Freelancer and Contractor Platforms

The freelancing revolution is far from brewing in secret, poised to eclipse and monopolise industries at any given moment. Instead, their uprising has been overt. Steadily, this profession has grown and earned a tangible presence in any given job market.

According to recent research, there has been a 45% surge in the number of individuals operating in the freelance sector across Europe. This figure makes freelancing the fastest growing sector of the labour market.

In addition, Technorati - an established internet search engine - named 2013 the “Era of the Freelancer”, with 2014 looking set to present even more opportunities for those equipped with internet access and a resolute work ethic.

Evolving technology and lifestyles have both played significant parts in fuelling the profession’s ascent.

Now more than ever, individuals are acquiring contracts, contacts and networks via online platforms, of which there are plenty.

Reams and reams of outlets scatter the internet boasting of new available contracts, copious amounts of networking contacts, and so on.

As expected, the first one to mention is LinkedIn. As a social networking site created specifically for business activity, it’s really no surprise that this is the favoured accommodation of many contractors and other professionals alike. Discussions are easily instigated, connections found, and thriving opportunities presented merely by registering as a member.

‘Freelancer’, launched in 2003, has now evolved into the world’s biggest outsourcing destination and serves as an opportunistic platform to start on.  

‘oDesk’ is another established outlet for freelancing activity. It has become renowned for its knowledgeable support team and high quality service.

There are, arguably, numerous pros and cons within the realms of freelancing: Less tax, more take home pay - IR35 worries; Total autonomy, optional working hours - an obligation to evidence this; Work from home, claim money back for work-purposed clothes and bills - have to endure filling and filing a self-assessment.

Unfortunately, perhaps the worst downside of freelancing surrounds initiating a contract, and what follows after the ‘job is done’.

Attaining the right contacts and networks to acquire a contract in the first place proves to be the first hurdle. Days, weeks, and even months can be spent occupying the ‘contracting bench’, rapidly losing motivation and drive to scroll through endless amounts of opportunities in an attempt to secure just one.

Even after a contract is given, and completed, more troubles often entail. A majority of contractors will definitely have a story or two about not being paid properly, or having to chase a client for due payment.

The other option to bypass this hardship is not much more enticing. There are sites designed to help freelancers find work, but they typically charge fees or commissions per job. However, these sites offer workers a measure of security because wages are often ‘escrowed’ to ensure that payment is made at the end of each contract.

Simon Knapp, CEO of Cherished Ideas, said, “There is a lot of hype surrounding a number of freelance sites, but unfortunately, they don’t always deliver on what they promise and they often overcharge for their services.

“Freelancers are vulnerable to uncertainty when it comes to finding work and getting paid. But for many, it’s work the risk of forgoing the daily grind of a 9 to 5.” 

By:Sam Greenwell

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