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The online freelance market for Microwork to Niche Specialisation

Sunada Jayaram
Sunada Jayaram
Create: Nov 07,2022

Freelance workers have been in the market for many decades, though they worked in known professional circles or the informal job market. with the emergence of online platforms such as Truelancer, ZoopUp, and TopTal, the freelance marketplace has completely transformed. It has given the freelance job market a much-needed structure and created hiring routes that facilitate speed and efficiency in the process. These job portals have created open channels for communication between clients and freelancers besides providing succinct ways of conveying requirements and suitability. Thus, even without meeting physically, and often not even speaking over a phone call, clients can convey their expectations and freelancers can deliver the project. 

A better way forward

Even though clients hired freelancers virtually even before the growth of freelance job platforms, there was always uncertainty and a lack of trust hovering between them. Freelancers can narrate bitter experiences of not being paid for work that was completed, or the project being dragged out longer than specified. Clients have horror stories of a data breach, freelancers leaving the project mid-way or over-paying for substandard work. 

Freelancers offer a wide variety of skill sets and they offer a cost advantage that businesses on a budget cannot easily neglect. Large companies have the resource to ensure they work with legitimate freelancers who will deliver the best results, but what about the MSMEs and start-ups? For them, the freelance job platform is a boon as the job portal acts as a guarantor for both parties and completely manages the administrative aspects of the collaboration. 

Working beyond boundaries for the best price advantage

A freelance digital marketer, graphic designer, or web developer in the USA charges three to four times the rates offered in some of the less developed Asian and African countries. Professionals from service-heavy countries such as India, where local compensation is lower than global averages highly benefit from these websites. Not just for the high-skill roles, but also jobs that require basic literacy and numeracy, that is, micro work, there is better job guarantee and security for the freelancers and their employers. Over 15 million Indian freelancers are contributing to 40% of the total global freelance jobs. New freelance job platforms are emerging in the country that is improving search quality, serving niche sectors, and improving the overall experience for freelancers and clients. 

Top sectors for freelancers

Microwork is being outsourced by companies to freelancers for customer service, data entry and virtual assistance. For these roles, companies are hiring full-time freelancers as these are areas where they face high attrition. In some fields where freelancers are thriving while working as full-timers with multiple clients are for –

  • Software development
  • Digital Marketing
  • Graphic design
  • Online tutor
  • Event Management
  • UI/UX design
  • Mobile app development

Many professionals in these fields are working full-time while moonlighting on freelance job sites. These are skills that can be acquired by attending short-term online certification courses, or through practice. Many successful freelancers in this field are students who are pursuing their graduation. 

Cost advantage with rapid hiring

The two primary benefits of the freelance job market are the mitigated costs and rapid hiring on demand. While the clients are mostly businesses, freelancers are also microentrepreneurs who supply the work demanded by the clients. Online freelancing platforms such as Freelancer, Upwork, and We Work Remotely to name a few, are intermediaries and marketplaces where freelancers and clients interact. The job portal charges a commission from both sides for providing a platform for advertising their project, offering secure payment gateways, ensuring NDA and other Copywrite issues are managed, and overall administrative aspects of the business are handled. Thus, they ensure smooth work and money flow in the market from all channels. 

Thus, even if the business wants to hire a freelancer from a different geographic location, within their country or abroad, they don’t have to worry about costs associated with relocation or issuing visas, which not only increase the hiring cost but also lead to delays in joining. This paradigm shift in how work is sourced and inefficiencies are overcome through virtual engagements has been advantageous all around.

The challenges of an open competition

Open competition is ideal for the marketplace because it levels the playing field and ensures everyone has a fair chance of succeeding. Every freelancer has a fair opportunity to try for a project and based on their merit they have the opportunity to win the bid or competition. from the company's perspective, they can find a resource person who does not come through known circles and hence is completely graded on their suitability. 

However, the open market on a global scale is disrupting freelancer rates. It has been observed in recent years that freelancers are being compelled to charge below-market rates to win a bid or a competition. Thus, the true market rate of a service, which is tangible, is being disrupted. This is pulling down the earning potential for freelancers, and even resulting in compromised work quality for the client. 

The easy access to internet-enabled devices and tools of trade means that the supply of service providers is surpassing its demand in many fields. For the client, it may not always lengthen the hiring period, but for the freelancers, the challenges increase. One of the reasons is that they have to be constantly applying for projects even when they are working on a project. this can compromise the quality of their output.

Freelance job portals are addressing these challenges in some ways by –

  • Creating a cap on the maximum number of projects a freelancer can apply for
  • With reviews and ratings
  • Not releasing the payment till the project is completed and okayed by the client

However, the demand and supply markers will continue to affect the freelance job market until a demand and supply equilibrium is reached. The market will eventually catch up and the players will adjust to the new disruptions, this can be seen by the uninterrupted demand generated by the new freelance job portals that are being launched and the steady workflow in the current ones. 

About The Author

Sunada Jayaram
Sunada Jayaram
Create : Nov 07,2022