The dreaded "F word" - yea or nay?

For many years I've encouraged design students and independent professionals to avoid using the "F word" ("Freelance" - it almost makes my skin crawl to use it...) when describing what they do for a living. One of my long-time Jeffisms is:

Freelance’ is a nasty little word. It seems to imply an individual doesn’t have a ‘real’ job, can’t get a job, isn’t truly professional in their field, and is willing to work for ‘free.’

Many designers, including a few at my recent AIGA Oklahoma talk, have shared that the public and business perception of their design efforts has improved as they stopped making use of the word in marketing and promoting creative services.

Yesterday, in adding my thoughts on the matter to a Put Things Off blog entry, I sparked a bit of a debate with my opinion. In response, Put Things Off author Nick Cernis has posted Shock! Horror! Are You Using The F Word Around Your Clients? - a look at possible negatives and positives of using the "F word."

© 2008 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives


John Josef said...

I agree with you here Jeff. When I think freelance these days it reminds me of another personal dreaded word "outsource". I'll tell my friends I'm doing freelance work or people that I work with that understand what I mean by it, but if I'm talking to a client I don't refer to myself as a freelancer anymore, but rather a consultant or a web developer.

Great posts and I always enjoy reading your blogs

Nick | Put Things Off said...

Thanks for sparking the debate, Jeff. You made some very valid points about the F word and I quite understand your distaste of the term.

Cheers for dropping by and hope to see you around!

Steve Tiano said...

On writing this piece of yours, Jeff, what I realize is how funny that I never gave this issue a thought. I contact publishers all the time. In fact, twice each year, I email every publisher in the current year’s Writer’s Market a cover letter and my attached resume.

The cover letter part--that is, the body of the email--contains a link to my website, which has a few pages of my work samples. Prior to having the site put up last April, I used to attach a small attachmnt containing these work samples. And I would add to the email "CLEAN" to indicate I'd checked that the attachment was not carrying any germs.

Anyhow, I always make clear to whomever I contact that I'm looking for off-site, freelance work, because pretty much all the time people come back with the assumption that 'm applying for a full-time in-house job (which just wouldn't work with the full-time, unrelated civil service day-job I'm riding out till retirement).