Definitions of freelancers vary widely, and there are many nuances to understanding even the most common terms such as freelancer, contractor, independent professional, etc.
Stephanie Whalley wrote a short article What is a Freelancer? for Freelancer News about the differences between freelancers and contractors — as these terms are commonly used in the UK:
“A freelancer is somebody who works independently, for themselves, as opposed to working for an employer. This means that freelancing is classified as a form of self-employment, even if the person only freelances part-time to supplement their main full-time job (also known as a ‘side hustle’). The term ‘freelancer’ isn’t actually a business structure in its own right, so a freelancer might run their business as a sole trader or as a limited company. A freelancer will often work for multiple clients at once, juggling various projects simultaneously. As a result, freelancers will charge for their services on a task-by-task basis or by the day, hour, or something even more granular – a freelance copywriter could charge per word, for example.”
Note: One questionable assertion in the article is that freelancers “fall neatly under the umbrella of ‘gig work’ or the ‘gig economy’” — the fact is that the gig economy is widely understood as an online phenomenon, while freelancing also includes a huge amount of “offline” work and professions. Watch Robert Vlach’s popular talk European Freelancers & Where to Find Them for a detailed explanation of why freelancing and the gig economy are merely overlapping:
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