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Freelance & consultant: you can be both! But, is it for you?

Life is full of choices, and consulting is too. Starting by, how would you like to carry out your job: for you or for others? Choosing can be difficult, but we would like to show you what your working life would look like in each of those scenarios. Are you up for it?

Image by © Tim Gouw via Unsplash

 min read
Freelance & consultant: you can be both! But, is it for you?

"I want to be a consultant!"

Maybe that sentence has crossed your mind and maybe, you have listened. If you came to that conclusion, you already know what being a consultant implies and if it is for you or not. Making that decision is just the first one of a long list, however, the most important should be about the business structure you want to belong to: freelance? Employee? Independent contractor?

There are many words to define workers in this field and the differences, even if sometimes blurry, are there. Our goal today is to help you find the best answer for you, knowing that you can try to get the best of both worlds as… a freelance consultant! Not everyone fits in every model, so the best for you would be to find the one that satisfies your needs and in which you can perform comfortably.

What are your options?

While wondering how to start your path as a consultant, the main question will rely on working for others or for yourself. As a consultant, the main matter and the one that will define your challenges and opportunities is whether you are a freelance consultant or an employee consultant, but to understand better, let’s see what each of them means.

  • Employee consultant: as employees, these consultants are tied by a contract like any other employee, subject to the missions given by the employing company and profiting from the benefits being an employee has.
  • Freelance consultant: a freelance worker is an independent worker who can provide services to several clients at the same that and who establishes their own rates and conditions.

Sometimes the term independent contractor is used interdependently with the word freelance, but in fact, there are some subtle differences. An independent contractor can be hired for a project with a determined end date (as a freelance) while having to work exclusively on that project and for that employer for that period (as an employee). This type of figure is not present in every country, so you should consider how it works in the country you intend to start your professional activity.

All these positions have in common that they are occupied by professionals who bring their expert knowledge to people who require those services. The difference is the conditions surrounding how these services are provided.


Your life as an employee consultant

Employee consultants are consultants in any field who work exclusively for a consulting firm. They are specialists who offer their advice in their field of expertise for accompanying or guiding a transformation, enhancement, or implementation for the consultancy’s customers.

1. Your profile

You are an expert that looks for a comfortable place from where to develop yourself. Maybe you want to gain more work experience before moving into freelance consulting, or maybe you prefer to be employed by someone else who takes care of everything that surrounds what matters to you: the client’s needs.

You are adaptable and focused on the job, and above all, you enjoy knowing that will be given a roadmap to follow concerning your relationship with the customer and that you are backed by an institution that cares about you and the part of the job that you are not that interested in. You want to advise them and help them on their transition journey but will not really be comfortable looking for said client, promoting yourself and your services, budgeting, invoicing, and doing the taxes. Most likely, you are not interested in having a business of your own, or at least not yet, so this position seems ideal for you.

2. Your working conditions

Employees are obligated to follow the employer’s rules concerning schedules and working conditions. Still, they will not have to worry about paying their taxes monthly nor other legal obligations that the company will take care of.

The working location will be specified by the company, together with the remote work policy. Working for a firm will usually mean that you will have to spend time at the office, which will give you the chance to work alongside your colleagues and have a more fixed routine than if you were freelance.

In a company, you will be given your missions and projects, taking away the hassle of looking for them, but, on the other hand, will force you to work on all the projects assigned to you, whether you like them or not. Also, being an employee means exclusivity, both because of contractual and ethical reasons.

Corporate will provide you with trainings and health insurance, along with taking care of taxes, paperwork and legal responsibility for your actions, which is a weight off your shoulders.

3. Your salary

Employee consultants receive a fixed salary each month that does not depend on their performance. It can increase with bonuses due to performance, but it will never decrease.

You will have a stable income coming in at approximately the same time each month. Also, this salary will be entirely for you, without the need to allocate part of it for paying fees, taxes or any other job-related expenses.


Your life as a freelance consultant

Freelance consultants are also experts in their field but, instead of being employed by a business, they are self-employed. They declare themselves as independent professionals, which comes with some obligations as well as some freedom in several areas.

1. Your profile

Regardless of being a consultant or any other kind of freelancer, you will need a similar set of skills, besides being an expert in your field.

Let’s address first what being an expert means. Commonly, experts are curious people who are up-to-date in their field and enjoy going deeper into it. It is not only their interest that makes them experts but their actual time spent in the field, which allows them to offer guidance and advice to clients.

However, as we mentioned before, being an expert is not enough when you decide to go freelance. Freelance is a synonym for being your own boss, which means taking care of all the important (and less important) decisions in your “company”. Organisation will be essential, as well as being able to handle some uncertainty and a dynamic work environment. Prepare to be your own marketing team, finance team, sales team and everything else! This workload is additional, and you are not in charge of any of it when you are an employee, but also, you do not have the amazing opportunity of having full control over your business, who you work with or how you promote yourself.

You need to have good planning skills, patience, be versatile and curious and also, when things go slowly, be resilient.

Freelancers need to somewhat enjoy this ever-changing environment with different projects, different specifications and different tasks but, in fact, this part is not as different as what an employee consultant might live. The only difference is that the freelancer consultant will probably have more room to negotiate freely and handle the project.

2. Your working conditions

Being freelance means establishing your own working conditions while taking care of legal and financial matters too.

You can choose to work remotely or from wherever you choose, even another country, as long as you can continue providing your service. You can distribute your workload as you please during the week and go on holidays with more freedom than when you are an employee at a firm.

As a freelancer, you will probably work alone most of the time, which might be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on your personality, but no matter which one it is, it will be an aspect to take into consideration. You can always resort to coworking spaces or meet-ups with people who work in your field.

You will have to look for your clients, which will mean networking and being active, online and offline, to market yourself and your services. If you need help, this part can get easier using freelancer platforms or, if you trust an intermediate, they can help you find those opportunities, making your job easier. For example, at Ekkiden, we count on our trustworthy freelancers when we have projects that fit their profile. Consulting companies also need freelancer consultants to help them meet a need from a customer, as they do not always have the required expertise. You may need to have different sources so you can work with several at the same time, without exclusivity being necessary.

The fact of being an independent provider means exactly that, being independent. Part of your responsibilities will be to keep on learning on your own, looking for health insurance, doing your taxes and paperwork as well as being legally responsible for your actions. When we address all these responsibilities at once, it can seem daunting but at the same time, it gives you an overview of what running a business looks like. The confidence, satisfaction and experience it brings cannot be equally achieved by being an employee consultant.

3. Your salary

As a freelance consultant, your salary will depend on your fees, which you will be able to set as you wish in your contract. It is recommended to scan the market and see what the usual rates are and then, calculate how much you’d want to earn annually to adjust your rate. You can set your rate per hour, per day or per project, depending on what you see fit and adapts better to your activity and kind of projects.

Your remuneration will forcefully be higher than that of an employee for covering all the expenses that corporate will not be covering for you (health insurance, taxes, equipment, paid leave, sick pay…). They tend to be higher too because you can calculate the added value that you bring and charge according to it. You will also need to know that payments do not always come immediately, as it is usual to give a payment window that you can set. It should be similar to the ones other professionals offer in the field.

Your income will vary monthly, depending on the amount of work you do, which will mean that some will exceed your expectations and others might flop. This is why a global perspective is needed to maintain stability and have a realistic overview of global performance.


So, what are the differences?


Employee consultant

Freelance consultant


Provided by your employer. No need to look for them.

You cannot reject working on a project or with a client, as it is your employer who negotiates the collaboration conditions.

You need to find them through networking and promoting yourself and your expertise.

You can choose clients and projects for them to adapt to your preferences.

Education and experience

Expert in your field, either because of your studies, your experience, or your certifications.

Some choose to gain experience working in the field as an employee before transitioning to an independent approach.

Expert in your field, either because of your studies, your experience, or your certifications.

There is not necessarily a difference between these two profiles’ education or experience.

Employee perks

Granted perks: paid leave, insurance, healthcare, trainings…

Granted by you…to you. You will be in charge of your own training, your insurance, your healthcare, and you will not have anyone paying you when you are ill or on holiday.


You will work exclusively for your company.

You can work with an array of clients, consecutively, at the same time or however you see fit.


The company will establish the schedule and delimit its flexibility.

You will only follow the schedule that you create for yourself as long as you fulfil your tasks.


You will carry out the mission demanded by the job. The tasks concerning other departments are out of your jurisdiction.

You will be every department in your own business: HR, marketing, sales, legal, finance… You will carry out the consulting tasks but will as well, network, budget, invoice…

Remote work

The possibility of remote work will be defined and limited by management.

You will decide where to work and when to do so. You can even work from a different country to that in which you are providing the service. Your sole limitation will be your client’s needs.


You can negotiate your salary, but it will be a fixed amount every month, plus possible bonuses granted depending on their policies.

You will receive it regularly every month.

You will set your rate per hour/day/project, evaluating the added value you bring to the project and your decided annual salary.

You will be paid according to the payment window you agreed on in your contract, and each month will depend on the volume of activity.

Taxes and legal responsibility

The firm employing you will take care of your paperwork and general taxes. In addition, they will take legal responsibility for your actions while representing them.

You are in charge of your taxes, your invoices and your budget. Likewise, you will be legally responsible for your actions.

Work environment

It is highly probable that you have to work at an office, if not every day, a fixed number of days per week where you can socialise and build connections.

You will work mostly alone, which again, can be a pro or a con depending on your personal preference. 


Employee consultant

Freelance consultant



Before choosing any of the options, you should know what you like your daily routine would look like and what motivates you. For choosing between these two options, you will need to rely on your personality and your skills. You might want a more traditional consulting style or one that steps out of the ordinary. Whatever your choice is, we hope this article helped you understand better both sides of the coin and take your first steps as a consultant.

At Ekkiden, we work with consultants who are integrated into our team, as well as with freelance consultants who help us cover our clients' needs. If you are interested in grasping what working with us means or want to know about our current openings, we invite you to visit our website and discover Ekkiden.