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?