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From Hopeless to Hopeful: The Perks of Being a Stay-at-Home Writer

Updated on December 5, 2012
The transition from college student to freelance writer was natural for me as an English major.
The transition from college student to freelance writer was natural for me as an English major. | Source

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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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!

For more information on becoming a freelance writer or breaking into the business, please visit my blog or contact me!*

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!

Take in peaceful days.
Take in peaceful days. | Source

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.

I have been known to make earrings at times.
I have been known to make earrings at times. | Source

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.

Enjoy what the world has to offer. Make time in your life and your schedule for travel.
Enjoy what the world has to offer. Make time in your life and your schedule for travel. | Source

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.

This is Henry, of the furry kind.
This is Henry, of the furry kind. | Source

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.

I have the flexibility to go for drives, enjoy the scenery, hunt for rocks, and then write about it all for money!
I have the flexibility to go for drives, enjoy the scenery, hunt for rocks, and then write about it all for money! | Source

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.

The shoes that changed how I exercise.
The shoes that changed how I exercise. | Source

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.


Don't forget!

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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    • patchofearth profile image

      patchofearth 5 years ago from somewhere in the appalachian foothills

      I think we must have been separated at birth. I'm very introvert and more than a little shy. At the moment I have a part-time job but am working toward that goal of working exclusively from home. I have my furry co-workers all around me right now.

      P.S. Also an Army brat who used to live in Woodbridge, VA.

      Glad you are realizing the dream. Hope I get there soon.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Sounds like you are making a wonderful niche for yourself. Good for you, and keep on doing what you're doing. You have an excellent plan of action.

    • easylearningweb profile image

      Amelia Griggs 5 years ago

      Great hub, ideas and inspiring thoughts! Keep up the good work and writing!

    • rmcleve profile image

      Rachael Cleveland 5 years ago from Woodbridge, VA

      Thanks for stopping by, mvaivata and LauraGT! I spend way more hours working now than I ever did before and am focused on my goals every hour of every day. It can get a little intense! I'm still a long way away from making it in any way, but I learn a ton about how to do so from the other writers on HP. Keep writing and I'll keep reading!

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      Thanks for the interesting and thought-provoking article. It's nice to see other ways people are "making it." I think I might miss going to my office too much, but it's fun to think about the alternatives!

    • mvaivata profile image

      mvaivata 5 years ago

      This is a very inspiring hub. I, like many of the people here, am trying to make my way, and there's no way around it... have definitely felt like giving up more than once. Your hub encourages me to continue trying. Thank you!

    • rmcleve profile image

      Rachael Cleveland 5 years ago from Woodbridge, VA

      What sweet words, everyone! I'm glad to be in a community of so many others who aim to stake our their own claim in the online world.

      Crystal, definitely continue on! I certainly am not paying my entire way yet, but I have confidence that I can and I have the perseverance to do so. Nothing else feels as natural as this and I'm in awe of the opportunities at hand.

      I think we all keep an eye out for each other around here. Nice to meet you all!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, I agree, very inspiring. We seem to have a lot in common. In fact, I had to reread several sentences...Wait, did I write this? I am so inspired to read about someone who has the courage to do this. I dream of working from home, but have yet to figure out how to support myself and have adequate health insurance. Most articles I've read on this topic focus on the negative aspects, and I know it's important to be well-informed on those as well, but I appreciate your focus on the positive aspects. Makes me think I am not completely crazy for wanting this and my reasons aren't so ridiculous after all. Best wishes for a successful and healing jounrey!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Very inspiring hub! I also grew up in the 80s and agree with many of your points about business today. I think of myself as tech savvy and willing to learn anything but still sometimes feel overwhelmed with the rate of change. I'm glad that I'm not the only one.

      I started working from home almost a year ago and really love so many aspects of it. It's not for everyone, but if it's for you and you can make it work, that's great.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 5 years ago

      Great and inspiring rmcleve. Considering I am my worst enemy, I am my only detour in succeeding. That and my little guy who makes me enjoy life everyday. There are so many outlets to working at home, it can be overwhelming at first, but as I always say go with what you know and find a way to make some money out of it. Who knew that my days are filled with cooking, taking photos, and getting paid to write about it. Now that is a dream job to me. You will do very well here on HP. So glad I found ya!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I still have a 'day job' that I theoretically love, but sometimes the day to day reality of it really gets to me. Amusingly, I have animal coworkers both places (and both in the furry sense). They are usually pretty great, but do get a mind to be stubborn, a times.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

      I honed right in on your entrepreneurial skills--which I must say I found very impressive..... I'm thinking of how you set up your own online tutoring website in two days and got a successful online tutoring business going from it. I'm at the other end of the career path. I'm retired, but augment my retirement income online and working from home. It works for me too and I love it.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      working at home writing.. publishing books yes it's my dream job. Great hub

      voted up


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I had a good chuckle on your "I work with animals " point. They are the best coworkers anyone could have! I list your points along side my reasons for wanting to make a living from home. Great hub article and glad to see you are following your dreams.

    • supermom_in_ny profile image

      supermom_in_ny 5 years ago from NY

      Great hub! As a mom to 7 kids and a severe migraine sufferer, working from home is a blessing. I write whenever I have time. Being in control of one's time is the best.

      Voted up! ;)

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 5 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      I also work at home. I have a bed and breakfast and am a freelance writer. You're right, there's nothing like it.