Does the term 'Freelancer' hold negative connotations?

8 replies
I'm looking for a big of guidance on using the word 'freelance' when I describe my services.

I've recently engaged with an SEO expert who has advised that putting 'Freelance' in my online copy is going to push my ranking further up the search engine results (which , let's face it, is the goal).

The problem is as a copywriter I think that calling myself 'freelance' kind of underestimates my product and the business acumen involved in running my own business, and I'd much rather describe myself as a 'business-owner' or 'contractor' or something else.

I don't feel like freelancer cuts the mustard as far as the product I can deliver.

Personally, when I think of freelancers I think of the following:

*People who float around from one job to another without any loyalty to their clients.
*Wealthy travelers who are working for a bit of spending money while on their exotic travel destination.
*People fresh out of college who have no real experience and are doing whatever they can to build their portfolio,
*People who can't hold down a stable job so they're filling in time until one comes along.
*Mums who have left the workforce and are making a bit of extra cash while they look after their young kids.
*People bidding on sites like Upwork and Five for cr@p jobs with cr@p pay.

So establishing my business, I've tried to do everything I can to avoid the term but now my SEO guy has told me that it's one of the terms that I rank highest for which is kind of annoying.

Just interested really, what does 'freelancer' mean to you? Is this just a stigma I've created myself and do you think the word through my copy will still help my business be seen in the way I want it to?
#connotations #freelancer #hold #negative #term
  • Beats freeloader or freebaser, I guess.

    But 'copywriter' has more kudos, bein' a super specific term.

    Be that up front as a badge, an' bury 'freelance' an' such as an SEO hook in your html.

    That way, I figure you max on any pull 'freelance' got, with nonea (what I infer fromya are) the negative connotations.

    'demigod of writerly uberprowess' is also worth includin' cos people Google all kindsa shit.
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  • Profile picture of the author Courage
    I think it does hold negative connotations for some people. They hear "Freelancer"
    and think "Unemployed"
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  • Profile picture of the author gingerninjas
    Personally, I haven't ever promoted myself as a freelancer, and prefer consultant or marketing exec, or basically anything other than that term.

    That said you do need to go with the flow and bow to whatever the people are typing into Google, so I don't think it would be a huge issue if you test it as one of your keywords and see.

    Short answer, I run my own business and don't work for anyone else, so I guess I am freelance in some respects however don't ever pidgeon hole myself.

    Interested to see how your SEO goes, I use Google Adwords and get a good result when I do campaigns.
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  • In my experience...

    In my social life, calling myself a "Freelance Writer" gets people interested. Probably just because it's novel. A lot of people then try to subtly figure out if I'm broke or actually supporting myself. A few times it's piqued a woman's interest in me, again, probably just because it's novel.

    On the other hand, I have a friend who works HR high up in a big company. He said that on most resumes, they assume "freelance" means "unemployed." I can think of several other people with important positions in companies who looked down on "freelance."

    I usually tell people I run a small marketing firm.

    In terms of branding yourself, sounds like calling yourself a "freelance writer" will help you connect with clients who are actively seeking freelance writers. But if you want to pitch your services to big companies - where the decision makers are as far from entrepreneurs as you can get - they may look down on the term.

    But honestly, either way, clients are going to decide to hire your or not based on how well you can convince them you'll make them money, and make their lives easier. What you call yourself is only a small part of that.
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    • Profile picture of the author wordsandthebees
      Originally Posted by Benjamin Farthing View Post

      In my experience...

      In my social life, calling myself a "Freelance Writer" gets people interested. Probably just because it's novel. A lot of people then try to subtly figure out if I'm broke or actually supporting myself. A few times it's piqued a woman's interest in me, again, probably just because it's novel.

      On the other hand, I have a friend who works HR high up in a big company. He said that on most resumes, they assume "freelance" means "unemployed." I can think of several other people with important positions in companies who looked down on "freelance."

      I usually tell people I run a small marketing firm.

      In terms of branding yourself, sounds like calling yourself a "freelance writer" will help you connect with clients who are actively seeking freelance writers. But if you want to pitch your services to big companies - where the decision makers are as far from entrepreneurs as you can get - they may look down on the term.

      But honestly, either way, clients are going to decide to hire your or not based on how well you can convince them you'll make them money, and make their lives easier. What you call yourself is only a small part of that.
      That's very true, Benjamin.
      Particularly interesting is the point you raised about the Human Resources view (although this is just one person and not necessarily the voice of the people).

      I would never choose to market myself as a Freelancer for my own personal reasons (discussed in OP) but the fact that it's what the people wanted to see when they're in Google had made me question this.

      HOWEVER - as I've worked my way through the responses to this thread I've realised I can tailor my copy and content to tell people how I'm not just a 'freelance copywriter' and incorporate words that way.

      To clarify, no offence is meant to people that label themselves as a freelancer because ultimately that's what we all are - a person who is self-employed. My point is really that I think the word itself doesn't highlight all the responsibility that's involved in running a business, which is such a key part of what I do each day.

      Freelancer equals 'free'
      Business-owner equals 'committed'
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  • Profile picture of the author neshaword
    Not necessarily. Recently I had a passionate discussion with some of my friends about the eye-catching job titles. For some of them you would think that people earn millions of dollars. Yet, the truth is that besides the title itself, you have nothing more to be proud or happy about. So, for some people saying that you are a freelancer is like saying I am a desperate man with no full-time job. For me, it means I don't have a boss. I am my own company and business. I also don't feel obliged or stressed to associate any other word to the initial term freelancer. I choose what I wanna be. So, if some people associate freelancing with cheap prices, that is their problem. Here is an interesting term for you to consider if you are allergic to freelance itself. I found it on Upwork. A digital nomad. How this one sounds to you?
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    • Profile picture of the author wordsandthebees
      Originally Posted by neshaword View Post

      Not necessarily. Recently I had a passionate discussion with some of my friends about the eye-catching job titles. For some of them you would think that people earn millions of dollars. Yet, the truth is that besides the title itself, you have nothing more to be proud or happy about. So, for some people saying that you are a freelancer is like saying I am a desperate man with no full-time job. For me, it means I don't have a boss. I am my own company and business. I also don't feel obliged or stressed to associate any other word to the initial term freelancer. I choose what I wanna be. So, if some people associate freelancing with cheap prices, that is their problem. Here is an interesting term for you to consider if you are allergic to freelance itself. I found it on Upwork. A digital nomad. How this one sounds to you?
      Ewww yuck! A digital nomad is even worse to me ha ha.

      Truly, it is the connotation that you're a little non-committal and have no real ties that makes me dislike the word as a way to describe myself. Digital nomad enforces this tenfold!!
      Whatever anyone else does really has no bearing I am just interested in other people's opinions.
      When you say that you don't associate any other word with the term 'freelancer' so you can be whoever you want to be; does this also mean that you don't specialise in anything, or have I misunderstood? I'm a little confused.
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  • Profile picture of the author jamiednm
    It depends on your market. There is little or no difference between 'freelancer' and 'consultant' in many fields, yet I could understand if people think 'consultants' are more expensive. I often mix the two, calling myself a freelance design consultant, and that seems to resonate with my market.
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