The Freelance Economy
In 2016, I spent 6 months between jobs. In the interim, I set up a small consultancy, and even had a couple of small, paid engagements. But at its core, I knew that life wasn’t for me. A variety of reason, but essentially, the constantly hyping yourself, and alway be selling/closing just wasn’t in my DNA.
Sure, I know a lot of people who do the consulting thing, and enjoy it.
During this break, I signed up for a couple of those online freelance sites, and looked to pick up some easy marketing/product marketing, or even some product management gigs.
One of those I signed up for was UpWork.
I even bid on a few projects, but I learnt pretty quickly that:
- Most of the people seeking some help were completely clueless. One that I bid hard for was to do the product marketing things around the release of a new product. Having done a lot of this through the years, I put together a solid proposal, with actions, deliverables and milestones. Knowing that I would spend on the order of 75-100 hours, I bid my time at the midpoint, and at $80 an hour. It should have been a total of about $6,000. I lost to someone in Eastern Europe who bid $450.
- You are competing with people in countries where $250 a month is a livable wage. Sure, their English may not be perfect. Sure they may be lacking some credentials. But at. The end of the day, a senior, skilled practitioner is worth $150 - $200 an hour, but the lure of someone willing to do it for about. $2.50 an hour is too much.
Then today, in The NY Times is this article: “How Freelancing is Changing Work”, and I cringed my way through it.
It is an interview with the CEO of UpWork, and while I understand and somewhat agree with the principals in it, I have to say that unless we (the USA) gets our shit together, and puts in place a real safety net (healthcare, basic income, better infrastructure) this is a horrible idea. All you are doing is making it easier for people in the English speaking emerging markets to take work from Americans. This one way transfer of money will leave Americans poorer, and negatively impact the whole economy.
But it will suck really bad, as all the social safety net items will not be enacted.