29 Aug 2016 21:16 IST

The speedy development of the ‘Gig Economy’

The internet has proven to be a boon for freelancers

Being a freelancer has always been a challenge. There’s the tough problem of finding an interesting assignment, and then trying to get paid for it. But now, thanks to social networks, it’s probably the best time to become a freelancer.

Just look at stats on Freelancer.com, where 20 million users log in to find jobs or offer gigs. It is perhaps the largest online marketplace where employers and freelancers can meet. But the website is now facing hefty competition from a host of other social networks that are giving wheels to the “Gig Economy”. There’s Thumbtack which match-makes between workers and job providers. On the lower end, in India, UrbanClap connects people looking for technicians, or even creative professionals.

There’s the more upmarket Upwork, which is finding favour with a host of professional executives looking for a change in the type of work they do.

Enter LinkedIn

And now the big daddy of talent marketing, LinkedIn, is trying to get a strong foothold in this space. Post acquisition by Microsoft, ProFinder, LinkedIn’s tool for freelancers, is being promoted heavily in the US and the professional social network’s co-founder Reid Hoffman has hinted that it could be expanded internationally in near future.

The service is already being used by more than 50,000 LinkedIn-approved freelancers and has 140 service categories listed.

Since LinkedIn has a professional database of 450 million members, experts reckon that ProFinder will start out with a huge advantage.

Going by the data insights that LinkedIn has shared, the number of freelancers is shooting up on the platform. The company says Florida and Texas have seen the biggest increases in the number of freelancers. Sector-wise, according to the LinkedIn data team’s reports, the healthcare and pharma industry has seen the maximum growth in the last five years.

ProFinder

To start with, Linked ProFinder is completely free for those posting projects and those looking for them. However, for service providers only the first five proposals are free to post, after which a premium LinkedIn Business Plus subscription is necessary.

In the US, the gig economy is 29 per cent of the total workforce. It will be interesting to see data from India when the service kicks in here.

Also, a rider — for every successful freelancer marketplace, there are several start-ups that have already bit the dust.

Apple looking to bite into the social media space?

Neither Apple nor Google have met with great success when it comes to social media offerings. Recently Google Plus’ 10th anniversary came and went unsung. Though, of course, YouTube is Google’s success story.

Now reports suggest that Apple is also planning to enter the social media space — it is working on a video sharing and editing app. Given that it has a professional video editing offering in FinalCutPro, analysts feel this should not be too difficult for Apple.

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