What does it mean to be a ‘freelancer’?

My thoughts on the F-word. 

To be honest I don’t like the term ‘freelancer.’ It sounds generalist and dispensable. Don’t get me wrong, during my many years in agency I’ve employed ‘freelancers’ and at times would have been seriously lost without them, but what’s the difference between a ‘freelancer’ and a ‘consultant’? For me, a freelancer fills a gap in capacity, a consultant fills a gap in expertise. There’s room in most businesses for both for sure, but I know which side of the fence I’d rather be on.

Six weeks into running my own business, I’m slowly building my own client base and have also started my first consulting role. It’s in a big agency with a great reputation but it’s not a comms agency. I’m the only person in the room with a PR background and I’m adding value beyond relieving workload. By my book, this doesn’t make me a freelancer. This role is a first for me and I’m loving the different dynamic it’s bringing to my work and how much I’m learning already.

Working in this part time capacity is so far pretty much as I expected and I’m enjoying it. But what I hadn’t anticipated is the feeling of great privilege I’m getting, to have these people trust in me and my knowledge and from day one, trust me with their most creative thinking, business strategy and plans for the future. Of course, my side of the bargain is to uphold that position of trust and deliver great work for them. I’m not sure a freelancer would be feeling the same privilege at this point. I might be wrong. There is a place for freelancers for sure, but it’s not an F word I’ll be using any time soon.