Wikipedia defines a freelancer as:
“Freelance, freelancer and freelance worker are terms commonly used for a person who is self-employed and not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term”
This is still pretty ambiguous, but that is the point, as it covers so much. A freelancer is someone that offers a service for a fee and they usually have multiple clients. To freelance, you usually have a skill you can offer to potential clients.
Can freelancing be a career?
Yes, it can. You can freelance part-time or even full-time when you have enough clients. Most freelancers draw on their employment experience, offering services using the talents they already have, but this is not always the case.
My freelancing is my main job and has been for a number of years, but it started as a part-time gig.
Why become a freelancer?
There are several reasons you might want to consider becoming a freelancer:
- Affordable business to start-up.
- Flexible schedule – You can work part-time, full-time, or off-business hours.
- Work from anywhere. You are not tied to an office, you can work in the garden, at a coffee shop, whilst traveling.
- Control over workload.
- Gets you experience running a business.
- Freedom of clients – once you know your target audience you can be selective when picking up work. (please note – at the beginning you may have to work with clients that are far from ideal)
- Exposure to working in a variety of industries.
There can be a few downsides, including:
- It can take time to build a full-time income.
- Managing multiple clients and projects requires excellent organisational skills
- Pay for new freelancers is often low.
- Lack of benefits, such as holiday and sick pay.
- Work can be irregular
- Isolation in your work
- Cash flow can be challenging if work is irregular.
- Responsible for your own accounts and taxes
How do freelancers work?
Most freelancers will set their own hours and will have multiple employers/clients, with varying lengths of time on a contract. For example, a freelance copywriter may work monthly for a client to write newsletters and blog posts or may have a short term project-based contract to re-write some website content.
It is a little more unusual however as some freelancers work on-site and will have one employer for a set contract and then at the end of the contract look for a new employer.
This is less common since the IR35 has been created otherwise known as the “off-payroll tax”. (The IR35 refers to the United Kingdom’s anti-avoidance tax legislation designed to tax ‘disguised’ employment at a rate similar to employment. )
What Kind of Work Does a Freelancer Offer?
Nearly any kind of service provided to another business or person can be offered on a freelance basis.
- Web designer
- Window cleaner
- Event Planner
- Marketing consultant
- Dog Walker
- Personal Assistant
- Dog Groomer
- Virtual Assistant
- Social Media Planner
I have a list of 100 business ideas available here if you want to pick one up