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How to Explain You’re a Freelancer to Family and Friends

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I'm really excited to publish this guest post by Lois Sacks on EdenFried.com. I first met Lois when she enrolled in my online course, Bread & Butter Blogging. Since then, I've gotten to know her pretty well. She's a hard worker and recently took a big leap in her blog-business. In this post, Lois dives into and dissects an interesting predicament - in a society that prizes "employment" over all else, how do you explain you are a freelancer and swimming against the current to your loved ones? Over to you, Lois. 

Not sure how to explain you're a freelancer to family and friends?

Over the past few months, I have been transitioning from a J O B to full time freelancer. While I am excited about this, I have also been struck with blank stares and tilted heads from those closest to me. Here is a sample conversation…

Them: What are you going to do now?

Me: I’m doing freelance work.

Them: Huh? Where are you going to work?

Me: From home.

Them: Who are you going to work for?

Me: Myself and anyone who will hire me.

Them: How are you going to get jobs and get paid?

Me: On the internet.

Them: Oh?

As you can now tell, even I was confused about what I was about to do. If I’m tripping over my own words and don’t have a confident explanation, how can I expect anyone to take me seriously? So, I put on my big girl panties and did some research on freelancing. Before you can learn how to explain you're a freelancer to loved ones, you must first be able to explain what freelancing is to yourself!

How to Explain You're a Freelancer to Friends and Family - learn these tips and tricks by guest poster Lois Sacks!

"Freelance" as defined in the dictionary

According to BusinessDirectory.com, freelance is defined as “(w)orking on a contract basis for a variety of companies, as opposed to working as an employee for a single company.” It goes on to say “(f)reelancers are often considered to be self-employed, and have the freedom to pick and choose their projects and companies they would like to be associated with.”

Now I’m quite positive that if I gave that definition I would still be hit with tilted heads and raised eyebrows. It’s just too formal.

The question remains, how do I explain freelancing to my family and friends? Let’s go through a few things before we get to that.

Yes, freelancing is a REAL thing!

“In 2014, one in every three Americans (53 million workers, or 33% of the total U.S. workforce) had done freelance work within the past year,” Lahle Wolfe stated in her piece Freelance Worker Statistics in thebalance.com. And those figures are only for the United States. There are millions of other freelancers throughout the world.

But why would anyone choose to freelance over getting a regular paycheck from working at a real job? For the flexibility? Yes. For the freedom to pick and choose who you work for and in what capacity? Yes. For the workplace drama? Not anymore. For the chance to spend 24/7 tied to your computer? Not exactly.

What can a freelancer do?

What can’t a freelancer do? Proofreading, editing, bookkeeping, photography, graphic design, and writing are just some of the many services. You can manage a business’s social media, Pinterest, or website accounts. 

What sounds good to you? What are you good at? What do you already know? What do you want to learn? How much time are you willing to put into it?

The sky’s the limit. Pick something you are proficient in and give it a try.

Where and when does a freelancer work?

Since all you really need is a computer and internet service. You don’t necessarily have to work from ‘home’ as long as you have access to reliable wi-fi. Your favorite bistro, the local library, or the beach can be your office.

You are able to choose how many hours you are willing to work each week. If you want to be able to take a 3-day weekend, every week, just schedule accordingly. If you can only work a few hours a day because of family duties, no problem. If you are not a morning person and prefer to type away at night, that is up to you.

You do not have to punch a time clock but you do need to fulfill your obligations. You need to be on time and not miss a deadline. You have to complete tasks without an employer breathing down your neck. You must be organized!

How do you find freelance jobs?

Freelance work can be found anywhere. For example, the other day I was at a yard sale and a couple of guys were buying a bunch of office furniture. I asked them about their business and they told me about their new shop they are opening in town. I chatted with them about their social media presence and they admitted that they didn’t have a clue. They are meeting with me next week to learn how I can help them. Score!

You won’t always find jobs at yard sales (LOL) but you never know where your next client will come from.

  • You can respond to inquiries in Facebook groups
  • Look at job boards, and network on social media.
  • Even your family and friends may know of someone with a need.

Some freelance work requires you to ‘pitch’ to a prospective client. A "pitch" is when you explain your value incentive - what you can do, and why you're preferable over anyone else. 

How does a freelancer get paid?

You submit an invoice and can get paid through PayPal or any other payment service. For the most part, it is that easy. You may need to keep track of your hours (if you've agreed to charge an hourly rate) or you can charge by the project (flat fee rate that is agreed upon before hand).

Getting regular income is dependent on how much time and energy you put in. Remember that there are only so many hours in a week, so don't spread yourself too thin!

Back to that conversation...

It might take you some time, but you'll soon learn how to explain you're a freelancer to your friends and family. Keep in mind that what you do with your life is your decision! Not everyone will agree with you or support you 100% of the time, but the most important thing is that you are happy. 

The freelance-life isn't always easy, but it does come with many perks. So be confident with your decision to freelance, and that excitement and confidence will radiate over to your friends and family who might otherwise not know how to react. 

Remember, people don't "trust" what they can't understand. So explain it to them, and the'll "get it" soon enough.

Now, back to that conversation...

Them: What are you going to be doing now?

Me: I am a freelance writer and Pinterest manager for hire. And, I am dabbling in social media management. How exciting is that?!

Them: Wow! That sounds interesting. How do you find freelance work?

Me: I network in Facebook groups and other social media and talk to small businesses around town to listen to their needs.

Them: How awesome. How much do you make?

Me: Well, let’s just say it gets better every week.

Them: Do you think freelancing is something I could do?

Me: It could be. We could set up a consultation to discuss it in more detail. What time and day works best for you?

Maybe I could add consulting services to my resume... 

RELATED: How to get started freelancing with no experience

Your turn… How have you explained freelancing to your family and friends? Do you have any of your own tips to share? 

Lois Sacks resides in SE Kansas with her supportive, retired hubby and their spoiled-rotten Mr Cat. As a Freelance Writer and Pinterest Manager for hire, she helps others with their business by crafting words that pop and handling their Pinterest so they can relax. You can usually find her on Pinterest or her website. Check out Lois' Handy Resource Guide for Freelancers to help you get started in the world of freelance.


I'd be "tickled" if you considered sharing this post! Picture courtesy of Styled Stock Library

How to Explain You're a Freelancer to Friends and Family - learn these tips and tricks by guest poster Lois Sacks!