I've been "freelancing" part time for the better part of the past 4 years and full time for the past 8 months, and if there's one thing I've learned it's that telling people you freelance will garner responses that manage to combine a jealousy of your freedom and a subtle tone that silently says,
"A freelancer? That's cute."
So what did I do? I stopped freelancing and started my own company. I came up with a business name, filed for a business license, and as of recent finally even got myself a desk with a fancy "Suite" address in a coworking building.
While the transition to me seamlessly occured over the course of several months, to the clients I pitched and worked with it was a sudden and jarring difference. Potential leads increased in quantity (and quality), a higher ratio of those leads converted to clients, and the level of control I had over the actual working relationship with clients improved exponentially. Behind the scenes barely anything has truly changed, but by presenting myself as a company it gave a much more professional image than that of some kid "webmaster" working from his parent's basement.
Remember, you're not a no-strings-attached temporary employee, you're an expert in your field whom clients come to because they want the best product possible and can trust to guide them in the best direction possible.
I'm not saying there aren't plenty of talented, extremely professional freelancers out there (there are tons), but my experience has been that being a "freelancer" sets the unfortunate tone that you need your client, whereas in reality they are the one who needs you to help tell them how to make their business successful.
Talk about it over on Hacker News
1. Some people might want to continue to use their personal name, which is fine. Just be sure to position it as a company, not you. The difference between "Designer John Smith" and "John Smith Design Studio" can't be underestimated when viewed by a prospective client.
2. No, I don't work from my parent's basement.