The rising trends of the gig economy project an estimated freelancing rate of 42% in America’s workforce by the end of 2021. These numbers come with a sizeable increase in clients looking for specialists to outsource for their projects and campaigns. With the increase in coverage placed on freelancers, some are also facing a higher level of scrutiny from a fraction of potential clients who have qualms about their services.
Freelancers, or gig workers, are independent labourers who earn on a per-job or per-task basis. Unlike full-time employees, they do not live on a monthly paycheck and instead, bring home just as much as they give out. This has led to common misconceptions revolving around their skills and capabilities, given that physical meet-ups are minimal in bridging both parties together.
With the gig economy expanding three times faster than the US workforce as a whole, it is crucial to colour in the common grey areas between freelancers and clients. Here are some misconceptions that we have experienced over the years, and why we think it is time to move on from the stigma.
“Freelancers find a shortcut”
One known benefit of freelancing is the flexibility it provides, giving individuals control over their own hours and the work they do. Aside from the unique ability of choosing their clients, they can also choose to work as much or as little they want, placing more emphasis on projects that are meaningful to them. This has led to the misconception that gig workers are too flexible with their commitments, not putting in their best effort as there is no proper punishment for poor work done. In a blog post by Nomad Capitalist, Entrepreneur Andrew Henderson touches on his decisions to stop hiring gig workers. He then also elaborates on the plus points of working with them, and how poor experiences may well be the scope of certain jobs.
On platforms with minimal vetting processes of listed freelancers, it is true that a client may unfortunately reach out to a freelancer with poor reviews, or work with one just for their affordable rates. The reality is that these poorly-reviewed freelancers make up only a small percentage of the gig community. It is reported that independent workers describe themselves as much happier and satisfied with gig work, compared to the traditional full-time commitment. This means that the ones who genuinely care about their working ethics as a gig worker would avoid threading on the line of a bad review. Money does not come easy, and these freelancers prove their grit by going through with their clients’ expectations, sometimes even beyond the expected tenacity of the job.
In an article by business.com that highlights the importance of freelancers in 2021, freelancing is said to have helped numerous small business owners tremendously through the pandemic. One example is Rooted, a direct-to-consumer indoor plant company which shifted its focus from retail operations to e-commerce in wake of COVID-19. Working with freelancers gave certain areas of the business the “freedom to adapt to a changing e-commerce landscape”, citing that the on-demand help was extremely pivotal for their organisation’s transition to a different landscape.
“Freelancers work shorter hours”
As they are not full-time employees, freelancers are seen to commit to shorter hours, being less productive and not clocking in as much work as they should. This is a concern because of the nature of projects, where some require only a few hours for completion, while others would need help in conceptualising ideas intermittently over a couple of months.
Though they do not necessarily go by the typical nine to five office hours, some freelancers still spend around the same amount of time on their work as employees do. Even if they do not, their ongoing dedication to it even in the wee hours of the night ensures that they complete it within the stipulated time frame. In a data report by clockify.me, it is shown that 28.6% of the freelancers surveyed work more than 30 hours a week, which is comparable to a full-time employee’s commitment of between 32 to 40 hours per week.
Another example is a data report done by freelance analysts at Ravenry, who helped a telco company better understand the submarine cable and data centre industries in Southeast Asia. By spending only 48 research hours with Ravenry, the company was able to save 250 hours and USD 80,000 for internal research resources. This serves as a testament that freelancers work hard and smart to maintain productivity and calibre, bringing the best to organisations that need them most within a short span.
“Freelancers aren’t reliable”
Reliability is defined differently by many. People who are not as convinced to hire a gig worker may see them as unreliable because they are not employed into an organisation like other full-time staff. They think that freelancers lack the capabilities of landing a “stable” and “secure” job in an organisation, which leads to doubts about their abilities in producing top quality work. The gig workers themselves understand that to avoid being marginalised, the amount of corporate backing has to increase from the current state of 47%.
Another reason is the negative outlook on possible over-promised capabilities and over-paying. It is human nature to be wary of such situations and some may just avoid taking a shot completely. To curb this, most freelancing platforms require documents and run various tests for reviewing before validating their freelancers’ statuses. Clients can further check on their credibility through reviews and past works to see if they are fit for the role.
The truth is, freelancing involves lots of drive and discipline as it is an independent job. On-demand workers should know what they can or cannot do and state that clearly on any service platforms. They should also be aware enough to provide credible works that prove their flair and interests in taking up projects. This would remove any question marks that clients may potentially have in their head when looking for somebody best fit for the job.
To lighten the search for reliable knowledge workers, services like Ravenry are dedicated to providing curated processes before verifying talents. Putting freelancers through stringent measures of vetting ensures that they are of utmost excellence and in the top 5% of writing, research, and consulting workers.
“Freelancers are hard to reach online”
With the recent pandemic causing many organisations to shift their mode of work, it is a norm right now across freelancer-client relationships to communicate their needs online. The ease of it has made for more efficient transactions by the reduced travelling time and ease of material preparation.
There are an estimated 1.219 billion freelancers all around the world, meaning that clients have the equal freedom of working with any freelancer at random, as long as they meet the professional requisites of what is needed for the job. This means that a client in Singapore could be working with, say, somebody in the United States, who is 12 whole hours behind.
Perceived gaps in planning meetings efficiently has led to the misconception that working with people out of one’s time zone and geographic location would cause difficulty in communication. However, that may just be the case of a lack of understanding working in different timezones. Online lessons are running well despite both teacher and students being in different zones, and why is that? There is a mutual understanding of the responsibilities each party upholds and thus, both teachers and students know to do the necessary to get to class. On-demand services should be similar, where priority of the job is still emphasised despite it not being a full-time commitment.
Looking at any community workspace right now, it is hard to not notice how many have settled into virtual work. If clients want to inform freelancers on a content direction that has to be changed, they can simply initiate a meeting online in advance, or drop messages on chat platforms for a bump. What can be done additionally to lubricate the flow of work, is for both parties to uphold transparency in communicating their needs and ideas consistently.
“Freelancers should charge low as they lack experience”
An article published on Footwasher Media delves into the monetary worth of freelancers at face-value. The write-up, titled “Why are freelancers so expensive?” brings about the question of how people may have a misconceived view on the freelancing industry, and how many are denying themselves the opportunity to work with one.
One thing to note is that 55% of freelancers hold other full-time jobs, thus debunking the myth that they are doing it as a last resort. Being qualified in their skills and knowledge makes for even better output of on-demand work as they are able to meet the needs of specialised fields. In fact, established freelancers should charge according to their expertise as it might be more jeopardizing for them to undercharge and undercut their services. The perfect explanation can be found on wordsbyjill.com, where the author reasons why exactly undercharging is bad for everybody.
The only time that freelancers should not, or cannot charge high, is when they are truly unqualified. Charging more than the worth of the work you can produce is morally unethical. A prerequisite that is commonly done is reading the reviews of workers before choosing to hire them. Another way is to verify directly on the account of the charges and KNOW what exactly is being paid for.