December 20, 2019

👀 Show IH: A protocol to bypass freelancer platforms

Elliot Seror @tollie93

After a couple of months spent matching together non-tech people who wanted to build MVPs with tech freelancers, I had the idea for Freelancer Protocol two months ago.

I built an MVP in a month and since then have been doing some tweaking & polishing (aka re-writing the code).

It's a free tool that enables freelancers and their clients to exchange payment and deliverable outside of freelancer platforms. I did my best to make it fair to both parties and simple of use.

The idea is based off of a simple observation: freelancers and their clients who have met on a freelancer platform will, at some point, want to bypass the platform to have a direct relationship - mostly to avoid paying the fee ranging in between 10 and 15 %.

This is where the trouble begins: the work is often not covered by the most basic paperwork (contract, invoices), the clients risks that the freelancer delivers late (or not at all), and the freelancer risks that the client pays late (or not at all). In a direct relationship, outside of any framework, neither can dispute in case of a bad surprise.

That's why I set out to build a way for freelancers and their clients to deal directly with each other in the most risk-less way possible. Here's how it works in practice.

A project is divided into milestones. Each milestone has an associated price, deadline and deliverable. Freelancer Protocol charges the client the full amount as soon as the milestone starts. The freelancer then has to submit a demo (link or video) at some point during the milestone's lifetime.

If the client accepts the demo, the money will be exchanged against the deliverable as soon the freelancer uploads the deliverable, under the condition that that's before the deadline. If the client rejects the demo, only a third of the payment is made to the freelancer, the client won't receive any deliverable and the remaining of the money will be returned to the client.

You can find out more on this in my documentation (

Thanks a lot for your attention! Please do visit Freelancer Protocol (, I'm looking forward to getting your feedback on the project ! 🤗

  1. 2

    Just to be clear, freelance platforms such as TopTal forbids the client and freelancer to work with each other outside of the platform. They do this to protect their business.

    I’m not sure about the rest, but it’s worth to note that even if they want to, they might not be allowed to due to contracts.

  2. 1

    as a user of upwork, the idea of your plateform is "free" make me afraid.
    Nothing is free. There are payment transaction, maybe chargeback, hosting cost, salaries, ....
    So as client, I won't put some found in the account without any guarantee.

    Good luck

  3. 1

    A project is divided into milestones. Each milestone has an associated price, deadline and deliverable. has this feature for a decade and this is indeed t h e reason why I am using them.

    1. 1

      absolutely, but they also take a 13% fee, so my whole take is to be free so that people bypass :)

      1. 2

        but how do you want to make money then? Even assuming you are able to build some liquidity on your platform for free because of word-of-mouth or focusing on a specific niche you still need to run a business, pay people, at least pay your rent and food. You need a way to participate from the money pushed back and forth.

        re the 13%: having the safety a freelancer does not bail out and we have some basic interface/understanding which defines our relationship PLUS's insane liquidity/reach/traffic makes 13% very bearable and not a deal-breaker or a reason to move to another platform.

  4. 1

    Seems a worthy project, I have a feeling the balance of powers would need further optimisation...
    Do you arbitrate disagreements?
    So as a buyer I'm guaranteed to lose 1/3 if the freelancer is just hustling me?

    1. 1

      thanks ! yeah i may fine tune the "balance of powers" depending on how projects go!

      the whole idea is that the protocol is enforced by this demo mechanism without any arbitrage from the platform. However, a client repeatedly rejecting demos that are following his own specs will face exclusion, same thing for a freelancer uploading fake/misleading demos...

      1. 1

        Well it's free to fake another profile I assume.. (issue with exclusions as a strong mechanic)

        Who determines if these are the cases anyway and how?

        I'm kinda playing devils advocates, but for some cases, you would have to give solutions... you hold the money, you are financially responsible, you would get sued for that 1/3 money back, and you would need to make enough to cover litigation and refunds.. cause you are the one taking the money, the "protocol" legal work would get challenged at some point, and even if your are right, it would still cost you to defend&prove..
        I could claim you are assisting the other side take my money... he's delivering nothing and taking my money and you would not even review? so your co-operating with him..