When Headlines Go Bad, and Other Stories
In this week’s edition of our Insider Report, we look at the following activity in the on-demand economy:
- Airbnb satisfies – if you can figure that out from the headline
- Survey says: Most U.S. gig economy work is still part-time
- How planning ahead helps ensure freelancers get paid
Airbnb satisfaction and the problem with getting “too cute”
Headlines are tricky things. There’s an art to writing truly great ones, but as long as you don’t confuse the reader regarding the content of the article, essentially anything will work.
Then there’s the headline to a post about Airbnb Feb. 18 on the Quartz business news site: “Once you’ve had Airbnb, you (often) don’t go back, says Goldman Sachs.”
At first glance, what do you think that means? We polled a few people, and most thought it meant people usually don’t go back to Airbnb after trying it.
One respondent had a different take: “Well, it’s obviously a play on another saying, so it reads to me like you don’t go back to hotels.”
She’s right. That’s the actual news in the post by Alison Griswold: According to a Goldman Sachs survey, most people who have tried peer-to-peer lodging “move directly from preferring traditional hotels to preferring P2P accommodations.”
In fairness, most writers at traditional news sites don’t create their own headlines, so the author herself most likely isn’t to blame. But the headline itself is definitely an example of “getting too cute.” The object should always be clarity first, creativity second.
When Bloomberg’s Julie Verhage wrote about the survey on Feb. 16, the headline made the story clear: “Goldman Sachs: More and More People Who Use Airbnb Don’t Want to Go Back to Hotels.”
Putting aside the issue of headlines, both posts get to the point: People really like P2P accommodations, and that’s clearly bad news for the hotel industry.
Most U.S. sharing economy work is still just a sideline.
The Wall Street Journal recently provided a take on the gig economy. According to this Feb. 18 post by Eric Morath, making money through platforms such as Airbnb and Uber continues to grow in popularity, but it’s rare for such gigs to replace full-time jobs. Instead, most Americans use them to supplement their incomes.
The post gets its information from a recent study of bank transactions by the JPMorgan Chase Institute. Among its findings: The U.S. “sharing labor force” is about 2.5 million. Morath says that’s “roughly equivalent to the number of teachers and others that work for public schools” in the United States.
In another interesting note from the survey, Morath reports that the gig economy could be most promising for workers with irregular incomes.
He notes: “JPMorgan found that 70 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24, and 74 percent of those earning in the bottom 20 percent of incomes, experienced an average change in their month-to-month income of more than 30 percent.”
Getting paid: There’s an art to that too.
As the freelance economy grows, more people are discovering what longtime entrepreneurs and freelancers have known for years: Getting work is one thing; getting paid for it is something else entirely.
Virtually every freelancer with a double-digit client base has dealt with at least a few slow-paying (or even non-paying) clients at some point. How to ensure you get paid is the topic of a Feb. 16 post on Entrepreneur by John Rampton.
Rampton provides 11 tips, and they’re all good. Even a veteran independent contractor could learn a thing or two from the post. While the last third covers how to deal with situations where you’re already owed money, Rampton wisely focuses most of the post on how to avoid getting into that situation in the first place.
For one thing, you need to catch red flags when scrutinizing potential clients – Rampton even suggests doing reference and credit checks on a client if it’s for a big project.
It’s also important to set up clear terms for how payment will occur, such as time frames and acceptable methods (physical check, direct deposit, PayPal, etc.). The full post is definitely worth a read for those in this line of work.