The Ten Types of Freelancers: Which One Are You?

During my years of working online and interacting with other freelancers, I’ve noticed that most freelancers seem to fit into several personality types. Each type of freelancer seems to have a number of common character traits.

It can be fun and helpful to examine these freelancing personality types. Often times your freelancing personality type can show what makes you act the way you do as a freelancer.

So, what type of freelancer are you?

(This article is intended to take a lighthearted look at the various freelancing personality traits. It is based purely on my own impressions and not any kind of scientific study…)

Freelancing Personality Types

Here are the ten freelancing personality types that I’ve worked with over the years. See if you can recognize any of them. You may even find that you fit into one (or more) of these types.

  1. Loner. The freelancing Loner is exactly what it sounds like – a person who prefers to work alone rather than as part of a team. Often, the Loner desires a quiet or isolated environment. He or she may also work unconventional hours. The Loner may be alone, but usually they are not lonely.
  2. Social Butterfly. The Social Butterfly freelancer is easily recognized by his or her prominent presence on nearly every available form of social media. While most freelancers participate in a few forms of social media, the Social Butterfly is drawn to and active in all forms of social media.
  3. Empire Builder. You’ll probably recognize the Empire Builder because of how quickly their business expands. In a matter of months, it seems, they are expanding their business and hiring others. Often an empire-building freelancer moves out of the realm of freelancing into the corporate realm rather quickly.
  4. Controller. For some freelancers, it’s all about being in control. Generally speaking, a controller does not like to have a boss or manager over them. Controllers work best when they are given a general direction and allowed to make most of the major decisions for themselves.
  5. All About The Money. While all freelancers work to earn their living, this particular freelancing personality is driven primarily by the profit motive. He or she may move into and out of new ventures rather quickly, dropping activities when they discover that an activity does not provide enough profit.
  6. Balancing Act. This type of freelancer is primarily lifestyle driven. They strive for a better quality of life. Often, he or she has other demanding responsibilities in addition to their freelancing work. The Balancing Act freelancer may also value being location independent and being able to set their own hours.
  7. Consummate Professional. To the Consummate Professional, their reputation is everything. He or she wants to be known for the high quality of their work. For this freelancer, getting a byline or other recognition for their work is extremely important.
  8. Anti-corporate. I just recently ran across this type of freelancer. As I was waiting in an airport, I overheard two freelancers talking to each other. “I’m against anything corporate,” the one freelancer said to the other. “I work mainly for individuals and other freelancers.
  9. Experimental. The Experimental freelancer is someone who is trying on freelancing. Often they are looking for a life-change. He or she may have recently lost their traditional employment. Some experimental freelancers will embrace freelancing permanently. Others will move on after a few months.
  10. Semi-retired. The Semi-Retired freelancer is a seasoned professional who has chosen to come out of retirement to freelance. Usually, they have many years of professional experience to offer. Their driving factor is the need to be active and to contribute. Frequently, they prefer to work part-time.

Changing Your Freelancing Personality

If you notice that one freelancing personality type seems to fit you better than the others, ask yourself: “is this personality type good for my business?

If the answer is “no,” don’t panic. All is not lost. You may be able to take steps to change your freelancing personality type.

For example, if you feel that you are too much of a Loner, make it a goal to take on some projects where you must work with others. If you’re too controlling, make it a point to occasionally accept a project where you will have to follow someone else’s direction. If you’re Anti-corporate, ask yourself if you are missing out on lucrative assignments by not accepting corporate clients.

What Do You Think?

Do you fit into one (or more) of these personality types? Which ones?

Would you add any other types of freelancing personalities? Why, or why not?

Top image by luc legay


  1. says

    I would say I am if anything the expermental freelancer, As I am still studying but want to leave that, and work for myself.

    If it works out I might be one of the youngest freelancers arround :)

  2. Joe Hana says

    I would say I´m a bit of the “Loner” but as well a small “Social Butterfly”. I´m surely a “Controller” and my goal is to “build a Empire”. Also I would say that my reputation is of course very important for me, so I´m as well a “Consummate Professional”.

    But I´m also a “Techno Geek”, “Open Minder”, “Lifestyler”, “Cloud Thinker”, “Air Friend” and a “Fast Changer”.

    What´s these types? Don´t Know?

    I don´t want to explane them all now but what I would like to say is, that I think that we can´t push all the freelancers, all over the worldm in about 10 Categories – there are a lot more of “types”. Even “types” is the wrong word I think, rather I would call it “characteristics”.
    One of the most reasons why people´s are going to be freelancers is because they want to realise themselves. And because of this goal, they can came out of any branche – so many different people – and a lot more characteristics.

    A thing what I really miss in “Communities” where people can define themselves with just a bit of text in some fiels. A much better approach is too use something like does (its no advertising – sry for that) – they use stickers which define their personalitys. Take a short look in to it, I hope you understand what I mean.

    But overall – very good Post

  3. says

    Great comment Joe Hana!

    I wouldn’t take these types too seriously. Most people will be a combination of several.

    As I stated in the post, this is a very subjective piece based on my own observation.

    However, sometimes if we recognize ourselves in one of these types we may be able to learn and grow from that recognition.

  4. says

    I am a mixture of some of these — definitely interested in controlling my hours and being able to be my own boss. I am also extremely conscious of the quality of my work.

  5. says

    I’m definitely a 6 with a desire for control and vision that can build empires. More of a social caterpillar than butterfly, but I’m evolving. I am anti-corporate when I deal with small business, but motivated by profit when I take on corporate clients.
    No matter what type of Freelancer you are, don’t grow a big head because all of your hats wont fit.
    Good post!

  6. says

    Hi Laura :)

    Would have to say the main one that sticks to me is Controller, I think it stems from I can see ideas or ways to improve upon existing things. Having said that though I do work collaboratively very well, having worked in teams for many years.
    As Russ said also extremely conscious of the quality of my work. Striving to improve and learn will always be with us as we learn new techniques/methods and understanding.



  7. says

    I found myself falling into several categories. Most definitely the Loner is the type I would most fail into, but being still in the learning stages you might put me in the Experimental stage. Having been an entrepreneur and self-employed all my life you could also include me in the anit- corporate type. I prefer small business in all facets of my business and personal dealings as well. Lastly, I would have to include myself in the semi-retired type having retired from my cleaning business of thirty years. Though interested in writing most of my life the mundane hardly left time for serious writing. So what are we to conclude if I am able to see myself in all those freelance types?

  8. says

    Me, I’m a Balancing Act with a touch of Loner and a smattering of Social Butterfly. Maybe a little Anti-Corporate too, in the sense that office politics drive me nuts. My recent return to the freelance world had much to do with some political manoeuvering I encountered. All I want to do is to deliver a quality product that gives me some pride, collect a fair wage, and help other people achieve their aims. Unfortunately, that generally means going it alone.

  9. says

    I’m a balancing-act guy. I like to spend a lot of time hiking and doing tai chi, so I usually put limits to how many hours I’ll work in a day, or how many days I’ll work in a month.

  10. says

    Let me start by saying that I am not normal – nor have I ever been. I don’t really fit into any category :D. I have a little social butterfly in me (would have more if I was independently wealthy) and balanced (although my husband would say I’m unbalanced). I have a passion for writing and hope to make that passion into a career!

  11. Tiera says

    I think I’m a cross between “experimental” and “loner”. Actually, I think I’m part loner because I’m still experimenting. I’m still traditionally employed, and freelance on the side. Going solo during the late hours help me get work done without interfering with my established career.

  12. Jason says

    I fit into three of these types. I am a Loner/Controller/Experimental.

    I have been studying HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP on my own for several years now, and have always had a knack for coding. But I’ve often been afraid of the business side of freelancing. I recently decided to pursue Skelliewag’s “30 days to becoming a freelancer” and see how it goes.

    I prefer to work alone with plenty of quiet time and my own space. I recently bought a laptop so I could sit on the couch late at night and work on stuff (so as not to annoy my wife). I find that the late night hours have always been my most creative.

    I have one other friend who does freelance work on the side and has been offering me jobs, but since I don’t have the business end down (knowing how much to charge, whether to work hourly ro per-project, etc…), it’s been costing me opportunities.

    So I’m forging ahead now with my new portfolio and learning how to promote myself. I have a better idea now of what my skills are worth, I just need to finish my online presence and get myself out there.

  13. Luke Stevenson says

    I’d also suggest adding a type called “The Teacher/The Mentor”. I think this type is a freelancer who is often connected with a number of other freelancers and offers advice or training to them (often for nothing) with regards to technical issues, business administration, and various other parts of running a freelance career. This type also often end up teaching the client how to perform at least a portion of the work they have been engaged to do – such as showing them how basic HTML works if they have no idea about it.
    Of course, this personality type does well in establishing a reputation, but often ends up making themselves almost redundant due to up-skilling clients (other freelancers or actual end clients) to a point where the amount of work they are getting is less than it might have been if they kept it all a Black Art.

    To that point, I would also suggest another type “Black Magician”. Being the kind of freelancer who wants to make everything they do as obscure as possible – partially to “safeguard” their position as the only person to be able to update/maintain the code, but also, often, to conceal the fact that their code is of a poor standard.

  14. sheryll e. says

    I am new in this freelance writing activity and never thought this industry is so big…Really amazing! Your article and the comments here really opened my eyes as to how serious this business could be if given much attention.

    For starters like me, me I could describe myself as both the “ALL ABOUT THE MONEY” and “EXPERIMENTAL” freelancer. For reasons of earning extra income while I am online and trying to get some taste of being a freelancer, without having the hassle of pressures and stress from bosses.

  15. sheryll e. says

    I am new in this freelance writing activity and never thought this industry is so big…Really amazing! Your article and the comments here really opened my eyes as to how serious this business could be if given much attention.

    For starters like me, me I could describe myself as both the “ALL ABOUT THE MONEY” and “EXPERIMENTAL” freelancer. For reasons of earning extra income while I am online and trying to get some taste of being a freelancer, without having the hassle of pressures and stress from bosses.

  16. says

    I’m very positive most, if not all, freelancers are all controllers. After all, we all steped into the freelancing world to work for ourselves.

    Also, everyone who posted a comment in response are most likely social butterflies, as we all want to contribute to blogs, and other social networks.

  17. says

    I would have to say that I’m the loner, with a little bit of the social butterfly. I work mostly by myself and not part of a team. Altough I freguently market my self in a few social media sites and chat with other people.

    I’m hoping that someday I’mm be the empire builder =)

  18. says

    I think most of all I’m a “Controller” and partly “Anti-corporate”. Though I work with corporate clients, still annoyed that solving bureaucratic problems sometimes takes much more time than making website by itself ((( Also I’m obliged to be a “Loner” (hope only for a while, i like to socialize) because I moved to live in another country, dont know many people here and still trying to find ways to stay freelancer rather than work permanent.

  19. says


    I’m a combination of Loner and Controller. I work in a small portable building in my backyard, and I work at night instead of during business hours partly to avoid phone calls. And I like to do things my way. :-)

  20. ivy says

    hmm.. let me classify myself… more of all about money and a bit of experimental… yeah! i use to try all the things in freelancing. and right now, just trying to experiment on doing a dvd from im expecting to see something good and unique.

  21. says

    Thanks to everyone who shared their “types.” Hopefully, this was kind of fun. I feel like I know you all a little better.

    Personally, I think that I am a combination of a Balancing Act with a little of the Consummate Professional thrown in. My professional reputation is very important to me, although I don’t always get (or need to get) recognition.

  22. says

    I think I flit between these personalities over time, depending on my prevailing mood and personal objectives. I have been a loner (and as you say, not alone) and enjoyed the peace and quiet. I’ve been an empire builder but didn’t enjoy that as much as I quickly fell into the Balancing Act.

    I don’t think we need to consider ourselves locked into one of these behavioural patterns and we do have the choice to be mobile between them.

  23. says

    I would like to take a bit of everyone of these and throw them into one point and simmer. Sometimes I enjoy being a loner but then if I look at a computer screen too long, I need to talk to living people. Ultimately, if I can build a respectable empire in a niche I enjoy writing about, then the balancing act would be achieved.

  24. Jessica says

    Great piece! I am the balancing act as I try to keep my skills current while staying home with our two small boys and help my husband with the backend of his IT business. I’ve learned that I can’t succeed without the help of a wonderful sitter and a patient husband. I keep my client list small – right now 3 clients. Only one of them do I find that I have to be forceful in how many hours I can commit each week. Overall, I enjoy the time I get with my boys, my weekly deadlines, and knowing that I am bringing in a little bit of extra money.

  25. says

    Interesting observation.

    In my opinion, most freelancers fit into more than one categories. Not only that, but they change their personality time to time, based on their success level in freelancing.

  26. says

    The “Loner” type fits me to a ‘T’, although it was a “Balancing Act” mentality that initially drove me to drop all employment work in favor of freelancing.

    These types all assume that an individual is a freelancer by intention, though. You’re missing out on the I’m-doing-freelance-to-stay-afloat-while-looking-for-more-work type. Not one I relate with, but I know a few people like that.

  27. says

    I’m The Balancing Act. I’m also fairly location independent. I make it a point to not let the travelling thwart my freelancing. I can work from pretty much everywhere.

  28. says

    Would guess I am a “Balancing Act” freelancer. Have a full-time job and a big family. Would love for an office at the apartment to make it more controlled freelancing but we will see!

  29. says


    I think I’m sort of a blend between a Social Butterfly and a Controller. I love meeting passionate and creative people through social media. I spend part of my day networking, tweeting, and chatting with friends, potential clients, and people I admire. But I’m also the Controller. I would prefer to be my own boss with the ability to choose the projects I undertake and the income I make from them.

  30. Alischa says

    A little from column A a little from column B … I prefer to work alone however I do find a lot of my inspiration comes from being what I like to call a wall flower butterfly … I attempt the ‘social’ thing but stick to the sidelines and learn what I can from those who know better, or more often those who don’t learn from their own mistakes !!

  31. says

    Number 1 is definitely me. Loner extraordinaire. It took me a long time to come to terms with my introversion. For a while I tried to be the social butterfly, because everyone told me I should, but in the end I realized I could not be someone else. I am much happier now that I am being me (the loner) and have accepted who I am.

    Word of advice: don’t listen to people who tell you need to be something or someone else other than who you are – just be yourself.

  32. says

    That is very interesting. It provided me a number of ideas and I ll be writing them on my web site soon. I m bookmarking your site and I ll be back. Thanks again!


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