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What job title should a freelance designer use?

Table of ContentsUpdated Apr 20, 2011

Job TitleHave you ever wondered what title you should give yourself? If you’ve been a freelance designer for long, it’s likely you have encountered a situation where you need to have a title.

Perhaps you were trying to print business cards. Maybe you were trying to tell someone what you do for a living and had a hard time explaining what you are. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, read on. Today we’ll suggest a few options for which title you could use as a freelance designer.

If you’ve already got it figured out, help the rest of us by telling us your job title in the comments.

Start with some brainstorming

A good first step is to start with some solid brainstorming. Write down your job description, your job traits, and what you do on a daily basis. Perhaps phrases like “I manage design projects on a daily basis” can help you realize your desired job title is “Project Manager”.

Get creative

The great part about working for yourself is that you’re not tied down with any superficial titles. You can call yourself whatever you want (of course I would choose something that explains a little what you do).

I knew a couple of freelancers who decided to go into business together. One was a video editor, the other was a web designer. What titles did they decide to put on their business cards?

“Video Ninja” and “Captain of Design”.

Originality paid off. People loved their creative approach to their job titles and their small business is growing.

A few options to get you started

Here are a few ideas to get your started on finding the perfect job title:

For freelancers who own their own business

  • Owner
  • Founder
  • President
  • Designer
  • CEO
  • Head Guy
  • Main Man

For Jack-of-all-trades designers

  • Web & Graphic Designer
  • Solutions Man (or Woman)

For design specialists

  • WordPress Specialist
  • CSS Specialist
  • Print Specialist
  • Logo Guru
  • Web Design Pro

One other option – no title at all

The last option is not using any title at all. If you have a great elevator pitch and can explain what you do without an official title, maybe that’s the best option for you. There’s no law that says your website or business card has to have a title under your name.

What do you suggest?

What title do you use? Share your tips with us by leaving a comment on this post.

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Written by Preston Lee

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Preston Lee is the founder of Millo where he and his team have been helping freelancers thrive for over a decade. His advice has been featured by Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes, Adobe, and many more.

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  1. Brenda Parker-Boyd says:

    I do a little of everything like photography, graphic designs, sell items like purses and make or create chocolate treats

  2. I think this is an old thread, but not an old issue. I have the same problem and am brand new to this arena. I was thinking about “Marketing Integration”… doesn’t tell anyone if I’m big or small, doesn’t brag like “CEO” or the like, and isn’t too generic. Yet, it is able to let people know that I can bring it all together for them!

  3. Help me to design and write my business card

    1. so we have:
      →Art Director
      →Creative Designer
      →Freelance Designer
      →Your Designer
      →Top Dog
      →Logo Gurú
      →Social Mediia Management
      →Communication Consultant
      other ideas:
      →Content Generator
      →Redes Revolution (spanish)
      →Multimedia Designer

  4. To me CEO always sounds like you’re trying to be bigger than you are (unless you are running some multinational blue chip firm!).

    Tend to agree that the gimmicy one will fall out of favour, it’s a bit like buying a t-shirt with a joke on it.

    From the suggestions in the comments I think “Communications Consultant”, “Creative Director” and “Creative” are the most suitable for running a single person, multi skilled design business.

    I think I’m looking for a balance between the guy that runs the business, does the design work and comes up with the creative direction….

    @Prestondlee what do you use? – looks like you have multiple hats!

  5. ‘Communications Consultant’
    That’s the most appropriate one I’ve seen for what I do (looks like pretty much the same as you!) Thanks 🙂

  6. Kristianus Kurnia says:

    I’m still confuse about this, if I’ve my own studio, so I can said my title is “Founder of Bla Bla”,
    in other way, I’m freelance illustrator too, so I can said only “Illustrator”?

    In my country, the title is your formal education (minimum bachelor degree), ex: B.A. (Bachelor of Arts).

  7. Have been toying with this for a while and on my new set of cards it’s either going to be “Creative Director” or “Freelance Creative” – am torn between not wanting to present myself as something bigger than I am whilst at the same time not looking too small. Decisions, decisions!!! 🙂

  8. I introduce myself as a ‘Web Design Fairy’ to people I meet! My business card has no title. I saved space on it for a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Hitch your wagon to a star.” I like how it’s multidimensional – inspirational life advice, and a fun tagline for clients to let me – the design ‘star’ – take their online stuff to another level 🙂

  9. Kelly Fineman says:

    If you have to use to may words in your job title it tells the individual the mass of your organization. Thus, leading to an assumption that either you, or someone else in your organization may have lots of people to report to.

  10. Ahmad F. Fauza says:

    Preston, I simply use “Your designer + copywriter” in my business card. I think choosing a title is a little bit brainstorming because a lot of things to be considered…

    1. April Edwards says:

      Thanks for sharing! This is the inspiration I needed!

  11. Morgan & Me Creative says:

    Sort of agree with some of the other comments here….titles used should be ‘normal’…the fashionable ones tend to get gimmicky easily and lose its effect just as quick.

  12. Grace Oris says:

    Hi Preston! For my part, I’m quite content with the general “Graphic Designer” although I might have to switch to the more specific “Brand Identity Designer” sooner or later. I think it’s more personal and welcoming for the types of clients I want to attract to go with something simple although common, but then they know right off that I’m just one person and they’ll get to me immediately when they do make contact.

  13. I use the title: “Graphic Artist and Rudelfuehrer” – in parentheses below it’s translated as ‘top dog.’ I also had some germans help me out with the translation being as close as possible. 🙂

  14. Because I cover a lot of aspects from (graphic design, web development, marketing etc, I’ve settled on Communications Consultant. It seems to work nicely. Covers all the bases without being super confusing.

    1. @Christie,
      You can remove the totally unnecessary “from” and chalk it up to a very early Saturday morning heading to the office pre-coffee ill-advised internet commenting!
      Also, I love Design Ninja from the above comment!!!

  15. When job searching I ran across “Design Ninja” and wanted to call myself something creative like that but I haven’t focused on it much as of late, but I wonder if it would be something so small, as a title for myself, that would help me in getting my business off the ground.

  16. Cathy Cleary says:

    Preston, this post caught my attention because it is something I second-guess myself on quite frequently. Yesterday, I came to a client’s rescue and assembled and prepared press-ready files for a 56-page full size catalogue. So as a result, today I am calling myself “Employee of the Month”! Tomorrow, I will probably go back to my usual title of “Art Director” or “Owner”… dry perhaps, but accurate.

  17. Scott Birnie says:

    I personally think that using “normal” titles is best. Stuff like Graphics Ninja and Web Guru will become unfashionable quickly, and then you are left with a pile of business cards you are embarrassed to hand out.
    One job or position title that is really annoying me at the moment is “Tech Evangelist”. WTF! That will run it’s course and fade out quickly I hope.

    My own title is Creative Director. Because I run and manage my own Graphic and Web Design business I think that covers all bases. Perhaps it’s boring but you also need to bear in mind meeting people outwith our own industry and explaining to them what something like a “Tech Evangelist” is, without turning red in the cheeks!

  18. Mfundo Mohammed says:

    I refer to myself an an Internet Solutions Engineer because i am freelance and own my own business.

  19. Fractalfrog says:

    I design according to KISS and why do different with my title so I simply use “Freelance Designer”

  20. I’m partnered with a couple others in our new venture… I’m the VP of Front End Development.

    My parents have no idea what that means so I’m not sure my title is all that helpful unless you’re in the business.

    1. Custom Logo Design says:

      @michael, I AGREED WITH YOU

  21. Before I moved into Social Media Management I was using CEO then I switched to Freelancer and I thought, “lame”. So started using “Designer”. After Moving into Social Media Management, I’ve been using “Creative”.

  22. Some Design Blog says:

    The are some good point, Preston. I would say that it all depends on your marketing strategy. If you’re trying to make your business look bigger than it is, then a title like CEO or President may help, but it’s not very descriptive. I think the question to ask (after you’ve finished the brainstorming suggested here) is “what am I trying to tell my target market about my business?” If your title reflects your value as a designer, it becomes a marketing tool rather that just pomp.