What Does Freelance Mean? The Multiple Industries That Allow You to Be Your Own Boss

what does freelance mean

There are more than just one solution when it comes to how to find work. You may have found it under other names — contractor, telecommuter — but the one that you will know is a freelancer. There are many steps that will allow you to become your own boss. It is also not tied to just a few kinds of jobs, but multiple industries where you can earn money from a project. Before you are ready to move past the 9-to-5 lifestyle, learn about what does freelance mean so that you can securely choose the right independent path. After that, it does not matter where you take your skills and experience, as long as you are the master of your own employment. So what does freelance mean?

What Does Freelance Mean?

woman browsing on her laptop

So what does freelance mean, exactly? From a legal standpoint, a freelance worker is one that is independent. A person who is a freelancer is basically their own boss, which comes with benefits and obligations of its own.

It takes a certain kind of mindset to find success in this world. You have to know how to manage projects while keeping track of your time and invoices. That does not even cover the more important details of freelance work like a basic work contract and pricing. Let's answer the question, "What does freelance mean?" for many industries.

What Does Freelance Mean in Different Industries?

​https://unsplash.com/photos/Ar4JVm4HC94​​​Going freelance means that you must choose your skill set to find a job in the correct industry. You want to find the one that will make you happy while putting money in your bank account.

Freelance Writing

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If you enjoy reading articles and have a knack for writing them, then you can start as a writer from a self-employed basis. Normally you write for more than one client at a time and are paid per writing assignment. There are many names to the freelance writing that depend on the service you are providing:

  • Freelance bloggers concentrate on blog writing.
  • Content writers vary their work between eBooks, white papers, blog posts, and more.
  • SEO writers are specifically making content designed for search engines as a way to rank in Google.
  • Content strategists manage new and existing content in creative ways.
  • Web content writers provide content for clients exclusively on the web.
  • Ghostwriters can write content of all types, just under the byline of their client and not yours.

https://unsplash.com/photos/4wOkqiXNP7MSome freelance writers begin calling themselves professional writers after years of working in freelance. They also claim that position once they are masters in a particular niche.

Freelance Design

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Photo by Per Lööv via Unsplash

Graphic designers make the visual representations of brands, messages, or even the emails that you use. People and businesses hire freelance designers to get their message across in the most effective yet aesthetically pleasing manner. A good graphic designer will take their client's ideas and transform them into something you can see.

There are different parts to a design job depending on the variation of the gig, but some things remain the same:

  • Communication is key to get your client's best ideas out
  • Revising a design brief that fits the ideas and budget
  • Creating the designs by hand, or through computer software
  • Pitching an idea on how to accomplish the project
  • Sometimes working as part of a team on a larger project

As a freelance designer, you are making ads, annual reports, book covers, logos, signs, web pages and more. The very t-shirt you might be wearing right now might be the work of a graphic designer under contract.


person using Android tablet

Some people get confused between graphic designers and illustrators, but an illustrator is a person that creates realistic to abstract images for a client. The work they do can be found in a wide range of clients that can lead to a stable career path:

  • Editorial and book illustration is the most common market that is used by newspapers, magazines, or blogs who need freelancers for unique drawings.
  • Character design and concept art provide the various design ideas for the characters the company's project is working on.
  • Entertainment Art is the umbrella term for illustrators that work in comic books, movies, and television or in any other part of the entertainment industry.
  • Textile, apparel, and product design cover the print patterns on clothing and accessories made by illustrators.
  • Packaging illustration is different than design in that freelance illustrators create the pieces that graphic designers might then include in their project.

There is no need for formal education to become a freelance illustrator, but you can learn more about the profession through books like Secrets of Freelance Illustration by Mark Dickson. There are also specialized jobs such as medical illustration that require at least a bachelor's degree.

Freelance Developer

man programming using laptop

Photo by Danial RiCaRoS via Unsplash

What does freelance mean for developers with some solid technical skills? For some, a freelance web developer builds a client's vision of a website into a reality. At this point, you are trained in Ruby on Rails, HTML, JavaScript, and other web application frameworks need to put together a website.

The best thing to do is to build a portfolio website that displays your skills to potential clients. You can exhibit your technical experience, keep a blog about your process, and build your brand as you would in any other freelance job.

For freelance software developers, many will transition away from full-time company jobs or work for clients on the side. The change can start as soon as you the programmer learn new skills (like iOS development) and find clients looking for developers that can create the application for their buyers or audience.

Medical Health Writing

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Photo by Helloquence via Unsplash

This is a very different type of writing job than the others mentioned before. The type of content created here is normally written by people with scientific or medical degrees to back them up. The type of medical writing done can be divided into three sections:

  • Promotional writing is done to help sell a drug, medical device, or intervention.
  • Regulatory writing involves creating documents that are usually sent to federal agencies like the FDA.
  • Educational writing covers all written material related to educating professionals or the public on healthcare-related topics, whether through education programs, brochures, and more.

Freelance Photographer

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What does freelance mean to you who want to make a professional photography career out of it? The important factor is in choosing the kind of photography you want to concentrate on. Whether you choose portrait photography, wedding photography, stock photography, or another genre, a freelance photographer should pick at least one to concentrate on. That way they can focus their client base and marketing strategy on one thing before branching out. You must also invest in great equipment that is better than consumer-level, from camera bodies like the Nikon D500 DSLR to multiple lenses like a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens.

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Freelance Customer Service

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There is an art to fixing problems in a timely fashion while exceeding the customer's expectations. What does freelance mean between a company and customer service freelancer? A company wants to hire an independent contractor who can use their knowledge of a product or service and provide the best customer service experience available.

The most common way to become a freelance customer support associate is by finding remote work for traditional organizations. You can find many clients this way while learning about the details of new companies, products, and regulations.

Virtual Assistant

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Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay 

Small businesses have realized they need remote help in the last 15 years. It is a job that might ask for one task or might be a multi-tasked operation for a more experienced professional. Either way, you can find a client looking for assistance with their blog, product, or site.

The work a virtual assistant can do runs between answering offices phones to reaching out to bloggers, but there are other services they can provide:

  • Social media management
  • Blog advertising
  • Email management
  • Blog writing
  • Video/Podcast editing and uploading
  • Copyediting
  • Email marketing
  • Graphic design

One thing to mention about becoming a virtual assistant is that unlike some customer service jobs, this one makes you be your own boss. You will have to start it as a business (determining service packages, creating a website, etc.) then find the right market to show yourself as an expert.

Freelance Research Analyst

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Photo by William Iven via Unsplash

This role asks you to look at what does and does not work for a client, using keen attention to detail that takes in all the pieces and evaluates the findings for you. Freelance researchers can complete customer requests for some clients, while others are hired to find compelling cases and data that will then be used to create or support existing content.

A freelance researcher will target a specific industry so that they learn the necessary skills in that field. You must read the details of the client's project thoroughly and determine the right sources before researching information. All the information gathering must then be summarized and submitted to your client.

Freelance Accounting

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Photo by Helloquence via Unsplash

The new digital landscape has streamlined the accounting experience, trading corporate-level software and filing cabinets for relatively cheap software and an internet connection to get the job done. Here are some qualifications to get you started as a freelance accountant:

  • Bachelor's degree in accounting or a business degree
  • Financial software (QuickBooks, MYOB, etc.)
  • A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification or enough training hours in accounting in your bachelor's degree as required for certification

The Final Word on Freelancing

Once you have chosen your own path as a freelancer, you must know every advantage and pitfall that goes with it. As you are essentially a business owner, learn what it takes to run one. Find the best ways to budget your flexible schedules and interesting working spaces outside your home. Ask around for those necessary deductions for your taxes (did you know you can include business cards as one?). Take the time to figure out accounting, billing, contracts, and the nitty-gritty of managing your money. All these parts are critical so you can become the successful freelancer clients look for.


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