Freelancer? Writing Consultant? Work at Home?

Today my fav blogger and former owner of FWJ, Deb Ng, started a discussion on Facebook about the lack of respect people have for work at home folks. I joined in and voiced my annoyance over how quickly people dismiss my job and ask what my husband does for a living to decipher the ‘real source’ of our family’s income. They figure if I’m at home playing on the internet he must have a real job somewhere, out in the wide, wide world. It blows their mind when I tell them he does the same thing I do…from home.

“Oh!” they exclaim, now seemingly impressed. It’s annoying.

Before talking with Deb today I have wondered if I should state what I do differently and market myself differently. Instead of freelance writer, I should maybe say journalist. Instead of saying I own a business that provides writing services, maybe I should say I’m a business consultant…

Here’s the thing. It really doesn’t matter because, writer or journalist, people will ask about who I write for and when I don’t say the local paper or give a well-known publication title, their little eyes will glaze over and I’m back in hobbyist land. It doesn’t matter that I write for the top freelance writing website. It doesn’t matter that I’m paid to hang out on Twitter and Facebook and when I’m off the clock I’m building a brand and they take part in building that brand everyday whether they know it or not. They don’t get it and I’m through trying to help them understand.

If I worked for NASA, someone would be disappointed I wasn’t an astronaut. You see my point? Our career choice is just that – a choice. We chose to become champions of the written word for better or worse. Sure it can get annoying when people think you sit at home eating bon bons, watching Oprah and scratching your butt with your keyboard, but we should realize most of these people are actually jealous. They just got off the longest commute of their lives from a place of hell and they have no choice but to appear there each and everyday if they want to go on eating.

Feel a little better? Still annoyed? Try these things:

  • Cut out the daily interruptions by not being available. If you’re working, don’t answer the door when the neighbors show up, don’t answer the phone with your bored friend calls, don’t allow yourself to be guilted into favors.
  • End conversations with action phrases. “I’m sorry I’ve got to go edit a piece. I’ll call you later.” “No can do, I’ve got a conference call in an hour.” These are gentle, but not too subtle reminders that you do work and more importantly, they are interrupting.
  • Crack their face. “Oh, you’re always on Facebook!” Your response: “I know, it’s great to get paid to interact with people in such a fun way.”

Yes there are days I work in my jammies. There are days I write a piece, do some laundry, play with the kids and bake cookies. And yes, I’ve watched Oprah in my jammies while eating cookies. I do it every so often because I can.

The majority of my time, however, is spent writing, meeting, pitching, running to wash at least some underwear for the family, sliding back online while Elmo sings his closing song so I can manage a community and answer the 300 emails from folks who “see me playing on Facebook” and want to know how I can help them and better yet, how they can pay me to help them.

My respect comes from the way I conduct my business, how I handle my clients and how I ignore the haters, wannabes and neverbes. Consultant, home-based business, freelancer, whatever you call yourself, call yourself lucky and talented!

What’s your title? What are the advantages/disadvantages of it?

Comments

  1. I usually go with “writer for hire” when marketing myself but that doesn’t come close to describing all the different hats I wear. That’s why meting with potential clients in person is so important. It gives me a chance to get a feel for what they’re looking for, so I can explain the different roles I play when it comes to making it happen.

    But I agree with the overall theme of your post. Friends think that working from home means I can just blow off a whole day. Once in a while I can (that’s why I work from home) but not every day.

  2. Ooh, Terreece, I think I love you!! This post had me laughing and agreeing all at the same time :) This is my second time pursuing this “consultant, home-based business, freelancer” thing and its definitely a struggle. But your words are giving me the encouragement I need to keep moving forward, as a mother and worker.

    Many blessings to you and your family!!
    Tamar Cloyd´s last blog post ..No Donor Left Behind

    • Hey Tamar,

      Kudos for jumping back into it! Most freelancers have moved back and forth at some time or another. A lot of us end up taking full time gigs that we work from home, but find ourselves technically a non-freelancer. Keep it moving girl, shake those sillies off and be sure to put the Backyardigans DVD on repeat LOL!

  3. I usually just say “I’m a writer.” Then people either go, “Oh.” or they start asking who I write for. I say I write for all sorts of websites and they get that glazed look you mentioned.

    For friends who stop by or call unexpectedly, I usually chat for a minute, then say something like, “Well, I’m sorry I can’t invite you in right now, but I’m under a tough deadline.” That usually makes them realize that I am working and they basically just walked into my workplace to chat. :)

    • Genesis, what is up with that glazed look? I’m going to start asking people are they having a seizure…It’s so rude. I always stay plugged in on the conversation, I may not be interested in a cat psychologist, but you never know when that information may be useful…

      I used to ignore the door, but then people had the nerve to yell “I know you’re in there!” Now I answer the door and ask “Is it lay, lie or lain?” and “Do you think social media has a place in a multi-blogger niche or is it a given for the bloggers to push their own posts without management encouragement?”

      They look all “Duh” and it cracks me up…

  4. Thanks for writing this! I can’t tell you how many times my friends ask me to go out for coffee when my one kid is elementary school and my son is in preschool (for the lowly 7.5 hours a week he goes to preschool). When I say, “I can’t, that’s my writing time,” or “I’m working then” I get blank stares or worse.

    My kids also think that my time at the computer is flexible. They can’t seem to break the habit of interrupting me when I’m working, even if I just ask for a 30 minute block of time.

    I get so discouraged sometimes and wonder if I’ll ever get (respected) time to write.
    Christine Cavalier´s last blog post ..HOW TO BUILD COMMUNITY ONLINE

    • I’m glad you liked it Christine! It is easy to get discouraged, but take heart it will likely get better. More for the adults than the kids, but you will learn a new skill – writing while chaos breaks out around you.

      I can tune my three out as they fight, sing, play crash, boom, bang on the furniture and stand next to me saying “Mom” 600 times. It took years of gnashing of teeth and saying “Mommy needs to put this post up or I’ll lose my momentum,” but I got it. Now it helps when I’m writing someplace other than home to tune out other people and their crazy conversations.

  5. If I’m asked, I call myself a writer. I dropped the “freelance” part because I kept getting asked who I work for.

    • Jodee girl, I’m thinking about dropping freelance because people seem to think freelance is synonymous with ‘volunteer.’ It’s like lady, that will cost the equivalent of my electric bill, how do you want to pay? LOL!

  6. “when I don’t say the local paper or give a well-known publication title”

    I tease out my most well-known client- usually a publisher that someone has at least HEARD of or read their imprint on the back of their beach reading, and give them that name first. When they connect me with that, I do feel a little better respected.
    allena´s last blog post ..Just Go With Your Flow- Writers

  7. I used to work from home as a lawyer and faced the same negative views. Until I stopped to care about them.
    It’s more practical to work at home, I don’t have to commute, I save office rent, a car. I have a better work-life balance, which makes me happier AND better at what I do for a living.

    If everybody worked from home who could, our environment would be very thankful and our roads much less congested.

  8. Cannot agree more. Even my mom calls me a housewife! It doesn’t matter that I am making more than most of my friends, and sometimes I get tired of explaining what I do because most people (including my mom) just don’t get it!

  9. Personally, I avoid using descriptor “home,” but then again, I think with mobile technology, it’s much more accepted than years ago. Heck I could go to Starbucks to work to, or pay a lot of wassted overhead.

    I write for a lot of trade journals, though some think I still write for the local newspaper (that was 20 years ago, yet people haven’t realized I left).

    Clients and prospects can see my work online, they don’t care if I’m in an office. I don’t care what other people think.– if they don’t pay my bills, their opinion doesn’t matter.

  10. Too funny and sadly, too true. I find the magic little word “deadline” makes people realize that, oh yeah, she’s actually working (instead of stringing together a bunch of flowery words that were inspired by her morning latte – which incidentally, I would totally do if I got paid for it).

    Another one I like to throw at the skeptics is – “You know the informative and well written stuff you appreciate and learn from after Googling something? That’s what I write.” My service is actually, in some ways, beneficial to them. Gives the whole exchange some perspective when they see it that way. But, and somewhat pathetically, in the end I’m looking forward to the day when upon hearing the slightly snide, ever-so-patronizing question “What do you write?” I can casually wave at a bookshelf full of hardcover bestsellers. Sha-bang, baby.

  11. I prefer “commercial freelance writer.” Got that from well fed writer.

  12. What a great post. I agree with everyone, but I also have a dirty little secret. Freelance writing, writing at home, has got to be the best gig going. I’ve worked many jobs, in various combinations, including staff writer, and nothing beats freelancing. I chose it for the exact reasons those annoying people of whom you speak believe–so I can go out for coffee while I work, rearrange my schedule to see a friend, spend more time with my kids, and break up my work day. In essence, I feel like I get to live my life, not just work and fit life in around the edges. I’ve supported my whole family freelancing for three years, and can’t imagine living my life any other way (other than not working at all)!
    Serena´s last blog post ..Oaxaca Dead Dog Zine

  13. This posting say the truth about working at Home, I just would make a point, what kind of writer to start up and same thing like you?How many years require that to establish your income and work professionally as a writer, I am curious and wan to start as freelance writer,Does it require any certain degree, diploma, can it be self educated ??Please reply??thx in advance

  14. I like your post, but in the first bullet point shouldn’t it be “ignore the telephone WHEN your bored friend calls? I know this is quiet nit picky, but I’m eager to learn more about getting involved with a career in writing because my verbal skills are not really up to par.

  15. I am not worried what people think. Yes, they get a glazed look when I tell them who I write for, but I don’t care. I think it is great that I can actually talk when a friend calls, or I can bake cookies in the middle of the day. My time is my own, and I have never missed a deadline or had a client request an edit or re-write.

    One of the reasons freelance writing is so amazing is that it gives me a precious commodity that is worth more than money: time. When people backhandedly say they wish they could spend the day in their jammies (which I rarely do, but okay), I just tell them it’s pretty awesome. Because it is, and I love what I do!

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