“Flexpert” to “gig economy”: a creative freelancer glossary

Do you know your flexpert from your gig economy? The freelance world comes with its own technical lingo, and when you’re new to freelancing (or hiring freelancers, for that matter) it can feel like everyone around you is suddenly speaking a foreign language.

If you’re wishing for a guide or cheat sheet to save you hours of helpless Googling, we’ve got you covered. Browse our 33 essential terms for freelancers in the creative industries, find that term you’ve been pretending to understand so far, and don’t forget to bookmark this A-Z list for future vocab emergencies!

  • AFX/AE – Adobe After Effects. A motion graphics and visual effects software used by animators, designers and compositors for film, TV and post-production.
  • Anchor Client – An ongoing or recurring client that guarantees a freelancer a certain amount of work and income per month.
  • AWR – Agency Workers Regulations. A 2011 ruling that protects temporary workers hired through an agency, stipulating that after 12 weeks in the same role they will receive the same basic pay and working conditions as a permanent member of staff.
  • Billable Hours – Also referred to as contracted hours. The time worked by a freelancer that is recorded and then charged to a client based on a contractual rate.
  • Buyout Fee – A lump sum agreed on by the freelancer and client, which will be paid to the freelancer regardless of any overtime or additional expenses that arise.
  • Call Sheet – Daily schedule issued to the cast and crew of a film production, photoshoot, etc. This document states where and when to report for each stage of the day, along with all other essential details.
  • Conduct Regulations – Regulations that entitle agency workers to minimum employment standards while on assignment. Freelancers occasionally choose to opt out of these, as it may give them greater flexibility.
  • Confirmed – Used in the context of booking a freelance worker for an assignment. After the freelancer has been ‘pencilled’ for potential use, they must later be officially ‘confirmed’ by the client to formally book them for the job.
  • Copywriting – Producing written text, or copy, in any format from written articles to billboards, brochures or social media posts. This written content is used for the purpose of advertising or any other form of marketing.
  • Creative Brief – A document that outlines all aspects of a proposed creative project, with key details including the project’s objectives, inspirations, deliverables, timeline and budget.
  • Day Rate – The amount a freelancer charges for a day’s work. This is usually calculated based on an eight or ten-hour day.
  • Deliverables – The key results achieved during a creative project or assignment. These are initially identified and requested by the client, and ultimately produced and delivered by the freelancer.
  • End of Play (EOP) – Also end of day (EOD) and close of business (COB). Pieces of work will often be requested for this time, meaning by the end of the working day.
  • Flexpert– A ‘flexible expert’; a freelancer who is skilled in a number of key fields within their industry, able to ‘flex’ these skills to meet a variety of creative briefs.
  • Gig Economy– A job market that is characterised by short-term contracts and freelance roles. Instead of holding a permanent job with a regular wage, gig economy workers get paid per “gig” or assignment.
  • Invoice – A freelancer’s bill, essentially. It will include a list of services provided, followed by a statement of the sum due for these, based on the pre-agreed payment terms.
  • IR35 –  IR35 is tax legislation designed to tax workers supplying their services to clients via an intermediary such as a Limited Company, who would otherwise be classed as an employee if they were paid directly.
  • Limited Company – A freelancer who has registered a limited company has established a company that is separate from themself, and are only responsible for its losses and debts up to the amount of capital they invested. They will likely pay less taxes, but initial financial commitment is higher and more administrative paperwork is required overall.
  • Non-Compete Agreement (NCA) – An agreement or contract clause that prevents the freelancer from entering into competition with the employer for a specified time period after their assignment ends, e.g. working for a direct competitor, or starting their own business in the same field.  
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)  – An agreement or contract clause outlining confidential material or information which is required for the project’s completion, but which cannot be shared with any third party.
  • Overtime – Any hours worked by a freelancer beyond their billable hours, usually charged at the rate of time and a half.
  • Payment Terms – Terms outlining how and when the freelancer will be paid by the client, usually set by the freelancer and forming the basis for all future invoices.
  • Pencilled – If a client has ‘pencilled’ a freelancer, they have informally reserved them for specific dates. If the freelancer is approached by another client for those dates, they must check with the original client for ‘release’ before accepting the other assignment.  
  • Per Diem – Daily allowance provided by a client to cover the expenses of a freelancer, e.g.  lunch or when travelling for work.
  • Permalance – Workers who are technically freelance, but work primarily or solely with the same employer over a long period of time.
  • Pre-production – The work carried out on a film or video production prior to the beginning of full-scale production. This includes storyboarding, set construction, pre-rendering and hiring of crew members.
  • Post-Production – The work done on a film or video production after filming has already taken place. This covers a range of tasks, including editing, colouring, grading, compositing and rendering.
  • Scope Creep – When the scope of a freelancer’s assignment expands beyond original expectations, usually with the client continually adding small tasks to the original brief. This is particularly dangerous for freelancers if their fee is not adjusted to compensate for the extra hours of work.
  • Showreel – A short video portfolio showcasing a freelancer’s work, normally 1-2 minutes in length. Often requested by clients to assess a freelancer’s skills and experience in relation to a creative brief, e.g. for editors or motion designers.
  • Sole Trader – A freelancer who is self-employed and the exclusive owner of their business. They are entitled to all profits made by their business (after tax), but also personally liable for any financial losses made.
  • Turnaround Time (TAT) – The amount of time taken for a freelancer to complete an assignment and deliver its output.
  • Umbrella Company – A company or agency that acts as an employer to its talent network of freelancers. Employees may carry out multiple assignments for a range of clients, but their relationship with the umbrella company remains ongoing.
  • VFX – Visual effects. This covers the creation, alteration or enhancement of any video content which cannot take place during filming.

Know someone who’s desperately in need of this list? Do them a favour and pass on the link now, or share this A-Z guide with your network at large. Good luck!

Tripod Brixton,
Lambeth Town Hall,
1 Brixton Hill, London,

Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am – 7pm
Phone: 020 7580 7333