Q&A: Paydesk, the freelance marketplace for publishers

What's New in Publishing 09 Oct 2019 06:00

Paydesk is a marketplace where publishers, broadcasters, and editors find, book, hire and pay fully insured media newsgathering professionals around the world. A key USP is that it also ensures freelancers are fully paid up for the work they have been commissioned for. WNIP caught up with Henry Peirse, the founder and CEO of Paydesk, to find out more…

Can you give us some background about your company?

Paydesk was founded by myself, a former freelance journalist, in October 2014. We now work with some of the world’s largest publishers of news from the BBC, Reuters, Euronews, CBS, Voice of America, Vanity Fair, The Independent, etc, to ensure freelance journalists don’t have to worry about chasing for payment for their work.

More than this, Paydesk shaves hours of time off workloads and keeps freelancers fully paid up for the work they have done. This is a vital service for a profession which people can often find themselves struggling financially. Since we founded, Paydesk has helped improve the lives of over six thousand freelance journalists.

What business problem is your company addressing?

At the same time, finding freelances quickly and easily who have the right skills for the job is a continual problem for publications commissioning work. It can be hard to track who has what skills as freelancers quickly change career path and develop their talents in multiple fields. With freelancers traveling more than ever – it has also become increasingly difficult to guarantee where a freelancer will be at any given point. The need for skilled, on-location work can spring up unexpectedly as and when news stories break. Being unable to locate talent in time can mean a news site or channel missing out on coverage which is relevant to their viewership.

Meanwhile, freelances can wait months for payment. Paydesk speedily pushes through payment behind the scenes by working with a number of challenger banks. For both parties, days of work just turned into a matter of minutes.

Sonya Laurence Green is Chief of Voice of America’s English to Africa Service. Talking about her job before Paydesk, she said: Commissioning was complicated due to Voice of America contracting rules stipulating the use of separate contracts for each freelance reporter, along with a “guesstimate” of how many stories each of them might write during any fiscal quarter. VOA rules also required Green to prepare each quarterly budget in advance, no matter what expenditures any breaking news​ might call for.


Paydesk is completely unique in its approach. We manage the entire process from talent acquisition to payment, all on one platform. We also work extremely hard to actively keep projects moving, matching jobs with the right freelancers and then paying those freelancers as quickly as we can. Nobody pays as quickly as we do or puts as much effort into supporting everyone involved in a project.

The experience Morgan Sowden, my co-founder and I bring to the Paydesk business comes both from technology and marketplaces, it’s a good combination. We saw the future and built it. Everybody needs to be paid and quickly.

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