What if Upwork, 99designs, Freelancer etc were run as a co-op?

over 6 years ago from , UI Designer

I have expressed before my dislike for the aforementioned companies. I'm also not a fan of the share economy, or rather the lack of consideration on how it would affect the existing economy.

But what if Upwork, 99designs, Freelancer etc were run as a co-op rather than profit-driven businesses. Then the designers would have a stake in the business. It will be more expensive for the client, but if employees stop using the offending services then the client will be forced to pay fairly for services. Designers would be attracted to the higher wages and may even stand to earn extra money as a shareholder. Designers in low-income countries such as India stand to become wealthy and they can contribute more to the development of their economy.

These profit-driven websites are of the same ilk as the "share" economy model, but a co-op engulfs the true meaning of sharing. I can't see any exact figures but I know that back in 2011 99Designs pulled in $15mil in revenue. That money could have been invested back into the business, distributed among the workers, or even invested into the community. Instead they choose to exploit low-income countries.

I see it all the time, people complaining about how much they paid to have a logo designed. All designers know how much time, thought and stress can go into a good logo. If people want want a good brand identity, it's time they paid what they ask for.

Ahhhh I'm so idealistic.

But seriously?


  • Ian GoodeIan Goode, over 6 years ago

    I used to hate on 99designs' business model too, because I thought it "devalued" design or some shit. But there will always be low budget clients and low ballers, trying to convince them to pay 'fairly' is a futile exercise. Let them pay what they want, let them get what they pay for.

    4 points
  • Chus MargalloChus Margallo, over 6 years ago

    It would be great :) but there probably are a few rich guys petting their cats which won't be very happy about it...

    4 points
  • Freckley Freckleson, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    I think I chose the wrong forum to express this. It's possible and viable to get a co-op up and running, but it takes revenue, skills, determination and a few good people to do it.

    I don't agree that it's all about supply and demand. It's about what platforms are available for people to perform the transaction.

    In basic terms, a co-op is like a business but instead of all the profits going to one person at the top, it's distributed amongst all of the owners which can be employees. Co-ops rarely fall apart.

    Anyway, wrong forum. Y'all have a good day now.

    1 point
  • Tropical HoochTropical Hooch, over 6 years ago

    It's all about supply and demand, my friend. If everyone on that platform was upset with the wages they were making they would refuse to work / find a different avenue that paid them more. But it seems like there are enough people on those platforms that are happy with what they earn to make it a successful business.

    The more open your network is the lower the prices of the work will be (upwork, 99designs, etc)

    The more exclusive your network is, the higher the wages will be (Crew, Toptal)

    1 point