The Fascinating Online Gig Economy

Have you ever heard of the web sites Upwork or Get Friday or Fiverr? How about 99designs? Perhaps freelancer?

If so, then you might have some familiarity with the world of online freelancing. If not, let me introduce it to you.

Online freelancing is a global marketplace where people looking for  help on a project can find people who want to offer such help.

And the sites all seem like quite the meritocracies. All of the individuals offering their services are rated, and can showcase their previous work. Many of the sites also show how many similar projects these individuals have completed. Their rates are also shown.

So if you are the one looking for some help, these sites seem like great places to use. And if you are the one offering your services, the whole world is your marketplace. I think the best way to explain this is by giving a demo of all of the sites. Let’s pretend that you want a logo designed for your business, and you don’t have the time or the skill to do it yourself.

So you decide to hire an online freelancer, and you check the sites listed above. Here’s a sample of what you might find at each site.

99designs: By first filtering for logo design, I found over 3,000 possibilities. It appears that my search is limited to just five results, but it is an impressive group. The lowest rating out of five stars, is 4.97, and two of the five have perfect 5.0 ratings. And all of them have at least 33 reviews, and each one shows three logos they have designed. If I click on the first result, I can see more detail, including a great number of logos the person has designed. I also see that the person is from the Ukraine, has completed 105 projects, and has rates ranging from $250-$450.

fiverr: When I searched for logo design on fiverr, it returned over 50,000 results. I found one individual offering his or her services for as little as $5. For that price, the buyer would get “1 Logo + High Resolution & Transparency File + Unlimited revision”, in three days or less. The person has 106 reviews, at an average rating of 4.7.

freelancer: I was not able to search for freelancers without signing up for the site, which I did not want to do. I was able to seaerch for jobs that have been posted, and when I typed in logo design I found 57 posts related to logo design. I found rates people were willing to pay as low as $4 per hour or $7 for a completed logo. I clicked on one of the “contests” that is seeking someone to design a logo for $10. So far, 53 designers have responded. I clicked on one of the freelancers and discovered he was from Sri Lanka and has one review, at five stars.

Get Friday: this is more of a personal assistant type service that also provides some business services. My sense is that if you were looking for some help, you contract directly with Get Friday, and they provide you with an individual to assist you. I was not able to get any prices for a logo design, but they do offer such a service as part of their web services.

Upwork: When I typed logo design into Upworl’s search box I ended up with over 1,00 results. I don’t know the exact number, but I just kept paging down and stopped when I got to 1,000 results. The first person shown in the results is a woman from Egypt with a 92% success rating. Her rate is $30 per hour and she has worked on 274 jobs. This site also looks like it has tests that the freelancers can take to prove their skills. For example, this woman’s web site indicates that she has taken seven skills test in areas such as logo design and English spelling, and has scored in the top 10% or 20% for six of the seven tests.

So there’s a brief look at some of the leading online freelancing web sites. It seems as if whatever kind of work you want done, you can find someone to do it. And you can get some sense of their skill by looking at their reviews before you hire them.

It’s a great resource, now I just need to think of something I might need a freelancer for. Maybe I could hire someone to find me a couple hundred followers for my blog…

*image from Globetrotter Guru

2 thoughts on “The Fascinating Online Gig Economy

  1. Hi Jim,

    Here in the mountains of New Hampshire there’s a very popular orthopedic clinic comprised of surgeons having various specialties (think shoulders, arms, hands, knees, hips, etc.). The are “associates” sharing the same office building, secretaries, office nurses, accountants, etc. But I assume that the surgeons do not share revenues the same as if they were employees or partners. This type of “associate” business model is extremely popular in a variety of professions. The key feature is the sharing of major expenses without the sharing of revenues in an associate business model.

    What’s not clear to me is where California will draw the line on an associate business model. Clearly the model is not acceptable for barbershops and beautician shops under the California Supreme Court ruling. But will this associate model also apply to medical practices, dental practices, law practices, etc. My guess is that there are so many lawyers in the California legislature that the new law will not apply to law practices.
    My point here is that it seems to be unclear just where California will draw the line. This clearly has tax implications such as unemployment compensation taxes and other payroll taxes.

    The IRS could be an 800-lb gorilla here. The problem is that such businesses as barbershops are now treated differently in California versus most of the other states. Will Uber worker whit holding taxes be treated differently in California than most other states? Remember that in some cases like Social Security Taxes both employers and employees are taxed.

    There are other implications regarding medical insurance coverage.
    I’m not a lawyer, but it would seem that this controversy could possibly end up in the USA Supreme Court — where California may soon have a number of hopes overturned.


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