Freelance Writer Files: Does a title make a difference?

For the past 10 years, I’ve been calling myself a freelance writer. But recently, a friend who is cognizant of the kind of counseling I give my clients, suggested that “writer” is a bit limiting.

There's the whole thinking part, which "Writer" doesn't address.


It’s true that I can write, and am, in fact, “a writer.” “Senior Writer” is the title by which I’ve been known in the ad agency world. But, as anyone who has worked at an agency, or as a freelancer, can tell you, there’s more to the job of writing than pulling out a computer and banging out some random letters. There’s the whole “thinking” part, for instance, which the title, “Writer,” doesn’t address.

By way of explaining this to a foreign client who was unfamiliar with the process and wondered what I had been billing him for, since he hadn’t seen his campaign yet, I drew a picture of an iceberg (I do have some artistic skills, but anyone can draw a triangle.). I drew the waterline close to the tip.

What you see is not all you get.

Then I explained that all the background info gathering, analyzing, thinking, strategizing, getting bids, estimating, budgeting and planning were in the part below the waterline. You can’t see them. The part you finally see, the finished project, is the very tip of the iceberg. You have to pay for all of that, just as you have to pay for an architect’s plans before you build your house.

My client’s question brought to mind the image of a dad-to-be looking at his third-trimester-pregnant wife and saying, “You’ve been saying for months that you’re going to have a baby. I don’t see any baby. So what gives?”

But getting back to services I offer clients: beyond simply writing, I do project management.

Business owners are busy. Really busy.

Harried business owners don’t have the time, energy or knowledge to manage graphic designers, webmasters, HTML experts, and others involved in a Web or other project. So if they turn the project over to me, let me communicate and negotiate with the other suppliers, then report to them, they save a lot of time, which equates to money. Not to mention that they avoid the anguish of trying to get business, do business, AND manage a marketing or advertising project.

Managing a project in print or Web or video for a client is child’s play, compared with my duties as an ad agency writer/producer. In that capacity, I was in charge of every aspect of a production, from keeping the client happy (Number One, always) to producing estimates to riding herd on the production company, casting talent, directing same, selecting wardrobe set designs, keeping costs in line, and overseeing anything else that would affect the final product.

Would he have been as famous?

So, since I help clients as a consultant, thinker, planner, strategist and project manager, what do I call myself? Would a rose by any other name really smell as sweet? Or would another name make me smell sweeter? If I give up “writer” and go for the more accurate “independent marketing and advertising consultant,” will people actually know what I can do? Hmm. I changed it on LinkedIn. Let’s see what happens.

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