I might be aging myself, but when I hear freelancer, I think hippie. Even now that I know I’m a freelancer, I still think it.🤷♀️
If you’re a freelancer, please don’t be mad! I’m a freelancer – it’s a stigma we need to get past!
Since people still think like I did (do?) we need to shift our mindset.
Bottom line: You need to quit calling yourself a freelancer!
What is a freelancer?
Let’s start here. What is a freelancer? A freelancer is someone who works for themself as an independent contractor.
Oftentimes, people go into freelance work for freedom and flexibility when it comes to the work they do. While that notion seems brilliant, sadly, one of the things commonly associated with “freelance” is inconsistent income, and presumably, a lack of business savvy. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!
My mindset story
I have always said that I became a virtual assistant when I SAID that I was a virtual assistant. It was my attitude. It was the perception that I conveyed when talking about my new endeavor.
Actually, I didn’t speak as though it was new. I spoke as though I was in the thick of it, when in fact I didn’t even have a client yet. But I had the experience, so I felt like I was doing it all along!
That was my mindset.
Change your mindset to change the perception
If the association with “freelance” is less than desirable, then don’t call yourself a freelancer.
A term I’ve recently been using is “independent contractor”. I feel like more people understand that means I work for myself. As in, I don’t have an employer. I like the connotation of that, and that’s just what I’ve found myself saying.
If I get into a discussion about what I actually do, that’s when I say that I’m a Virtual Assistant, which usually leads to describing what I do for my current clients.
So let’s find a better “name” for what I do. What do I do for my ideal client? Well, my favorite task is to respond to customer emails. I want to solve their problems!
What does that do for my clients? It provides a superior experience for their customers. Everyone wants to be heard – to receive a response. When customers are attended to, they feel important and that makes them happy.
And when customers are happy, they remain customers. And they refer their friends!
So what could I call this? A customer coordinator? Customer experience manager? In simple terms, I say that I manage their inboxes. 🤷♀️😂 While it’s true, if you were trying to find a better title, you might pick something like Customer Experience Manager.
Actually, I like that one!🤔 Oh! Customer Experience Expert! Yessss!!!
What other professionals have to say about mindset
Don’t take it just from me. I mean, anyone can write on the internet! 😂 Here is what some others have said about the topic…
I like how Borja Moya describes the freelancer mindset in this article. It basically says that you become a freelancer when you think about yourself and act as a professional. It’s your mindset that takes you to the next level.
Brennan Dunn of Double Your Freelancing advocates finding a better name to describe what you do. Brennan’s course, Double Your Freelancing Rate, revolves around a mindset shift that needs to take place so that you are properly valuing yourself and your services.
Go to his website and right off the bat you can get a FREE 9-day course tailored to you! Click the big blue button to get started!
Raelyn Tan is a list-building expert. On her website, she has online courses to help you build your email list. I love her List Building Incubator course, but scroll past that and you’ll find some free downloads! She calls herself a Profitable Visibility Specialist. Isn’t that a jazzy way to say, list-building expert?!
Does your degree or professional designation change anything?
Umm, I mean, sort of. And not necessarily. 🤷♀️
If you have some letters after your name, it’s a credibility that you earned and you should use that to tell people what you’ve accomplished! Realistically, they’ll figure it out if you’re legit or not.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have any letters! This is not to say that you need them to be a freelancer!
But definitely use your professional designations. People with letters after their name can usually command higher rates because of the perceived authority that comes with the education required to get those little letters!
Actually, I think this is a whole other conversation, so I’ll be circling back to it in the coming weeks: how to go from a professional employment career to a freelance/independent contractor gig.
Grab a piece of paper, or open up a Google Doc. Describe what you do for your clients.
Don’t have any clients? What is it that you want to do for your ideal client? What have you done for clients or customers in the past (think past life, like employer situations)?
What outcome do they (or will they) experience as a result of working with you?
Try using short, bullet statements. Look through your bullet points and start combining words like I did above. “Customer Experience Manager”, “Customer Experience Expert”.
As you’re pulling together the different words, certain words will start to sound right. They’ll POP. Notice that I gravitated to Customer and Experience – these words were popping for me! But the 3rd word wasn’t exactly right.
Keep stringing the words together in a different order. Say them out loud. Hopefully, you have a big Ah-Ha moment like I did when you strike the right combination!
I would love to hear what you come up with!
I hope this article and the exercise help you to shift your mindset to a place of greater value and help you find a different way to describe yourself! Because what you do is surely valuable!