When an electrician arrives at your house to install new wiring, does he introduce himself as a “freelance electrician”? When you visit the neighborhood’s new coffee shop, does the owner say she’s a “freelance coffee roaster”?
When I introduce myself, I tell people I own my own business and that I offer writing, editing and social media. I rarely introduce myself as a “freelance writer and editor.” I’m not ashamed of the word, but people have preconceived notions about freelance writers — that we don’t run a business, we just “write” or that we’re struggling artists or we spend all day working on a novel that will never get published. “Success” and “business woman” aren’t the first words that pop into their heads.
In addition, “freelance writer” doesn’t encompass all that I do. Instead, I’ve embraced the word “solopreneur” and explain the different services I offer and which areas I’d like to expand in the future.
I’ve also discovered that people tend to think freelancing is temporary, that we’re only doing it between gigs or because we were laid off or are stay-at-home moms. While those reasons may be true for some and are valid, freelancers should still present themselves as professional business owners. If you work under your name and don’t feel that you own a “business,” an alternative is to say that you’re “independent.” And who doesn’t want to be independent in life, really?
I also believe that saying “business owner” gives beginning freelancers a boost of confidence. I’ve spoken with newbie freelancers who don’t seem able to say “freelancer” authoritatively and with pride, as if they already know what negative impressions people have.
What job title do you give yourself?