What Is Freelancing? And How Do You Get Started?

October 14th, 2016 by Chris Henson

Poke around on the internet for long enough and you are certain to come across something known as freelancing. Freelancers are skilled, self-employed individuals—often writers or artists—who are not employed continuously on a regular salary basis for one employer, but rather, they are hired to do specific assignments by the hour, day, or project. Similar to an independent contractor, a freelancer is given the freedom to control how and when the work is completed–though usually within a set of guidelines laid out by the contractor (particularly deadlines). With that comes a great deal of responsibility. If you want to succeed as a freelancer, it requires a great deal of self-discipline, as well as holding yourself accountable for deadlines and setting high-quality standards.

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As with all jobs, there are advantages and disadvantages. Though with freelancing, the positives far outweigh any downsides.

Advantages of Freelancing

  • Easy to get started
  • Make your own work schedule
    • Early riser? Night owl? Either way, freelancing can work for you!
  • Work from home
    • Or, at the coffee shop, while traveling, or wherever you want
  • Pick and choose who you work for
    • Once establishing yourself and a network of clients, you can be more selective in choosing who and what industries you want to work with
  • More income potential
    • While regular employees are typically on a fixed salary, freelancer pay is more fluid and can often empower the freelancer to make as much money as they can complete assignments
  • Ever growing demand for freelancers
    • According to a Freelancers Union study, approximately 34% (53 million people) of the total workforce in the U.S. is classified as independent workers—a number that is expected to increase to nearly 50% by 2020.
  • Minimal supplies and overhead
    • For most, all you need is a computer.
  • Freelance writing can be a great outlet for your creativity!

This is good.


  • You have to find your own work
    • Nobody is going to tell you what to do or who to reach out to. You are on your own. There is plenty of freelance work out there—you have just got to find it.
  • Work can be irregular
    • Freelance work is done on a need-by-need basis. This can cause peaks and valleys in workload. You may need to search for work often enough to ensure that you make the kind of money you need to make.
  • Pay can fluctuate
    • Not only because of the previously mentioned irregularity, but also because different people pay different rates for similar things. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your needs.
  • A solitary and sedentary lifestyle
    • Having no co-workers can be a good and a bad thing, depending on your situation. Freelancing is often a one-person job, so you need to get out of the house every now and then. Same goes for staying active—don’t forget to take care of yourself while you are working.

Sound Interesting? Here’s How to Get Started Freelancing

  • Identify your skills
    • Writing, editing, translation, graphics, photography, etc.—there are freelance opportunities for all of these!
  • Find your niche
    • Do you have experience in a certain field (medical, legal, real estate, industrial, etc.)? Are you fluent in a foreign language? These can be great avenues to pursue freelance work.
  • Create a portfolio of writing samples
    • Blogs, social media accounts, previous published works, short stories, journalistic endeavors—these can all be used as experience and helps to show potential clients your skills
  • Reach out to companies looking for freelancers
    • Job boards and local marketing companies are a great place to start. In fact, Search Influence is always on the lookout for qualified and driven freelance writers. Learn more here.