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Work from Home | Trickier than it Sounds

Updated on September 12, 2014

Getting Paid to Write is Not Easy

Shifting from being a productive employee to a self-employed person is scary, even if you've owned a business before. Trying to do this from home over the Internet is a whole 'nother ball o' wax!

As a newcomer to the world of Internet publishing and marketing, I've discovered a new adventure. Although it isn't as promising as it first appeared, it still seems to be promising. Discover how shifting from gainful employment to making money online is scary, tedious, and perhaps even possible.

Are you pursuing a work from home dream?

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You'll Work for Pennies

In the Beginning...

I've always been adventurous. Just ask anyone. I'm the one who never settles for very long, and if given the chance, I'd go for it. What chance, you ask? Yeah, that one - whether it's becoming a contender on The Amazing Race, tasting that odd-looking goop full of unidentified ingredients, or jumping from an airplane. I'd do a strip tease at the bar, or join a convent. Whatever. It's all good.

The last few years, this philosophy has landed me in hot water. Not for the first time, perhaps, but certainly in a more extreme manner than before.

I'd never been a good fit for corporate America. I was far too outspoken, creative, and frankly, uncontrollable. When I started my own business, I found fast success and developed a loyal clientele in a very short time, though my competitors hated me. I gave it up for a developing relationship with someone in another state - a rebound from my failed marriage that I'll forever regret - and moved to Kansas City. Of course, having no job and no business made it hard to buy a house, but I pulled enough from my savings to do it. My little three-bedroom ranch house was completely unlivable for a couple of months, but in time, friends traveled to help me and paid contractors made it habitable.

If only work had gone so well. I landed a position earning decent money working for a real estate brokerage, but the corporate environment at that particular office appeared to be pretty shady. I hated it. After my now-husband and I started living together, we agreed that I would quit working. (This was a few years ago now, and I'm happy to report that the shady broker has been indicted on federal charges and is heading for prison soon.)

What freedom! What joy! What a pain in the butt!

Don't get me wrong. I love taking care of my guy and his daughter. I feel very satisfied with my quality of life. But I'd still like to make some money here and there. Using his money to buy his birthday gifts just seems so WRONG!

I turned to one of my lifelong passions - writing. I had no idea that my intentions would turn into yet another adventure.

First, I found The pay was consistent but scant. As in, I couldn't afford the magnifying glass I needed to see the paycheck I earned. They assigned a topic, I spent an hour or two researching and writing, only to get paid four or five bucks. I had to find other freelance sites, and so my search began.

Most of the sites I came across were much like Zemandi, paying one or two cents per word.

Eventually, I found - a site devoted to top-notch writing. Their editors are meticulous, and freelancers write on customer requests or submit material to the site's extensive catalog. It's still the best writing site I have found.

Nonetheless, I only earned a couple hundred a month from it, so I turned to blog sites. HubPages was the first one I discovered, where I signed up for Google Adsense. Hmm... have earned $2 this month. I keep hoping that as my readership builds, I will see my numbers grow. Finding ways to promote these sites isn't easy! Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and Google Plus only go so far when you've only got a few dozen friends!

And so, I'm off to my next adventure. My goal is to see $500 per month income within three months, and $1000 per month by year end.

Passive Work at Home Income Two Years Later

I am sad to say that I did not reach my goals, but there is a silver lining, too. I typically earn about $60-80 from HubPages for work that I published in the first year and a half, and I still get an occasional sale from the work I posted for sale on Constant-Content during the year I spent pursuing this dream full time.

This amount would be higher if I had continued writing full time, but alas, I reactivated my real estate license because my income never grew beyond about $600 in a month. I now spend most of my days as a sporadically paid Kansas City Reator ®.

If you're a truly brave soul who wants to succeed at writing full time, I'd encourage you to go ahead and buy one of these two books to help you. I wasted SOOO many hours looking up this information "for free" when I could have been writing something that paid instead, or promoting the work I had done.

(Realtor is a licensed trademark of the National Association of Realtors.)

I designed this cell phone case using a public domain image using Zazzle's website. I've earned a couple of sales on this.
I designed this cell phone case using a public domain image using Zazzle's website. I've earned a couple of sales on this. | Source

Additional Streams of Income

Here are a few other sources of online, passive income that I explored, along with a brief comment about how well they did or did not perform for me.


Zazzle is a print-on-demand service that lets people design a wide array of customized products ranging from greeting cards and poster prints to coffee mugs, t-shirts, and cell phone covers. I earn anywhere from $10 to $60 per month on the items I designed for the Zazzle marketplace, and I love the way they work with me as both a content provider and as a customer.

Cafe Press

I signed up, but as I reviewed their terms of service and found what their content providers were saying, I decided not to use the site at all. You can choose to opt out of their marketplace, but they provide very few tools to help creators promote their products. This is because they prefer providers to allow products to be sold through their bulk partners like Zulilly, which can make it very difficult to make a fair payment on the products you've created.

In the site's forum, I'd come across a user who was excited after discovering that there had been a $10,000 purchase of t-shirts featuring her designs. This artist calculated a commission of about $310, but only received $194.

Part of the official response read:

First - Shopkeeper implies you're focused on your shop. You may very well opt your designs into the marketplace -- and for that we thank you -- but shop sales account for low single-digits percent of CafePress's overall business. That volume has been declining for years now. So those who are actively working on their shops ... are not driving meaningful sales for CafePress. This is why you may often find yourself frustrated that we' don't focus enough attention on improving shops. It's a dying business for us. Why would we spend time and energy when we can make far more sales for everyone elsewhere?

Now, for those of you who also opt-in to the marketplace, we certainly would have a far less volume of designs there without you. But the Marketplace is where CafePress spends money to drive traffic, promotions, etc. All of that activity is on our shoulders, not yours, and thus we have to occasionally change the royalty structure to pay for these activities, especially in a highly competitive POD and online retail marketplace. While you do provide the designs her, a designer/shopkeeper isn't completely responsible for driving these sales. We spend a lot of money to ensure we have ample traffic, exposure, etc., to ensure the sale is possible, too.

Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks!


Etsy is a site for selling your crafts and items. I haven't used it, but my daughter opened an Etsy shop in September to sell crocheted items. By March, she had a dozen sales but couldn't take enough time to satisfy orders and stopped posting items for sale, but my daughter's plans were to simply supplement her income while keeping her full-time job. I imagine success depends on what a person is selling and how well they market it.


DeviantArt users can upload their original art and allow it to be sold in the DeviantArt print on demand marketplace. I uploaded designs there, but never made a single sale and got exhausted just trying to keep up with all the messages that bombarded my dashboard. If you're interested in socializing but not so much in sales, this is a great networking site for artists.

Guestbook Comments

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    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 6 years ago

      @Countryluthier: Thanks for such great encouragement, CountryLuthier. It seems you have a wry sense of humor yourself. I adored your "Missing Baby" lens!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      Best of luck as the lens making and blogging continue. Great insight and wit here in your lense. Keep out of trouble!

    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 6 years ago

      @mmatrainingrevolution: Thanks for reading and introducing yourself (not to mention such nice compliments!) I look forward to getting to know you and perhaps helping each other find the best ways to reach our goals.

    • profile image

      mmatrainingrevolution 6 years ago

      Hi Kathy, I just read some of your lenses and I must say I really enjoy them. They are well written and designed.

      I'm also working in the financial sector and I'm trying to make something similar to what you want to do, earning an income online can be hard, but definitely better than the rat race.

      Hope you can make it and live the internet lifestyle!

      Thanks for your posts!

    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you, Dave, and likewise!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hello, Kathy. It was good getting to know you through this lens. Best of luck in your online writing adventures!

    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 6 years ago

      @flycatcherrr: Thanks, Flycatcher. I sure hope to find what works and be able to share good info with others.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 6 years ago

      Hi Kathy, good to meet you and read your story. Best of luck to you!

    • KathyBatesel profile image

      KathyBatesel 6 years ago

      @davenjilli lm: Hi Davenjilli! Thanks for reading and commenting. I'll keep an eye on your lenses, too, and maybe we can learn from each other!

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 6 years ago

      I feel ya! Here for the same reasons with the same goals..