What is a freelancer? 5 types of Freelancers

September, 16, 2014 by Vera Gavizon author workhoppers

Globalization and the Internet revolution have been leading more and more workers to look for independent work and freelancers account for $715 billion of the total US economy every year. There are an estimated 53 million Americans freelancing which make up 34% of the entire workforce (FreelancersUnion.org (2013), So this leads us to ask a very important question, that deserves proper exploration….what is a freelancer? Read on to understand what is a freelancer and what are the different kinds of freelancers out there. Whether you are already a freelancer and fit into a particular category or you are considering making a move into the freelancing world and wondering what type of freelancer you could become, you have come to the right place to understand exactly what is a freelancer.

The definition of Independent work or freelance work in the Merriam Webster dictionary essentially describes what is a freelancer as a position which entails earning money by being hired to work on different jobs for short periods of time rather than by having a permanent job with one employer. According to a recent survey “Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce”,  there are 5 different types of Freelancers,  lets explore the different categories out there.

Independent Contractors

This group accounts for the biggest amount of independent workers out there (40%), and they are probably what you have in mind when you think of the term  freelancer. These workers’ full-time employment is freelancing; that is, independent contractors are hired on a project-to-project basis. Getting to work with different people all the time offers variety in life.  You need to ensure that you perform your jobs well and be recognized as an expert in your field. Word of mouth is everything. Professional freelancers tend to work very hard as they are fully aware that their next project depends on the success of the one they are currently engaged in.


As the name explains, Moonlighters are those who after their traditional (9 to 5) job, work on a project (normally at night). These individuals do a little of both and must manage the two: full-time traditional job, project-based work here and there. A more stable income is the advantage.


Diversified Workers

These workers are the “octopi” of the bunch. While moonlighters tend to reserve their freelancing efforts to the night, diversified workers do a little bit of everything throughout the day. A “typical” diversified worker will have one or more traditional, part-time job(s) lets say, and also do some web-design freelancing on the weekend or on their spare time for example.

Temporary Workers

Growing with increasing rapidity, these freelancers are hired on a temporary basis (normally full-time) to work for a certain organization; independent consultants being the most obvious example in this category. The number of temporary workers is growing rapidly and offers variety to those who crave it.

Temporary worker

Freelance Business Owner

Last but not least, this category is reserved to business owners who have up to 5 employees in their company, that both, hire freelancers but also are considered freelancers themselves. Once you have established yourself as a freelancer and you cannot keep up with the demand on your services, this is the time to some consider expanding and hiring others.

Now that we understand what is a freelancer. Without a doubt having 5 different types of freelancers means you can find flexibility WITHIN flexibility. After all, loving your job is all about having something that works specifically for you. Without a doubt, the growing world of freelancing is giving us workers more and more options everyday.

So, tell us what type of freelancer are YOU?

At Workhoppers all types of freelancers can create a free professional profile and advertise their skills to local companies looking to hire on a contract, temporary or part-time basis.  Connect directly. No bidding. No middleman.


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