A Q & A Session between Launceston Freelance Festival & gigexchange on the Future of Work & Freelancing
- How do listings work and what niches/needs is the gigexchange filling in in the market?
We are a Future of Work marketplace that offers 4 service listings. These are:
1. Gigs or ‘Gig Economy Tasks’: This is outcome based work, where the lister can advertise a ‘Fixed Price’ gig, or a ‘Negotiable’ gig. We allow suitable gig workers (Freelancers/Contractors/Service Providers) to chat privately and negotiate. Once an agreement is made, we hold the money until work is completed to satisfaction.
2. Jobs: Our jobs service allows businesses to advertise for casual, temporary, contract or permanent jobs. Essentially anything that is time based, as opposed to outcome based.
3. Volunteer: We want to create a site which is free and easy for charities and community groups to access volunteers. We want to be the digital interface between the community, volunteers & businesses.
4. Promote: Where Freelancers, contractors & service based businesses can advertise their services and find new customers, validated by our platform reputation. We want to reward great, hard, honest work to grow our freelancer’s ability to reach new customers.
- Are there any listings/jobs you would not take?
o Yes, we outline these in our terms & conditions #5b. In summary we do not allow and will remove any Listings or content on our website that is misleading, deceptive, harmful, offensive, defamatory, of an adult-oriented, pornographic, political or religious nature, or infringes a third party’s intellectual property rights.
- What freelance job roles are in high demand?
o We live in the era of the digital revolution, any skill or role that facilitates businesses advancing their digital transformation is highly valuable. These can be broken down into different sub-services:
o Design & Build: Web & App development, Web Design are hugely desirable skills, especially as small business begins to understand the importance of having a digital footprint.
o Customer Experience: UI/UX Designers who can simply navigate the customer to point of sales within a website or application are critical to success.
o Sales & Marketing: This can range from Artists, Illustrators, Graphic Designers, Photographers & Content creators visualising the product and brand.
Copywriters articulating the message & media/journalists reporting on this.
Video producers professionally engaging & educating audiences.
SEO experts extending the organic reach of a website.
o Digital marketers: Strategically planning the solution and implementing the result across different mediums and especially social media.
o Cloud professionals: Migrating legacy on premise office equipment to scalable cloud platforms
o Network & Cyber Security professionals: Enabling internet access & securing customer data & websites.
o Automation: Software engineering, DevOps & automation is driving efficiency within the workforce. Businesses are demanding to work smarter.
o Data Analysis: Data Scientists, or Big Data Analysts & Business Analysts who can collate, interpret & present customer data trends is the big growth area!
o AI & Machine Learning: We’ve all seen the movies, but the fact is AI & machine learning is here to stay. How we control it for good is the most important question. The opportunities are endless and it’s a huge growth area if you have skills in mathematics & programming.
o Blockchain & Cryptography: The way we transact over the internet is changing rapidly. These technologies are at the forefront of providing de-centralised, yet secure, transactions. At a fraction of the cost of existing solutions.
- How do you work out payment rates for freelancers? What would you consider a fair rate?
o For our Jobs services, the hourly or daily rate will be advertised by the employer for the length of the contract. This is usually a set rate, or a range which is up for negotiation depending on skills and experience.
o For our gigs services, the work is based on outcome. This can be dictated by the gig lister in a fixed price gig. Or can be negotiable, so a private chat negotiation can occur before selection.
o For Fixed price gigs, the freelancer has the choice to accept or reject. If the gig lister is not successful in finding workers, we will communicate with them to review the scope of work and price point.
o For negotiable gigs, freelancers can respond and advise what scope and price they are happy to complete the gig at. We also allow additional in-flight scope and price changes, as we know things unexpectedly change. We want to facilitate a win-win approach.
o As an early stage business, we are not offering guidance on rates, or outcome based work as yet. As our database grows, we will utilise our own big data analytics to understand behaviours and offer advice. We will also put in place controls to ensure all services are fair. We are founded and developed by gig workers of the NZ gig economy and we are determined to ensure our platform only delivers fair solutions for all our gig workers & freelancers.
o If you wish to volunteer for something you are passionate about, the rate is irrelevant. The purpose and satisfaction is everything!
o We take a 5% commission from the successfully completed gig. We believe this is the fairest gig economy fee for any global player. I was determined not to take any larger commission than 5% as we want more money staying in the back pocket of all gig workers & freelancers. The majority of this fee goes to our global payment provider Stripe, but we are happy with this arrangement as their services allow us to reach and help more gig workers.
- How did the gigexchange start and what was your journey like as you became founder?
o I founded the company as I initially saw an opportunity to create an ethical marketplace in NZ for IT freelancers & contractors connecting to businesses at fair prices and commission fees. As a contractor myself, I have been on the receiving end of high commission fees, for many contracts I have worked. We understand the challenges associated with being a self-employed. I am very lucky to have great friends who are incredibly talented web developers and UX/UI designers. I very quickly realised that we had the skills, capability & purpose to create a world class platform which could compete with global jobs & gig economy competitors and solve the problems of high commission fees in the freelance and contracting world.
o I have seen into the Future of Work, the job for life is no more, the career for life is evaporating as we have to pivot and upskill multiple times throughout our work life. The progressive shift to shorter work assignments is happening. For freelancers & contractors, we understand the risk, but the commission based model needs to adapt too. The risk is all on our shoulders. I want to solve this problem, so more money stays in the workers back pocket. We are a 2 sided workplace that understands the pressure of starting a business as well as the struggle and cost of gaining new customers. Whilst also facilitating more work opportunities through all our work services, but at the fairest of fees. We call this empowering the win-win.
o We have designed, developed and operated the business as a side hustle right from its inception. I founded the company in late 2018 and we launched just before Covid struck in March 2020. We all have day jobs and work on the business in the evenings and weekends. We knew the challenges we would face, so ensured the platform is fully automated from day 1. This starts with registration through to gig worker identity verification in conjunction with Stripe AI & payouts. Our big focus recently has been on International capability & extending organic reach. Both of which we are pleased to enable soon. It’s been a long path and a lot of blood, sweat & lack of sleep to get here. But we are very proud of our product and excited that new our journey is just beginning.
- Where do you believe the future of freelancing is going/moving towards?
o As I touched on above, I believe we are all slowly progressing towards self-employment. The future of freelancing is incredible. The digital age is opening up new opportunities to freelancers which have previously been restricted to local geographical areas, or permanent employees only. Businesses are rapidly beginning to appreciate the value of on-demand highly skilled local and remote freelancers. The effect of Covid has accelerated and liberated businesses to adopting remote workers especially. ‘Where’ and ‘how’ work is completed is no longer as important to an employer. The outcome is now everything. If you can deliver high quality work, when expected, the opportunities are endless. I believe remote working is the next big opportunity.
- What makes a freelancer stand out to a potential employer/in the marketplace?
o Our super power over all other sites is that we are founded and developed by contractors and freelancers. We understand this world as we walk in the same shoes. But most importantly, we passionately care about our customer’s success.
o The secret to success are the 3 A’s. Ability, Attitude & Availability. We summarise this as reputation. Our reputation is everything. It can deliver more work, or destroy our business. We want all our workers to thrive, by promoting their reputation to obtain new work opportunities. We understand that in some cases, feedback is not always accurate. We allow one response to all feedback and believe how we respond to negative feedback portrays ourselves powerfully to our customers.
- How can freelancing be turned into a secure/stable business?
o The challenges of maintaining a steady flow of work, when it works with your availability, at a price that suits, is a common and tough problem to solve.
o I believe the answer lies in building your own network, diversifying your work opportunity funnels, adding value through high quality work and continuous improvement is key.
o I believe the way are working is changing rapidly. The current model of ‘going to work’ is becoming outdated. The Future of Work is the opposite, work will come to you. I believe digital platforms such as gigexchange will play a bit part in delivering this model.
- The gig economy has taken a big hit in 2020 due to COVID, is it less viable or more viable as a result?
o I think Covid has highlighted the risk of short term assignments. This doesn’t mean the model is broken, it simply means we need to understand and mitigate those risks. As a freelancer or contractor, we keep aside a pool of money for rainy day scenarios. Perhaps we have to reassess the size of the pool, because Covid has been a monsoon of unprecedented proportions!
o The term gig economy has matured in its short life, from initially low skilled taxi workers, to now encompassing highly skilled freelancers, contractors & consultants completing high grade business assignments. The risks are abundant, but the rewards and opportunities will only grow.
- When will you decide to move into the Australian market, and what differentiates the gigexchange from other recruiters?
o We have enabled our international capabilities & Australian gig worker feature in development and will be releasing to production in the next few weeks. We would love to have your freelancers join our platform. Watch this space!
o I believe our marketplace has 2 separate USPs to all our competitors.
1. Our technical product and services are unique. No one has combined the gig economy, with conventional permanent jobs & contracts, volunteering & self-promotional advertisements. We also have so much more to come.
2. Our why. We created this platform as we see the Future of Work & we understand and empathise with the rewards and challenges faced both now and in the future. We want businesses to access high class talent, at affordable prices for all of our services. Whilst ensuring gig workers, freelancers & contractors get access to great work opportunities at fair rates.
- What are much needed technical and soft skillsets for freelancers to have? (particularly designers, comms, journalists and web designers)
o I believe self-awareness and continuous improvement are the most important attributes. No-one is perfect and we should all be happy in our own skin, but try and improve on those things we secretly wish to ignore. No matter what field we are in, we should always be future proofing our career by studying new trends and understanding how that will impact me directly or in-directly. These may be tech skills, or inter-personal skills. As a freelancer, we have to wear every hat of the business. If one ‘hat’ needs improvement, don’t avoid it. Only a minor improvement could improve your whole freelance package as a whole. If you are an expert in your field of specialty and a good person, this will always shine through.
- Do you believe freelancing will be the new normal?
o Most definitely. I believe we are slowly trending towards self-employment. We are the lucky ones, we chose to become freelancers and contractors doing what we love and are great at. We understand the risks and the rewards. As we transition to the new normal, we need to ensure the ‘old normal’ commission model adapts to the new normal too. We will fix that problem.
- More broadly and in your opinion: what does the future of work look like?
o The Future of Work is a combination of time and outcome based work, which is why I created gigexchange to facilitate all ways of working. This enables choice & flexibility from both sides of the marketplace, as well as increased opportunities for work.
o How we measure success is shifting to an ‘outcome’ based measurement, be that freelancer projects, or Agile based project tasks within businesses, completed by a mixture of both permanent and on-demand workers.
o Agile methodologies for measuring success are increasingly popular, such as Sprints or Kanban. This framework is accelerating adoption of the business consultant gig economy.
o The Future of Work is about improvement. Businesses want to automate repeatable tasks, improve speed to success, whilst not impacting on quality. As technology advances and Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Automation increase efficiency within the workplace, this enables business to focus on growth and new products or projects. The fear is that will remove jobs and work opportunities. I believe that is the case in some industries, but it will also create new opportunities for employees, contractors and freelancers to add extra value where deep tech cannot.
o Programming & developing these new AI/ML systems will always require a human touch to oversee.
o Creative & human empathy is not going to be replaced in the near future. Any work touching on human emotions will become more valuable. Writing, art, design & video creativity will play bit roles in this.
o Globalisation of the workforce. Remote working was a nice to have in 2019. Covid has changed that forever. As we work from home more, soon we will question, where is home and what is the office? Remote working will create huge opportunities, but also some challenges.
o The Future of Work is upon us. Are we future fit? How do we make it fair?