically, it all comes down to the methods in which freelancers or independent contractors choose to work. Choose the right platforms and freedom is a lot closer than other platforms.
TaskFriend only charges a 5% transaction fee on the money you earn. The difference between TaskFriend and our competitors is the fact that we’re an open marketplace whereas our competitors tend to act as an agency. We don’t pick and choose who is allowed on the platform, how much a job should cost or even provide a guideline on how it should be performed. We believe that as long as you bring people together, people are smart enough to collaborate and work it out for themselves. TaskFriend just provides tools for people to make the best decisions. This includes reviewers, verifications, completion rates on profiles and even payment processing.
At TaskFriend, our goal is to be as open and transparent as possible. We want to empower and support individuals to help them achieve what they want – not tell people what to do. With your help, we can let people take full control of their lives..