“You’re not just a freelancer, you’re a business. You’re a brand. You are here representing that brand.”

In March I was at a networking event at the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce. It was a round-table style event with roughly 50 attendees representing different local businesses. Each attendee gets 1-2 minutes to give their elevator speech to the crowd. Prior to the event I sat next to a business coach who I’d never met before. She introduced herself as Gina, a local business coach, and asked me a bit about my business, to which I replied “I’m a freelance designer/developer”.

She immediately stopped me and told me, “You’re not just a freelancer, you’re a business. You’re a brand. You are here representing that brand.”

On the agenda, Gina gave her pitch first and she used our conversation as an example of how she can help everyone else in the room. She recounted how I said “I’m just a freelancer” and how she taught me that I’m much more than that. I like to think of myself as coachable. Always learning and growing and always open to feedback, especially from a business coach who has much more experience and success than I do at being an entrepreneur in Myrtle Beach. I didn’t disagree with her and when it was my turn to give my pitch I gave my standard rehearsed pitch as if nothing had happened. I may have even thanked Gina for her free advice.

I’m Still A Freelancer

Well it’s been a couple months since that day, yet I still think about it. It crosses my mind whenever I hear the term “freelancer”. And what I’ve discovered is that I AM a freelancer, but I am not JUST a freelancer. There is no “I” in company. I am not a company. But there is an “I” in business and I AM a business.

Being a freelancer doesn’t mean I work alone either. Sure, I have no employees, partners, managers, or bosses, (no company) but I still work in teams with people. I can get to know new people quickly and work with them towards a common goal, likely on a short timeline. Just browse around the “issues” tab of this GitHub Repo for a public working example. (And contact me if you’re interested in contributing to this project).

The Downside

Some businesses want to do business with other businesses. They want the security of knowing that if they choose you to represent their branding and marketing department and you die in a tragic car accident the next day that they won’t be hung out to dry. Certain jobs and contracts require such stability. What I do, however, doesn’t.

My Advice

If you are a business considering doing business with me, know that I use standard practices and contracts to protect YOUR investment. This will ensure that you receive whatever you pay for. I also heavily document my processes to allow you to pick up where I left off or hire someone else if something goes wrong.

If you consider yourself a freelancer, be sure to choose your target market properly. Give your clients access to your work and use tools that other people can use. Most importantly, embrace the fact that you are a freelancer. Work hard. Contribute. Add value.