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What is Freelancing and Why Do People Do It?

Siti Hasanah
By Siti Hasanah

Last update on December 11, 2023 · 2 min read


As the world becomes increasingly connected, more and more people are turning to freelance as a way to work remotely and independently. It’s also a trend that has been gaining more strength in Asia, with a growing number of people discovering the freedom and flexibility that comes with freelancing.

What exactly is freelancing?

Freelancing is a type of work arrangement where individuals work on a project basis for multiple clients rather than being hired full-time by a single employer. Freelancers can work from anywhere, whether it's their home office or a nearby coffee shop.

Despite the attention freelancing has been getting in recent years, it has a long history dating back to the early 1800s. The phrase "freelance" was originally reported in Thomas N. Brown's 1809 book, The Lives and Times of Hugh Miller, and was later cited in Sir Walter Scott's 1819 work, Ivanhoe, published in 1820. Both novels referred to their knights as "free lances," a term that described knights and mercenaries who were without a permanent “lord” (AKA employer). The modern-day concept of freelancing as a career only began to gain popularity in the 1990s with the rise of the internet and digital technology.

Fast forward to where we are now, freelancing is a common career choice for professionals in various industries, including writing, engineering, programming, and marketing. Many freelancers enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with working for themselves, setting their schedules, and choosing their projects.

Some of the most popular freelancing fields in Asia include:

  • Web development and design
  • Graphic design and illustration
  • Content writing and copywriting
  • Translation and interpretation
  • Consultancy

Why Freelance?


One of the most significant benefits of freelancing is the flexibility it offers. You can choose when you work, how you work, where you work, and whom you work for. This level of autonomy is rare in traditional office jobs, making freelancing an attractive option for those who value independence and flexibility.

1. Increased Earning Potential

You have the opportunity to make more as a freelancer than you would in a regular office job. With no upper limit on your earnings, the more you work, the more you can make. You have the freedom to charge whatever you believe your time and abilities are worth as a freelancer.

2. Work-Life Balance

Freelancing comes along with flexible working hours. This allows you to achieve a better work-life balance. This can be especially beneficial for those who have caregiving responsibilities or people who want to spend more time with family and friends.

3. Pursue Your Passions

Freelancing gives you the freedom to pursue your interests. If you have particular expertise or talent, you can turn it into a freelance profession. You have the option of working on initiatives that excite and inspire you, making your job more pleasurable and satisfying.

4. Diversity of Work

Freelancing offers a wide variety of career alternatives. You can work for a variety of clients in various industries, giving you a larger breadth of expertise and skills. This variety also minimises the likelihood of becoming bored or stagnant at work.

Nonetheless, there are two sides to every coin - While there are numerous advantages to working as a freelancer, it is critical to think about the drawbacks before deciding to pursue freelancing full-time. Here are some of the cons of freelancing:

  • Lack of Job Security As a freelancer, you are not guaranteed a steady stream of work or income. This means that there may be periods where you have a lot of work and income, but there may also be periods where you have little to no work or income. This can be stressful and unpredictable, especially if you rely solely on freelancing for your income.
  • Lack of Structure To manage their time and achieve deadlines, freelancers must be self-motivated and disciplined. For some who thrive in a more structured work environment, this lack of structure might be challenging.

As the freelance economy continues to grow, we should expect to see increasingly more opportunities for freelancers in Asia and around the world. Whether you want more flexibility and independence in your job or want to start your own business, freelancing is a trend worth keeping an eye on.

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