What to call yourself if you’re a multi-talented freelancer

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What to call yourself if you’re a multi-talented freelancer

A question from Nancy,

I’m stuck with what title to give myself in my freelance business? My social network profiles tell the story of my work in words and my website does with sample images but when people want a one line title to attach to my name, I am at a loss.

You see, I have regular freelance clients who use me for graphic design and strategy consulting, others who strictly use me as their photographer and some clients that use all my services and call me their project manager.

Project manager sounds important but doesn’t show that I have any creative abilities. I know PMs who manage some really boring stuff in the financial world which is nothing like what I do!

So help me… What am I?

Nancy

~~~

When we’re creative freelancers, it’s usually not at just one specific thing.

Most times it’s a mix of a few different areas.

Designer / photographer / illustrator / creative consultant / brand strategist / business stylist / project manager / art director / letterer / artist…

We’re torn between being clear to clients and potential clients about what we do, but we don’t want to limit ourselves and stifle our creativity.

~~~

Here’s the thing.

What we call ourselves doesn’t matter and people don’t care.

WHO we work with and WHAT we do is much more important (and meaningful) than our TITLE.

~~~

Here’s my 3 tips on how to get clear about what you do…


3 tips to knowing how to describe what you do as a freelance creative. Vari Longmuir | Buttercup Ink


#1 Stop talking about YOU

No doubt, you’ve heard about creating an elevator pitch or cocktail line about what you do. You know, that snappy lil’ one-liner that tells people who you are.

Whilst this is great in theory, I’ve always felt totally cheesy saying it!

~~~

Rambling, scatter-brained line:

I’m Vari. I’m been a graphic designer for 10 years and have been a freelancer for the last 5. I do branding and some digital design oh and I sometimes mentor other freelancers, and hold some workshops and stuff… Yeah, stuff like that. Oh and I can take photos too…

Me, me, me, me and more vague me-ness.

~~~

Here’s the reframe.

Make it about them, not you.

~~~

The reframe formula:

I’m [NAME], I work with [DREAM CLIENTS] to help them [PERFECT SOLUTION FOR SAID DREAM CLIENT].

~~~

New and improved line:

Hey, I’m Vari, I work with entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them create the perfect brand for their business that’s aligned with their big vision.

So what if you do more than just one thing?

You can add this on after the initial one-liner.

So in my case…

I also work with other creative freelancers as a mentor helping them to start and grow a freelance business that gives then more money and more freedom.

What’s important to know is that this is never set in stone.

Your elevator pitch should change depending on the environment and who you’re talk to.

So again in my case, if I were at an event where there were lots of women entrepreneurs, I’d give the designer line up front and focus on that.

This is what’s going to be more relevant for these girls.

Likewise, if I’d been invited to speak at a meet up for new freelance creatives, I’m going to focus more on the mentoring side of my work. Again, it’s more relevant to the audience.

~~~

#2 Focus on what you want more of

In Nancy’s case, she’s offering a few different services to different clients which is totally cool. Variety is the spice of life ‘n’ all that but my question is this:

What is you’re perfect type of project or client?

Just because you do a certain type of project for a particular client, doesn’t mean that you have to offer this to everyone.

When you’re talking about who you work with and what you do, always focus on what you want to attract more of.

So if you’re prefect project is to work as a project manager, Nancy, make sure your bios, profiles and website copy reflect this kind of work.

~~~

#3 Create your own title if you have to

If you find that you have to give yourself an actual title, get creative and create one that feels right to you.

You don’t want to get toooooo creative with this though. To the point that no-one has a clue what you do.

Again, in your case, Nancy, you might want to go with ‘designer and creative consultant’.

~~~

Nikki Elledge Brown does this perfectly by calling herself, The Communication Stylist.

And my client Jamie sums it up beautifully with, Designer. Developer. Solution Finder.

~~~

Give it a try!

Use the formula above with the lil’ add-on if you’re the multi-talented type and introduce yourself in the comments below.

 

18 Comments

  1. Shaina Longstreet
    08/03/2015

    I struggled with this so much!! But then when my title/name came to me I knew it was exactly the right fit. I now call myself a Visual Identity Specialist. 😀 Such a great post. I love your suggestions.

    Reply
    • Vari
      10/03/2015

      Love your title, Shaina! Can’t wait to see your site go live.

      V xx

      Reply
    • Danielle
      10/10/2016

      Thanks for that title!
      I have been dabbling into SOO many different niches of late; that when asked what sort of freelance writer I am?
      Or,
      What do I specialise in?
      I’m frequently stumped at what to say! This has helped me immensely.
      So, again, Thanks for your comment/tittle suggestion!!

      Cheers,
      Dani 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jamie
    11/03/2015

    Thanks for the mention, Vari! Such as great post!!

    xo

    Reply
    • Vari
      12/03/2015

      Thanks, Jamie and you’re so welcome!

      V xx

      Reply
  3. Nancy i
    14/03/2015

    I think I finally got it…
    Full-service Creative Resource
    What do yo think?

    Reply
    • Vari
      16/03/2015

      Cool, Nancy! To me ‘resource’ maybe sounds a lil’ impersonal… maybe something like ‘consultant’ would work?

      V xx

      Reply
  4. julianaloh @bilbaobab
    05/12/2015

    Love this! So helpful, already practising some of this, but it’s always very difficult to whittle it down and not sound overly self indulgent, I also always pose the question back. And you’re so right about crafting the right elevator pitch depending on who you’re talking to, it’s so easy to repeat ad verbatim because it’s easier that way.

    Reply
  5. Mario MJ Perron
    14/01/2016

    Hi Vari,

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I found it at the right time. I’ve just got off another amazing project that yet again another very rich learning experience.
    My self-defined dilemma seems to be that on paper I’m looking like a scattered individual without focus. I’m blessed to have worked in very many diverse and unrelated businesses, so I’m challenged when asked which one I like the most. If I had to I’d say I love work that allows me to learn, be creative, and teach… beyond that, I’m simply a very curious soul about almost everything.
    I hope you don’t mind if I borrow most of your elevator pitch, because it resonates with me and how I see myself.
    My title could be “Developer. Creative Consultant. Solution Finder.” This makes me feel good as a self-definition.
    Note: I’ve included my art website for the purpose of the form above and for you to enjoy.

    Inspiration seems to find me in multiples or as related signs… and your post found me in such a related group. I’m considering starting a new Blog entitled “Just About Anything!” It feels good when I think about it.
    I very much look forward to reading more from you and I’m grateful I found you today.
    Blessings,
    M.

    Reply
    • Gina H
      11/02/2016

      I’ve been struggling with this. I use visual marketing consultant or visual marketing designer

      Reply
  6. Yvonne
    18/02/2016

    I am also at a lost sometimes if people ask me of what I do. For friends I often say I am a freelancer. if I get to work with technical people I say I’m a project manager but to sum it up I’m pretty much hyphenated because of all I do. So this blog is just what I need to keep myself aligned

    Reply
  7. Weekly Resources | Advice for Creative Freelancers - The Blog Market
    05/03/2016

    […] a way to explain exactly what it is you do? Vari of Butter Cup Pink shared a very helpful post on what to call yourself if you are a multi-talented freelancer. Hint: it’s less about what you do and more about who you do it for. Love this […]

    Reply
  8. Amanda
    09/04/2016

    One other reason I think descriptions are better than titles, is that they establish your value better than a title can.

    “I’m Amanda, and I’m a web designer who works with WordPress,” doesn’t sound like anything special.

    But, “I’m Amanda. I work with small businesses and entrepreneurs to create attractive and effective websites that they can manage themselves.” I think that sounds pretty good.

    Thanks for the great tip!

    Reply
    • Vari
      15/04/2016

      You’re so right Amanda! SO much more value!

      V xx

      Reply
  9. Mishael @ Blue Brown Books
    28/04/2016

    Thanks for these tips. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of using the job title – this is what I AM. But you can definitely attract more attention by telling people how you can benefit THEM.

    I’m so scattered at the moment in my own professional life, I’ll really have to think about this to come up with something good. But I’ve pinned this post so I can come back to it. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Emily
    28/04/2016

    Hello Vari!

    Great post! I am just starting out in my design career as I have just graduated almost a year ago. I have been struggling with finding my design identity, and also what to call myself as I too have many hats under my belt. For the most part I have been calling myself a freelance graphic designer, which sounds so dull! I do help clients to create logos and packaging that resonates with there creative vision, but I also create unique illustrations for clients.

    How would you describe yourself if you were a multifaceted designer\illustrator?

    “I’m Emily, and I work with local business’s to create unique and attractive branding and packaging for there products”

    Thank you so much!

    Emily

    Reply
  11. Jennifer
    29/04/2016

    Love this Advice! Very helpful, thank you <3

    Reply
  12. Danielle
    10/10/2016

    Thanks for this post, it has certainly helped me to think about what I can downsize my “title”, if I need to. Which I do regularly, especially on sites that I am applying for freelance jobs on.

    I have been dabbling into so many different niches that when asked what sort of freelance writer I am- or what do I specialise in? I’m currently stumped at what to say.

    It ends up being something like this; as an example, from my “about me” page–

    “30| Freelance Writer | Copy Writer | Professional Blogger | Beauty/Fashion Blogger | WAHM | Mumpreneur | SEO Achiever- (Beginner) | Content Creator | Survey Creator”

    Yeah! You get my gist..
    And the list goes on..
    And on.. And on…
    + I am always adding to it.

    So in one phrase, I’ve tried to downsize my title–

    “I’m a full-time, WAHM & Freelance Creator/Writer; focusing in a range of niches.”

    That doesn’t sound very enticing; nor do I feel like it sells me well.
    If anything, it’s actually selling myself short!

    So thanks for this post!
    I am going to try and come up with something a little more unique, inventive and creative, that’s simpler to say/use– but doesn’t sell myself short.

    Following your approach and suggestions I’ve tried to come up with something but am still struggling. Best I could scurrage up was:
    “Freelanced Copy-Edit-Create-Writer, who is a full time parent; and is enthusiastic about following aspirations in Marketing online Stratergy, B2B Content Creating, Paid Blogging and SEO strategist.”

    That’s still too long- not specific enough..

    Any one think anything of these suggestions??

    1)– “Online Content-Writing, Media, and Social Identity Specialist.”

    2)– “Virtual Content, Visual Marketing, and Social Platform Specialist.”

    3)– “Virtual, Content, Marketing, Creator and Adminisrtation Specialist.”

    4)– “Freelance Virtual Administrator, Business Content, Marketing, and Social Media Strategist.”

    5)– “Freelance Virtual Creative Consultant.”

    > Any advice would be immensely appreciated!

    Thanks, Ever-So Kindly,
    Dani 🙂

    Reply

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