Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So, What Do You Do?

This morning I was reading Melissa Ingold’s blog post at Internet Marketing Sweetie. She tackles a sometimes thorny issue many freelance writers and others of home businesses face – responding to the question, “What do you do?”

You know what I mean. You’re at some gathering having a wonderful time. You’re mixing, mingling, and inevitably someone asks, “What do you do?” Reactions to your answer may range from clueless to “That’s what I want to do! Can you help me get started?”

I have to tell you I haven’t had a very difficult time with this. Although in the beginning I think my parents and extended family thought I was crazy and may not have taken my endeavor seriously, they at least had the good manners to keep their opinions to themselves. The most I’ve had to deal with is drop in guests (during deadlines) and impromptu phone calls.

Sure, I’ve had strangers ask about my “job.” Some find it interesting and some think I’m making a little pocket change with a hobby while staying home with my kids. There are also times when I run into other entrepreneurs or business owners who are quite interested in what I do and request a business card (I recommend ALWAYS carrying business cards because you never know where you’ll meet a potential client).

My husband supports my entrepreneurial pursuits, and my family has come around. But some people don’t get that support, I’ve visited forums where posters were harassed by spouses, in-laws and others ridiculing them and accusing them of wasting time not working a “real job.” These forums were the only place they could get the support they needed. Building a business is such hard work. I can’t imagine how tough it must be when it seem like no one believes in or supports your vision and effort.

It really is amazing to me that in this day and age some people still cannot wrap their minds around the fact that people can, and do, make comfortable incomes from home. Why is that?

A good friend of mine has been telecommuting for her medical coding position with a prominent health care facility for about a year now. Even though she’s working for another company (she's worked with them for over 10 years), she encounters people who assume she's been demoted just because she now works from home instead of on site. So I wonder – is it the working from home part that people have a problem with?


Allena said...

Two things to say about this great post!

First, I always get the "So...do you write...books then?" For many people, writing always means books:)!

Ok, number two- Part of me feels that, if your spouse is telling you to get a real job, you might want to look around your household and see if you truly are contributing. If your spouse is carrying the weight of paying the bills, then perhaps you do need a part time job until your writing ramps up. It is unfair to your family to toil away for next to nothing and put the burden on them!

Ok, so maybe the spouse in your example was an a*hole, but I come from the place of a very supportive spouse, so if he were to tell me "Look, this isn't working." I'd take a hard look at the budget and checkbook and take him QUITE seriously.

Kimberly Ben said...

Allena, that's so true about people assuming you write books. A few assume I write exclusively for magazines and seem very confused about the whole concept of copywriting.

You've made an interesting point - it is quite possible that some new freelancers with seemingly unsupportive spouses and family members aren't making enough to cover living expenses. A lucrative business doesn't happen overnight.

Devon Ellington said...

As far as I'm concerned, a spouse/partner who is abusive about one's writing is the tip of a much bigger problem in the relationship than whether or not one writes. It's a sign of disrespect on oh, so many levels and a good indicator of the type of relationship it is.

I kick unsupportive people to the curb. There's no room for them in my life.

There's a huge difference between unsupportive and those who tell you the truth, when you're going off the rails. The latter are very important. The former need to be ditched.

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