Contractor Guides

The differences between freelancers and contractors

Categorising yourself correctly can help you in many ways, from appearing in the search engines for relevant search terms to…

Author Photo by Kingsbridge

Categorising yourself correctly can help you in many ways, from appearing in the search engines for relevant search terms to tagging your skills on job platforms. In order to do so, however, you need to understand the differences between a freelancer and a contractor. We’ve decided to explore a few below (along with a few pros and cons for each to help you decide!)

What is a freelancer?

A freelancer is someone who is self-employed, usually as a sole trader, and can work with multiple clients at one time, with some clients on monthly retainers and some offering ad-hoc work at an hourly rate.

Freelancers will usually work from their own office, or from their own home. And they usually work within the creative industries. Services often include copywriting, content creation, web design, proofreading, social media and other media-based work.


  • Flexible hours – you choose when you work and who you work with
  • There’s no limit to how much money you can make
  • You get to work with a variety of clients across a plethora of industries
  • No two days are the same


  • There can be an irregular income
  • You have to source new clients
  • You don’t get paid for time off or sickness
  • You’re not part of a team

What is a contractor?

A contractor typically works on contract work (hence the title!) Contractors usually work from the client’s premise. A contractor would normally join a team in-house to work the duration of their contract, whether it be for one month or several. Contractors work across a wide range of industries from energy, oil and gas to banking and finance and IT and technology.

For example, a client might require a site migration, or an entirely new IT infrastructure set up at their office site. Whatever the project, it is usually completed with at least some face-to-face/office work. The main difference between the two jobs is that the contractor is usually only working with one client at a time.


  • You get to work on a variety of exciting projects
  • You often get to work as part of the a broader team
  • You still have a degree of flexibility
  • You choose who you work with and who you don’t


  • After one project finishes, the pressure is on to secure your next
  • Your client might decide not to go ahead with the project
  • You can have peaks and troughs of income

Regardless of which category you fall into you need to ensure potential legal costs are covered. Whether you work from the client’s premises, or they come and visit your premises, or you give them professional advice as part of your service, you need to make sure you’re adequately covered.

Read all about our insurance package here.

If you’re looking for more information about contractor insurance, check out our knowledge hub. We have a number of in-depth guides, from the claims process to the ultimate contractor insurance handbook. Explore more here.

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