What Is A Freelancer? And Why Should You Become One?

It goes against everything you were taught in school.

You know, the traditional career pathway of hustling for a respectable job, slowly working your way up the ranks, and eventually earning yourself a sizable and well-earned salary?

Well, freelancing couldn’t be further from that reality, so let’s take a closer look at what it means to be a freelancer.

What Is A Freelancer?

Freelancing, or being a freelancer, doesn’t mean you work for free.

Instead, a freelancer is someone who takes on low-commitment work as a self-employed, independent contractor. They are service providers as opposed to employees.

A freelancer can take on multiple projects across multiple clients, and the duration of these client relationships typically last anything from a few hours to several months. Sometimes even years.

Freelance work is also usually carried out remotely, but not always.

As for finding work, freelancers advertise their services and network locally to acquire new clients, but, thanks to the internet, many freelancers now choose to market themselves online and tap into a global freelance marketplace.

What Services Do Freelancers Offer?

As many freelancers now operate online and remotely, any task or project that can be executed from a laptop is always on the table.

Common freelance services include:

  • Writing
  • Copywriting
  • Graphic design
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media management
  • Web development
  • Software development
  • Virtual assistance
  • Voice acting
  • Photography
  • Photo editing
  • Music production
  • Video editing
  • Bookkeeping
  • And more

Why Should You Become A Freelancer?

There are plenty of good reasons to consider becoming a freelancer over getting a traditional job, so let’s talk about those.

You Set Your Own Hours

As a freelancer, you get to choose when you work.

Of course, projects have deadlines (to which you agree on), but as long as you get everything done on time, there’s no requirement as to when you actually do the work.

This is the first major difference you’ll notice when you start out freelancing, and it does require some discipline to actually get work done.

This allows you to free up time for the things that really matter in your life, and not be tied down by the 9 to 5 grind.

You Can Get Paid To Develop A Skill

Would you ever apply for a job as a mechanic without ever having looked under the hood of a car?

Of course not. If you did, you’d probably be laughed out of the interview.

But as a freelancer and a self-employed business owner, you don’t need qualifications or experience to offer your services. Most freelancers don’t even have a resume.

Instead, your clients are your qualifications, your portfolio is your experience, and your testimonials are your resume.

You Can Work With People You Like

For most people with traditional jobs, the people you work with and the customers you serve for are far from optional.

As a freelancer, you not only have the freedom to work solo or collaborate with people you get along with, but you also don’t have to work for clients and companies that don’t align with your values.

This even goes as deep as your marketing, as you can specifically tailor your branding and messaging to the kinds of people you’re looking to attract.

You Can Work From Anywhere

Freelance work is usually carried out remotely, meaning you can run a freelance business without ever meeting your clients face-to-face.

Granted, this is not always the case, and particularly not in industries where a physical presence is required — but, in general, freelancers aren’t expected to show up at the office.

This is because  many freelance roles can be carried out from the comfort of a laptop or other mobile device, especially if you’re offering a web-based service like marketing or design.

In other words, as long as you have a laptop and a reliable wifi connection, you can be at home, in another state, or in another country entirely.

You Diversify Your Risk

It’s easy to think of freelancing as a risky proposition compared to getting a normal job, but the reality is quite the opposite.

Yes, freelance clients come and go at a much higher pace than your typical salary job, but you’re able to have multiple clients whereas you only have one job (well, in most cases).

What I mean is, if you have a job and you get fired or laid off, you lose 100% of your income overnight.

With freelancing, if you have five clients and one drops off, you’ve only lost 20% of your income until you’re able to replace them with someone else. And because it’s so much easier to acquire clients, you will replace them.

By diversifying your income source, you also diversify your risk.

You Can Charge What You’re Worth

If you’ve ever been in a job where you felt undervalued and underpaid, you’ll appreciate this one more than most.

While a salary is negotiable to an extent, freelancing has virtually no limits on what you can charge for your services, because it’s 100% up to you, the freelancer, what your rate is.

If you’re in high demand and struggling to keep up, that’s a sign you need to bump your rate way up, and you can do just that at a moment’s notice.

You Can Pivot To Keep Things Fresh

We already listed some of the different services you can offer as a freelancer, but you don’t have to pick only one for the duration of your freelance career.

The great thing about freelancing is that it has such a low barrier to entry. You don’t need years of experience or an expensive degree to start taking on clients and making money.

In other words, you can pivot to a different field with little planning or consequence, whether it’s transitioning from being a freelance writer to a copywriter, or something more drastic like switching to a design position.

Why Shouldn’t You Become A Freelancer?

Becoming a freelancer has its perks, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. Let’s talk about some of the downsides.

You Need To Learn How To Sell

One of the biggest differences between getting a “normal job” and becoming a freelancer is having to continuously find new work.

Where a traditional job requires you to pass one interview (or one set of interviews) for a potentially lifelong period of work, freelancing can mean having to do this on a frequent basis to keep your pipeline topped up.

Except freelancers don’t really call this being interviewed; they call it prospecting or selling.

You effectively need to learn how to market and sell yourself to prospective clients who would benefit from your services, by convincing them that they would benefit from your service.

While this is a beneficial  skill to have a job interview, enough research and preparation can get you through regardless.

With freelancing, your ability to sell consistently will almost always correlate with the number of clients you have at any given time, and ultimately your income.

You Lose Out On Company Benefits

Freelancers aren’t entitled to employee benefits like holiday pay, sick pay, or company health insurance.

They also aren’t entitled to legal benefits like notice or severance pay if things go south, though similar terms can be stipulated in a contractual agreement between freelancer and client.

Either way, if you’ve become accustomed to these benefits in your professional life, knowing that freelancers don’t qualify might be enough to turn you away from this line of work.

This is one of the main reasons employers look to freelancers in the first place. It’s low commitment for both parties involved.

Your Income Can Fluctuate (A Lot)

A steady job offers a steady income, so you know what you’re getting every month.

Freelancing is very much the opposite, because your income is entirely dependent on the number of clients you have in a given month, as well as their budget.

Recurring packages—for services that require ongoing work—can help to alleviate some of the fluctuations in monthly income, but most freelancers have to learn to live with the ebbs and flows of going freelance.

Is Freelancing Right For You?

Freelancing is one of the easiest ways to break into an industry and start generating income, but it doesn’t come without its challenges.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to experiment with new skills, build your own relationships with clients and take full control of your income, freelancing might be the perfect fit.

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