Freelancing vs Contracting – The Main Differences

Freelancers and contractors are both people hired to work on specific projects for different clients. Their roles have some similarities, but there are some key points that separate them. So, when it comes to freelancing vs contracting, what are the main differences?

What Is a Freelancer?

Freelancers are self-employed workers that get to work from the comfort of their homes, for as many clients as they want, while choosing what they want to do and when they want to do it.

These workers are pretty much always in charge of their business. They have control over how much they want to charge and the niches they want to work in. Common examples of freelancers include writers, designers, programmers, and digital marketers.

What Is a Contractor?

Contractors are workers that are hired by different clients on a contractual basis. As with any other contract work, the client and the contractor agree on all stipulations like pay rates, work hours, and designated periods of work.

Contractors are usually required to work at the client’s offices, but sometimes they get to operate from their own chosen workspaces. However, they still get to choose which clients they take on as customers. Common examples of independent contractors include lawyers, caterers, wedding planners, and tattoo artists.

Freelancing vs Contracting

Even though both freelancers and contractors are temporary workers with more independence than the average employee, they still differ in several ways. Let’s take a look at some of them in detail.

Creating Schedules

Freelancers usually get to work on any given day, at any given hour. This flexibility of schedule-making caters to morning people, night owls, and everyone else in between.

Some contractors might be able to create their own schedule, but most of them need to work according to the client’s office hours, meaning their schedule is likely similar to a typical employee’s (a 9-5 job, for example).

Choosing a Work Location

A freelancer also gets to choose where they work from. They might work from their own homes, coffee shops, local libraries, coworking spaces, the beach, and anywhere else they can get a good internet connection. They might have to work on-site on occasion, but this is by far the minority of cases.

Some contractors might work from home, but many clients expect or require their contractors to work on their premises. Unlike most freelancers, they’re not always in control of this aspect.

Getting Employees

Independent contractors usually have their own businesses, like flower shops or cake decoration boutiques. This means that it’s common for them to employ other independent workers whenever they take on bigger projects.

Freelancers usually always work on their own. They might be able to delegate some tasks to other freelancers, but it’s usually a solo venture.

Freelancing vs Contracting – The Main Differences


  • Self-employed
  • Can handle several clients at once
  • Freedom to choose where to work from
  • Control over work rates
  • Freedom over working hours as long as you do the work
  • Mostly independent work


  • Self-employed
  • Usually working for one client at a time
  • Normally working at the client’s premises
  • Often have to work at the client’s rates
  • Might have to settle with a 9-5 schedule
  • Often have teams of other workers

Freelancing vs Contracting – Which Suits You Best?

Now you know the main differences between freelancing and contracting, and you can hopefully make a more informed decision of which one is best for you. However, if you have the skills, nothing is stopping you from working in both of these roles! The more you can do, the more work there’ll be out there for you.

You can learn more about the different employment statuses on the website.