What is Freelancing & What Does it Mean to Freelance? [2022]


“So, what is freelancing, anyway?” you may be thinking. Working as a freelancer involves running your own business rather than being employed by someone else. Freelancers (or independent contractors) are self-employed people.

Freelancers are recruited on a part-time or short-term basis by other businesses, but they don’t receive the same pay as full-time workers or have the same level of commitment to any specific company.

With the advent of the gig economy, freelancing has now become one of the most trending topics in the world. That’s because there are more freelancers today than ever before. According to a 2019 research by Upwork and Freelancers Union, 57 million Americans freelanced in 2019.

According to the same report, 53% of workers between the ages of 18 and 22 freelance.

Freelancing is also known as…

When it comes to labor that a freelancer may accomplish, not everyone uses the terms “freelance” or “freelancer.” In fact, most freelancers identify as “self-employed.”

Other phrases related to freelancing that you should be aware of include:

Contract employment: Jobs that require you to work on a short-term or part-time basis.

  • Freelance Job is one in which a person works for themselves rather than for a business (meaning they are self-employed)
  • Work for Hire works a contract worker rather than being a permanent employee
  • Independent Contractor has A contract with another company or individual and determine the work terms, which is how the IRS identifies this form of work.
  • 1099 is used to describe the employment and to refer to the IRS form that an independent contractor must complete: Form 1099-MISC (Income Tax Return)
  • Contract Consultant is someone who is employed by a company for short-term consultations on certain matters.
  • Contract-To-Hire is a job that starts out as a freelance or independent contractor role but has the potential to grow into a full-time position.

What’s the story behind its name?

The phrase “freelance” dates back to the 1800s, when it referred to a medieval mercenary who would fight for whoever paid them the most. The name “lance” referred to a long weapon used by knights on horseback to knock opponents from their horses (think jousting).

Sir Ivan Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe has the first freelance literary reference ever:

“I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them—I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.”

Over time, the term came to denote “independent,” but it was extended beyond the battlefield to include politics and, finally, work of any type.

How does freelancing work?

Freelancers receive payment in exchange for performing some kind of service. That arrangement is usually for a limited duration or for a brief period of time.

For example, if I hired a photographer to shoot fresh headshots for me, I could pay a freelancer for that session and be done with it.

On certain occasions, people pay freelancers to work a given number of hours a week/month. This arrangement is commonly referred to as a “retainer.”

A retainer is when you retain the services or the right to someone’s time. Many legal practitioners work on retainer. Every month, they bill the client for a fixed amount of time, regardless of whether or not the full time is used.

It’s one of the simplest and purest types of entrepreneurship: the freelancer provides a specific service or outcome, and the client pays them directly.

Why do people do freelance work?

Individuals who work as freelancers have a lot of flexibility and control over their time. Most freelancers set their own hours, the job they do, the clients they work with, and may even be able to work remotely.

Freelancing is also a type of entrepreneurship in that the freelancer has complete control over their earning potential. Freelancers aren’t bound by wages; therefore, they can earn as much as they can bill to their clients.

In short, you’re your own boss as a freelancer.

Plus, you can provide however many services you can as a freelancer. If you have a wide range of interests and enjoy trying new things, you can do freelance work to explore a variety of tasks and industries.

Freelancing isn’t something most people do for the rest of their lives. They either hire additional freelancers or staff to build an entire agency, create their own products to replace their freelance income or return to full-time employment.

Freelancing gives many folks the flexibility they need to figure out their next career step.

How much money can I make as a freelancer?

According to the same 2019 report, the median freelance income is $20-28 per hour. With so many different freelance jobs available, that number might fluctuate quite a little.

Transcription services may only make $5-10 per hour, but software engineering skills may earn $75 or even hundreds of dollars per hour.

It’s considered good practice to examine freelance rates for your specific skill set. This will provide an understanding of how much you’ll need to price your services and create a successful freelance business.

What are the risks of freelancing?

Freelancing comes with some financial and health risks.

In the United States, one of the most significant benefits of full-time employment is access to healthcare and other financial benefits in addition to your regular salary. This could be a 401K retirement plan or company-provided health insurance. 

For freelancers, getting recruited as an Independent Contractor often means that employers won’t provide you with the same financial or healthcare advantages. 

So, freelancers are on their own when it comes to financial planning and enrolling in health insurance coverage. 

Not only are freelancers on their own to set up these advantages for themselves, but they’re also at a disadvantage.

When a firm negotiates health insurance coverage through a broker, they’re often able to obtain more advantageous rates because they’re purchasing in quantity. However, as a self-employed individual, you’re only getting insured for yourself and your family.

Unfortunately, this implies that your health insurance may cost more.

It’s simple to set up your own retirement savings account, but there will be no matching payments from your company.

Finally, freelancers are solely accountable for all revenue generated by the business. If you’re unable or unwilling to sell more projects and gain more clients, your revenue will dry up.

These risks are all manageable, but they should be considered before diving into full-time freelancing. 

What kinds of work can I do as a freelancer?

Companies are becoming considerably more open to and interested in engaging freelancers for a wide range of tasks. As a result, freelancing has become much more acceptable for almost any task you can think of.

Design & Creative Jobs

  • Brand Identity
  • Game art
  • Art & Illustration
  • Packaging & label design
  • Book design
  • Cover art
  • APP & UX design
  • Social Media Design
  • Tattoo design
  • Photoshop editing
  • Architecture & interior design
  • Building Engineering
  • Character modeling
  • And more


  • Virtual Assistant
  • E-Commerce Management
  • Market Research
  • Business Plans
  • Legal Consulting
  • Financial Consulting
  • Sales
  • Customer Care
  • Business Consulting
  • HR Consulting
  • Career Counseling
  • Presentations
  • Event Management
  • Project Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Game Concept Design
  • Flyer Distribution
  • And more

 Writing & Translation

  • Articles & Blog posts
  • Content ghostwriting
  • Proofreading & editing
  • Translation
  • Resume writing
  • Website content
  • Product descriptions
  • Scriptwriting
  • Book editing
  • And more

Web, mobile, and software development jobs

  • Scripting
  • Ecommerce website development
  • Game development
  • Prodcut management
  • Automation
  • Mobile development
  • Desktop software development
  • QA & testing
  • Web design
  • Web development
  • And more

Video & Audio

  • Voice Over
  • Mixing & Mastering
  • Producers & Composers
  • Singers & Vocalists
  • Session Musicians
  • Online Music Lessons
  • Songwriters
  • Beat Making
  • Podcast Editing
  • Audiobook Production
  • Audio Ads Production
  • Sound Design
  • Dialogue Editing
  • Music Transcription
  • Vocal Tuning
  • Jingles & Intros
  • DJ Drops & Tags
  • DJ Mixing
  • Remixing & Mashups
  • Synth Presets
  • Meditation Music
  • Audio Logo & Sonic Branding
  • And more

Sales and marketing jobs

  • SEO
  • Digital Marketing
  • Marketing
  • Music Promotion
  • Advertising
  • SEM
  • Public Relations
  • Community Management
  • Lead Generation
  • Telemarketing
  • Market Research
  • Customer care
  • And more

Programming & Tech

  • WordPress
  • Website Builders & CMS
  • E-Commerce Development
  • Game Development
  • Mobile Apps
  • Electronics Engineering
  • Blockchain & Cryptocurrency
  • NFT Development
  • Development for Streamers
  • Web Programming
  • Desktop Applications
  • Online Coding Lessons
  • Chatbots
  • Cybersecurity & Data Protection
  • Support & IT
  • Convert Files
  • User Testing
  • QA & Review
  • And more


  • Online Tutoring
  • Gaming
  • Astrology & Psychics
  • Modeling & Acting
  • Wellness
  • Traveling
  • Fitness Lessons
  • Dance Lessons
  • Life Coaching
  • Greeting Cards & Videos
  • Personal Stylists
  • Cooking Lessons
  • Craft Lessons
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Family & Genealogy
  • Collectibles
  • And more

How do I start my freelancing journey?

You can begin freelancing at any time by simply accepting payment to finish a job for someone else. 

Most freelancers will want to go a step further and formally incorporate their company, open a bank account, and establish an online presence for their freelance business. 

There are three major ways to make money as a freelancer:

Working with clients directly

This strategy entails finding and communicating directly with clients using your own means. This includes networking, existing relationships, word-of-mouth referrals, etc.

This is one of the more challenging ways, but it offers the largest margins because there are no middlemen involved in the transaction.

If you expect to freelance for a long time, working with clients directly will help you build more robust relationships.


Some freelancers don’t like chasing after clients. They’d rather work as subcontractors for other companies or agencies.

The model is quite simple. Typically, an agency sells a huge project to a client and then divides that contract into “subcontracts” to be fulfilled by other agencies or freelancers.

For example, a web development agency may sell a whole website project but subcontract the copywriting to a freelance copywriter outside of the agency.

Many companies only employ a limited number of workers full-time and commonly outsource specialized sections of projects to freelancers.

This is ideal for keeping your plate full, but it also eliminates a sense of control. If the agencies that you subcontract for run out of business, so do you.

Job boards or Content Mills

Another popular way to get client work is through a freelancing marketplace such as Upwork, Fiverr, FlexJobs, or SolidGigs – just to name a few.

These marketplaces act as a middleman, gathering freelance work on one side of the marketplace and freelance talent on the other.

This can be a very fast way to land new clients, but it comes with its own set of compromises.

Upwork and Fiverr have a lot of competition, and it may be difficult to develop an initial profile or get paid what you’re worth. They’ll also keep a tiny percentage of each task as a transaction fee.

However, if you create a solid reputation over time, you’ll be able to obtain jobs without having to prospect too hard.

I appreciate FlexJobs and SolidGigs since they offer a smaller, more curated selection of vetted freelancing positions. There is less time spent on proposals and overall very high-quality work.

Final thoughts

Being self-employed requires you to be your own boss. It’s up to you to find a way to fill your time with well-paid jobs, whether it’s client direct, subcontracting, or jobs board.

There are dozens upon dozens of various types of freelancing jobs, and more businesses are hiring freelancers than ever before.

Freelancing is one of the best side hustles out there to help you earn an extra cash flow on your own terms, but there are sacrifices in terms of financial and health benefits.

It’s up to you to decide if freelancing is best for you. However, if you’re going to freelance, you’ve got to establish a strong personal brand (that means a professional-looking website, customized portfolios, and several sales pitches up your sleeves).

Let the journey begin!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hey there!

I’m Imad, the content creator and online marketing strategist behind The Guemmah Freelance Hub. My mission is to help more freelancers grow themselves, their business, and their profits.

Related Posts