Pretty much everyone — employers and talent alike — is familiar with the blessings and curses of freelance work, and how those things often combine in a situation that is equal parts discovery and frustration. That can hold especially true for jobs that require relatively high skills — jobs such as design, coding and writing, among others.
Throughout the world, there exists many people with the specific skills and experiences that can come in handy when a business has an urgent or temporary project to complete, one that requires the expertise of outsiders. Yet, even with such a ready supply of talent, employers still face the challenge of finding that gig worker who not only has the chops to finish the project on time, and correctly, but has the flexibility to meet a particular schedule.
Enter the disruptive force of digital.
In a new PYMNTS interview, Karen Webster spoke with Micha Kaufman, founder and CEO of Fiverr, an online marketplace that launched in 2010 to match skilled freelance workers — people with talents more specific than, say, the typical ride-hailing driver — with the buyers who want their services.
Expanding The Skilled-Labor Pool
The backdrop to the conversation was Fiverr’s recent acquisition of high-end content marketing platform and talent network ClearVoice.
The deal was announced Wednesday (Feb. 13), and will serve to expand the supply of experienced content marketing freelancers who can work on the Fiverr platform. Content creation stands as one of the highest-grossing verticals on Fiverr Pro (Fiverr’s top tier of freelancers), the company noted, which is why the acquisition was such a good fit. For the time being, Fiverr will keep ClearVoice “independent,” he said, “but, over time, there will be a lot of synergies in customers and know-how.”
Fiverr was born out of Kaufman’s experiences as an entrepreneur, as well as his search for the best freelance talent for his business needs. While doing so, Kaufman said he was “exposed to how high-friction those transactions can be — finding and getting in touch with a person, figuring out if you want to work with that person, and anything to do with transactions, [non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)], file exchange and all that.”
That friction inspired the development of a platform that would eliminate it — for both buyers and suppliers. Finding a skilled, experienced freelancer should be as easy as buying a product online, he added, particularly for the kinds of projects that can be easily fulfilled remotely.
Gig Worker Services As Products
That vision requires thinking about such a marketplace as more than just a “hiring platform,” Kaufman said. Fiverr wasn’t built as a place to hire freelancers, but as a place for people and businesses to come and, in his words, “get things done.”
Getting things done means making it easy to search for gig workers who have the skills needed to get those jobs done. The goal of the Fiverr platform, Kaufman explained, is to free its sellers from the job of “marketing themselves and trying to win jobs, but let them spend time doing what they love.”
Going to Fiverr is like going to a retail marketplace — gig workers have “storefronts” that provide a rating and description of their services. A buyer on the site can choose a delivery date for the needed freelance work, and the site’s “search algorithm matches the job with the people who have both the skills and availability to complete it.” That might seem like a relatively small tool (eCommerce has trained all of us to expect more from marketplaces of all types), but it’s a feature that can serve to increase the stickiness of the platform.
“It’s personalized to every customer, based on interests and needs,” he told Webster. That’s vital because, in his telling, there is no typical supplier experience in the gig economy. “It’s a need basis, not a use case.”
Gig Economy Trends
Such experiences promise to become even more common in the coming years, as documented by PYMNTS research and data. Take one area: the recently completed holiday shopping season.
According to the latest PYMNTS Disbursement Tracker, seasonal gig workers are becoming more common at small businesses (SMBs), especially during the holiday season. As recently as 2017, SMBs’ hiring of gig workers increased by 37 percent during a six-month period, a recent report said. This was considerably higher than the hiring rates experienced by other types of workers. On the other hand, the hiring of part-time workers increased by 22 percent.
That research — among the most recent PYMNTS data that keeps regular tabs on the gig economy — also found that employers are hiring temporary gig workers over full-time employees for several reasons. Forty-one percent of business owners said they hired seasonal gig workers to address temporary needs, while 50.8 percent said they required gig workers’ expertise and 35.1 percent said they made temporary hires to keep their cash reserves in check.
The need for temporary, freelance expertise (or long-term freelance relationships with skilled workers) is not about to decrease for businesses of any sizes.
Among the main challenges of gig work — one specific to talent, but which impacts businesses looking to hire freelancers — is the reluctance of laborers to put themselves into the market, in many cases because they are not sure about how to take that first step. Webster told Kaufman that, according to PYMNTS research, about 22 percent “of the U.S. population would like to participate [in the gig economy), but does not know how to get started.”
To meet that challenge, Fiverr is bent on increasing awareness of its offerings, including via advertising, Kaufman said. Fiverr also has bigger plans — its recent acquisition of ClearVoice marks Fiverr’s third acquisition in two years, and follows the purchase of high-end video marketplace VEED, and freelance services platform AND CO. These deals not only reflect the importance of content and its creation in the gig economy, but they signal Fiverr’s ambitions in the coming years.
“We want to cater to every type of business, every size and need,” Kaufman said.
As Fiverr works toward that goal, the gig economy keeps growing and diversifying — creating opportunities for digitally minded firms that can offer a one-stop, sticky platform.