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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  Planning and Managing Your Online Freelancing Business
      >  Building and Tuning Your Profile and Portfolio

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Building and Tuning Your Profile and Portfolio
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The Pros and Cons of the Profile Picture (Avatar)
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Selecting an Appropriate User Name
(Page 2 of 3)

Personal Names

Many freelancers use their own names as their freelancing site user names. This is a somewhat simple, “neutral” approach: it doesn’t have any major drawbacks, but really provides no major benefits either. You do get the advantage of communicating to the client that you are an individual (as opposed to a company), which some clients prefer. But this is a mostly small issue.

There are two situations in which I would recommend avoiding using a personal name. First, if your name is very long, hard to spell, or hard to pronounce, this may not be the best option. Second, if you have a “foreign-sounding” name, you may cause some clients to stereotype you, especially if you work in an area like writing where there’s normally a preference for contractors from English-speaking countries. I realize it’s unpleasant to have to confront this sort of prejudice, but there’s no point in pretending it’s not there. I discuss related issues in more detail in the “Attractiveness and Prejudice” subsection of the topic on profile pictures.

Company Names

The main benefit of a company name is that it sounds more professional to most clients. Even if you are just a single person, you seem “bigger” in some way when you have a company name. Assuming that your company has a name that describes what you do, you also convey immediately to prospective clients that you are a pro in that particular area, as in the “Grafix Incorporated” example I gave above.

There are a couple of drawbacks to company names as well. One is that some clients prefer to work with individual freelancers, and if you use a company name, they are more likely to assume you’re part of a large group—even if your business is a sole proprietorship. Second, if your name is too generic, it is easy for clients to get it mixed up with others. After a while, the dozens of names containing variations on words such as “writer”, “designer”, “coder” and so forth all start to sound the same.


Previous Topic/Section
Building and Tuning Your Profile and Portfolio
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The Pros and Cons of the Profile Picture (Avatar)
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012

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