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Freelancing and contract work are two different types of work arrangements, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. With both types, you can expect to get a variety of perks and benefits, such as increased autonomy and flexibility. However, work that falls into these categories also comes with a few downsides, such as inconsistent income and limited work variety. View available contract jobs in South Africa on Job Mail and start applying today. Want to go at it on your own instead? Click/tap here to view freelance jobs.

Today we'll explore the pros and cons of freelance and contract work and provide some tips for finding and securing these opportunities.

Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash.jpg Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash

What does freelancing and contract work actually mean?

Freelancing and contract work both refer to work arrangements where an individual provides services to a client or company on a project-by-project or temporary basis, rather than being an employee on a full-time or part-time basis.

Freelancing typically involves an individual working independently and offering their services to multiple clients, often in a specific field or niche, such as writing, graphic design, programming, or consulting. Freelancers are typically responsible for managing their own time, finding clients, setting their rates, and delivering their work to their clients.

Contract work, on the other hand, typically involves an individual working for a company or organisation on a specific project or for a set period of time. Unlike freelancing, contract work is usually more formalised and may involve signing a contract or agreement with the company outlining the terms and conditions of the work. Contract workers may work on-site at the company or remotely and may be paid a fixed fee or an hourly rate.

Both freelancing and contract work offer individuals the flexibility to work on their own terms and pursue multiple projects or opportunities, but they also require individuals to be self-motivated, self-disciplined, and able to manage their own finances and taxes.

Here are some pros and cons of each type of work arrangement:



  • With a variety of options and flexibility, being a freelance contractor allows you to work wherever and whenever you want.
  • Being a freelancer allows individuals to expand their skills by working with multiple clients and working on a wide range of projects.
  • With the power to set their own rates, freelancers can make their own decisions regarding how much they earn each month.
  • Unlike traditional businesses, which have an income ceiling, freelancers have no limit as their earnings depend on how many projects are completed and their charges.


  • Freelancers don't have a steady income as their work is project-based.
  • Freelancers are responsible for paying their own taxes.
  • Freelancers are not eligible for employee benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.
  • Freelancers must continually search for new clients to maintain a steady stream of work.

Contract work


  • Workers who are on a contract have a stable income throughout the duration of their employment.
  • Some contract workers may be entitled to various benefits, such as retirement and health insurance contributions.
  • If a contract worker performs well, they may be able to transition to a permanent position, which provides job security.
  • Being on a contract allows the worker to work for the company without having to look for new clients.


  • Contract workers have less flexibility, which means you will not have as much control over your working hours and tasks.
  • As a contract worker, your income potential is limited and you most likely won’t be able to negotiate your salary.
  • A limited variety of work is typically the case for contract workers. You are typically assigned to a certain role or project, and you might not have the opportunity to work across multiple projects.

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash.jpg Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Tips for finding and securing these opportunities

To secure freelance or contract work opportunities, it's essential to network, build a portfolio, and promote yourself. Here are ways to get started:

1. Build a portfolio

Develop a portfolio that showcases your skills and experience in your chosen field. Include samples of your work and testimonials from satisfied clients.

2. Create a website

Create a website that highlights your skills, services, and rates. This website will serve as a platform through which potential clients can find you.

3. Network

Attend industry events, join online groups, and engage with other professionals in your field. Networking can lead to referrals and job opportunities.

4. Market yourself

Use social media, email marketing, and other channels to promote your services and attract clients.

5. Utilise job boards

Freelance job boards, such as Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer .com can connect you with potential clients seeking freelance work.

6. Reach out to companies

Contact companies directly and offer your services. This can be a way to secure contract or freelance work opportunities.

Ultimately, the decision between freelancing and contract work depends on your individual preferences and goals. By weighing the pros and cons and utilising the above techniques to secure opportunities, you can find the work arrangement that's right for you. Start searching for contract jobs in South Africa on Job Mail and apply today.

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