How Will Net Neutrality Impact Freelancers?
Unless you are sitting under a rock, you probably know by now that last night net neutrality was repealed. The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules, which required internet service providers to offer equal access to all web content without charging consumers for higher-quality delivery or giving preferential treatment to certain websites.
If you’re still confused, let’s put it this way. Consider the internet as a road that has a fast and slow lane. With net neutrality’s repeal, major internet service providers and cable companies can now charge charge extra fees to the few content companies that can afford to pay for preferential treatment — relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. These extra charges are added to what you may already be paying as a consumer in monthly subscriptions and or bills.
What Will Change For Freelancers?
The end of net neutrality could completely cripple startups and freelancers alike. This is mainly because large and more established sites will have the ability to strike favorable deals with internet service providers in order to have their services prioritized, something that freelancers and independent workers don’t have the option to do. There are also fears that Internet Service Providers could use this new law as a way to censor protestors and also control what people can and cannot put online.
In addition to website speed many freelancers are now faced with fear that net neutrality will also make the internet a much more expensive place to do business. For many freelancers, the internet is where you obtain the majority of your work and how you are able to obtain clients could become even more complicated as early as next month.
What Should Freelancers Do In Light of Net Neutrality’s Repeal?
In a world where many people are indebted to their email lists and social media followers, now is the time for smaller businesses and freelancers to begin brainstorming ways to take their relationships with their clients offline. Only have their social media handle? Consider finding ways to obtain their addresses or even their email addresses until you can figure it out. Ultimately you want to insure that you don’t lose clients IF the internet becomes too expensive of a place for you to do business.
I also highly recommend that all freelancers get a high level skill set that doesn’t necessarily require the internet such as writing, graphic design, public relations, offline marketing, etc. While this may sound counterintuitive coming from me, a person that thrives off of online freelance services we are here to prepare you for what the future COULD look like and not what I dream that it will look like.
What Does Net Neutrality Mean For Us?
It remains to be seen what net neutrality will mean for us at Black Girl Group, While we are a niche website in a huge platform market, we are also very small player(for now). Do we fear that we will never be able to grow as big or fast as some of the larger online freelance websites? Absolutely. Do we fear that competitors could slow our bandwidth down the moment they realize we are competitors? Sure, but at the end of the day we will continue to work as hard as we possibly can to insure that the voices of freelancers continue to be amplified with or without net neutrality.