Great article on why you should not call yourself a programmer. A few highlights below.

Software solves business problems. Software often solves business problems despite being soul-crushingly boring and of minimal technical complexity.


Engineers are hired to create business value, not to program things.

Same goes for most sites, clients need to establish a business return and many of those sites are not super flashy, but they make the clients lots of money.

Don’t call yourself a programmer: “Programmer” sounds like “anomalously high-cost peon who types some mumbo-jumbo into some other mumbo-jumbo.” If you call yourself a programmer, someone is already working on a way to get you fired.


Instead, describe yourself by what you have accomplished for previously employers vis-a-vis increasing revenues or reducing costs.

When you are talking up your work to clients talk up the value you added to other projects, not the fancy new technology you used.

There is much more in this article so take the time to read the whole thing. It reminds me of the book I’m currently reading called The Career Programmer (aff link). A bunch of the beginning of the book talks about how to talk with management about the merits of your project and survive. It’s not all applicable to me as a freelancer but for every ‘bad boss’ or ‘bad coworker’ in the book there has been a client I could think of.

Maybe we should not even be calling ourselves freelancers?

One response to “Don’t Call Yourself a Programmer or a Freelancer Even”

  1. James Strocel Avatar

    Great article! I agree with most of it, but I think he’s slightly off the mark with the “Co-workers and bosses are not usually your friends”. You should at least treat people like friends, even though they’re really not. Your affability is as much a value skill as your coding skills.