In some situations, freelancers can get a bad reputation for unreliability, lack of professionalism, low quality work and so on. This can then be generalized so people begin to think that all freelancers are like that. The reality is that freelancers form a cross-section of the global workforce today as more people decide to go it alone and throw off the prison-like shackles of their former wage slave life.
Do You Need To Call Yourself A Freelancer?
The question these days is whether you even need to call yourself a freelancer in the first place. It really doesn’t communicate that much because freelancers collectively perform hundreds, if not thousands, of different roles.
A freelancer can be a freelancer in the evenings and weekends, but hold down a regular job in the same or a completely different industry during their regular working week.
It’s often better to discuss the services that you offer. For instance, when I was developing web sites I could drop that into casual conversation. People would surprisingly often ask for my business card. They may have pepped me with questions or not even asked a single question at all, this didn’t seem to affect them asking for a card to take away with them.
Once they’d made the in-person connection, that was enough to start. Then once in touch professional, they could look over a portfolio and discuss their specific requirements. You really didn’t have to push it.
So calling yourself a freelancer isn’t actually necessary. People may call you that, but it’s just a label and one that doesn’t convey much useful information either.
There is the perception sometimes that freelancers are unreliable. In reality, within large departments and large businesses there are plenty of middling to poor performers who hide amongst the other employees and coast on their incompetence.
By constantly, if a freelancer cannot market effectively or produce the right quality work within a reasonable time-scale, they won’t last long as a freelancer. They won’t get repeat business, they won’t get referrals and word with gradually get around that they’re to be avoided.
In this sense, freelancers actually have to be much more efficient (they run their own business with all that entails after all, not just performing one job role for a single employer) in order to stay in business.
A freelancer will not make good rates for their work if their work is not up to snuff. There are just too many other freelancers available in the marketplace and there is only a minimal barrier to entry for a client to make a switch to someone else.
If You’re a Freelancer, You’re Unemployed
The perception by some misguided individuals who are so indoctrinated by the idea that one must always have a ball and chain that is an employer and a boss, is that if you’re a freelancer, you’re really just out of work.
Perhaps it can be true that some people with an extended period of unemployment may call themselves a freelancer (one would think they’d be more likely to call themselves “a consultant” which is such a vague term that it belies description anyway).
In most cases, few people will say they’re a freelancer unless they really are. Saying they’re a freelancer just leaves too many follow-up questions. They’ll be quizzed about what they do. Then what type of writing or web design or programming or technical support that they actually provide.
The elevator speech needs to be ready for such moments so that you can answer the question succinctly when the need suddenly arises.
Lack of Qualification For Another Role
In the employment world, to pass the test and get through the door, you’ve got to bring all sorts of academic qualifications. These prove to a potential employer that you know how to think about certain subjects. Often, the subjects are completely unrelated to the job at hand, so a degree or other qualification is really saying that you’re no slouch.
At the end of the day, the employer has no access to your work product from your previous job. Due to confidentiality clauses, the person at the interview stage may only be able to talk vaguely about what job they do for their present employer and also give vague, positive-sounding reasons for why they want to leave (you never say it’s become your boss is a tyrant!)
So the new employee is a total shot in the dark regardless of the qualifications and 3rd stage interviews. Whether they will actually be able to deliver on the job is a bit of a crap shoot. No one wants to admit this, so they wrap the whole thing up in a selection process and personality testing and all sort of things to try to say that they tried to pick the right person. But it’s all a nonsense because you’ve never seen their actually work or even know how they work.
A freelance writer on the other hand will have live samples of their actual work product (articles, posts, etc.) that other people paid real money to receive. A web developer or web programmer will have a portfolio of sites that they’ve actually worked on and be able to describe exactly what they did on those sites. They can even show you the code and explain why they wrote it the way that they did or how they came up with the original design.
By contrast, a potential employee at interview can indicate that they wrote certain bits of code with special functions that they never even touched, but which their currently employer won’t confirm or deny. Unless they’re a reporter and get a regular byline in the newspaper, they won’t be able to show you what they did at work last week. It’s all rather sad.
So would you rather know what a freelancer can do by seeing it with your own eyes and trust that they can deliver the same quality again for you too? Or would you rather run on a wing and a prayer, cross your fingers and hope? We know what we’d rather do!
Freelancers Pad The Estimates
There is a perception that freelancers will add extra time and inflate their prices. In fact, going through a freelancer can save a business the cost of employing someone and paying all the associated employment costs like taxes, office space, chairs, phone lines, etc. So even if a freelancer padded an estimate, they’d still be way cheaper.
In reality, estimating prices is always a difficult thing because no two projects are completely alike, clients change their minds, projects evolve and grow once they’re under-way and shockingly… clients don’t always share all the pertinent information about the project when they’re asking for the quote. Yes, it’s very surprising..
There is no need to pad estimates for extra costs, however if you know that projects for a particularly client tend to grow or if a client always negotiates harder than everyone else, then there is nothing wrong with providing a more expensive estimate in order to come out with the necessary income in the end. After all, freelancers have to make a decent living too. That right is not only reserved for the client.
Freelancers Are Unprofessional
Actually, when answering the phone, they’re likely to greet you by name. There isn’t going to be a computer answering the phone saying “dial 1 for this, dial 2 for that, dial 3 to be ignored some more…”
Service is better, more professional but also more personal too. As the freelancer doesn’t have a huge list of clients, they can tailor their service more towards each client. As such, the client who is just a number to an oversized corporation, actually matters to the freelancer and their bottom line. This is then reflected in the service level received by the client.