After taking time off from her corporate job to have a baby, Jessie began wondering how she could get back to doing some work without having to go back to her job full time.
To find one, Jessie took to her LinkedIn network, asking people if they knew of a job that was well-paid, with no contact hours.
“Most people came back and said, ‘haha, tell me when you find it’,” she said.
It was an old boss that eventually put her on to Freelancer, seeing her join the growing ranks of ‘taskmasters’ working through a task economy platform.
“They said one of their friends had been successful on Freelancer, but I had known Freelancer as place where you could hire people for $2 an hour so I thought, I don’t think that’s for me, but then realised I had nothing to lose; I was in a position where I didn’t have a lot of choices, so I thought I’d give it a go,” Jessie said.
Getting started on Freelancer and understanding the nuances of the task economy was difficult at first for Jessie, who was used to the rhythm and workings of the corporate world, but it wasn’t long before she got into the swing of things and won her first project.
“Starting out, the hurdle is that you don’t have any feedback, and it’s all feedback-based, so it can be quite hard to start,” Jessie said.
Bidding on projects focused around PR and media relation, marketing plans, copywriting, and social media strategy and execution, the first job Jessie won was from an Australian.
“She was really happy with what I did, so that increased my confidence and I got feedback, and it became much easier to get more jobs.”
Far from the stereotype of Freelancer users being paid just $2 an hour, Jessie said she is able to charge anywhere between $50 to $150 an hour for her work through the platform.
Thanks to Freelancer, not only was Jessie able to keep working according to her own schedule, but she was also able to last year launch her own boutique marketing agency purely off the back of the work she had done, and what she had learned, through Freelancer.
“Because I get most of my work from other Australians, it helped me understand what SMBs needed from marketing, and helped me to really build a business around those needs,” she explained.
“Before, SMBs in particular were going to Freelancer because there was a gap in what was available to them, so I’ve been able to build a business off Freelancer now based around what those needs are. Most people would say, ‘I want to start a business, what can I do?’, and they build it that way; what I’ve been able to do through Freelancer is identify exactly what SMBs need and then build the business from the opposite direction based on that.”
With Jessie having often worked with repeat clients through Freelancer, a number have now followed her to her own business – but that doesn’t mean Jessie’s finished with the platform.
“I still go back to Freelancer, because it’s a great way to get business. With factors like the economic climate or the seasonal changes of a business in a certain country or region, Freelancer provides an opportunity to fill some of the gaps, so if business is quiet, I can get onto Freelancer and within a week have quite a bit of work,” she explained.
“In other businesses, if there’s nobody ringing, that’s all you can do, whereas this is a really proactive way to gain work really quickly and easily.”
As more work becomes available on platforms such as Freelancer, it’s important to ensure taskmasters are taking care of their tax obligations.
Freelancers, sole traders, and others working through task economy platforms such as Deliveroo or Uber are self-employed and generally require an Australian Business Number (ABN).
If earning over $75,000 annually from these activities, a taskmaster also needs to be registered for and pay Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is reported and paid through the lodging of regular Business Activity Statements (BAS).
Designed with the task economy in mind, Airtax is an online lodgements service for taskmasters, sole traders, and freelancers.
Through Airtax you can register for an ABN and GST, complete your BAS and submit your tax return in minutes. All submissions are lodged by a tax agent and with notifications, the app helps those working in the task economy by offering an easy and accessible way to remain tax compliant in the case the ATO was to audit them.
Airtax will also help users through the claiming of deductions for expenses incurred in the course of their work, outlining common expenses to reduce the GST owed.
Jessie believes platforms such as Freelancer are primed for growth as the mainstream perception of them continues to change.
“It’s kind of like online dating; 10 years ago you would have hidden in shame telling someone you had a partner met online, whereas now it’s a really acceptable way for people to meet,” Jessie said.
“The task economy is going to be the same.”
Is Freelancer Australia’s Favourite Task Platform? Vote for your favourite to win a free tax return through Airtax!
Unsure of your tax obligations as a sole trader? Visit Airtax’s comprehensive Help Centre to learn more. You can sign up to Airtax for no upfront cost.