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You Work at Home, Really?
Yes, really - and even better is I enjoy it!
This is a mini interview between my lovely friend Lisa Roberson and myself about the work at home life.
I often get questions about my work at home lifestyle, what it means, what I do, and I'll be honest with you, I usually avoid those questions like the plague.
Most of the time people are just making small talk and semi-interested, or they say they don't "get it," or ask me why I don't have a real job, blah blah blah. I hate those questions and small talk makes me want to puke a little bit.
So for the RocketMoms Summer 2011 Session the first challenge was to create an about me sort of article - I buzzed Lisa on Skype and had her ask me five questions on the topic to get some meaty info pulled out of my brain.
I hope you enjoy this short Q&A, I'm actually thinking about doing a few more hubs and articles interview style like this. Let's get on with it!
In the past 10 years I've had a lot of different experiences working from home.
I've dabbled in many areas, that's for sure. In no particular order without mentioning company names....
- customer service and support
- data entry and document coding
- bingo and gambling site chat room moderator
- direct sales of bath and body products
- phone and text operator (yes, that kind)
- virtual assistant
- graphic designer
- desktop publishing
- writer and blogger
- affiliate marketer
How did you know or find out there was work you could do online?
Remember when searching was called searching and we barely knew what Google was?
Finding out was no easy task, that's for sure.
Way back in 2001 when I first started this work at home quest I spent a lot of time at wahm.com - back then it was the place to be if you wanted to do anything remotely close to working from home, direct sales, freelance work, start your own website, etc... There were people interested in helping, there was a lot of great information, and we were a community determined. These days, I don't even recommend that forum to newcomers in the space, a lot has changed and a lot of misinformation is floating around over there since Cheryl sold the site and a corporation took things over.
I remember at the time there was a chat room available and if others were online the same time as you then you could discuss things in this chat room. Every Wednesday night a small group of us would meet up in that chat room and we'd plan, compare notes, talk about our day, brainstorm ideas. We were a mastermind group before it was cool to be a mastermind group! I still talk with many of those women still to this day - and we all still work from home.
How long did it take you, from the time you decided to work at home, to get enough work at home to warrant not going back to a j.o.b.?
This is a tough question... how much is enough?
Oops, I quit my job.
I was working full time (and then some) as the night manager at a telemarketing office. We sold magazine subscriptions, we did cold calling, warm calling, and in-house collections. At first I actually enjoyed working there, I had a great night staff, we had fun, we got things done. But, then the further into the management level and "behind the scenes" details I got, the less I liked my job. It started to really bring me down emotionally and physically.
On my birthday (December 27, 2001) I walked into the office with an empty box, put my stuff in the box, gave my staff their holiday cards from me, turned in my keys to the second evening manager and said, "I'm sorry, I can't work here anymore. I quit." Had a few hugs and took my husband and kids to get some dinner. At that moment I knew that I'd have to figure something out - and soon.
My first experience, like many others I'm sure, was with a "scam" online. There's no doubt we all run into them once in awhile and at that time they were harder to detect right away, there weren't as many reviews and discussions about those kind of things. But, I didn't give up - I went to forums, had those Wednesday night chats, and kept at it all.
My first real work at home experience was as a document coder, and I did that from 2002 up until 2007. I did add other things to the mix, but it was a part of my income for that time period, up until I started doing transcription work regularly, which I currently do as well in addition to blogging and affiliate marketing (and of course lens creation here at Squidoo fits into that mix nowadays.)
I'm rambling a bit here - to answer your question directly - there were times when my workload was slow and I felt the pressure to earn more and briefly would consider going back to a j.o.b., but I never made that drastic decision. I don't think I could go back to it honestly, I'd probably be fired within a week if I did.
My first income goal was $300 a month and I reached that within the first six months after I quit my job. My next few income goals were a little harder to reach and took awhile, with four small children my time was limited and I just took things one day at a time - and I still do. For a long time I was what you'd consider "part-time" these days I'm "full-time" and make an income comparable to my husband's and during some months actually more than my husband's - and still working on climbing up.
I think I answered your question in there somewhere
Would you rather have steady, consistent work online or have a somewhat consistent passive income from your own businesses?
Basically - job or business?
I'll take a nice dose of both, please.
I know, that sounds weird and you're looking at me funny right now.
Of course, the fastest way to get cash in hand when you're starting out working from home is to offer a service of some kind, do some freelancing, get the money you need to do the things you need to do - survival first, everything else later.
I'm one of the strange people that actually enjoys the service based side of what I do. The transcription work I do for clients is still a very large portion of my monthly income. I'm at a nice point right now where I can choose who I work with and when - I like that a lot and it allows me to give my clients personalized one-on-one service.
But, I'm also doing things that bring in passive income. I have an information product called Transcription Crash Course where I go through and teach people about how I started my transcription business. The income for that is what I would consider mostly passive, the sales process is all automated, but I do allow for Q&A via email if someone has questions, and I just set up a private Facebook group for discussion with the students.
What seems to be considered passive by the general population is affiliate marketing income and I definitely enjoy seeing those paydays. I do have some "niche" sites.
For example, my cross stitch site, which I've had since way back in those early days that I mentioned in 2001 and 2002. In fact, the domain name StitchingtheNightAway.com was chosen during one of those infamous Wednesday night chats, suggested by Rae Hoffman-Dolan (aka @sugarrae in the affiliate marketing world, Sugarrae.com) because I would often be stitching and chatting at the same time during those sessions and I wanted a website to sell cross stitch items on.
I have a few other sites too, but I don't want to bore you with a list of URLs ;-)
I'll be honest, I don't think anything is really truly 100% passive income - you still have to work at what you're doing, you still have to create quality content, you still have to get backlinks and do all the behind the scenes work. I'm honestly and truthfully not interested in a "4 hour workweek," I think that sounds dreadful, give me stuff to do, keep me busy, keep the paychecks coming.
Do you think it's easier for people to find work at home jobs online now than it was when you started?
Easy button anyone?
I don't think I would necessarily say easier. I would say there is definitely more freelance work and opportunity than there was out there 10 years ago to work for yourself from home without getting into a classic "brick and mortar" business. But, easy is in the eye of the beholder I think.
What steps do you suggest people take first to pursue this whole 'work at home online' thing?
Choose your own fill in the blank.
I honestly think the path is different for everyone. Start where you are and end up where you want to be.
I wish I could say, "Do this, do that, and then you're all set." But, I don't think it's that simple really. First you have to decide what path you want to take, if you want to work for someone else freelance style as an independent contractor or if you want to work only for yourself. Then you have to decide what you want to do, writing, blogging, affiliate marketing, direct sales, graphic design, the list goes on forever. Look at your skills, evaluate your position, decide what you would enjoy doing, what you want to do, and start on that path.
The best thing about all of this is that you can CHANGE your path at any time - as you can see from my example list of things that I've done or tried out over the past 10 years. There's no one right way to make money working from home online, there's your way and there's everyone else's way. My way might not be right for you and that's totally okay, in fact that's great. The world is full of opportunity.
If we're dishing out advice here a few things come to mind....
When you decide what you want to do find other people who are successful in that arena. Model after them, find out if they offer mentoring or coaching, get in their space, follow them on Twitter, read their blog, listen to their podcast, whatever you can do to pick up their "success vibe." Then get started working on your goals.
Whatever you decide, whatever path you go down, whatever business you get into, don't give up on it. You can work from home, you can make decent money, you can make your own opportunity. Go out there and grab it!
Want More Information?
I write about working from home on these blogs....