Did you know that around 53 million estimated freelancers—about 1 in 3 workers—make up the American workforce? According to recent reports in The Economist, freelancers define an increasingly on-demand economy and augur a future in which rootlessness and flexibility will dominate. It may make sense to rely on Lyft or Handy for your driving or household needs. But does it make sense to hire an on-demand writer or editor?
As ever, the answer depends. If you are part of a business with a strong communications department looking to outsource a few finite and low-stakes projects, an on-demand market like Elance might be right for you. It offers a forum in which businesses pitch projects and freelancers compete with the lowest bids.
If, however, you are part of a business with a solid but overextended communications department, or if you expect top-quality materials at first pass that reflect and respond to your business’s mission, principles, and clients, the benefits of an on-demand editor or writer might not be worth the transactional cost.
In the on-demand marketplace, employers outsource parts of projects to specialized workers: Employers take a risk on a relatively untried entity, and workers compete to offer the cheapest rates. While the piecemeal, competitive approach works for some services, it can result in an inconsistent, substandard product for others.
This is particularly true of writing and editing projects. A business communicates its vision of itself in the documents it produces. Whether internal or external, every project is high-stakes. While a one-off editor may be able to offer an immediate solution to a temporary problem, there’s no guarantee that the services won’t be worth the low price paid. When the stakes and expectations are high, a writer with whom you are building a relationship will offer both immediate solutions and future strategies.
We embrace the on-demand economy—but maybe only part of it. For us, the time we spend building client relationships is the best part of what we do. We’ve learned (and our clients have, too) that with every project we complete, we are better prepared and more capable of anticipating and exceeding our client’s future needs.
English PhD, former arts administrator, obsessive cook, native East Coaster, mom to two rabblerousers.
English PhD, former high school teacher, obsessive organizer, native Midwesterner, mom to three troublemakers.