How to Explain Your Non-Traditional Job to People: A Guest Post
The struggle of working a non-traditional job is real, people! Sometimes it's because of a lack of understanding. Other times it's because of generational stereotypes.
I grew up in a generation that was told the sky is the limit, and while many argue that millennials are lazy and entitled, I just don't believe that.
But that stereotype still follows us (millennials) around, and when we don't end up with traditional 9-5 jobs, people tend to scoff and tell us that it's because we are too lazy to work, or think we are better than a traditional job.
For those of us who ditched the 9-5 to pursue our passions, it can be somewhat difficult to explain to your skeptical family and friends just what exactly you do all day long, and that no, we aren't "lazy" or "stuck up", but rather opportunists.
And that yes, what you do does count as a job (even if you just roll out of bed and work all day at your kitchen table in your PJs)!
For me, I'd usually start off by saying I did graphic and web design for clients (that was the easy part), but then would get into some weird and poorly constructed story of how my business also consists of blogging and online marketing and I'd usually leave the other person confused.
Then one day, I realized that the reason certain people weren't really taking my dreams seriously was because I wasn't able to put them into words and explain them. A 30-second elevator pitch describing my work wasn't going to be helpful to someone who has no idea why a blog is so important or why I decided to branch off into podcasting, or why having a carefully curated Instagram is so important for your business and your brand (and not just something you do for fun).
So let's take a look at some of the ways you can explain your non-traditional job.
When someone asks what you do, take time to understand what they already know about your job and unearth things they don't understand. For me, I almost always need to ask if the other person is familiar with blogging and how beneficial it is for growing an email list, boosting your site's SEO and maintaining brand identity.
While a lot of my business is client-based (which can be easily explained) a lot of it is also my blog. Generally, the average person who doesn't blog isn't going to understand why I'd invest so much of my time crafting up freebies and blog posts, so being able to explain this to them in non-technical terms helps them understand bits and pieces of my business.
Relate Your Job to Their Job
Take aspects of their day-to-day work and compare it to what you do in an average day to point out the similarities. This can be especially helpful for those who look down upon you for not having an office job.
Keep in mind that some people have worked the same job their entire lives, and have a difficult time relating to your day. Being able to compare what you do with something they are familiar with helps them realize that what you are doing is actually work too.
Share Your Story
Stories are a lot easier to digest and are easier for people to stay engaged with. Use examples of past work or share a recent success in story form to help explain what it is that you do.
Sharing your story about your work will allow your audience to visualize what it is you do all day. If they are just following you on social media, chances are they only see the "fun" aspect of your job and may think the only thing you do all day is take photos of your latte.
Keep the Conversation Positive
While your friend or family member's comment on your choice may sound harsh to you ("I couldn't imagine just sitting home all day like that" or "aren't you worried you won't be able to pay your bills") try not to get defensive.
These comments can often come out of love, jealousy, or even a lack of understanding (although that can be hard for the person on the receiving end to understand).
Rather than respond defensively, put a positive spin on your response. Talk about your plan with your business and how prepared you to deal with any tough times that may arise.
Keep Your Head Up
Eventually, you are going to come across someone who is just too stubborn to understand your line of work. Often it can be out of jealousy or just being closed-minded.
Don't let these people get you down. Remind yourself that your background and your journey is unique, and you are here because you are brilliant! And nobody can ever take that away from you.
Dana Nicole is a freelance designer with Dana Nicole Designs, where she helps clients brand their business, and provides online marketing solutions for small businesses and bloggers.
When she is not working, she can be found drinking some of her favourite tea, snuggling with her dog, or cheering her hockey-playing husband on at his games.