Remember my Be Free, Lance column that I started over at Studio Sweet Studio? While they were generous to host everything the past several months, I knew it was time to move my posts over to my own blog, especially since I’ll be leading a workshop on this sort of thing. You can find the posts right here from now on. Plus, I’m just so excited to get back into the swing of things after taking a month or so off from sharing new tips + tricks.

I don’t know about you, but when I first started freelancing and would tell others about what I did … I got a LOT of blank stares. This question quickly creeped up : Is freelancing a bad word?? The short and confusing answer is yes and no, but I’ll dig a little deeper.

When I’m talking to fellow web + graphic designers, there’s a level of understanding in what we do, especially when it comes to freelancing. However, when someone outside of my field ( IE: friends, family, strangers ) begins to inquire about my job, their response is quite different. It goes a little something like this : “What do you do for a living?” – “I’m a freelance designer.” – “Ohhh.” To the average joe, the word freelancing is sometimes associated with someone who doesn’t work much or simply can’t get a job. Although not everyone thinks this, it’s the sad cliche some believe to be true.

So, I tested my theory out. Instead of telling people I was a freelance designer when they asked about my job, I told them I started my own business. Same job, different wording, right?? Right. And guess what … the responses I got took a complete 360. Eyes would brighten and a slew of questions would follow verses awkward silence.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely proud of being a freelance designer – and I’m a firm believer that there’s nothing wrong in being self-employed. I just choose my words carefully now depending on who I’m speaking to. You have to remember that not everyone is as knowledgeable of the design world as you may be.

  1. Alison says:

    OH MAN! I am so trying this! It is so nice to hear that another freelancer also has this problem. I’ve dreaded that question for so long, since usually it ends with me babbling some nonsense trying to convince a stranger that I’m not a total slacker.

    I’m so excited you’ve brought the column back, I love reading your advice. :)

  2. Caitlin says:

    I mostly do freelance work now too and someone asked what I did and I also said that I have my own business and they did the same 360 thing you mentioned! Totally works and is totally legit.

  3. Emily says:

    That’s an interesting thought. I sometimes find it hard to imagine what other people’s jobs entail so I can totally see how the creative world can seem like a big ol’ question mark to outsiders.

    Looking forward to reading your column.

    Emily x

  4. When I hear someone say they’re a freelance designer, I usually tell them how jealous I am. But that’s probably just because I’m a creative type.

    One day I’ll get there.

    Look forward to your feature. Off to back read them now!

  5. I know those blank stares…. I’ve decided to ONLY tell people that I own a design business, rather than I ‘freelance’, because I feel that if I tell people I own a design business, that I treat it more like a business.

  6. Joanna says:

    Thank you for doing this column!
    I hope to be freelance (or start my own business!) someday, and I know there’s a long way to go and a lot of work to do to get there, so I find your posts very insightful and inspiring! Looking forward to reading the rest.

    I love your blog by the way, you post some lovely / inspiring things!

  7. twiggs says:

    i feel the same when i say that i’m a blogger or when i say to people who know about my background in psychology that now i’m a photographer. i think that they imagine me doing little to nothing things, or just by taking some cute pictures, instead of actually being a professional at it.

  8. CANDACE says:

    Ahhh. Can I just say that I stumbled across your blog and I’m so glad that I found it!! I think I’m hooked. I have just decided to start working as a freelance illustrator… and althought I’m not ready to quit my day job you’re blog is a HUGE help in getting started.

    Thank you so much for all of your beautiful inspiration and advice.

    • CANDACE says:

      I should probably proof read my comments, eh?
      although* & your*

      Now off to drink my coffee… ;)

    • bre says:

      Aww, I’m SO glad I could be of some help. :) But seriously, freelancing is an amazing journey. It may be hard, but it’s so very much worth it. Wishing you luck!! Xx.

  9. Adam says:

    Hi Bre, I’m sole trading on the side at the moment, but seriously considering going freelance. Managing my own books is a big worry. Do you have like a freelancer accountant or similar to look after your finances or do you just do the self assessment yourself? I’m slightly worried about things like IR35 and exactly what I can claim on expenses and how.

    PS: Like Candace I’m really happy to find your blog will definitely subscribe. Loving your Olympic doodles ^_^

  10. Sofia says:

    SO glad I found this post. Been a while that I struggled explaining others what I do on a daily basis and looking at their expressions when I mention freelancing. Definitely gonna try this approach and see what happens :)
    Thank you for sharing, it’s always encouraging to read people having similar experience as us and overcoming them.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.