How to Explain that Writing IS a REAL JOB!

Writing is a jobFirst thing first, full disclosure, I have a full time job and my writing is a side-job.  I bring home the same amount of money writing (part time) as I do from my full time job though, so I tend to mention the writing first.  The fact is, writing is a lot more fun and interesting than working in IT for a bank. J

When talking to people at a party, the guy who cuts your hair or just about anyone you meet, the conversation will quickly turn to one of the most commonly asked questions. “So, what do you do for a living?”  Or some variation of that.  For most people, this is a simple conversation starter, but when a freelance writer, or someone who makes money blogging is asked, it is often the source of confusion.  People often don’t understand how someone could make a living as a writer.

It’s difficult enough trying to explain to strangers or people you’re just meeting how and why you work as a writer, but it’s even worse when it is your family.  I spend hours in my office at home writing articles, trying to find clients and generally working on my writing business.  While doing it, the kids run in to ask for a snack, or to say hi, or to ask what I’m doing.  My wife will call in to ask me to change the laundry or help out in some other way.  Then there is extended family who undoubtedly wonder why I’m on the computer so much, and why I missed the last family event (I can imagine that my wife telling them that I had a big order due tomorrow sounded like an excuse for marriage problems, lol).

So, if I run into these types of things when I have an actual full time job, and just write on the side, I can only imagine how much worse it is for full time writers!  I’ve decided to write this article not just to share some of my thoughts on the matter, but also to ask for your stories & input.  Please, share your thoughts in the comments below!

Dealing with Strangers

When people I’m just meeting ask me, I actually enjoy trying to explain it.  Many people genuinely intrigued, and never knew that it was possible to actually make money online.  They assume all the internet money making ideas are just schemes (not that I blame them).  When they hear that I also have a regular job, I can tell that they think that my writing is just a hobby.  Oh well, I’m not worried about it.  It is fun to talk about though.

Dealing with Family

My wife has been extremely supportive, and generally doesn’t mind when I spend the occasional late night working on a last minute order.  She has helped me to balance work with family, and she’s always more than happy to help find a way to spend the money made through writing.  (We both love vacations though, so it works out).  The one thing I think she doesn’t realize is that every time she, or the kids, walk in, I lose my train of thought.  It takes me a minute or two to get back into the writing, at which time someone decides to pop back in.

Overall, I’m very lucky to have a family that is as supportive as they are.  My kids have started saying things like, “Daddy, can you go write articles so we can go to Michigan’s Adventure?” (a nearby amusement park).  Or, “Daddy, how many articles would it take for us to go to chuck-e-cheeses and how long would we have to leave you alone.”  It is quite cute!

I’ve been doing this for about three years now though, and it wasn’t always as easy.  Trying to find the time to get all my writing done, without neglecting the family or my regular job can be difficult.  It is well worth it, however, and I hope to continue doing it long into the future.

What about you?  How do you explain how you make a living as a writer?  I’d love to hear other ‘war-stories’.

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Michael

Comments

  1. says

    I live alone and can’t imagine what it would be like trying to stay focused and divide my attention between work and family members. I have enough trouble staying focused when it’s just me and the dog.

    Absolutely love your kids with the “how many articles does it take to…” 🙂 I think it’s brilliant that they see other ways of making money than a plain old 9 to 5.
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  2. says

    Michael…this is some great information that you shared with us. I’m with you…I work full time from home and live on our computer. Hours after hours and a lot of it is writing. I have much room for improvement but I sure do enjoy it.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Manny

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Manny! Working at home has some great benefits as well as some down sides, that’s for sure. Overall, I really enjoy it and hope to be able to work from home full-time someday!

      Michael

  3. says

    “. . .and she’s always more than happy to help find a way to spend the money made through writing”
    Lol. That’s part of the essence online, anyway – To cater for people around you.
    Though I’m in college,I do all I can to get a conducive place to write, because you rightly noted that it can be distracting enough for someone to barge in while you’re writing.
    The home office is something I’ve in mind right now, though.
    Nice share, by the way.
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  4. says

    Thanks for sharing this post! I have been working from home since early 2008, covering a variety of freelance services, including writing, editing, instructional design, and language arts/English SME.

    I often have the same issue trying to explain “what I do” when people ask, especially when it comes time to update records somewhere (doctor’s office, etc.).

    I usually get the blank stare, followed by, “Oh, so you’re self-employed.”

    Yeah, OK, let’s go with that!
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  5. says

    My main income is still through my “real job” but writing and blogging is what I enjoy more than anything. It’s tougher with family than it is with friends though. I guess because family knows how much money I make, so when I talk about the little amount of money I make writing, they consider it more of a hobby.

    It’s funny but my husband has been the worst! He’s more supportive now that he see’s I can bring in at least a few hundred dollars every month and he appreciates it, but even so I’m not sure he considers it a real job.

    By the way, I love that you include your kids in your blogging. I’m a very family oriented person, my kids are my world and I really enjoy reading success stories when kids are involved. Thanks for your story!
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    • says

      Thanks for commenting! My wife has always been pretty supportive. In the last year it has been even better. We went on a family vacation for a week to Arizona and it was paid for primarily with writing money, and we’ve done a few smaller vacations with writing money too, so that really helped convince her that it is a real job. 🙂

      Michael

  6. says

    I’m still single, but it is already hard for me to stay all day at home to do my job. Actually, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer for 2 years now and I really like it. It is hard to deal with it, my two sisters and the house chores, especially during the holidays though.

  7. Hannah says

    I’m never sure how to respond to the “What do you do?” question. If I say “I’m a copywriter” the response is usually, “Oh, like patents and stuff?” If I say “I’m a writer”, they assume I mean novels, get excited, and then it’s a long explanation to bring their expectations down to the kind of writing I actually do. I’ve recently started saying “I pick up writing and editing work online on a freelance basis” as that seems to cover it more accurately, and lowers their expectations so they don’t start questioning me as though I’m in some high-powered graduate career (as most people I know are).

  8. says

    This is actually something I can relate to. I graduated last year and started writing full time, with my girlfriend. It has been hard for classmates and relatives to understand what we actually do. I live outside US but my writing income has been by far more than what my classmates are earning on their first job.That has been my capital for starting brick and mortar businesses, which multiplies my income. I have my fears about the future, but I will think about getting a job to practice what I learnt in college-Accounting!

  9. says

    I began my writing career in the year 2008, when a cursory posting on rediffmail about a particular experience with a company I was working full time with, at that time, had on my friends. They called me up and asked me to sue the company for causing me the harm. That is when I decided that if this was the kind of response my writing was generating, I might as well take it a bit more seriously.
    From then on, I did not look back and I also did my writing along with my full time job.
    For me, it was difficult to stick to a full time job for a long time. I would get kicked out every three or six months on some pretext or the other. Even then, my family was telling me to do a job.
    Now, from the past 2 months i.e. since july 13, I do not have a full time job and I am doing my writing work on a full time basis, I am still inviting criticism from the family and am being asked to pick up a full time job, to which I am telling them that I will do so when the recession ebbs away. They are believing me and are having patience with me until I find a full time job. While I am trying to build up my content writing business.
    Incidentally, I am a graduate construction engineer from mumbai university and I have a diploma in construction contracts management from NICMAR. I also have 15 years of working experience in construction. In a majority of my jobs, I was kicked out or suffered some monetary loss as the company did not pay my full dues.
    Right now, I am thoroughly enjoying the freedom that my current writing career is giving me and am having second thoughts about picking up a full time job.
    Please note, I do not earn the same amount from my writing as I do from my full time jobs.

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your story! It sounds like you’ve got a good opportunity to turn your writing into a full time job right now! I hope it goes well for you, if there is ever anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Michael

  10. Rishika says

    Great post! Rings really true. Trying to get someone to take you seriously as a freelance writer and trying to tell your family that you need quiet time even if you work from home are by far the most difficult parts of being a writer. But I have come to enjoy the look of confusion and hidden admiration when I tell people I’m a writer. I love my work and it shows when I speak about it. So I guess I should focus on the fact that I am one of the lucky ones who got to turn passion into profession!

    • says

      Yeah, it is kind of fun explaining it to people when they look confused, lol. Hopefully I’ll be able to turn writing into a full time job before too long! It is going very well so far! Thanks for stopping by and posting!

      Michael

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