Yup, I know, this is a little weird. Featuring myself on my own site. But in the process of finding folks to profile for this section, I've had quite a few people ask me where they could read about my experience working from home, so here it is!
How and when did you begin working from home? Working from home full-time has been about two years now. I was freelancing a bit before that but never considered a full-time freelance arrangement. An ongoing corporate gig ended rather abruptly and I took that as a sign to go out on my own. It was necessary to pay the bills and it was a choice to do it 100% work from home.
What are the obstacles you faced? The temptation to try and get a corporate job that would bring in steady income, at least, for as long as the company would have me. I also had a green business I was trying to take to the next level and was torn between this and that.
What are the benefits you experienced? Working for who I wanted, when I wanted and however I wanted. Being my own boss. If I slogged, it was for me and if I treated myself, it was for me.
Where did you see it going/did you have a business or game plan? The game plan was to go all out and get things done. Reach out to my network, approach as many folks as I could that I considered possible clients, built my website and put it out in all possible social and professional channels that I was now full-time freelance and accepting new clients and projects. I am not one for a business plan. I have it in my head but putting it on paper seems mundane to me. As long as I can pay for my expenses, and then some, I am fine with whatever work comes my way.
How did you do financially, emotionally, socially? Initially it was tough since the income was inconsistent but over time that has been addressed and now I am pleasantly surprised to have folks get in touch with me through my website or connections – its like all the hard work done in the beginning is reaping rewards. Making the shift from working in a corporate setting to one at home was nice in that I had nowhere to hurry up and beat the traffic first thing in the morning, and I certainly did not have to spend as much on clothes to maintain that professional image. Not having a team to go meet with or chat up was weird but eventually turned out fine. Sometimes it did get lonely and to deal with it, I make sure I have at least 2-3 meetings a week, including events I might cover, and that takes care of getting my fair share of human interaction.
Role played by your family or significant other in this situation? My husband does have his corporate job which helps in a big way especially with things like medical benefits. He has been very supportive in whatever it is I have wanted to pursue.
Important/memorable factors that helped get started? The choice to freelance full-time was made easy by the fact that I had already been doing it part-time before. I also did not have any major loans or mortgages to fulfil so financially this was not a difficult choice to make.
Current work from home profession - Independent communications professional, solopreneur.
What is the average day like? Wake up whenever. Exercise, drink a cup of coffee with the husband and get to work once he leaves. I work on active projects from 10am and even my meetings are usually after that. Anything before that is usually just reading or research. I stop at 2pm for lunch and the rest of the day includes cooking for dinner, any other chores, and lots of marketing and sales in the evening. My meetings are typically 3pm coffee meets if possible. Unless there is something urgent, or the husband is also working on something from home, I put a hard stop to all work by 6pm. I almost always have a networking event or something else to cover in the evenings.
Maintaining a work schedule. I try to give myself an hourly schedule to stick by. I like having a to-do list and striking things off when accomplished. Things don’t always go by that time table but it helps as a good guideline to follow.
Work hours/days - M-F 10am-2pm on active projects, 4pm-6pm on marketing and miscellaneous. I prefer not to work weekends but will do so if necessary.
Biggest challenges and dealing with them? Now that I have steady work coming in, the next step is to see what products I can make of my services that will bring in the money without my having to be actively involved in that project. My thinking hat is on!
Most celebrated moments being 100% work from home? Every time I add a new client, complete a project, get paid – it’s a celebration because it is all my effort – for me, by me and of me.
Liberties/restrictions of being 100% work from home? The liberty is clearly that I am in-charge. I can choose to work on what I want and when I want, even with whom I want. I don’t report to anybody and so I take responsibility for my work. I know what I do will affect me and so I am accountable for my actions here. The restriction, in my case, is that I currently work out of my apartment and on the few days that the husband decides to work from home, and we both have conference calls to take on, one of us, usually me, has to operate from the closet!
What parts of your work do you enjoy the most and which parts do you not enjoy as much? I enjoy the freedom, the people I meet, the types of projects I am getting to do, the exposure and connections. Every once in a while though, I have experienced folks not being particularly receptive of my work considering I am a freelancer and not attached to any big name corporate they know of.
Do you have a support network? Yes/no and why. Yes. Mostly made of professional networks that I am a member of, and some close friends that I can talk to whenever needed. Working as solopreneur can be terribly isolating especially for someone like that is a people person. Having folks that understand me professionally and personally is encouraging.
11. What are your tools/mechanisms to success? (e.g., talking to coach every morning, meditating for an hour, taking an afternoon nap, etc.) Trying to follow my schedule as much as possible. Making sure I get in some exercise and reading time. Saying no to projects that are simply not helping me take my business forward.
12. How are you doing financially now? Better than when I started out! Don’t have to worry about bills being paid.
13. How are you doing socially now? With my support network in place, things are good.
14. How are you doing emotionally now? Have come to terms with working from home by myself.
15. How important is face-to-face networking to your work, how much time do you spend on it, where do you network the most? Very important. I go to all possible events I can, and introduce myself to as many people as possible so should they think of something tomorrow that is in line with what I do then hopefully they will think of me first. Am a member of AIWN and APC. Also MAGS and Ed2010.
16. How important is social media to your work, how much time do you spend on it, where do you spend most of your time doing it? Also important. I don’t spend as much time on it as I like to but whatever little I do always brings about some kind of good results. Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
17. How important is marketing to your work, how much time do you spend on it, where do you market the most? My evenings are spent doing marketing if possible, I try to reach out to as many connections as possible and make new ones if I can. Anywhere online that I see an opportunity, I reach out and hope for the best.
18. What is the most successful way you have found clients? Conversely, what method have you tried that did not prove very fruitful in getting clients? Word of mouth has been the best. Social media and my own marketing efforts have been good. Targeted networking helps as well. Method that don’t work include random networking – if you don’t have a reason to be networking then you shouldn’t!
19. Do you find time to indulge in pursuits that are non-professional? If yes, then what are these and when do you indulge in them? If no, then elaborate. Oh yes! Exercise is one thing. Meeting with friends and colleagues is another. Travel, both personal and professional, has been great. I find time to read as well.
20. Your best achievement – THE highlight of your career while being 100% work from home. Being a finalist for the 2012 Atlanta Press Club Excellence in Print Journalism Award. I did not win but felt nice to know my work is good enough to be considered.
21. Your worst failure – THE lowest point you experienced while being 100% work from home. The initial rejections courtesy lack of samples or connections etc. was hard-hitting but once that bridge was crossed, it was alright.
Part D: The Future
1. Do you plan to continue to be 100% work from home? Yes/No and why.
Yes! Kinda hard to go back to a corporate job after you’ve tasted this.
2. What is your game plan for the next year/ five years/ as far along as you are willing to discuss.
Building on my clientele and definitely finding a few products to offer that can contribute to passive income earnings.
3. What would be the most helpful mechanisms to this journey?
Send more clients my way!
4. What are you looking forward to the most?
Every day I am surprised by who reached out to me on email or social media and offers me a new gig. I will take more of that, thank you.
5. What are you not looking forward to as much?
Nothing that comes to mind really. Things are on an upward stream so if this is how it goes, I am happy for the ride.
6. What is your advice to others currently considering 100% work from home?
Do it, you will love it, and learn to live with the satisfaction that your efforts are yours to cherish
7. Do you have specific tools that helped that you would wish to share with others (books, songs, people, quotes, websites, software, etc.)?
Read this somewhere and loved it: There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living – Nelson Mandela.