What Type of Freelancer Are You?

There are many different reasons that individuals go into freelancing. I’m sure that every freelancer reading this blog has their own reason for starting a freelance business. If you’re reading this blog hoping to get some tips about freelancing, I’m sure that you have certain expectations that are causing you to look into freelancing.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that there tend to be a handful of common reasons that draw individuals into freelancing. The reason that drew you into freelancing is likely to determine what type of freelance business you own, how you run that business, and what type of freelancer you become.

In fact, I’ve narrowed the list down to four types of freelancers, based on motivation. Of course, any time we print like this it is generalization. Some readers will find that the list fits them to a “t,” others of you will see aspects of yourself in each description. Still, I think that we can learn from such generalizations–a bit of self-examination never hurts.


Four Types of Freelancers

We’ve looked at freelancer types before, but that time the categories had more to do with personality type. This time, I used the freelancer’s motivating force to broadly categorize types of freelancers in a lighthearted way.

The four types of freelancers, based on what drives us, are:

  1. The idealist–The idealist wants to improve the world through freelancing. He, or she, sees freelancing as an opportunity to get involved with businesses and movements that will make a difference in the world. This freelancer is less interested in fame and fortune than they are in a particular cause (or causes). The one weakness that this freelancer may have to overcome is that they are sometimes taken advantage of.
  2. The balancer–The balancer became a freelancer because they were seeking an equilibrium between their personal and work lives. While balancers consider themselves to be career professionals, they do not want to give up personal time to achieve success. Many balancers are parents with children or have other family commitments. A struggle that the balancer always has to face is that of effective time management, since time is the key to the balance they seek.
  3. The empire builder–The empire builder starts their business as a freelancer, but hopes to move beyond freelancing to something bigger and better as soon as possible. He or she may be motivated by money, or they may be motivated by power. There are a lot of blogs and freelancing literature dedicated to this type of freelancer, and if he or she is not careful, they will find themselves following unsound advice.
  4. The dabbler–The dabbler is usually a part-time freelancer. He or she may be hoping to supplement their regular income through freelancing, or they may be exploring freelancing on a part-time basis before making a full commitment to it. Some dabblers stay with freelancing for years, while others try freelancing for a short time and move on. Dabblers can face resistance from potential clients who may be afraid that the dabbling freelancer is not committed to their project.

Now that we’ve listed the four types of freelancers by driving force, we’ll discuss why it’s important to know what type you are.

Why It’s Important

So, why does your driving force matter?

Actually, it should matter a lot. It should matter when you develop your business plan, when you accept a new client, and when you decide what type of services to offer.

A freelancer who is seeking life balance won’t really be satisfied freelancing long-term for a client who needs him or her to work around the clock, even if that client is offering high pay and lots of exposure for the freelancer’s business. Likewise, the freelancer who is seeking to make the world a better place won’t want to spend of lot of time with a corporate client whose business is mostly commercial.

Once you’ve determined what makes you tick as a freelancer, you can begin to develop the freelancing business that you’ve always dreamed. Start by building a business plan that really meets your needs. Next, target the clients that best suit you. Finally, decide what services you fit into your business plan and meet the needs of your ideal clients.

It’s also a good idea to keep a reminder somewhere handy of what it is that drives you. For an idealist, this reminder might be a quote. For a balance-seeker, the reminder might be a photo of their friends or family.

Which Type of Freelancer Are You?

Personally, I fit the balance-seeker profile with a very small touch of the idealist. I left a successful corporate career to become a freelancer because I wanted more time with my family, and I haven’t looked back.

What type of freelancer are you? Can you think of any additional forces that drive freelancers?

Leave your answers in the comments.