What is Freelancing?

What is freelancing in 2023

Freelancing is the epitome of career freedom.

It’s a path where you break free from traditional employment, embracing independence and flexibility.

As a freelancer, you become a creative nomad, selecting projects, setting your own schedule, and working from anywhere.

It’s a chance to showcase your skills, explore diverse industries, and collaborate with different clients.

With the power to negotiate rates and determine your worth, freelancing offers a thrilling journey where passion meets profession, and every day is an opportunity to shape your own success story.

According to Upwork,

Freelancing is doing specific work for clients without committing to full-time employment. Freelancers often take on multiple projects with different clients simultaneously. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers freelancers to be self-employed individuals

Who is a Freelancer?

According to the Wikipedia definition,

Freelance (sometimes spelled free-lance or free lance), freelancer, or freelance worker, are terms commonly used for a person who is self-employed and not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term.

Making it simple, an individual or a team that does those projects outside a company at a local level, agency level or whatever environment they prefer are freelancers.

 A 2019 study by Upwork and Freelancers Union shows that 57 million Americans freelanced in 2019.

And the same study shows that 53% of workers aged 18-22 are freelancing.

To understand it better we need to go to history and find out how the word freelancing has been made and what was the freelancing of that time.

Other Terms for Freelancing

While the terms “freelance” and “freelancer” are commonly used to describe self-employed individuals who work for multiple clients, not everyone uses these terms. In fact, many self-employed individuals refer to themselves simply as “self-employed.”

This distinction is important because freelancers are responsible for all aspects of their work, including setting their own hours, tracking their time, billing clients, and paying their own taxes.

While freelancers may take on contract work for companies and organizations, they are not considered employees but rather contractors.

Ultimately, whether you call yourself a freelancer or self-employed, the key is to understand the responsibilities and benefits that come with this type of work.

According to Freelancing School, not everyone uses the term Freelancing, you may have heard of some other terms like:

Contract work or Job: Engage in short-term or part-time contractual work positions.

1099: Freelancers receive payments through a tax form known as a “1099-MISC” instead of the typical W2 used for full-time employees. In some cases, the term “1099” is used to refer to a freelancer.

Contract consultant: This term describes a consultant who joins a project for a brief duration under a 1099 contract.

Independent contractor: This is the IRS classification for an individual working as a freelancer.

Occasionally, freelancers have an interest in transitioning to full-time employment. Contract-to-hire positions offer a trial period for freelancers to demonstrate their capabilities before being considered for permanent employment.

If you are going to be a freelancer you should know these terms.

Why is it called Freelancing?

The term “freelance” originated in the early 1800s and initially referred to medieval mercenaries known as “free lances.”

These mercenaries would offer their services to the highest bidder, fighting for different nations or individuals. The earliest written evidence of this usage can be found in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe.

In the book, a feudal lord mentions his assembled paid army, referred to as “Free Lances,” which he had offered to King Richard, but the offer was declined.

The lord then plans to lead his army to Hull, seize ships, and embark for Flanders, taking advantage of the active times where a man of action can always find employment.

The term “freelance” was recognized as a verb by the early 1900s.

Today, the term “freelance” is used to describe self-employed individuals who work for multiple clients on a project-by-project basis.

Pros and cons of Freelancing

  • Flexibility in work schedule and location.
  • Ability to choose clients and projects.
  • Unlimited earning potential.
  • Opportunity to work on a variety of projects and topics.
  • No mandatory 9-5 schedule.
  • Control over income and growth.
  • No commute.
  • No dress code.
  • Opportunity to learn new skills.
  • No office politics or distractions.
  • Ability to pursue passion projects.
  • Remote work from anywhere.
  • Variety of clients and projects.
  • Building better expertise and freelance business portfolio.
  • No job security.
  • Irregular monthly income.
  • No benefits on certain occasions.
  • Work in isolation.
  • Difficulty in finding work regularly.
  • Taxes and fees.
  • Income can be sporadic.

Overall, freelancing offers a lot of flexibility and control over one’s work life, but it also comes with some risks and challenges.

Freelancers need to be self-motivated, organized, and able to manage their finances effectively.

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding if freelancing is the right choice for you.

Main differences between Freelancing and a Full-time Job


  1. You are your own boss and have complete control over your work.
  2. You have the freedom to choose your clients and projects.
  3. You enjoy flexibility in your work schedule and can work from different locations.
  4. You have unlimited earning potential based on your efforts.
  5. You can engage in a diverse range of projects and explore various topics.
  6. You have the opportunity to pursue passion projects that align with your interests.

Full-time job:

  1. You have job security, knowing that you are part of a stable position.
  2. You receive a regular monthly income, providing financial stability.
  3. You have access to benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
  4. You work in a team environment, collaborating with coworkers.
  5. You have a set schedule and designated work location.
  6. You have less responsibility for finding work and acquiring clients, as those aspects are typically handled by the employer.

Ultimately, the choice between freelancing and a full-time job depends on individual preferences and priorities. Freelancing offers more autonomy and control, while a full-time job provides stability and additional benefits.

Categories of in-demand freelance work:

In modern online freelancing, there are certain categories in which every beginner wants to excel and provide their service.

Upwork is a platform that connects businesses with freelancers. The platform offers a variety of job categories and skills for freelancers to choose from.

Development and IT

Here are some of the skills in the Development and IT category based on the search results.

  • Full Stack Development
  • Front-End Development
  • Back-End Development
  • Mobile App Development
  • Web Design
  • Ecommerce Website Development
  • UX/UI DesignUX/UI Design
  • CMS Development
  • Manual Testing
  • Scripting & Automation
  • Programming and software development experience
  • Detailed XR (extended reality) knowledge
  • Machine learning
  • Computer vision
  • 3D

These skills are in high demand and can help freelancers find work on the platform.

Upwork also offers job categories and descriptions that can help freelancers find jobs that match their skills.

Design and creative

Design and creative category is the most popular one since the marketplaces started.

Here are some of the skills in the Design and Creative category on Upwork based on the search results:

  • 2D Animation
  • 3D Animation
  • 3D Modeling
  • Art Direction
  • Brand Identity
  • Cartoon Art
  • Creative Direction
  • Editorial Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration
  • Logo Design
  • Motion Graphics
  • Packaging Design
  • Print Design
  • Product Design
  • UI/UX Design
  • Video Editing
  • Web Design

Upwork can help businesses find the right graphic designers with the skills they need to complete their projects. The talent pool consists of remote workers from all over the world.

Sales and marketing

Sales and marketing is and has the most demanding skills of the decade.

All the businesses need some kind of sales and marketing services.

And the good thing is that it pays very well like SEO.

Below is the list of the skills available in this industry.

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Other Digital Marketing
  • Lead Generation
  • Sales & Business Development
  • Telemarketing
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Marketing Automation

Upwork can help businesses find the right sales and marketing professionals with the skills.

Writing and translation

Among the major skills in writing and translation skills, here are the following major skills.

  • Copywriting
  • General writing and editing
  • Niche writing domains such as SEO , copywriting, advertising, and email
  • Technical writing
  • Article writing
  • Blog writing
  • Technical writing
  • Translation

Freelancers who possess these skills can work on various projects such as writing, editing, proofreading, and translation of press releases, news articles, blog posts, technical documents, and instructional manuals.

Make sure you find the skill that matches your personality and way of thinking.

Admin and customer support

Here are some of the major skills in the Admin and Customer Support category on Upwork:

  • Email, Phone & Chat Support
  • General Virtual Assistance
  • Data Entry
  • Appointment Setting
  • Transcription
  • Social Media Management
  • Project Management
  • Customer Service
  • Community Management

Freelancers who possess these skills can work on various projects such as managing emails, scheduling appointments, transcribing audio and video files, managing social media accounts, and providing customer support

Finance and Accounting

Freelancers who possess these skills can work on various projects such as managing financial records, preparing financial statements, analyzing financial data, managing budgets, and processing payroll.

Additionally, Upwork recommends that freelancers obtain professional certifications to help their profiles stand out and uplevel their skillset.

Some of the popular accounting certifications include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA), Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), and Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA).

  • Accounting
  • Recruiting & Talent Sourcing
  • Bookkeeping
  • Financial Analysis & Modeling
  • Management Consulting
  • Instructional Design
  • Business Analysis & Strategy
  • Tax Preparation
  • HR Administration
  • Training & Development

Make sure you posses expert level skills to be master of freelancing.

Human resources

  • Recruiting and staffing
  • Training and development
  • Performance management
  • Employee relations
  • HR policies and procedures
  • Compensation and benefits
  • HRIS (Human Resources Information System)
  • Compliance and legal
  • Payroll processing
  • Onboarding and offboarding
  • Talent management

Strong human resource skills in freelancing include effective communication, as it enables clear client and contractor expectations, conflict resolution, and building professional relationships remotely.

Additionally, proficiency in talent acquisition and management, along with a comprehensive understanding of employment regulations, ensures successful recruitment and compliance within the freelance ecosystem.


Upwork recommends that freelancers obtain professional certifications to help their profiles stand out and uplevel their skillset1. Some of the popular legal certifications include Certified Paralegal (CP), Certified Legal Assistant (CLA), and Certified Legal Manager (CLM).

Following are the skills in this category.

  • Contract law
  • Real estate law
  • Immigration law

Legal skills in freelancing encompass contract drafting and negotiation, allowing freelancers to establish clear agreements with clients and protect their rights.

Familiarity with intellectual property laws is crucial for safeguarding creative work and avoiding infringement.

Engineering and architecture

  • Architectural design
  • Civil engineering
  • Structural engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • 3D modeling and rendering
  • AutoCAD
  • Revit
  • SketchUp
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM)
  • Construction management

Construction management in freelancing requires expertise in project planning, scheduling, and budgeting to ensure successful execution of construction projects.

Effective communication and coordination skills are essential for managing contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers, as well as maintaining open lines of communication with clients.

Freelancers who possess these skills can work on various projects such as architectural design, civil engineering, structural engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, 3D modeling and rendering, AutoCAD drafting, Revit modeling, SketchUp modeling, BIM coordination, and construction management.

How does freelancing work?

Freelancing is a form of self-employment where individuals offer their services to clients or companies on a project-by-project basis.

Freelancers typically work independently and are not bound by long-term contracts with any specific employer.

The process of freelancing typically involves the following steps:

Step#1 Skill development

Freelancers develop their expertise in a specific field or industry, such as writing, graphic design, programming, or consulting. They acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to offer their services to potential clients.

Step#2 Building a portfolio

Freelancers create a portfolio that showcases their previous work, demonstrating their abilities and expertise. This portfolio serves as a way for potential clients to assess their skills and determine if they are a good fit for their projects.

Step#3 Finding clients

Freelancers actively seek out clients by marketing their services through various channels such as online platforms, social media, professional networks, and referrals. They may also apply for freelance job postings or join freelancing websites where clients post projects and hire freelancers.

Step#4 Proposal submission

When freelancers come across a project that aligns with their skills and interests, they submit a proposal to the client detailing their approach, estimated timeline, and cost for completing the project. This proposal serves as a pitch to convince the client to hire them.

Step#5 Contract negotiation

If the client is interested in working with the freelancer, they negotiate the terms of the project, including deliverables, deadlines, payment terms, and any other relevant details. This helps establish clear expectations and protects both parties’ interests.

Step#6 Project execution

Once the contract is agreed upon, the freelancer begins working on the project. They manage their time, resources, and tasks to meet the agreed-upon deadlines and deliver high-quality work. Communication with the client throughout the project is essential to ensure alignment and address any concerns or revisions.

Step#7 Payment and invoicing

Upon completing the project or reaching specific milestones, freelancers send invoices to the client for payment. Payment terms are typically agreed upon in advance, and freelancers may use online payment platforms or traditional methods to receive their payment.

Step#8 Building client relationships

Freelancers aim to establish long-term relationships with clients by delivering excellent work, providing exceptional customer service, and maintaining professional communication.

Satisfied clients may offer repeat projects or refer the freelancer to others, helping them build a sustainable freelance career.

It’s important to note that freelancing offers flexibility in terms of work schedule, location, and project selection, but it also requires self-discipline, effective time management, and consistent marketing efforts to ensure a steady flow of projects.

Advantages of being a Freelancer

Being a freelancer is very awesome because of the perks it brings. Let’s look at what freelancers enjoy.

Flexibility to decide how, when, and where to work

Flexibility in freelancing refers to the freedom and autonomy that freelancers have to make decisions about their work arrangements. It encompasses the ability to choose the methods, timings, and locations that best suit their preferences and lifestyle. Freelancers have the power to customize their work environment and schedule according to their individual needs and priorities.

Choosing your own clients

Choosing your own clients in freelancing means having the autonomy to select the individuals or companies you want to work with. Freelancers have the freedom to evaluate potential clients based on factors such as project scope, budget, alignment with their skills and interests, and overall compatibility. This allows freelancers to work with clients who appreciate their expertise and values, fostering more fulfilling and successful working relationships.

Keeping all the profits

One of the key advantages of freelancing is the direct correlation between your efforts and earnings. As a freelancer, you have the ability to retain all the post-tax profits, granting you full control over how you allocate and utilize your income. This financial independence allows you the freedom to make decisions regarding your finances based on your individual preferences and goals.

Variety of Projects

As a freelancer, you have the opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects and collaborate with different clients. This variety keeps work engaging and allows freelancers to continuously learn and expand their skill set.


Freelancers have the freedom to be their own boss and make decisions about their work. They can choose the projects they want to work on, set their rates, and determine their preferred working methods. This independence can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and control over one’s career.

Higher Earning Potential

Freelancers often have the potential to earn more compared to traditional employment. Since they set their rates based on their skills and market demand, freelancers can negotiate higher pay for their services. Additionally, freelancers can take on multiple projects simultaneously, increasing their earning potential.

Professional Growth

Freelancing provides ample opportunities for professional growth and development. Freelancers constantly face new challenges, work with different clients, and acquire diverse experiences, which can enhance their skills and expertise. They also have the freedom to pursue specialized niches and become experts in their chosen field.

Work-Life Balance

Freelancing allows individuals to have greater control over their work-life balance. They can allocate time for personal commitments, hobbies, and family, without being restricted by traditional office hours. This flexibility can lead to reduced stress and improved overall well-being.

Increased Autonomy

Freelancers have the autonomy to make decisions about their work and take ownership of their projects. They can choose the methodologies, tools, and techniques they prefer, allowing for greater creativity and innovation in their work.

Expanded Network

Freelancers often have the opportunity to network with a wide range of professionals in their industry. Building connections with clients, colleagues, and fellow freelancers can lead to future collaborations, referrals, and access to new opportunities.

Disadvantages of being a freelancer:

You’re pretty much on your own

As a freelancer, you lack the support and resources that come with traditional employment.

You have to handle all aspects of your work independently, including finding clients, negotiating contracts, managing finances, and handling administrative tasks.

This can be challenging, especially if you’re not accustomed to taking on multiple roles simultaneously.

For example, a freelance graphic designer may have to handle client acquisition, project management, and billing, which can be overwhelming without a team to rely on.

It can be a lonely world

Freelancing often involves working alone, which can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of social interaction.

Without coworkers or colleagues to interact with on a daily basis, freelancers may miss out on the camaraderie, support, and collaboration that comes with working in a team.

For example, a freelance writer may spend long hours working from home without the opportunity for casual conversations or brainstorming sessions with peers.

Irregular Payments

Freelancers often face challenges when it comes to receiving timely and consistent payments.

Clients may delay payments, dispute invoices, or have cash flow issues, resulting in irregular income streams.

This can create financial uncertainty and make it difficult to budget and plan for the future.

For instance, a freelance web developer may experience delays in receiving payments for completed projects, leading to cash flow gaps and financial strain.

Traits and characteristics needed as a freelancer:


Freelancers must possess self-discipline to manage their time effectively, meet deadlines, and stay motivated without the structure of traditional work environments. They need to establish routines, set priorities, and hold themselves accountable for their work. For example, a freelance content writer must maintain a disciplined writing schedule to consistently produce high-quality content.


Freelancing often involves facing challenges, rejection, and setbacks. Freelancers need to be persistent in pursuing opportunities, overcoming obstacles, and continuously improving their skills. They must be resilient in the face of rejection and keep pushing forward. For instance, a freelance photographer might face rejections from potential clients but needs to persistently market their services and showcase their portfolio.


Freelancing can be unpredictable, with ups and downs in workload and income. Freelancers must be resilient and adaptable to handle fluctuations, uncertainty, and unexpected situations. They need to bounce back from setbacks and maintain a positive mindset. For example, a freelance graphic designer may need to adapt quickly to changes in client preferences or project requirements.


Freelancers must have strong organizational skills to manage multiple clients, projects, and deadlines effectively. They need to plan their work, track progress, and stay on top of administrative tasks such as invoicing and record-keeping. For instance, a freelance virtual assistant needs to be organized to handle various tasks and schedules for different clients efficiently.


Freelancers need to be proactive in seeking opportunities, expanding their network, and staying updated on industry trends. They should actively market their services, reach out to potential clients, and invest in professional development. Being proactive helps freelancers stay ahead and maintain a competitive edge. For example, a freelance web developer may proactively learn new programming languages or technologies to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving industry.


Effective communication is crucial in freelancing, as freelancers often work remotely and need to establish clear expectations, address client feedback, and maintain professional relationships. They should be responsive, articulate, and able to convey their ideas and needs effectively. For instance, a freelance marketing consultant must communicate with clients to understand their goals and develop targeted strategies.

Types of freelance Jobs

Following are the most trending and in-demand list of freelancing jobs.

There are numerous types of freelance jobs available across various industries. The freelance market continues to expand and diversify, offering opportunities for individuals with different skill sets and expertise. Here are some common types of freelance jobs:

Writing and Editing

Freelance writers create content for websites, blogs, magazines, and other publications. Editors proofread and edit written material for clarity and accuracy.

Graphic Design and Illustration

Freelance graphic designers create visual elements for branding, advertising, web design, and print materials. Illustrators specialize in creating artwork and illustrations for books, magazines, and other media.

Web Development and Programming

Freelance web developers and programmers build and maintain websites, develop web applications, and work on coding projects using various programming languages.

Digital Marketing

Freelance digital marketers help businesses promote their products or services online. This may involve social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and advertising campaigns.

Translation and Localization

Freelance translators convert written content from one language to another, while localization specialists adapt content to specific cultural and linguistic contexts.

Virtual Assistance

Freelance virtual assistants provide administrative, organizational, and support services remotely to clients, such as managing emails, scheduling appointments, and handling data entry tasks.

Photography and Videography

Freelance photographers and videographers capture images and footage for various purposes, including events, advertising, portraits, and stock photography.

Consulting and Coaching

Freelance consultants and coaches offer their expertise and guidance in specific areas such as business, finance, marketing, career development, personal growth, and more.

Social Media Management

Freelance social media managers create and execute social media strategies for businesses, including content creation, community engagement, and analytics.

Online Tutoring and Teaching

Freelance tutors and teachers provide educational instruction in various subjects through online platforms, offering personalized learning experiences to students of all ages.

Audio and Video Production

Freelance audio engineers and video producers handle recording, editing, and production tasks for podcasts, music, commercials, films, and other multimedia projects.

Event Planning

Freelance event planners organize and coordinate various aspects of events, including venue selection, logistics, vendor management, and budgeting.

These are just a few examples, and there are many more freelance job opportunities available.

The freelance market is constantly evolving, adapting to new technologies and emerging industries, providing a wide range of options for individuals seeking flexible work arrangements.

How to find Freelance Work

If you are seeking freelance opportunities, there are numerous avenues to explore. Consider the following suggestions to enhance your search for freelance work:

Tips to find freelancing work

  1. Establish a profile on freelance platforms: Numerous websites cater to freelancers, such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. Creating a compelling profile and actively bidding on available jobs can jumpstart your freelance career.
  2. Utilize specialized job boards: Platforms like We Work Remotely and Behance offer job listings tailored specifically for freelancers. Regularly checking these boards can provide you with relevant and appealing freelance opportunities.
  3. Develop a professional website: Crafting a website that showcases your skills, achievements, and portfolio can significantly attract potential clients. Ensure that your website is visually appealing, user-friendly, and highlights your unique strengths.
  4. Engage in networking: Actively connect with fellow freelancers and potential clients through online communities, social media groups, and professional events. Networking can lead to valuable referrals and job opportunities within your desired field.
  5. Conduct thorough client research: Prioritize researching potential clients to identify freelance projects that align with your expertise and interests. Tailoring your pitch to each client’s needs and demonstrating your understanding of their industry can enhance your chances of securing work.
  6. Take a proactive approach: Rather than waiting for job offers to come to you, proactively reach out to potential clients and express your interest in collaborating with them. Introduce yourself, showcase your skills, and emphasize the value you can bring to their projects.
  7. Cultivate a specialization: Developing expertise in a specific niche can set you apart from other freelancers and make you an attractive choice for clients seeking specialized skills. Focusing on a particular field allows you to refine your abilities and establish yourself as a trusted professional.

Remember that finding freelance work requires perseverance and dedication.

By implementing these strategies, you can enhance your chances of building a successful and rewarding freelance career.

Top Freelancing Websites of 2023

According to Hostinger, here are the best 16 Best Freelance Websites to Find Work.

  • Fiverr
  • Toptal
  • Jooble
  • Upwork
  • Flexjobs
  • SimplyHired
  • Guru 
  • LinkedIn
  • Behance
  • 99designs
  • Dribbble
  • People Per Hour
  • ServiceScape
  • DesignHill
  • TaskRabbit

Some of them are freelance marketplaces and some of them are portfolio websites from where you can get hired based on the projects you have uploaded.


Freelancing can be compared to a skill that requires practice and refinement, much like playing chess or creating art.

It’s understandable to feel apprehensive about venturing into freelancing, but instead of waiting for the ideal moment, it’s essential to take proactive steps for a successful start.

Begin by diligently researching and preparing, such as building a client list in advance, obtaining necessary insurance coverage, and setting up a dedicated business account.

Embrace the reality that freelancing demands hard work and dedication, but once you achieve a breakthrough, the rewards and satisfaction will be incredibly fulfilling.