What is freelancing?

A freelancer is a person who performs certain assignments for a company. In comparison with an employee, a freelancer is not directly integrated or affiliated with the company. Freelancers are generally found in the artistic and cultural sectors, and increasingly in technical sectors.

A freelancer is often confused with a freelance professional. Freelance work only refers to the specific employment relationship with the employer and can indicate many different professions. A freelance professional belongs to a specific professional group, for example, architects, lawyers or doctors; the term freelancer alone does not provide information about the individual’s employment relationship.


A Freelancer’s Functions

The most important characteristic of a freelancer is their independence. In addition, freelancers are generally very skilled in a particular sector and are therefore regarded as well qualified. Freelancers can generally choose their conditions of employment and compared to “normal” employees, they are not directly bound to formal conditions such as time, place and professional standards of the employer. The freelancer is not actively involved in the organizational structure of the given company.

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Contracts and Payment

Employees, freelance professionals as well as business persons can work as freelancers. Even if a company employs someone, they can still work as a freelancer for a different company. A freelancer’s working hours are flexible, but they do not have any legal requirement to be offered sick pay or paid leave of any kind. Freelance contracts are usually limited and contain details about the number of hours or a time specification that includes how quickly a task has to be performed. While freelancers receive a contractually determined remuneration for their work, employees additionally receive non-wage labor costs from their employers. A freelancer must also pay all costs incurred themselves.

Advantages and Disadvantages for Freelancers


  • Time: Freelancers usually don’t have to work set hours. This leaves them able to easily create a good work/life balance.
  • Location: Often, as long as the work is done it doesn’t matter where it’s done. From home, a shared office, or on the go.
  • Diversity: Freelancers can often choose the work they want to do. Opting for work that interests them is a great benefit.
  • Variety: They’re able to choose who they want to work with. This leads to developing new skills and networking benefits.
  • Workload: The ability to choose how much or how little they want to work.
  • Independence: Many disabled people turn to freelancing. This is because they may find it difficult to leave home, work set hours etc. The same applies to single parents, those in remote areas and carers.
  • Disadvantages

  • No Benefits: Freelancers rarely get any benefits such as sick pay, health insurance, holiday pay etc.
  • Taxes: Freelancers are responsible for paying their own taxes. However, they have deductibles that employees don’t.
  • Stability: Projects may end early or abruptly and there may be gaps in being able to source work.
  • Isolation: Whilst some people don’t mind it, some freelancers may miss a busy office environment and feel lonely.
  • Advantages and Disadvantages for Businesses


  • Management: Freelancers usually come ready to work with little to no training needed saving time and money.
  • Cost: Not having freelancers on payroll or having to pay them sick pay or paid leave cuts costs.
  • Space: Most freelancers will work from home or in their own office space so no need to make room for them in the office.
  • Professionalism: Many experienced freelancers will need little monitoring and know how to behave appropriately.
  • Options: Due to the ease of remote working a business will have a wide range of people to choose from all over the world.
  • Perspective: Long term employees may be stuck in a certain mindset. Freelancers bring in new ideas and a new perspective.
  • Disadvantages

  • Commitment: Freelancers may drop out of a project suddenly if something better comes along.
  • Security: A business must ensure that they only let the freelancer have access to certain information.
  • Payment Issues: Different countries will have different payment options. Some may cost the business more than they’d like to spend.
  • Tracking: It may not always be possible to know if/when a freelancer is working so an element of trust is needed when hours are declared.
  • Why Become a Freelancer?

    Some say that freelancing is becoming the new normal. More and more people are breaking free from the traditional employer/employee relationship and opting instead to go it alone. This is a daunting prospect for some but many who have taken the leap say they’re glad they did so. However, it’s not something to enter into lightly, serious considerations must be made. This is especially true if a person has responsibilities such as a family, mortgage etc. One of the best ways to ease into freelancing is to do small side gigs alongside a regular employed position. From there some people work their way up to becoming a freelancer full time.

    People have varied reasons for becoming a freelancer, many wish to work from home. Prior to the global pandemic working from home was seen as something only lower class people did or those who took on very small gigs such as Avon. Some even thought of those people as lazy or trying to avoid getting a “proper job”. Yet once huge numbers of people were forced to work from home they soon realised that this way of working was actually very beneficial. People said it helped with their work/life balance, in raising their kids, boosting their mental health and saving on money due to not having to travel.

    Flexibility, Finances, and New Skills

    For some, it’s about making more money alongside their regular income. Some aim to make more as a freelancer than they do in their current employed job. Alongside this is a big factor for many and that’s being their own boss. Some feel that the typical way of working just isn’t for them or they just want to be in charge of their future. For many freelancing means they can set their terms or choose the terms of a project that they prefer. Having this kind of option is very beneficial in terms of interest, gaining new skills, pay and flexibility.

    Experienced freelancers often state that it’s not just the above that compelled them to get into this style of working but other factors too. The main ones are making new connections or networking and for some it’s about getting into a company on an employed basis. The former is really important for freelancers as it means they have the chance to make all kinds of new connections. This may be with other freelancers, training providers, new companies and more. By forming these new relationships they will broaden their horizons. The chance to scale up into a company is something some freelancers do after working on long-term projects. They may find that the company even headhunts them and offers a well negotiated employed position that may not have been easily attainable before.

    Different Types of Freelancer

    Independent Contractor

    This is one of the most common types of freelancers, also known as a traditional freelancer. They don’t have any kind of company set up or a regular department or project that they work for. They tend to do different things within a company or go from company to company doing various projects.

    Diversified Worker

    This kind of worker tends to flip and change what they do a lot of the time. They may work a full time job and when needed they add in freelance work. Or they may have a part time job and freelance part time alongside this. They may even be studying and do freelance work in the evening. They will switch things up as and when they need to depending on their life at the time.

    Temporary or Ad-Hoc Worker

    These temporary workers are usually called upon for time-limited projects. For example, a business may need someone to write content for a website that’s going live in three weeks. The worker will be asked to work on the project and both parties will know that it will last a maximum of three weeks. These workers will do temporary projects for various organisations. Ad-hoc literally means “as needed”, this kind of relationship is often where a company calls upon a freelancer simply when they’re needed. This is usually for small but frequent jobs that have no specific pattern.


    Moonlighting is the act of working a night shift or night job alongside a regular employed day job, sometimes secretly. Many workers do this due to financial need but some may do it to gain new skills. The night work is usually freelance and in some cases the worker will stop the work once they have either saved up or got out of an awkward financial situation.

    Business Owner

    Some freelancers opt to set up their own company. Some may even have their own website and advertise and some might even hire freelancers if the demand requires it. As this is the most involved format not many opt for it but for some it makes sense to do so. This could be for a variety of reasons such as finances, taxes, or future plans to expand into a fully-fledged business with employees.