Giving freedom back to freelancers with a zero commission marketplace | Karl Swanepoel - Revolancer
Karl: Revolancer is a freelancing platform I started about two years ago, and our goal is to give freedom back to freelancers and bring this industry into the 21st century. Freelancers struggle finding clients, freelancers struggle to serve clients currently. And the platforms that are out there really aren’t helping, especially in a post-pandemic world of remote work. We aim to solve those problems and make it easier for freelancers to connect with clients. We don’t charge any commission fees, so they keep all the money that they charge to clients, and we let them communicate freely, video calling with others.
How does it work?
Karl: Freelancers sign up, list their services and create that profile. Then buyers come to the website they post a project, which could be someone looking for a logo designer or a website. Then freelancers can bid on that and send proposals, and then clients can browse the website and find the right freelancer and then hire them and have them deliver that.
Best Revolancer features
Karl: The number one is one we launched recently, which is plus pages. That’s a mini website that freelancers can set up, like an alternative to Linktree. And once you have it, the plus page can link to other places and show off your portfolio. That’s feature number one and has been very popular since we launched it at the end of last. A very big feature is that we don’t charge commission fees because it’s quite standard in the industry for platforms to charge more than 20% of the transaction, which scales in such an ugly way because if you make $50,000 in a year from freelancing, you only actually make $40,000 because $10,000 goes to the platform. And then, finally, we let people talk outside of the platform, which other platforms don’t allow because they want to take their cut off the transaction and enforce that.
Is Revolancer free?
Karl: It’s free to join as a freelancer, but you can upgrade to Revolancer plus for a small monthly fee to connect with more clients. You can send more bids, and there are a couple of other premium features that you get with that, but you don’t have to activate Plus, you can continue for free. And then, for the client side, it’s currently completely free, so clients won’t be charged in any other way if they are paying a freelancer directly.
Tell us some stories of happy freelancers
Karl: We have more than 15,000 freelancers on the platform today, many of whom secure regular work from the platform, which has been really fantastic to see. We get a lot of very positive feedback from our users, saying that they don’t need to pay commission fees and that they can also have relationships with their clients outside of the platform. That’s been absolutely fantastic. I’d say quite notably someone who is quite big in the industry, Alexandra Fasulo. We’ve worked with her a couple of times, and she has said that Revolancer being a zero-commission freelancing platform, is very refreshing. And she got started on Fiverr, she’s known as the Fiverr millionaire as she made a lot of money there. But now she has joined Revolancer, and she has a plus page and a Revolancer account and has said some very nice things about it.
How do you plan to differentiate in this competitive industry?
Karl: A very big part of it is absolutely around not charging commissions and then letting people video call because, let’s say, you want to hire someone to build you a website. Maybe you’ll email back and forth a bit, but at some point, you’ll probably want to help on a video call just to talk to them and just make sure they understand what you want properly. And they will probably want a video call with you too. Even if you don’t want a video call with them, they’ll want to call to kind of walk through things, share screens, and make sure that you know your expectations are realistic based on what they’re going to deliver.
On current freelancing platforms, you just can’t do that. And the reason is that they want to take 20% of your transaction. But if someone can get a video call, they can arrange to communicate outside the platform. I could say, just email me directly and invoice me directly, and the platform doesn’t get that cut. We’re changing the business model completely, where people pay a monthly fee to connect with more clients, but then once they connect with clients, we don’t try to get in the way of that.
What is the story of Revolancer?
Karl: I started freelancing at 14, and I ran into many of these issues back then. Now, many years later, I was in my final year of university, we were in a covid lockdown, and video calling was very front and center, an essential part of remote work. And I was looking back at freelancing platforms that I had freelanced on many years before, which, even back in 2014, I thought were completely outdated and were doing things wrong.
They haven’t changed anything, they were still doing exactly the same thing. I thought I needed to do something about this, and that’s when I decided to start Revolancer, which was actually in January 2021. We are now a team of seven at the moment, but we’re hiring for a few different positions, we’ll probably be a team of 15 soon. And we’ve raised about 300,000 pounds sterling in investor funding over a couple of different funding rounds since the beginning.
What has been your best growth tactic for gaining more freelancers?
Karl: It’s quite a cliche, but ultimately it comes down to building a platform that your users really love, it’s talking to your target audience, talking to the people on the platform and listening to them, and presenting any feature to them. But if they say, I don’t like that, I’m not going to use that, don’t press ahead with that. Don’t get too attached to what you want to build because, ultimately, you are serving your audience, you’re serving your target customers. By speaking to them and then building a platform that suits their needs, they will talk about it and refer other people to the platform. I’d say that’s the number one thing to focus on.
What’s your vision with Revolancer?
Karl: Our vision is to disrupt this industry completely. That’s what I wanted to do from the beginning, just change this industry for the better. Whether that’s if we become a dominant player or a current large player acquires us and then sort of adopts our strategies more, or whether they just go ahead and copy us and we sort of pivot into something else. In any case, we’ve still created that change for the better in the industry. Whichever one of those is good, as long as it changes this industry for the better, I’ll be satisfied with that.
Connect with Karl