Why I DO use the word ‘freelancer’

I still call myself a freelancer (a freelance technical copywriter, to be exact). It’s just a word, but one that I see getting trashed on a semi-regular basis online. Usually by someone else who does the same work as me: outsourced writing (copywriting or content writing) for companies, people, etc.

And I roll my eyes … hard.

Why do copywriters still run away from the word ‘freelancer’?

I really don’t understand the aversion to the word. Sure, a number of years ago, the word ‘freelancer’ might’ve conjured up negative connotations. You know the ones ...

  • Content mills where someone on the other side of the world was churning out content for fractions of a penny.
  • People creating websites full of ‘stuffed’ pages and posts that caused genuine website owners to fear a Google backlash.
  • People who live in parts of the world where the cost of living is so much lower that they don’t need to charge as much for their writing.
  • Or even people who were simply covering up the fact that they were unemployed.

Professional copywriters who happened to work on an ad-hoc basis for real companies were scared to call themselves freelance copywriters. They didn’t want to be lumped in with these other pretenders. I get that.

Today’s copywriters are worth a lot more

I understand the fear that they’d only be able to find work with companies willing to pay $5 a post or $25 for a project that took them 12 hours to complete. Or that prospects would push back on their “higher” rates because they could hire a freelancer for a fraction of your rate. That was nearly 20 years ago.

Today, companies place a higher value on freelance copywriters. Why? Because they went through those wild days and the shitty content they got from these low-cost writers. It was a classic case of “they got what they paid for”. They realized that the low cost of production meant they got content they had to edit, proofread, re-write, resource, and sometimes start from scratch.

Clients started valuing freelance copywriters much more.
Clients started valuing freelance copywriters much more.

Companies understand that if they want content they can simply quickly read through and pass along to their publication or graphic design team, they have to pay more. They realize they’re paying for a freelancer’s expertise and experience and have no qualms doing so. My clients have my back when their senior execs say they’ve got to trim their budget. They know I’m worth every penny they pay me.

After all, I’m saving my clients on-boarding costs, training costs, health benefits costs, time, and effort. So while my invoice might look like a big number taken on the face of it, when they factor in those other costs, they realize I’m worth it to them. They’ll tell any SVP that they can get rid of something else, but not Julia. 🤟

I call shenanigans on those who don’t use ‘freelancer’

This is why I have no patience for any copywriter today who’s scared to call themselves a freelance copywriter. There’s simply no reason to think of it as a dirty word and to be ashamed of using it. Let me repeat that.

There’s. No. Reason. To. Be. Scared. Of. The. Word. Freelancer.

I’ve almost always called myself a freelance copywriter since I started in this business nearly 7 years ago. The only change I’ve made in the last year or so is that I now call myself a freelance technical copywriter, but that’s it.

Why ‘freelance’ means more than ever before

Saying you’re a freelance copywriter today means you’re a professional copywriter. A copywriter who delivers quality work to clients at real rates. Someone who’s constantly studying their craft to keep up with the latest trends and demands from their market.

It also means I’m a small business owner and am responsible for my own work production, marketing, invoicing + accounting, taxes, travel, resources like internet service, royalty-free images, cloud software tools, facilities management, training, conferences, and more.

It’s all on me.

It’s not a side hustle, it’s my main hustle.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. When people ask me how business is going, I tell them I’ve never been happier; which is true. I enjoy the freedom of being a freelance technical copywriter.

I work with the clients I want to work with … on the projects I want to work on …. when I want to work on them. Period.

Are there times when I miss working full-time for someone else? Sometimes, like when I go on vacation and don’t get paid for it. Or when I have to chase down a client about a late invoice.

But then I think about the times where I helped my clients reach their marketing goals when they didn’t have the resources to do it before. Or the interesting technology I’ve researched and written about (like AR and mixed reality). Or the time I took the afternoon off to go see Star Wars: The Last Jedi on my birthday (which I totally did and had a blast doing).

The only way I was able to do all that was because I’m a freelance technical copywriter. I say it proudly.

I am a freelancer.

What about you? Do you like the word ‘freelancer’?

Photo courtesy: unsplash-logoRiccardo Annandale and unsplash-logoBonnie Kittle

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