I’m not too proud to admit that working at home isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve probably spent a lot of time researching and taking advice, you think you’re ready to jump in with both feet and you’ll never miss a beat.
No matter how much research and planning you’ve done, nothing compares to the real thing. You will probably have a harsh wake up call or two. Several work-from-home veterans stopped by today to share their stories of the hard lessons they had to learn quickly.
Not having boundaries
By Laura Pennington Six Figure Writing Secrets
When I first started working from home, I wish I knew how much I needed to strengthen my boundaries with clients and family members.
Even though I was running a full-time business (not to mention studying my PhD in my off time), people seemed to interpret my being at home as “available 24/7”. Some of my freelance clients acted the same way, as if having a cell phone meant I should be tied to it around the clock. A freelance client who makes less than 1/20th of the monthly income even if I don’t text him back in an hour goes crazy! Soon, I realized that my clients—and some people in my personal life—needed to realize that even though they thought I was luxuriating at home in my PJs all day, I shouldn’t be interrupted unless there was a real emergency. Training clients was much easier—I set up a Gmail auto-responder with the following message:
“Thanks for reaching out! So that I can provide top-notch service to each client, I check my email several times a day between projects. I’m currently working on someone’s project, and I want to give you that same focused attention. I’ll respond to your message within 24 hours. I will answer!
It worked perfectly–my clients understood that I wouldn’t be available 24/7, and I think it discouraged some of them from sending unnecessary emails in the first place.
For others, it took me a long time to ignore phone calls, FB messages and texts. I even had a conversation once “I know you think I’m not working because I’m at home, but I’m running a business. I have client meetings, phone calls, and periods where I can’t be reached like someone who works outside the home, so I appreciate you understanding that.”
If clients don’t respect my boundaries now, I fire them. Most are pleased to hear that I’m not taking calls/texts/emails while working on their projects, as it allows me to fully focus on what needs to be done.
I wish I had done this procedure sooner, but I’m still thrilled to see how much better things are now because of it!
Don’t plan for taxes
One thing I didn’t expect as a work-at-home freelancer was a huge tax bill. I was working as a freelancer part-time for several years before working full-time from home. In the past, I didn’t have to pay a lot of taxes on part-time income, so I WAAAY underestimated what I would have to pay on full-time income. My husband was paying more than he needed, and I got an education credit because I’m in school. We thought these things would help, but they didn’t help as much as we thought. We still owed about $5,000 in income taxes this past year. Everyone’s taxes will be different because of credits and deductions, but if you’re not sure you’re saving enough at tax time, you probably aren’t!
Sometimes you get no respect
Its Michelle Schroeder-Gardner Making Saints Sense
One of the hardest aspects of working from home is that everyone thinks you’ll be doing nothing all day. It’s a lot of people asking for favors, making negative comments about how you do nothing all day, people thinking you’re lazy, and more. I have come to terms that many people will never understand that you are working and I don’t let their opinions influence me anymore. I also let others know when they make negative comments that I’m busy, just like when they’re working. How hard a worker you are Your workplace position should not affect anyone’s opinion
Not being diverse
Its Karen Newcomb Enter the bank
My advice to new freelancers is: don’t get too specialized. Every pundit tells you that you must be an expert, if you choose one market and focus on it, your job will be easier. I disagree – if that market goes belly up, your income, your home, your kids’ college funds, everything. Diversify your business; Don’t rely on one industry, or one size client, or one type of job.
Today, I still work for the design and construction industry, but I find clients in as many different industries as possible. I branched out to offer more services, for example, working with authors to edit and publish their books independently. Moving online has changed the way people find freelancers a bit, and although I still get most of my work from referrals, it’s important to keep your website, blog, and participate in forums where your clients participate. In a world where few people are willing to work for a penny a word (that’s what Edgar Allan Poe wrote for his writing in the 1840s, when the dollar was worth nine times what it is today!) you must be able to explain what your work accomplishes for a client. will be done.
People don’t particularly like change, and we sure don’t like surprises when it comes to our finances! I’ve lived through multiple recessions, and if you prepare your business now for the inevitable next downswing, you’ll come out the other side of it in a better position.
Elena Kane is off Writeto1K.com
I started working from home when my twins were about two years old. At first it didn’t seem so difficult to me. They slept well, played well and I didn’t have many freelance writing clients at the time. But as my business grew – and my twins – mommy guilt started to happen.
Since I worked a lot, any free time I had was dedicated to work. I can actually go a whole day without sitting down and playing with my kids. Obviously, I didn’t like it very much.
But, there was not enough time for work or play. My brain didn’t automatically stop working when I left my home office, so sometimes, I was “out there” with the kids, but I was thinking about my next piece of writing.
As my business approached the one year mark, I knew I had to make some changes. I’ve been planning to work from home for a while and to make it work, I need to remind myself why I’m working from home in the first place. Because I want to take care of my twins.
I managed family days and I also outsourced tasks that took up too much of my time. It helped reduce my stress level and freed up my time.
It’s all a work in progress, but for now, I’m grateful that I can work from home and be with my twins.