In the community, David asked whether individuals preferred being called freelancers or consultants. Most folks seemed to preferred being called consultants, and to be honest – so do I. While I don’t typically have a preference one way or the other, I think that consultant sounds a bit more professional and is full of fewer negative connotations (aka stereotypes) associated with the term ‘freelancer’. However, I do find that I am more often referred to as a Contractor…so I’m going to start my own home renovation business…I KID! It would be a very terrible business avenue for me to pursue; I’m not super handy. While I prefer being called a consultant or independent instructional designer, you can call me pretty much anything if you want to pay the price!
I tend to associate my time as a ‘freelancer’ with grabbing anything and everything I could to make a bit of extra cash – some of these tasks were certainly not my finest moments, and some of them paid quite well. Whereas I associate my time as a ‘consultant’ as a more profitable and purposeful endeavour.
What do you prefer to be called?
Riding on the shirttails of that discussion, I happened upon the Freelancer Union article that discussed five common stereotypes about freelancers:
- Freelancers live a life of non-office-regulated luxury
- Freelancers live a life of grasping poverty, constantly anxious about their next job.
- Freelancers are flaky.
- ‘Freelancer’ is just a fancy word for ‘unemployed’.
- Full-time freelancers become weird loners.
I’ve heard all of these stereotypes in my experience freelancing and ‘consulting’ (my grown up name for freelancing), and here are my responses to each:
- Sure. I get to wear whatever I want to work (when I’m not at my onsite gig), but I still have to motivate myself to do my work, and do all of the other things (e.g. bookkeeping) that would have been done by someone else if I worked in a traditional office.
- I’m split on this. I thought that when I quit my full-time job to consult full-time that I would struggle to pay my mortgage and put food in the mouths of my husband and pets; this did not happen. In fact, I did better, financially, in the first three months of working for myself than I ever would have staying where I was. Now I’m in a position where I can settle on 1-2 contracts at a time and be incredibly busy. The cash doesn’t flow regularly (I’m being paid this month for work I completed in July), but I saved a buffer and have never been late on a bill payment – take that, stereotype!
- You know…I’m kind of a flaky person in general. I’d like to think I’m a pretty intelligent and self-motivated person, but you know what? Sometimes I’m tired. Sometimes I get sick. Sometimes I mistakingly write down the wrong date/time for a meeting. But I assure you that in the end, the work gets done, and clients are generally pretty happy. Not to make excuses, but I am on an anti-anxiety medication that makes my memory a bit shoddy (but, it helps me not panic when work is slower – see #2).
- UNTRUE. Many of my best ‘freelance’ friends are busier and more successful than some of my 9-5 friends. So to #4, I say SHUT YO MOUTH!
- I’ve always kind of been a weird loner (or floater at best). In junior high I was voted weirdest…which I choose to accept as a term of endearment. I have a lot of friends and associates, but I’ve always preferred time to myself. I like to stay home, make my nest so to speak. Just last week I managed the beginning of a kitchen remodel! That being said, I do think it’s important to extend yourself (socially) when you work predominantly from the confines of your home office. Why? Well – conversations with your cats, dogs, or walls can get very one-sided, and we always need a reality check. Luckily, there are tons of communities out there for people just like you, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding someone to connect with!
What do you think about these stereotypes? Are some of them accurate?