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A freelancer is self-employed and will do occasional work for different companies. Not having one particular employer gives someone a huge level of freedom as they are not tied to one style of work. Many choose to take this route as they are able to work either from home or on the go, and can work on a variety of different jobs at one time. Many people with experience in journalism will set themselves up as freelancers and work independently of an agency or company.
Often many will sign up with an agency or company who will provide them with work for different companies. Payment for freelance varies hugely, many will charge by the hour or day or on a per-project basis. Some have adopted a value-based pricing method which is payment based on the results of the work completed.
The benefits of working as a freelancer are huge as they will generally enjoy a greater variety of work and assignments. Although they may not have a regular income, it does give them the freedom to choose their own work schedule and gain a huge amount of experience. This will lead to a broad portfolio of work and a huge network of clients.
In some cases a group of freelancers will work with a group of freelancers to create a 'virtual agency'. This serves to help a particular client for a short length of time on a project. This will help a freelancer gain work that requires expertise of more than one individual.