With ridesharing and food delivery services among the most well-known businesses in the task economy, it may be easy to think that the sector is focused on metropolitan areas, but the growth of other businesses beyond the big names is giving opportunities to ‘taskmasters’ in other areas.
Living on a farm on the Southern Highlands of NSW, freelance graphic designer Monika stumbled upon DesignCrowd by chance a few years ago.
“I don’t even recall what I was searching for on the web at the time, just that I saw the opportunity to be creative, to apply my ideas to someone’s brief, and see their ideas come to life through my designs,” Monika said.
Launched in 2007, DesignCrowd has become one of the world’s largest marketplaces for freelance designers, counting almost 570,000 members. It allows customers to post briefs and receive designs from competing designers through a contest, or find a freelancer designer to work with one on one.
Designers taking part in a contest can be awarded a fee based on their placement if they come either first, second, or third, or a participation payment if they don’t take out a top spot. DesignCrowd has paid out over $30 million.
The ease of signing up, submitting designs, and the way DesignCrowd pays its designers through its freelance and design models all convinced Monika to give the platform a go. Being able to work on projects in her own time was an added bonus.
“I initially started submitting designs whilst I was on annual leave, then primarily worked on designs in the evenings. The beauty of DesignCrowd is that you can work on designs whenever it suits you, and wherever you are,” Monika said.
The platform also allows designers to participate in contests or apply for projects according to various criteria, whether it be by the type of design needed, such as a logo, business card, t-shirt design or so on, or by theme.
“Initially I accepted most invites that I received from DesignCrowd, and searched for horse themed contests, as this is one of my passions. However, I also searched through new listings and gave anything that appealed to me a go,” Monika said.
Over the years, Monika has designed for customers all over the world, from the UK to Germany, the US, Canada, New Zealand, as well as Australia, with businesses ranging from the equine-focused through to vet clinics, retailers, and entrepreneurs.
“I may work on between one to eight projects a month from DesignCrowd. This may of course sometimes be more, sometimes less. It all of course depends on how busy my week is with family commitments, my day job, what work is required around the farm, and what projects appeal to me,” Monika said.
Of course, Monika has now worked on hundreds of projects through DesignCrowd, but there are a few that remain close to her heart; among them is a logo designed for GreenGuard USA, which allowed her to combine her love of both horses and design.
“[It’s] for an equine product, and one that I know is extremely beneficial for horses that are prone to, or suffer from an extremely painful condition known as laminitis, which sometimes can mean the death of a horse. Seeing it in use in advertising is quite special,” she said.
Monika is now ranked #324 on DesignCrowd’s list of top designers, with her profile showing she has earned over $17,000 through the platform – not bad for something she does on the side.
While task platforms are great for a side hustle, it’s important taskmasters understand they are earning income which may be taxable and that they therefore have tax obligations.
Freelancers, sole traders, and others working through task economy platforms such as DesignCrowd or Freelancer 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 income tax return in minutes. All submissions are lodged by a PwC 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.
Airtax will also help users through the claiming of deductions for expenses incurred in the course of their work, outlining commonly claimable expenses to reduce the GST owed. For a designer like Monika, this could include the cost of graphic design software and some home office costs.
Beyond the extra cash she’s earning, Monika said the biggest benefit of joining DesignCrowd is the fact that it has allowed her to return to drawing and sketching ideas, and work on bringing ideas together into a design.
“This has allowed me to build a portfolio, expand my creative skills and styles, and ultimately given me a start to go into freelancing full time and work for myself,” she said.
The most exciting thing Monika has learned, however, is that she’ll always be learning.
“There is nothing definitive to design. It is forever changing and evolving.”