In a world of cubicles and lunch breaks, we freelancers know it can be hard to explain what we do. Especially to those accustomed to their “square” jobs. Nine to fivers find it hard to grasp the concept of a life that doesn’t include a “work week,” benefits, team building or company outings. While all of those things make some people feel content and secure, our world is full of unknowns, feasts, famines and—most importantly—freedom. And that’s the way we like it.
Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer or video producer, here are 7 people’s reactions to hearing you’re a freelancer and how to answer the tough questions.
1. Your old high school buddy that you ran into at a bar randomly.
“So you’re, like, your own boss? Man, that’d be awesome. I hate my boss.”
For some of us, calling our own shots and avoiding micromanagement is an impetus that keeps us moving forward. On those days where you don’t feel like doing anything at all (but have everything to do), you may feel nostalgic about having someone breathing down your neck and cracking the whip on your deadlines. But finding the gumption inside yourself to buckle down and produce something great when you don’t want to? That’s the ultimate freelancer high.
So yes, being your own boss is awesome—most of the time. But without all of the automated parts of a business, you also serve as your own HR, legal team, sales team, and accountant. Fulfilling all of those roles is a little tiring, but mostly rewarding.
2. Your old boss.
“You know, I could swing a salary bump if you decide to come back. And we just installed some taps for that fancy craft beer all you kids are drinking these days.”
Most of us freelancers aren’t here for the guarantee of a fat bi-weekly paycheck. We trade assuredness for freedom and creativity. And often, we do it for our mental, physical or spiritual health. A little more money or a few office perks are hardly convincing to embracing an independent lifestyle.
In 2016, independent workers made up 35 percent of the entire U.S. workforce. That number is expected to grow to 50 percent by 2020. Employers are finding it harder and harder to make people want to show up to the office, especially when much of their work can be done remotely (Enter: office perks). Sorry, no ping pong table could ever make us come back.
So, thank your old boss for their kind offer. Let them know you’re focusing on growing your business. You’re ahead of the freelance movement and plan to keep it that way.
3. Your Tinder date.
“But what about benefits?”
Damn, you tryna wife/hub up right now? I take the internet seriously for my income…not dating. Chill.
Freelancing comes with plenty of benefits! Freedom, number one. The ability to travel, attend concerts/events whenever, unlimited vacation time, no commute—the list goes on.
Oh, you mean health insurance and a 401k? Nah, none of that. But like everything else, we just figure it out—alone.
4. Your sibling.
“How do you make enough money? I just got a $5,000 raise and I can still hardly afford my car payment.”
We can’t speak for every sibling relationship, but for some of us, rivalry runs deeps. When it comes to “success,” more financially stable siblings can definitely assert their “superiority.” This isn’t to say that as a freelancer, you automatically make less than a corporate zombie. We understand it takes time to build our freelance businesses, match our rates to our worth and land lucrative clients. Freelance success doesn’t happen overnight like it can in the corporate world.
As you build a freelance business, you also quickly learn where your priorities lie. You may drive around an old clunker or have no car at all—but hey, it (or your two horsepower Chevro-legs) will get you to the coffee shop. You may not take lavish vacations, but you can constantly travel around the country in a van while making money.
While traditional salaries are bound by the growth of a business as a whole, freelancers have no wage ceiling. We set our own rates, accept as much work as we want/can and never wait for raises. We give them to ourselves.
5. Your parents.
“What does freelancing even mean? What am I going to tell your grandparents?”
We hate to say it, but the older your audience, the more difficult it is to explain that you make a living through the internet. Explaining to your dad or his dad that staring at a screen on your couch for copious amounts of time is your idea of pulling yourself up by your *virtual* bootstraps, is almost pointless.
Just tell them that you operate your own marketing/writing/video production/photography/designing business. Everyone loves an entrepreneur.
6. Your best friend.
“That’s rad. You’re smart and talented. I know you’ll go far.”
Thank you, that’s why you’re my best friend.
7. Your dog.
“Listen, I know freelancing is *ruff* sometimes, but it’s time to shower. It’s been three days. Lick attack!”
I hope I can feed you this month.