What is a freelancer? 5 types of Freelancers

April, 19, 2019 by Brooke McLaughlin author workhoppers

Globalization and the pandemic have been leading more and more workers to look for independent work. Freelancers account for $715 billion of the total US economy every year. There are an estimated 57 million Americans freelancing which make up 36% of the entire workforce (2019). This leads us to ask a very important question, that deserves proper exploration…. what is a freelancer?

Whether you are already a freelancer and fit into a particular category or you are considering making a move into the freelancing world or wondering what type of freelancer you could become, you have come to the right place. Let’s explore what is a freelancer.

The definition of Independent work or freelance work in the Merriam Webster dictionary essentially describes 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.

Independent Contractors

This group accounts for the largest 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, they work for multiple employers 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 after work). These individuals do a little of both and must manage the two: full-time traditional job and project-based work here and there. The advantage being a more stable income.


Temporary Workers

Growing with increasing rapidity, these freelancers are hired on a temporary basis (normally full-time) to work for a certain organization. One can find these workers anywhere, from retail and construction to production facilities. The number of temporary workers is growing rapidly and offers variety to those who crave it.

Temporary worker

Diversified Workers

These workers are the “octopi” of the bunch. While moonlighters tend to reserve their freelancing efforts to the night, and temporary workers are employed for short-term periods, 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.

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 or independent professionals. 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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