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This discussion underscores the fact that it all depends on which side
of the fence you sit.
To we the tech writers et al, either term (freelancing or contracting)
is a nonoffensive label for what we do. We can split hairs all day on
these words and it won't make any difference.
But to those outside our profession, both terms can mean something quite
stark and not usually perceived as "respectable".
While it's true that practices and attitudes have changed over the past
25 years or so, I still remember the description of "freelancing" I
heard at a conference of the IABC (Intl Assn of Business Communicators)
in 1980 while I was a "freelancing" business / general assignment writer
and when the unemployment rate was much higher in general and multi-job
resumes were frowned upon.
A personnel director (ahem, excuse me, I mean "human resources manager")
for a major company in a large midwestern city was invited to speak on
business writing employment. Remember - times were tough all around,
possibly a quarter of those attending were out of work and doing their
best to network into a new job. One of the first comments out of the
mouth of this invited speaker was to set the tone of her talk by
announcing, "To you who call yourselves 'freelancers', let me remind you
that what you really are is unemployed and out of work. And your number
one job is to find fulltime work."
Yeah, I know TECHNICALLY that's true. But NO ONE at this conference
needed to be reminded of such. Why pour salt in the wound (for those who
did NOT want to be freelancing)? She came off as someone NOT to work
for. Would an invited guest to a conference of personnel directors
(human resources managers) announce that, "All of you are really nothing
more than hired hacks who shuffle paperwork so the REAL hiring managers
in the various departments can get who they want into the company"? I
don't think so.
(By the way, not long before this IABC conference, I had been a
publications editor for a professional association for human resources
managers and helped set up and run one of their national conferences, so
I know that is not necessarily true.)
Anyway, what you call yourself may not even matter to the person
reviewing your resume and considering you for employment. You're either
gainfully employed (currently working and a desirable employee) or out
on the streets and unemployed (a bad risk or else you'd still be
Just my opinion,
-- Ken in Atlanta
From: techwr-l-bounces+poshedlyk=polysius -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+poshedlyk=polysius -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Laura Lemay
Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 11:38 AM
To: Richard Lewis
Subject: Re: What is Freelancing?
On Oct 17, 2006, at 7:09 AM, Richard Lewis wrote:
> I often hear the term "freelancing" used in ref to TWing. What is
> the difference between temping (W2 or 1099) and freelancing?
Nothing, really. Generally speaking if you're not an employee, you're a
I usually draw a distinction between contract tech writing, where I do
work-for-hire for companies (under 1099 or W-2), and freelance tech
writing for books and magazines, where I do writing under my own byline
and retain my copyright.
Laura Lemay Killer of Trees lemay % lne.com lemay % gmail.com http://www.lauralemay.comhttp://blog.lauralemay.com
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