What Does It Mean to Be ‘Freelancer First,’ Exactly?

With the number of freelancers in the United States alone expected to exceed 90 million by 2028, it should come as no surprise that countless platforms have arisen online to connect freelancers with clients. While many of these platforms have been able to do just that, not all of them have done so with a “freelancer first” approach.

What does this mean, exactly? It means that many platforms are more focused on the size of their platform and their ROI so they can please investors, rather than truly taking steps that help freelancers reach their own career goals.

In fact, this is why research suggests that the average freelancer is a member of three to five such platforms — they know these platforms don’t necessarily have their best interests in mind, and therefore aren’t going to be loyal in return. On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, platforms that take a true “freelancer first” approach can create a win-win-win scenario.

Common Issues Freelancers Face

While working as an independent contractor can offer flexibility and freedom, it isn’t without its drawbacks. In the United States, freelancers are sometimes caught off guard by unexpected costs like the self-employment tax rate and a lack of benefits they would receive in a full-time position, such as health insurance coverage or paid time off.

These financial challenges can be made more difficult by online talent platforms. First, there is the fact that online freelance platforms take a fixed percentage of what the contractor charges the client as a service fee. Sometimes, this fee can be as high as 20 percent of the project rate.

Not all platforms thoroughly vet clients — which can lead to issues where freelancers don’t get paid for work performed. Or, clients may set a very low budget (or only hire independent contractors who provide a very low bid), making it harder for freelancers to find work that pays what they’re worth. 

This is especially common when a platform is more focused on being able to say it has “X number of clients” or “X number of freelancers” than truly delivering value for these groups.

So, What Does It Mean to Be ‘Freelancer First,’ Exactly?

A freelancer first platform isn’t just focused on its own bottom line. Instead, it is more willing to implement efforts that help freelancers succeed in their professional career and in the personal aspects of being an independent contractor. 

Rather than focusing exclusively on platform growth, they try to invest in the success of individual freelancers, helping them maximize their career potential. These platforms are still focused on their own success (they need to make money, after all), but they also implement a variety of initiatives to fuel the success of freelancers and their clients.

In other words, their goal is to create a win-win-win. Clients get quality results from quality freelancers. The freelancers are able to find projects that build their portfolios and pay a competitive rate. And thanks to this, the platform can generate enough revenue to fund its own needs.

By putting freelancers first, platforms create win-win-wins.

How Platforms Can Make a Difference

Online talent platforms have several ways they can put freelancers first.

One simple manner is to ensure that a variety of projects are made available. This doesn’t just mean different types of work (like programming or staffing). It also entails different types of projects — such as simple, one-off projects or longer-term partnerships. This can better accommodate the different needs of freelancers based on where they are in their career journey.

After all, the majority of freelancers do so on a part-time basis — such as a “side hustle” in addition to their normal nine-to-five job. The needs and availability of these independent contractors can be quite different from those of a full-time freelancer.

As part of this, freelancer first platforms make an active effort to thoroughly vet the clients who use their services. Steps such as requiring verified payment methods or setting budget requirements can help ensure that freelancers are offered quality work — and that they’ll actually get paid for it.

Many platforms have found success by making it easier for freelancers to showcase their abilities online, or to sell their services in more places. From smart profiles that offer a centralized location for managing contacts and requests to selling services using their social media accounts, such actions make it easier for freelancers to control their entrepreneurial efforts.

Freelancing has long been described as “a lonely business” — and feelings of isolation can make it hard for independent contractors to thrive and experience lasting satisfaction with their work. Some platforms alleviate this by facilitating local meetups for freelancers who live in the same geographic area, or by offering mentorship opportunities (even via webinars or Zoom calls).

What each independent contractor wants out of an online talent platform can be as varied as the individuals themselves. But when platforms use these and other initiatives to put freelancers first, they can help strengthen the market as a whole and give individuals the resources they need to succeed in their career.

Build Your Career With myBasePay

With the right partnerships in place, you can give your freelance career the boost it needs to become truly self-sustaining. A freelancer-first platform is a great way to strengthen your own positioning in a competitive digital market.

Are you looking to expand your freelance career? myBasePay can help. Our talent acquisition marketplace is used by leading organizations from across the globe, giving you access to exclusive job requisitions that help you grow your portfolio. Our focus is on delivering high-quality work that makes a meaningful impact on your career.

In addition, myBasePay has actively worked to put freelancers first by helping independent contractors in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and other Latin American companies gain greater market opportunities in the U.S. Our employer of record (EOR) services also help address payroll and compliance concerns for HR and staffing professionals — ensuring that freelancers are paid in a timely manner for their work.



Author: Cesar Jimenez, myBasePay CEO
Cesar A. Jimenez is an entrepreneur, investor, and military veteran with over 25 years of staffing industry expertise successfully leading technology staffing organizations. His expertise in the IT industry allows him to use his experience as a thought leader for talent acquisition, staffing, IT, and recruitment technologies with a passion for contingent workforce solutions. Cesar has held various leadership roles for both a global staffing organization and technology solutions companies. This expertise has enabled him to develop alternative workforce models that provide the agility for organizations to be competitive in today’s marketplace. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with hisfamily, working out, and coaching high school baseball players.

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