What is freelancing?

The booming popularity of freelancing is a topic you may have seen again and again, all over the the media.

In fact, it’s so popular that a third of the US workforce are currently freelancing.

And you might be thinking that whilst this all sounds super exciting, what actually is freelancing?

Well, lucky for you, this is the first question we’re going to tackle in Freelancers’ Corner, the community driven guide to the world of freelancing.

We’ve asked our amazing global freelance community to answer the questions about freelancing that are most important to you.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get going!

What is the definition of freelancing?

Before handing you over to some of the creatives in the Twine community, let’s start with a dictionary definition of the word ‘freelancing’:

Freelancing is a term for a self-employed individual who works for several different organisations on an independent basis. Freelance workers provide goods and services to a client as and when they’re needed, unlike permanent employment.

However, as you’ll now see, freelancing can mean very different things to different people depending on how you’ve chosen to set put your business and what kinds of freelance services you offer.

Vlad Savva, Composer based in Russia

Freelancing is taking control of the selling process of your working hours.

What Vlad means here is that the concept of working on an ‘independent basis’, like the dictionary definition mentions above, is that, ultimately, you are running your own business. It’s important to realise this as lots of freelancers get caught out by thinking that they are just working on fun projects with clients and then get into real problems when it comes to managing their finances and all the other elements that come with being self employed.

Jelena Vukolic (Woojah), Designer based in Serbia

Freelancing is a form of having a job, where you are your own ultimate boss, and therefore have the complete power of freedom (but also all the responsibilities that come with it).

Expanding on Vlad’s point, Jelena points out that freelancing requires you to find clients and deliver work for them, which provides you with a lot of freedom but also a lot of responsibility.

Jelena also warns that there are several misconceptions with the way society can generally characterise freelancing:

a) Not having a ‘real job’.

b) Being a good target for exploitation, because you will have employer but since that employer is not your legit boss, but a client – you are working for them without any benefits of actually being employed by them.

The takeaway: Freelancing can come with some stigmas from clients, friends and family. However, provided you’re self-aware and self-motivated, freelancing provides incredible flexibility and room for personal growth.

Raf Tad, Animator based in Armenia

Making your living with what you love doing.

Here, Raf highlights the importance of choosing an industry you’re passionate about.

There’s no doubt that self-motivation and drive is a huge component of being successful at freelancing. With no one watching over you, it’s up to you to maintain an efficient work schedule and keep a steady stream of clients lined up.

When you’re doing something you love doing, it becomes much easier to remain driven and motivated thought your working day.

Matt Banky, Songwriter based in the UK 

I guess, put simply it’s managing yourself into a career of offering your skill to customers’ needs.

Here, Matt raises an important point:

Even though freelancing allows you to choose your own profession…

…you still need to tailor your services to the clients’ specific needs.

While you’ll have the flexibility to turn down any work you don’t work and specialize in a niche of your choice, it’s still really important to make sure you’re tailoring your skills to the specific needs of the client.

Similarly, no matter what your industry is, you’ll likely have to learn a specific set of skills in order to win higher-ticket work.

Yevgeniya Tyumina, Videographer based in Spain

Freelancing means working by yourself, getting the job according to your real skills, being responsible for your development. It means to be your own boss, your own salesman, your own accountant, your own everything. Freelancing is not for everyone.

Here, Yevgeniya breaks down a common misconception about being a freelancer.

While you’ll get to do your hobby for a living, you’ll also have to wear a lot of different hat, such as:

  1. Manager
  2. Marketer
  3. Accountant
  4. HR executive
  5. Sales executive

If you’re looking at setting yourself up as a freelancer, it’s vital to make sure you adequately develop your soft skills. Here’s a great list of freelancing soft skills by Forbes.

How does freelancing work?

Nikki Jain, Graphic Designer based in India

Freelancing is basically being self-employed. You make all the decisions from start to end. Want to take a leave? You can. Want to drop a project? If it’s toxic for you, you can. Want to expand your services, you can. You have to do all the work from ideation to execution.

Here, Nikki highlights two awesome benefits of freelancing:

  1. You don’t have to take on any work that you’re not comfortable with
  2. You have the ability to create your own career path

Flexibility is one of the biggest benefits of freelancing. In fact, up to 84% of freelancers cite flexible working as a major benefit of the job. However, it’s still really important to stay organised and dedicated in your work.

Jake Schneider, Music Producer based in the UK

Freelancing is having the freedom to choose the projects you’d like to work on and having more control over your finances. You are essentially your own boss.

Like many freelancers, Jake notes the importance of having greater control over your finances.

With 75% of freelancers earning more money from freelancing than their last full-time job, freelancing serves as a great opportunity to get ahead financially doing work that you love.

Want to earn more money? Take on more work! Want to increase your hourly rate? Upskill yourself!

Instead of waiting on that 5% salary increase from your employer each year, it’s not uncommon for a freelance worker to double (or even triple) their income by expanding their skillset or taking on more work.

Miloš, Music Producer based in Serbia

In my opinion, freelancing is the stepping stone for people who would like to do more in their expertise, but are not quite ready for that, financially and mentally.

By nature, freelancers have entrepreneurial spirits, with many of them aspiring to eventually own their own businesses.

However, building a business from scratch can take years to scale. Similarly, it’s vital to spend some time in the trenches honing your craft before scaling up and hiring employees.

If you’re currently in full-time work, freelancing can serve as the perfect stepping stone to working for yourself, before starting a fully-fledged business.

Justin McPhee, Animator in Australia

In short, it means you have no bosses. No traffic-jam filled commutes. You can set your own hours and be your own boss! You can work as much, or as little as you want. You can even lie on the couch in your pyjamas if you want (though unless people are paying you for that, you probably won’t make much money).

However, this freedom means that you have to do the work in finding people to provide services to. And making sure they pay you. Fortunately, Twine can help in both of these.

Here, Justin busts a common freelancing misconception:

Freelancing is by no means idyllic. 

While you can sit around in your pyjamas all day, you probably won’t get much work done. Not only will you have to do the actual work, but also manage your relationships with clients and keep an eye out for new work.

Florence Hill, Musician in the Dominican Republic

It’s when a person works independently, not affiliated with any company (though, it’s possible). You’re being self-employed, providing multiple services for several people at the same time, while managing your own timeline.

As we’ve established, freelancing usually means you have no long-term affiliation with any one client.

However, that means:

  1. You have to manage each client and ensure you’re spending enough time on each project
  2. You have to be constantly on the lookout for new clients

Sound stressful? Here’s a couple of tips for making the management process easier:

  1. Focus on doing a good job: If you do a good job for a client, they’re likely to recommend you to other potential clients, meaning you won’t have to constantly search for new work.
  2. Stick to a schedule: While you have the benefit of flexible working hours, you’ll still need to implement (and stick to) a well-organized schedule to make sure you’re on top of your client work
  3. Leverage freelancing platforms: Freelancing platforms are a great way of finding ongoing work. On Twine, you can upload a portfolio of work and pitch on a range of interesting, high-ticket work on a weekly basis. We also manually vet each of your job pitches, providing valuable feedback on how to win more work in the process.

So, there you have it! A complete guide to what freelancing is. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out some of the other commonly-asked questions over on our freelancer’s corner?

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