At Trolley, we believe the admin work of managing independent contractors should be almost fully automated and digitized, and this article will walk through how we helped other businesses accomplish just that.
Draft cuts writer payout work to a few minutes per week
Draft offers its customers access to a network of high-quality content creators who produce blog articles, landing page copy, newsletters, emails, social media posts, and more on demand. Manually paying those creators was a tedious process that took time and was inaccurate. By implementing Trolley, the Draft team saves hours of work per week and at least $60,000 per year in payment errors.
And no, they didn’t write this article, although we’re sure they could have.
Draft has seen a significant increase in demand for its services over the past few years. As such, Draft has needed to grow, adding hundreds of writers who now produce over 4,000 pieces of content a month, totalling 60 million words every year.
Reliably paying this growing network of creators was a challenge to scaling, one they predicted as far back as 2020. At that point, they knew it was time to do something about it.
Trolley has helped us save actual, tangible money. It’s also sped up our payment process dramatically.
Trolley is a one size fits all solution to automate freelance payments. It’s a perfect fit for us.
As the pool of Draft creators grew, Thomas knew they would need to automate payouts—for the good of Draft and his own sanity. He estimates that the same process today—with a larger pool of writers—would take a full day per week to complete.
He first investigated Stripe Connect, which seemed workable but lacked support for the number of countries that Draft would need to send payouts to. Thomas and Draft’s CTO Vasil Damyanov also looked at PayPal's API but felt it opened up a technical “can of worms” to implement with a limited amount of customer support offered.
Other platforms were all manual or all APIs. Trolley was the perfect scalable solution. I didn’t need a single engineer to get Trolley up and running, but I knew that when we were ready to, they could integrate the API.
“It was a huge win for us to offer our creators a one-dollar fee per transaction instead of a percentage that could add up to $20 to $40 per payment,” shares Thomas. “We knew by leaving more of their earnings in their pockets; we’d face less resistance when we asked them to move away from PayPal. Our content creators love that they’re not spending a ton of money every month on fees.”
“It was pretty simple for the engineering team to make changes and build out the functionality,” Truong explains. “Using the help chat and the support team at Trolley, I got very quick, live responses, and they continue to support us when any questions arise.”
Draft's platform tracks each creator’s completions and sends that information to the Trolley platform every Thursday to ensure accurate payments based on automated invoicing. After the team approves creator payments, they receive an email confirming that funds will land in creators’ accounts within two to three business days. The finance and operations teams work together to push payments, check statuses, or fix issues.
Technologically, things have also been running very smoothly. “Ever since we rolled out the feature to automatically pay, we haven’t needed to touch our Trolley integration,” says Truong. Draft has experienced another major bonus from implementing Trolley above and beyond the time savings and smooth integration: They’ve saved actual money.
“Discrepancies in what the writers invoiced versus what they completed could sometimes be in the range of five to ten thousand dollars per month that was being incorrectly paid out,” Thomas explains.
Our system automatically creates the invoices based on actual work completed and pushes the payment amounts to Trolley via their API. Mispayments have been reduced to zero.
“Trolley enables us to get that reporting a lot easier now with the dashboard,” Thomas reports. “Being able to project our expenses for COGS, to have a reliable figure and exact metric is extremely helpful.”
In gaining more creators, Draft also expects it will need to fully automate its payment process in 2022 and will rely on Trolley’s flexible API to power this upgrade.
Lastly, with more payments comes a greater tax reporting burden. Draft plans to streamline their manual tax compliance process, leaning on Trolley to improve how they report payments made to their content creator network and producing the requisite 1099 forms. Trolley offers robust automation of tax-related admin tasks, including statement generation and distribution.
Thomas loves that Trolley will grow with their business. “We’ve created a seamless internal payout process with it, and for our external creators, it's delivered the benefit of predictably getting paid. Trolley is a perfect fit.”
We send the payment information to Trolley, and then we can walk away. We’re confifident that Trolley will pay our creators without needing manual assistance.
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