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Is Freelancing A “Real” Job?

Whether working from home in your pajamas or while traveling the world, freelance work presents many opportunities...

Shorter Version


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Whether working from home in your pajamas, at a local coffee shop, or while traveling the world, freelance work presents many opportunities and is no longer a rarity in society. Though this might sound quite enticing, the big question still remains – Is freelancing a “real” job? The short answer is yes!

What is freelancing?

According to FlexJobs, freelancing involves pursuing contract work for companies and organizations. Freelancers are technically self-employed, and “are not considered employees by the companies they work for, but rather contractors.” While this kind of work might not involve the traditional 40-hour workweek at the office, freelancing requires special skills and commitment.

The stigma

While the pay can be fantastic, with the nontraditional hours and unique structure of freelancing, there can be a negative stigma associated with this line of work.

Sometimes it is challenging for people to support an idea that they do not understand. The facade of working in sweatpants everyday paints a false picture of what freelancing is, and it’s common for people to jump to their own conclusions. Whether coming from a place of ignorance or possibly jealousy, it is natural for many to question the legitimacy of freelance work.

What makes freelancing a “real” job?

According to ArtisanTalent, a job is defined as “a social construct, a contract between client/employer and the person doing the work.” 

Therefore, yes – freelancing is a “real” job because of the nature of the contract between a client and employer. A freelancer is completing work and getting paid for that work, so it is absolutely a legitimate job. Though it might not be traditional, the nature of completing tasks and getting paid to do so makes freelancing just as real as any other job.

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Longer Version


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In a world where technology has enabled people to work from anywhere at any time, freelancing is arguably a “new normal” in our world today. The Freelancers Union states that nearly 57 million Americans did freelance work in 2018. According to CNBC, the freelance economy is up from 53 million American workers in 2014.

While this style of work is not for everyone, its exponential growth in popularity speaks volumes.

What is freelancing?

According to FlexJobs, freelancing involves pursuing contract work for companies and organizations. Freelancers are technically self-employed, and “are not considered employees by the companies they work for, but rather contractors.”

Freelance work is appealing to many because of the flexibility it provides. With the ability to set your own hours, live wherever you want, and unlimited earning potential, it serves as a great fit for millions of Americans. While this kind of work might not involve the traditional 40-hour workweek at the office, freelancing requires special skills and commitment.

The stigma

CNBC outlines that “freelancers doing skilled services earn a median rate of $28 an hour, earning more per hour than 70% of workers in the overall U.S. economy.” While the pay can be fantastic, with the nontraditional hours and unique structure of freelancing, there can be a negative stigma associated with this line of work.

One possible downside of freelance work is that traditional benefits such as health insurance are not provided. Therefore, it is the freelancer’s responsibility to pay for independent insurance.

In addition, while some freelancers have ongoing contracts with steady paychecks, this is not necessarily the case for all freelance jobs. As a result, some people might doubt or question the possible “inconsistent” or lack of predictable revenue that is associated with freelancing.

What makes freelancing a “real” job?

According to ArtisanTalent, a job is defined as “a social construct, a contract between client/employer and the person doing the work.” Therefore, yes – freelancing is a “real” job because of the nature of the contract between a client and employer. A freelancer is completing work and getting paid for that work, so it is absolutely a legitimate job. Though it might not be traditional, the nature of completing tasks and getting paid to do so makes freelancing just as real as any other job.

Freelancing is a legitimate line of work and way to bring in an income.

Society might paint a picture of what is normal or acceptable, but just because freelancing is different does not make it less “real.”

Actionable Steps


1

Don’t let other peoples’ opinions sway you

Regardless of what people say or think, freelancing is a legitimate line of work and way to bring in an income.

2

Stay patient and positive

If someone questions the “realness” of your freelancing, don’t get discouraged or defensive. Keep your chin up, and kindly explain the nature of your freelance work to help them understand what you do.

About the Author


Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa is a Doctor of Education, receiving her degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has mentored hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
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