What a strange life promoting oneself as a content creator. In the always-on online world, I find it awkward to get the right personal message out. Online forums don’t like messy career roles. It’s easier to sell you something if you are one thing: a podiatrist, a plumber, a painter, etc. I’m, however, not one thing.
I recently applied for refinancing, and the loan officer asked me about my role as a writer. This seemed odd as I hadn’t mentioned being a writer nor written it on any applications and the loan was looking at my tenure at my day job, a quasi-management role. As different creative opportunities had been presenting themselves, you see, I had decided to refinance while I had the luxury of steady years at a traditional job. Banks hate you being self-employed, regardless of what you earn.
I later realized she must have seen that title on my LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn was tricky, because I led a dual life: day job and writer. LinkedIn likes you to be identified with your job, but manager wasn’t the identity I wanted to promote or the type of network I was building, so I listed writer. The lion share of the money, however, was coming from the day job. Listing writer worked in this case, however, as I had actually begun at the company as a copywriter and then became a research writer before becoming a manager. Had I not begun as a writer, though, that title would have seemed extra strange.
But you’ve got to give yourself a title on that platform and everything blends together, so I ended up with an unbalanced mix of contacts in the corporate and creative worlds. Ultimately for my own sanity I closed down my account, because I know people search online and I didn’t want my identity to be identified with the income source of management. I don’t have a problem with the job. It’s just not my identity. Some creatives create a second job listing for their own ventures as a work around, but that felt pretentious.
I instead moved to Stage 32, a network for movie industry people and dropped the day job references altogether.
Ultimately, the entire pigeonholing is ridiculous. Except for a small number of people, most writers and artists I know hold day jobs, especially if they have a family, and many of us try to keep that hidden. For some reason, it seems more acceptable to be a teacher than a manager, but I might be making up these rules in my head. I’m more than willing to admit these could be issues of my own making.
Still, if my loan experience confirms anything, it’s that people doing business with you scan online to learn who you are. I don’t blame them. I do the same, and there lies the quandary for creatives. How do you present yourself as a writer/painter/filmmaker and yet not minimize your day job or come off as a pretentious fool?
I guess the best solution is to not need a day job.
So I’ve reinstated LinkedIn after a hiatus and opted to list Independent Writer as a job listing concurrent with my role as Brand Manager. Not perfect, but ehh, what is?