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Fiverr adds tools to help enterprises bring freelancers into the extended workforce

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright April 9, 2024
Freelance marketplace Fiverr has been adding features and now AI assistance to help enterprises bring external contributors into project teams to bridge skills gaps.

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Most of the discussion around distributed and hybrid work has focused on the disruption it brings to the established work patterns of permanent employees. But there's a growing segment of the workforce that has always worked this way — freelancers who offer their work as needed, often from another country or continent. These workers are easily accessible through a plethora of online marketplaces, and their use by mid-sized and large enterprises is growing. This is reflected in the growing sophistication of offerings from the likes of Fiverr, one of the largest freelance marketplaces, which recently rolled out an AI assistant called Neo to help buyers define their requirements. Dan Oron, EVP of Product at Fiverr, explains:

Oftentimes, businesses need guidance. They know they need help with something. But they don't even know how the evaluation process works and how to make a decision. When you ask an expert, you can have a conversation and say, 'Look, I think I need help with redesigning some of the images on my website. but what are the things I need to look into?' Basically our tool asks you the relevant questions that help guide you through that process in a very interactive way. That then helps you during that process to fine-tune what you actually need.

The flip side, or the alternative to this, would have been waiting a very long brief, maybe that's going to be five or seven pages long. Even to write a brief you need to be an expert. You need to know what you need. So having a tool that helps you get started and guides you with that process and eventually gets you to that deeper requirement and matches you with someone who can do that, is really something that we think is going to be a game-changer.

While many of the freelancers on the Fiverr platform work as individuals, it's becoming more common for businesses to hire teams for projects. The Fiverr Pro offering allows businesses to maintain their own network of go-to freelancers and agencies. Fiverr has also introduced a facility for agencies to more easily present and co-ordinate their services on the platform. Gali Arnon, Chief Business Officer, elaborates:

The essence is to allow agencies — a digital marketing agency or a graphic design agency, or a photographic agency — to provide their services on Fiverr in a way that, one, will enable them to differentiate themselves from the other freelancers, but will also allow them tools to work as a team on multiple accounts, to show their portfolio in a richer way, and basically, create their own business, their full business on Fiverr, to attract new buyers and [service] existing buyers.

Freelancers in the enterprise

The acquisition of Stoke Talent in late 2021 added capabilities for buyers in larger enterprises, which serves the needs of HR and finance functions as well as the hiring managers themselves. Arnon explains:

When you have skill gaps in specific areas of your business, you have a pool of talent that is accessible through Fiverr Enterprise.

In addition, because we know that working with freelancers, especially in larger organizations, requires different processes that sometimes can be complex — from invoicing to time management and setting them up on the organization's system — this is what Fiverr Enterprise allows you to do through the platform. It's basically an access to talent, with the tools you need to have in order to manage them within the organization...

The customers of this platform will be both the actual manager in their organization who needs the talent — it could be a marketing manager who needs a designer or an R&D manager who needs a programmer. But then it will be also HR and finance that will need to make sure that this is compliant in the way the organization works — invoicing, financing, budget control, time management, compliance and regulation — everything you need to do in order to work with freelancers in different countries, you can do it through this platform.

The Fiverr marketplace connects businesses to several hundred thousand freelances spread across 160 different countries, offering a range of services that now encompasses around 700 different categories. These range from graphic and design to digital marketing, music and audio production and editing, writing and translation, photography, various different categories of programming, including AI, and business services such as accounting, legal and consulting. While English is the language of choice for the majority, the platform added seven more languages a few years ago and has seen that spark expansion in markets such as Germany and France.

As well as using AI within its platform, Fiverr is also seeing rising demand for freelancers with AI skills. Arnon says:

There's a growing demand for experts in AI fields. A year ago, we opened a new vertical called AI services. We now have 28 different categories of services. You can have an AI chatbot developer, you can hire an AI prompt engineer, or a Midjourney artist or AI artist in general...

There's a growing demand for those new skills. And by the way, we constantly watch the trends, as new skills are emerging. The more AI will become part of our lives, the more new skills and new jobs will be added — and will be probably added to the Fiverr catalog as well.

Filling in for AI's shortcomings is also a skill that's in demand, adds Oron, whether that's checking for errors or touching up graphic and video output:

We know that you can ask AI to summarize an article. But it would, in some cases, make up facts that are not written there, and you need to fact-check them. Or, we've seen it in both graphics and video, you can probably get to 90%, but those remaining 10% are really obvious to you. There's the difference between an amazing experience and one that, in some cases, is embarrassing.

Skills development

Helping freelancers acquire new skills is another aspect of Fiverr's role. It has its own online learning resources for freelancers, bolstered by the acquisition of online learning business CreativeLive in 2021, along with expert webinars. Arnon says:

We feel that it's our responsibility to close knowledge gaps, not only for freelancers, but for the businesses as well, because we believe we have a role there, of creating this bridge between the hype and the actual essence of 'What's in it for me?' or how it could be valuable for me.

Its most recent release also refined the feedback given to freelancers, to help them improve their services over time. Oron explains:

What we've done over the last couple of months, and what Fiverr actually brings to the table, which is really unique, is firsthand experience about how good or bad you are doing something. Because when a freelancer does fulfil an order on Fiverr, then the buyer after the order is completed, writes feedback about what went well, what didn't go so well.

As of the recent release that we've done in late January, it's now much more specific about, you might be great at communication, but maybe your expertise in a certain area of graphics is not where it should be. This granular feedback is now brought back to the freelancer where they can work with and improve on.

My take

Freelancers have always been part of the workforce, but today's global connectivity has made it much easier to source skilled contributors on demand. While freelance markeplaces like Fiverr started out as a service for micropreneurs and small businesses, their reach and sophistication now makes them a useful resource for larger enterprises, all of whom are feeling the pressure to build a more flexible workforce. It's good to see Fiverr catering to this need with its enterprise offering, but I do wonder how well internal HR and finance systems incorporate these external workers into the organization's own skills mappings when, for example, assembling and costing project teams.

The move to hybrid, distributed work patterns isn't just a matter of enabling permanent employees to work from home or join teams as remote participants. It also means adapting to a broader definition of the workforce that encompasses contingent, freelance and gig workers and harnesses their contributions effectively.

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