Why Indy
Free Resources
indy university
Start for free

What is exactly meant by online freelancing?

Dec 20, 2020
(updated: Feb 14, 2023)
Max 5 min read

Where does the term freelancing come from?

A great place to start is with the word: the earliest historical use of the term “free lance” first can dated back to medieval mercenaries for would make themselves available for hire to whichever employer paid the most for their lance and service. 

While conjuring scenes of shields and swords can be an interesting image to consider, the modern use of the word is no less interesting: today, freelancers are professionals who choose to pursue their career as self-employed contractors over working exclusively for a single company. These are those who define and refine a skillset that they can provide exceptional service in a competitive market. 

Why do people turn to freelance? 

People turn to online freelance for many reasons. In the digital age, some professionals also enjoy a wider audience of clients online to take on more work they are passionate about. They control their time and the clients they want to work with. Many professionals pursue a career with fully online commitments for more flexibility in their career - getting paid to develop valuable products and services on their own time. Technology has made businesses more connected than ever, and more companies are comfortable working with consultants totally online. Freelancers can have incredibly fulfilling paths to full-time self employment while developing skills that are essential for every career. 

What Skills do Freelancers Need?

In today’s booming economy, the term freelance can be challenging to define because many sectors and new niches are emerging in the digital age, but they all share one thing in common: most work and interactions are entirely on the web. No matter what services are provided, essential skills that every successful online professionals share are digital project management strategies and the ability to build strong online client relationships. Freelance workers are their own bosses, and those with exceptional time management can scale a business far beyond traditional business models. Some professionals also convert their skilled services into products or packages, making it easier to convert sales and value to clients in less time. 

What Type of Work do Freelancers Do? 

There’s really no limit to the kind of work that can be defined as freelance. Professionals from all backgrounds and all levels of experience work freelance, so the size and scope of work for freelancers can vary widely. There are common sectors where companies are looking heavily at freelance markets for value in the following domains: 

  1. Software Development
  2. Accounting/Finance
  3. Recruiting and HR 
  4. Proofreading/Writing
  5. Social Media Management

Who isn’t an Online Freelancer?

This is not a trick question: Despite how it might sound, freelancers do not work for free. Anyone who is doing digital work for potential clients without pay or without a contract in place to represent that work is not, technically, a freelancer. There are practical and legal steps that digital entrepreneurs can put into place and ensure they are paid for their online labor in a clear and contractual exchange with a company or client. Thriving professionals can measure their work and deliver value with an invoice

Alternatively, anyone who is providing skills and services in full-time employment to a single company is considered a full-time employee of that business. If you are considering which option is best for you, you can find more what you should consider between freelance vs. employee contracts

Success as a Freelancer in the Gig Economy 

While the modern world looks very different from when freelance started, These digital freelancers have some of the most exciting career opportunities, as they can deliver incredible value from wherever they live in the world. While it can be thrilling to balance clients when your business is thriving, freelancers must create business models that can sustain a feast and famine economy. 

Why Do People Become Online Freelancers? 

Digital freelancers aren’t tied to a single employer for long periods of time. Freelancers practice honing a particular skill, service or task for several clients for specific value in their business model, with flexibility that makes it so appealing in today’s job market. If you are looking for practical next steps, learn how to become a successful freelancer here

Get started today!

Get the tools to manage your entire freelance business, free online courses to accelerate your growth, and join a community of freelancers just like you.
Mail icon
Join our
affiliate program
Get 90% commission for Indy Pro sign-ups via your affiliate link!
Want more freelance tips?
Crush freelance struggles with weekly tips delivered to your inbox.