Who Can Be a Freelancer? (Everything You Need to Know)

Are you frustrated with your job?  Does your boss want you to work too many hours and not appreciate you enough?  Are you ready to consider a career change?  Do you want to work where, when, and how you want to on your own terms?  Are you a busy parent that is looking for a job that will give you a little more flexibility?  Do you want to reap the benefits of remote work?  If any of this describes you, you may be considering freelancing.  However, you may also be wondering just who can be a freelancer?

Successful freelancers are people that have certain skills to succeed such as drive, determination, and the ability to put in the work to get the job done.  Additionally, they also need to have the skills or the ability to learn the skills that potential clients seek out as well as the ability to market themselves to potential clients.  

If any of this sounds like you, freelancing may be a good fit for you

Who can be a freelancer

What is Freelancing and How Does it Work?

A freelancer is someone who works as a self-employed independent contractor.  They are often hired by independent companies on a part-time, short-term, or as-needed basis.  They do not receive the same compensation or benefit levels as full-time employees do, but they also do not need to have the same commitment levels to an individual company.

Instead, freelancers may work for multiple companies or clients at the same time. Freelancers have the freedom to choose what jobs and projects they will accept and which jobs they will not apply for.  

There is a catch though.  Freelancers have to find their own work, manage their own schedules, and deal with their clients on their own, often directly.

Freelancing works on the basis of a client paying a freelancer money for providing a good or service.  Some freelancers charge per project or per word in the case of writers whereas others will charge by the hour.  For example, some freelance legal professionals may work a set number of hours per month for a client on a “retainer.”  Also, you may be setting your own rates and a client may be choosing to accept or the client has a fixed rate.  

Payment options also vary.  Your client may pay you immediately after the work is completed via an online transfer or they may mail you a check.  For some clients, you may not be paid for up to 90 days after work is completed.  Additionally, if you go through a third-party website that connects freelancers with clients, the third party may take a cut of the amount that the client pays for their service.  You will likely have some idea though before accepting a project what your compensation will ultimately be.   

Additionally, there is a high degree of flexibility for you personally as a freelancer. You could choose to freelance as your full-time job or you could freelance on a part-time basis (however be careful of non-compete clauses if you have one in your current employment contract). Your ultimate compensation depends on you, the quality of your work, and how much work you are willing to accept.  

All in all, freelancing is becoming more prevalent and even publications like Forbes predict that freelancing will become more prevalent and easier to do.  

Who Can Be a Freelancer?

Anyone can choose to become a freelancer and try to make it work.  Literally, anyone can try their hand at freelancing regardless of their skills, gender, race, or educational status. 

However, some skills do lend themselves better to freelancing than others.  In general, work that can be completed online or by someone with more specialized knowledge lends itself well to freelancing.  Some skills though that companies frequently hire freelancers for include:

  • Writing
  • Translating
  • Graphic Design
  • Web Development
  • Video Editing
  • Social Media
  • Proofreading

This is not to say though that this is an exhaustive list or that you cannot be a freelancer other skills though because the possibilities really are endless!  As long as you have a marketable skill that companies are willing to pay for, you can be a freelancer.  

There are some drawbacks though. Although everyone can technically be a freelancer, it is not for everyone.  It does take a particular type of person to make a freelancer’s lifestyle work.  Some traits do make people better suited for it.  These traits include:

  • You are comfortable with insecurity.  As a freelancer, you may not know when or from whom your next paycheck is coming. You may not have a steady paycheck coming in each month or have some months that are much more lucrative than others.  You need to be comfortable with this. 
  • You need to be comfortable selling yourself.  This goes without saying that freelancing is about selling the services that you offer.  You need to be comfortable pitching what you can do and proving that you are valuable.  
  • You need to be self-motivated and disciplined. As a freelancer, you are your own boss.  You can enjoy the flexibility and freedom that come with that, but you also have to be able to motivate yourself.  There will not be a boss looking over your shoulder making sure work is completed on time. 
  • You need to be good at multi-tasking.  Freelancers may be handling several projects for several different clients at once.  You need to be able to prioritize and make sure work gets completed when it needs to.  Additionally, you may also have to be looking for new clients and projects while maintaining your current commitments. 

In conclusion, anyone can choose to try to become a freelancer, but not everyone can be one and make it work long-term.  

How to Start Freelancing?

Starting out as a freelancer does take some work.  

Some steps that you can take to make your dream a reality include:

  1. Pick your focus: What marketable skills do you have?  What do you enjoy doing?  Don’t decide to become a freelancer and focus on something that you don’t enjoy.  
  2. Hone your skill:  To sell your services, you do need to be highly skilled at what you do in order to differentiate yourself.  You may want to polish up your skills through practice projects or through things like online courses.  
  3. Build your reputation:  You might have to start out offering your services to friends or for free at first until you have more of a reputation.  Nonetheless, it can help in the long run.  If you can show prospective clients samples of your work such as a blog post you have written or a website you have designed, it can only help you get more jobs.  Additionally, it can also be helpful to create high-quality portfolio websites that potential clients can browse.  
  4. Sign up for freelancing platforms:  As a freelancer, freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr as well as others can be great places for you to connect with potential clients.  
  5. Transition over time:  In an ideal world, you will want to build your skills over time and start freelancing before you quit your day job or before your financial stability depends on your freelance income.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket if you can help it.  

The Bottom Line

Not everyone has the personality and skills to be a freelancer.  However, if you do have skills that companies want to pay for and the want and desire to make it work, it is doable.  

Freelancing is one career route that you can take to make your work-from-home dreams come true.