We like to talk about issues that are relevant to our community of creative professionals. Something that comes up often is the question of what to call creatives. This group is technically self-employed, focused on their craft to benefit companies directly or indirectly through their agencies like Creative Allies. In this article, we try to answer the question, ‘Is Freelancing Considered A Business?’.
For many years, the term freelancer has grown in stature, especially in the creative field. It’s meant to convey freedom from full employment. Freelancing means that you can make a living on your own among clients who need your creative services. This applies whether you’re a web designer, illustrator, copywriter or other creative professional.
The Word Freelancer
From some of our recent conversations we find that many independent creatives shun the term. They feel that in this time of near full employment, there’s a stigma attached to the term. They think that many companies may underestimate their talents and thus not hire nor want to pay their rates if they do.
Some fall back on the term “consultant.” While this moniker certainly has some prestige in the corporate world, it can often be a misnomer for creatives. Many consultants, but certainly not all, work in the field of management consulting. Consultants assess a company’s situation from some combination of sales, marketing, operations, and other factors. Then they prescribe solutions to challenges they identify. The best consultants tell executives what to do but don’t actually perform the tasks. This philosophy doesn’t really resonate with creatives who are the very definition of implementing strategies.
What About An Entrepreneur?
So what are we left with, if freelancer and consultant don’t really fit. We think that the term “entrepreneur” is actually the best option. First, you’re self-employed, whether you intended to be or not when you first started. Second, many of you have gone to the trouble–and still many more of you should–to set up a business entity like an LLC. This entity will optimize you legally and from a tax perspective, while giving you room to grow at some point due to client demand.
Third, there’s a psychological aspect to what you call yourself. This may be the actual root of this question anyway. Calling yourself an entrepreneur or some variation like “creative entrepreneur” may not only change how your prospects and clients think of you, but also what you think of yourself. When you think of your work as being in business for yourself rather than just writing or just designing, you’re likely to have more confidence when you talk about what you do with others. People are attracted to that confidence, especially when it’s well-placed in someone with talent.
Is Freelancing A Business?
While some of you reading this may think this is a non-issue, how we communicate who we are and what we do is of real value. In fact, it’s how we establish and build on our value proposition. This of course grows and thrives from the actual great work we do as creative professionals.
So, is freelancing a business? It depends! The real answer is for you to find a term that works for you. If you can use freelancer with confidence, do it. If you like to call yourself a consultant, and that wins business for you, do that. And if you’ve started something special, on your own, as an entrepreneur, embrace that and prosper. Just know that you have value as long as you do great work and devote some strategic thinking to your personal brand along the way.