I am so, so, so unbelievably tired of people asking me uninformed, ignorant questions about what it’s like to be a freelance writer. Certainly my background in journalism means I’ve heard of more people choosing this career path, but I didn’t think it was so rare that others in various fields had never heard about it.
To help clear up some of the confusion, here are some responses to the most offensive questions/remarks/condescending lectures I’ve been getting lately.
- Well, YOU don’t have to work tomorrow! Not true. I work every day. I just don’t have to go to an office to do it. Every day I am searching for and applying to jobs, improving my resumes and cover letters, researching and writing various blog posts and articles, as well as networking and keeping in touch with contacts. Just because I do this in my apartment (and sometimes admittedly in my pajamas) doesn’t mean it’s not work. So no, I will not stay out drinking with you until 3 a.m. on a Tuesday because I don’t have to work tomorrow. I’m more likely to stay out with you if you don’t say something like this…
- But, how do you get paid? Think of freelancing as a service. When a plumber does a service for you, like unclogging your shower drain, you pay him or her for the service. My service just happens to be writing. When I write something for you, you pay me for the service.
- Do you get benefits? Essentially, I’m self-employed. I sell my own services. So unfortunately no, I don’t get any benefits. I’m more tolerant of this question when it is asked in earnest, but too often someone laughs after asking it. If you think it’s funny for someone to not have health insurance, you should think again.
- You’re still unemployed? Well, don’t worry, it’s so tough right now. You’re right, it is really tough to find a full-time, staff writer position at a number of papers and magazines in danger of folding. But just because I don’t have that, doesn’t mean I’m unemployed. I’m self-employed. I am paying the bills. How many other recent grads do you know that are making it in the creative field of choice they studied in college? I’m willing to bet very few. Sure, I would be happy with the stability, benefits, and routine of a full-time position, but it’s simply not going to happen right now. I don’t need to be reminded of that. Don’t feel bad for me–instead, celebrate the fact that I am living my dream. I went to school for journalism, and now I am a journalist. Pretty sweet when you think about it like that!