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What is the difference between an independent contractor, freelancer, and consultant?

For the most part, I think these terms are interchangeable when describing someone who works for themselves. They can be hired for their expertise. But each industry is different, and sometimes companies within the same industry will use different terms. 

Indeed provides great descriptions of each:

√ “A freelance worker is a self-employed worker who provides products and services to multiple organizations. These professionals can work for as many clients and take on as many projects as their schedule allows. As a freelancer, you can set your own rates, process tax payments independently and choose where to work. Examples of freelance workers include journalists, copywriters, graphic designers and web programmers.”

√ “An independent contractor is a temporary employee who may work for many clients at once. These specialists usually take on larger projects for longer-term clients. As a contractor, you might work on-site in a client’s office or in your own workspace, and you may accept clients through an agency,” like Connext. Doctors, dentists and lawyers are examples of independent contractors—as are many companies that hire marketing and communications professionals. 

√ And a consultant by definition is a person who gives professional advice or services so it can also be used if you’re working for yourself. Traditional consulting firms like McKinsey & Co. and Deloitte are known for large, enterprise-level strategic programs that are extremely expensive, so some feel the use of the term consultant may also imply a high bill rate.