“You Are So Lucky to Work at Home” – How to Talk About Life as a Freelance Writer
“You are so lucky to work at home. You sleep as late as you like, work whenever you want, wear whatever you want, and you never have to deal with coworkers.”
Ah yes, the romantic life of a freelance writer – I just skip through the workweek in rose-colored pajamas without a care in the world.
There are many misconceptions about freelance blog writers, mostly about what we wear, our work hours, and if we are too socially awkward to hold down a “real” job. Over my many years as a writer, I have heard just about every silly question about freelance writing there is, and I have learned how to answer them.
“What Are You Wearing?”
It sounds like a dirty phone call rather than a discussion about my job. The question used to get under my skin, so I would tell people I wore a leisure suit and red boa while writing. Sadly, that answer is not that far from the truth.
“I’ll Come Over and Keep You Company While You Write.”
When I tell people that I am a freelance writer, most of them get stuck on the fact that I work from home without set hours. Friends or family would drop over for two or three hours and tell me that serving them tea and cookies was my well-deserved break from work. I had a very difficult time kicking visitors out, worried that I would hurt their feelings.
I now tell people that I work by the deadline, not by the hour, and that I usually get up at 4 am and work into the late hours of the night to ensure that I meet those deadlines every day. I always invite folks over for a cup of coffee before work but, strangely enough, I never get any takers. I also make it a point to stop by their jobs and hang out for a few hours, just so they get in a decent break from work.
Even family members are clueless about my job. Since I am home, playing on the computer all day instead of having a “real” job, I should be able to do all the housework, cook dinner, pick the kids up from school and deliver them to soccer practice, pay the bills and do the laundry. One cousin actually asked, “So you make money just being a housewife?”
“You Know Internet Jobs Are Just Scams, Right?”
Television news shows and newspapers are quick to present stories about scams on Craigslist and other websites, making freelance work seem shady, at best, and dangerous, at worst. In reality, I have encountered very few scams in my 15 years as a freelancer.
“So Do You Write Romantic Novels, Poetry, or What?”
When I first started out as a medical blog writer, I would bristle at the question. I am a serious blogger, I would tell myself, and I do not write such trivial fluff. I would then fill the air with incredibly boring facts and figures to prove I was no poet. I would keep up the steady stream of statistics until I had gained due respect from my audience.
Then I noticed I was losing their interest too. People stopped asking about my job. Many found excuses to leave the room when I brought it up; others just rolled their eyes.
Slowly, it occurred to me that people like their romantic ideas about a writer’s life and that it is wrong for me to shatter those delusions. Shattering the myths about freelance blog writers is paramount to pulling back the curtain to expose the Wizard of Oz. They really want to believe that freelance blog writers live in luxury, just sitting at the keyboard doing nothing – and there is really nothing wrong with that harmless misconception. The next time somebody asks you about your life as a freelance blog writer, just say you work in your pajamas.
Lynn H is a medical writer and content marketing specialist. She works with B2B and B2C organizations to promote brand awareness and increase sales.