What Are You?

What Are You?

During this week’s #solopr chat on Twitter, we had a lively conversation that included the pros and cons of the various labels we use for ourselves. Is it better to position oneself as a consultant, freelancer, independent contractor, or some other title?

This discussion made clear that there are many different perceptions and connotations, often changing based on your skillset or industry of specialization. Here’s just a sampling of the opinions:

@CaSuPe15: I think a consultant develops suggestions for a PR strategy, and a freelancer would take the next step and implement it

@rockstarjen: I see freelancers as more behind the scenes (don't manage clients, etc.), supporting solos, agencies, etc.

@karenswim: “Freelancer” the label does have baggage, but see that changing & “consultant” is not always viewed favorably

@KCDPR: I think the word freelance has a stigma of “cheaper” attached to it as well. Consultant encompasses a lot of areas of expertise.

@ActiveIngreds: Often times I refer to myself as a partner vs freelancer or consultant because of issues with both that I've faced.

@Power_of_M: I think consultant is overused, and not specific, and freelancer implies creative trade… not lesser-skilled… A copywriting ‘freelancer' as an example, is not a consultant. They are a doer. But a great one is highly strategic & billable.

@akenn: To me a freelancer is a sub-contractor; a consultant is the lead.

@PRProSanDiego: Sole practitioner is my preferred term. This is what lawyers call themselves. It denotes expertise worth paying for.

@KeeyanaHall: A consultant will offer strategic advice. A freelancer takes strategic advice & gets “down & dirty” w/implementation.

@jillvan: I once used the term “freelance” with a client, and he freaked b/c to him, it implied I wasn't going to be around much.

@IndigoSevenPR: I think it makes you more credible when you say you are a consultant than a freelancer when competing with PR firms.

For dozens more fascinating comments on this topic, be sure to check out the chat transcript. The key is to know what your clients are looking for in the solo PR pro they’re seeking. If you’ll be providing copywriting services, “freelancer” might be the right description. But if you’ll handle their PR in its entirety, “consultant” could be a better fit. Regardless, it’s enlightening to know about the different perceptions and keep in mind there’s not just one right answer.

Also during the chat, we discussed whether you can be a Solo PR Pro right out of college. Though many thought it would be too difficult to pull this off effectively, a few of our participants – including @zakmo and @SoloDovePR – said they have done just that.

The fact that some entry-level PR pros (not those noted above) are being asked to accept “full-time freelance” positions, sans benefits, was disturbing and noted as illegal by several on the chat. For additional background, @PaulaJohns shared a CNN article: Auditors crack down on ‘independent contractors'.

What do you think – are there any advantages or pitfalls to the various Solo PR Pro monikers we didn’t discuss? Have you learned any lessons around the way you position your business? Please let us know in the comments!

On a side note, I’m happy to announce that I’ve created a Solo PR Twitter list, and on Tweepml you can now follow the members of this list with one click! If you’re not on the list and would like to be, just let me know.

The #solopr chat – held each Wednesday from 1-2 p.m. Eastern – is a weekly ritual for some of the most savvy Solo PR Pros on Twitter. Anyone with a Twitter account is welcome to participate – see Join Us for the #solopr Chat on Twitter to find out how!

Photo credit: Marco Belluci

@PaulaJohns shared a CNN article: Auditors crack down on ‘independent contractors'.

Written By Kellye Crane
Kellye Crane is the founder of Solo PR Pro, which provides the tools, education, advocacy and community resources needed for indies to succeed and grow. She's a veteran and award-winning communicator with more than 20 years of experience - 19 of them solo.


  1. If you're not a sole practitioner in the eye of the IRS, don't call yourself one. That's a biggie. I have dba paperwork I filed with the city to certify myself, and I have a separate EIN number from the IRS that classifies me as a SP.

    I agree that “consultant” implies breadth over the cheapness of a “freelancer.”

  2. Thanks for raising this, Ari – you're right that there are some legal implications around the terms we use. Important to keep in mind.

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