Entrepreneurship: Post Your Shingle


Post Your Shingle

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, "'Hanging out one's shingle' is an American idiom dating back to the early 1800s, when lawyers, doctors and other businesses used shingles for signboards." As one etymologist explains, " 'Hang out a shingle' now means to open an independent practice... and advertise that. It's a metaphor for all of the activities that might bring in clients or patients. [A] member of any profession may 'hang out a shingle': it could be done by a security consultant or an insurance agent just as well as by an attorney or physician, as long as the person is opening a solo practice or business.

To earn this badge, you will create your own freelance business as a professional communicator. You will name your business, acquire a business license in Bexar County, order a batch of business cards, and begin looking for clients. If you do not already have a personal web presence, you will need to create one. You can do this by following the steps elaborated in the Domain Hosting badge description, or by purchasing a custom domain name that points back to a web presence on a site such as WordPress.

Although this might seem like an enormous amount of work, this is actually one of the easiest badges to finish.


  1. Sketch out a list of potential services. Think about the sort of creative and analytical services that you will perform for hire. Will you market yourself as a web developer? As a graphic designer? As a copywriter? As an illustrator? As a generalist who can do all of these things?
  2. Name your business. What will you call yourself? If your name is both unique and easy to type, you might be able to use your name as your business identity. But you aren't required to use your name. Some of the most successful creative agencies have boasted names such as Lemon, Razorfish, Heavy Design, Organic, and Raw.
  3. Acquire a business license. In order to set up a business bank account, and in order to interact with the IRS, you will need a business license. A sole proprietorship is the most common type of license for small businesses, and this type of license is relatively inexpensive. Review the Bexar County Small Business Resource Guide, and purchase the appropriate license downtown.
  4. Order a batch of business cards. Now that you have a name and a business license, you're legitimate. It's time to order some business cards. There are many places to purchase these cards; Vistaprint is fast, inexpensive, and reliable.
  5. Purchase a domain name and link it a web presence for your business. If you do not already have your own domain and web host service (see the "Domain Hosting" badge), you will need to purchase a domain name that points back to a site hosted by a service such as WordPress or SquareSpace.
  6. Review other badge descriptions with your business needs in mind. As the owner of your own small business, the other badges might suddenly take on new meaning. For example, you could pursue the logo badge and design a logo for your business. Or, you could create wireframes and information architecture documents for your company's web site. There are many possible combinations.
  7. Blog about it. All badge write-ups should be posted to your personal blog. Document your experience -- and your plans -- in a medium length (five to seven paragraph) blog posting. How much did the entire process cost? Did you encounter unanticipated hiccups along the way? What sort of services are you offering? How will you find clients? What questions do you have about growing your business?
  8. Complete the badge. When you're finished, and when you've thoroughly proofread your post, send an e-mail to adelwich@trinity.edu with the subject "Pending: Post Your Shingle," and be sure to include a link to your blog posting in the e-mail.


Last Revised: December 29, 2016
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