In my many years working as a freelance writer, I’ve learned one thing: Most people don’t really understand what I do.
It seems even friends and family think I sit around in my PJs watching soap operas and eating bon-bons, and that somehow my career is less of a job and more of a “lifestyle choice” because I simply couldn’t hack it in the business world or at a so-called “real” job like the one they have.
Knowing how hard I work and how much effort I’ve put into building my freelance writing career, these assumptions can be pretty hurtful at times. And whether you’re new to freelance writing or you’ve been at this a while, I’m sure you’ve come across these same sentiments from time to time as well.
They’re actually downright offensive!
People just can’t believe we get paid to be a freelance writer – that we actually write things that people will hand over good, hard cash for.
Fortunately, over the years in this business, I’ve become good at responding to these skeptics. While you can’t always make them believe you’re a hard-working, money-making professional (some people have it stuck in their mind that you’re a couch potato!), there are some ways you can respond cordially, respectfully and also drive your point home.
Let’s take a look at a few of the common skeptical questions and responses I get when I tell people I get paid to be a freelance writer.
“When does your book come out?”
I’ve been asked this one so many times that I’ve lost count.
For some reason, people equate “writer” with “book,” and they don’t know how to separate the two. Sure, some of us freelance writers do write books – but mostly they’re eBooks, ghostwritten Kindle books and other things of that nature. They’re not science fiction novels you’ll find at Barnes and Noble, and we certainly don’t have agents.
When someone asks you this, simply respond with “Oh, I actually don’t need to survive book-to-book like many writers do. I have daily work that pays me regularly and well!”
This tells them that…
1) There are different types of writers out there (and you’re one of them) and it answers their next question by saying…
2) Yes, I still get paid to be a freelance writer even though you can’t purchase my work somewhere.
“How do you get work done at home?”
This response isn’t exclusive to freelance writers, as I’m sure anyone who works remotely hears it, but it’s definitely one of the more common questions I get from skeptics.
So many people are stuck in the 9-to-5 office world that they really can’t fathom working any other way. They imagine you sitting on the couch, ordering in pizza and lounging about the house all day. You can’t actually work at home, can you?
My favorite way to respond to these types of skeptics is to emphasize how much better working at home is than working in an office. I usually say something like: “Actually, I get so much more work done than I ever did in an office! There are no time-consuming meetings, I don’t have a morning commute, and I don’t even have to get ready before getting to work. It’s the most productive and efficient I’ve ever been.” That usually shuts them right up!
“You can’t make much money doing that!”
This one’s the most offensive of all, as it delves into your finances – something few people feel comfortable talking about.
But you can bet, if someone asks you this impolite question, they probably think they make a whole lot more money than you – and they want to be assured of that.
When responding to this question, don’t feel like you need to give exact numbers or tell the person your annual salary (if you even have an estimate of that!). But, drive home just how successful you are.
You can say something like: “You’d be surprised! I actually make about 30 percent more than I ever did in an office, and I work fewer hours, I’m less stressed and I get to pick and choose what I work on. It’s much more rewarding than any job I’ve ever done.”
That last part is key; it tells them that not only DO you make money (and plenty of it) and get paid to write, but it also says you’re much happier and more fulfilled in your career than they ever will be.
“Can you babysit / dog sit / house sit / run errands for me?”
I can’t tell you how frustrating this question is!
Without saying it outright, the person has basically said that just because you work from home, you have all the free time in the world to run errands, do favors and anything and everything you want.
The truth is that we freelance writers are constantly juggling deadlines. While sure, we make our own schedules, some days we don’t have 5 free minutes, let alone a full free day to pick up our dog from the groomer, cuddle him and take him for his daily walk.
When someone asks you this, your answer should be simple: “I wish I had the free time to do stuff like that, but my job takes up my full day. I know there are sitters in the area who would probably love to make a few extra bucks and help you out though!”
This tells them that not only do you not have any free time to run their errands for them, but that the requests they are making should be paid services: It’s someone else’s job, too!
Don’t Let Them Get You Down
It can be hard dealing with skeptics, I know, but don’t let them get you down.
Just remember: You have a rewarding, enjoyable, freeing career that you love. You get paid to be a freelance writer. You make your own schedule. You work from home. And you make plenty of money to get you by. So few people can say that in this world, so take skeptics with a grain of salt. They’re mostly just jealous!
Did I leave anything out? Are there questions you often get from skeptics about your career, too? Post them in the comments!