From Hopeless to Hopeful: The Perks of Being a Stay-at-Home Writer
Imagine your worst "I quit" fantasy.
If you've ever fantasized about ways to seek revenge upon your employers or coworkers, you may not be in the right field.
The more violent and terrifying these fantasies are, the more you might also want to get some therapy.
The freedom of self-employment is very alluring and if actualized, it can change the course of your entire life.
This is written for everyone out there who is sick of working for someone else and is ready to put in the intense dedication and perseverance to make it all pay off.
You're focused, determined, and ready to diversify. You have multiple pans on the stove and you're ready to "cowboy up" each time you fall down.
You know the money might take a while to come in and you're prepared to do what it takes to make ends meet before jumping in.
Most importantly, you're ready to take the leap of confidence in yourself.
The Changing World and Your Lack of Place Within It
You know, I had a hard time starting this article. I wanted to find the words to please everyone, but I think it is best to be honest and share my opinions freely. People may want to call my actions and reactions lazy, selfish, and the product of a "Gimme" generation, but I feel differently and hope everyone will understand the sincerity of my convictions.
With that said, let's start at the beginning.
The world of business today is vastly different from the world we grew up in.
I'm 24, a product of the late 80s, and even I find myself outpaced with the rate and growth of technology and industry.
It's not just the speed of change and innovation; it's the nature of the change. Electronics were never my specialty and if it wasn't for Google and my technically minded father, I'd be completely lost.
College has changed, too. So many more jobs require degrees, but that degree doesn't provide the almost more important experience employers desire. I've applied to many positions in my preferred career field and have yet to be hired.
Besides, CareerBuilder always tells me there are plenty of positions available, if only I was willing to perform secretarial, customer service-based, and often sales-oriented work.
Perhaps I am selfish in thinking that I should be able to do something besides swiping credit cards, but I want to put my efforts to good use. I want to share my passion and enthusiasm with the world and build a healthy, productive career. I want to make a difference in the world and create my own place.
I've found a way to do exactly what I want to do and I have the desire and drive to make it work.
It is not easy and it is not fast money. You must find novel ways to pay the bills or survive during the interval. It can take over a year to make any decent income online and many quit or accept small payouts as the final answer.
For me, I can't think of anything I'd rather do. Below are some reasons why I love working from home and being my own boss.
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Are you in your dream job?
Why go online?
Currently, I still have students that I work with in person. I still can and intend to work with other students in my area, but I emphasize my business as online.
For the price of a domain name (or two) and monthly hosting, I have had to pay almost nothing to start my business. All the work and credit is mine and I have complete creative control. I am able to monetize and bring traffic to my website through both my blog and tutoring services. The success of my business is up to me and how much effort I want to put in. With a good enough idea and dedication, it is possible to make this work.
Since I opened my websites, I've realized how much money I've lost placing my ideas and observations on other peoples' websites. On one, I have accrued over 50,000 page views, none of which ever brought me a dime. I wrote because I wanted to and thought of writing as a free way to thank these sites for giving me the opportunity.
That sort of thinking tells me how little I respected myself and my abilities.
My Business Inspiration
People always push English majors towards Education and I'll admit, I thought I'd teach my whole life. It wasn't until college that I realized how much more to the world there was than teaching and I was drunk with the realization that I really could be anything I wanted if I set my heart to it.
This January, I started working as a substitute teacher and a tutor. Not so surprisingly, working as a sub was much more difficult than I thought it would be. After a few particularly awful days with kindergarteners and eighth graders, I knew subbing was out. It was tiring and I always went hope extremely downtrodden.
Tutoring was the complete opposite. I would go home and spend hours researching the best ways to teach each student. It became of immense importance to me to connect with my students and light their enthusiasm for learning. The more stalwart the child, the better the reward.
The tutoring contract ended for this part of the year and I posted bios and contact information on every legitimate online tutoring site I could find. They always took a drastic cut, which made tutoring more expensive, which lowered the amount of services the tutors performed. I received absolutely no work from these websites and even if I did, the cut in pay may not have been so worthwhile.
One morning, it hit me. Why put these companies in charge when I could do the same? I already registered as an independent contractor in the state of New Mexico and could take on any other venture I wanted to (within reason).
Within two days, I had created from scratch a complete, custom, and highly detailed website for my new online tutoring business. Within two days, I secured my first long-term customer and went from 0 page views to hundreds. Since then, I have learned much about the way online businesses work and I'm here to say, nothing happens easily. It is surprisingly hard work that may or may not pay off.
Ways I've Made Money Online
In my life, I've been able to pull a few quarters from the internet.
1. The sale of used books on Amazon Marketplace
2. From ads on my blogs and websites (Adsense and affiliate marketers)
3. The sale of online tutoring sessions
4. As a freelance writer through projects from oDesk
5. From hubs on HubPages
6. The sale of used items on Craigslist
Although I have yet to earn any money via the Amazon Associate program (as of 4/23/12), I am registered with the program and will be writing book reviews on a personal blog soon. I also incorporate many book recommendations through HubPages and will be refining these soon.
Also, I convert Swagbucks points to Amazon gift cards. It helps around the house, but isn't a source of income.
*Update: Since the publication of this hub, my freelance writing career has taken off! Connections I made on oDesk turned into long-term projects, and my work load continues to morph and mold to build an awesome little future. It can and does work!
1. I am paid to think.
I'm a ponderer. I get caught by an interesting idea and enjoy toying with new ways of thinking. I consider of myself as a perpetual student and if I had the energy to convert all of my thoughts to articles, I'd be a rich, rich lady.
Really, this all comes from a very serious place: my fear of death. I've always had an acute awareness of the inevitability of death, which has been both the bane and blessing of my existence. On some ways, it can completely incapacitate me and wreck my positive world view. This was how I handled it when I was younger. Now, I am able to recognize the power of this awareness. I know I need money to live, but I also know that it is worth my time to find a way to make that money that feels meaningful and valuable.
By writing, I get to analyze my whole world around me. My inspiration comes when I'm cooking, cleaning, running, training the dogs, doing laundry, painting my nails, or washing my hair. I get to follow my flights of fancy and get paid for them!
2. I work in my most comfortable environment.
I'm not exactly the most bubbly or friendly person. I have dealt with major depression and anxiety for much of my life and high stress environments wear me down across the board. I wear my heart on my sleeve and take rude customers personally. I want to work in a way where everyone is respected and treated as a valued member of society. I want to be able to focus on positivity, mindfulness, and following my passions.
My life moves at a much more tolerable pace and can even get slow at times. The more I work, the more I earn now and in the future. This motivates me to work at a reasonable pace, but without overdoing myself.
3. I can work on many projects at once.
At home, I feel like I am able to follow my whimsies and desires as far as I would like to take them. Many times, I will be struck by the intense need to try something new, whether it is making cheese, painting furniture, melting wax for candles, or some other project. I love trying new things and I like to hop around.
Not only am I able to have time to do these things, I can use my research and findings to generate articles or hubs that will bring in money. Plus, by sharing in a huge online community, I can get expert feedback to make adjustments and improvements.
Plus, I love being able to do laundry, simmer homemade soups and sauces, run errands if I need to, and do whatever else whenever I'm inspired to do so. I set expectations for myself at the beginning of the day and week so I know what I want to achieve. I am then able to contemplate and put together my articles during the course of the day or week to create better, more well-rounded pieces.
4. I am able to travel whenever.
As a military brat, I know how much family means. Often, home was nothing more than an airport lounge and we learned to rely on each other for entertainment and support.
Currently, I live over 1,400 miles away from any of my family members. It is daunting to have such a severe distance between us all, but we make do by traveling whenever necessary. If it time to see my dad, I take a trip. If I'm missing my mom, I catch a flight and spend a week or two with her.
My ideal career allows flexibility for travel. Fortunately, I am able to continue tutoring and writing regardless of location. As long as I have a laptop, I can publish posts or discuss the power of polynomials with students around the globe.
5. My coworkers are animals - literally.
It was hard for me to spend so much time working and so little time with my animals. I like being around to enjoy and care for the wonderful pets I've been blessed with.
In times of emergency, I have been able to take immediate action whenever something happens. If we need to have someone come over for home repairs during the day, I am there. If there is an important package in the mail, I can sign. If a dog needs medicine or attention due to illness or injury, I can do so. I feel more creative when I don't have to worry about the little things in life and I feel much more peaceful now that I have time to enjoy my home, my lovely family, and take care of the cooking, cleaning, and whatever else we need.
There's something serene to me about keeping house and I enjoy being useful in these ways.
6. I am able to heal better.
As I've mentioned above, I've struggled with depression and anxiety. It has been very challenging for me to hold down jobs and I have come to accept that I must be patient with myself.
Because I like to feel like I'm working towards a greater goal, I tend to become jaded and disenchanted at the reality of work outside the home. This often sends me into a depressive mode, which means I slack off at work, become very anxious and reserved, and I usually quit.
After years of therapy, I am beginning to learn how to care for myself and set reasonable expectations. I know that growth takes time.
Instead of wasting my time looking and looking and looking for a job I didn't hate, I figured it would be best to invest my time and energy into something valuable. I know it takes time to make your own business and/or writing career work for you and I also know that these are things I do anyway.
Worried about making friends if you work from home? This doesn't have to be the case for any of us.
I thrive in an environment where I get to share my ideas, discuss them with others, and focus on long-term goals. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to invest myself into these goals.
Look to your past for career guidance and inspiration.
7. I'm preparing for my future financial needs.
I've struggled to find a career path that suits me and so instead, I've decided to make one myself. It will take a lot of time and effort to make it pay off, but I'm up for that challenge.
Plus, I want to build in a system of balance for the future. When my life is out of balance, everything gets off kilter.
I know that one day I will want to have children and I want to be able to do so without paying for expensive daycare or missing out on time with them. I understand the financial realities of having children, and I'm willing to do the work ahead of time to make it all possible.
8. I'm more frugal.
Part of my frugality comes from general brokeness, but another part of it comes from my desire to make the best out of the money I have. I want to be able to travel, buy a house, and own property. I want to have financial flexibility and the first start to that is to learn how to manage money.
I think it is time for us all to downsize. Our culture has emphasized stuff and things and junk, but we don't need most of it. I want to find alternative ways to follow your dreams that are more environmentally, financially, and personally responsible.
Financially, my open schedule allows me to spend more time researching deals and planning ahead. Fortunately, I live within walking distance of most of my favorite shops. By walking, have time to walk to get groceries, run other errands, exercise more, and reduce the money spent on gas and carbon emissions.
Luckily, many of those shops sell high quality, local, organic, and reasonably priced produce. I spend most of my grocery money on trying out new fruits and vegetables and I've found that my money goes further with produce and grains than anything else.
9. I'm healthier.
I've been overweight for much of my life and am dedicated to reversing this unhealthy cycle of eating and gaining weight. This requires close attention to diet and regular exercise.
By working from home, I am able to control my temptations. There are no coworkers inviting me to spend money or calories on overpriced, unhealthy lunches. I can eat small, home-cooked meals whenever I'm hungry and I have fewer stomachaches as a result!
Plus, because I have time to cook, I can transform simple, ordinary, inexpensive foods into complicated, flavorful dishes. This means my healthy meals also taste amazing, thereby diminishing my cravings for Taco Bell or pizza.
Whenever I feel antsy or frustrated, I can go out for a walk or run and if I want to take a yoga class or go to the gym, I can go when it's not so crowded. I've had to stop making so many excuses about going out since there aren't many inconveniences anymore! I exercise more now than I did before and have lost 20 pounds between January and March by following these practices.
There is also more time for taking care of myself. I can garden, organize, relax with the animals, or find other ways to manage my stress and anxiety. If I want to take a day off, I can go hiking or walking in the mountains.
Barefoot Running for Women
10. I'm honing my craft.
In school, I was always the girl everyone kind of hated because I never studied, never revised, never edited and often received As or higher in my coursework. It was easy and very few professors in college pushed me for more. I took the lazy way out and I know I wasted many amazing opportunities to learn.
Somehow during my senior year of college (2006), I stopped being able to spew out A+ quality papers before class (I think I burned out). I had to write, re-write, and maybe edit one or two more times before printing. I never really knew what to do and have taken it on as a personal challenge. No one ever taught me the right way to refine a paper, so I've decided to teach myself.
Each article I write may be published within an afternoon, but it has been read between 3-5 times before I hit "Publish." It's probably been rearranged 2-3 times as well, and I continue to edit after publication.
Finally, I am learning these much needed skills. I think this is what it will take to make this pretty good writer a true scholar. When I'm ready, I will go to graduate school, but I want to feel confident, dedicated, and prepared before I take on that commitment. One day, it will be time. Each article, each draft, each edit helps me become stronger. Each comment makes me more aware of my audience and content. Each dollar persuades me to keep going and each view lets me know my process is working.
Although working from home is not for everyone, it can be just the thing you needed.
On a personal level, it can offer the time and patience you need to recover from major loss or anxiety. There must be balance between isolation and socialization, so you should also take that into consideration.
For many, it is the chance to change how you think about your place in the world and offer the freedom to live flexibly.
I recommend HubPages as a side project for anyone considering the transition. Get the hang of it, see how it goes, and learn more about the ways websites function. After this, you will be a better writer and much more qualified to open your own online business and website.
To all, I wish good luck!
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