So, what do you do?

April 5, 2010

Hmm, what the heck do I do again?
Since the majority of the world operates in the “Who do you work for?” mindset, there’s understandably confusion amongst my friends and family about what I do as a (crazy, THEY’RE ALL CRAZY) self-employed entrepreneur. And I guess I don’t blame them, I mean, how do I quickly explain what I do when it doesn’t ever fit into a neat, tidy category? When it changes weekly? Daily, hourly?

Answering the question confuses me, too, to be frank. Responding with, “Hmm, well, I work for myself, I’m growing my website and blog, and launching a podcast soon, oh! and I consult small businesses and individuals on marketing and branding online, and I also distribute a nutritional supplement and am writing a social media book for the members of that company, and then I have a few one-off projects like my recent partnership with a healthcare marketing consulting company to launch a social media webinar series this spring, oh geez, uhh, well I also read and review books pretty regularly, umm, and a bunch of other stuff!” doesn’t really roll off the tongue as easily as, say, “I’m an accountant.” or “I wait tables.”

Typically, the questioner’s response is something like, “Oh, umm, so, you can work on any of those projects you want? Whenever you want? So you must sleep in everyday!” To which I naturally respond, “Ha, yes, I TOTALLY sleep in, right after I spend three hours a day networking online to build my brand, connecting with my audience, two hours reading something new, and ten hours developing content and relationships and making phone calls and appointments. And then don’t forget the research. Or the coaching calls! OR THE LAUNDRY.”

At this point the questioner is confused or annoyed or confused OR CONFUSED and either walks away not believing me or dares to ask the next question in the series, “How do you, umm, make money doing any of that?”

I’ll spare you the rest of it, as you know how it goes. I try to explain, don’t do a very good job, the poor questioner leaves and, when asked the next day by another curious soul, still says “Uhh, I don’t know, she does online stuff or something.”

Doing online stuff, or something*sigh*

After a few months of this, it hit me pretty hard when I read Tim Ferriss mention in the recent edition of his book* that one of the (many) reasons he wrote a book in the first place was to finally be able to answer the frustrating “What do you do?” question with his dream response – I’m a writer.

Ahh, how wonderful that would be!

One of my dream responses would be similar – to be able to say I’m a published author – but I think I’d also love to say that I’m a volunteer.

After all, I’d so much rather answer the question with what I love to do, rather than what makes me money and supports my lifestyle. You see?

“What do you do, Annie?”
“Well, I’m an author, and I volunteer full-time.”

Ahhhh. It sounds nice, yeah?

So, what would your dream answer be? Share ’em in the comments. Let’s go after it, ok?

P.S. In the mean time, let’s just say that we do this!

*Amazon affiliate link

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