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What is a Freelancer?

- Who are you?
- I’m a fairy godmother!
- Why are you holding an ax?
- See, how little you know about fairy godmothers!

What is a Freelancer?… As for freelancers, people know even less about them. So, what is a free-lancer? Freelancer designers are out-of-staff employees who work on projects as they come in.  

“Freelancer” is derived from “free-lance”. In the Middle Ages, this word was used to describe mercenary warriors who didn’t really care what the stir they were going to participate in was about. Their lance belonged solely to them and they fought on the side of the one who paid. One of their merits was their code of honor which didn’t allow them to change sides when more favorable terms were offered (at least until the military campaign’s end).

In the 18th century in France, the term was used to describe civilians who took up arms to fight against the enemy. As a rule, they joined non-state resistance bands. At that time, the word “freelancer” slightly changed its meaning and became synonymic to “partisan”.

Apart from what has been said, “freelancer” may denote actors with no permanent engagement, programmers, journalists, independent politicians (those switching parties for some reason or other), or just free-thinkers. Besides, in America, Canada and Europe self-employed private doctors and lawyers are also considered freelancers.

Freelance is a movement which recently became widespread.  It’s also called remote employment. The point is that a person works at home sitting at his/her desk in front of his/her computer. Usually only his/her groundwork is used.
As a rule, freelancers are people who work using their computers and mobile phones. They are programmers, designers, translators, journalists, copywriters, and photo reporters. At their home you are likely to find a dedicated line, several fixed line and mobile phones, a fax, a good printer and a computer.
If you want you can equate the notions freelance and telework.

Telework wasn’t invented in the Soviet Union. It’s the know-how of developed countries of Europe and North America (Canada and the USA). Statistically, about 5.8% of those living in the country of freedom and democracy (which is almost 17 million people) work at home. Besides, their income is almost twice as much as that of the rest ($50,000 vs. $30,000). As for the post-Soviet territory, it’s quite the contrary, which nevertheless doesn’t prevent more and more people from becoming freelancers and perfecting their professionalism.
Then why don’t all the Americans and most of the Russians enroll in telework? First of all, not all people are capable of planning their operating schedule on their own. Secondly, it’s impossible for, for example, a plumber or an automobile mechanic to be a freelancer.  But the most important thing is that in Europe and North America it’s mostly real professionals who become freelancers. So to say, best of the best. As for Russia, it often happens vice versa and for many people telework becomes a good start for large profits and fame.

Since freelancers don’t become company staff members because they like to be free and creative, many people believe they are emerging elements of socialist society. Let ideology as a determining factor be left for idealists. In fact, freelancers are companies themselves. Their whole life is business and their business is their life. They have no right to be sick because they won’t be paid while on sick leave. They have to plan their income and expenses, search for clients and advertise their services on their own. Negative feedback from one of their clients means that in the near future there will be a long decrease in the amount of their clients. Freelancers have neither fixed daily routine, nor weekends and holidays.

There is also a popular belief that often freelancers cheat their clients by talking money for the work they aren’t going to do. Sometimes freelancers have a bad head for the services they offer and do hackwork. Why do people think like this? The point is that a lot of clients choose freelancers whose services are the cheapest which is, actually, understandable. But don’t forget that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and no one is rich enough to buy cheap things. Prices at freelance websites vary greatly. Of course, many clients prefer those (let’s say designers) who agree to do the job for less. Yet it’s usually those with no experience and skills who send prices down. Despite tough competition, good designers who know their business will never offer their services for almost nothing. It should be clear, I guess.

So the opinion that most freelancer developers are negligent exists among those who prefer the cheapest services.  The quality-price ratio is valid for freelance too. Good luck with your choice!


by Demchenko Yevgeniy
aka DYV on freelancer.com


Read this: Why won’t a Freelancer Agree to Become an Office Worker?

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by Demchenko Yevgeniy aka DYV on freelancer.com