Does Your Family Ask What You Do For A Living?

Social Media Problems

A lot of friends and family members seem to come up with questions relating to employment, don’t they? ‘How’s work going?’ ‘Where are you working, now?’. For people like myself, the questions are sometimes a little different – ‘What are you doing now?’ ‘Do you have a job?’ and ‘What do you do for a living, anyway?’ I, honestly, don’t get these questions often. They just don’t bother questioning, and assume I am unemployed or, at the very least, not bringing in any money. I am informed, quite regularly, that I should get a ‘real’ job. Or, that they ‘can’t wait’ until I graduate and can start working at said real job. My well-meaning grandmother told my aunt, at a gathering recently, that I make bouquets for a living…not entirely untrue, but it made things hard to explain when the same aunt asked ‘Did you have a wedding out of state? I saw on Facebook that you went out of state for work, recently’.

Oh, well, that’s because I don’t actually make bouquets for a living. My family doesn’t seem to care, much, what it is I actually do – they just know I don’t have a building to report to or a consistent ‘boss’, therefore I must not work. And, for a lot of us in social media or freelancing, that’s just how work goes.  We like it that way. 

I sort of fell into my job by complete accident. I started a blog (this one, specifically) because I was DIY’ing my wedding and wanted to blog the progress. I also wanted to create a reader base which I could funnel into my Etsy shop. In the process, I became a member of several fairly large blogging, eco-friendly, and DIY networks, and found myself being asked for help near daily.

‘How do you have so many Twitter followers? I only have 300.’

‘How did you get your Pinterest button to do that?’

‘What do you mean you designed your own blog? Where’d you learn how to do that?’

etc. etc. etc.

So, I started helping these people, both on line and in real life. Next thing I know, I’m being asked to teach and give presentations in social media and blogging. Then, I’m asked to write articles on the subject. Then, I was asked to actually take over the social media projects and campaigns, as well as the content management, for numerous organizations. As of today, I freelance and do contract work, helping people, businesses, and organizations with their social media marketing plans. Sometimes, I get paid to teach them how to do it. Other times, they simply pay me to do it and bring me on long-term. At any rate, this is not the job I had pictured for myself. 

I don’t even like marketing. Just the word ‘marketing’ makes me cringe because, in my head, it screams ‘consumerism’. I hate commercials. I hate billboards. I really, really don’t like being ‘sold’ on things. I have zero interest in this high-paying field.

But, small businesses, like the ones on Etsy, need marketing help. The little start-ups in downtown Atlanta with mid-twenty year old owners who have a lot of enthusiasm but very little know-how, need help. And, the non-profits and NGO’s who are fighting for peace and human rights really, really need help. Like I said yesterday in my first Thankvember blog – ‘I like to help…I’m a helper- it’s what I do.’

So, while infographics may not excite me, it does excite me to think of how I can turn that infographic into useable material in which I can help an organization grow, reach a larger audience, and further spread their cause.

I may be terrified of public speaking. I may not have the hours or availability to volunteer in war-torn countries or fight these causes with my own two hands. But, I can offer these people something they need and, apparently, something I happen to be good at doing.

What do I do? I am a social media consultant, of sorts. Sometimes, a social media manager. I help small businesses and organizations grow in such a way that they can reach more people and spread their message. In doing so, I’m helping others wage peace (through everything from nuclear abolition to the fight against GMO’s) on a much larger scale than I could by myself. In doing so, I’m helping the handmade or family owned businesses over large, corporations. And, while those things don’t matter to most, they do to me.

The Universe sort of plunged me into this world, much to my surprise, and gave me a way to fight for the causes I love in a way I never would have thought of. I never expected to spend hours creating social media editorial calendars, discussing rich media campaigns, or explaining SEO to people who don’t know what a hashtag is. I certainly never expected to be asked to fly across the country to do those things. But, I was. And, I do. And, even better…I love it.

Where do bouquets and bracelets come into this? They don’t, really. When it comes down to it, I am a creator – an artist. When I don’t create, I feel like a piece of me is missing. So to fill that gap, I make (or, made) and create hand-stamped bracelets – I also paint and write.

So, for Thankvember 2: I am thankful I have unexpectedly built a career that I love, and one that allows me to continue to be the creative artist and writer I’ve always wanted to be.

How do you explain what you do for a living?

  • Andrea Belarruti

    I love that you’re doing this Shai! I think I may hire you at some point haha. I love social media but it kinda drives me ca-razy! (+ I’m terrible with calendars) It’s awesome how life just pushes you into some careers, right? I would say I help soulful women entrepreneurs do their “inner work” so they can start or grow their businesses. Something similar happened to me, suddenly people started asking me how they could start a blog (I also started in the craft business) . In the process of helping them I realized that a lot of inner, spiritual work needs to be done to shift things and leap, and that is the part I’m really good at: transformation.

    • Shai

      I’ve always been relatively good at social media but I *hate* marketing and business. HAAAATE it. However, when you’re helping an NGO spread the word of their campaign, or working with an individual entrepreneur on forming a social media-friendly platform for their dreams, it doesn’t at all feel like marketing. It feels like activism. It feels like peace work. My main focus in my degree is compassion and peace leadership, and combining those with the skills I have in sales and, unfortunately, social media, just naturally seems like a calling, to me. It wasn’t a choice, it was the world going ‘X is your passion. Y is the thing at which you are great. Combine the two – there’s a need’. Most marketing people are in it for the money. I’m in it to help people, causes, compassion and peace grow. <3

  • CelloMom

    Love this: thank you! “A job” is such a box, anyway. Often when you ask that “What’s your occupation” question, you get the answer, and that’s it. But I’ve found that when you ask, “What’s your _preoccupation_?” then you tend to get into the kind of real conversation that builds connections and friendships. The answer could be about someone’s job. But far from always.

  • Kylie

    I’ve loved following your journey over the last couple of years – you’ve come so far and it’s really inspiring!

    I used to get so annoyed about this same sort of thing. I do so many different things – my husband I have over a dozen income streams. How do you narrow that into a “job?” We just tell people we own a marketing company and don’t go into much detail because it’s the easiest to explain and is (most months) the biggest chunk. But we both also have blogs, side gigs and random projects that we take on, too. Hey, it all goes in the same bank account!