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Content Marketers Watching California

The booming content economy requires plenty of raw material. It’s staggering to think that an average of 4.5 million videos are watched on youtube.com every minute. Or that an average of 46,200 new posts are made to Instagram every minute. One of the biggest challenges facing marketers’ today is creating compelling content at scale. Larger companies likely have very capable in-house talent. But for many brands, freelance talent makes the most sense.

Freelancers are part of the “gig” economy, along with Uber and Lyft drivers. In an effort to provide more economic stability for freelance workers, states are passing laws that make a clear distinction between “independent contractors” and a full-time employees. California just implemented Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). The goal of the new legislation is to encourage companies to hire more full-time employees and reduce their reliance on freelancers. The ABC test stipulates a worker can only be classified as an independent contractor if:

(a) the worker is free from control and direction in the performance of services; and
(b) the worker is performing work outside the usual course of the business of the hiring company; and
(c) the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.

While an argument can be made that Uber drivers might benefit from being classified as employees, logic does not follow that all freelancers should become employees. On the client side, it’s beneficial to reach out beyond the company for fresh thinking. The depth and breadth of freelance talent is impossible to ignore. On the freelancer side, a flexible schedule and varied work is appealing to many. Seems like a win-win.

The American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Assn. have challenged the CA limitation of 35 submissions annually to a media outlet from a single freelancer, claiming that this will affect free speech. The California law will likely set a precedent for other states.

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