It’s pretty likely that nearly everyone who contracts freelance work for a living can readily attest that it isn’t sunshine and roses or fairytales and pixie dust all the time. However, for people who work the standard 9-5 industry job, it’s not hard to see why they think that a lot of freelancers goof off all day and don’t hold “real jobs,” since you aren’t confined to the same restrictive schedule they are. After encountering one person after another who thinks that your job is a joke, it can get annoying and frustrating trying to explain that you do, in fact, work for a living, and you may even work harder than they do. So how do you combat people who think that freelancing isn’t a real job?
- Don’t be afraid to say no – While you’re probably lucky enough to not be limited to the typical 9-5 schedule, if you aren’t careful people will try to walk all over you knowing that you’re working from home. Don’t comply every time someone wants you to run an errand or do something “because you work from home and have the time” and stress that just because you may not go into an office, you still have deadlines to meet and you can’t drop everything to run errands for them. Just say no.
- Set a schedule and turn your phone off – When people know you’re at home they have a tendency to stop by unexpectedly, call and want to chat, or just assume you’re available in general. Set specific hours that you’re going to get work done (it doesn’t have to be a solid 8 hours, it may just be a few hours in the morning or afternoon) and then turn your phone off or on silent. That way you aren’t distracted when it rings and you can work uninterrupted for a few hours.
- Let people know when you’re published – Sure it may look like you’re tooting your own horn, but it also acts as solid proof that you don’t sit around watching soap operas all day in your pajamas. A lot of people assume that freelance writing is a blow-off career because they never see the fruits of your labor. Show it off! Send out email updates to people you think may be interested with a quip explaining that this is what you’ve been working on for the past few days, weeks, etc. and don’t hesitate to rattle off publications you’re in when people ask about your job.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt – When you’re questioned if you have a real job or not it’s usually out of sheer ignorance. Instead of getting mad, try to be patient with them and explain that you are not just a freelance writer, but also the accounting department responsible for getting invoices out on time, the boss responsible for getting deadlines finished on time, and the marketing department responsible for pitching ideas to prospective publishers and seeking out new work.
- Don’t hesitate to explain a typical work day – What a lot of people don’t realize is that most freelancers don’t just work 40 hours a week, they usually end up working far more than that. When people scoff at your job don’t hesitate to let them know that you often end up working nights and weekends as well, and that they when they leave the office at the end of the day you’re still “on-call” for your job.
A lot of questioning around the validity of freelancing is born out of jealousy that you have a more relaxed schedule and ignorance as to what really goes on behind the scenes. It may be frustrating to deal with people questioning your career choice and making assumptions about what you actually do with your time, but you can rest assured that you’re likely doing your job out of passion, which isn’t something many people can say.
Sara Dawkins is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor of http://www.nannypro.com/.