Just a few years ago, entrepreneurs struggled to find affordable help for their startup business. Marketing costs took over most of the budget, while companies remained understaffed due to lack of funds for hiring. Although many businesses succeeded despite these shortcomings, there were others who weren’t able to keep going and had to close their doors, so what has changed in recent years?
Businesses are finding financial salvation in what’s called the “gig economy.” Almost 54 million people in the United States alone are now freelancers. Several sites have emerged that act as third-parties for these freelancers, offering hosting services for a small commission, while allowing them to offer their services for a fraction of what businesses would normally charge. Many sites like these exist now, but you can read about the best ones below.
UpWork is very much like a regular business, but it’s on a project-by-project basis. Freelancers create a profile on the site and cover letters to potential buyers. As the buyer, you get to choose which freelancer is the best candidate for the job you have, which you list for a price you decide. If you only have a budget of $20, you’ll only get applications from those willing to do the work for that price. This is quite useful for anyone on a shoestring budget that still wants quality work. Each UpWork freelancer will have to provide accomplishments and skill sets before you consider hiring them.
The site’s name certainly doesn’t leave any confusion for those wondering what it’s about. What makes Freelancer great is that you can post a job listing and receive bids from freelancers to get the best price. Granted, this is only viable for those who don’t need the work done immediately, but you’ve got a much better shot at getting the best price if you’re willing to wait. Of course, you can always hire the first or second person to send you a bid – it’s up to you. Buyers must put up payment before the freelancer starts work on the project, and payments are only released after you’re satisfied with the work.
Hiring a local freelancer not only helps your local community, but there’s also an advantage to having one in a town near you. TaskRabbit lets you hire freelancers within a certain proximity to do your errands for you. This can be anything from cleaning your house to shopping for groceries. TaskRabbit does very thorough background checks on its taskers, and each freelancer lists their hourly rates for a particular service. The site has 19 major cities that host TaskRabbit’s services, but you can hire taskers from the Virtual (anywhere) option. Although the “anywhere” option has fewer taskers available, more and more freelancers are popping up and should soon give buyers more variety.
Courier services are still in fashion, and Postmates delivers – literally. Several dozen cities host Postmates’ services and allow anyone to hire a courier to deliver packages in under an hour. This highly localized strategy creates a competitive market for big brands like FedEx, UPS and the USPS. After all, who wants to pay $60 for rush delivery when someone can drive it there in under an hour for cheap? Of course, each courier has to go through some pretty strict background checks to get hired by Postmates. It can be difficult to get in, but freelancers can earn up to $25/hour by driving or biking around delivering packages. That’s a pretty sweet deal for everyone involved.
What could be better than hiring someone to raise your SEO score for only $5? Fiverr uses a basic gig model that starts at $5 and can be built upon to upwards of $10,000 or more. Don’t be turned off by the maximum selling price, however; many users still offer gigs for the usual $5. You can find pretty much anything on Fiverr, from blog writing services to custom paintings to birthday videos. The wide variety makes for some interesting gigs, and some of them can be a bit odd, but that’s the power of freelancing. Fiverr uses a payment system that accepts PayPal, credit cards or Bitcoin. Sellers can request payment through Fiverr funds (which allow them to purchase on the site), direct deposit or Paypal.
Guru lets you search by task for freelancers offering those services. Vice versa, freelancers can also search for job listings posted by buyers to customize their workload, so it works out very well for both sides. Much like UpWork, freelancers create a profile and list their qualifications for potential buyers. Payments are made/received using either the site’s invoicing system or SafePay. SafePay is the most popular option because it allows for international payments that are given only after the buyer is satisfied with the job. This level of insurance protects both buyer and seller, as the buyer has to put up the money through SafePay before hiring a freelancer.
Other sites like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb provide transportation and accomodation services for those requesting them. Freelancers can be found for pretty much any job, but companies looking for help with technology, writing services and design work will get the most use out of sites like UpWork and Fiverr. The gig economy is taking off, and companies looking to balance their budget should consider using these helpful sites to slice their costs in half.