Freelancing vs Telecommuting – What’s the Difference?

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For over 3 years now, not a week has passed when at least one person asks me about what I do and how to do it. The most common question I get is to how to start freelancing and I get a blank face when I tell them that I am actually not a 100% freelancer. “Eh diba you are working from home?!” For a lot of them, freelance automatically equates to telecommute (a.k.a. working from home) and vice versa. This notion is incorrect, at least in my opinion. So to set things straight and to help you decide which one suits you more, I have outlined their differences below:


To put it simply, freelancing is having to work for people without any employment obligations. The terms are purely project-based and you are not bound by working hours.

You are a freelancer if:
– You dictate your fees upfront.
– You are allowed to work for several clients.
– You don’t have a fixed working hours.
– You send invoices to clients after the project is complete.

– Aside from the obvious ones already mentioned, being a freelancer allows you to earn more money that you can imagine.
– You can increase your rates once you become more skilled in what you do.
– You are technically your own boss and don’t need to answer to anyone.

– Your pay is not fixed which can be scary for most people.
– You have to constantly look for new clients who are willing to hire you for your services.

Some of the most successful people I know started as freelancers. It may be hard at first but once you get the groove on what you do, it can be the most rewarding career you’ll ever have. Check out this list on where to find high-paying clients.


Telecommuting, on the other hand is being employed or contracted by a company on a full-time basis but you are not required to be physically present in the office. It’s basically the same as an office job, minus the long commute and the need to wear business casual clothes.

You are a teleworker if:
– You are employed by a single company on a full-time capacity.
– The company is paying you on a fixed monthly pay regardless of the amount of work you do.
– If hired as an employee, you still get all the benefits such as HMO, paid leaves, etc.

– You have peace of mind knowing that each month you have a fixed salary to pay your bills.
– After your shift is done you are free to spend time with family and friends.

– You can’t attend to personal things if it clashes with your work schedule.
– Normal office policy still applies, filing of leaves, answering to your boss, etc.

Most companies who allow telecommuting are startups (although I’m seeing a rapid growth of corporations doing this as well). My experience working for a few tech startups have been wonderful and I don’t think I’ll ever consider going back to corporate. If you love the stability of an office job and just want to do your work at home (or at the beach!), then telecommuting might be the right one for you. Do note though that if you are used to the corporate setup, working for a startup may be a bit of a culture shock for you.

WHAT AM I? Because I have both career ambitions and financial obligations, I am currently a little bit of both — I have clients as a licensed financial advisor and at the same time I have a full-time telecommuting job as a digital marketer. So, the right term for me is actually a slasher (which is an entirely different topic). 🙂

So, do you want to be a freelancer or a teleworker? Let me know by hitting the comments below!


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