What is the fuss all about anyway, in the blogs and all over LinkedIn it is not advisable to call yourself a freelancer or a free agent if you are an artist.
The dictionary definition of a ‘Freelancer’ is ‘someone who does particular pieces of work for different organizations, rather than working all the time for a single organization.
That’s the real definition of that word, you are not tied to a specific contract that prohibits you from doing other jobs on the side. And you prefer taking up as many clients as you can handle.
On the days when you don’t feel like working, you may not pick up jobs for that day or you can schedule them for later when you are a bit flexible.
A freelancer is thus someone who likes his or her creative space and would rather work through his briefs at his own pace without the pressure that can come from contracted employment.
Freelancers still do have deadlines like any committed professionals, we still have bills and we still have to deliver quality. And more so, we are only paid if the client approves the work, and we are only retained if we deliver a great service.
I would say freelancers earn an honest living. If you are employed that paycheck will come in whether you worked or you spent the entire month at work chatting in the office and not doing much
If we were to go by that dictionary definition of the word ‘freelancer’ then there is no problem with being called a ‘freelancer’.
Many people give freelancers a bad name, that’s why there is this push from guys to not call yourself a freelancer.
Which other term can you use instead, ‘consultancy’ maybe but consultancy is more tied to a specific company or for a certain period.
Freelancers are free agents and they work for anyone willing to hire them and will accept just any type of payment depending on the client. Very few freelancers have a specific rate card and are strict about their involvement with clients.
However, this does not mean they lack professionalism or will do a shady job, not at all. As I said, if you are serious about your services and want to keep clients around for a long time, you have to act right.
When you invoice clients as a freelancer you will notice that they are not in a hurry to pay you, and you will get a feeling like they don’t respect freelancers as such.
From an article I read on Forbes, most freelancers don’t see their services as businesses and don’t take time to send professional invoices or communicate the right way with potential clients. And thus when you mention the word ‘freelancer’, people picture an amateur or a struggling artist working from his basement.
The name doesn’t sound ‘professional’ to many people who are formally employed.
That is not the right perception to have of freelancers or free agents. In music, an independent artist is one who is not signed to a specific record label and spends his or her money promoting his album, shooting his music videos, and doing marketing for his upcoming albums by himself, etc. However, when the money comes back, it is all for him, and plus he has creative freedom on his projects.
It is not all rosy being a freelancer considering that you can still get very demanding clients. You can’t say a freelancer is not accountable to anyone. The notion that you are working for yourself is not real because you still have to meet the quality of your client.
On top of that, what many companies struggle with; the acquisition of the right talent and retention is what freelancers also have a hard time with, the acquisition of well-paying clients and retaining them for the long term. And thus it is a business, I would say more challenging than even being employed.
Freelancers have to rely on referrals based on the networks they have created over the years and a good reputation in their field of expertise for new work and so do companies.
I graduated from campus in 2014, and since then what has sustained me is more freelance work; my total formal employment experience sums up to 18 months, the rest of the years I have been a freelancer engaging different clients. The first rent to pay I paid through a client I had as a freelancer. He was in Canada and he paid me a few tens of dollars that I converted into Kenyan shillings and paid my rent through. I had written something for him on e-cigarettes. It was such an exhilarating experience, I was around 24 years at that time. Another interesting freelance story I have is that I cleared my college fees with freelance money, I had a balance of $10 when I left college and so when I went to clear, I had to just pay it from my freelance writing money. Damn, I look back on my humble beginnings in the freelance world with a lot of nostalgia.
I was living with a family member way back when I started freelancing, she had just started working at the time and she was shocked how I was able to write so much and make some money online. However, one day she came home from work at around 6 pm and found me on my laptop writing, she cooked, ate dinner, took a shower, and slept leaving me glued on my laptop. She woke up the following day at 6 am to find me still on my laptop. I had not left the keyboard for over 10 hours. She made breakfast and went to work, she thought I am crazy with work but that’s how serious a freelancer can get when they want that money.
I am not sure if I still have that fire I had when I started freelance writing. I have mastered this art and it comes easily to me nowadays. I just want to write more on humanitarian subjects nowadays and empower lives with my writings. When I started I wanted money because I was just out of college and was waiting for my first job to happen, this later turned out to be what will sustain me for many years to come.
And thus when you try to give us freelancers a bad name, we feel insulted because you don’t consider all the stubborn clients we have had to deal with, all the late nights spent learning and re-learning our craft. All the low-paying or no paying jobs we had to do just to build our portfolio and the clients who disappeared without paying us because we had an agreement by word of mouth etc.
We are an important part of the economy too because we pay tax and we offer a sustainable source of labor to companies that don’t want to hire people formally.
Freelancers usually pay a withholding of 5 percent. And thus we contribute to the building of the nation too.
You are a good freelancer if the clients keep coming back for more or referring you to their friends who need the services you are offering.
Don’t betray your clients in any way, just be loyal and deliver on time and keep the quality of work high. Show your clients what’s possible for them with the right freelancer.
One thing about labels is that you don’t allow people to label you something bad or even define your work for you. You know your work and when someone tries to tell you something so far from your work, you have to remind them what your work is or is not.
Don’t throw shades at freelancers or try to label them as second options or low-budget staff. Labels can stick.
You can call us ‘freelancers’, it is not a fight word. Freelance designers, freelance photographers, and freelance writers are just all around us.
The problem is that the current economy has not offered viable job opportunities and thus everyone is finding themselves in a state where they have no employment and end up calling themselves ‘freelancers’. Well, if you chose to be a free agent when you could be employed, then you are a freelancer by choice and not circumstances. You chose your path.
Freelancers could also be employed remotely or on short-term open contracts that still allow them to pick side hustles.
People who are strictly employed are not even allowed in some instances to pick up part-time jobs, which is unfortunate because with this economy you can’t survive on a single source of income. It is only possible if that source of income is paying hundreds of thousands of dollars but you will also invest on the side, build some sort of business or just do something in case of a rainy day.
As for freelancing, it has been there since the 1960s and it is not a new thing that you shun as a fad. I was watching ‘Mad Men’, a 2004 series based on the 1960 advertising scene in New York and there were freelancers in that series. It is thus not bad thing.
It sounds ‘whorish’ a little bit since you are giving your services cheaply to every willing bidder but Nah it is not a bizarre thing.
Yours truly Slade.