Docstoc

A freelancer

Document Sample
A freelancer Powered By Docstoc
					A 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, cos
metics, fragrances, editing, event planning, event management, copy
editing, proofreading, indexing, copywriting, computer programming, web design, graphic
design, website development, consulting, tour guiding, video editing.

 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 avalue-
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.[2]
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. 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.

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. 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.

As a result, 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.
Drawbacks


The major drawback is the uncertainty of work and thus income, and in lack of company benefits
such as a pension, health insurance in nations without socialized medicine, paid holidays and
bonuses. Many freelancers, especially in journalism, regard themselves as having greater income
security through the diversity of outlets—the loss of any one of which leads to the loss of only a
portion of income, rather than its totality as with salaried employees.

It is important to note that being a freelancer is not suitable to all people. Being a freelancer
requires discipline and self-motivation along with other easier to acquire skills. If the freelancer
works at home they are prone to additional stresses, that if not managed properly, could prevent
them from earning an income at their profession.

Author and poet Ernest William Horning (1866–1921) used the term in "The Gift of the
Emperor" to describe his woeful state as a freelancer in those days, "I warmed to my woes. It
was no easy matter to keep your end up as a raw freelance of letters; for my part, I was afraid I
wrote neither well enough nor ill enough for success."
Legal aspects
Many periodicals and newspapers offer the option of ghost signing, when a freelance writer signs
with an editor but their name is not listed on the byline of their article(s). This allows the writer
to receive benefits while still being classified as a freelancer, and independent of any set
organization. In some countries this can lead to taxation issues (e.g., so-called IR35 violations in
the UK). Ghost signing has little bearing on whether a writer is a freelancer or employee in the
US.

Freelancers often must handle contracts, legal issues, accounting, marketing, and other business
functions by themselves. If they do choose to pay for professional services, they can sometimes
turn into significant out-of-pocket expenses. Working hours can extend beyond the standard
working day and working week.

In Europe, the perceived disadvantages of being freelance have led the European Union to
research the area, producing draft papers that would, if enforced, make it illegal for companies or
organizations to employ freelancers directly, unless the freelancer was entitled to benefits such as
pension contributions and holiday pay. In the UK, where the terms of integration into the EU
have and are being hotly debated, this would lead to a significant reshaping of the way freelance
work is dealt with and have a major impact on industry; employers would be required either to
give freelances the contractual rights of employees or employ only freelancers already being
employed by agencies or other organizations granting them these rights. However, the White
Papers that recommend such moves have not yet been adopted in the EU, and the potential
impact on UK employment laws is being opposed by key UK organizations lobbying the
government to negotiate over the acceptance of EU legislation in such areas. The legal definition
of a sole trader requires that he/she must have more than one client or customer which promotes
the freelancing ethos,

In the U.S. in 2009, federal and state agencies began increasing their oversight of freelancers and
other workers employers classify as independent contractors. The U.S. Government
Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that the Secretary of Labor have its Wage and Hour
Division "focus on misclassification of employees as independent contractors during targeted
investigations." The increased regulation is meant to ensure workers are treated fairly and that
companies are not misclassifying workers as independent contractors to avoid paying appropriate
employment taxes and contributions to workers’ compensation and unemployment
compensation.

At the same time, this increased enforcement is affecting companies whose business models are
based on using non-employee workers, as well as independent professionals who have chosen to
work as independent contractors. For example, book publishing companies have traditionally
outsourced certain tasks like indexing and proofreading to individuals working as independent
contractors. Self-employed accountants and attorneys have traditionally hired out their services
to accounting and law firms needing assistance. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service offers some
guidance on what constitutes self-employment, but states have enacted stricter laws to address
how independent contractors should be defined. For example, a Massachusetts law states that
companies can hire independent contractors only to perform work that is "outside the usual
course of business of the employer," meaning workers working on the company's core business
must be classified as employees. According to this statute, a software engineering firm cannot
outsource work to a software engineering consultant, without hiring the consultant as an
employee. The firm could, however, hire an independent contractor working as an electrician,
interior decorator, or painter. This raises questions about the common practice of consulting,
because a company would typically hire a management consulting firm or self-
employed consultant to address business-specific needs that are not "outside the usual course of
business of the employer."