It’s 2020…and I’m sad to report that we have no flying cars.
But I’ve worked from home full time now for six years. Well, five in a half years since I am writing this post in January. And in January 2014, I stopped teaching college, but kept my part time job at the real estate law firm where I worked as a paralegal.
I knew it was time to leave when I routinely said no to so much freelance work (and I don’t call myself a freelancer anymore, by the way, but that’s a post for another day) that I knew I was losing more money than I made both working part time as a paralegal and freelancing nights and weekends. I politely turned in my two-week notice and didn’t look back. It was a very small office: two lawyers (one I liked. The other? Not so much – there’s only so much LOUD YELLING IN THE PHONE ABOUT ONE’S UPCOMING VASECTOMY AND WHY DIDN’T YOU BUY HER A BIGGER DIAMOND BECAUSE HER FRIENDS WILL MAKE FUN OF YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE CHEAP) that I could take. I can also live without “the southwest southeast 1/3rd corner of the upper 1/4th corner of the northeast boundary on the east 1/5th edge…”
I taught real estate law for paralegals, too. I can do it, but it does NOT mean that I enjoyed that part of it. Anyway, when I decided to work from home full time as a writer, that doesn’t mean that it was always smooth sailing. In fact, I learned that, especially since I worked (even back then) a lot with law firms and colleges, I would have certain times of the year that were relatively slow. And those slow times (the first two years or so) were scary times.
It is very important that you learn the 6 Ps and implement them so that you can successfully work from home if that’s what you decide to do. And understand that working from home as a writer, an editor, a programmer, as a virtual assistant, or anything else that you want to do isn’t for everyone. You may decide you hate it. And that does not make you a failure. It just means that it isn’t right for you. Then again, you may just need to make some adjustments. Maybe you just need to get out of the house and work in a coworking space every here and there. Not everyone is as introverted as I am. I can go months and be fine with virtually no outside contact with the exception of my husband and children. The internet (and its weirdos) are plenty of entertainment and interaction for me.
The 6Ps of Successfully Working from Home
The 6Ps of successfully working from home make up a sentence. This is great because it makes it easy to remember. I’ll bet that a lot of you have heard this before.
Proper planning prevents piss poor performance.
Yeah, I know. You thought it was going to be some earth shattering, black magic affair. Sorry. It’s just good old fashioned preparation and execution.
How you do it depends on your life. It could be getting up early. It could be staying up late. It could be staying off social media and devoting time to building your business. It could be business building on weekends. It is doing whatever is necessary to make YOU and YOUR FUTURE a priority. That does not mean that you need to ignore your children if you are a parent. I am a mom. My sons are now 21, 19, and 10. Back then, I worked in the mornings or in the evenings. I worked during school hours. Whatever. Being around for them was and still is important to me. When my 19 year old had dental surgery last week (impacted wisdom teeth), his girlfriend took him and then she had her own appointments that day. I was able to pack up my laptop and go to his apartment that he shares with his older brother to take care of him. That’s the beauty of what I do. I also made my oldest son dinner. I can work from anywhere.
But it didn’t happen overnight.
And my husband works with my now, too. Not for me. He is not my employee. He works with me. He learned how to copywrite so that he can be home, too. Our ten year old son has special needs and he would rather be home with him and I totally get that. And copy isn’t always the world’s most exciting thing. The truth is that if you land a client who wants you to write 30 landing pages for the same service or product that targets 42 cities or towns, it has to say the same thing and yet NOT the same thing because we can’t have Google punishing them, right? You may be ready to claw your eyes out after a while no matter how much you like your client. And if you’re solo, you’re likely not farming that out. By the way, I had a job like that once from a dermatologist. Varicose vein treatment. Oh, and another about Medicare fraud (obviously a different client). Good, good times.
Plans Are Useless If You Don’t Act on Them
But to get to that point, you need proper planning. And with proper planning comes execution. A plan doesn’t do you any good if you don’t use it. Much like you won’t wake up one day and magically have a degree, you won’t wake up one day and magically be a successful writer or editor (or insert your profession here) who works from home. No. You must work your plan. Plan your work. Work your plan. If you want to get a degree, you must complete the coursework. If you want to become a success in any field, work from home or not, you must do the work. And that can take time. Unfortunately, the internet has created a society not known for its patience. Unless you already have connections and serious credentials, clients do not just magically appear.
There’s no such thing as a client fairy. And established freelancers don’t usually go out of their way to hand over clients to people. That would put our reputation on the line. I’ve done that for people I do know…and it hasn’t ended well a single time. Unfortunately, it appears that once people recognize that working from home is actually work, they don’t want to do it.
So if you do want to work from home, follow the 6 Ps and your business will be much better off for it!
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