It’s been a little over three months since I took the plunge into working from home as a freelance writer and consultant. Last week, I listed the three signs you need to quit your job. But what next? There are some warnings to be given about the pitfalls of working from home. I had so many beautiful, fluffy dreams about how amazing it would be to work from home. I’m sharing this reality check so that you can be better prepared to handle the challenges. There are immense benefits to finding a work at home job, but don’t expect the lax dress code and upgraded coffee selections to solve all your problems.
A work at home job is still WORK.
There will be deadlines, meetings, reviews, and unexpected expenses that will make you wish you could hold your liquor better. Whether you work for yourself as a freelancer or snag a telecommuting job with a customer service company, you will definitely not be surfing that couch as much as people think.
Many online jobs have specific hourly requirements that must be met if you want to stay employed. If you’re sourcing clients on your own, you might have one week of drought followed by two weeks of heavy rain (plus a little lightning). Having the freedom to work at home doesn’t mean we aren’t working as much as people in office buildings. We’re just working differently.
Once you make the leap into working from home, you’ll figure out your own rhythm and how you work best. It’s up to you whether that’s an 8 hour day or one hour blocks throughout.
Getting started might take more work than you think.
You might think that starting your own business doesn’t sound that tough. Expect that finding an online job is as simple as a few applications and some spelling tests? Whether you’re creating a business from the ground up or submitting thirteen resumes a day looking for an opening, you will work harder than you’re working now. I promise you it will be worth it. However, odds are you’ll have some sleepless nights and difficult days first.
Applying for work at home jobs is a part time job of its own.
Consider the success rate of past job seeking ventures. How many resumes did you submit before getting an interview? Before actually getting a job offer?
If you’re looking for an online job to essentially replace your full time gig, you’ll need to get your resume in order and get a cover letter prepared (stay tuned for a post with some help on those soon!). Make sure you have an email address suitable for business communication. The email address you got when you were 16 that references your first car likely won’t impress hiring managers. Also, brush up on your typing and spelling skills since online jobs involve a ton of written communication and form-filling. Be prepared for software and hardware questions, and possibly purchasing equipment depending on the field you plan to enter.
It may take a few attempts before you hear back on any job opening, just like in real life. Happily, one of the pluses of working online is that you can usually start sooner than brick and mortar occupations. Generally paperwork submission and online tests are the only hurdles.
Starting a business is a different beast.
For those planning on breaking cyber or other ground with a new business, the process is even more intensive. Modern businesses necessitate an online home, so web hosting and domain names should be high on your list. Market research and social media growth are key, so developing a strong and recognizable brand will be your first duty.
Seriously, expect to invest a few or a hundred hours in your business development before turning any amount of profit. I spent untold hours contemplating color schemes, font combinations, and website copy for my brand, and I’m just a freelance writer/consultant.
You’ll still have work-life conflicts.
Even if your computer is ten feet away and beckoning you, shit can still happen. Accidents, illness, and plain old procrastination can inhibit the time you can invest in your work. Many online jobs require you to be logged in for a set number of hours, or certain times of day. This might be ideal while the kids are off at school, but potentially hazardous during breaks and summer.
Part of my desire to work at home was fueled by my annoyance at being forced to leave my kids in the first place. Working outside the home should be a choice for parents (and everyone else), but so should working inside the home. The difference between my old job and my career as a freelancer is I have the power. Power to reduce my workload, to increase it, to take days off, to turn down projects. I accept consulting hours that work for me and decline ones that don’t.
So working at home solves a lot of problems… Just not all of them.
But that’s ok! We’re still making an income, attending to family obligations, and living life. I hope for the same freedom and flexibility for you as I’m enjoying. That starts with your decision to find a work at home job, or create your own.
Keep an eye out for my next post on the pros and cons for working at home for a company versus working for yourself!