Which term is used for a person who earns money on a per-job or per-task basis, usually for short-term work?
Freelance, freelancer, or freelance worker, are terms commonly used for a person who is self-employed and not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. Freelance workers are sometimes represented by a company or a temporary agency that resells freelance labor to clients; others work independently or use professional associations or websites to get work.
While the term independent contractor would be used in a different register of English to designate the tax and employment classes of this type of worker, the term "freelancing" is most common in culture and creative industries.
Fields, professions, and industries where freelancing is predominant include: music, writing, acting, computer programming, web design, graphic design, translating and illustrating, film and video production and other forms of piece work which some cultural theorists consider as central to the cognitive-cultural economy.
Although the term freelancer is commonly attributed to Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832) in "Ivanhoe" (1820) to describe a "medieval mercenary warrior" or "free-lance" (indicating that the lance is not sworn to any lord's services, not that the lance is available free of charge), a previous appearance occurs in Thomas N. Brown in "The Life and Times of Hugh Miller" (1809).