You might be wondering about the difference between freelance and remote jobs. Are they one and the same? Or do they have some overlap and some differences?
A freelancer is a person who sells his skills and labor to the highest bidder. A freelancer may work for multiple companies at once. A freelance job is a project that a freelancer does for a company or individual. A remote job is one where the worker can do the work from anywhere. A remote job usually only requires a computer, an internet connection, and a cell phone.
The tastefully designed, professional-grade Venn diagram below illustrates that there is some overlap between the two categories.
Below, I discuss what to expect in each type of job. I also give some examples of jobs in each category.
There are different expectations for each category of job, depending on whether they are remote or freelance.
Freelance (not remote)
A freelance worker who is not remote will work on-site for a client or employer. One example is a corporate trainer who works on a freelance basis.
He generally does not sign a non-compete agreement. Thus, he might have contracts with several companies at one time. However, he must show up in person to speak, present, and teach employees and company leaders.
Remote (not freelance)
A remote worker who is not freelance is usually an employee of a single specific company. He may work part-time or full-time for the employer.
Since he is a remote worker, he does not need to show up in-person at the company headquarters. In fact, some fully virtual companies don’t even have a headquarters these days.
This remote worker can do his job from a library, bookstore, coffee shop, coworking space, or home office. A non-compete agreement may prevent him from working for a company in the same industry.
An example is someone who does part-time data entry from home for a company.
A remote freelancer has the best of both worlds. He can work from anywhere, as long as he has the tools he needs and finishes his work. A remote freelancer has his choice of projects. He can work with multiple companies at once.
A remote freelancer needs to build a strong portfolio to impress clients. Also, he will not usually visit clients. Thus, his portfolio will need to speak for itself.
An example of a remote freelancer is a graphic designer who works on a website, such as Fiverr. He receives contracts from multiple clients at once. He then does his work remotely, according to client specifications. It is possible that he never meets a single client in person!
Neither Remote nor Freelancer
These are workers we typically think of. These workers do not work remotely. Instead, they go to a job site each day. They are not freelancers, meaning they work a steady job for the same employer for years at a time.
One example is a carpenter who works for a union shop as an employee.
Examples: Freelance Jobs (Not Remote)
Example – Corporate Trainer
A corporate trainer may travel all over the world to do his job. He trains employees of companies in many aspects of business. This training could cover general topics that are helpful to many companies. These topics include human resources, hiring, staffing, sales, marketing, advertising, and accounting.
Training might also cover more specialized knowledge. For example, tax or legal effects of a new law. Finally, the training could teach industry specific knowledge. This might include information on a specific process, product, upgrade, or software system.
Example – Management Consultant
A management consultant may work for many different companies during his career. This job often requires travel to a company headquarters, to work in person with employees and management.
The goal of a management consultant is to help a company run more efficiently. A management consultant looks at what the company is doing wrong, and fixes it. This may increase revenue or decrease costs, both of which improve profit. He may also improve employee productivity and morale, which has a positive impact on the bottom line.
For example, a consultant may analyze the effectiveness of advertising channels. He then decides which channels to cut, based on the return on investment for each. The company can put the money it saves into more effective advertising. It can also use the money to buy equipment or train employees.
Examples: Remote Jobs (Not Freelance)
Example – Online Teacher
There are several online or “virtual” schools that hire teachers to conduct online classes. These teachers are generally certified to teach in the state where the virtual school has its headquarters.
This job is fully remote, since the teacher does not show up to the school headquarters to teach. In fact, the teacher can run the online classes from anywhere in the world. The only requirement is reliable internet access and a computer.
A remote teacher may work with other teachers and staff to design a curriculum. Based on that curriculum, the teacher will create lessons for the online classroom. He will also create materials, including handouts and homework assignments, for the students to complete. The teacher is responsible for grading these assignments, and possibly offering extra help to students who need it.
Example – RN Case Manager
An RN (Registered Nurse) Case Manager will generally work for a single healthcare company or hospital. However, a nurse can do this job remotely.
The RN Case Manager diagnoses illnesses and creates treatment plans. He may listen to patient concerns and symptoms over the phone or by video chat.
The RN Case Manager works with physicians and specialists, in addition to patients and other nurses. A good part of this job involves keeping accurate and detailed records. Again, an experienced nurse can do this work from anywhere with an internet connection and a computer.
Examples: Remote Freelance Jobs
Example – Copy Writer
Many companies, large and small, need to advertise to customers. Some of these companies are very busy with developing, designing, and manufacturing their products. This leaves them little time to develop compelling advertising copy. This is where the remote copy writer comes in.
He may work for several different companies at once. He will need to research the product or service thoroughly. This often involves talking to company employees, including management, engineers, and designers, in addition to salespeople.
Knowing about the features and benefits of the product helps the copy writer to communicate with the customer base. In addition to product knowledge, the copy writer will need to research the market for the product. This may involve doing online research and creating a customer “avatar”. This avatar represents the average person in the target market.
At this point, the copy writer knows the product and the market. Thus, he can write about the product specifically for the avatar, targeting the company’s desired market. Women in their 50’s might ignore a feature that is important for men in their 20’s.
Example – Graphic Designer
A graphic designer might create material for brochures, advertisements, and magazines. He might also design logos or trademarks for new companies or products.
As you might expect, a remote graphic designer can work from anywhere. He produces graphic art from anywhere on Earth, as long as he has his computer. He only needs an internet connection to submit the final project, or to keep clients informed of progress.
A freelance graphic designer can work for many different companies, which gives the opportunity for a variety of interesting work. Generally, a small company does not have the payroll capacity to keep a graphic designer on staff full-time. However, many are happy to hire a professional assistance with artwork for logos or advertising materials.
Examples: Jobs that are Neither Remote, nor Freelance
Example – Carpenter
A carpenter might work for a union shop. Thus, he works every day at the shop, or at a job site where the shop has a contract. Usually, he only works for a single employer at a time.
The carpenter is not a freelancer, and as a result, receives benefits through his employer. These benefits include health, life, disability, and unemployment insurance.
Example – Retail Clerk
A retail clerk shows up to the same retail location for each work shift. Generally, he works for the same company for all shifts. At least at this point, there is no possibility of working as a remote retail clerk. Since retail clerks are often part time, they may not receive any benefits from an employer.
As you can see from the examples above, there is some overlap between freelance and remote jobs. However, they are not exactly the same.
If you are wondering whether remote jobs are right for you and your personality, check out my article on telecommuting.
If you want some inspiration for remote jobs in art, writing, nursing, or other fields, check out my posts on telecommuting jobs.
I hope this article clears up any confusion about freelance and remote jobs. If you have any nagging questions, please leave them in the comments below.