Freelancers: Do you prefer to be called consultants or freelancers?

Freelancer

Hey guys - 

Just picked up on a really great comment by Jerson and later Tim re: the use of "consultant" and "freelancer" by course designers. 

I think that's such a huge topic that I didn't want it buried in the other discussion.

So what do you think? Which term do you prefer and why?

19 Replies
Tim Slade

Honestly, I've never really thought about it too much. From the previous conversation, I do agree that the term "consultant" may carry a larger sense of professionalism/credibility in the eyes on a client. You could make the same argument for firms, agencies or small businesses. 

At the end of the day, I'll go with whatever the client prefers to call me. If they get too hung-up on whether to call me a freelancer or consultant, they may not be a client I'd like working with anyhow.

Matthew Bibby

How you position yourself and your services is everything.

When I first went out on my own, I referred to myself as a freelancer. Then I quickly realized that many companies view freelancers in a negative light (often because they have had negative experiences with flaky freelancers in the past). 

So, I switched to using the term consultant and have found that it has made a real difference in the way that I'm perceived. It not only makes getting new work easier, but also changes the nature of the working relationship with the client for the better.

So for me, consultant is the preferred term.

Matthew Bibby

Maybe if we all call ourselves specialists, we can be as happy as Jim:

I've also been called a programmer, a computer guy and an 'eLearning Ninja' (which made me consider if I really wanted to work with that client). At the end of the day I think Nancy is right, as long as they pay their bills (and are respectful) - what the client calls you doesn't really matter.

However, what you call yourself does matter...

Jackie Van Nice

Ha :) True, Nancy!  And good job culling the comment, David. It did seem to merit its own path.

My clients refer to me as "Jackie", "the designer" or "the vendor" depending on the conversation.

I briefly referred to myself as a "freelancer" on LinkedIn and started getting loads of offers for temp positions and sub work - no direct clients and no work I'd want to take. I deleted that title pretty quickly!

I refer to myself as an "independent instructional designer" now, but don't worry about a title much. I used to do lots of software systems consulting and it's just personal preference that I don't use "consultant" anymore. I'm much happier reminding myself that I'm a designer. :)

Ashley Chiasson

I really haven't given too much weight to either title; I think I prefer Consultant because, as folks have said it seems more professional, and Freelancer reminds me of my days picking up odd gigs (and being compensated extremely unfairly in most cases) from freelancer.com. I will say that I get "Contractor" a lot more than any other title. I was just on a call with a prospective client who kept referring to me as a contractor - I almost wanted to tell her that I only do doors and windows.

There isn't really a title I feel disrespects me and my profession, but I certainly prefer Consultant or even Independent Instructional Designer over any of the titles.

Ashley Chiasson

Thanks Cary - I needed that laugh :P 

I worked for an organization that had an affinity for coming up with arbitrary titles, which was awesome if you were the one giving yourself an arbitrary title...but then there were layoffs. By law, the employer would need to hire you back before advertising for your position, but no one ever hired back the arbitrary titles because those 'positions' no longer existed (they did, just under a different title), so they were kind of a kiss of death :P