A lot of professional writers I know struggle with the issue of what to call themselves. Freelance writer seems to do the job, but some claim it makes them sound inexperienced or more like a wannabe than a serious journalist.
Independent writer seems to be a term that’s gaining popularity, but it comes with its own set of professional obstacles and can sound stuffy or like you don’t play well with others. With an ever shrinking per word rate, and a market crowded with citizen journalists and writer mills, professional writers have enough to worry about without the added burden of defining themselves and redefining themselves to fit a fickle market. Or that’s just me being cranky, another likely possibility.