Spoiler: Ethical Digital and Upwork are not in the same category
When people first encounter Ethical Digital, they often assume we are an Upwork for digital marketers.
If you are not familiar with Upwork, it is a marketplace of freelancers that was formed from the merger of Elance and Odesk. Its closest competitor is probably Fiverr.
Upwork is a wonderful tool that I have been using for years, but it is still essentially a high-tech Yellow Pages. Ethical Digital is something completely different.
Ethical Digital is a marketing agency franchise
The franchise business model has flourished for hundreds of years and is one of the most successful innovations in the history of commerce. Franchises are a powerful force in industries as diverse as food and hospitality, auto repair, real estate, and more.
Franchises work because certain business assets and processes benefit from economies of scale, while others suffer diminishing returns. Consider that big companies are able to invest more in things like research and development, while small companies are able to react more nimbly to changes in market conditions.
Ethical Digital works like a franchise because everyone in the network is in charge of their own business, setting their own terms and hours, yet they operate under a unified brand with the tools and resources of Ethical Digital.
There are many digital marketing agencies, but I am aware of no other marketing agency franchise. If Ethical Digital did nothing else, being the first marketing agency franchise would would make it a unique and powerful entrant to the digital marketing industry.
Upwork, by contrast, is nothing like a franchise. The freelancers who sell their services on Upwork do not do so under the Upwork brand. They are not franchisees.
Ethical Digital is a CRM and project management solution custom built for marketers
There exist many tools and platforms for managing client relationships, employees, and projects, of which Salesforce is probably the most well-known.
Ethical Digital isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it is tailor-made for the workflow of a digital marketing agency. From acquiring a client to appointing an account manager, selecting a fulfillment team, and managing campaigns, our platform streamlines the whole process from end to end.
Upwork does provide a lot of useful management features, but Ethical Digital goes much further. If you want to start taking clients and fulfilling marketing services today without a steep learning curve, our platform is for you.
Ethical Digital is partnerships on demand
Suppose you and two colleagues want to start your own PPC agency. Joe will be in charge of sales, Sarah will manage the accounts, and you will run the PPC campaigns. You may decide to divide the equity in the company equally three ways. You have no idea how large or small the business will be, but you are each incentivized to do your part to maximize its value.
Now suppose Sarah brings in a new client. Will she get some added bonus for doing Joe’s job?
Suppose a client wants a custom website in addition to PPC. Will you bring in a web designer as a fourth partner, or will you just hire one on an as-needed basis?
Suppose Joe brings in a client who needs social media management, not PPC. Will you get a cut of that contract even though it does not require your skills?
As you can see, the partnership model quickly runs into scaling problems. It is extremely powerful for aligning incentives and sharing risk when a company’s future is dominated by uncertainty, which is why almost all startups begin as partnerships. But as a company grows, it will generally bring in new personnel as employees, not partners.
What makes Ethical Digital truly unique is the way it enables people to effortlessly form partnerships on a client-by-client, even project-by-project basis. The equity terms for every single project are agreeable to all shareholders, and the scaling problem goes away.
The platform aggregates all the revenue streams from all your partnerships and distributes your earnings over the duration of each project. You could have different stakes in many different projects with many different partners, each with their own terms and distribution schedules, and the platform transforms those diverse equity interests into a bi-monthly paycheck.
On Upwork, freelancers work by fixed or hourly rates. If they team up, they are no different than any company in the proverbial phone book. Or to put it another way, Upwork mediates client-freelancer relationships, it does not mediate freelancer-freelancer relationships.
Ethical Digital is a digital contractor marketplace
Lastly, yes, like Upwork, Ethical Digital is a marketplace for digital contractors.
When someone in the network brings in a client, their first task is to assign that client to an account manager. That account manager in turn will pick the specialists they want for their projects. Unlike Upwork, our talent network is internal, not client-facing. Also unlike Upwork, everyone in our network is carefully vetted.
What makes sense for digital marketing professionals?
If you are a digital marketing professional looking to strike out on your own, you can surely find work on Upwork if you are willing to set your rate low enough.
But if you want to work within an agency-like framework with other qualified professionals, Ethical Digital is your ticket.