According to the 2012 Freelance Industry Report compiled primarily about North America freelancing, nearly half of freelancers do writing work, with 18% of freelancers listing writing as a primary skill, 10% editing/copy-editing, and 10% as copy-writing. 20% of freelancers listed their primary skills as design. Next on the list was translating (8%), web development (4.5%), and marketing (4%). Elance, a web platform that connects freelancers with contractors, surveyed its members and 39% listed writing and editing are their main skill set.
Depending on the industry, freelance work practices vary and have changed over time. In some industries such as consulting, freelancers may require clients to sign written contracts. While in journalism or writing, freelancers may work for free or do work “on spec” to build their reputations or a relationship with a publication. Some freelancers may provide written estimates of work and request deposits from clients.
Payment for freelance work also depends on industry, skills, and experience. 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. One of the drawbacks of freelancing is that there is no guarantee payment, and the work can be highly precarious.
In writing and other artistic fields, “freelance” and its derivative terms are often reserved for workers who create works on their own initiative and then seek a publisher. They typically retain the copyright to their works and sell the rights to publishers in time-limited contracts. People who create intellectual property under a work for hire situation (according to the publishers’ or other customers’ specifications) are sometimes referred to as “independent contractors” or other similar terms. Creators give up their rights to their works in a “works made for hire” situation, a category of intellectual property defined in U.S. copyright law — Section 101, Copyright Act of 1976 (17 USC §101). The protection of the intellectual property rights that give the creator of the work are considered to have been sold in toto in a work for hire agreement. A “work for hire” arrangement is similar to the control that employers have over the creations of employees, however in a contractual rather than employment relationship.
article / source reference: e.wikipedia.org