what does freelance mean


Freelance is “working on a contract basis for a variety of companies, as opposed to working as an employee for a single company,” according to BusinessDictonary.com.

If you’re like many people, the first thing that might come to your mind when you think of freelance is writing, but if writing doesn’t suit you and you have another unique skill that you can market, then you can become a freelancer.

Skills that sell are those that others will buy from you because they either:

a) Don’t have this skill, or b) Don’t have the time to learn or apply this skill.

As days become busier and interests and goals become more varied, some people feel as though they are unable to work within the scope of traditional 9-5 hours and prefer other options. These individuals are in good company (no pun intended) as, 53 million Americans are freelancers, or more simply, 1 out of every 3 people working in the U.S. earns income as a freelancer.

Freelancing Benefits

For many people, freelancing is an attractive option. That’s because there are a number of benefits from thinking outside of the cubicle and into a more free-form life that you design. Freelance work allows you to enjoy an incredible amount of flexibility. Some of these flexible benefits are that:

  • You’re able to choose your clients.
  • You can pick the projects that interest you.
  • You can determine what you’d like to get paid.
  • You’re able to choose your own work times.

Working as a freelancer is akin to being your own boss, as “freelancers are often considered to be self-employed,” the BusinessDictonary.com states. And, when you’re your own boss, you tend to have the freedom to work the way that is most comfortable for you. Many freelancers choose to work from home, a café, a beach, or a coworking space.

There is almost a limitless amount of freelance options that span just about every industry, allowing there to be something for everybody.

For professionals looking to escape 9-5 work days, corporate culture and unsympathetic bosses, there is bound to be a freelance opportunity that meets your interests, skills and needs.

So, just how does one start freelancing?

Steps to Becoming a Freelancer

Determine what skill you’d like to market and sell to others. Remember, people look to hire freelancers when they do not know how to do something or they do not have the time to do it or the skill that you’re able to provide. Take an inventory of your skills and focus on those that you feel are in demand and can help people save time. Identify all of the skills you feel could be profitable and write them down on a list.

You may notice that these skills can either be classified as hard skills or soft skills. While both are important, hard skills are able to be quantified and are teachable to others.

Some examples of hard skills:

  • Being proficient in a foreign language
  • Expert guidance in beauty services like cutting hair or waxing
  • Typing speed
  • Machine operation
  • Excel
  • Computer programming
  • Flat lay design
  • Mathematical analysis
  • Graphic design
  • SEO
  • Photoshop
  • Interior design
  • Coding
  • Writing

These are just a few examples of hard skills. As you notice, they are skills that can be taught to others and skills that, if you know them well, you can provide to someone who hasn’t quite learned them yet, or who doesn’t have the time to learn them, but has the money to pay you to provide them.

Hard skills are profitable skills because they help to solve a problem.

Soft skills, on the other hand, could still be profitable, but are considered to be more natural abilities or interpersonal skills that can enhance your hard skills.

Some examples of soft skills:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Ethics
  • Time management
  • Problem-solving

These skills can help to make you more of a people-friendly person, but because they are qualitative, they are hard to prove and are not specific to any task. This is why your focus should be on the hard skills that you possess, as those will be the ones you’re able to sell.

When a small business needs a new and unique logo to represent their brand, they hire a freelance graphic designer. When a company decides to enter a new country where their target audience speaks a different language, they hire a freelancer to translate necessary on or offline literature. When a company wants to boost their online visibility, they hire a freelance social media marketer.

These examples show the profitability of hard skills, but soft skills can also help you become better at freelancing, making your more organized, marketable and more in demand.

For example, there are two different social media marketers in the running for increasing a company’s web presence. They both have a proven track record of success, but one marketer expresses how they communicate often with their client and that they are deadline oriented. The other mentions that they are juggling several clients and tend to prioritize clients based upon seniority.

Who would you choose?

Most likely the one who has proactively expressed how often they plan on communicating and how they respect deadlines. The second freelancer might also communicate just as often and be deadline driven, but they failed to voluntarily share those details.

Your hard skills will make you attractive to clients, but your soft skills will make them stay and keep coming back for more.

Even though we’ve discussed hard skills vs. soft skills and given specific freelance examples, you still might be wondering what other services you could offer. Think about offering in-demand services that will help solve a problem for your clients and create opportunities for securing consistent work.

Want to know which freelance services are in demand?

Whether you want to freelance full time or part time, check out this roundup of in-demand freelance services to jumpstart a life with more flexibility and freedom.

Programming and Software Development

Programming, especially software and mobile app development, are one of the most in-demand and highest paying services because they are skills that can be challenging to master. Some freelance developers make $1,000 an hour or more.

Virtual Assistant

As a virtual assistant, you complete administrative tasks for business professionals. If you’re good at being organized, making deadlines and communicate well, this service position could be one of the quickest ways to enter freelance freedom.

To get started, you can contract with an actual virtual assistant agency or freelance marketplace (yes, that’s a thing – you’re reading from a marketplace right now!) or you can reach out to potential clients on your own by cold emailing, pounding the pavement, or advertising your services via a website or social media.

Graphic Design

In order for a company to be complete, it needs branding, and that’s where your graphic design skills come in handy. If you’re a skilled graphic designer, you can help companies develop their individual style, look, and identity by visually setting them apart. Make sure that your website, portfolio and social media accounts reflect your creativity and design know-how.

Social Media Marketing

If you’re savvy in promoting yourself, brands, companies or anything else online, then you should think about freelancing as a social media manager. You should be great at telling compelling stories in succinct words, or capturing a story visually in photographs and video. If you’re great at building community and connecting people to one another, then you could make a pretty penny managing social media accounts.

Customer Support

These positions are perfect if you enjoy helping people, answering detailed questions and can think on your feet to find solutions to meet customers’ needs. These typically involve work that you can do from home. You should know how to use a computer and will be onboarded to use the company’s software system to handle calls or orders.

Online Tutoring

You can tutor elementary all the way to college students and even beyond, especially if you have specialized skills adults are interested in learning. Tutor students in a variety of subjects and test preparation, via the internet or even Skype. Tutoring companies are looking for online tutors, or strike out on your own and start your own freelance tutoring business.

Data Entry

Can you type 60 words a minute or more? And, can you do so with ensuring each word is correct? If so, data entry is flexible and perfect if you’re looking for work that doesn’t require too much experience. Depending upon the needs of the client, you might be required to enter data into computer systems, secure file systems or perform other clerical tasks.


In this area, you listen to audio files and then type the information into a document—a written record of what’s on the recording—for various businesses, medical organizations, or another chosen client. If you like learning new things and have a lot of patience, as typing out recordings can take hours, especially if you do not type fast, this might be a great fit for you.

Content Writing and Marketing

Content writing is a hot area for freelance writers who know how to build community around a brand by writing educational content that is engaging and makes the reader feel connected to the brand. This content doesn’t blatantly sell products or services related to a brand, but provides useful and valuable information, so much so that readers become loyal to that brand. Content marketing can also come in the form of videos and music that an audience can experience where they connect with others and themselves, and learn at the same time. This type of writing or content creation is about what the audience cares about—that’s the priority. If you’re able to create content that positions a brand as a trusted and valuable resource that seems to put the audience first, this is a highly lucrative area.


While similar to Content Writers, as both need to be persuasive, copywriters specialize in writing content for product descriptions, websites and advertisements. When you’re first establishing yourself as a copywriter, it might be helpful to take on a variety of clients and topics. However, the quicker you are able to choose a niche that you feel comfortable writing for, the more money you can command, as you establish yourself as an expert in that particular niche.

Whether you’re just now learning some of these skills, or perfecting them so that you are able to leap into the freelancing free world, rest assured that there are limitless opportunities for work from companies looking for someone just like you, or perhaps you will create your own limitless opportunities towards freedom that you build on your own terms.

Next Steps

For your freelance pursuits, decide whether you’re going to contract yourself with companies, work completely independently, or do something of a hybrid. Polish your portfolio or put one together and start reaching out to potential clients about what their business needs are and how you might be able to offer your services.

To learn more tips on freelancing, visit another blog article on the FreeeUp blog:





Tiffany Medois


Tiffany Medois is a former Copywriter at Mattel, writing copy for WWE action figures, Minecraft and tech toys; she is also a filmmaker. Tiffany enjoys helping clients find their voice with content that illuminates their message. She also loves chatting about skincare and has written about it on her site, SkinGab. Connect with Tiffany on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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