What is online freelancing? The basics and benefits

Freelancing 101: Foundations & Essentials
March 3, 2024
3 minutes
Share this post

Not all online jobs are freelancing jobs. And not all freelancing jobs are done online.

So many people get confused and use the terms interchangeably. If you’re jumping from an in-person job to online work, you should know first whether you want to work as a freelancer or a remote/online employee.

Why is defining the terms important?

Because it will help you decide how you will set your rates, what projects to take on, and which clients to target.

For example, not all virtual assistants are freelancers. There are virtual assistants who do both but there are some who specifically look for either freelancing/contract opportunities or full-time status.

In this article, I’m breaking down the difference between the two and the pros and cons.

What is online freelancing?

Online freelancing is providing services to people or businesses remotely or online. Services that freelancers offer vary and are similar to in person services. Online freelancing services could be accounting, bookkeping, admin or executive assistance, HR, web development, marketing, and more.

Freelancing is basically self-employment. As a freelancer, you are positioning yourself as a service provider instead of being an employee. Here, you'll work on a contract or project basis. The setup is usually contractual and short-term. If the project goes well and the relationship with the client is great, there might a follow-on assignment after that and the contract might be renewed. But this is not always guaranteed. Remote employees, on the other hand, typically work for a company and receive a fixed monthly salary or hourly wage.

Benefits of Online Freelancing

There are a few reasons why freelancing is appealing and has been attracting a lot of people. In this age of online work and globalism, online freelancing has offered a new way of working and earning minus the traffic. Here are some of the best benefits of online freelancing

1. Flexibility

The best selling point of freelancing is flexibility. People who struggle with spending an hour or two daily on travel from home to work won't have to worry about that when working online as a freelancer. This setup is perfect for people who want to work on their own schedule, set their rates, work at home or anywhere else, and not have a manager.

2. Rate

Most of the time, freelancers price their services on a per-project, assignment, or task basis. Other freelancer work on an hourly basis too. But the best thing about freelancing is you have control over how much you want to earn based on your rate or the number of projects you work on. You can take on as many projects as you possibly can handle. This also means that you can earn more compared to having a fixed monthly salary which is the case with online full-time employment.

3. Self-employment

You’re not required to follow company protocols or work certain working hours because you're not working for a company. Simply put, you are your own boss and are running your own business. Yes, it is a business.

4. Choose your clients

Another appealing thing about online freelancing is the chance to work with renowned brands or amazing people. Networking is a must if you want to learn more about industry trends and business needs. It's also a fun thing to do. It’s this part of the job that exposes you to different people from anywhere in the world. This is one of the best parts of freelancing, imho.

5. No interviews

As a freelancer, calls are more of discovery and negotiation calls than interviews. You are getting to know the business and needs than getting interviewed for a job. It's less than those nerve wracking interviews with recruiters but more like talking to clients and business owners. You get to talk to entrepreneurs yourself.

Disadvantages of Online Freelancing

Of course, things are without a disadvantage. If you’re diving into a new thing and weighing down your options, it’s important to know some of the things that might be a concern in the future.

1. Job stability

Well, online freelancing is less stable compared to full-time employment. Most of the contracts are per project or task and once the project is done, you’re on to finding and starting a new one. This is why it’s advisable to have savings before jumping into online freelancing.

2. Inconsistent money flow

There may months when the income is good and there’s a lot of money coming in, but there might also be times when projects are hard to come by. There’s also the possibility of delayed payments from clients. So new freelancers should always keep this in mind. Have at least 3 months' worth of money in your bank account that you can use when incoming funds are low. Living paycheck to paycheck would be more difficult.

3. Business work and costs

As mentioned above, freelancing is self-employment. It is a business. Which means that there are costs and work required to get done. Unlike full-time employees, freelancers need to create their own systems, send a monthly invoice, do follow-ups, craft a contract, negotiate, marketing, and then do other admin tasks.

4. No company benefits

Because you’re not part of a company, there are no PTOs or stock options. If you don’t work, you don’t earn. No guaranteed bonuses too.

5. No team

This is true especially when you're working alone. And when you're starting or a newbie freelancer, you're most likely to be working solo. Being a solopreneur (solo entrepreneur) means working by yourself and doing all the work required to get things done or finish the project. Although this setup is great, it can get lonely sometimes.

Now that you’re aware of what online freelancing means, with both pros and cons, deciding which way to go should be easier. Freelancing is not an easy thing. If you were enticed to jump here because of what other people have been saying in terms of earnings, just know that it doesn’t come easy. If you’re now ready to start, you can get our free workbook and begin your journey today.

Get your free resource
Cover of The Executive Enabler VA Workbook: A sleek design featuring essential tools and insights for virtual assistants, helping you excel in your freelancing journey.
This workbook was designed with the newbie VA in mind. This will help you determine your niche, your service offerings, crafting your portfolio, and more.
I'm Jelly, main writer and owner of TEE, and I've been a VA for more than 10 years now. The Executive Enabler has been created in the hopes to help and guide new VAs in their journey.

Check out our tools & resources for templates and more.