The digital economy doesn’t depend on just numbers and images. Words still matter. Companies need lively product descriptions and online ad copy, along with other textual content that serves to persuade consumers to part with their money.
Keeping that word machine going — and making sure that payments don’t gum up the words — was the subject of the latest PYMNTS Matchmakers podcast interview series, this one with Cem Arel, CEO and founder of Wordapp, a content processing platform for online businesses looking to scale their content needs. The platform relies on what one might call the wisdom of the writerly crowd, along with machine learning and digital payments technology, to attract capable freelancers and serve clients who need the copy.
Wordapp, launched about three years ago, fits into the developing economy of gig and freelance work, a world that is both growing and changing.
Almost 40 percent of the U.S. workforce now makes at least 40 percent of their income via gig work, according to the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index. And nearly 76 percent of those workers say they would not leave freelance work behind for a full-time job, thanks largely to the perks of gig employment, including flexibility, health benefits, supplemental income and creative fulfillment.
Freelance work, especially writing, can still conjure up thoughts of delayed paychecks and inefficient, even clunky, workflows. However, as is the case for all digital retail and services, providing a “seamless experience” is key to a company like Wordapp, Arel said during the PYMNTS interview.
The company uses a “global network” of freelancers to fulfill outsourced copy orders — including localized and SEO-optimized writing in some two dozen languages, among other tasks — for Wordapp clients, he said. Freelancers pick up jobs through the platform’s “task feed,” with machine learning helping writers to select the most relevant tasks for their experience or preferences. Finished text goes to other Wordapp freelancers for editing before being approved for client download. Software guards against plagiarism.
Clients track the progress of the copy via analytics on the platform. Client feedback helps determine how many points freelancers are awarded, with more points signifying better work and eventually opening the door to even more work. (Yes, spelling and grammar mistakes can count against the freelancer and slow the accumulation of those points.)
Payment Plays A Role
Wordapp has about 20,000 registered freelancers, Arel said. Offering those writers work via an online marketplace is one thing. Keeping them loyal to the platform is another. That’s where payments come in — writers are generally paid at the end of the month, unless their balances are more than 50 euros (about $58), in which case payments come weekly.
Frequency isn’t the only factor in making payments better for freelancers and gig workers. A growing body of business case studies and other analysis is driving home the point that, to keep workers loyal to a specific platform or marketplace, offering a variety of payment options and distribution methods is proving vital. Too few options can result in payment leakage — users leaving a platform for richer pastures that have the desired payments.
Wordapp had not originally planned on using Hyperwallet (which was recently acquired by PayPal for $400 million, by the way), but Arel said Hyperwallet’s global payout capabilities made it a more logical partner. By integrating with Hyperwallet, Wordapp enables payment distribution in euros, pounds and U.S. dollars through Hyperwallet’s financial network in more than 100 countries.
So, what’s next for Wordapp? The launch, in the third quarter of 2018, of products focused around Google AdWords, Arel said.
Writers always need work and, as the digital economy progresses, platforms and payments could continue to take some of the pseudo-romantic pain away from the craft of producing words.