Your Freelance Writing Business:Important Considerations for Choosing a Name

I’m noticing more freelance writers are struggling with what to name their freelance writing businesses. Indeed, I’ve had the “I don’t know what to call my business” chat with at least three writers this week. As a freelance writer, I never created a business name and it worked fine for me. However, I understand most freelancers and clients see a business name as being more professional. One of the reasons I’ve been hesitant to create a name for my business is that I do more than write. I offer a variety of services and don’t want to limit myself.

I’ve been discussing the “should I name my business” dilemma with a small business coach and he recommends these tips:

Use a Name that Doesn’t Hold You to a Particular Niche or Topic

As we discussed yesterday in the post Twitter Branding: Are You Confusing Your Followers, specializing in a particular topic is a good thing as long as you’re not limiting yourself. If you’re offering only one particular service, say financial writing, there’s nothing wrong with a business name that reflects this. However, if you’re like me and offer a variety of services, the name should be all encompassing. For example, “Deborah Ng Media.” Your business name doesn’t have to be your name, however. I use mine because I feel it’s more personal. So if you wanted to use the name of your town or a buzzword you feel best represents what you do, that works as well. Again, if you write about a variety of topics or handle a variety of tasks it’s best to choose a name that doesn’t limit you to one particular area.

Choose a Professional Name

Cutesy names tend to turn off more than they turn on. “HoneyBun Writing” doesn’t necessarily give the right impression, while “On Target Media” offers up the end result right there in the name.  Years ago, I used to work for a company called “Pink Coyote.” It didn’t indicate at all what we did and inevitably the first question potential clients asked was “why Pink Coyote?” The name was a distraction and most people looking for a graphic designer passed us over in favor of a name that was more straight forward. Eventually the proprietor added “Design” to the end of the name and business picked up a bit, but everyone still asked about that darn coyote, it’s not exactly something New York City is known for.

An acquaintance of mine likes to tell the story of a friend of his with a carpentry shop called “Woodsong.” Every now and then someone will call up and say, “hey, can you sing me up a chair?” Perhaps the first time the joke is funny, after the 25th time, I’m thinking the proprietor wishes he thought of a different name.

Who Do We Trust More?

It takes a long time for a brand named to gain trust. There’s a question right now as to whether people trust people or brands more to do work for them.  Most people prefer a personal touch over something corporate and stuffy.  They like to know they’re dealing with human beings.

When choosing a business name consider the trust factor. If you had a choose a freelancer based on name alone, would you choose “Acme Writing Services” or “John Smith.” If you had to choose a freelancer would you choose a brand or an individual? Even if you’d rather use a business name over your own name, choose something that’s warm and personal over clinical and stuffy. Too many of us mistake “impersonal” as professional.

Let’s talk about you now…

What name do you use for your business? Are you more likely to trust a business or a person?


10 responses
  1. Jim Lochner Avatar

    I personally use my name for many of the reasons you stated above. But the two most prominent for me are 1) I think it’s more personal, and 2) I don’t just write (I do video editing and many other things). I think everyone will probably have a different reaction based on their own set of criteria and circumstances. As for choosing a person or a business, for technical/design-oriented things, I wouldn’t have a problem with a business name. For actual writing I’d be more attracted to a person. I don’t have any particular reason(s) why. It’s just my gut feeling. Either way, I have to be able to get to an online presence to see their work.

    This is a bit off-topic but… Earlier today, wearing my “editor hat,” I was approached by a writer who wanted to do an interview with a composer. Her website, however, gave me no indication that she knew the first thing about music. No background in it, no clips in it, nothing. Does that make me hesitate? You bet. Had she offered something in her query letter might have made me more willing to give her a chance. You only get one chance to make that first impression.
    .-= Jim Lochner´s last blog ..A Little Romance =-.

  2. Julie Taylor Avatar

    Very interesting post. I may have to revisit my business name. I use the name Designer Bug ( Mostly because I liked the name and the domain was available. Most people I meet and do business with first know me as a person so, I don’t have to explain the name too often. Plus, design is in the name which helps.

    I think it’s a bit different as a designer though; as I have the advantage of displaying my work examples as images. I’m guessing it’s a lot easier to get people to look through images, rather then read through copy.
    .-= Julie Taylor´s last blog ..Yet Another Post on the iPad =-.

  3. Steph Auteri Avatar

    I struggled so much when I was having my new web platform built. Previously, I had self-identified as a freelance writer and editor, but I had since diversified and was launching a career coaching business focused on the publishing industry. I wanted people to be able to tell right away what it was I did… but I also wanted to capitalize on the brand I had already built under my personal name.

    What I ended up doing was going for And the header says Steph Auteri, Publishing Professional. This header repeats on every page but the coaching one, where it says: Steph Auteri, Career Coaching for Word Nerds. For some reason, I felt as if my coaching practice needed its own, more definitive name, but I still have everything under the umbrella of Steph Auteri, Publishing Professional. Does it work? Lord knows. 🙂
    .-= Steph Auteri´s last blog ..12 Ways To Market An Ebook =-.

  4. Natalia M. Sylvester Avatar

    I used my name and “freelance writer” for quite a few years. The problem was that my name (not Sylvester, my maiden one) was difficult for people to pronounce and spell. Also, freelance writer worked fine when I was mainly working with magazines, but once I started doing more copywriting work I realized the companies I was targeting liked working with companies, so I decided to rebrand to Inky Clean.

    I chose a name that’s a bit cute because I want to attract clients who appreciate copy that has a little humor and isn’t too stiff. It’s worked really well for me so far, and I’ve gotten great feedback on it. It’s important to show some personality with your branding–it’ll attract customers who “get you” and if for any reason it turns some off, then you probably weren’t a good match to begin with! 😉
    .-= Natalia M. Sylvester´s last blog ..Want web copy that’ll make visitors stay? Don’t say “Welcome!” =-.

  5. Yael Grauer Avatar

    Really timely. My website,, started out as a nature/gardening/herbalism site. But I write on a wide variety of topics ranging from health and wellness to combat sports to social justice issues and everything in between. I am hesitant to use my name because it is hard to spell and I’m not in love with it. But isn’t doing it for me, especially when I pitch to fluffier magazines. I am trying to come up with a URL that incorporates my name.
    .-= Yael Grauer´s last blog ..Protected: Writing for Pay Teleclass =-.

  6. K Richard Douglas Avatar

    I believe that ACME Writing sounds established. I think that I would choose that name for branding purposes. It denotes a company that has been around for a while.

    If you offer writing services that span several markets, a name like ACME Writing sounds like you do it all. That about fits the bill.

    Good article…… is perception.

    Best Regards,

    K Richard Douglas
    ACME Writing, LLC

  7. Carrie Lynn Smith Avatar
    Carrie Lynn Smith

    I like the idea of using my name, but it is so common. Any ideas?

    1. Kevin J Sexton Avatar
      Kevin J Sexton

      How about just dropping Smith?
      Carrie Lynn sounds pretty cool. It’s frinedly and rolls off the tongue, and it’s going to be easy to remember.
      Still trying to think of a good name as Im about to launch my first website.

  8. Chris the Proofreader Avatar
    Chris the Proofreader

    You have a major typo in your copy above, a misspelled word: Eventually the proprieter – the correct spelling is with an “o” = proprietor.

    1. Noemi Twigg Avatar
      Noemi Twigg

      Thank you! Edited. 🙂

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