Why Freelancers Should Be Called “Creative Entrepreneurs”

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Small businesses shouldn’t be called startups, not every sandwich justifies the specialized name of “sub,” and there’s nothing worse than when a single-person company calls its owner “CEO.” But when it comes to the work of a full-time freelancer, I do believe we should rethink the term we use to describe the work. There’s a big difference between being an experienced professional who may have decided to leave office life in order to pursue a portfolio of their own clientele and creative newbies working on one-off design projects between semesters or for trade. It’s not that the latter doesn’t deserve recognition or praise, but there are inherent differences between the two, the main one being that the full-time freelancer is pursuing an income-generating career.

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According to Intuit’s 2020 Report, 40% of the American workforce will be independent workers by the year 2020. Even today, 80% of large corporations plan to increase their use of the flexible workforce in the near future. Now is the time to start thinking about representing this group of professionals differently so that the companies hiring them will too. Who knows—maybe by 2020, part-time workers will be offered the option of discounted benefit packages of some sort or other competitive luxuries they don’t currently receive. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at why a full-time freelance designer deserves the embellished title of Creative Entrepreneur.

Creative Entrepreneurs don’t shudder in the face of client acquisition and management.

When it comes to making a full-time income through contract or consulting work, it’s not enough to just deliver great work. Acquiring clients, negotiating contracts, and responding to clients speedily are a few of the cornerstones that keep the work coming in. Creative Entrepreneurs don’t just write, design, code, or consult—they actively pursue, manage, bill, and beyond.

Intelligent risk-taking is at play.

There’s a fair amount of risk associate with this path, especially if you live in an area with a high cost of living. It’s much safer to apply to that nine-to-five, where benefits and perks are included, whereas you’re challenged with paying for those assets on your own in the world of contract work (no new news here). Creative Entrepreneurs take calculated risks.

Read more: 7 creative leaders answer, “What is a design entrepreneur?

They stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest tools.

From using Slack from a home office to collaborate with a client’s in-house team to circulating articles about what’s new in their industry, Creative Entrepreneurs lead the way when it comes to what a brand should be doing. The work is far from taking assignments and fulfilling requests – a Creative Entrepreneur presents ideas and industry best practices before they’re asked to present them.

They’re competitive.

The most effective Creative Entrepreneurs have figured out how to set themselves apart from their peers. Whether it’s through a fun-to-explore animated portfolio, a blog with a twist, or writing thought leadership articles about their field (ahem), they’ve found a way to stand out to clients.

They can see the bigger picture.

Like most entrepreneurs, Creative Entrepreneurs are often motivated by the work and the bigger picture. They see themselves as award-winning designers, as the go-to writer for a certain niche, or the videographer known for being the first to successfully capture [insert amazing moment here]. Career Analyst Dan Pink believes that traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

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Money may be a bit of a motivator (in a good, keep-it-moving kind of way), but it’s often not the primary driver for the Creative Entrepreneur. They pass by steady paychecks in lieu of inspiring work that gives them the freedom to bloom in every direction.

Sayonara, freelancers. Hello, Creative Entrepreneurs.


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