So, I just came across this line in a Craig's List post:

"This is a non paying job, I am not getting paid either. Strictly freelance."

Clearly this person seems to think that freelance = free. It got me thinking, perhaps we ought to take the word 'free' out. It seems only to encourage those who are reticent about paying for work in the first place. Is there a better term for someone who doesn't work for anyone in particular?

  • That whole "i'm not getting paid either" thing really annoys me. When i go to the dentist, i don't say "this is a non paying appointment. I am not getting paid for keeping my mouth open for you." Or if i have to call a plumber for a broken toilet "This is a non paying job. I am not getting paid for plunging the toilet before i called you." So i just ignore those posts, and smile when someone else flames them. Apr 12, 2011 at 15:28
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    @Roger, It's really more like asking a complete stranger for a huge favour, like borrowing their car or something.
    – g.a.harry
    Apr 13, 2011 at 1:44

4 Answers 4


IMHO theres nothing wrong with the term freelance - no need to change behaviour because of some linguistically challenged person with a hobbyist/personal project on a craigslist somewhere... I see the term freelance meaning FREE to do the work that you want, without an obligation to a facility or a boss etc. Freelance is a very common term in many fields of employment, not just film/sound etc...

  • @tim, You are, of course, right. I admit I was being a bit glib. ALthough, I have honestly never really heard any words other than freelance or contractor used to describe such a kind of work. And I can't say I like contractor much, it feels very opposite to what you have described. Almost like an indentured servant.
    – g.a.harry
    Apr 12, 2011 at 5:55

Pay-me-a-lot-lance. kidding...

Hmm. I don't know. Freelance has been used for such a long time.

Independent? Nah.

Self-employed? Nah.

I can't really think of a better name that wouldn't be an equal misnomer.

  • @Utopia, I was thinking 'Contractor' or something. I always think of people building things, but there are IT contractors and HR contractors. Audio Contractor? SoundDesign Contractor? I could deal with that.
    – g.a.harry
    Apr 12, 2011 at 3:53
  • @g.a.harry Tim said what I said better and got an up-vote to boot ;)
    – Utopia
    Apr 12, 2011 at 5:53

I hear "independent contractor" a lot. It's a mouthful, but it doesn't have the same connotations as "freelance" does.


Freelance is a term that is used in many, many languages - an anglicism that is internationally recognised. And many different professions around the globe use this term. It's just a shame that someone has seen the free in freelance and got a bit confused. Actually it's quite funny!

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