a table showing a map with people in different countries

Company X [name changed for privacy] is a Fortune 500 that engages thousands of freelance experts each year. However, they avoid using freelancing websites to find talent. Instead, they use traditional agencies which can take weeks longer and cost up to 40% more.

Why would a company willingly pay more and take longer to secure resources? Because they think it helps freelancers—but they’re wrong.

2 myths about freelancing websites

More companies and freelancers are utilizing freelancing platforms like Upwork to find and start working with each other faster. Yet some companies believe these platforms hurt freelancers in developed countries by:

  • Causing people to lower their rates to compete against talent with a lower cost of living
  • Causing companies to focus on getting the lowest rates instead of the right expertise

In other words, some companies believe when they use freelancing websites, they’re speeding the talent’s race to the bottom.

But that’s not true.

Yes, some companies require less skilled help or have budget limitations, which cause them to focus on talent with the lowest rates. And there are some freelancers who are willing to work those contracts to gain experience.

But many companies seek contract talent to gain specialized skills they don’t have in-house. The fastest-growing freelance skills in demand include Blockchain, TensorFlow, and AmazonDB. For companies seeking specialized skills, it’s more important to find the right person to do the work, do it well, and get it done on time.

Chances are, the right person won’t be someone who accepts a cut-rate contract.

To understand how online freelancing platforms help people, let’s start by understanding who today’s freelancers are.

People freelance by choice, not force

A few years ago, people freelanced as a temporary solution to make money when they were between jobs. The Freelancing in America survey shows it’s completely different now.

Today, over 6 in 10 people (63%) voluntarily gave up their 9-to-5 jobs for a freelancer’s life. In part because technology enables people to find project work more easily, and freelancing is more widely viewed as a respected career choice.

Freelancers are some of the most skilled experts in their field. You’ll find all levels of talent on online platforms. Many are educated, entrepreneurial, and highly experienced.

If you want to tap into the largest workforce, millennials, you may have better luck finding them online rather than in a face-to-face interview. Nearly half (47%) of this tech-savvy generation freelance.

Why skilled professionals freelance

Freedom, flexibility, and the ability to work on more fulfilling projects still rank within the top reasons people freelance. They also make more money and have more security than working as an employee.

The same survey shows nearly 2 in 3 freelancers who left a traditional job say they now make more than before.

Most people (63%) say having multiple clients gives them more security than working for a single company.

This leads to a major reason why freelancing platforms aren’t a race to the bottom. Instead, these websites are helping talent succeed.

FREELANCING WEBSITES HELP TALENT INCREASE THEIR EARNINGS

Freelancers determine their own rates, so you’ll see a range for any skill. Those starting off will accept lower rates to gain experience. And those with a higher reputation, skills, and experience will naturally command higher rates.

Freelancing websites act like they’re own ecosystem, which also enables people to build a reputation faster than through traditional means. As a result, they can raise their rates sooner and possibly more often.

When Upwork, the largest global freelancing website, analyzed the earnings across all skill sets on their platform, they found:

  • The average hourly rate negotiated by U.S. freelancers has nearly doubled since 2015.
  • Many freelancers earn well over six figures.
“I get BETTER business with a higher rate.”

When graphic designer Morgan Overholt became a freelancer on Upwork, she followed a methodical strategy for raising her rates. As she gained a reputation and more experience on Upwork, she’d re-evaluate her rates every few weeks and raise them accordingly.

Within a year, Overholt went from charging $20/hour to $75/hour. Although there are other designers who charge less, she’s not tempted to lower her rates.

“I get better business with a higher rate. Higher rates attract a completely different type of clientele,” says Overholt. “At $75/hour, I am able to attract clients with nationally recognized names who have big budgets and future projects.”

Not only does her higher rate attract better clients, she also gains more business. “It easier to win contracts and I get more invitations without even applying,” she says. Because of her quality work, clients refer her to other large companies. Her referrals increased 10X within a year.

“This has really allowed me to spend less time bidding for contracts or worrying where my next contract is going to come from—and a lot more time actually working,“ says Overholt.

MOST FREELANCERS RELY ON THE WEB TO FIND WORK

To a freelancer, efficiency is money. Each hour spent searching for work or waiting for an agency to call is time gone unbilled. Freelancing websites help talent find work faster, many find projects within 3 days.

The platforms also streamline contracts and other administrative tasks, which helps talent start work sooner, and get paid faster.

Freelancing websites provide so many benefits that nearly 40% of talent utilize them. In fact, 71% of talent say the amount of work they obtained online increased over the past year.

SMART COMPANIES LOOK AT EXPERIENCE, NOT RATE companies look at experience, not rates

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. How you find talent—whether through a traditional agency, freelancing website, or referral from a friend—shouldn’t change the fact that they’re skilled professionals who deserve to be compensated fairly.

What’s more, when you contract a freelancer, it’s not just good for them, it’s good for their community too. You could be distributing wealth outside of large urban centers to smaller communities with fewer opportunities. When you pay fair rates, everyone wins.

Upwork is a freelancing website where businesses of all sizes can find talented independent professionals across multiple disciplines and categories. If you’re a business looking to get projects done, start today!