What is a freelancer?

What Is A Freelancer

In today's rapidly evolving professional landscape, the concept of freelancing has gained significant traction, presenting a viable alternative to traditional employment. The United Kingdom, in particular, has witnessed a remarkable surge in the freelance workforce, with over two million individuals embracing this flexible and autonomous way of working. However, the path to successful freelancing is not without its challenges, and it is crucial to understand the nuances of this career choice before taking the leap.

This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the world of freelancing in the UK, providing valuable insights, practical tips, and a holistic understanding of what it takes to thrive as a self-employed professional.

Defining the freelancer

At its core, a freelancer is an independent contractor who offers their skills and expertise to clients on a project-by-project basis, without being bound by a long-term contract or a single organisation. This career path is often referred to as self-employment or independent contracting, and it offers a unique blend of flexibility, autonomy, and the ability to choose the projects that resonate with one's passions and interests.

The appeal of freelancing work

One of the primary draws of freelancing is the freedom it affords individuals to break free from the constraints of the traditional 9-to-5 routine. As a freelancer, you have the power to craft your own schedule, allowing you to strike a harmonious balance between your professional and personal life. Freelance work flexibility enables you to dedicate quality time to family, pursue hobbies, or even indulge in a midday siesta – a luxury that is often elusive in the realm of conventional employment.

Moreover, freelance jobs empower you to curate your professional journey by handpicking the projects and clients that ignite your passion and align with your values. You are the captain of your own ship, navigating it towards the destinations that excite you the most. This autonomy extends to negotiating your rates, ensuring that your hard work is duly compensated and your financial aspirations are met.

Freelancer's virtual office

In the age of digital transformation, the concept of a physical office space has become increasingly obsolete for a freelance business. With the power of technology at their fingertips, these independent professionals can seamlessly work from anywhere – be it the comfort of their homes, a cosy coffee shop, or even a picturesque beach resort. This newfound freedom transcends the traditional commute, allowing freelancers to embrace a lifestyle that harmonises work and wanderlust.

Work-life balance

In a world that is perpetually "on," achieving a harmonious work-life balance can feel like an elusive quest. However, freelancing offers a unique solution by empowering individuals to take control of their time, workload, and environment. This autonomy not only fosters a sense of contentment but also contributes to overall well-being. Studies have revealed a direct link between burnout and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, underscoring the importance of finding a work pattern that aligns with one's personal needs and preferences.

Building a reputation

While the allure of freelancing is undeniable, it is important to recognise that success in this realm hinges on one's ability to market themselves effectively and cultivate a strong reputation. Contractors will commonly use offline marketing and online marketing to enable their business operations. As a freelancer, you are not only your own boss but also your own marketing agency, responsible for generating leads, securing clients, and consistently delivering exceptional work.

Self-employment finances

One of the critical aspects of freelancing that often goes overlooked is the need for meticulous financial management. Unlike traditional employment, where income is typically consistent and predictable, freelancers must navigate the ebbs and flows of project-based earnings with multiple clients. This requires diligent planning, budgeting, and the ability to set aside funds for expenses such as pensions, holiday pay, and taxes.

In the UK, freelancers are responsible for submitting their tax returns directly to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC). While this process may seem daunting at first, resources and guidance are readily available to simplify tax compliance for a self employed person.

While the terms "freelancer" and "self-employed" may carry different connotations, it is important to note that in the UK, there is no legal or tax distinction between the two. The legal and tax implications are primarily determined by whether an individual operates as a sole trader or a limited company.

Sole traders are self-employed individuals who are solely responsible for their business's profits and liabilities. In contrast, a limited company is a separate legal entity, offering a degree of protection for the business owner's personal assets. The decision to operate as a sole trader or a limited company should be based on factors such as anticipated profit levels, potential liabilities, and tax implications.

The freelance mindset

While the terms "freelancer" and "self-employed" are often used interchangeably, there exists a subtle yet profound distinction in mindset. Freelancers are typically perceived as individuals who undertake projects for various clients, trading their time and expertise for compensation. In contrast, those who identify as self-employed workers or business owners tend to adopt a growth-oriented mindset, envisioning the potential for expansion and the creation of a larger enterprise.

This mindset shift can have a profound impact on the trajectory of one's professional journey. By embracing the self-employed mentality from the outset, individuals open themselves up to the possibility of scaling their endeavours, transitioning from a solo operation to a thriving business with a team of collaborators or employees.

Pursuing passion projects

Freelancing presents a unique opportunity to pursue passions that might have been sidelined in the realm of traditional employment. With the ability to allocate time and resources as desired, freelancers can explore their creative pursuits, learn new skills, or simply indulge in activities that bring them joy and fulfillment. Whether it's mastering a musical instrument, delving into coding, or binge-watching a captivating series, freelancing empowers individuals to cultivate a holistic and well-rounded lifestyle.

Partnerships and outsourcing

As a freelancer or self-employed professional, there may arise situations where additional skills or resources are required to meet client demands or facilitate business growth. In such instances, embracing collaboration and outsourcing can be a strategic move.

Partnering with other freelancers or independent contractors can provide access to specialised expertise, allowing you to offer a more comprehensive range of services to your clients. Additionally, as your business expands, the need for support staff or outsourced services may become apparent, enabling you to focus on your core competencies while delegating peripheral tasks.

Resources and support for freelancers

The freelance journey can be both exhilarating and challenging, but you need not navigate it alone. The UK boasts a vibrant ecosystem of resources and support networks designed to empower and guide freelancers through every stage of their professional journey.

From online communities and forums to specialised legal and financial advisory services, there is a wealth of expertise and guidance available to help you navigate the complexities of self-employment. Leveraging these resources can provide invaluable insights, best practices, and strategies for overcoming common obstacles faced by freelancers.

Contractor insurance considerations

To get a quote for Contractor Insurance or to receive a quote for any of our other insurance products, you can get a quote through our website. If you would like to talk to one our insurance team, you can give us a call on 01384429900 to receive more information.

Learning and adaptability

In the dynamic world of freelancing, the ability to adapt and continuously evolve is paramount. As industries evolve and client demands shift, successful freelancers must remain agile and proactive in acquiring new skills, mastering emerging technologies, and staying abreast of industry trends.

Investing in professional development, attending workshops or webinars, and actively seeking feedback from clients can help freelancers stay relevant and competitive in their respective fields. By embracing a growth mindset and committing to lifelong learning, freelancers can position themselves as valuable assets, capable of delivering innovative solutions and staying ahead of the curve.

Building a sustainable freelance career

While the allure of freelancing often lies in its flexibility and autonomy, sustaining a successful freelance career requires a well-crafted strategy and a commitment to consistent effort. Building a robust network, nurturing client relationships, and continuously refining one's skills are essential components of long-term success in the freelance realm.

Effective time management, setting realistic goals, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are also crucial elements that contribute to the longevity and fulfilment of a freelance career. By striking the right balance between professional growth and personal well-being, freelancers can create a sustainable and rewarding career path that aligns with their values and aspirations.

The future of freelancing

As the global workforce continues to evolve, the freelance model is poised to gain even greater prominence. With technological advancements facilitating remote collaboration and the gig economy gaining traction, the demand for skilled and adaptable freelancers is likely to surge.

Embracing this paradigm shift and staying attuned to emerging trends will be crucial for freelancers seeking to capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead. By cultivating a mindset of resilience, innovation, and continuous learning, freelancers can position themselves as valuable assets in an ever-changing professional landscape.


In conclusion, the world of freelancing in the UK presents a wealth of opportunities for those seeking autonomy, flexibility, and the ability to shape their professional journeys. By understanding the nuances of this career path, embracing a growth mindset, and leveraging available resources, aspiring freelancers can navigate the challenges and unlock the full potential of this rewarding and fulfilling way of working.


Frequently asked questions

What creative industries do freelancers work in?

Freelancers thrive in a multitude of creative industries, where their unique skills and flexibility can be leveraged to meet the dynamic needs of various projects. Among these sectors, graphic design, writing and content creation, web development, and digital marketing stand out as prominent fields. Additionally, photography, video production, and music composition also significantly benefit from freelance talent. These professionals often bring a fresh perspective and innovative solutions, making them invaluable in the creative process. Their ability to work remotely and adapt to different project requirements makes freelancers indispensable across the creative landscape, contributing to the richness and diversity of output in these industries.

Are freelance workers considered contractors?

Freelance workers are indeed regarded as contractors within the professional landscape. Therefore, freelancers should consider contractor insurance for their business. This classification stems from the nature of their engagement, which typically involves working on a project-by-project basis without permanent ties to the hiring company. Unlike traditional employees, freelancers operate under a self-employed status, managing their own taxes, benefits, and work schedules. This arrangement affords them greater flexibility and autonomy but also places the onus of financial and administrative responsibilities squarely on their shoulders. Consequently, businesses often prefer hiring freelance contractors for specific tasks, leveraging their specialised skills while avoiding long-term employment commitments.

Is it common for companies to hire independent contractors in the UK?

It is increasingly common for companies in the UK to hire independent contractors. This trend is driven by the need for flexibility and specialised skills that are not always available within the permanent workforce. Independent contractors offer businesses a cost-effective solution, allowing them to scale operations up or down based on project requirements. Furthermore, the evolving nature of work, particularly with advancements in technology, has made remote and freelance work more viable. This arrangement benefits both parties: companies can access top talent without long-term commitments, while contractors enjoy the freedom to choose their projects and clients.

How can I market my contracting business?

Marketing a contracting business effectively involves a multi-faceted approach. Initially, establishing a professional online presence through a well-designed website is crucial. This platform should showcase your services, past projects, and client testimonials. Leveraging social media channels can also enhance visibility and engage potential clients. Additionally, networking within local business communities and attending industry events can foster valuable connections.