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I'm about to branch off into the freelance world. I'm starting an LLC and I'd like some input on what I should title myself as the owner. For example "creative specialist" or "creative technician" or something like that.

My services would be:

  • Website design / development
  • Graphic design: icon design, templates, web graphics, business cards / brochures / letterheads / etc.
  • Writing: content writing/copywriting, technical writing, editing / proofreading / copyediting
  • Photography, photo editing

Does anybody have any ideas on some general terms that would apply to this type of business?

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This question is probably better suited at SE's answers.onstartups.com –  Epistemex Oct 23 '12 at 15:31
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@AbdiasSoftware, I posted it there, and I got downgraded for some reason see here –  nickelpickle Oct 23 '12 at 19:52
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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm not someone who's been in a position to hire someone with your skill set, so take this with a grain of salt.

However, some thoughts:

  • "Creative" is a really abstract idea. If I'm making a website and I don't know anything about design, I don't know if my first thought would be "I need someone creative." If I needed a writer, I don't know if I would say "I need someone creative." Which brings me to my next thought...
  • "Creative" is a really broad term. I understand that it's probably one of the few terms that catches everything you're trying to do, but there is such a thing as being too broad. If I were to say that I am a "Designer," people wouldn't know if I was in fashion, interior, web, graphic, or industrial design. And even if I did all of those things, someone looking for an interior designer might pass me over because "interior" is really the word they're looking for.
  • Your title might not be as important as you think. In response to my previous thoughts, one could make the point that "Chief Executive Officer" is an extremely broad title, but the general idea extracted from it is "I'm the boss," and then the company's function is explained and played out elsewhere.
  • Sometimes different titles matter to different people. I've heard of people who keep different cards for different people they meet. Some people might want to see something like "Owner" or "Sole Proprietor" if they want a small business vibe. Someone else might want to feel the trust that comes with a bigger-feeling company, so Chief Something sounds better. If you're trying to get freelance work from an agency, a more down-to-earth and specific title might be more appropriate.
  • Ultimately, titles are somewhat arbitrary, in the sense that titles change but you and the quality of your work don't because of your title.

If you have a good brand set up for your business and your services are clearly explained, the title doesn't matter as much. "Creative Specialist" might do well if defined down the card with "Graphic & Web Design, Writing, and Photography." Depending on your audience, "Owner" or "Founder" might do just as well. Or perhaps even no title at all. You're freelancing, so you could probably come up with a dozen!

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Technically, with an LLC you're a "member" not owner.

Honestly, if it's a single member LLC, I don't think a title is needed.

I generally use "Principal" as my first choice for a one-man operation or 2-3 member organization. It indicates position without being too corporate.

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Which is what I said to the same question on Writers. ;) –  Lauren Ipsum Oct 23 '12 at 18:36
    
@LaurenIpsum Great minds :) –  Scott Oct 24 '12 at 1:19
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Whether you go the LLC route or not, you're essentially a sole-proprietor / consultant / freelancer. For that model, I'd stay away from titles and just tell people what you do.

Design, Development, Photography and Writing

It's not short or catchy but you'll be able to explain yourself less and sell more. Think of the order of the words as the priority of association with your name.

Alternatively, you could be more esoteric about it:

Words, Images and Code

You should also consider whether you really want to sell yourself as such a generalist. If you know your market then I wish you luck with this enormous list of skills. If you think you'll be relying on 'partners' (read: subcontractors) to fill out this list of skills, then be honest with your prospective clients.

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You call yourself whatever title makes sense for the audience you are speaking to. In other words, it's fine to have multiple titles.

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I disagree. It's one thing to say "I wear many hats" or "I do many things," but I should only have one title at my own business. That title may be "Principal," "Owner," "Grand Poobah," "Chief Cook and Bottle-washer," or "Place Where the Buck Stops," but you should call yourself one thing. –  Lauren Ipsum Oct 23 '12 at 22:19
    
It's certainly up to you to do what you wish. I personally have found it quite advantageous to be able to swap titles as needed based on who I'm exchanging information with. –  DA01 Oct 23 '12 at 23:45
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