I find that many of my friends and family don't really “get” the online freelancer thing. And what can I tell them?
Since I work online (and sometimes feel as though I live online), I tend to find myself in this happy bubble where people know what I do. I hang around with bloggers on Skype when I start feeling lonely and isolated. I read news about blogging, and I get a lot of my other “real” news from blogs as well. Everyone I come in contact (and by “contact”, I mean my husband, my son, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype) with on a daily basis has a pretty good idea of what I do — and it makes sense.
But when I talk to people in the “real” world about what I do as an online freelancer, they are flummoxed. To so many, professional blogging isn't a Thing. Why would bloggers hire staff writers? Isn't blogging what you do for fun, so your relatives on the other side of the country can see pictures of your kids? Can you really make a living writing online?
And, of course, there is the respect factor. Having an online career isn't exactly seen as legitimate by many people out there in the “real” world. It's something that you do on the side, or while you're trying to get a “real” job.
Explaining Myself as an Online Freelancer
Some aspects of my work as an online freelancer are fairly easy to explain. I create content for web sites. People understand the need for company profiles and “about” pages. When it comes to blogging, though, the best I can usually do is talk about professional blogging as a “marketing tool” for businesses. “I'm part of the marketing effort,” I say. Because the last thing I want to do at my cousin's wedding is to try to explain to a total stranger that many of the bloggers I write for make money off affiliate programs; that is a business model these days — and one that works out well for many online entrepreneurs.
I have been fortunate recently to start writing over at U.S. News & World Report. While my writing there isn't exactly lucrative, it's something that others can undertand. While I am immersed in the digital world, and the importance of the mainstream media is fading for me, there is still an air of legitimacy conferred by writing for mainstream media outlets online. It's something of a relief to be able to say, “I write mainly online. I recently started writing for the investing blog at U.S. News and World Report.”
I'm not embarrassed about my career path as a professional blogger. But it is sometimes hard to explain to those who don't take the online world for granted, like I do. Being able to point to something that my grandma can understand has been a great relief to me on those occasions that I venture into the “real” world for social interaction.
What about you? How do you explain your online work to those living in an offline world?
Image source: The Oatmeal