Why Freelancing is Broken.

Expert customer support help by people who love people.

Why Freelancing is Broken.

February 12, 2011 CoSupport News 0

Years and years ago, I was a contractor for a popular web company. It was a great gig to start, and I was so excited to have gotten the chance to work for them. I was contracted at a pretty low starting rate with a simple contract upfront. I clocked in each day, I did my work, I noted the number of hours, and I billed them at the end of each week.

Sounds simple and ideal, huh?

It wasn’t. It was not simple because first of all, I had no idea how much my time was worth for this company. I made a guess and I low-balled the rate thinking this would give me a better chance of the company hiring me. I didn’t want to lose out on this experience because I was too expensive! The result of this is I was grossly underpaid, and I devalued my own work right from the get-go. I decided that I was not worth being paid well for the work I did, even though that work was stellar.

It was also not simple because I was paid late after multiple reminders. And we’re not talking a start-up here. We’re not talking about some small developing company without funding. This was a millions-of-dollars-a-day company, and I was still having to constantly remind them I had sent in an invoice three weeks ago. But again, I didn’t want to lose the job, so I politely and kindly and patiently peppered my invoice reminders with emoticons and exclamation points. It’s ok! No big deal! I’m sure you’re busy, but just a reminder!

I wasn’t getting paid on time because I wasn’t a high priority to this company, mostly because I’d started our relationship telling them I was not important enough to be paid what I was worth. The first time I didn’t get paid on time, my response was to just keep working and hope they’d notice on their own.

Which reveals the final crack in the China: I had no job security. I wanted this gig so bad that I was willing to show up everyday without being paid on time, knowing at any moment they could say, “Hey we don’t need you anymore.” Sure, we had this contact for x number of hours, but try to take that to court and you’ll soon realize those contracts are suggestions more than they are iron-clad. A freelance contract is typically no more than a handshake agreement, and if you don’t believe this ask anyone you know who freelances how often they are paid within a week, 2 weeks, a month of delivery.

The freelance model in the web industry is broken, it’s making a mockery of real work that designers and programmers provide, and it’s causing the people who hire those workers to believe the job itself is not important.

CoSupport was born of this exact dilemma, and that’s what makes us different. We are not freelancers. We’re not contract workers. We’re not your employees. We’re your vendor. You purchase a product from us that happens to be support services. You pay in advance, we point you to the window, and there we deliver your order.

You can hire us for a one-time job. You can hire us month-to-month. Whatever you need, we can provide, but we’re going to do so for a cost that’s relative to our experience and reputation. We’re not going to count hours for you or send you an itemized invoice. We’re going to do the job you asked for, the job you need, and we’re going to keep it simple.

There’s no negotiating our rates or the time you need from us. There’s no extensive contract limiting our work or delegating us to two sides working against each other or planting a seed of resentment on either side. You choose what your team needs, you select that from our available options, and in a week or so you’ll get exactly what you ordered.

Sounds simple and ideal, huh?