“In-demand talent on demand,” says Upwork, one of the top freelancer websites for professionals. Whether you are unemployed, or underemployed. Whether you have hidden talents or are a subject matter expert in your field. Whether you want to freelance part-time or full-time, there are clear paths forward to generate income online. Everyone – from developers to designers, writers, finance experts, project managers and product managers alike are giving the freelance marketplace a second look – more than a double take. Major economic players and business owners are also turning to these burgeoning platforms to find and hire top expertise for their small bite-sized projects as well as long term specialized work. It’s flexibility, cost-effectiveness and location agnostic nature are its draws.
Now more than ever, participating in a gig economy has taken center stage. One of the many side effects of the global pandemic is the strain it imposed on the traditional employment pipeline, which has only accelerated an already rising online marketplace of jobs. An increase in reliance on gig work has become an integral part of the changing nature of the American Workforce. According to a 2018 Gallup report, 36 percent of the U.S. workforce (~57 million people) are gig workers, contributing to an annual $1 trillion to the U.S. economy. These figures and findings are also echoed by MBO Partners in their The State of Independence in America report which predicted the growth of tech savvy independent workers to be more than 50% by 2023. Growth is only the start of the story. Conversations are revolving around regulations and policies on workers protection and benefits.
Some do raise the question though, “what is the appeal of the lack of job security, and fewer benefits?” Others emphasize the priceless value of more flexibility, more income and job satisfaction than traditional jobs. Considering the diversity of the industry represented, it would be more fitting to call this phenomenon a sharing economy or collaborative economy, but as technology is the enabler of this mode of independent work as it is core, it remains a gig economy.
If you decide to leap into the world of freelance, here are some of the platforms to suit your needs.
- Toptal is for freelancers what Ladder is for highest paying job seekers.The company claims to be the place to find the top 3% of freelance talents. If independent gig workers managed to get themselves a spot here, they will have access to big name corporations around the world that post lucrative projects and compete for the best talent. Companies can even assemble a team of talented freelancers to work on specific projects.
- Upwork entertains a seemingly unending stream of diverse job posts for professionals, focused on web and software development, data science and analytics, design and creative, sales and marketing, writing (grants/proposal/etc), customer service, admin support as well as engineering and architecture. Freelancers are rated by the quality of service they provided to differentiate them from the competition. Once gig workers establish themselves on the platform, there is a constant flow of short-term, longer-term and complex projects by the likes of Microsoft, GE, airbnb, etc.
- Guru boasts more than 3 million users as a general freelancer marketplace, anything from legal, business and finance, writing and translation, design and art, programming and development, etc. Its differentiator is flexible payment rates.
- Freelancer.com and Fiverr are both general purpose platforms for small businesses who need logo design, marketing, writing, web development, etc. Companies sign up, post jobs and receive competitive bids within minutes. Freelancers sign up for free and build their portfolio of past projects completed. Tools like live chat and video enhance the collaboration between knowledge-buyer and knowledge-seller.
- People Per Hour is unique for connecting businesses to an international community of freelancers. Used by 1 million businesses and 2.4 million freelancers, it spans a wide range of job categories. Like most of the gig economy platforms above, it also uses AI to match and contact most fitting talent for the job, within minutes.
There are also specialized platforms such as Designhill, Behance and We Work Remotely for designers that commands millions of users per month.
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