Freelance Writer — What’s In a Name?

Rethinking My Professional Title

Michael Stover
Jun 17 · 4 min read

“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” William Shakespeare asked and answered this age-old question in Romeo and Juliet. But we still wonder about names and titles today.

Lately I’ve been rethinking my title of Freelance Writer & Editor. My legal business name is Michael Stover — Freelance Writer & Editor.

Sounds simple enough, right? Until someone asks me what I do for a living. That’s when I offer a variety of answers.

  • “I write and edit copy for digital marketing companies.”
  • “I write and edit advertising copy for online marketing.”
  • “I help businesses by writing and editing their marketing communications.”
  • “I work from home writing and editing marketing material for use on the Internet.”

But these answers typically beg more questions, like, “Do you get paid for writing?” “You can make money that way?” Or, here’s my favorite, “No, I mean, what do you do for a living?”

Freelance Misunderstandings

As common as freelancing is in today’s business world, many I talk to completely misunderstand it. Even some of my family and closest friends believe I sit at home most days and watch Harry Potter movies until the muse to write mysteriously wanders through my living room.

I’m convinced the main misunderstanding is in the term ‘freelancer.’

Then, I furiously write day and night to record what the writing muse has blessed me with before moving on. After this almost-holy experience is over, I publish a masterpiece in unknown places, for which I am paid handsomely. Don’t I wish.

I’m convinced the main misunderstanding is in the term ‘freelancer.’ Freelancer, freelancing, and freelance writer & editor. FREElance. Free meaning the freedom to live as I please, work as I please, NOT work when I please, and yet still watch my bank account numbers roll over like the icons in a slot machine.

Re-Interpreting Freelancing

I’d like to suggest that we who are freelancers make an effort to re-interpret our working lifestyle to our family and friends. Obviously, because misunderstandings abound, we need to add a fresh explanation to the term ‘freelancing.’

I suggest dropping the ‘r’ and calling it Fee-lancing. As in, performing entirely professional, skilled services for a fee. Now, that doesn’t sound so innocuous, does it? Many people get up, drive to work, sit in an office, and perform similar tasks for a fee. I just choose to do so from the comfort of my own home, and on my own timetable.

After a year of full-time freelancing, after doing it on the side for 5 years, I now earn a respectable living by working from home in a t-shirt and running shorts. My office is a comfy chair, laptop computer, and a nearby table holding a tablet, pen, and coffee.

What’s In a Name? Freelancing Self-Respect

Perhaps this re-interpretation of freelancing can help us freelancers to gain some measure of self-respect. After all, when we struggle to define what we do, it’s almost as if we doubt who we are in this world.

Freelancing is simply performing skilled, professional services for a fee, for companies who require such services. FEE-lancing has nice ring to it. Or does it?

“I’m a paid contractor who works from home writing and editing digital marketing copy for businesses.”

I’m not suggesting we completely discard the term ‘freelancing.’ Perhaps only that we infuse it with new meaning by including the idea of getting paid for our services.

“I’m a paid contractor who works from home writing and editing digital marketing copy for businesses.” This response describes a freelancer completely, but emphasizing the fact that I’m a paid professional and not just a dreamer / bum that sits at home waiting for lightening to strike.

Are you a freelancer who struggles with this concept? How do you answer when asked what you do? How do you deal with the negative or confusing connotations surrounding the term freelancer? I’d love to read your responses in the comments.

For writing help, see my other Medium articles or visit my website at Michael Stover — Freelance Writer & Editor.

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Michael Stover

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Author, talented writer, and exacting editor. Exploring the depths and riches of the written word. Why not join me? Learn more at http://michaeldstover.com.

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