When someone tells you they’re a freelancer, what are your first thoughts?
Does the freelance job title give an impression of expert, or of someone new to the field, perhaps picking up jobs to make ends meet?
While at first he didn’t want to admit it, Tony’s realisation came when he was working on a web redesign for a real estate consultant. About five iterations had been produced, with not one to the satisfaction of the client, even though Tony considered the results to be beautiful, and very user-friendly.
It turns out the client wasn’t at all interested in Tony’s expertise or knowledge of good design. All the real estate consultant wanted was someone to create what he thought was good design, even though he had no design education, and this became apparent to Tony when his client said:
“You’re a vendor, I’m the client. I don’t care what you think, just do it like I ask.”
I’ve been self-employed for just two and a half years, but I already know exactly the design client that Tony refers to.
When I started, I branded myself as a freelance designer, but it wasn’t long before I worked with someone who disagreed with every alternative I presented, claiming that none were suitable for the job. I even took a hit and worked for a lot longer than I was being paid for.
In his article, Tony adds:
“Freelancing is a great way to start out, but if you’re just doing it to cover the basic needs, you’ll be scrambling forever to keep up. There are options though — and I thought I found the perfect solution. Independent contractor.”
Today I brand myself as a graphic designer and design consultant, as opposed to freelance graphic designer. I don’t know if it makes a difference to my clients, but each one since the change has been very happy with what I do.
Here’s an interesting hierarchical diagram, from Tony’s article, showing freelancers on the bottom rung.
Image copyright: Tony Clark
Tony typically defines a freelancer as one person working on many short-term projects, and Jeanne, of Writer’s Notes, added this comment:
“It is an unfortunate reality that, very often, freelancers, like temp workers, get no respect. (I’ve functioned in both capacities.) Of course, there are many employers who treat their employees with zero respect, as well.”
What do you think?
As a client, would you consider a consultant more knowledgeable than a freelancer? Perhaps you think it takes time before a freelancer earns the right to be called a consultant, but in reality, a graphic designer already wears many hats.
As a designer, do you think the freelance title attracts a negative impression of what you do? Do you, or have you, ever defined yourself as a freelance designer? If so, it’d be great to read your opinion.