I have owned my own business as a freelance writer for a year and a half. It used to be easy to explain what I do: “I write magazine articles and newspaper columns.” But lately the conversations all seem to go in one direction and I find I need to adjust how I explain my job.
Here’s what my new neighbor had to say when he found out about my profession:
“You’re a writer? That’s so cool,” he said. “I’ve never known anyone who had a cool job like that – so…what exactly do you do?”
My vague answer of “a little bit of everything” didn’t cut it, so I tried to explain and I failed miserably. So let me think…
There are many different types of writers. I focus on writing for magazines and writing this column as editorial work, but a bulk of my work comes from companies who need an extra hand. Large companies add me to their marketing team for a few months to provide help on projects already in progress, while smaller companies use my services to produce blog posts, news releases and articles. In my free time, I write content for my own blog, which sometimes includes stories about my neighbors. Don’t tell them that.
The fun part is, I never know who’s going to be on the other end of the line when the phone rings – that is also the challenge. While I like to think what I do can be wrapped up neatly and tied with a bow and the title of “writer”, it’s impossible to cover it all in a simple conversation.
Two months ago I wrote a dating profile for a man’s Match.com account, another project involved writing a complaint letter to an auto dealership, and last month I spent two hours at a coffee shop with a young professional who has ideas for crime novels. He wants me to write them. I told him I don’t write fiction, but he had some good story ideas so I sipped my coffee and enjoyed the pictures he painted using his words. I think he should write the books so I can buy them.
I was hired to write a celebrity gossip piece (if you can believe that) titled “Top 5 Cutest Celebrity Babies.” I couldn’t pick which one of Gwen Stefani’s babies is the cutest, so they share the top honor. Another piece for the same company is titled “Top 5 Ways to Waste Company Time.” I have seen some masters of time wasting over the years and I welcomed an outlet for my research. For other clients, I have produced resumes, cover letters, real estate listings; I have critiqued newscasts and documentary outlines. I also manage the content for a publication about outdoor life.
As my business evolves, so will my explanation of what I do. Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with: 1) “I write magazine articles, newspaper columns and provide writing services to businesses and individuals.” 2) “I meet new people everyday and have the honor of telling their stories.” 3) “I drink a lot of caffeine and then I write stuff.”
I like number three, but I also welcome your ideas. Drop me an email at email@example.com:8888.