A Look at the Difference Between Freelancers and Interns

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There are a few different employment categories to sort through as you enter the world of freelancing, and sometimes, the lines between them can become blurred. An employer or client may post a job ad calling for a freelance intern, for example. You should always evaluate each job on its own merits and characteristics, but in general, you can expect the following factors to apply to freelancing gigs and internships.

Employers and Clients

The primary difference between freelancers and interns is the employment structure. Freelancers are sole proprietors of their own writing business. Officially, freelancers work for themselves. Unofficially, since freelancers still have to please their clients and meet work expectations, it could be said that freelancers work for their clients. On the other hand, interns always work for their employers. Even if the internship is unpaid, an intern works for the company. Legally, an intern is usually classified as an employee. Some may be classified as independent contractors or, if the internship is unpaid, volunteers.


Freelance gigs are always paid (or, at least, they should be). Before accepting a new gig, a freelancer must establish the details of payment with the client, including how much they’ll get paid, when they’ll get paid, and how they’ll get paid. Freelancers may get paid in a variety of different ways, including PayPal, Stripe, and check. Some freelancers may get paid via direct deposit if they have developed a long-term and ongoing working relationship with a client. In contrast, internships may be paid or unpaid. Paid interns typically earn a low, entry-level wage, and they usually get paid via paycheck or direct deposit. Unpaid interns receive non-monetary compensation, typically in the form of university credits and/or work experience and professional references.


It’s typical for a freelancer to have multiple clients. Although freelancers can set their own hours and work schedule, they must still abide by the deadlines of the project. Occasionally, a freelancer may receive so much work from one client that the freelancer will complete 40 hours’ worth of work each week on an ongoing basis for that client. However, within that week, the freelancer can still direct how those hours are structured or scheduled. Interns, like regular employees, follow a schedule established by their employer. It may be part-time or full-time. Internships are always considered temporary. However, at the end of the internship, the company may extend an offer of regular employment.


The workplace is another major difference between freelancers and interns. Freelancers nearly always work in their own home office or co-working space. Sometimes, freelancers are asked to visit the physical workplace of a company to attend meetings or perform work. In contrast, interns nearly always work at the company office. It’s uncommon to come across an internship that can be completed remotely, but it does happen now and then.

You can find your next freelancing gig or internship on the Writers Work job boards. We comb the Web every day to bring you a curated list of opportunities for beginners and veteran writers alike. Jumpstart your writing career by joining the Writers Work community today!

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