Diane Hall - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelancer, Entrepreneur and mother of two...

“So, what do you do?”

Freelancers nowadays don’t have ‘one trade’; instead, employ a portfolio of talents and skills appealing to completely different markets – not just in one industry as was likely a generation ago. 

So, if you are portfolio person, how do you answer the question; “So, what do you do?”

I think this is different to an elevator pitch; where you’re likely to enjoy slightly more free rein to succinctly describe your services – the question, “What do you do?” usually intimates a one-word description, i.e. “I’m a designer,” or “I’m a builder”.

I’ll use my own example.  I would describe myself as: 

  • A proof reader
  • A writer
  • A blogger
  • A virtual assistant
  • A social media specialist
  • A forensic scribe
  • A copywriter
  • A marketer
  • An editor

 Although some of the services I offer are different ways to describe the same service, i.e. freelance writer/copywriter/blogger, they’re not the same – neither do they necessarily appeal to the same people.  They’re specialist services in their own entirety.

Enough about me, what do you do?

It seems common sense to tailor your response to this question to whomever you’re speaking to, but if you’ve never met them before and haven’t yet said, “So, what do you do?” to them – how can you do this?

 Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be….

 Perhaps it’s akin to dressing up – one day I could be the pedantic proof reader, another, I could become the extra-sensory, verbatim forensic scribe.  You could also argue that if a conversation is struck and you’ve initially plumped for the ‘wrong’ description to your audience, you can still drop into the conversation that you cover services that will meet their needs.

Waiting in line for HRH

 I always imagine that if I ever met Prince Charles (I used to work for his Trust, so it could have happened), and he’s moving along the line, shaking hands and asking, “What do you do?” he’d at least remember me if I started reeling off my attributes.  Either that or he’d just move rapidly on to the next person, desperate to escape this nutty woman.

So, could having a portfolio of services and talents actually be a negative in this situation?  Common sense tells me it is far more favourable to have an array of skills, simply because there are more opportunities available, but does it incite loss of focus?  Do you find it detrimental to not be placed into a box?

Freelancing has changed so much from the early dawn of the internet.  To another freelancer, this situation is completely normal and expected, but to those private and public sector workers (and employers) it could be an alien concept.

Let me know your thoughts, and tell me: “What do you do?”

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Written by Editor on April 4, 2011 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelancers, Opinion ,

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