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Freelancers and Their Advocates Gain New Visibility

Freelancers and Their Advocates Gain New Visibility
Image credit: Freelancer

Independent workers and their advocates may be coming into their own.

Sara Horowitz, the founder and lead executive of Freelancers Union and Freelancers Insurance Co., will join the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the bank recently announced. She will serve a three-year term starting Jan. 1.

"This is a major milestone for the freelancer movement, as it is proof positive that our efforts are being recognized," says Horowitz. "A new economy is afoot -- and freelancers are at its core."

Horowitz, a former labor lawyer, founded the nonprofit Working Today, the parent company of Freelancers Union, in 1995 to provide a unified voice for freelance professionals. She received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" fellowship in 1999.

"Maybe we could start thinking about freelancing not as where you're being pushed out of a traditional job, but something different," Horowitz told an audience at a recent Economist-sponsored event. "What we're starting to see in my era is that people are starting to choose to freelance."

Horowitz will join Emily Rafferty, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City, as a Class C director of the New York Fed. Class C directors are elected by the Board of Governors to represent the public, in contrast to Class A and B directors, who are elected by member banks. "It's an important opportunity to make sure that the solutions we're all building and the movement we're leading together will have a seat at the table," Horowitz says.

Related: 5 Resolutions for Freelancers in the Coming Tax Year

Coincidentally, Freelancer.com also had an announcement this week: The outsourcing marketplace passed the four million projects milestone.

Freelancer.com recently acquired competitor RentACoder. RentACoder added 2.5 million users to the Freelancer.com platform, bringing the total to 6.7 million users. It is available in 10 languages, 25 regional markets and 15 currencies.

"We benefit entrepreneurs on both sides," says chief executive Matt Barrie, referring both to business owners in developed nations and to self-starters in developing nations.

On one side, Freelancer.com has become a low-cost digital bazaar for many of the services that startups need, such as website and logo design and search-engine optimization. The average price of a Freelancer.com project is under $200.

As for skilled workers in developing nations, says Barrie, "We provide technical jobs that may otherwise be unavailable to them. We open up a global client base for them. We pay massive multiples over what these jobs pay in their countries."

UPDATE: This post was updated with comments from Sara Horowitz.

Related: Small Business Strategies for Managing Rising Health-Care Costs

Brian Patrick Eha is a freelance journalist and former assistant editor at Entrepreneur.com. He is writing a book about the global phenomenon of Bitcoin for Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It will be published in 2015.

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