What Is Freelancing? With Advantages, Disadvantages and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 2 November 2022

Published 13 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Freelancing is becoming more popular among both employers and employees. Many people choose to undertake freelance work, as it grants them more freedom and control over their careers. Learning more about freelancing could help you determine if it's right for your career goals. In this article, we discuss what is freelancing, how does it work, how to become a freelancer, what are the advantages and disadvantages, and we outline some tips to help you get started in the field.

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is a type of self-employment where you provide services or products to others under a contract. As a freelancer, you can work for individuals or corporations and can work on many contracts simultaneously. Although these professionals can sometimes work for a single company for an extended period, freelancing is often short-lived and involves working for several companies. As a freelancer, you may work independently and offer your services directly to clients or you can work for an agency that resells your services. Freelancers often have a predetermined or basic fee agreed upon by all parties before the start of work.

You can choose to freelance part-time while working full time or you can make it your long-term profession. Freelancing might also be beneficial if you're between employment and wish to supplement your income. You may choose and manage your own working hours as a freelancer.

Related: Q&A: What Is Remote Work?

Advantages of freelancing

There are advantages and challenges for all forms of employment when working as a freelancer. To better understand what is freelancing and what are the perks that come with the role, learn about some of the benefits:

  • Freedom and flexibility: You have the ultimate workplace flexibility and can choose what work to do and when. Most freelancers also work remotely from the comfort of their own homes.

  • Mobility: Since freelancers usually work online, this type of work comes with freedom of mobility. This means that you can live and work freely where you want and also travel while working.

  • Variety: Freelancers are constantly taking on new projects and working for different organisations. For this reason, your job can be more varied and interesting than that of a permanent employee.

  • Opportunities: Many organisations are increasingly choosing to go with this form of employment, as it is less costly for companies to hire freelancers than permanent employees. This means that there would likely be no shortage of jobs for freelancers in the short run.

Related: Workplace Flexibility for Employers and Employees

Potential disadvantages of freelancing

Although there are many benefits of freelancing, it's important to learn about the potential disadvantages to help you determine if it's right for you. Here are some things to consider:

  • Lack of stability: Being self-employed may not offer the same stability as a permanent position. Depending on your level of experience, you can compete with many other freelancers for work, but your employers can also easily decide to replace you with another freelancer if they're not entirely satisfied with your work.

  • No paid benefits: As a self-employed person, you may not have included benefits, such as health insurance, old-age provision, paid holiday or sick leave. Consider creating carefully plan your savings every month towards health insurance and retirement to help you when freelancing.

  • Low pay rates: In some industries, freelance employers may receive below-average salary rates, especially when the market is highly competitive.

  • Self-employment tax: As a freelancer, you're typically responsible for paying and managing your own taxes.

Related: What Are the Pros and Cons of Working at a Startup Company?

How to become a freelancer

If you're interested in this career path, consider following these steps:

1. Determine your field

If you want to work as a freelancer, you may first decide what sort of services you plan to offer. Establishing fundamental field expertise might assist you in narrowing your focus and getting started. For instance, if you aspire to become a freelance graphic designer, you can first determine what type of content you want to specialise in, such as online advertisements, brochures or organisational logos.

Think about what exactly you'd like to offer, how much you'd like to charge and what payment modes you'd like to accept. Consider doing research to see what other providers of the same service are charging to find a competitive base rate. Also, take the time to define your goals and objectives of becoming a freelancer.

Related: Part-Time vs. Full-Time Employment: What Are the Key Differences?

2. Look for your ideal customer

You may choose who you wish to enter into a deal with. It might be beneficial to identify potential consumers who would gain the most from your products or services. Consider if you want to work with individuals or businesses, as well as the kind of fields you like. If you're starting your career, identifying your target consumer might it easier to find clients. You can broaden your consumer base once you've gained some expertise and are more at ease.

To set yourself apart from the competition, consider looking for a customer or sector that places a premium on quality. Choose a topic that interests you and strive to be the greatest in that field. Once you've honed your skills and abilities, you may be able to confidently charge your clients more for your services.

3. Develop a work portfolio

Prospective clients may ask to view or read your work before hiring you. Look through the work you've done in past projects and compile your best work that demonstrates your talent. When constructing your portfolio, include a brief explanation of each item, as well as the medium and techniques used to produce it. A visually attractive portfolio may increase your exposure and attract more consumers.

Related: How To Create a Portfolio and What Content To Include

4. Develop a website

It's critical to have a good website for your professional services. You may include your portfolio, contact information, pricing and other pertinent information about yourself and your services on your website. Remember to include information about the services you offer and a few examples of the sort of work you perform on your website. You may set up your site such that customers are able to purchase your products and services directly from your website.

You may pay a website designer to accomplish this for you if you've got the available finances. If you choose to create your own website, you may select from a wide range of website builders that are simple to use and inexpensive. There are various website building vendors out there that make it easy to build, design and monitor your independent website.

5. Establish a loyal customer base and build your network

Although freelancing can involve temporary and short-term contracts, a lot of freelancers work with the same client base for a long period of time. Establishing and maintaining a loyal customer base can help you in keeping a steady job and repeat clients who can provide testimonials about your services. You may request testimonials from your clients to post on your website to show how you're providing satisfactory service.

Make sure you're building good relationships with your clients. Once you've signed a contract, you may get in touch with the customer to thank them and make sure they're happy with the product or service you've provided. Once you've established a good connection, you may reach out to your customers and encourage them to share your contact information with anyone who might require your services.

Tips to get started in freelancing

Freelancers require more than just producing quality work. Keep these tips in mind to get started on freelancing and find new opportunities to build your business and improve your skills:

  • Utilise your social media profiles: Add information about your professional field to your online social media profiles. Popular platforms can be an effective way to market yourself and reach customers.

  • Join some reputable online freelance networks: The internet has many freelance websites that connect businesses with freelancers. All you have to do is create a profile, search for freelance jobs in your field and then bid on the jobs that interest you.

  • Ask your work contacts, friends and family to get the word out: Ask the people or companies you've connected with as well as your friends and family to let other people know about your professional services. You can also ask previous employers to approve your skills and the quality of your work.

  • Stick to a schedule: Because freelancers often work on multiple projects at the same time and have strict deadlines, it's essential that you keep yourself organised. Creating a schedule can help you assess whether you can take on a new job, allow enough time to do your job well and ensure that you can meet deadlines.

  • Become an expert: Freelancers can make more money and get more jobs by specialising in a particular niche.

  • Develop your communication skills: Freelancers interact with different organisations and people regularly. It's important that you communicate effectively so that there are no misunderstandings and you can present yourself professionally to existing and prospective clients.

Related: What Is Commission Pay and How Does It Work? (With Types)

What are some examples of freelancing roles?

Listed below are some examples of fields where you can work as a freelancer:

  • Photography

  • Graphic design

  • Accountancy

  • Video editing

  • Web development

  • Software design

  • Content creation

  • Digital marketing

  • Copywriting

Related: How To Be a Freelance Video Editor (With Salary and Tips)

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