Are you considering working from home in 2020?
I know so many people who wish they were working from home, but they often get scared of taking that plunge. Working from home is a big change from your 9 to 5, so it’s natural to have doubts. Some objections I often hear are:
‘Where do I start?’
‘Where can I find work?’
‘How do I stay on track?’
‘How can I remain productive in a home environment?’
‘What about networking?’
I get it, I truly do.
Making a huge shift and commitment going from a secure paycheck month in month out to starting your journey earning an income working from home. It’s scary, you don’t know what the future holds and it can take time to build your income from home.
But let me tell you unless you get started and take that leap of faith, nothing will change.
Perhaps you want to work from home to
- Spend more time with your kids
- Be your own boss
- Grow your own successful business
- Save time and money on long commutes and expensive lunches
- Do work you actually enjoy.
Whatever your reasons are, this post is dedicated to helping you take that first step forward into the new year and be able to successfully start working from home in 2020.
Where Do I Start Working from Home?
A great place to get started is to consider what you want to do working from home. The list is endless with opportunities for ways to work from home.
Consider the skills you possess and positions in demand. For example, perhaps you are extremely organised, good at scheduling content and know your way around using Canva. You then might consider working from home as a social media manager.
Social media managers are in great demand and the pay is fantastic. It is particularly great for offering a more stable income. In that, you can offer retainer packages where businesses pay you a set monthly income for a certain amount of work.
Here are some of the most popular ways you can earn a full-time income (or more!) working from home:
- Freelance writing
- Social media manager
- Virtual Assistant
- Graphic designer
- Pinterest manager
- Business Strategist
These are, however, very broad categories. You have probably heard of niching down. This is where you narrow down who you work with or the services you offer to become more specialised in a particular field.
Going by the example given above, if you have been in the real estate industry, and you are comfortable with social media management, you can become a social media manager for real estate companies.
Many people think that by narrowing down their scope, they are narrowing down their reach. That’s where it gets interesting, but you’ll find it actually has the opposite effect.
For example, say a restaurant is looking for a freelance writer. Two writers apply for the position.
Writer A has 5 years of writing experience, with experience in writing parenting, recipes, travel and business content.
Writer B has 3 years of writing experience, solely writing restaurant reviews, recipes and nutrition-focused content.
If you were the restaurant owner, would you rather hire the writer with more experience or the writer with more expertise in the relevant field?
When you first begin working from home, don’t worry if choosing a niche is a bit challenging for you. There are plenty of positions which provide a vast range of jobs.
Becoming a Virtual Assistance is a popular choice for individuals beginning to work from home. It allows for a vast range of tasks and, once you figure out what it is you enjoy and are good at, can specialise at a later date to exclusively offer those services.
In terms of HOW to work from home, you’ll need access to the internet, a good laptop/computer, and it’s always a good idea to set up an email address just for your work.
When working from home, try to give yourself a ‘home office’ set up. This enables your brain to relate this space as a workspace and help you get into work mode a lot quicker than working elsewhere.
Though, if you are a busy mum like myself, you tend to grab a spare 10 minutes throughout the day wherever you can. Which usually means working on the sofa with your laptop whilst the kids play!
Where Can I Find Work to Start Working from Home?
I know many people who get stuck in this part. It can be super daunting having to ‘virtually’ go out and find clients who want to work with you.
It is easy to feel disheartened after a month if you haven’t replaced your full-time income. The fear takes hold and you feel as though you have to return back to the 9-5 job life.
But, don’t let that fear take hold! Keep going, of course ensuring you have enough money to cover the bills whilst you work hard on your dreams.
There are so many places you can successfully source work online. Take a look at these suggestions below:
Many of my work-at-home friends swear by LinkedIn. It’s a professional platform which enables you to connect with other professionals. You can create your own profile to share as a ‘virtual resume’. Plus, similar to Facebook, there is a newsfeed function whereby you can share your portfolio and add hashtags/keywords to be found when people make relevant searches.
For example, if you were a content writer for all things pet related. You might share articles you have written with hashtags such as #petcontentwriter, #freelancewriterforhire.
Start by optimizing your bio. Write keywords in your bio that you want your potential client to find you by.
For instance, if you want to become a Pinterest manager, use words like Pinterest, social media management, SMM, organic growth, Tailwind, Tribe management, etc. Your bio is the most important part of your profile, but don’t forget the rest.
Complete your entire profile. Choose a professional picture. It’s a good idea to ensure you upload a photo of yourself, not your business logo. People connect with people much better and it is more personal. Also, include a cover photo that gives your potential clients a clearer picture of the services you offer.
Once your profile is complete, start networking. Build connections. Put up posts. Comment on other people’s posts.
Get a free LinkedIn Premium trial. This will give you access to be able to inbox individuals directly. Ensure to research an individual’s company or business and then send them your pitch if they are your ideal client.
You can also open your job search for remote work for your industry and apply to positions already available that suit your experience and skill set.
There are over one billion users on Facebook. This means there’s a great chance your potential client is on Facebook.
You might be surprised to hear that 1000s of people use Facebook to hire their next team member. I have seen posts within groups on a daily basis for Pinterest VAs, Virtual Assistants, Content Writers, OBMs, Graphic Designers and Social Media Managers.
Many entrepreneurs and small businesses frequently visit Facebook groups for advice and to outsource their work. Some groups you can join to look for work are:
- Remote Work Jobs for Digital Nomads
- Digital Nomad Jobs
- Virtual Savvies Work At Home Heroes
- Virtual Assistant Clinic
- Virtual Assistant Tribe Board
- Women Helping Women Entrepreneurs
- Virtual Workers of America
- Remote Jobs
- Real Work From Home Jobs
Also, look for Facebook groups for remote work in your region. I bet you will find at least one Facebook group. You might also want to join groups where your target client hangs out. For example, if you are planning to start with small businesses, find a small business group and build your connections there.
When pitching to clients on Facebook groups, here are some words of advice:
- Respond ASAP. The first ten people to respond are 80% more likely to get hired. That’s because the business owner is more open to talking to the first few people and discuss her requirements in detail. There’s a better chance to build that connection and get the job.
- Read the entire post. Follow it to the T. For many business owners, it is a big peeve when their future workers can’t even get the spelling of their name right.
- Find the right place to send a message. Many people who post job opportunities in Facebook groups are already overwhelmed with the amount of correspondence they receive from different platforms. Make their life easier. Send your pitch where they want to see it. If they ask you to send them an email, don’t send a friend request or DM them. That’s inappropriate also.
- Talk more about them than about you. What can you offer to their business’s growth? Even when you are listing down your achievements, make it about them.
- Get in their shoes. Why would they hire you, and not the other 20 people who applied for the same job? Offer them something that makes them choose you. Offer to do a paid trial. Or show them something very similar you did for another client.
There are tons of freelance websites out there. They are a great opportunity to get a foot in the door and build up your portfolio and experience.
However, though there are some great opportunities in terms of pay and finding a long term client. Many jobs posted are not offering to pay freelancers worth.
Not to mention, people bid for these jobs from all over the world. So for example, someone applying from India might expect a different rate of pay to someone from the US due to living costs etc.
So, you need to think about what you want to gain from using these sites before scrolling through different job listings.
Ask yourself if you are looking to find high paying retainer clients (they might be a little more challenging to find on these sites than directly pitching to companies in your niche).
Or, are you looking to grow your professional portfolio in your field of expertise?
The second option is a great way to go with using these sites:
- You can build your portfolio
- Grow your experience
- Build up client testimonials
- Grow your brand
- Gain referrals.
All of this can lead to you nailing that first BIG potential client and help you grow your business into a full income.
Here are some Freelance websites for you to try:
Pro Tip: Focus on one platform. Give it your best shot. If it doesn’t work for you, move to the next one. Don’t try to do get into everything at once.
How Do I Stay on Track Working from Home?
The good thing about choosing to work from home in 2020 is that you are your own boss. You can decide how much time and effort you can give to your business, what hours to work and who you want to work with.
There is no right or wrong answer here about how many hours you should set aside to working from home. In the beginning, you might spend more hours each week working, sending out pitches to gain new clients or working smaller one-off projects whilst building your retainer clients.
The idea is to set your own goals on the income you want to achieve and how many hours you want to work from home each week. Then, create your action plan and steps to achieve this goal.
A great place to start to ensure you stay on track is to create yourself SMART goals:
What’s a SMART goal?
For those of you who don’t know or remember just a blur of the meaning, here’s what a SMART goal is:
Be specific with your goal. Instead of I want to start earning while working from home, say, ‘I want to earn $20/hour and get booked for 20 hours a week within six months.’
Look at the goal above. That’s a measurable goal.
Six months down the line, it will be easy for you to measure your success. After three months, you can review your situation and adapt your pace or approach towards achieving the goal you set.
If you don’t have a measurable goal, you don’t really know how well you’re doing. You don’t know if you are on track to succeed in your goal or if you are really far off.
So ensuring your goal is measurable AND specific will help provide you to create a clear action plan of HOW to achieve this goal.
Make sure your goal is just that, achievable.
It is no good saying you only want to work 2 hours a week but earn $10,000 a month.
The numbers just don’t add up, especially in the beginning when you have a whole business to build no matter what career you choose whether it is freelancing or Pinterest management.
You need to ensure your goal is attainable with regards to income, hours put in and your prior knowledge.
For example, a blogger who has already had 10 previous years experience in business and marketing, will probably be able to start earning a $500 a month within 6 months of starting their blog.
Whereas a brand new blogger with no previous experience, perhaps a stay at home mum, might take 2 years to start earning $500 a month.
Be realistic with your goals, challenge yourself but ensure you research the industry you are looking to work in. Learn from others how long it takes them to grow a full-time income, gain clients or how many hours they have to work from home each week.
Make sure your goal relates to what you are trying to achieve. Don’t get side-tracked with shiny object syndrome – YES this is a thing!
Shiny object syndrome is where people become side-tracked with anything new and exciting. As business owners and freelancers, this is so easy for us to jump from different business ideas to job positions.
However, jumping from business concept to different job posting does nothing for us other than waste our precious time.
It is vital you stick to your goal and make it relevant. Ensure you focus on the field you have chosen to work from home.
For example, if you have decided you want to earn an income through affiliate marketing. Focus on learning everything you possibly can about affiliate marketing. Are you creating a blog, using Pinterest, starting an email list and signing up to affiliates within your niche e.g. parenting, health or marketing.
Don’t then decide you want to start a dropshipping business or jump to graphic design.
This will just waste your time and stretch you thinly. The more time you can dedicate to growing just one source of income, the more skilled you will become in this field and the quicker you will achieve that income goal.
The above example provides a time of six months. It is specific and gives you a clear idea of how long you have to achieve XYZ.
Within this time frame, ensure to break down your big goal into smaller, achievable goals. Create an action step for each mini-goal and this is a sure way of helping you succeed and achieving your big target by the end of those six months.
So, for example, you can set aside the first month to researching your target market, finalising your niche and area of expertise and building your portfolio perhaps with clients from freelance websites or mini-jobs in exchange for testimonials.
The next month, you have your professional portfolio built and know what your ideal client is looking for/needs support with. Start to send out your pitches. Remember to not just send out 10, make sure to create a list of 100 potential clients and send out pitches every day until you have enough clients onboard to replace your 9-5 income.
Your website, though it is excellent to set up asap as a professional place to send your potential clients to look through your portfolio. Your website can come second to sending out pitches. Websites take time to build and right now, you need to focus on that income goal since leaving your 9-5 and can send your portfolio in PDF or Google Docs form.
By month three, you have already then sourced several clients and by offering more value than your clients expect, are probably gaining additional referrals.
Hence, you will be well on your way to achieving your income goal of $20/hour for 20hours a week within 6 months.
How Can I Remain Productive Working from Home?
Working from home, you don’t have a boss telling you what to do each day or giving you responsibilities.
You are your own boss.
This has its own pros and cons list but essentially, in order to successfully work from home, you need to be able to motivate yourself and organise/prioritise your task lists each day.
Especially if working with clients. You do not want to let them down as this has an impact not just on their business, but also on yours and your brand name.
An individual who goes over and above a client’s requests and provides value is going to be sent a lot more referrals their way compared to someone who is always needing deadline extensions and reminders of work needed to be completed.
Relating back to your SMART goals, make sure you spend time to write out your business plan and break down your goal into smaller actionable steps.
This helps provide you with a plan that you can implement into your daily, weekly and monthly schedule. It also helps to keep you on track and motivated when you begin ticking off each of those smaller actionable steps to hit that greater end target.
Here are some other tips on how to remain productive working from home:
Create your home office
It is excellent if you can dedicate an area within your home just for working at for the reasons stated earlier on in this post. However, most of you are probably like me and have to work around your ever so active kids.
So, my ‘office’ is literally my laptop or phone and I moving around wherever my kids are. So you’ll find my ‘office’ has no walls and can include but is not limited to the bathroom floor, sofa or even my kid’s bedroom when settling them to sleep.
Make your own schedule
One of the best parts of working from home is that you can create your own schedule. I suggest either using a digital calendar or handheld and colour coding particular events each week.
For example, pink could be kids activities, yellow might be appointments and blue is perhaps housework. Having everything colour coded and laid out within a calendar view can really help you visually see just what time you have to build and grow your income working from home. Then, you can block the rest of your time in green for work.
Just remember to focus on your schedule and what works best for you and your family. Rather than comparing to Jo blogs and how much time they have to build and grow their income working from home.
Find An Accountability Partner
Do you know someone else who is working from home?
It can be seriously lonely working from home and not to mention overwhelming just working for yourself and having a gazillion tasks piling up. Having an accountability partner can really help, not only to support each other to stick to your goals. But also for the friendly aspect and someone else understanding the challenges you face working from home.
It is great to have supportive partners and family members. But, unless they are building a business working from home, they won’t understand your frustrations or finding it difficult to balance work/home life.
You can easily connect with other individuals within Facebook groups. It doesn’t have to be someone within your niche, but it might help if they are doing a similar job to you such as if you are growing a blog, connect with other bloggers. They will be able to relate to you and the challenges you face compared with a writer or network marketer.
Figure out Your Time-Management Method
Each one of us approaches work differently and what works for one person might not work for you. It is best if you can find the time-management method that suits when you are most productive and will help you to stay focused when working from home.
For example, I personally prefer to use block scheduling. As a blogger and business owner, I find it much easier if I have a few hours to write content or create graphics than 10 minutes here or there.
So, I find block scheduling extremely beneficial. I also am most productive on a morning and so block out this time around my other commitments such as teaching and my children’s activities, to get my biggest business tasks completed each week. I can then use the other times of my day around my kids for smaller tasks such as researching, reading or responding to emails.
Consider when are you most productive during the day. Do you prefer to work in big chunks or smaller bite-sized time-frames with a break in between? Then add this time into your schedule and stick to it, turning off all other distractions such as your emails and social media notifications.
What About Networking When Working from Home?
A lot of people when they start working from home talk about how lonely it can be. Suddenly, you have this one-man office when previously you were hustling in a busy, noisy workstation. You have no one to turn to when it comes to asking for advice, ranting about work or even to talk about your favourite TV programs during your lunch break.
But, even though you are a one-man band, you don’t have to be lonely working from home.
Now you have the power to choose your own friends and work partners. If you explore the Facebook groups I mentioned earlier, you will find that some of these are great places to network. You will make some fantastic connections from all around the world. All of whom have different areas of expertise and businesses. When it is midnight in your clock, it is 1 pm in India. So, there’s always someone you can talk to you.
If you are more of a people person and like real-time meetings, look for remote work communities in your area. People are working remotely around the world and often, there are networking events in order for individuals to socialise and collaborate.
Attend small business networking events in your area. Make sure to remember your business cards. Often, when you build a rapport with people face to face, they remember you better and will think of you if they have work required in your field. They are great events for making genuine connections and the potential for new clients.
You can also look at co-working spaces in your area. Or even your local café. Cafés can be a great place to meet other remote workers, or just for a change of scene from your home office.
It’s really important to also remember life outside of work. If you are anything like me, you’re a workaholic and could work on growing your business 247.
But, it is so important to ensure you spend time away from work, which can be challenging working from home. So make sure you schedule in that coffee or playdates each week. Meet up with your friends and family, away from your home so you aren’t tempted to pick up your laptop. It helps to not only give you fresh air and get out of the house but also aids your productivity. Taking a break from your work can provide you with an opportunity to think more clearly and return to your work with a better focus and a clearer mind.
Working from home is an opportunity that seemed to only be available for the few. Compared to now, it’s available on a similar scale as your everyday job such as office worker or supermarket assistant.
2020 can definitely be your year to leave your 9-5 and create an income for yourself working from home.
Yes, it can take time and effort. Yes, it can become a little overwhelming and daunting at times. But, it is so rewarding, especially when you have built that income and business from scratch yourself.
If you are wanting to work from home in 2020, take the plunge and make a start. Put these tips and action steps into place to help guide you. You CAN earn an income working from home.
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