Cryptocurrencies offer intrinsic benefits for salary and freelance payments, especially across borders, and are an attractive investment in their own right. Rather than getting paid in fiat and buying crypto, it makes sense for those with the right skills and an interest in the sector to cut out the middleman, arranging to get paid directly in crypto.
Crypto salaries go mainstream
The 2020-2021 bull market saw bitcoin become a sought-after asset for celebrities, sports personalities and even politicians. Partly this was driven by the potential to earn a currency that was perceived as likely to increase in value, rather than fall in value due to inflation. Partly, crypto was fashionable because it was very much in the public’s attention. And, partly, it was about showing support for an alternative monetary and financial system.
For politicians, all of these were true, but the intention was also to signal confidence in a new sector of the tech industry and show that different countries and states were forward thinking and open for business. In November 2021, Miami’s mayor, Francis Suarez, committed to receiving his next pay cheque of around $8,000 in bitcoin. As it happens, that turned out to be the peak of the bull run, with prices plummeting nearly 70% in the year since. However, Suarez is still taking part of his salary in bitcoin today.
All of this attention and celebrity endorsement helped to normalise the idea of getting paid in crypto, and to demystify digital assets – making crypto a viable option for freelancers in the blockchain industry and other sectors.
Reasons for working for crypto
Outside of celebrity circles, individuals who earn part or all of their income in crypto by freelancing do so for a variety of reasons, beyond it simply being a convenient way to acquire digital assets. Their motives include gaining access to new opportunities in the blockchain space, the global nature of the sector, and the typical flexibility of the work over the standard 9-5 routine.
One of the major attractions is the comparatively higher salaries for jobs in the blockchain world, since demand far outstrips supply for skilled workers. On average, jobs in the blockchain sector pay 15-20% more for entry-level positions than for comparable roles elsewhere in the tech industry. For more senior roles, which can only be undertaken by an experienced professional, salaries can be staggeringly high. Senior blockchain developer jobs can pay anything from $200,000 to $400,000 per year. For the right person, in the right company, there will also be lucrative equity or token options, meaning that a good opportunity can mean retirement after a few years.
The rise of crypto freelancing
Searches for freelance crypto jobs, the number of vacancies available, and the volume of responses, have all increased markedly over the past year.
Google queries for key terms have almost doubled, with searches for ‘crypto jobs’ increasing from 12,100 in June 2021 to 22,200 in May 2022. ‘Crypto freelance’ has risen from 480 to 720 in the same period.
What is also interesting is the geographical distribution of these queries. Almost one third of searches (32%) originate from the US, and 10% from the UK. This indicates that high-income countries are dominating the trend (Canada comes in at 5%). India (7%) and Nigeria (almost 4%) are the next most common, with the remaining searches spread around the world.
At a time when many businesses are struggling to recruit employees (one of the factors that is driving high inflation, as wages increase to attract more workers), this interest in blockchain vacancies is backed up by strong anecdotal evidence. Sites like crypto.jobs typically see intense demand for new vacancies, with dozens or hundreds of applicants for each position within a matter of hours. Unlike other sectors of the economy, it’s not the lack of interest that’s the problem, but the lack of relevant experience.
While there’s plenty of interest in full-time opportunities, crypto freelancing sites have enabled many more people to dip their toes in the water and find additional short-term work that fits around either their main job or family responsibilities. During the pandemic, when millions of employees were forced to stay at home, these sites gave workers who had been laid off or furloughed a chance to monetise and hone their skills and experience outside of a conventional office setting – with many moving into a new career as a result.
LaborX: exponential growth
Freelancer portals like LaborX enable anyone to access temporary or part-time opportunities quickly and easily, rather than go through normal recruitment processes, which can be lengthy and bureaucratic.
While commission fees on conventional freelancer sites can be as high as 20% or even 30%, on LaborX there is just a 10% fee for freelancers, and customers pay nothing. Moreover, that 10% fee is converted to TIME – the native token of the Chrono.Tech ecosystem, of which LaborX is a member – and returned to freelancers and customers of LaborX as a bonus, as well as TIME holders who stake their tokens in Chrono.Tech’s TimeWarp platform. Owning TIME gives LaborX users Premium membership, giving them higher bonus payments.
Thanks to these advantages, and the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, LaborX has seen rapid growth as businesses sought freelancers to cut costs and adapt to remote working practices, and individuals looked to pick up side jobs.
LaborX was launched at the beginning of 2020, when crypto was just about to start its big run-up. At the end of Q1 2020, there were just over 100 registered users. Then COVID hit, workplaces began lay-offs and furloughs, central banks began printing money – and crypto took center stage.
Unsurprisingly, the popularity of the platform has correlated with the wider crypto market, fuelled by that macro backdrop. Q2 2020 added nearly 3,700 users, kicking off an avalanche of registrations. Developments like P2E gaming helped increase numbers further, as LaborX became a popular venue for organising blockchain gaming scholarships, and by the end of the year there were nearly 7,000 freelancers. Still, this was only a hint at what was to come.
2021, bitcoin’s biggest year to date, showed almost 60% growth per quarter for LaborX, as sign-ups increased sevenfold over the course of the year. While the bear market of the last few months has seen things slow down somewhat, growth is still in the healthy double digits.
Today, the number of crypto freelancers registered on the platform has topped 65,000, with almost 19,000 offering fixed-price, Fiverr-style gigs – anything from designing a new logo to developing complex software products. Most promisingly, the growth trend may have slowed temporarily, but it shows no signs of topping or reversing. Working for crypto is not set to go out of fashion any time soon.