How to Explain Making Money Online When No One Gets It

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Making money online can be hard to explain to people who don't get it. If this is you, I've provided terms that might be useful in everyday conversation.

I finally had a breakthrough the other day. I recently went to my high school reunion, and for the first time, I felt like I actually explained my online job pretty well.

Many people I went to high school with are now engineers, doctors, dentists, architects, or work in finance. Many of their jobs are “normal” and “acceptable” for successful human beings. Before I got to my reunion, I worried how I would explain my work. “Blogger” didn’t exactly seem professional when compared to the many career paths of my classmates. Plus, the last time most of them saw me 10 years ago I was pretty involved in studying history and not exactly entrepreneurship.

However, the first person I talked to asked me what I did, and I just said, “I own my own writing business” and for the first time that felt right. There have been so many times I’ve met someone new or been to some networking event, and I always call myself a blogger. However, the world in general still doesn’t understand how people can make money blogging, so usually I just get a lot of weird looks. I feel like the world equates bloggers with being lazy people who eat bonbons and live in their parents’ basement.

So, if you feel like you can’t ever explain making money online to your friends and family, here are some ideas:

1. Say You’re A Consultant


When you work online, you can always say you’re a consultant. That’s a nice, vague term that people use all the time to describe their work, and it’s true. We consult all the time with each other and with our readers on a variety of topics. People come to us looking for advice, entertainment, or information. Sounds like a consultant to me!

2. Present Yourself as an Entrepreneur


Another vague but slightly more intriguing word, entrepreneur is a great way to describe the fact that you make money online for a living. Simply say you have multiple streams of income. Try not to say passive income, because that makes most people’s heads hurt. Talk about advertising, writing, creating e-books, courses, and products, and basically anything else that comes to mind when it comes to your online work.

Making money online can be hard to explain to people who don't get it. If this is you, I've provided terms that might be useful in everyday conversation.

3. Making Money Online makes you a Business Owner


Any time you make money by yourself, you are basically the head of your little business. It doesn’t matter if your business made $1,000 last year or $100,000, you are the boss man or boss lady of your little online ship. Most people understand business so instead of going into all the details of how you work online, simply say you own your own business. This is the route I’ve been taking lately, and it seems to check all the boxes.

Really, it shouldn’t matter what other people think of our work, but in some small way it does. I still struggle with feeling legitimate despite doing well making money online through my pursuits. Part of it is that I work from home. Part of it is that I rarely get out of my pajamas. Part of it is just that I need to get better at accepting that working online is just as good as any other job, mostly because at a bare minimum, it puts food on the table.

So, in many ways, this whole issue could be me and not “them” but if you struggle with describing your online work because it can be varied, I hope this can at least help you attach some terms to it.


What do you call yourself if you work online? A side hustler? Blogger? Business owner? How did you get into running your own business or blogging for a living? How do you describe what you do to others when they ask? 

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


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