So You Want to Be a Freelancer...
by Barry Carr Sr.
What's the difference between running your own
home-based business and freelancing? (tick, tick, tick ...) Give up? Me too. If you want
to work for yourself from home and have a special talent or skill that you think others
would be prepared to pay for on an hourly or per-project basis, why not stop thinking in
terms of the traditional "home business" paradigm and start thinking in terms of
What Is a Freelancer?
Quite simply, a freelancer is an independent contractor who earns
his or her living by contracting for projects on a project by project basis. A freelancer
is not an employee of anyone and so he or she must actively seek out work, negotiate the
terms and conditions of the project (the contract) and complete the work to the
satisfaction of the client. Once the project is complete, the freelancer seeks out and
enters into another contract for another project.
Alternatively, the freelancer may have obligations
under a number of different contracts with different clients at the one time.
Another variation involves the freelancer
producing work and then seeking buyers for that work. A freelance writer of magazine
articles, for example, would fall into this category.
Who Hires a Freelancer?
Those who hire freelancers are as diverse as freelancers themselves.
In some cases, companies will hire freelancers to complete a short-term project as an
alternative to hiring a new employee. This is often the case where the work in question is
spasmodic or ad hoc and the company cannot justify hiring an employee for such work.
Companies also hire freelancers to help smooth out the peaks and troughs of workload.
Again, where there is a temporary oversupply of work, the company will hire the freelancer
on a short-term basis to help cope with the backlog.
In other cases, companies hire freelancers for
their special expertise in a certain area. A company may want to create a new website, for
example. Hiring a freelance website designer for such a project makes more sense than
hiring a website designer as an employee since once the website is complete, the function
will no longer be required.
Magazine and newspaper editors also hire
freelancers or, more precisely, buy rights to freelancers' work. A freelancer in this type
of situation may write a piece and submit it to a number of different editors in the hope
that his or her work will be "picked up" by that editor and published, in return
for which the freelancer receives payment. By its nature, such an approach is speculative
since the freelancer can't be sure that anyone will actually buy the work. Of course, once
the freelancer has been published, it is relatively easier to get the editor to buy the
freelancer's work in the future and, as the freelancer's reputation grows, so too do the
opportunities for future business.