Gig Economy Success

Gig Economy Platforms and Your Business

gig economy platfo

There are many ways to take advantage of the gig economy.

Platforms like Fiverr and Upwork have made inexpensive talent 0n demand available to business owners everywhere.    While AI models may be able to remove some repetitive tasks from our daily lives, some tasks still require humans, and if you’re not ready to hire a full time employee, or your budget dictates you can’t hire a US based firm to execute for you, a gig economy worker might be the best choice for your business.

While it can be more cost effective to engage  offshore contractors, there are some definite drawbacks to using gig economy platforms, including:

  • No vetting process.  Anyone can list their services on a gig economy platform- whether they are qualified to perform the task they’re advertising or not.
  • Language barriers.  Your contractor may not speak the same language as you proficiently, or at all.  Contractors are using translators or Google translate – but they’re not telling you, the client, that this is the case.
  • Bait and switch.  Many profiles are actually huge cubicle farms of subcontractors – the person you’re speaking to or emailing with is not the person performing your task.  If you’re paying them 3 dollars an hour,  and they’re subcontracting, how qualified IS the person doing the work?
  • Fake reviews.  Contractors review each other, falsely inflating their “Five star” ratings.
  • Prohibitive terms and conditions.  Contesting a charge for a poorly rendered or late service?  That’s not allowed, and your account can be banned for it.
  • Unwanted  spam.  Contractors find you online from your profile, and begin soliciting you independently of the platform.
  • Scams.  You can reach an agreement with a contractor, only to have the project change in scope or price.
  • Unpredictable cancellations.  A contractor may just fail to deliver, and cancel your project with no notice or recourse.

With all of that in mind, there are still some amazing contractors using gig economy platforms.  We’ve made the mistakes for you, so you can avoid inconvenient and expensive issues hiring contractors online.  Here are my guidelines for finding great gig economy contractors!

11 Steps to Hiring Gig Economy Contractors Online

  1. Define Your Project Requirements
  2. Post a Request for Services
  3. Review Gig Offers
  4. Contact Potential Sellers
  5. Select a Seller
  6. Place an Order
  7. Communication and Collaboration
  8. Review and Approve Deliverables
  9. Complete the Order and Provide Feedback
  10. Payment and Invoicing
  11. Evaluate the Experience

Following these steps can lead to better outcomes using gig economy platforms.

Define Your Project Requirements

Clearly outline the scope of work, specific tasks, and deliverables you need from the contractor.  With issues to navigate such as different time zones, different languages and your own potential inexperience with a specific tax, the more details you have around both the process you want followed and the outcomes you’re expecting are essential to the success of a gig economy platform engagement.  Many engagements fail not because your contractor is unable to do the job, but because you simply don’t know what you want or need.    While an engagement on its’ own may not be expensive, paying to have a “cheap” thing done six times turns expensive quickly.

Ask clarifying questions and be prepared to provide more direction than “social media graphics for my accounting firm”

Before you start looking for the perfect contractor, make sure you have the perfect project outline.  Looking for a template you can customize?  Subscribe to the R&R newsletter, we’re sharing one there this week!

Post A Request for Services

While you can review contractors and their “gigs” online, I have found that most listings are deceptive, offering an abbreviated or “lite” version of the gig for one price, while your quote will come out significantly higher.  It is better to create and post a request on the platform, upload your project brief, and ask contractors to provide an accurate quote.  You can waste hours reading profiles and messaging contractors who don’t respond, or can’t complete the task within your timeline or budget.

Include your timeline and budget in your listing.  Remember your request is “window shopping” only.  Your budget isn’t necessarily going to be the price you negotiate with the seller.  Expect to negotiate.

Review Gig Offers

Once your offers begin coming in, you can save yourself a lot of time using very a very basic decision tree.

Is it a form letter?  “Hello Dear, I am interested in your “WORD FOR WORD PROJECT NAME” and I understand you need “WORD FOR WORD DESCRIPTION”

Skip it.

An easy way to eliminate contractors that apply for every gig on the platform is to put a deliberate inaccuracy in your listing.

Spell something wrong.

Use a word that has no business being there.  “Marketing Export for Socials Media” for example.

If the offer outlines they can “be a marketing export for socials media” the odds are this contractor is part of a larger “contractor farm” and their entire job is responding to requests and cutting and pasting the answers.

Before creating your short list, look at the reviews.  One word five star reviews from the same country the contractor is in are usually fake.  One word five start reviews from the same buyer ten times are usually fake.  Find contractors who have detailed reviews from U.S. based buyers.  Look at the examples of their work – do you like what they’ve already done?

Contact Sellers

Reach out to potential sellers through Fiverr’s messaging system. Clarify any doubts, discuss project specifics, and negotiate terms if necessary.  Contact more than one, and see who best fits your style.  If you’re highly organized and require a lot of details to feel comfortable, make sure you only engage with contractors who provide the level of detail you’ll need – this is a “first date” and everyone is on their best behavior.  If you find them difficult to get a quote from, you’ll find it difficult to work with them.

Identify a short list of several sellers.  If you have the time and budget, my go-to here is to choose a small part of the project – for example, if I was looking for a graphic designer to create Instagram posts, I’d ask the seller to provide examples of previous projects close to mine, and I’d hire five different contractors to each create one or two Instagram posts.  I’d evaluate the experience with each, their adherence to timelines, the quality of their work and their ability to follow directions.  From those five, I’d choose one to move forward with on my project, and I’d likely assign one or two small projects to my second and third choice in case of an issue with my preferred seller.  Even the best virtual assistant will have a personal emergency from time to time or be unavailable due to their work loads.  It’s good to have amicable relationships with backup providers.

Select a Seller

After evaluating and completing small tasks with different sellers, choose the one that best fits your project needs, budget, and timeline.

Place an Order

Ask your seller to send you a custom offer for the project.  The offer will include the price and the due date.  Remember that most platforms will ask for a tip for the seller at the completion of the project.  Tips are not mandatory, but I usually provide a lower budget and tip generously when I’m happy with the outcome.

Provide detailed instructions and any necessary files for the project  – remember you’ve already created a project outline before you began, so you can now upload that document and you’re ready to start.  Even if you’re “sure” the file you sent was correct, double check any shared folders and make sure everything you want your contractor using is in the file, and nothing else.  If you accidentally send a low resolution image, that’s on you – once you’ve given the go-ahead, any issues that you’ve created can result in a delay or price increase.

The seller may have a process they need you to follow – make sure you understand things like milestones (some projects are paid in stages, for example a website may have a stage for design, deployment, testing, adding ecommerce, etc. Review the order summary carefully – does your contractor have what they need, and do you know what your tasks are? If so, you’re good to go!  You will pay for your project up front, and the platform will hold the funds in escrow until the project is received

Communication and Collaboration

Maintain open communication with the selected seller throughout the project via the platform messaging system.
Clarify expectations, provide feedback, and address any concerns promptly.  Remember, if you don’t actively participate, the platform will mark the project as complete within three days of the delivery.  If it’s wrong, and the project finalizes without your feedback, you’re at fault, and you’ll be paying for the project.

How many revisions has the seller offered you?  If your project says “one revision” and you’re still unhappy, you may need to negotiate another revision.  In my experience, it’s better to pay a little more for unlimited revisions.  However, it’s also important to set expectations about revision timelines.  I’ve had projects go over by months because the seller delivered a poor quality project, I requested a revision, and nothing happened.  Be prepared to have to advocate for yourself with the project platform, and keep detailed records to support your claim.

Communicate with sellers only on the platform, as communicating off-platform is a violation of the platform service terms and you’ll have no recourse for bad execution off platform.  When a seller fails to deliver on time, you can extend the project or you can request to cancel.  Not a great option if you’re on a deadline, so always give yourself a buffer when working with a platform contractor.

Review and Approve Deliverables

Once the seller delivers the work, carefully review the deliverables against the initial requirements.
If satisfied, approve the delivery. If revisions are needed, communicate them to the seller.   You can download the delivery from the platform itself or from a shared link provided by the seller.  One of the things I like best about Fiverr is the ability to go back and re-download something I may have misfiled.

Complete the Order and Provide Feedback

If you can’t give the seller a five star review, it’s advisable to talk to the seller first and tell them why you’re not going to give them a good review.  They will either make it right, or in some cases, up to or including cancelling the order to avoid the negative review.

Release Payment

You will pre-fund the payment of your contractor.  When you accept the deliverable, your payment is released to the contractor, and you’ll no longer have any recourse for refunds or revisions.  Make sure before you click “accept” that you are 100% happy with the results of your project.

Evaluate the Experience

How did it go?

In addition to evaluating the finished product, consider how well you were able to describe the outcome you wanted and if things went poorly, whose fault was the breakdown?  Be honest.  Not everyone is great at explaining what they need, and if you’re not good at it, your experience with contractors will never be positive.  They aren’t employees, they don’t breathe and eat your culture, they have a limited scope of experience and ability, and if you’re unable to support them, they’ll fail.

Reflect on the contractor’s performance and the overall experience.

Did your template miss any important details?  Did you forget to do something on your end that caused problems or delays?  A project management checklist for similar projects is a great idea – edit and update it the same way you might edit and update an evolving process at your business. Keep a list of successful contractors for future projects.

Additional Tips For Gig Economy Success:

Be respectful and professional when communicating with sellers on gig economy platforms.
Prioritize sellers with good reviews and a proven track record.
Understand the platform’s terms of service, payment structure, and dispute resolution process

By following these steps, you’ll be able to effectively partner with contractors on gig economy platforms and take advantage of the efficiency and savings that can result.

Have tips on successful gig economy platform use?  We’d love to hear them!  Email us and we’ll share them in our newsletter.

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