Freelancers, Should We Really Use The F-Word?
F for freelancer, doesn’t mean we are not professionally trained. F for freelancer, doesn’t mean we are some hobbyists trying to make a living while being a coach potato. And definitely, F for freelancer, doesn’t mean we do work for free. So is it even advisable to tell our clients that we are freelancers?
When I first started freelancing and meeting new clients of my own, I shook their hands and introduced myself as the Freelancer. Immediately I sense a fleet of cloud filled their eyes; that spark of confident and trust suddenly vanished as they began to look at me with new eyes. Eyes of doubt.
Perhaps its the F-word spelling ‘free’ that weighs down the value, but many clients do think that a freelancer is just a joker trying to make a living with his/her skills. At the word ‘freelancer’, some clients think that they can get away with paying the minimum amount for a project if they hire us. Or perhaps most of them prefer dealing with a company. Why? Because a company is trustable; Who says a freelancer is not?
The label ‘freelancer’ carries a weight heavier than the challenges which we face as freelancers. It sets the first impression clients get when they come in contact with us. In a country like Malaysia, this label may even prevent us from landing the big project that was supposed to be ours in the first place. Is the word ‘freelancer’ doing us justice?
Clients forget that freelancers are their own company; that we are sole proprietor of our own businesses and we are indeed professionals in the field which we are in. Just because we work from home in our comfort zone and we spend more time with our family at home, it doesn’t mean we are not serious trustable professionals. But we can’t say that to their face. Or at least I can’t.
So after one month of going about as a freelancer, I finally decided to drop the F-word. Now I introduced myself as the Graphic Designer (or copywriter, depending on the objective of my presence) but never a freelancer. When they ask where am I based, I’ll tell them the name of my town. When they ask which company do I represent, I’ll name my own studio.
Clients don’t have to know that we work alone; They only have to know that we can do a great job for them. If it means dropping the word ‘freelancer’ from our namecards, so be it. Don’t risk losing the many projects that may come our way just because of the F-word. It’s not worth keeping.
Originally written by Gina Yap Lai Yoong © 2010