I have been working from home off and on for more than 14 years, writing professionally for about nine. Occasionally, someone wants to know what I do and how I do it. I try to keep it simple by telling them I'm a writer who works at home creating marketing content for a variety of businesses.
If you no longer have a job and are looking elsewhere, then this might be an option for you. Maybe you're a parent who wants to be home with your children or simply want to get out of your current job situation.
Some things I've been asked:
What is it that I do for work? Mainly, I produce original content for my clients' websites or in their books, sales pages, copy, press releases, tutorials, etc. I help clients with their social media strategy, blog posts, build links, etc. It's work I enjoy, what can I say? Also, in my spare time, I focus on my own eBooks, which are due out once I eventually complete them. I keep saying the next few months but then I go back and rewrite the chapters. <sigh> They're an ongoing work in progress.
Are there any legit "work from home" aka telecommute/virtual jobs? YES! The work from home job market is consistently growing. If you're interested in writing, you should check out some of my other posts on this blog. And, if you want to check out some job boards, this list of the Top 11 Freelance Writing Job Boards can help you get started off on the right foot.
Aren't there a lot of scams? There is a possibility of being ripped off if you don't have an excellent BS detector. When in doubt, ask around. Above all else, if it seems too good to be true, then that's probably the case. Walk away from it.
Can I make enough to support myself? Absolutely, but don't expect to build Rome in a day. You're probably going to put in more hours while making less, especially in the beginning.
Will I enjoy working from home? If you've made an active decision to work out of your home, I don't see why you wouldn't enjoy it. The flexibility is great. I can work whenever I want. There are days when I want to rest more, but it's usually because my boys tend to drain my energy, and not due to work. It's not for everyone, but it's for me.
Should I pay to work from home? No, any reputable company will not charge you fees to work from home.
Things to Consider:
1. List your goals and passion. This step is pertinent because you need to be aware of what you want to do. You don't want to be the person who has no direction in their life. I've been that person—it's sort of depressing when you have no real purpose. Figure it out before you attempt to work from home. Make a list and be specific. Do you enjoy writing? Are you more interested in customer service, managing projects, technical work, or something else?
Do you want to own your own business? Working as a freelancer means you'll be operating as a business. For example, if you choose to pursue writing because writing is your passion, then you are taking your career into your own hands. You WILL be responsible for finding clients, managing your own schedule, marketing, etc., especially in the beginning.
Do you want anything, like a house, a car, or a specific lifestyle? Maybe you just want to be debt free, but the 9 to 5 isn't cutting it alone. The additional income from a small work-at-home gig could really make a difference. These goals are going to be part of the driving force pushing you forward if you choose to work from home.
2. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Can you work on your own without your boss looking over your shoulder? Think about it, working at home = working alone 99.9% of the time. There are individuals who couldn't work from home if their life depended on it. These are the same people who can't take educational courses online.
While there is nothing wrong with needing to work in an office or onsite, be completely honest with yourself before you break off on your own. Discipline is required if you want success. If you need constant monitoring, then this is NOT for you. These career aptitude tests can help you determine whether your personality is a match for independent work:
Carolyn Kalil's Free Personality Quiz
Personality Career Assessment
Jung Typology Test
Once you have finished, you can develop a plan to build on your strengths and weaknesses. Something else I want to point out—even if an area is not your strong point, you can always build on your weakness by working hard to improve it. A valuable strength is also learning to adapt. By improving, you increase your chances of success.
3. Touch up your resume. Build an elaborate list of your previous job experience, skills, and past education. If you have additional training or certifications, include those on your resume too. Each application should be accompanied by an SEO-optimized resume tailored for the position for which you are applying. If you need a cover letter, feel free to create a template, but use a fresh and unique pitch for every job application. There really is a difference and it shows.
If you say you can do XYZ, make a portfolio and show off those skills! Besides, the client is going to want to see samples of your work that demonstrate your skills. If you're a writer, you can use a blog, published articles, previous work, etc., to show a potential client.
Don't think of writing your resume as a mundane task, like cleaning the toilet or taking out the garbage. You want the client to be intrigued enough to reach out to you. Make them get excited about possibly bringing you on board because you stood out from the rest of the candidates. Some additional resume writing tips can be found here:
Want An Unbeatable Resume? Read These Tips From A Top Recruiter
Four Things That Can Send Your Resume into the Trash
Resume Writing - How to Write a Masterpiece of a Resume
4. Build a Network. You can't sit at home avoiding the outside world. If you're working from home, then building an online network is an absolute must. There is no way around it. Currently, I use LinkedIn, WAHM, Fine Art America, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and several more. These are just some social media sites off of the top of my head, but there are a lot more out there. Don't sit there and lurk in the shadows—step beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Join some communities, introduce yourself, and jump into the conversation.
I've also expanded and joined a women's writer's group that meets every couple of weeks near my home. In the next month, I plan to attend other business-related events in the area because I've begun to understand the importance of networking in person. Try it, you'll be surprised the contacts you'll make when you do.
5. Market yourself. Before you begin marketing, learn your business inside and out. Then, research everything you can about the competition. You'll eventually figure out how to effectively attract your target market and drive them to your business. Demonstrate that you have a solution for the problem. Passively market yourself by including links to your blog or business website in your signature line.
Get out and attend conventions or luncheons to meet new people in person (again, networking in person). Always follow up with a prospective client. Run a special or offer something free for a limited time. Hook up with another business and brainstorm a beneficial way that you can work together. Ask for referrals.
6. Confidence is everything! Believe in your ability to succeed. A great way to build your confidence is to practice every day. When you brush up on your interview skills, you will feel better prepared, which results in higher confidence levels. Learn as much as you can about your business because then you really will know what you're talking about. Speak steadily and confidently. People listen better to those who speak assertively. Be positive. A positive attitude outshines a negative one any day.
7. Never Give Up. Be prepared to put in the time and work. Learn to be patient and keep trying—it probably won't be easy. I can't count the number of times when I've been frustrated to the point of almost giving up. Be disciplined and accountable. There isn't any room for excuses. Don't procrastinate, do it today. Mistakes will happen. Learn from them and move forward.
8. Health is Wealth. When you work at home, sometimes you neglect your health because the work is always there. There is always one last thing to finish. It's midnight before you know it and you still have to wake up at 5 in the morning for your other job or to get the kids off to school. The best course of action is to make sure you exercise and eat healthy foods—foods that are going to provide fuel to keep you going. Coffee is fine in moderation, but if you're not careful, you will crash hard. I make batches of food and fresh juice for the day. I also eat raw veggies and fruits.
I recommend juicing your veggies and fruit in batches to help you get through the day if you feel you don't have time, but still want to get your daily vitamins and minerals. The best part about juicing is that once you have your juice prepared, it's as simple as putting it in a glass and sipping it while you work. Just make sure to juice the rainbow of vegetables and fruits. Also, if you've never purchased a juicer before, you should probably do some research. The Ultimate Juicer Buying Guide is an excellent resource for the different juicers on the market.
Finally, get enough sleep. If you're exhausted, your brain doesn't function properly anyway. If you don't take care of your body, then you will not be able to perform optimally or think clearly. I know that if I don't get at least seven to eight hours of sleep most of the time, I feel it the next day. I don't enjoy living on coffee, so sleep it is for me.
9. Set working hours—and keep them. Be clear and firm when it comes to setting working hours. Shut your door and put up a "Do Not Disturb" sign. Not only does it help you stay on top of your work but a regular routine reinforces consistency.
If you're going to work at home: 1. Remember that it's a business, and 2. Be happy, most people have to sit in rush hour traffic just to make it to their 9 to 5. Yeah, you'll have to make sacrifices to get off the ground, but it pays off if you exercise the discipline to make it happen. For me, the rewards of working at home outweigh any negatives that come along with it.
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