What is Freelancer?

A freelancer is a self-employed individual who picks and chooses jobs to work for him or herself. Freelancers can choose any desired project and are not bound to any company indefinitely. Freelancers are paid for each job they complete for each client they decide to work for. A typical freelancer works mostly independently on small-scale projects and their terms.

What's the TL;DR?

Freelancers are essential to the economy of many companies and businesses that want to avoid paying a full-time salary. Freelancers serve companies and businesses for a specified period, usually under contract, and then pursue different projects. Over time, freelancers taking on many projects positively affect many companies financially. With flexibility and freedom, being a freelancer comes with many perks.

  • Perks of Being a Freelancer: Freelancers can profit tremendously from projects undertaken by large businesses and corporations. In addition, freelancers choose which projects they work on and how much they get paid.
  • Freelancer Project Acquisition: Freelancers can choose projects in many different ways.
  • Attributes Companies Take Into Account When Choosing Freelancers: Companies look at past experience, past projects, past education, and present skills/characteristics that make you compatible with their team to maximize success.
  • Factors Affecting Freelance Work: Freelancers face tough and constant competition. They compete with each other and firms for the same jobs.

Tell Me More

Benefits of Being a Freelancer

  • Sales Potential: Similar to consulting, freelancers can profit off of large corporations that choose to employ them for their skills. The more skills and the more notable a freelancer becomes, the more jobs they can line up for the future.
  • Flexibility: One massive benefit of being a freelancer is the freedom to create your schedule based on your needs and health. Freelancers take on jobs they want and charge the rates they desire. They are not restricted to bosses or specific schedules; they act as their bosses.
  • Mental Health/Workload: With no boss, freelancers can take as many projects as they feel comfortable. Freelancers can consider their stress factor when looking for projects and can work the hours they choose. Freelancers also work wherever they please and do not have to deal with office politics.
  • Networking: Because freelancers are very similar to consultants, freelancers can meet new corporations and businesses in their projects. Freelancers can expand their relationships and build a positive reputation for themselves by successfully helping large companies that can give positive feedback on freelancers' work.

Factors Affecting Freelance Workers

  • Market Demand: Freelancers need help finding projects to make a living. Freelance workers heavily depend on the market's status and the economy's strength.
  • Market Competition: Because freelancers help companies provide solutions in their specific fields of work, they compete vigorously with large consultant firms and other freelancers
  • Pricing and Rate: As freelancers depend on the economy and industrial demand, they must appropriately set prices and rates for their services. In addition, freelancers rely on their projects to pay for their expenses and must create contracts with clients to get paid on time and in the correct amount. Freelancers must find a balance between their prices to attract customers while getting paid a sufficient amount.
  • Global and Economic Conditions: Like other similar jobs and workers, Freelancers are affected by events and accidents that disturb everyday life. These include natural accidents, pandemics, epidemics, and economic crashes.

How Freelancers Obtain Projects

Having a continuous flow of projects and work is critical to the success of a freelancer. Without a consistent pipeline, revenue can dry up quickly leading to periods of no pay in-between high-demand periods. Developing and maintaining a sales pipeline is a core competency for all freelancers to success. Luckily, there are many ways for freelancers to obtain projects in the digital and post-COVID remote friendly age:

  • Network referrals from family, friends, and in particular past clients are the most effective advertising of your skills and expertise in specific fields of study. If you can't get a referral, a testimonial or a review on your various profiles and business website is also helpful.
  • Job posting websites such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and LinkedIn are not just for full-time hires. Temporary, part-time, and contract works are increasingly posted on job websites to attract and connect to the talent pool.
  • Online marketplaces for freelancers such as Toptal, Upwork, and Deel can also be consistent place to build a business. With clients going to these sites specifically to search out freelancers. One drawback are the high fees that the site can charge for users and the lower pay since freelancers are competing internationally with offshore pricing depressing the overall pay rate on these marketplaces.
  • Expanding scopes of work with existing clients. Offering an expanded suite of services based on client's requests can help freelancers expand revenue with their current clients. This is a great way to easily bring in additional revenue with clients you're already set-up to work with. The main drawback is revenue concentration.
  • Social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok can allow freelancers to reach new client pools with hundreds of millions of engaged users on these platforms, these social media platforms can allow freelancers to showcase their skills and expertise to new people. These apps are also intuitive to use and easy to pick up. The biggest investment is time and commitment as opposed to cost.
  • Online advertising is an easy go-to if freelancers have the funds to invest in. From paid search, display ads, and social media ads on LinkedIn or other platforms, freelancers can target their desired demographics and businesses for as little as $5 a day to start getting noticed. There are also plenty of agencies who can help with marketing, but freelancers would need to have a sizeable business to justify the ROI of this cost.
  • Hard-copy advertisements on local advertising opportunities. This is a good fit for freelancers whose domain expertise is specific to certain geographic regions.
  • Outbound sales is probably the most common approach for freelancers without the network or the capital to invest in other marketing approaches. This is high-touch, time intensive activity requiring freelancers to find new leads and do cold calling in order to prospect new clients.

How to Present Yourself as a Freelancer

Unlike businesses which focus on showcasing their products and offerings, the freelancer's service is themselves. Marketing for a freelancing business is a lot like putting together a polished resume when applying for a job.

  • Personal Information: Name, phone number, state, town, and billing address
  • Total Experience: List of and details concerning past projects or clients
  • Education: College attended, degrees earned, and majors chosen
  • Skills/Attributes: A list of personal skills and things the freelancer has to stand out from the competition: other freelancers and consultant firms.

Related Glossary Terms