I’m working on a project at the moment which involves me speaking to a number of people who I would loosely term as a ‘freelancer’. In speaking with these folks, I am finding that the definition isn’t so black and white, and varies from person to person.
Some people call themselves Freelance Web Designer, Freelance Web Developer, Solo Worker, Consultant, Proprietor, Entrepreneur…the list goes on.
After much research, my definition of a Freelancer is ‘someone who sells their services to employers or clients without a long-term contract’.
Now, this covers everyone from solo workers who deal directly with end clients, or possibly work as a contractor to a number of larger businesses, which then on-sell your services to their own client base. The main distinction here is that you don’t have staff working for you; however you may be involved in ‘virtual teams’ using other freelancers for particular projects.
Perhaps there’s a negative connotation to the term Freelancer that I’m not privy to? It’s an odd one, and I’d be keen for your thoughts here – are you a web freelancer? Are you proud of the position title, and what does the term freelancer mean to you? What is your definition of a freelancer?
9 April 2008 at 11:08 am
I think the dictionary definition sits better with me:
“working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company : a freelance journalist.”
The ‘2.0’ version may throw in direct work for clients – but I think the bottom line is the working for other web companies on a non-contract/employment basis.
9 April 2008 at 1:24 pm
There is still a perception that freelancers == cheap, which not always the case. I know a number of freelancers (including myself) that are are only freelancers by definition – they do big jobs and are respected amongst their peers.
That is probably why I’m trying to remember to call myself a consultant now 🙂
Another friend of mine calls her business a “studio”…
9 April 2008 at 8:55 pm
An a freelance consultant 🙂 I work in a studio (not an office), I am not cheap. I do work on long term contracts from time to time. I work directly with clients. I do work for other organisations subcontracting there web work. I’m I a freelancer, maybe, you tell me. I guess I promote my name as a brand more than my business most of the time.
10 April 2008 at 8:41 am
The term freelancer always conjured up visions of someone that could choose their hours to fit in with their lifestyle. Someone that was striving for a work/life balance. Perhaps a little bohemian. But now that I am a freelancer (looking to become an ex-freelancer) I can definitely say that it’s not a lifestyle for everyone. Theoretically I’m working more, with less time off, and getting paid a lot less. I think perhaps I’m doing something wrong!
10 April 2008 at 9:42 pm
I tend to think of myself as a freelancer. Although I trade under a business name, I work alone except for occasions when I engage contractors to assist. I have also been known to work on a project-by-project basis for other companies but I spend most of my time working directly with clients.
I think a freelancer is somebody who chooses who they work for and when.
11 April 2008 at 8:55 am
I think that Miles has it right. A freelancer could be someone who contracts to two or three web companies, or could tout themselves as a web designer directly to their clients.
The fact that they work for themselves makes them a Freelance Web Designer or Freelance Web Developer.
I agree with Krissy too – the freelance life is not for everyone.
11 April 2008 at 10:53 am
I think it really comes down to transient work, like Miles said, but I don’t think its the length of contract that determines it, but rather the fact that you are not working exclusively for one “employer”.
I think it is a subset of the independent contractor — where a contractor might still have to adhere to certain overarching rules etc. I see a Freelancer as someone with more flexibility than your general “contractor”. I actually think it is a more restrictive term than people use it for… for example, when I was a “freelancer” for a firm, because I was micromanaged and expected to adhere, I didn’t feel like I was a freelancer as such. I was a contract worker.
As a freelancer, I dictate the rules, the pricing, the hours I keep, and the standard of work that I produce.
Perhaps it also comes down to the level of supervision/micromanagement?
(Can you tell I hate being micromanaged? ;))
14 April 2008 at 12:31 am
Freelancer is all the above and more but if you notice, most of the freelance community are the ones using that term….most businesses tend to call us “independent contractors” which seems more cold and stark than the more warm term of freelancer.
7 May 2008 at 8:43 pm
I think Alex hit the nail on the head…
“I think a freelancer is somebody who chooses who they work for and when.”
I think a brick & mortar business & regulated hours can apply to commercial or home based businesses (even though the latter affords more flexibility).
A freelancer has less commitments he/she is responsible for, so is afforded the luxury of pick & choose.