Are Overseas Freelancers Making U.S. Creatives Obsolete?

We’re quickly shifting to an outsourced, freelance-heavy marketplace.

Gig workers, W9 contractors, cheap overseas freelancers, and fractional consultants are being increasingly sought out by firms of all sizes.

The truth, I believe, is that companies are waking up to the fact that the majority of their full-time workforce is a liability — meaning they’re soaking up salary but adding nothing to the bottom line.

If I’m honest, that was me for the first five years of my career. Blog writers were a nice luxury for big software firms, but not mission-critical.

When things are good, you’re pretty safe. But when your company is pressed financially, guess who’s first to go?

I was laid off from the start-up company I joined in 2016 for this very reason. But I take full accountability. I was dispensable.

Would you continue to comp someone who was expendable? Who was a nice-to-have but not crucial to business continuity?

I wouldn’t.

Companies are tightening spend, reducing redundancies, and divesting whatever isn’t business critical.

Creators, writers, and designers are in a very vulnerable position right now.

Content creation is no longer a skillset you can compete on — everyone’s a creator these days. It’s literally table stakes.

The value of content and creative work has gone down post-pandemic along with the advent of ChatGPT and other AI platforms that make top-funnel ideation, content writing, and mechanical creative work nearly obsolete.

Whereas five years ago, you could easily justify a headcount of half-a-dozen marketers for a decently sized firm, today you need only one who can manage Chat GPT, edit what it spews out, and publish across platforms.

And with cheap foreign labor perfectly willing to scoop up whatever demand is left, knowledge workers in the West are relegated to a precarious situation.

So, what do you do?

Well, not all is lost. You can still win. Bigger than ever, too.

If you specialize rather than generalize, you’re viewed (and can position yourself) as an expert.

If you’re a generalist, you’re commoditized and are thus forced to compete on price.

Now, more than ever, make sure to:

  • Lean on your strengths. Bring them to the forefront.
  • Use guarantees, contingencies or trial periods.
  • Overdeliver like crazy. Do what you promised. Produce 10x whatever your client expects.
  • Make working with you a no brainer. Go to lengths others aren’t willing to do to get the job, account, client, etc.

By derisking for your employer or clients, by niching down, and by showing how what you do has increased revenue in the past (e.g., showing evidence that you get results), you can eclipse the cost conversation.

If you can’t do that, start upskilling now so you can.

The market is rapidly changing. Get up to speed or get phased out.

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