What Is Freelancing? How To Become A Freelancer?

The phrase ‘I am a freelancer’ gets thrown about a lot nowadays when someone is asked about what he does for a living. It could be a friend, colleague, or even your family member who left his regular 9 to 5  job to become a freelancer.

Many reasons contribute to this sudden shift in the mentality of people’s perception about jobs per se causing them to shift to freelancing.

But why do they do that?

Can freelancers sustain for long without a job?

What exactly do these “freelancers” do?

And how do freelancers make money?

Here’s a comprehensive guide to answer all your questions.

What Is Freelancing?

Freelancing is a contract-based profession where instead of being recruited in an organisation, the person uses his skills and experience to provide services to a number of clients.

In simple terms, freelancing is when you use your skills, education, and experience to work with multiple clients and take on various assignments without committing to a single employer. The number of assignments or tasks that you can take just boils down to your ability to deliver on them as asked from them.

Freelancing usually involves jobs (called gigs) that allow you to work-from-home situations. But don’t associate freelancing as the same as having a work-from-home job.

  1. Freelancing doesn’t always mean that you’ll work from home. You might have to work at your client’s office too depending upon the type of work and the client’s requirements.
  2. A work from home job involves a contract between you and a single employer who gives you a salary while freelancing doesn’t.

It is just that many of the jobs that freelancers perform can be delivered over the Internet without their presence at the company or clients place.

Who Is A Freelancer?

A freelancer or freelance worker is a self-employed person who earns money by providing services to multiple clients. These services relate to the person’s skills and are not necessarily provided to just businesses.

Freelancers either use third-party platforms like Fiverr, 99designs, etc. to get business or use their network to get more business and provide services to their clients directly.

But is it a good choice for a career? Can you sustain a lavish life while freelancing? How do you start with freelancing jobs?

Well, when 11 percent of the working adult population in the United States is working primarily as full-time freelancers, there must be something good about this industry.

Freelancing As A Career

The rise of freelancers has resulted in the development of a new concept – the gig economy. In the gig economy, a person, instead of working for a single employer full-time and getting a fixed salary in return, works for multiple clients at his own terms and at a price he thinks his work deserves.

Freelancing is an enticing profession. It takes care of almost all the problems of a usual service-class human. According to Upwork, Americans work an average of 47 hours per week. Freelancers work an average of 11 hours less per week than full-time employed workers. That adds up to about 550 hours per year or 23 whole days.

Full-time traditional workers spend nearly an additional full month each year behind the keyboard (or wherever they work).

Here’s the annual salary of freelancers in America from 2014 till 2018:

freelancing salary

All this along with advantages like freedom to work from anywhere at a time of your choice, being your own boss, keeping all the profits, and a lower cost of operating surely attracts a lot of people to take freelancing as careers.

But not many ends up pursuing it full time.

Why, you ask?

Well, the answer is basically embedded in our human psyche.

It is deeply rooted in our minds to look for a guarantee. A regular job provides us with a guarantee of a profession that pays at the specified time. You get a routine to follow. And this job also provides with guaranteed perks such as insurance, retirement benefits, provident fund, increments and salary hikes for performing well.

When you opt for freelancing, you lose the guarantee of any of this. There’s no surety that you’ll get recurring clients. No surety that you’ll be able to sustain this lifestyle till retirement, and even no guarantee that your income will ever increase.

Moreover, you get to handle your tax deductions, insurance, and other finances yourself.

There are also other cons to freelancing such as –

  • Work-life balance: If you don’t know how to separate personal life from work, freelancing becomes tougher than a regular nine to five job.
  • No benefits: Freelancers are in charge of their own holidays, sick days, vacations and must be good financial and time-management planners.
  • Difficult Clients: You may find some clients who are extremely difficult to manage. They may fail in giving the right instructions and information for completing the job or may be inaccessible to clear any doubts. This can be frustrating and might result in wasting your time.

There are always pros and cons to every profession and it’s up to you to balance it properly for a healthy footing. If you think freelancing could be beneficial for you and the cons don’t matter much. Read on to find out how you can become a freelancer.

How To Become A Freelancer?

Becoming a freelancer is just as easy as ordering something over the Internet. You visit sites that offer freelance jobs and tasks and take them on. This is a wonderful way of starting out and getting your name out there.

Here are a few sites that you can try for freelancing jobs:

  • Toptal: Toptal is a highly selective and exclusive platform for freelancers, known for its rigorous screening process to ensure that only the top 3% of applicants are accepted. However, you make the most money here if selected.
  • Fiverr: the world’s largest marketplace to look for freelance jobs. Just create an account post what you can do, add few links and you’re done.
  • 99Designs: A perfect place to find freelancing jobs if you’re a designer.
  • Upwork: Upwork is a more professional looking freelance marketplace where you’ll find more business clients.
  • Freelancer.com: Freelancer.com is among the oldest freelance job marketplace which you can choose in your initial year when you have little or no freelance experience.

(We have a complete list of best outsourcing websites here if you want to check out more options)

Working on a few gigs from these sites helps in understanding how freelancing as a job goes along and helps you get the hang of it.

But before heading to these freelance websites, you need to set up a freelance brand for yourself. Follow these steps for the same –

  1. Decide what services you’ll offer.
  2. Determine your target market.
  3. Find the platforms (freelancing websites) you’ll be serving on. Choose a uniform username on all of them. It helps you build your brand identity.
  4. Decide your rates.
  5. Create an online portfolio on your niche-specific portfolio platforms; GitHub for developers, Behance for designers, etc. We also suggest you create a personal portfolio website to showcase your skills and talent.
  6. Market your services: market on social media, offer something for free or at a very less cost (helps in getting more traction), ask for referrals, and use email marketing.

We don’t suggest you leave your existing source of income and jump into freelancing per se. Try it as a part-time venture to see how it works out for you in the initial months.

It is entirely not necessary that you have to freelance full time. It is up to you to decide on whether you’d like to do it full time or keep your existing job and make a buck during your free time.

If you feel that you really like the way things are headed, it’s time to move onto the next step and make money freelancing.

Next Step

Once you feel that you can provide for yourself and work this way, the next course of action is to take on multiple assignments for multiple streams of revenue. This should include gigs that you got personally using the methods mentioned above as well as from the freelancing sites.

Another possibility is that you could make it a full-time gig. Freelancing full time also means you can create diverse forms of income. You can:

  • Negotiate monthly retainers
  • Negotiate commissions on sales projects
  • Create referral systems to reward clients who send you new clients
  • Market yourself directly: Here’s a helpful guide on marketing and creating perfect personal branding for yourself.

Take Care Of Your Finances

While in a job, most of the “money stuff” is taken care of by the company you work for. You get a regular paycheck without having to ask; your taxes are deducted automatically, and insurance is likely also taken care of by your employer.

Things are different when you’re on your own and you’d have to take care of the following by yourself:

  • Getting your Paycheck: This is considered to be the trickiest part to manage, be it for the freelancing veterans or the newbies. Negotiating and communicating properly with your client to get them to pay for your service at the specified time proves to be much of a challenge. Take care of this properly and you are well set to do great in the freelance field. Check out this guide on negotiating like a pro to help you gain more tips and insight.
  • Taxes:  You need to handle your personal and professional tax complexities yourself.
  • Insurance and retirement benefits: You need to look for the best insurance policy and plan for your retirement yourself.

What it all comes down to is that being a freelancer and working in the gig economy means taking a lot of responsibility for your own finances, whether that’s negotiating your pay, finding insurance, or paying taxes. But if you love the freedom, flexibility, and earning potential that comes with being independent, then freelancing is an ideal situation.

The Takeaway

Freelancing is equal parts positive and negative. You just have to decide if you’re willing to take the risk that almost always accompanies it. Freelancing means professional freedom, but it also means instability and the risk of failure. And that may not be what you need in your professional life. But if you risk your stability for something more in tune with your professional goals than a traditional job, you have the opportunity to build your name and reputation and reach your professional goals.

Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

Did we miss something?  Come on! Tell us what you think of our guide on what is freelancing and who is a freelancer in the comments section

Leave a comment


  1. Wow this is a great read – and I am sure appreciate the time it took to right – very enjoyable!

  2. Very interested write up, it really educative.

    • Of course yes!!

  3. So interesting and educative.i appreciate your write up.thanks a lot.

    • This is awesome , so educative , eye opening and encourages one to take a bold stepping

  4. You have really did a great job ….thank you ,but I look forward to you for more guides on how to get started

    • Thanks Olawaoyin

      What else would you like us to cover?

  5. How to make a bank account for this use?

  6. I am interested. How do I start from Nigeria

  7. As a beginner what are the right tools to start up with

  8. 1) Are the freelancing websites accessible in all countries?
    2) What payment method is used in case it is accessible in all countries and both clients are in different countries?

  9. Nice information for helping us,it was really appreciating,how can I start freelancing as a beginner,from Pakistan

  10. Hi. Says Good. How can i start to learn about freelancer..

  11. How can I train myself as a freelancer

  12. This is very good especially for beginners like me. Thank you very much. How do i continue from here?

  13. Thanks. I gained a lot.

    • It was really helpful

  14. well explained, thank you

  15. This was helpful. Thanks.

  16. Thanks. It is of much benefit

  17. I it is great way to earning extra money . Excellent

  18. It’s nice

  19. Thank,s a lot. it helps become a freelancer. but I want to more detail.

  20. This is very good especially for beginners like me. Thank you very much. How do i continue from here?

    • I can help you with that if you don’t mind.you need a guide to put you through

      • OK really need ur help

      • Thanks. Please I’m interested!

  21. It is so excellent explanation all about it..
    thank u to keep the background clean with good work….

  22. Excellent Guide!
    Not much is missing: What’s the right motivations and other practical things are required to kick start a successful freelancing career?

    Thanks Bharath

  23. Seems as though the person who wrote this article has been in the shoes of others before

    Nice one

    I actually got new ideas and concepts reading through
    I actually could not finish up

    I’m a terrible reader

    • Just like me 😁

  24. Thanks.

  25. Great. Quite interesting to learn about this. I am in. But I need more info. I need help though. Thanks a lot.

  26. Greetings! How do I register ??? I am interested…

  27. Wow
    Those explanations was massive 😊😊

    Keep up the good work 🤝🏽🤝🏽

  28. Great guide. This educated me a lot. Thanks

    • Good day!
      Kindly assist on the site/ process of registration . As I am interested

  29. ઘણુબધુજાણવામલયુ

  30. Wow I will love to know more about freelance. Thanks for the knowledge so far

  31. Well-done feedough.com for this insightful article.
    To get better understanding of things.We LEARN, UNLEARN and RE-LEARN.
    Now it’s up to you to decide if you want to become a High Paid Freelancer earning just enough money per month.

  32. Hi Bharath,

    Your article is very informative, it’s very useful for a beginner like me. You explained it very well and understandable.
    Thank you for sharing this with us!

    • Well

  33. well done feedough.
    Knowing who a freelancer is and what freelancing is are now clare to me by your guide, but what missed is payment method, l will like to know how freelancers gets their salary. Thank you

    • That’s the same thing I want to know

      • Nah this is perfect , all you want to know is here .

      • Remember you get paid per-job basis,so for each job/assignment done,yiu get paid..
        Now it depends
        U could have a PayPal account that receives money from anywhere in the world so your clients can easily pay you..
        It’s actually the best so far..

    • You get paid through different methods in which PayPal is one of them..

  34. Good afternoon.
    Recently i left from my job after 22 years. Last i was CEO of one RMG factory. Now i would like to start freelancing. Need your suggestions

  35. I want to be a part time freelancer… But I don’t know how to go about it

    • All you need is the right information about it and I have a guide on that. Reach out to me via email [email protected].

  36. Very helpful indeed, how do beginners go about making themselves relevant in freelancing

    • How are you doing Samuel Obaluyi. I have a report for a blueprint you can use to get your freelancing gig up and running, even as a beginner. You can connect with me on facebook – Toba David Solohorn.

      See you!

  37. Good.

  38. Hi, please i want to understand more about how this freelance works

    • I’m a researcher, how do I fit into freelancing job

  39. Thanks for the information, its a very good article and a learnable one , what did you mean by portfolio

    • Yes. I want to know more. If you can add samples. Thanks.

      • Please I need the list of services one can render on freelancing so I can know where I belong.

  40. I am indeed learnt alot from your article you have actually opened my eye a great opportunity which i never knew before. Thank you so much god bless for this wonderful tips.

  41. What an impressive, educative and informative write up, am so pleased with all the piece you have given here. I would love to know more about freelance as a newbie. Thanks greatly.

    • Hello Bamgboye I just have the best freelancing blueprint that will be a wonderful help to you on your path to freelancing

      Just send a dm message via [email protected]
      I will quickly put you through

  42. Your write up is very educative, continue the good work.

  43. Thank you. That was helpful and educating.

  44. Hi Bharath,
    Such a kind of great informative your share with us. more relevant points for beginner freelancers.
    Thank you for sharing amazing points with us.

  45. A very useful and important article. in the beginning I haven’t any idea about freelancing but now I have a great knowledge about it.
    Thank you so much..

  46. how do i get a freelancing Job on 99designs

  47. What account do I need to get paid from freelancing? The monetary account I use in my country like ‘bkash’ will be accessible to get paid as freelancer?

    • You can use PayPal to receive your payment

  48. I’m a student. I want a fulltime freelancing jobs. I mean I wanna be a full time freelancer which will be my sole livelihood. Can I be reach enough from freelancing only? No matter how hard it is as a means of livelihood.

    • Yes, you can. You just need the right knowledge and you are good to go.

      I have a free video on it contact me via +2347019580095 on WhatsApp

  49. I think I have learnt something.Many thanks to you

    • We’re glad we could be of help, Olaniyi.

  50. I’ve registered on freelancer.com but I don’t still have knowledge about how the whole thing works
    Kindly help out.
    How to get job to do and how to get my payment
    What is paycheck?

  51. Hi! Nice information. I have started my freelancing work with fiverr. I have created an account on upwork. but my account did not being approved yet. do you have any tips for get approval on this account form upwork.

  52. Would like to learn more so as to become a freelancer

  53. Would like to learn more

  54. Thank you for this write-up.
    It was informative.

  55. I have a question which is that I create a profile on Fiverr and also post request but If I receive any reply then what will I do next I mean if that person accomplish my task then what will I do next plz guide me

  56. Very Best Article, I have ever seen on the Internet. The Best Blog, Highly Recommended. Thank You.

  57. Thank you for sharing some tips about being a freelancer.
    thank you!

  58. Hey Bharath Sivakumar. This is a very informative post on freelancing and start working as a freelancer.

  59. Thank you brother for your content. I appreciate your ideas and experience what you have shared. I would be grateful if you will give me some ideas about what will be starting points of me as a beginner in the field of freelancing.

  60. Ahhm,am just getting ideas on freelancing
    Thanks for sharing the article but I really need much assistance
    I am by nature a public speaker,can that be useful in freelancing??

  61. This article is very informative. This is very useful especially for a new freelancer like me.

  62. Wow! This post is quite insightful, detailed and well explanatory. I don’t think you miss nothing.

    Thanks for sharing.

  63. Thanks a lot…….Bharath for your helpful post. Actually I haven’t any knowledge about freelancing. Now I got some idea about freelance after reading your post.
    Only I can do typing and Googling,,,,,, could I be a freelancer? if yes, then How? any suggestion from your site.

    • Sure! Everyone has got to start somewhere 🙂
      Try focusing on your strengths and building upon them. You can start out in more ways than one! Helping out a website with their info, guest posting on Medium or other blog sites or for a friends company by drafting a cover piece.
      When starting out it is easier to do a few for free which will reduce the pressure and also help you learn.
      And no, there is no one platform that is the best 😉
      All that matters is that you start, using a platform or by yourself.
      Hope that clears things up.
      Have a great day!

  64. Thanks so much for the knowledge shared on freelancing.

    You talk about giving samples of previous works when advertising oneself but how would a newbie market his/her self before getting any job at all to start with.

    Thanks and God bless you.

    • Here’s a tip for those starting out: Your aim is to grow your portfolio which you can do via many ways.

      I would recommend you go to certain subreddit like r/Free and offer to work for free on one or two projects.

      You don’t really have to only use Reddit. You could use LinkedIn or any other site for this matter.

      Doing so will help you in gain experience in working remotely, dealing with your clients, all while helping you grow your portfolio.

      Hope this helps!

      • In which platform can I work for free?

        • you can try CANVA application for your portfolios.

          • Yes

          • Yes

  65. wow, Great Post ever. Knowledgeable article for Me. Your writing skills Very High. I always Loved Your writing. Please keep writing HQ articles.

    • Thanks a lot, Delwar!