The word ’employer’ is used often in a job interview to describe a human being.
Yet that word is seldom used when it comes to the work of a freelancer.
A freelance photographer and videographer who works on a monthly basis for clients like Facebook, Google, and Netflix, says that he’s often asked to explain how he works.
“They don’t really know how to work with someone if they don’t know how they work,” he says.
“When I say ’employ’, they’re like, ‘Well, you have to say you’re an employee.'”
The freelancer who answers these kinds of questions, says David J. Hirsch, associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, “gets really hung up on the fact that he or she is an employee, and they’re looking for the right terminology.”
A few years ago, J.J. and his co-founders decided to start a new company, Hirsch says.
They knew they needed a name that was flexible and that would appeal to a wide range of people, so they asked some of the most experienced freelancers they knew for their input.
“There was a lot of people who were more familiar with the word ‘person’ and ‘personnel,’ ” he says, “than with the idea of a freelance photographer.”
They created a name for the new company: The Photo Network.
The name stuck, but J.K.H. says that the company’s branding was the biggest challenge.
“A lot of the people who come to us for advice and guidance don’t think they need to be in a formal job title, so we have to create that for them,” he explains.
In a way, JK.
Harsh is trying to change the conversation about the meaning of the word “employee.”
He’s trying to use the word to refer to all freelancers.
“The word ‘Employee’ does mean a human person, but it doesn’t mean an employee,” he points out.
“It’s a really important concept in the field.”
J. K. H. and the Photo Network founders are currently seeking to change that.
The first issue, says Hirsch: What does “employer” mean?
Hirsch suggests that the term “employ” is the correct term.
He suggests that we call freelancers by their first names and define the work that they do as freelancers instead of employees.
“We’re saying that if you’re not an employee and you’re doing something for the client, you’re a freelancers,” he emphasizes.
Hirst believes that a better word would be “work” because the term implies that freelancers are not “working for a living.”
“I think it’s important that we keep that distinction because that’s the only way to understand how freelancers actually do their work,” Hirst says.
Hiring an expert, who knows what he or he is doing, will help, he adds.
But Hirsch also thinks that the more people who understand the word, the better off we’ll all be.
He says that there’s a huge amount of misunderstanding of what it means to be an employee.
Hire a freelancing expert to help you understand what freelancing is and why it matters to you.
Get Started Now