“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.”
Being a “freelance” writer myself this essay caused me to think. As writers, we often pride ourselves on being called freelancers. To us it means that we are professionals who do our jobs because we are sought out and not because we fill a chair. We understand deadlines and more importantly we understand the business of writing. We promote ourselves, we get the job done. We’ve managed to make a living out of writing.
I even know of a writer who routinely guested for a Television Station as a cook but she had her introduction rewritten to read “freelance writer” so that people would see her as more than just a culinary performer.
But, again as a writer, I also know of some freelancers who will willingly sell their souls for a writing contract. They claim to be unbiased but sometimes their copy drips with so much snake oil, it is difficult to hold. I tend to stay away from those writers by self-justifying that my title of freelance holds more integrity than theirs.
But does it? Especially to others? Is a rose really still a rose?
I suspect we are indeed doing ourselves a great dis-service by insisting on the title of freelancer. Perhaps, as Chartrand suggests, we are unnecessarily cheapening ourselves in the eyes of our potential audiences. Much like when even the most integrity-filled used car salesman may be doing by introducing himself as such. There are connotations with a title that persist despite our best intentions.
Instead of using the term freelancer, perhaps we should be calling ourselves something more direct, more authoritative. When I call myself a journalist or a columnist I get nothing but respect. No one flinches. When I say I am a writer, people are impressed and ready to do business.
Not always the case when I call myself a freelancer.
It might be time to follow the lead of “Sanitation Engineers” (ex-garbage men) and retire a term that causes us more harm than good in our businesses.