The freelance stigma

While cleaning out the big stack of design magazines in my office, I read an article today in Createhat discussed ‘the f-word’ (freelancing) a bit.

Is there really a stigma associated with calling oneself a freelancer? I’ve read that freelancers are viewed as people that can’t make it in ‘real business’ or that they are rogue designers that do what they please, when they please. They fail to meet deadlines. They don’t communicate well or get along with other team members.

In my opinion nothing could be farther from the truth.

I had my share of working for large companies. The level of creativity (and responsibility) as an independent designer is many, many times higher. When I sign a contract with a client or become a subcontractor for another company, I put my reputation and my future on the line. I’m not terribly likely to blow it on purpose. I am totally responsible for my work – there’s no one else to blame and no team to fall back on if it’s not what the client wants.

Another thing that I think is extremely important – a freelancer has the time and inclination to really work on forming a solid relationship with each client. At my previous job, I rarely met with clients, all my work was done more or less in a vacuum. Not so good for me, and certainly not so good for the clients.

My level of professionalism has to be very high to gain clients, and I take pains to see that it remains that way throughout our association. In the end, it benefits me both monetarily and career-wise. The pleased client typically saves money, they get a job professionally and quickly done, and they form a relationship that they can call on in the future.

I know so many more people as a result of leaving company life and striking out on my own, and I think it speaks well of my business that I get about 95% of my work through referrals by happy clients. And they don’t seem to care what I call myself – freelancer or independent designer. The label isn’t as important as the person.

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