Moving Beyond Old-World Freelance Options


It’s no secret that experienced workers have been hanging out their shingles in ever-increasing numbers for the last decade or more. Nowhere is that more true than in the marketing and advertising industry, where the employment of freelancers has been accepted seemingly forever. Yet, the influx of independent workers is changing the game because the crowding of the space makes it difficult to know who provides great work and who is just prolific.

Traditionally, agencies and brands have engaged freelancers to achieve similar goals, from adding extra hands when workload exceeds in-house capacity to contributing a highly specific skill set to a project. Brands have been more likely to offer flat payment for the work products that result, while agencies have often seen freelancers as employee surrogates and paid them hourly—a system that rewards the amount of time worked, not efficiency or quality.

What’s Changing?

The most sought-after freelancers have often come out of agencies and are savvy to the hourly structure that works against them in most situations. They usually seek flat-rate assignments that are scaled to reward their experience and consistently high quality of work, without regard for the time they may (or may not) need to spend generating that work.

As a result, both agencies and brands are faced with a new challenge: How can they get fresh, stellar work that sets them apart from competitors? Imagine going into a concept development or pitch with expanded creative capability. It’s an immediate accelerator for the work, creating differentiation in an industry that’s known for stagnancy.

The Global Network

A new, win-win option has sprung up in the last few years to bring both freelancers and agencies and brands together. It offers several benefits over traditional methods:

  • Greater resource availability. By giving freelancers the opportunity to pitch in when projects matching their skills are available, the network ensures that agencies and brands can choose from the work of a variety of people at any time.
  • Higher work quality. Strictly defining the goal of the project at each phase, and giving freelancers distinct briefs to fulfill, supports the submission of well-honed, strategically clear work, so more of the work is completed with a higher level of quality.
  • Better focus. Offering freelancers discrete tasks encourages efficiency—so that ever-busy, award-winning designer may take a few minutes to riff on the theme and submit  something beyond our clients’ wildest expectations.
  • Higher cost efficiency. Recruiting and assigning freelancers with the right skills for the right projects at the right time ensures that agencies and brands only pay for what they need, rather than paying for extra, unneeded staff and operational overhead.
  • Rewards for results. On the flip side of focus, being paid for the work product submitted or selected also encourages freelancers to send us their very best, ensuring that our clients receive consistently unique material.
  • Less micromanagement. There’s a reason most people who choose to freelance do so—and it usually involves being their own boss. By helping our clients deliver clear direction to them upfront and then moderating the flow of submissions and revisions, we’re building relationships that last for years, to everyone’s benefit.
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