Don’t Call Me a Freelancer

March 17, 2015

If you want to get under a consultant’s skin, call them a FREELANCER.


It’s been an ongoing conversation in the solo world for years. What do we call ourselves?


Some people call themselves a “solo PR pro.”


Some people call themselves a “freelancer.”


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And some people call themselves a consultant (or, an “independent consultant”).


You’re probably thinking: “Who cares?” Why does it matter what people call you?


I’ll tell you why.


Whether people want to admit it or not in this age of visual and online marketing, words still matter. Labels matter.


When you call yourself a FREELANCER, here’s the connotation that’s giving off to clients and potential clients:


* I may not do this forever, so I wouldn’t count on me being around forever. You may have to find someone else eventually.


* I bill by the hour–here’s my rate. It’s much cheaper than what you’d pay at an agency.


* What do you need done? I’ll do it? Just let me know what you need from me.


Is that a bit unfair? Maybe. But, it is what people think when they hear you label yourself as a FREELANCER. They may not tell you that–but it’s what they’re thinking.


Now, let’s try something else. Let’s say you described yourself as a CONSULTANT. What would clients and prospective clients think then?


* She is professional and this is her full-time job.


* I trust her to give me the best, most informed and ethical advice possible.


* I have problems and need solving. My consultant helps me make those problems go away. And, she even solves problems I didn’t even know I had!


See the difference?


A FREELANCER is someone who’s focused on tactical work. Someone who takes orders. Someone who bills by the hour.


Now, to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with that. If that’s what you want–there’s nothing wrong with that at all.


But, most of the solo consultants I talk with don’t want that kind of label–yet they continue to use that dirty word: FREELANCER.


STOP IT!


On the other hand, consultants are people who advise senior-level executives.


They get invited to strategy and annual planning meetings (hello annual retainer budgets!).


They never share their hourly rate (or, at least rarely), because it’s all about solving the client’s problem.


See what I’m saying?


So, want clients to start taking you more seriously?


Start using the right language to describe yourself.

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