A freelancer can be a consultant, a virtual worker, an independent contractor or simply a remote worker. But due to the popularity of the term, he/she is mostly referred to as a Freelancer. Just because he/she is self-employed, not committed to a single employer for long-term, can refuse a job if his/her schedule is already occupied does not mean a freelancer is less professional or not committed to his/her assigned job. A freelancer is more professional when it comes to meeting deadlines and is highly committed to achieving the expected results because he/she will not get paid fully until the assigned job has been accomplished and approved by the employer. It is not the case with salaried employees who at times can take things for granted knowing that they would get paid anyway towards the end of every week or at the end of every month. It takes a greater professional to be a freelancer who is committed to offering the best services to his/her clients.
Few people get skeptical and have doubts, which reflect on their face when they hear the term “Freelancer.” Their facial expression speaks volumes about their impression of a freelancer. “Someone who is not reliable because he/she works from a distant or like few people put it, from an unknown location." While it is true, because a freelancer may choose to work remotely, but other beliefs about a freelancer are based on misconceptions and lack of knowledge about the freelancing community, which is just as professional as any other community of professionals. And more often it is not about reliability when it comes to hiring a freelancer; it is more about his/her availability. And if he/she is already occupied with an assignment consuming most of his/her time, and he she courteously turns down the offer from a prospective employer. The employer reactively assumes freelancers are not reliable! A typical case of jumping to conclusions.
But is this assumption valid? Not really, because the actual reason for the Freelancer to turn down the offer is mostly due to his/her unavailability. Most of the time he/she has other and existing commitments which he/she cannot afford to put at risk. Afterall professional commitment in freelancing is what attracts the clients to a particular freelancer again, and yet again. And sometimes freelancers end up working for few good clients for a lifetime.
But for few, an employee at the office, in his/her cubicle, although he/she will be doing the same thing year after year, is still more reliable because he/she is physically present there, right in front of them, even if he/she is doing nothing at times. But with freelancers, a thing like “nothing” does not exist because a freelancer is hired and paid for his/her time. And doing nothing will translate into being paid nothing. Freelancing is as professional as doing a regular job. Just that at times you do not get to see the freelancer physically does not mean he she is unreliable. Most of the freelancing jobs are governed by watertight contracts and NDAs, thereby making the reliability factor higher in case of a freelancer. But this may not be the case with the regular employee, who can serve his/her resignation and notice period in the middle of the project as well, a freelancer does not have this liberty because we believe in completing what we have started or undertaken as a professional responsibility.
If you still think, term “Freelancer” invokes a sense of unreliability, think again. You definitely are not right with your assumption. It always takes two to tango. As a professional and genuine project owner, you will certainly find a professional and reliable freelancer who will ensure that the project deadlines are met at all costs without any deviation from the proposed and mutually agreed upon terms and conditions. Which as a project owner should be your foremost priority prior to proceeding with the hiring contract, and same applies for a freelancer who needs to ensure that the terms and conditions stipulated in the hiring contract are not favoring just a single party and are plausible when it comes to milestones and other relevant metrics. Freelancing is a serious business and the freelancer is contractually and professionally obliged to fulfill all aspects outlined in the contract, whereas the party hiring the freelancers is also morally and professionally bound to ensure that the freelancer is paid on time and his/her project related queries are addressed on priority. Moreover, a freelancer is easy to work with, unlike a regular office set up where one has to go through a chain of hierarchical procedures in order to get a single task done or re-assign a resource on other critical aspects of the project. With the freelancer, it is just a single call or an email that will serve the purpose.
For everything else on freelancing and freelancers reliability, refer to this quote by Albert Camus "The only really committed artist is he who, without refusing to take part in the combat, at least refuses to join the regular armies and remains a freelance."
PS. This blog post was inspired by a casual conversation I had with one of my friends, who felt, "term freelancer or freelancing" sounded a bit unreliable. I hope it sounds more reliable now!