June 21, 2016 | , | by

Summer is here and that means backyard barbecues, weddings and other gatherings with mixed audiences.

Sitting with your laptop at your favorite coffee shop or Breather it is easy to forget that the outside world might not be as supportive of your decision to be a freelancer as your Facebook friends are.

I know the weird looks, the subtle head shakes and other reactions I get when I try to explain to people what I do for a living.

Anyone can wrap their head around sitting in traffic for over an hour, running back and forth between conference rooms and a cubicle, then doing the long commute home every day.

Yet, trying to get them to understand getting up in the morning, pouring a cup of coffee and beginning work. Mixing in walking the dog and lunch with a friend before spending the afternoon meeting with clients and team mates around the world. That confuses them!

I’ve become a bit of a pro at deflecting the negative reactions and concerned looks.

Here are some helpful responses to have in your back pocket when your Great Aunt questions your decision to be “unemployed” as some will see you.

“I like the freedom and flexibility it gives me.”

Doesn’t matter if you are a parent or recent graduate, being able to work your own hours is liberating.

Some days this means working from sun up to sun down, but others will find you taking the morning off to catch up with a friend in town at the last minute.

If you have to report to an office every day, it instantly takes away some of that freedom and you want that flexibility.

“Why work to make someone else rich, when I’m the one directly benefiting from my hard work?”

No matter what size company you work for, you are going to be making a set amount of money. By being a freelancer you make the money you earn.

Want to make more? Bring on more clients or raise your prices.

Want to make more in a traditional job? Beg for a raise once a year and hope for the best.

“I’d rather be judged on my work than on my outfit or pop culture knowledge.”

Some of us don’t want to deal with water cooler chit chat that comes with office environments. We’d rather get head down and get the work done and no matter where you work, that sometimes is hard to do in an office.

Plus, it is liberating to do a conference call in your pajama pants or shorts without having to worry what your boss is going to think about it.

Not everyone feels comfortable in a power suit.

“It is teaching me to be smart about my money and what is truly important to me.”

When you don’t have a set paycheck arriving every week, it forces you to be smarter with your money.

Not only do you have to handle the invoicing and payment chasing for the work you do, but you also have to plan ahead to make sure all of your bills get paid on time.

You figure out quickly the difference between want and need and can argue that this is a skill not enough people figure out.

“If it doesn’t work out, I can always go and get a job.”

Easily the quickest statement to justify that you aren’t going to starve to that concerned person you are chatting with over a plate of potato salad.

If feeling a bit snarky, you can add that you figured building websites or illustrating annual reports was more career building than making macchiatos.

By letting them know that you do in fact realize freelancing can be risky most people will move on.

Let us know your go to answers!

I know that anyone who chooses the freelancer path gets challenged on a regular basis by those who don’t understand and I’d love to hear how you react.

Good luck out there this summer.

Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire and Gratisography

  • …because I’d rather hike somewhere interesting than follow the rush hour traffic to the same building every day?

  • ebrenner

    Because I’d rather work on my deck–or, even better, at a campground–than in a windowless office.

    • Amen to that. Being able to work anywhere is one of the key reasons I do it.

  • There is a lot about Freelancing that I love. But one of the reasons we created Digaboom was to give Freelancers a better option than some of what’s out there. There was a critical review of the Gig economy on On Point yesterday – how can Digaboom help Freelancers avoid the pitfalls of the Gig economy? http://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2016/06/23/gig-economy-labor-laws

  • It’s only fair – I can;t imagine the hell it would be having to sit next to me for thirty or forty years of work 😉