What Is Freelancing and who is a freelancer?

What is Freelancing?

Today, freelancing has gone mainstream as employers rely more on independent workers to sustain and grow their businesses. Freelancing is getting extremely popular all over the world, people who are not familiar with this new mode of work ask, what is freelancing?. Let’s discuss this in detail.

Freelancers are the ones who are self-employed. They do not work for an employer in a 9 to 5 job, Monday to Friday. They are different from the current cubicle crowd. In the cubicle world, workers are given assignments to complete and chase the next assignment. Freelancers never stick to just one task.  They find contractual jobs, convince the client to hire them and once they get the job done, they get paid and move to the next contractual job.

Definition of Freelancer:

Let’s take a look at the definition of a freelancer.

A self-employed person who offers services to multiple clients while operating as his own boss. A freelancer sets his own service menu, prices, and targets the client’s market. It’s just a myth that a freelancer refers to people who work for free. In many cases, freelancers earn more than their office counterparts.

When it comes to flexibility, freelancers are free to set their own hours. They can choose on working full-time or part-time on the projects of their choice. Freelancers work similarly to independent contractors.

For freelancers, the continuity of work might be different. Some freelancers might work with the same clients over a number of years and some may higher freelancers just for one project. In the world of freelancing, it is easy to build a community that is far more than a professional network. It is where the freelancers can share their knowledge, resources, and encouragement with other freelancers.

No doubt freelancing is a profession that is on the rise, but like everything, it has some advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Freelancing:

Let’s quickly skim through the advantages of freelancing.

It is fast to get started with. If you are aware of your skill to offer, getting hands on the first client is actually the beginning of your career.

Freelancing can be started at any time as it’s very easy to start. You can use your network to find a client for work.

It is extremely affordable. With the service to offer to clients, you must be having the necessary equipment for delivering your work. You can promote your service through LinkedIn. You will only be required to invest in business building tools such as websites.

There is a huge demand for freelancers in the market. In the competitive market, the demand for reliable and quality freelancers is growing for online freelance jobs. Also, many businesses prefer to have freelancers as their workforce instead of hiring typical employees.

Freelancing offers flexibility in choosing one’s own working hours and place of work.

In the beginning, you may have to work for any client who chooses you. But as you grow, it’s your own choice to pick the clients you want to work for.

While you are required to deliver the work in the way the client asks, but as a freelancer, it’s your choice how you complete the project.

Disadvantages of Freelancing:

Freelancing has its disadvantages as well. Let’s take a look at some of the main downsides of being an independent contractor.

Setting a freelancing business takes time. Getting enough clients that can make it a business to support you and your family is not just a matter of a few days.

Freelancing is not like traditional office jobs. There can be an irregularity in the workflow of freelancers. Sometimes there will be plenty of projects to work on whereas some days will pass without even a single project.

It can be pretty challenging for freelancers to manage multiple clients and projects. It is not easy for many people to keep track of deadlines and deliver good quality work on time.

You may be paid low when starting freelancing. Beginning with lower rewards may be needed by freelancers but it’s essential to charge your worth as early as possible.

Difference between a freelancer and a home-based service business:

There is not much to differentiate between the two.

They work for multiple clients, set their own schedules, and abide by the same self-employment tax rules. But there are a few things that are different between home-based service businesses and freelancers. A business owner works under a business name whereas a freelancer works whatever name he/she has. Usually, a freelancer works according to the requirements of the market whereas a home business owner finds different ways to fill the gap in the market.

Getting started as a freelancer:

Building a freelancing career can be as easy as finding work from a freelance website. Clients can be found by networking with contacts and other spheres of influence. But before you begin, you have to decide upon a few things including:

Success as a freelancer is predominantly dependent on the following:

  • Communication skill
  • Business development skill
  • Computer skills such as web development, software development, content writer, or any other skill in demand.

Decide what you want to offer:

Beginning with freelance work requires you to decide upon the services you want to offer to clients. Freelance work includes writing, graphic designing, web designing, social media management, marketing, photography, bookkeeping, etc.

The target market:

After deciding upon the services, it is time for you to think about your brand and unique selling propositions. It is up to you to either specialize within a specific niche of your services such as copywriting or WordPress web design or within a specific market.

Online portfolio:

A social network such as LinkedIn is a good place to start career networking. To promote your services you need to build an online portfolio. Even setting up a website will be helpful in offering you get more customization and flexibility than LinkedIn.

Setting prices:

Always be sure to charge prices for your work that can not only cover your expenses but also help you to earn a respectful living.

Reach out:

You can connect with potential clients with the help of your network. Freelance websites such as https://freelancer.com, Fiverr, Guru.com, or Upwork can help you find work. For experience, testimonials, and referrals these websites are a very good source.

Freelancers have to learn, adapt, and grow with the experiences throughout their journey. Becoming an intentional freelancer is a choice that should be made consciously as it gives peace of mind when you know you can afford the life you are living.

Pandemic fuels in freelance growth. It’s a rise of a trillion-dollar workforce:

Over 1 in 3 people in the U.S. workforce are freelancing. This number accumulates to around 59 million of the U.S workforce. Amid Pandemic, the numbers are growing quickly and more professionals are choosing to freelance than getting a full-time 9-5 job.

As people are getting accustomed to working remotely, people are beginning to live this new lifestyle and explore better earning opportunities. The independent workforce is rapidly growing, totaling $1.2 trillion this year alone.

Not all of 59 million professionals are working as freelancers full-time. Some are still holding to their employer and their full-time jobs but 4 out of 10 are considering an independent gig-economy workforce and prefer to be their own boss. It seems like, people feel that being independent is more freedom, perhaps more secure too.

How to start a Freelance Business?

Are you thinking about starting a freelance business? More and more people are switching the 9-5 to start their own freelance hustles, and doing so can bring many benefits. Plus technology has made it easier than ever for people with a range of skills to become self-employed. There are several reasons to start a freelance business, including being in control of your own profession, greater work-life balance, and unlimited earning potential, but this is also a challenging way of working and one which many people struggle with. Here are a few pieces of advice which should help you to enjoy the benefits of being a freelancer.

Be Strict With Yourself

If you are to succeed as a freelancer, then you need to be strict with yourself and have an excellent work ethic. Ultimately, you are your own boss, and you will not be earning when you are not working, which means that you need to be willing to put the work in each day. It is helpful to keep a routine so that you get used to working at the same time each day. By following a routine, it is also easy to stay in touch with clients.

Have An Efficient Accounting System In Place

One of the biggest challenges, when you become a freelance worker, is that you need to handle all aspects of the business, including accounting. You need to have an efficient system in place from the very start which would accept payments from QuickBooks online so that you can keep your records current and accurate at all times. It will help with the daily running of the business while also ensuring that it is easier to file your tax return each year.

Network Constantly

In order to find success, you must develop an extensive network of professional contacts. This can be challenging, particularly at the start, but you can use the internet to connect with people from your industry and attend industry events to get your name out there. Additionally, you need to make sure that you have a professionally designed website that clearly outlines your background, skillset, and experience to promote your services. 

Avoid Burnout

As previously mentioned, you need a strong work ethic because you are not earning when you are not working. At the same time, however, you must also make sure that you do not overdo it as this can lead to burnout. Make sure that you have time scheduled where you are not working throughout the week and take regular breaks to avoid burnout because this could ultimately cost you a lot more.

Separate Personal & Professional Life

One of the biggest challenges that freelancers have is separating their personal and professional life. In addition to creating separate bank accounts and forming an entity for your business, this also means not being distracted by your personal life when you are working and vice versa. You can create a clear separation with a strict routine where you start and finish at roughly the same time each day.

Starting a freelance business can be both exciting and daunting, but these tips should help you to find some success and enjoy the benefits that this way of working can bring.

The Freelancing Scams you need to watch out for:

As the freelancing wave all over the world gains popularity and builds momentum, it is facing some awkward challenges as well. These challenges were always on the card, especially on freelance marketplaces.

The project award ratio on the world’s largest freelance marketplace Upwork is far better than any other marketplace. All other freelance marketplaces are unfortunately becoming a growing victim of buyer scams and fake projects.

Guru.com and Freelancer.com are experiencing this issue far more than other websites. While on Guru, there is no way to check the client’s authenticity when a project is posted. The website does not take any payment information from the client at the time of posting the project which essentially means, anybody can post anything.

The good thing with Guru.com’s customer support is, there are quick to identify a fake project as they probably manually check all PMB conversations because the project is flagged after sometime when a fake employer starts sending messages to freelancers on PMB.

Here’s one typical example of a fake project posted and the client’s message to the freelancer.

The buyer aims to take the conversation to their email address and there they usually ask for payment for selling their product.

Another good thing about Guru.com is, once a fake project is identified that does not meet community standards, not only it is removed from the website but the bid spent on the project is also reversed so there is no loss to the freelancer.

However, the time spent in identifying a project and placing a bid by a freelancer is lost, unfortunately.

On the other hand, freelancer.com has a new wave of buyer’s scams. When a project is posted, in a message board (PMB), freelancers are asked to buy software that could track their project activity before a project is awarded.

Sadly, many innocent freelancers fall victim to this scam and end up paying the client directly. The price is usually between $50 to $200. Unlike Guru where the bid is reversed when a fake client is identified, sadly — on Freelancer.com, there is no way the marketplace can accommodate the freelancer for this money scam.

As a freelancer, the best way to protect yourself from being ripped off from your hard-earned money or loss of time is to ensure that the client’s previous history is verified before bidding on the project.

When you see a project, here are a few basic things you must look for before deciding to give it a shot. Sadly, the aftermath, the repercussion of wasting your time never hits home.

  • Client’s previous project posting history.
  • Client’s verification.
  • Client’s feedback.

Good Luck freelancers, play safe, play smart, and do not fall prey to the growing scam on different freelancer marketplaces.

Why do freelancers fail?

Freelancing requires both soft skills and hard skills in order to succeed.

Freelancing also requires the art of persuasion, it requires one to communicate effectively to provide a solution to the problem stated in the client’s project placement. It requires an effective selection of words to convince the client; why you are the right choice for selection.

A perspective:

About 56.7 million Americans freelanced in 2019. This number suggests, Americans are spending more time freelancing. People prefer freelancing because they prioritize lifestyle over earnings and this lifestyle brings balance in life and provides more opportunities.

Freelancers prefer getting skills training over a four-year college degree and that makes sense too. Freelancing is all about skills and with the help of technology, freelancing has just gotten easier and more effective for online workers. More people feel secure with freelancing than ever before.

According to a report of Freelancers Union’s “53 million” report, here are some interesting insights into freelancing.

  • Freelancers contribute an estimated $715 billion in freelance earnings to the US economy.
  • Twice as many freelancers have seen an increase in demand in the year 2018.
  • It is estimated that 80% of non-freelancers are willing to do work outside their full-time job to make extra money.
  • Earning extra money with work-schedule flexibility is the top driving force for freelancing.
  • 69% of freelancers give credit to technology for making it easier to find freelance work on freelance marketplaces such as Fiverr, Guru, Freelancer.com, and UpWork.
  • 77% of freelancers believe, best days are yet ahead for freelancing.
  • 65% say, freelancing as a career is far more respected today than it was three years ago.

Many freelancers, especially in the subcontinent, struggle to ace at freelancing because they acquire good computer skills such as graphic designing, web development, content writing, and many others but they lack communication skills to express themselves and sell their services. Because of the lack of communication skills, they are topped off by their competitors who can speak well and sell their services.

According to my 2 decades of freelancing experience, freelancing is all about communication skills. There must be a reason why this soft skill has always been in demand and ranked as one of the top 5 skills in 2019 and 2020 according to LinkedIn.


I have been freelancing for over 2 decades now. After making one million US$ as a freelancer and also trained over one million students at Digiskills, I can safely say that everyone should do freelancing. If you are working full time, freelancing can opt as your side hustle, and who knows just like me, you reach crossroads and decide to go for self-empowerment and never look back.

Do you want to learn complete freelancing?. You can join my YouTube channel and check the playlist “learn freelancing with Hisham Sarwar”

Written by Hisham Sarwar


That is all you ever need to know about me but let me warn you, freelancing for me is a journey, certainly not a destination :)