Should You Launch Your Freelance Business Under Your Own Name, or a Business Name?
This is a question that comes up time and time again.
People ask me whether they should create a domain name for their website under their own name, or with a different, business name.
For example, if your name is Jack Kenrick, and you are going to be a wellness copywriter, should you be …
Let’s look at this, exploring the pros and cons of each approach. But, I’ll warn you right away — there is no definitive right or wrong answer.
The pros of using your own name.
You are a professional and an expert. Your principal asset is what you hold in your head. That’s what people are buying. They are buying you.
So, it makes sense to put that intellectual asset up front and center. As a freelancer, I have always been NickUsborne.com. My name is my brand.
This means that when I write an article for some journal or website, people see it is written by Nick Usborne. If they found the article valuable, they associate that value with Nick Usborne. And, they will carry that sense of value in their minds when they visit my site, NickUsborne.com.
In other words, when I build value around my name, that value is most efficiently transferred to my business if my business trades under the same name.
When I speak at events, more value flows to the name Nick Usborne.
When I write a book, more value flows to the name Nick Usborne.
And, all that hard-won value resides at NickUsborne.com.
If I worked like crazy creating value for the name Nick Usborne, then it would be a pity if my website were called WellnessCopywriting.com. Because the domain name doesn’t automatically capture the value associated with my name.
Another advantage of using your own name is its use in social media.
On Twitter, I am nickusborne. On Facebook, I am nickusborne. On LinkedIn, I am nickusborne.
Social media is all about being who you are. It’s more social if you use your own name and a headshot for your avatar. It’s much tougher if you try to build social relationships while using a business name and a logo as your avatar. Who wants to get social with a logo?
This is an important consideration, because social media is growing fast, and is quickly becoming a key platform through which freelancers can and should make connections, develop relationships, and find new clients.
The cons of using your own name.
You have to feel okay with it. You have to feel comfortable putting yourself and your name out there, and uploading your photo to every social media site you might find useful.
It can also be tricky when you are just starting out.
It’s easy for me to use my name for my website and for social media, because my name is already known by plenty of people.
When you start out, few people will know you, or your name.
And, this can be a challenge when you are trying to get work with a company.
Imagine I had no history, I was a complete newbie, and wanted to get some copywriting work with a wellness company.
If I say, “Hi, my name is Nick Usborne and I’m a wellness copywriter,” that doesn’t mean much. There is no value there. No credibility.
So, I’m going to have to work extra hard to get those first few engagements. And, I’m also going to have to work hard on getting paid a decent fee. Because I’m unknown.
Of course, as time passes, value will begin to accrue to my name.
So, there isn’t really a problem here. It’s just that the first few months can be difficult.
Emotionally and psychologically, it can be hard to stand in front of a client and say, “Hi, I’m Nick Usborne and I’m the best person for this job.”
It’s not always easy to say that with confidence.
When you use your own name as your business name, it comes with all the insecurities you may have about yourself. If you’re wildly confident as a person, that’s fine. But few of us are.
The pros of using a business name.
Let’s follow on from the last scenario, where I am trying to feel confident as I present myself, using my own name.
Now imagine this.
“Hi, my name is Nick Usborne from WellnessCopywriting.com.”
It’s no longer just about me. It’s no longer so personal. Now I have a business name between myself and my prospect, and I can draw confidence from that. And, if I confine myself to getting work from the wellness industry, that domain name has some real strength to it. There is some value and credibility attached to that name.
Particularly during your first year as a copywriter, or as any kind of freelancer, you’ll also find it easier to negotiate decent fees when you work with a business name.
Weird, but true.
It can be tough to negotiate a good fee when it’s just, “Little ol’ me.”
But easier when you negotiate on behalf of a business, WellnessCopywriting.com.
The cons of using a business name.
We have pretty much covered these.
But to recap, a business name doesn’t work so well with social media. And, you don’t get an instant connection, or immediate accrual of value, between your reputation as an individual and the name of your website.
A neat compromise that could work well for many freelancers.
Take a look at LucidContent.com. Lucid Content is the business name of the website, and the guy behind it is Richard Pelletier. He’s a freelancer.
What you see there comes close to the best of both worlds.
He enjoys the benefit of being a business, presenting his company with authority. But, at the same time, he shows himself front and center.
Follow Richard on social media sites and you’ll see his headshot, not the Lucid Content logo.
If you follow this route, you can adjust the balance between your business name and your own name to suit your own comfort level and personality. And, you can change that balance over time.
You might start off with more emphasis on the business name and then, as you get better known, and your confidence builds, you can bring yourself more to the forefront.
As I said earlier, there is no right answer here.
Consider the pros and cons and, if you want, start out by using both a business name and your own name … and then adjust the balance over time.
[Ed. Note: Nick Usborne has been a copywriter for 30 years now, 12 of which he’s dedicated solely to online copy. In his newest program, Profitable Freelancing, Nick teaches freelancers how to make the important decisions in launching and running their freelance business that will impact their bottom line and ensure a highly-profitable business.]
This article, Should You Launch Your Freelance Business Under Your Own Name, or a Business Name?, was originally published by Wealthy Web Writer.
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Wonderful article! I'm taking the blended approach, with my site titled thesiteinspector but clearly stating that I am the owner and work producer (not hiding behind the corporate "we"). After reading this article, I will take down my logo on my social media pages and replace it with a headshot! Thanks for the advice.
Jennifer Wenzel –
Great article on using your name vs a business name. I completed the pro resume writer's program and wanted to start out as a DBA my name and the business name as Best Resumes in Town would that be okay as long as everything I do is under that name only?
Carmen Iris –
Carmen, Yes, you can have your business under a DBA only. Many new businesses start out that way in fact. Hope that helps!
Angela Bickford - AWAI –
Any suggestions on if your name is taken by someone else? Anyone typing my name into Google will find a whole lot of information about a freelance photographer! How do I market my name if it's already taken?
Danielle Vick –
What about using a business name that search engines will recognize and associate with search terms? How about making the name short and easy to remember? Might be a real challenge finding such names that haven't already been taken.
I am starting with a business name for now...Updraft Copywriting. And I will use a headshot for my social media.
I like the blended approach, and will work to make my name associated with Updraftcopywriting dot com. I suppose I can change later if needed.
Garth Osborn –