The end of 2020 is upon us (thank the fucking gods and goddesses, in no particular order). It is safe to say that 2020 was a giant shit show for the majority of us. I am grateful that COVID did not directly impact my family or my business, but I also recognize that the pandemic is far from over. With that being said, one of the most common questions I’m asked by people who want to work from home is how they can figure out what they can accomplish. It’s a little bit of a loaded question. Why? Because I’m not you. The good news is that I can tell you how to get clear on what you can accomplish. The bad news is that the follow through is totally on you.
But…that’s just as true for me as it is for you.
So, as usual, I’ll cut the bullshit and just get right into it.
Ask Yourself the Right Questions About Working From Home
If I’ve said it once (and I have), I’ve said it a million times, you have to ask yourself the right questions about working from home.
- What do you want to do? This is important because working from home is not for everyone. Also, there might be some things you think you want to do that you end up not liking. For example, I thought I’d enjoy ghostwriting fiction. After a year of doing it and over 300 books under my proverbial belt, not so much. Some of that was the small publishing company I wrote for…they had some unrealistic deadlines, the pay also sucked. I did get a lot of great experience, though (while also learning a lot about Kindle Unlimited publishing…so it wasn’t all bad. Also, many of the people I worked with were very nice. I also learned a lot about writing YouTube video scripts…not that I ever do that.)
- What do you NOT want to do? The last thing you ever need to do is end up a bird in a gilded fucking cage. Working from home, pandemic or not, means that you live where you work and you work where you live. Sure, there are coworking spaces that you could go to or maybe you could go out and rent some office space (I had office space for a while). There are benefits to doing those things if you want…but regardless, if you wanted to end up with tasks that you fucking hate, you could just stay in the corporate/traditional world. Seriously, what is the point of being your own fucking boss if you hate what you do? That’s not to say that you will always looovveeee every project or every day, but you just don’t want to end up making yourself fucking miserable.
Ignore the Naysayers
It is really difficult to get clear on what you want to do if you have people in your ear telling you that what you want to do can’t happen. I was told before I started my business as a copywriter and editor that no one can make a living as a writer. Even now, I’m told that I’m not a real writer because I make a living doing it. People will say anything to detract from your dreams because they couldn’t make it happen for themselves. There is a reason why people say you should be quiet about your goals and clap for your damn self. If you aren’t strong enough to tolerate the bullshit of others, don’t say anything and keep your moves private.
I, personally, enjoy proving other people wrong when it comes to things like this. It gives me great joy. I know that to some people that makes me an asshole (and I don’t care). No, I don’t go and rub it in their face. I let my success speak for itself (most of the time). A few years back, I did show a textbook cover page that has my name listed as a contributor to one of my aunts (who always believed I could make something of myself despite my shitty upbringing). She was born in the 40s. She asked me, “Did you ever think that after everything, you would ever accomplish something like this?”
She knew the bullshit other people on both sides of the family had said about me when I was a child and a teenager…and probably even as an adult. When I started teaching college, my sister in law (married to my brother) looked at me in an incredulous manner and said, “They let you teach?!”
Yes, turns out that if you have the right credentials and know your shit, you can, indeed, teach.
If you cannot ignore the naysayers, keep your goals and dreams quiet and work on them.
Identify Your Target Market
“Niche” is a fancy word for target market. I don’t really give a flying fuck what you call it. It’s okay to start with just one. You can stick with just one. You can move around later. You can add more later. Start with what you know and where you are comfortable. I started with legal because I was a paralegal. I still do a lot of copywriting and social media in that realm because…my clients find me. I’m okay with that. I also work in higher education. I also consult. Because I am highly skilled in search engine optimization, I can work in pretty much any industry. I’ve even written and edited for a company that deals in software that controls nuclear reactors.
My other target markets include people who want to work from home in any capacity and don’t know how to get started, writers and editors who needs additional work, and pretty much anyone who works from home who can identify with the fact that it can be wonderful or a total shit show (because this is a personal blog that also throws out a lot WFH tips like this post).
It is okay if you have to refine your markets. It is okay if it takes you time to think about it. It is okay if you start to work in one area and change your mind. I don’t do any fiction ghostwriting anymore, but I do run a very small indie publishing company of my own. I also ghostwrite nonfiction, such as whitepapers, for my clients (because the pay is much better and there is less stress compared to the ridiculously tight turnarounds involved in fiction).
Write Out Your Dream
If your work from home business was already hugely successful, what would it look like? Write it out as clearly as possible. What would you be doing? How much money would you be making? What hours would you work? Where would you find your clients? What would your website look like? Would you have an assistant? Would you have employees? Would you be hands on with the business or would others do most of the work? Where do you want to be in a year? Where do you want to be in five years?
There are several schools of thought on goal setting. To choose which works better for you ultimately depends on your life. Do you have a lot going on? Choose smaller, more manageable goals so you don’t end up feeling overwhelmed. That’s what I did with my fitness goals and that’s how I escaped cardiology (go me!). I made small changes so I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. I lost 40 pounds, changed my eating habits over time, and implemented a fitness regiment. I am now very toned. I no longer have high blood pressure, AFib, or unstable angina. That was a lot of issues for someone who, at the time, was only 40 years old. I’m now 42.
If you’re the “go big or go home” type, create massive goals and take massive action. Even if you don’t hit those goals, you didn’t fail. You still made a lot of progress. Just keep the needle moving.
Either way, you’ll still have more clarity on what you can accomplish.