Freelancing can be a great way to enjoy the career you want on your own terms and time. You benefit from more freedom and do what you’d like to do every day, all the while balancing work and life in a way that suits you best.
But when you tell people what you do for a living, do you call yourself a freelancer? If you do, you might be doing your career more harm than good.
Consumer perception can influence how successful you are. Perception is basically the way we form concepts and organize information. We associate qualities and shape a definition in our mind, then we form views, beliefs and opinions. For example, many people perceive lawyers to be sharks and computer specialists to be nerds.
Unfortunately, the perception of “freelancer” isn’t always flattering.
Many people (usually freelancers themselves) perceive freelancers as hardworking, passionate, determined, liberated, creative and self-respecting people. That’s a true perception – freelancers can be just that type of person.
Many others perceive freelancers to be rebels, risky, lazy, overly proud and a touch snotty. That’s a true perception as well, in some cases. It takes all kinds to make a world, after all.
But that negative perception of freelancers means that many potential clients won’t even consider you as a potential hire. No matter how professional you are or how high-level your skills, you’ll be discounted before you even get the chance to pitch your sale. Many businesses, despite the benefits of hiring freelancers, have a no-hire policy in place.
Who started all these rumors? Where does the negative perception come from? Both sides, unfortunately. Businesses have bad experiences and paint all freelancers black with a judgmental brush. Freelancers are often quick to crow about their life of ease and freedom. (Just Google “freelancer bunny slippers”. You’ll see.)
You can fight it. You can try your hardest to change consumer perception and lobby for better understanding of the career choice. It’s a long, hard battle and you probably won’t turn the situation around anytime soon.
Or you can simply call yourself something else than freelancer. There are many ways to define what you do. Just call yourself a plain old writer or copywriter, for one. Try business owner, for another. Entrepreneur is a good one to call yourself, too.
You could focus on the services you provide instead of titling yourself. When someone asks what you do for a living, tell them, “I write copy for websites,” or, “I edit articles for magazines,” for example. That’s a winner right there, because you’re clearly describing what services you offer.
The best idea? Create a great elevator pitch that makes you stand out as fantastic. Know what you do for a living, keep it simple, and tell people how you’ll change their lives. It doesn’t get any better than that.
If you don’t want to be a freelancer, learn how to build a freelance business instead. Get your copy of The Unlimited Freelancer, and get in on the secrets writing entrepreneurs use to get ahead.