I have been unable to find a clear definition of what “freelance writing” is and is not.
According to dictionary.com, the definition of freelance is “a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.”
Freelance writing is writing on a freelance basis (as in being self-employed). Freelance writers usually telecommute. “Freelancers” that often work at one of their employer’s facilities, under the direction of their employer, and/or primarily using their employer’s tools, may actually be employees, and deserve benefits that most freelancers/contractors do not receive (including overtime!). Many employers run ads seeking freelancers…but require those “freelancers” to work on-site. While this may be done out of ignorance of the law, many do this in an attempt to avoid matching payroll taxes, benefits like sick and vacation pay, insurance, worker’s compensation, and overtime pay.
So, if any employer offers you a “freelance” job but that wants you to work at their facility for more often than, say, the occasional office meeting, they may be violating the law.
Likewise, if you are currently classified as a “freelancer” or “contractor” but you’re required to be at your employer’s facility the majority of the time, your work is directed by them, and/or you’re using their tools to perform your job, you need to report them to the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Yes, you may not only be entitled to benefits, you may also be entitled to back pay for your overtime!
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This isn’t all bad news, however. Some employers who ignorantly run ads seeking in-house freelancers can be convinced to hire real freelancers instead, and allow them to telecommute. And, once you explain that you are a professional freelancer, a contractor, and that you work at your own facility, using your own tools, and that they will not need to provide you with office space, a computer, software, matching payroll taxes, sick and vacation pay, and overtime, many employers might decide they’d much rather hire you than a regular employee anyway. Of course, you must charge more per hour than they’d pay a regular employee because you will be providing your own tools and, as a self-employed contractor, also paying your own matching payroll taxes (Fica and Medicare). It can’t hurt to ask!