These can be challenging times for people who are working from home, many for the first time. Sometimes we hear kids and dogs in the background. I think it’s fair to say it’s a mixed experience for most.
Working from home often means a shorter commute, crowded work environments, the lack of the perks of the office space, temptations in the refrigerator, and increased demands from your other responsibilities as kids don’t understand the lines between work and home.
Since I have been working from my home since 2015, I thought I would share some of my thoughts and observations with you in the hope that they might give you a little insight.
“…when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”— Kitty O’Meara
Perhaps there is something in my experience that will be relevant for your experience in working from your home. For me, the working from home began in earnest in 2016. I had been looking for a better income.
It began in a very round-about way for me. I had been a professional photographer and then I got into building websites for customers. I tried making money online many times, but without much success.
The Craigslist Ad
Eventually, I answered an ad in Craigslist. It said, ‘drive my brand new car for Uber and split the income 50:50’. I had a clean driver’s license but no car. Here was a car with no driver. It seemed a good fit.
I signed up to drive for Uber. (I also signed up to drive for Lyft, but never really connected with that platform.) Soon, I was driving around San Francisco and getting paid for it. Whenever I got tired of driving, I would turn the app off and surf the internet at a Starbucks.
I kept working on website ideas, but nothing was particularly interesting. I kept looking at ways to make money in the internet. I looked at drop-shipping, affiliate marketing, virtual stores and other systems. More about the differences in these methods below!
The Uber Bonus
Getting paid to drive was a little out of the norm type of job for me and the novelty of seeing new places kept me interested for a while. I had never been to Coit Tower before. One day I dropped off my ride and then looked around myself.
After a few weeks of driving, I had just dropped off a ride, when I got a message on the Uber app. It said I had completed 50 trips and I received a $500 bonus.
For a guy who was making $500 a week with part-time driving, a $500 bonus was nice. And, it gave me an idea.
A Really Good Idea
Actually, it gave me a really good idea. I realized that when I got a bonus, the owner of the car also got a bonus. And, that was his plan. He soon started looking for new drivers.
What I realized was that I didn’t need a car to sign up new Uber drivers, I needed a website. And, I knew how to make one. I was soon busy working in my spare time.
Starting to Work from Home
I found the snippet of code that sent new drivers to Uber with the referral link (the part that gave me credit – and got me paid – for sending them new drivers). Then I made a website from home.
Since I was focusing on new drivers, I answered their questions about driving from my own experience. Before I started driving I wanted to know what the work was like, how much the job paid, and what amount I could earn. Then I targeted these would-be drivers by answering their questions.
Not Trading Your Time for Money
I worked from my home and I worked from Starbucks between Uber trips. In between I did my research. What else did wanna-be drivers want to know?
This is a little different from people who are already working for a company and now they will be doing that work from their own homes. I learned long ago that I am way too independent to be just an employee.
What I will focus on most is not trading your time for money. Why? Because I feel there is a higher value in creating something that pays you again and again. More about this below.
Good News and Bad News
I discovered new things in the process. There are some really good advantages in working from home and there are some distinct disadvantages.
Not everybody has these problems or challenges.
Working from your own home isn’t exactly all good or all bad, but there definitely are some differences. One of the biggest, as least for me, was that I tended to work all the time. Because I could work anywhere translated into I was working from everywhere.
Personally, I get ideas while I am walking or driving. I purposely leave my laptop at home, but then would get ideas when I didn’t have a way to work on them. These were really great ideas and I eventually began to email myself with these ideas so I wouldn’t forget them.
Working All the Time
For other people, making a distinction between work time and break time can be important. When I was driving, I found it was easy to keep answering ride requests, which meant because I could work any time, translated into I was working all the time.
This is also a challenge for parents with young kids, many of whom are also at home. The parents may know how to schedule their time, but their young kids won’t understand this.
Working online often means that a laptop can go with you anywhere. However, it’s becoming clear that doing some of your research for the internet means finding information offline. Because it’s easy to find anything online, translates into getting everything online.
The people who write content blogs have discovered that re-writing the same content into a new blog doesn’t get Google’s attention the way it used to. In fact, making phone calls, walking into a shop or doing something in the ‘real world’ makes the difference.
Working from home can make this easier – or make it more difficult – depending upon your situation.
People who use stock photos run the same risk. Every photo has a ‘hash’. This is a unique number that the Google bot understands. The same photo on your website that it saw on other websites is, well, boring – even for a bot.
The easiest way is to take your own photos. This probably means getting out of your house. If you must use stock photos, ask me for some tips, I know how to get around this.
The Silver Lining
At the beginning of this article, I said I had some observations. I do. Here they are.
Going forward, I think we will be working from home much more. Commuter traffic is some of the biggest pollution in the world. Climate change is forcing us to stop using gasoline cars.
Less commuting gives us lots more time. We already have the infrastructure – phones, laptops, meeting software, home delivery – in place.
The jobs of the future will be much more creative. Machines are great at doing the repetitive tasks that don’t pay well – and humans don’t like. Having more time to walk and visit with family can give us more free time.
This is time we can use for enjoyment, hobbies, crafts, visiting with friends and family. The best creative ideas come from moments when we are relaxed and doing something else.
We live in a content-creating world. More and more people are learning to make videos, write and publish books, learn new skills and launch new startups.
Living and working in the same community will mean that people are more present. This will likely reduce crime, increase the local economy and build stronger communities.
People can start local gardens in their own yards or nearby, which will mean fresher foods and healthier lifestyles. This will mean stronger neighborhoods.
These things, taken together – less commuting, more free time and stronger neighborhoods – can mean a richer life. While there are big problems in the world, a rich life can do much to offset those problems.
Which brings me back to the methods for making money online. The gig economy has burgeoned in the last ten years. Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer are huge. I remember when you could get anything you wanted on Fiverr for $5!
There are advantages in this kind of work. You set your own hours, set your own prices, and you are ranked by your customers. Nearly everything is available – and searchable – for those who ask.
College degrees are nice, but no longer required. Nearly everything done online has a track record, with reviews, and ratings with a timestamp, meaning you can’t fake them.
This allows us to do this work from nearly anywhere. Which means we have more freedom. You can take your ratings and reviews – and your laptop and your clients – with you wherever you go.
Changing the World
Ultimately, this will also lead to sweeping changes in the larger world. The more people that can live and work from anywhere – will do just that. They will use their passports.
Living and connecting with people in communities where people have lived in many locations is an education. Governments and societies that are kind, open and welcoming, will attract like-minded visitors.
Such communities will grow and develop in an organic way as never before. There will be a rich diversity of language, culture and skillsets available. If there are problems in these communities, and there always are some, they have a community with rich and deep experience from other areas.
Work At-Home Everywhere
These communities will have more local control and there will be much discussion. However, there will be much more exchange of ideas, which will lead to better ways to work together and work at home! As these communities grow and mature, this will bring the world together in ways previously unimagined.
Ways to Work Online
As I said at the top of this article, there are many ways to work online. Drop-shipping, referral and affiliate marketing, the gig economies, and many others. I did the best with affiliate marketing.
Work from Home Examples
Drop-shipping means setting up a store, and then linking both to your customers and to your suppliers and coordinating these.
The gig economies are better for some people, and I would probably like that work, too, except it’s too repetitive for me. The best way to make money with gigs is to find something that is cheaper and easier for people to hire out rather than Google and learn and do it themselves.
Creative Ways to Work from Home
Doing something special in Photoshop would be in this category.
Editing or translating between languages is another good business if you have these skills.
Affiliate marketing is worked for me because it is one of the simplest. You find a problem and then solve it for your readers or viewers with an affiliate linked product.
I did this with a web page. People often do this with a blog. They make a website that targets a particular subject and write about it, with ‘how-to’ articles.
Of course, not everyone wants to sit in front of a laptop. Fortunately there are many other ways of working from home. Making videos on YouTube is popular.
Your Own Website
What will you do if you get banned from Twitter? What will you do if your web page is blocked by Facebook? What will you do if Instagram drops your page? What will you do if YouTube doesn’t want you contacting your subscribers, one at a time?
Then there is the problem of dialogue on social media. They make it appear that you are connected. They want you to think that. Try sending the same thing to your members at any one of these social media and you will see what I mean.
Creating a Dialog
A better idea is Email Marketing. This was designed exactly for this purpose. Once you have your own website, add a newsletter. Offer something well worth your visitor’s email address and exchange it. This is called an ‘ethical bribe’.
Now you have their permission to send them a message. And, you can send all of them the same message in an instant. Of course, don’t overdo it. I know you won’t.
When visitors see your website and leave, it’s a monologue. It’s one-sided. When they leave, they are gone forever. Once you have a newsletter and you can send them a message, it’s different. This is a dialog.
Why Not Trade Your Time for Money
Earlier in this article I said that I would focus on not trading your time for money. I feel there is a higher value in creating something that pays you again and again. Here’s what I mean.
If you write a book that really meets a need, that need can occur again and again as new people grow up, or run into the same problem, and new opportunities come up.
The Work You Love
The key is to find something that you really know. An alternative would be something that you really, really like and want to know more about. You don’t have to be an expert. You can find the best questions and ask an expert.
Some jobs that pay very well, and some people have very marketable skills. If you have such a job, you will want to continue. In that case, you can write a book about your experience, or your adventures (or misadventures) in your career.
And, you can do both. You can write a book (or make a video, podcast, blog) while you are getting your paycheck. When your hobby starts to pay for itself, you have options.
Get Paid Again and Again
The website that I made for signing up new Uber drivers was the turning point in my career. It took me from driver, to website owner, to affiliate marketer, to owner of my web company.
In case you are wondering – it’s not easy work – I worked long and hard on that website.
I made that website once. And, it took six months before Google noticed it. (That’s another story.) However, once it started working, I got paid again and again.
I can tell you it’s a great feeling to wake up to extra money in your bank account! I got a thousand dollars, then a thousand dollars a month, and then a thousand dollars every week – for years!
What I liked was doing the work once – and getting paid again and again – in my sleep. You may think that’s a lot or a little. Regardless, once the website is earning money, you can make another one, which is what I did.
Make a Beginning
In my opinion, for these you need a website – not social media, those are somebody else’s website – your own website. Social media is big business. Social media is somebody else’s website where they make the rules and they make the money.
This is why I built Bytique. This is where you can get your own website. One that you control. Your own website is a place where you make the rules and you can make the money.
The biggest problem in making money online is getting started. If you are in a car that’s not running and you turn the wheel, what happens? Nothing!
If you have ideas about where to take your website but you don’t have one yet, what happens? Nothing!
Make a beginning
It’s never been easier to start your own website. If you are an absolute beginner, one good way to start is to get the book. Another way is to start with the Website Builder. Don’t worry about a domain name unless you know exactly what you want AND it’s available.