What Does Freelance Mean? Definition, Tips and Popular Jobs

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 26 January 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As remote work opportunities continue to increase, many employers are seeking freelance workers to reduce employment costs. Many professionals are also choosing to take on freelance work because it offers them more freedom and control over their careers. If you want to take on more projects you are passionate about, work with a wide variety of clients and set your own schedule, then becoming a freelancer might be the right choice for you. In this article, we explain what does freelance mean, share tips to help you get started and explore popular freelance jobs.

Related: What Is Self Employed? Benefits, Types and Examples

What does freelance mean?

To understand what does freelance mean, it's important to know that freelance refers to self-employed work. Professionals who specialise in a specific skill set may offer their services to other individuals or companies as a freelancer. In this work arrangement, the freelancer works as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee of another company. Freelancers may choose to take on new clients as needed to reach their personal, professional and financial goals.

They also determine how much they charge for specific services by providing clients with a quote for an entire project or establishing an hourly fee. They may choose to receive payment at the beginning or end of a project or on a recurring schedule. Many professionals choose to freelance full time because they enjoy being able to create their own work schedule, choose which projects to work on and set their own prices. Other professionals may choose to freelance part-time to supplement their primary income and work on projects they are passionate about.

Related: What Is a Freelancer? Definition, Skills and Popular Jobs

Tips for becoming a freelancer

Once you know what does freelance mean, you can begin to work as a freelancer. Here are some tips to help you get started as a freelancer:

Establish your niche

The first step to becoming a successful freelancer is to define your business. Consider what specific products or services you plan to sell. This can help you determine what area you plan to focus your freelance career on. For example, a freelance writer may choose to specialise in writing content for a specific industry, such as healthcare or entertainment. They may also choose to write content for a specific platform, such as website copy or social media posts. Deciding your niche speciality can help you market your services and determine which projects are a good fit for you.

Related: Work From Home Jobs That Pay Well

Sell an outcome instead of your time

While you may choose to charge an hourly rate or a flat fee per project, focus on the outcome your clients can receive by working with you when you sell your services. Take the time to identify what your client actually needs, what their goals are and how you can help achieve them.

Then clearly state how your services can benefit them when giving pitches and writing proposals for clients. Showing your clients you understand their needs can help you form stronger relationships with them and provide higher quality services. This can lead to repeat customers and help you grow your freelance business faster.

Develop a marketing strategy

Developing an ongoing marketing strategy can help you attract new clients and create a steady stream of work. While it may be tempting to discontinue your marketing efforts after you have signed a few clients, continuing to market your services can set you up for long-term success by helping you establish yourself as a credible freelancer and a thought-leader in your industry. This can make it easier to find new clients if you decide to take on additional work in the future or if one of your current clients decreases their work with you.

Some ways you may choose to market your services as a freelancer include:

  • Creating a website with information about your services

  • Writing blog posts about your industry or speciality

  • Developing a social media marketing plan

  • Attending networking events

  • Offering your services on job boards

  • Sharing your portfolio online

  • Paying for digital or print advertisements

Related: What Is the Difference Between Sales and Marketing?

Organise your files

Organisation is the key to maintaining strong relationships with multiple clients and meeting important deadlines. Create a separate folder on your computer or a hard drive for each of your clients to make it easy to find files and respond to requests quickly. You can also create a folder for your business to house financial information, proposals, marketing materials and other important items. Consider developing templates for documents you plan to use often so you can customise them as needed. Some templates you may find beneficial include:

  • Statement of work

  • Invoice document

  • Legal contract

  • Letterhead with logo

Having these templates prepared in advance can save you time and help you develop a workflow that supports multiple clients.

Create a schedule

While many people choose to freelance so they have control of their schedule, juggling multiple clients or jobs can be challenging. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, identify how many hours per week you can reasonably work. Include the time you plan to spend working on projects for clients as well as maintaining business documents, creating proposals and marketing your services. Then create a daily schedule and stick to it.

While you may have more or less client work during certain time periods, creating a consistent routine can help you assess your capacity to take on additional projects. For example, if the hours you have allocated for freelance are full each week, you may decide to be more selective about the projects you take on. However, if you realise you have free time in your weekly schedule, you might use those extra hours to increase your marketing efforts so you can sign a new client.

Hire an accountant

Working with an accountant can help you keep track of your finances and ensure you are following all the laws regarding freelancing. A good accountant can also help you identify opportunities to reduce costs and save money by using their legal experience to make suggestions for how you handle your finances. Finally, hiring an accountant can make it easier for you to file taxes as a freelancer so you can focus on signing new clients and growing your business.

Common freelance jobs

A wide range of fields and professions are suitable for freelancing work, including graphic design, computer programming, HR and recruitment, project management and accounting. Here are a few examples of popular freelance jobs:

1. Freelance writer

National average salary: ₹2,35,504 per year

Primary duties: The internet has brought with it a wealth of opportunities for freelance writers that include writing articles, blogs, academic papers, technical documents and website copy. Freelance writers can deliver stand-alone writing jobs for a variety of clients, or they may produce regular work for a few large clients. While some writers are generalists who write on whatever topics their clients provide them with, others specialise in specific fields, such as health and beauty.

2. Photographer

National average salary: ₹2,44,170 per year

Primary duties: Many photographers make a living by doing freelance work. Photographers tend to specialise in a specific type of photography, such as wedding, corporate, real estate or product photography. Some also work as freelance photojournalists. You can market your skills as a photographer by building your own website where you can showcase your portfolio and even sell your work.

3. Transcriber

National average salary: ₹3,31,249 per year

Primary duties: Since transcribers can do their work from a remote location, this job lends itself well to freelancing. Most transcribers begin by transcribing various audio files, including interviews, lectures, webinars and podcasts. Transcribers who have backgrounds in law or medicine may opt for legal or medical transcription work. Legal transcribers work with audio that is related to the law, such as court hearings and depositions, whereas medical transcribers transcribe voice recordings of doctors and edit medical documents to check for inconsistencies.

4. Virtual assistant

National average salary: ₹3,35,979 per year

Primary duties: Companies are increasingly opting for virtual assistants who do their work from a remote location, such as a home office, as opposed to occupying a permanent position within an office space. Virtual assistants provide administrative services to clients such as taking care of travel arrangements, storing data online and scheduling appointments. These professionals may work for an hourly rate, or a company may choose to pay per task completed. They can also work for a company over a prolonged period of time or may perform just a few tasks for a client.

5. Online English teacher

National average salary: ₹8,03,188 per year

Primary duties: Teaching English online has become a very popular choice for teachers. The demand for online English teachers is increasing rapidly, which means that there is no shortage of work. The work that freelance online teachers do varies and may range from teaching English for business purposes to teaching basic conversations. Hourly rates also vary, depending on the teaching environment and your qualifications. Most online companies offer some kind of training for prospective teachers, which may range from slideshow presentations to receiving in-depth online training.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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