Freelancer vs. Virtual Assistant: What is the Difference?

In today’s digital age, it has become increasingly common for businesses, tiny ones, to seek cost-effective ways of working remotely while still driving growth. One of the most popular solutions is to hire a virtual assistant or a freelancer. Both offer a range of skills and services. However, the question is: how do you know which one is right for your business? This article will explore the differences between freelancers and virtual assistants, including their types, talent, and onboarding.

What is a freelancer?

Freelancers are self-employed professionals who offer their services to clients on a project-by-project basis. Also, freelancers are typically hired for graphic design, copywriting, programming, or web development tasks. Freelancers work remotely, and their talent can be sourced from anywhere worldwide, allowing businesses to tap into a global talent pool.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) is a self-employed professional who offers remote administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients. Such a person provides many services, covering email management, scheduling, social media management, and customer support. VAs are often hired to handle administrative tasks that free up a business owner’s time, allowing the owner to focus on growth and upscaling their business.

Hire a virtual assistant or a freelancer?

Deciding whether to hire a virtual assistant or a freelancer will depend on the work that must be done. Freelancers are typically employed for specific projects that require specialized skills, such as designing a logo or building a website. On the other hand, virtual assistants are hired to provide ongoing support, such as managing emails and scheduling appointments.

Cost-effective solutions

Hiring a freelancer or a virtual assistant can be a cost-effective solution for small businesses. Freelancers charge either hourly or per project. Virtual assistants charge either hourly or they ask monthly retainer fees, allowing companies to budget more effectively. As hiring a full-time employee increases, outsourcing work to a freelancer or a virtual assistant can help small businesses cut costs without sacrificing quality.


The onboarding process for a freelancer and a virtual assistant can differ significantly. Freelancers often work independently and require little guidance, whereas virtual assistants need more onboarding as they are providing ongoing support. This can include providing access to company systems, setting up email accounts, and outlining tasks that require completion. Businesses should take the time to onboard a virtual assistant correctly, thus gaining the support they need to grow and scale.

Tasks and time

Another critical difference between freelancers and virtual assistants is their tasks and the required time. Freelancers are typically hired for short-term projects that demand specialized skills. However, virtual assistants provide ongoing support that requires less technical skills but more time. For example, a freelancer may design a website, while a virtual assistant may be employed to manage email and social media accounts.

Different types of freelancers and virtual assistants

There are many different types of freelancers and virtual assistants, each with their own unique skill sets. Freelancers can be classified into various types, such as graphic designers, web developers, and writers. Similarly, virtual assistants can be classified into administrative assistants, social media managers, and customer support agents. Depending on the business’s needs, a freelancer or a virtual assistant can be hired to provide a specific type of service.

Talent and skills

One of the main advantages of hiring a freelancer or a virtual assistant is access to a global talent pool. With the rise of remote work, businesses can now source talent from anywhere globally. Freelancers and virtual assistants have the skills and expertise to provide high-quality work.

Global Talent

The ability to source talent from anywhere worldwide has opened up new possibilities for small businesses. In hiring a freelancer or a virtual assistant, companies can access talent that they may not have been able to find locally. This can be particularly useful for companies that require specialized skills or expertise that may not be available in their area.

Growth and scaling

As businesses grow and scale, they often require additional support. Hiring a virtual assistant can help free up a business owner’s time, allowing them to focus on developing and scaling their business. As the company grows, additional freelancers can be hired to provide specialized skills and expertise, allowing the business to continue to rise without hiring full-time employees.

Geographical differences

While freelancers and virtual assistants can be sourced from anywhere in the world, there may be differences in how they work, depending on their location. For example, freelancers and virtual assistants based in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia may have different rates and work hours compared with those in other parts of the world. Businesses must take these differences into account when hiring freelancers or virtual assistants.

In conclusion: Freelancer vs. virtual assistant

Whether to hire a freelancer or a virtual assistant depends on the work that must be done. Freelancers are typically employed for short-term projects that require specialized skills. Conversely, virtual assistants provide ongoing support that requires less technical skills but more time. Both options offer cost-effective solutions for small businesses looking to grow and scale. The differences between a freelancer and a virtual assistant should be understood, allowing companies to make the right choice for their specific needs. 

Freelancer Vs. Virtual Assistant


Freelancers are self-employed professionals who offer their services on a project-by-project basis. They can work for various clients, and they often have specialized skills in a particular area. Virtual assistants (VAs) are also self-employed, but they typically provide administrative, technical, or creative support to clients continuously.

Freelancers can offer several benefits, including:

  • Expertise: Freelancers often have specialized skills and experience that can be difficult to find in-house.
  • Flexibility: Freelancers can be hired on a project-by-project basis, which can be more affordable and flexible than hiring a full-time employee.
  • Scalability: As your business grows, you can quickly scale up or down your freelance workforce.

VAs can also offer several benefits, including:

  • Administrative support: VAs can help with various administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, managing email, and creating presentations.
  • Technical support: VAs can also provide technical support, such as managing your website or social media accounts.
  • Creative support: VAs can also provide creative support, such as writing blog posts, designing graphics, or editing videos.

Once you have hired a freelancer or VA, it is essential to set clear expectations and provide them with regular feedback. You should also communicate with them regularly and update them on your needs.

The future of freelancing and virtual assistance is bright. As more and more businesses move to a remote or hybrid work model, the demand for freelancers and VAs is expected to grow.

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