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Freelancer

A freelancer, freelance worker, or freelance is somebody who is self-employed and is not committed to a particular employer long term. These workers are often represented by a company or an agency that resells their labor and that of others to its clients with or without project management and labor contributed by its regular employees. Others are completely independent. “Independent contractor” would be the term used in a higher register of English.

Fields where freelancing is common include; music, journalism, publishing, screenwriting, filmmaking, acting, photojournalism, cosmetics, fragrances, editing, event planning, event management, copy editing, proofreading, indexing, copywriting, computer programming, web design, graphic design, website development, consulting, tour guiding, video editing, video production and translating.

Freelance practice varies greatly. Some require clients to sign written contracts, while others may perform work based on verbal agreements, perhaps enforceable through the very nature of the work. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients.

Payment for freelance work also varies greatly. Freelancers may charge by the day, hour, a piece rate, or on a per-project basis. Instead of a flat rate or fee, some freelancers have adopted a value-based pricing method based on the perceived value of the results to the client. By custom, payment arrangements may be upfront, percentage upfront, or upon completion. For more complex projects, a contract may set a payment schedule based on milestones or outcomes.

In writing and other artistic fields, “freelance” and its derivative terms are often reserved for workers who create works on their own initiative, then look for someone to publish them. They typically keep the copyright to their works and sell the rights to publishers in time-limited contracts. In contrast, intellectual property created under a work for hire situation according to the publishers’ or other customers’ specifications are referred to as “independent contractors” and similar terms. They have no copyright to the works, which are written as works made for hire, a category of intellectual property defined in US copyright law — Section 101, Copyright Act of 1976 (17 USC §101). This is the opposite of the situation with a regular employee, the relationship between a freelancer and an employer being that between two business equals, the protections of the intellectual property rights that naturally vest in the creator of the work are considered to have been sold in toto in the work for hire agreement.
Etymology


The term was first used by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) in Ivanhoe (1820) to describe a “medieval mercenary warrior” or “free-lance” (indicating that the lance is not sworn to any lord’s services, not that the lance is available free of charge).[1] It changed to a figurative noun around the 1860s and was recognized as a verb in 1903 by authorities in etymology such as the Oxford English Dictionary. Only in modern times has the term morphed from a noun (a freelance) into an adjective (a freelance journalist), a verb (a journalist who freelances) and an adverb (she worked freelance), as well as into the noun “freelancer”.
Current marketplace


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2005 approximately 10.3 million workers in the US (7.4% of the US workforce) were independent contractors.
Benefits


Freelancers generally enjoy a greater variety of assignments than in regular employment, and—subject to the need to earn a regular income—usually have more freedom to choose their work schedule.[citation needed] The experience can also lead to a broad portfolio of work and the establishment of a network of clients.

Sometimes a freelancer will work with one or more other freelancers and/or vendors to form a “virtual agency” to serve a particular client’s needs for short-term and permanent project work. This versatile agency model can help a freelancer land jobs that require targeted, specific experience and skills outside the scope of one individual. As the clients change, so too may the players chosen for a virtual agency’s talent base. This is a common way for freelancers to get work if the non-competing freelancer in the relationship reciprocates the relevant type of work back assuming that both are in the same industry.[citation needed]

Freelancers and clients may form a relationship based on mutual needs and the professionalism and competence of both parties.
Impact of the Internet


The Internet has opened up many freelance opportunities, expanded available markets, and has contributed to service sector growth in many economies.[3] Offshore outsourcing, Online outsourcing and crowdsourcing are heavily reliant on the Internet to provide economical access to remote workers, and frequently leverage technology to manage workflow to and from the employer. Much of the computer freelance work is being outsourced to poorer countries outside the United States and Europe. This has spurred conflict because American and European workers are not receiving the benefits. The compromise has led to student freelancers who now provide a steady source of cheap labor while keeping jobs American and European. Online freelance marketplaces are websites that match buyers and sellers of services provided via the internet. Buyers bid on services at a fixed price or an hourly rate.

The Internet also enables many freelancers to be interviewed and hired without actually meeting an employer in person. This facilitates long distance business relationships all over the world, but can provide a challenge in screening applicants. Hiring more than one applicant for a short test assignment after the interview is now a common extra step in the hiring process.[citation needed]

Freelance employment has been common in the areas of writing, editing, translation, indexing, software development, website design, advertising, open innovations, information technology, and business process outsourcing.

Changes to the publishing industry since the 1980s have resulted in an increase in copy editing of book and journal manuscripts and proofreading of typeset manuscripts being outsourced to freelance copy editors and proofreaders.
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