20+ Differences Between Freelance vs. Contract (Explained)

Independent contractors and temporary employees were once viewed by businesses as a fallback option to substitute for full-time staff on leave or to get through periods of increased workload.

You will struggle to find an organization today that does not use external labor in some way. One Upwork survey predicted that 36% of the world’s employees would be independent contractors in 2020.

However, because the inclusion of external labor has become so common so recently, many managers are not familiar with the language used. 

You can find postings for independent contractors and freelancers when searching for employment. Despite the similarities between contractors and freelancers, both positions have different advantages and criteria.

Therefore, it is crucial to understand what these phrases signify and how each classification may affect your hours, income, and schedule before accepting a position as a contractor or freelancer.


Key Differences:


  1. Since you are your employer when you work as a freelancer, no one can control you. Therefore, people can exercise their freedom when they freelance.
  2. Contract employment provides a steady income, but one cannot anticipate a steady income from freelancing. Even though revenue from freelancing is insecure, if one is productive, they can increase their earnings.
  3. One benefit of freelancing is that you can continue to operate as a freelancer even if another company or firm employs you.


  1. In contract labor, the employee consents to a certain amount of time of employment.
  2. The employee agrees to follow the contractor’s instructions while accepting contract work.
  3. However, once you sign a contract, you are without this choice.

Comparison Between Freelance And Contract

HiringOn the other hand, independent contractors always operate alone. You may contact freelancers directly as an employer; you don’t need to go through an agency or vendor. Likewise, payments are made immediately. When the assignment is finished, you pay the freelancer the agreed-upon sum in full.You can contact an outside vendor or agency if your business wishes to outsource a certain task. The task at hand is then divided among several employees by this provider. Contractors are the name given to these workers. At the end of each month, you pay the vendor, who then compensates each contractor. You would deal with the person directly rather than coordinating with an agency as they are the owners of their own limited company.
ContractAgreements with freelancers are often substantially shorter. Many businesses use independent contractors for a particular assignment or even a day. The agreement may require the freelancer to devote a few hours each week to a single client; it does not specify how many hours the freelancer must labor throughout the contract. Given their contracts’ brief and rapid nature, a freelancer typically works for numerous clients at once.The average hiring term for contract workers and independent contractors is extensive – from three months to a year, maybe even more. Additionally, the engagement is typically more time-consuming, with contractors devoting all of their working hours to a single customer for the life of the agreement.
Work typeAn employer cannot control a freelancer’s schedule, location, or working methods. As long as the deliverables are finished by the deadline, freelancers are free to determine their schedules and work hours. Instead of working from the employers’ offices, they could want to do it from their homes, coffee shops, or coworking spaces. Additionally, it is their obligation to see to it that they pay their taxes, possess the necessary tools and authorizations, and perform the work for which they have been employed.You have more control over a contractor’s job as the employer. Depending on the task you hired them for, you may need a contractor to operate on-site or use your company’s facilities. They might not be free to choose their schedules since the employer can force them to work a certain number of hours. Consider the case of consultants engaged in offering customer support services. When the company’s help hotlines are open, these experts must be accessible.
RateRate setting is demanded of freelancers. They can choose whether they would rather be billed by the project, by the day, or by the hour. Additionally, they are in charge of handling their bills, seeking payments from clients, and haggling pricing with them.The situation is significantly different for contractors, who an agency frequently hires. It is the agency’s responsibility to determine a rate and inform the customer of it. Some contractors, however, are independent and, like freelancers, are in charge of choosing their fees and managing their billing on their own.

Major Differences Between Freelance And Contract

Who Exactly Is a Freelancer?

Freelancers are independent contractors who are not connected to any business or organization. They mostly run their business independently, creating, promoting, and providing specialized talents and services to various clientele.

A designer whose work is confined to a single presentation for a firm or a freelance photographer whose skills are only required for one day.

A freelancer is a non-permanent, independent worker who offers goods and services to several businesses. These experts can take on as many projects and work for as many clients as possible.

You may pick where to work as a freelancer and establish your fees. You can also handle tax payments on your own. Journalists, copywriters, graphic designers, and web developers are a few examples of freelancers.


Skills of a freelancer:

  1. When you spend an hour online shopping rather than working, no one is keeping an eye on you from the corner of their eye, nor are your coworkers present to pass judgment. 
  2. To keep on course, self-control is required. When you’re just starting as a freelancer and attempting to get employment, persistence is crucial more than ever.
  3. As a freelancer, one term will be used more than any other. You’ll need to let rejection roll off your back since it’s part of the game.
  4. You are responsible for a variety of duties. A freelancer has to communicate often.
  5. You are responsible for maintaining a record of your earnings and outgoing costs, immediately responding to customer communications, meeting deadlines, organizing your files, and streamlining your workload.
  6. You don’t necessarily need to be outgoing in the conventional sense to gain new clients, but you need to be a bit pushy. 
  7. Whether you do it in person or online, networking and contacting strangers are skills you’ll need if you want to expand your business.
  8. You must be prepared to manage difficult talks with grace and professionalism, such as when you need to break up with a client or negotiate a higher rate.
  9. There isn’t a manager or other employee to do such grubby labor for you. Another benefit is flexibility and remote employment. 
  10. Most of the time, working on freelance jobs entails working from home during the hours that suit you. 
  11. There will be deadlines that must be met, but you will choose where and when to work.

What Exactly Is a Contract?

Contrarily, a contractor is a temporary worker who may or may not be engaged for a fee. Finally, an independent contractor is an employee of a vendor or an agency in the sense of the term.

These agencies act as their managers and pay them regularly. However, the phrase may be used to describe an independent contractor in more contemporary use. These highly qualified individuals operate their businesses, offer specialized services, and work for themselves rather than an organization.

For example, consider a customer care representative, IT infrastructure support, or a project manager for M&A deals.

An independent contractor is a freelancer who performs simultaneous work for several clients. Typically, these experts take on bigger tasks for a loyal clientele.

You can operate on-site in a client location or your workstation as a contractor, taking clients through an agency. Independent contractors include professionals like doctors, dentists, and attorneys.


Benefits of contract work:

  1. Contractors are not required to commit to a firm in the same way that a full-time employee would. This may enable them to develop a profession that aligns with their objectives. 
  2. You have the freedom to pursue the projects and businesses you desire depending on your interests and talents, for example, if you are excellent at constructing websites. 
  3. As your talents grow, you can also pursue higher-paying positions. Additionally, you have the flexibility to take on more or less work as your tastes and schedule change. 
  4. You might be able to develop your talents more rapidly and effectively as an independent professional than you could in typical employment. 
  5. For instance, if you’re a startup consultant who focuses on assisting startups in developing a fundraising strategy, you may quickly build a solid portfolio by working with several firms. 
  6. In contrast, if a startup hired you full-time, you might only concentrate on fundraising for that one business for several years. 
  7. If you work alone, you’ll probably have more influence over your work schedule.
  8. Additionally, independent contractors have the freedom to accept or reject offers and work at their discretion. 
  9. Additionally, you’ll probably have greater control over your schedule. 
  10. You may need to meet with team members at specific hours or be accessible during specific times of the week. You’ll have more freedom to work whenever you choose. 
  11. Many contractors find it easier to set boundaries around job and home time because of this independence.

Contrast Between Freelance And Contract


  • Freelance- Freelancers frequently work with many clients at once because most of their assignments are temporary or of a small scope. You may take on as many customers as you want as a freelancer.
  • Contract- Additionally, independent contractors are permitted to handle any number of clients. You could take on bigger tasks as an independent contractor, which means you normally work with fewer customers at once.

    You may work in this position for a company that serves as a go-between for you and your clients. When you work through an agency, you may still carefully choose your customers, but there may be fewer opportunities for you to contact them directly.


  • Freelance- Freelancers have practically total discretion over which tasks they accept and which ones they refuse. As a freelancer, you might focus most of your working hours on one or two large projects. Instead, you can pursue a number of side occupations if you’d prefer to focus on more varied minor tasks.
  • Contract- As an independent contractor, you have a choice in the projects you take on. Contrary to freelancers, though, contractors frequently accept fewer but larger-scale assignments.

    As a contractor, you could manage the entirety of a complex project rather than just finishing one delivery. The project scope and expectations are negotiated if you hire an agency.


  • Freelance- The duration of freelance roles is fixed. As a freelancer, your assignments might last all day, for the whole week, for a month, for a year, or even longer. All of the positions you accept will be transitory so long as you remain a freelancer.
  • Contract- Independent contractors take on temporary positions much as freelancers do. Independent contractors do, however, frequently take on projects with extended deadlines. Although end dates for projects are nearly generally specified by independent contractors or their agencies, these time limits may be flexible or prolonged.


Characteristics of Freelance Work:

  1. Startups and smaller companies typically use freelancers for ad hoc, short-term tasks since the founders and their personnel don’t have the time to complete them themselves. 
  2. Since businesses are incorporating freelancers into their primary business plans, this pattern has started to shift. 
  3. College grads and laid-off workers who struggle to find full-time jobs close to their homes commonly resort to freelancing to make ends meet. 
  4. You don’t have to limit yourself to local employment because the majority of freelance work may be done from a distance. 
  5. Your clientele will frequently alter depending on your working relationship, whether the business needs to hire a freelancer or even their finances. 
  6. It’s crucial to have a community you can rely on for resources, support, and accountability. Local Freelancers Union sections may be found in most major cities. However, if you didn’t locate one that suits your needs, don’t be hesitant to start your own.
  7. Honey emphasizes that the freelancing sector is frequently “a numbers game” of relentless cold calling, letters of recommendation, and pitches. 
  8. According to Pearson, 70% of businesses that utilize freelancers do so to solve specific skill shortages in their teams. 
  9. When contacting an employer, be careful to emphasize any highly specific combination of talents you possess that are included in the job description. 
  10. When you work by yourself, you are entirely in charge of bookkeeping in addition to offering services to customers. 
  11. Maintaining organization can help you avoid any errors and hiccups along the road, particularly when tax season unexpectedly arrives. 
  12. If you don’t have a distinct online freelancing presence, be sure to have a compilation of clips, files, as well as other samples of your prior work handy in case someone asks to see them.
  13. The point person for each organization, while you are employed with them, is your boss, even if you might not be a full-time worker of the ones that hire you as a freelancer.

Work Plan: 

  • Freelance- You set your own hours as a freelancer. Although you frequently have to meet deadlines and follow schedules, you are still free to work on your own schedule.
  • Contract- Your routine as an independent contractor can resemble that of a regular worker. While many contractors agree to work during specific times, from 9 am to 5 pm, some decide on their own schedules.


  • Freelance- Rates are determined by the freelancers themselves. You can choose to bill by the project or by the hour, depending on the work you’re performing.

    You are in control of determining what to charge and negotiating pricing with each customer in any case. As a freelancer, you must also handle billing and payment tracking.
  • Contract- When you operate as an independent contractor, your pay may vary from client to client or job to task and is either hourly or project-based. If you are self-employed, you are in charge of determining and negotiating your rates.

    If you hire someone through an agency, you depend on them to negotiate and set a fair price for each assignment.


  • Freelance- You get to pick your workplace when you work for yourself. You may rent an office in your neighborhood or have a home office. You may even work from coffee shops, libraries, or other public places occasionally.
  • Contract- If you operate alone, you could agree to tailor your working environment to each project. You could occasionally work at your client’s office or keep your own workspace.


  • Freelance- You can recruit staff members or contract workers if you work for yourself. You may run your own company as an independent contractor. This implies that you can engage workers to do continuous tasks or use independent contractors to handle minor initiatives.
  • Contract- Even while independent contractors frequently operate on their own, they can ask for assistance when needed. If you take on jobs that demand more time or knowledge than you have, think about hiring other qualified freelancers to complete the work.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What defines a contract?

Contractual jobs require you to work for a set period of time, such as one month, three months, six months, or even a year, depending on the needs of the hiring organization.

Q2. Is a permanent job better than a contract-based job?

Being in permanent employment doesn’t provide you the freedom to attempt alternative occupations or take on different initiatives, as opposed to a contracted one.

Additionally, if you don’t aggressively seek out new employment, you risk becoming too at ease in your existing one.

Q3. What are the different types of contracts?

Businesses often utilize one of four different contract types: permanent, fixed-term, casual, or zero hours.

Your job status will determine the contract you get, which must be agreed upon with your employer in order for both sides to be satisfied with its provisions.

Q4. Can students work as a freelancer?

Because you can establish your own hours and modify your workload to fit your academics, freelancing is fantastic for students. Additionally, working as a freelancer is far superior to doing unpaid internships to get expertise.

Q5. What does an auditorial mean?

A piece of writing done on behalf of a business that appears in a newspaper or magazine’s paid advertising section.

It seems to be a typical article or opinion piece to the reader, but it was purchased and paid for by the company rather than the magazine. Advertorials typically have an advertising-themed border around them.

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