Ahhh…the life of a freelance writer—interviewing celebrities, sitting around eating bon bons, playing on Facebook all day, writing the great American novel—it’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it. Wait, what? That’s not it? Oh yeah, that’s just what people seem to imagine the life of a freelance writer is when I am asked what I do for a living. If you have ever worked as a freelance writer, you know better, and you probably also dread that pesky question that comes up at dinner parties: “So, where do you work?” Instead of just answering, “I’m a freelance writer,” and getting those inevitable follow-ups that make you feel like a failure being compared to Shakespeare, these strategies will help you better explain exactly what it is that you do to bring home the bacon.
Focus on Your Specialty
Instead of answering based on the work you do (web content writing), answer based on the industry in which you work. This works best when you write for a particularly dry or technical industry. Saying you’re in the “industrial door business” is a lot easier than going through the whole “I’m a writer” business, then explaining that you write product descriptions of commercial door products. However, this technique only works if you only write for one business or industry.
Provide More Details
Instead of just explaining that you are a writer, share a little bit more about what it is you do. I use this technique most of the time. My typical answer is that I am “a freelance internet marketing writer.” While this sometimes opens the door to more questions, it does at least give a first impression of a job more in line with what it is I actually do. Depending on what type of work you do, other ideas would be to explain that you are a “professional blogger”, “social media marketing consultant” or “web content provider.”
Finally, if you love what you do, do not be afraid to say you are a writer. Yes, you may get an occasional “like Stephen King?” response, but you can take that opportunity to show your friends and acquaintances that there are opportunities out there for writers that do not involve sitting down to create a 1000 page masterpiece. As freelance writers, our masterpieces may not always be read by critics or appreciated for generations to come, but they do have an important place in the world of the written word as content that our clients use to describe products, educate customers and attract business to their websites.
Tracy S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.