Is Your ‘WAHMiness’ Getting in the Way?

http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2009/10/is-your-wahminess-getting-in-the-way/

bunny slippers
“I’m not looking for a WAHM,” the potential client told me. “I’m looking for a writer.”

Whoa.

Does that mean that work at home moms can’t be writers?  While you and I both know that there are hundreds of talented WAHMs earning a very good living, the truth is, we get a bum rap.  People associated WAHMs with mommy blogging and party plans, they don’t associate us with serious writing.

If you find your WAHMiness is getting in the way, consider the following:

  • No one knows or cares if men or dads are working at home – Do we see a lot of discussions about WAHDs? Do men often announce “Hey world, I’m a work at home dad?” No. They don’t talk abut it and potential clients don’t think about it. It’s only an issue if we bring it to their attention.
  • Your situation has nothing to do with your ability - Work at home moms know that being a WAHM has nothing to do with getting a job done. However, there are a small handful of WAHMs who do take any job that comes along as long as it pays money – regardless of skill and talent. We all sort of get lumped into this same group.
  • A client sees being a WAHM differently than we do – When potential clients see a work at home mom they think of someone who spends more time caring for kids than doing work. They think we’re too busy driving the minivan to soccer games than to handle their projects.
  • Potential clients see WAHMs as being desperate – Have you seen the ads that read “Perfect for Work at Home Moms?” These clients are targeting WAHMs because they feel we’ll take any old money in order to stay at home with our kids.

There are some things you can do to get around the WAHM factor.

  1. Don’t tell anyone you’re a WAHM – The fact that you’re working from home or that you have kids or that you’re trying to make ends meet, should have no place in a cover letter or resume. Stick to your talent and your ability. Highlight your strong points, don’t make it seem as if you’re desperate to have work in order to stay home with your kids.
  2. Be choosy about your clients- Choose the best work at home jobs. If you don’t want to be pigeonholed or stereotyped, don’t take jobs that aren’t traditionally “WAHM jobs.”
  3. Schedule phone calls during times kids are in school or napping – When clients hear kids in the background they don’t think you’re focusing 100% on their projects. Oh sure, they know we’re work at home moms, but they don’t want to be reminded of it.

I love being a work at home mom. I’m so happy I’m able to have a successful work at home career. There have been some potential clients in the past who weren’t impressed with my WAHMiness, however. They equate “working at home” with a hobby or needing to bring in some change while our kids are sleeping – and you and I know this is very far from the truth.

What do you do to break out of the stereotype and show your clients you’re a professional writer first and work at home mom second?


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Comments

  1. Perceptions…it all comes down to perceptions. You bring up some excellent points that folks would be wise to heed!

  2. Wow – excellent points. I never realized what a huge stereotype there is. Perhaps some adjustments in my own perception of self are in order.

  3. not only the stereotype (which is obvious if you look at the ads: if “moms” are addressed the money and the level of work is very, very low). it’s also the reality that WAHMing means … ooops, my kids are home and they need me to help with homework but I have a deadline guess I’ll work after they go to bed whooops it’s midnight… one a.m… and they get up at 7, so I guess I’ll have to get up at 5 to finish up before they need me to get them ready for school…!!

    Lisa

  4. Debbie Ferm says:

    I agree with the previous poster in that it takes some self reflection to decide how you define yourself before you can go out and present yourself to others. This is something I struggle with myself.

    Both the SAHMs who want to work part time, and the professional full time writer (who happens to work from home) both exist out there and are both legitimate paths to take, but I don’t think they are the same thing. I can see what the client is trying to say, although I can see where it would raise some hackles.

  5. Barbara is right — it’s all a matter of perceptions. My mom was actually a WAHM long before the title became common. But she never emphasized the fact that she had kids running around while she worked. We were her priority — but clients new that they were a priority too.

    As long as a client knows that you’re going to do your best work for him, does it really matter if you advertise that you’re a mom and you work from home?

  6. It would never occur to me to tell a potential client that I’m a work at home mom. I don’t apply for writing jobs that call for moms anymore because my focus has become the environment, but in the past when I answered an ad asking for mom experience, even then I said I was a mom but didn’t classify myself as “wham.”

    Maybe I’ve got the same prejudice as the person you spoke with but when I hear “I’m a work at home mom,” I always think a person who chooses to purposefully identify herself as a “wham” to a potential client or employer is saying something about her priorities.

    Fair or unfair, there is a connotation. And as writers, we all know exactly how important connotations are.

  7. I think this post makes some great points. However, before anyone decides to go undercover with her wahminess…

    Some folks like the idea of working with a wahm. Why? It correlates nicely with maturity and responsibility.

    I’m a guy who works from home. We have two little ones, but I don’t consider myself a wahd because the munchkins aren’t usually here with me during work days. However, it has happened often enough that I realize the kind of determination and effort it requires to be a real wahm/d.

    When I need to work with someone on a project and have a choice between some person who is nothing more than a good bio page and someone who has the bio and wahm/d status, I think I’m a little biased in the wahm/d direction. There are too many unreliable people out there and you begin to look for clues that evidence some degree of responsibility.

    Who knows, I may be the only person in the world who thinks that way.

  8. Good points in this article!

    You know, it never would have occurred to me to note in a cover letter, pitch, or job application that I’m a WAHM, unless it was for a job that required you to be a WAHM, such as writing for About.com for their WAHM site or whatever. I usually just say or write something like, “My name is Jennifer, and I’m a freelance writer based in Anytown, USA, and I specialize in health care and medical writing…” Potential clients really don’t need to know that I work out of a cluttered second-story home office that could use a good dusting and hey, is that a Star Wars Lego toy on the floor? They may need to know that I’m freelance or a contractor, but I don’t think that my status as a WAHM really needs to come into it at all. I try to just emphasize my professional abilities, skills and background.

    That being said, I don’t think you have to pretend forever that you don’t have a family. One of my favorite clients is a client who has known me for years and years; I’ve been freelancing for her since well before my son was born. So she knows all about my family, and I have occasionally had to decline assignments or ask for an extension due to a family emergency. But I have an established track record with her, so it’s never been a problem.

  9. Tania Mara says:

    I’m not a WAHM, but a close friend of mine is. She used to apply for all those perfect-for-work-at-home-moms gigs you find all the time on job boards. She always introduced herslef as a WAHM and got mad at anyone advising her to do otherwise.

    Turns out her career moved up to an incomparably higher level when she finally dropped her WAHM title and started marketing herself simply as a freelance writer instead. In fact, one of her older clients–whom she had met when she still called herself a WAHM–praised her for the change, mentioning it made her look more professional.

    Like Barbara Ling said above, it’s all about perceptions.

  10. Not sure why anyone would add that they’re a WAHM when applying for a writing job. Do women normally announce whether they’re mothers when applying for any other type of job? I consider myself a part-time WAHM because being there for my kids and family is more important to me than a writing deadline. However, I don’t take on more then I can handle so that my number one priority(family) doesn’t interfere with my number two priority(writing). Clients never know whether I’m a WAHM or not, unless they hired me from the WAHM.com board.

    Should a family emergency arise, I handle it like I would any other job. I explain the situation and say here’s what I can do to finish the job. If the client doesn’t like it, they can let me go. Most people are understanding, but I could see a potential client thinking a mom might expect different treatment by announcing she’s a WAHM right off the bat. My thought is if you wouldn’t go into a job interview and discuss how you’re a mother, there’s no reason to announce it when applying for WAH gigs.

  11. I know this is an older post, but I wanted to add that there are lots of companies out there who WANT to work with WAHMs simply because we ARE WAHMs. There are people out there who want to support our ability to stay at home with our kids AND pursue our career of choice. I am so lucky to have two long term clients who revel in my WAHMness! I find that organizations that have to do with family and kids are the ones who will really support you in this. After making my connections there, and proving my professionalism and reliability, I was really able to take off with my freelance career, using them as professional references. I definitely agree that the first thing we must do, though, is treat this as a JOB and a CAREER, and not just something we do in our spare time. Great article!

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