How Can You Become a Freelance Data Scientist?

An in-depth guide covering everything from defining a niche to finding clients

Zak Kann
9 min readNov 10, 2020


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Why Should You Freelance?

Freelancing is becoming more and more popular. According to Upwork’s 2019 Freelancing in America Survey, 35% of the US workforce freelances at least part-time. And it’s not just part-timers either. The full-time freelancing crowd has increased from 17% in 2014 to 28% in 2019. Freelance data scientists are only a small part of this crowd, but they are also a growing trend.

But popularity is hardly a good reason to change your working style. Here are some better ones:

  • Make some supplemental income — When you are salaried, a 40-hour workweek and a 50-hour workweek generally pay the same. If there is an advantage to your career in working those extra 10 hours for your company, go for it. Otherwise, 10 hours of freelancing is a good way to rake in potentially thousands of extra dollars a week.
  • Temporary support during a job transition — Nobody wants a gap in their resume. More importantly, nobody wants a gap in their bank account. Freelancing is a good way to pad both of those during a transition. Just keep in mind that the freelance gigs may not come in immediately, so it helps to start reaching out to potential clients in advance of when you need them.
  • Build a career change portfolio — Employers are all about managing risk in the hiring process. Hiring someone for a full-time job is inherently riskier than hiring someone for a 2-week freelance project. Once you’ve proven yourself in the field, you can always go for the full-time gig if you still want to.
  • Dip your toes into entrepreneurship — Are you not sure whether you want to venture out on your own? Freelancing is a great way to try out entrepreneurship in a quicker and less involved way than most other methods. You’ll also be racking up connections and industry understanding that will benefit in any future business ventures.
  • Just become a full-time freelancer — I love being a freelancer. I wasn’t sure that I would, but it’s been the best experience of my life. Is that just Stockholm Syndrome? Hopefully not, but I’ll let you know.



Zak Kann

Business and technology writer • Let me give you a role in your customer’s story •