Freelance vs self employed

Freelance vs Self Employed: Exploring the Differences

For those who may not be familiar with these terms, freelance work and self-employment can seem like interchangeable terms. However, they are quite distinct in their nature and scope. In this article, we will break down the nuances of each to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the two types of work.

Understanding Freelance Work

Freelance work has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely due to the rise of the gig economy. Freelancers work on a project-by-project basis for various clients instead of being tied to one employer. They are often self-employed and work as independent contractors.

Freelancers typically have flexible working arrangements and can choose to work from home or anywhere else with an internet connection. Remote work has become more prevalent in recent years, making it easier for freelancers to work with clients from anywhere in the world.

Growth of the Gig Economy

The gig economy has expanded rapidly in recent years, with many companies opting for contract workers instead of hiring full-time employees. This has opened up a world of opportunities for freelancers in various fields, from writing and graphic design to IT and project management.

Working freelance is ideal for those who value flexibility and autonomy over a traditional nine-to-five office job. Freelancers can choose the projects they work on, set their own hours, and enjoy the benefits of being their own boss.

Benefits of Freelance Work

The benefits of freelance work are numerous. Freelancers can work on projects that interest them, set their own rates, and choose their own working hours. They can work from anywhere worldwide, provided they have a reliable internet connection.

Freelancers can also enjoy a higher earning potential than those in traditional employment, as they are not tied to a single employer and can work for multiple clients simultaneously. In addition, freelance work allows individuals to gain experience in various industries and build their portfolios.

Unpacking Self-Employment

In contrast to freelance work, self-employment typically involves running a business or being an entrepreneur. This means that self-employed individuals have more responsibilities than freelancers, as they are responsible for managing their businesses and being the sole decision-maker.

One of the key differences between freelancers and self-employed individuals is that self-employed individuals have more control over their work. While freelancers operate on a contract basis, self-employed people often provide a range of services to their clients and are responsible for managing all aspects of their business.

Self-employment can take many forms, such as owning a sole proprietorship or limited liability company. It requires a level of business acumen and knowledge of marketing, finance, and administration to be successful. Self-employed individuals have greater autonomy and flexibility than traditional employees but also have more responsibilities.

Beyond the day-to-day management of their business, self-employed individuals also have to handle tax and accounting obligations. They are responsible for paying their taxes and keeping accurate financial records. Self-employed individuals must also purchase benefits such as health and disability insurance on their own.

Overall, self-employment is a rewarding but challenging path. It requires a great deal of hard work, dedication, and knowledge of business operations to be successful.

Understanding the difference between freelancing and self-employment is crucial, but knowing how both differ from traditional employment is important. Learn more about the distinctions in our article on Freelance vs Employee.

Pros and Cons of Freelance Work

Freelance work offers many benefits, such as flexibility, autonomy, and higher earning potential, but it also comes with some challenges.


  • Flexibility: Freelancers have the ability to choose their work hours and can often work remotely, giving them the freedom to balance work and personal life.
  • Autonomy: Freelancers are their own bosses, which means they can choose the type of work they want to take on and have creative control over their projects.
  • Higher Earning Potential: Freelancers often have the potential to earn more than traditional employees, depending on the type of work they do and the clients they work with.


  • Inconsistent Income: Freelancers may not have a steady income stream, and their earnings can vary monthly.
  • Lack of Employee Benefits: Freelancers are responsible for their own benefits, such as health insurance and retirement savings, which can be costly.
  • Need for Self-Discipline: Freelancers often work independently, which requires self-discipline and motivation to stay on track with deadlines and deliverables.

“Freelancing can be a great option for those seeking more autonomy and flexibility in their work, but it’s important to consider the potential challenges as well.”

Read here: Contractor vs Employee – What sets them apart?

Frequently Asked Questions about Freelance vs Self-Employed

As the nature of work evolves, many terms are often used interchangeably. Two such terms are freelance and self-employed. Here are some commonly asked questions about freelancing and self-employment:

Can you be both freelance and self-employed?

Yes, it is possible to be both freelance and self-employed. Freelancers are essentially self-employed workers who offer their services to multiple clients, while those who are self-employed may be running their own business or providing a service to a single client.

What are the legal implications of being a freelancer or self-employed?

Freelancers are often considered independent contractors and are responsible for their own taxes and insurance. Self-employed individuals may need to register their businesses and comply with specific legal requirements depending on their industry and location. It is always advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Whether you’re a freelancer, contract worker, or work-from-home, it’s important to know the legal implications of your work arrangement. Depending on your industry and location, there may be specific legal requirements you need to follow. For example, if you’re a freelance writer in the United States, you may need to comply with copyright law.

It’s always advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. However, some general legal considerations exist that freelancers and self-employed workers should be aware of.

If you’re providing services to a client, you must ensure you have a written contract. This contract should outline the scope of work, payment terms, and any other relevant details. Without a written contract, you may have difficulty enforcing your rights if there’s a dispute.

You should also know your tax obligations as a freelancer or self-employed worker. In many countries, you’re required to pay taxes on your earnings. This includes income tax, as well as social security and other contributions. Failure to comply with tax laws can result in hefty fines and penalties.

Another legal consideration for freelancers and self-employed workers is health and safety. If you’re working in an office or other workplace, you need to follow the health and safety regulations that apply to that environment. This includes things like having a safe workspace, using the proper safety equipment, and following any other relevant rules.

Finally, being aware of your rights as a freelancer or self-employed worker is important. In many jurisdictions, you have the same rights as other workers, including the right to minimum wage, vacation pay, and sick days. However, there are some exceptions, so it’s important to check the laws in your specific jurisdiction.

The legal implications of freelancing or being self-employed can vary depending on your industry and location. However, there are some general considerations that everyone should be aware of. It’s always advisable to consult with a legal professional to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

Understanding your legal responsibilities is crucial, whether you’re freelancing or self-employed. There’s a specific tax rule in the UK that could impact freelancers known as IR35. To dive deeper into this topic, check out our guide on Does IR35 apply to freelancers?.

Are freelance workers entitled to employee benefits?

Freelancers are not typically entitled to employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off. However, they do have the freedom to negotiate their own rates and work schedules.

As a freelancer, you are in control of your own time and work. This means you can pick and choose the projects you want to work on and set your own rates. You are also not limited to working only for one company – you can work for as many clients as you want. However, this also means that you are not entitled to employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off.

This can be a major downside of freelancing, especially if you are used to getting these benefits from a full-time job. However, there are some ways to offset this. For example, you can negotiate with your clients to get paid for holidays or vacation days. And, if you have a good relationship with your clients, they may be willing to help you out in a pinch if you need some extra time off.

Whether or not you are entitled to employee benefits as a freelancer depends on your project agreement with your client. Knowing what benefits you are entitled to before you start working on a project is important.

What are some common freelance jobs?

Many freelance jobs are available, including writing, graphic design, web development, consulting, photography, and more. The gig economy has also opened up opportunities for freelance work in industries such as ride-sharing and food delivery services.

The freelance economy, also commonly called the gig economy, is a rapidly growing sector of the U.S. economy fueled by the increasing availability of flexible, short-term jobs. According to a report from the Freelancers Union, in 2019, 57 million Americans were working as freelancers, which was about 35% of the workforce. However, more recent data from 2023 shows that the number of freelancers in the U.S. has increased to 70.4 million, representing 36% of the workforce.

One of the most appealing aspects of freelance work is its flexibility in terms of schedule and location. freelancers can often set their own hours and work from home, benefiting those with young children or other family obligations. Additionally, freelancers are not tied to a single employer and can take on multiple projects simultaneously, which can help ensure a steadier income stream.

While the flexibility of freelance work is certainly a major advantage, some challenges come along with being your own boss. One of the biggest challenges is finding consistent work, as freelancers must constantly look for new projects. Additionally, freelancers are not eligible for many of the benefits that come with traditional employment, such as health insurance and paid time off.

Despite the challenges, freelancing can be a great way to earn a living, especially for creative and entrepreneurial people. Some of the most common freelance jobs include graphic design, web development, consulting, photography, and more. The gig economy has also opened up opportunities for freelance work in industries such as ride-sharing and food delivery services.

How do I find freelance work in 2023?

  • Identify Your Skills: Determine what you’re good at and what services you can offer as a freelancer. This could be anything from writing and graphic design to programming or consulting.
  • Use Online Platforms: Websites like Fiverr, Upwork, and are excellent places to find freelance work. Create a profile, showcase your portfolio, and start bidding on relevant projects.
  • Network: Attend virtual and in-person events such as Freelance Business Month and the EFA Conference. Networking can lead to job opportunities and valuable industry connections.
  • Create a Portfolio: Show potential clients what you can do. This could be a personal website or a profile on a professional networking site.
  • Build Relationships: Good relationships can lead to repeat business. Be professional, deliver quality work on time, and communicate effectively.
  • Stay Current: Keep up with industry trends and continuously improve your skills. The more you can offer, the more attractive you are to potential clients.

Conclusion: Freelance vs Self Employed

As we conclude our exploration of the differences between freelance and self-employed work, it’s clear that both paths offer unique opportunities and challenges.

Freelancing, with its project-based nature, offers flexibility and the chance to work with various clients on diverse projects. On the other hand, self-employment often involves running a business or being an entrepreneur, providing more control over work and requiring a deeper understanding of business operations.

Imagine a work life where you set your own hours, choose your projects, and can work from anywhere. Or envision running your own business, making all the decisions, and truly being your own boss. Both freelancing and self-employment offer these possibilities.

So, are you ready to leap into freelancing or self-employment? Remember, success in either field requires dedication, self-discipline, and a willingness to learn and adapt continuously. Whether you choose to freelance or become self-employed, the future of work is in your hands. Embrace the journey and make the most of the opportunities that come your way.