What Nobody Tells You About Working From Home

Working from home – or earning a living working from anywhere, therefore allowing you to travel while working – is definitely glorified in our culture. When I tell people about what I do they often say I’m lucky or that it must be nice. They’re not totally wrong but there’s a few things nobody tells you about working from home.

It’s Lonely

This is the best kept secret of the work from home crowd. Honestly, I talk to people from morning to night – literally I start teaching kiddos between 5 and 7am, and I finish teaching adults at 10 or 11pm. I talk, talk, talk all day long and when I finally shut the microphone off I still feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

That’s partly because even though I talk to people all day long I often have the same conversation over and over again – Hello what’s your name? My name is Carmen. Where do you live? I live in Canada. What do you do? Wow that sounds stressful…” and on it goes.

Even when I’m not teaching, I’m writing and blogging. This is a little different because I don’t write the same thing over and over but I also don’t get a lot of direct interaction with the people who are reading what I write.

Cabin Fever is an Occupational Hazard

Along with the loneliness get ready to have a love-hate relationship with your house. It’s my home. I picked this furniture. I put it where I wanted it. This is where my super comfy beds are. This is where my favorite pillows are. There’s a recliner and nice places to read a book or watch TV.

But oh my gooooosh get me OUT of here. I wake up, work, eat, exercise, entertain myself, work again and sleep here. I’ve gone for car rides to the gas station just to be somewhere that isn’t there. Working from home might be the dream but from personal experience our brains need a change of scenery. It’s a requirement. Sometimes the best thing I can do is go do some blogging or social media client work from Starbucks.

It’s real easy to gain a ton of weight

Seriously. All I do is sit at my desk. Unless I make the conscious decision to go down to the treadmill or out for a walk it’s easy to pass the whole day without moving a whole lot.

And your whole kitchen is, like, RIGHT THERE. So eating a lot is super easy.

It’s a recipe for weight gain (Trust me , I know. Keep an eye out for my posts about my weight loss journey.)

People Forget that you Work

Yeah, your family is included in this. You’re there when they leave to work and you’re there when they get home. They don’t work at home. Home is just about relaxation and hobbies and family time for them. They kind of forget that it’s like, also your office building.

This goes for friends, too. They imagine that since there isn’t like, a manger or a boss watching you work you could just leave at any time to go do fun things with them.

While it might be true that you set your own schedule you probably have some time requirements and can’t just leave on a whim. Even if you leave on a whim, the work you were gonna do during that time still has to get done so even if they don’t see it you’ll be putting those hours in – be it afternoon or after midnight.

There’s a Million More Distractions Than A Regular Office

In a regular office I feel like a sort of hive-mind kicks in. Even if you’re having trouble focusing everyone else is working that that kind of prompts you to re-focus and get with the program. When I worked in an office it felt way easier to find the next task and get it done because usually everyone else was working so I could feel the groupthink guiding me to work too. This was important, too, because if the whole office wasn’t working then the whole office wasn’t working. A distraction for one became a distraction for many and nothing got done so there was a true sense of value in that groupthink must-work atmosphere. At least if you were gonna go off task you needed to be discreet about it.

Have you ever heard of procasti-cleaning? This is where suddenly you feel the overwhelming urge to clean your whole house instead of doing work. The whole house needs a cleaning, anyway, right? So it’s not really procrastination because you’re still being productive, right? How about Netflix? So easy to access from home and no manager to catch you binge watching Riverdale instead of working.

As many of you know I’ve recently taken up as a demolition derby driver and the shop is right out back! I could be building a car instead of working!

So is it a Dream?

Working from home sounds awesome until you realize every part of your life that isn’t work is right there and it’s SO ridiculously hard to be productive.

Okay, so it’s still pretty awesome but before you make the jump consider that there are some serious risks and if you’re moving to freelance you might want to budget for membership to a co-work space or find another way to plan time out of the house doing something social!

What’s your Personal Brand

One of the biggest mindset shifts that has helped me successfully make a living by essentially freelancing services that I’m interested in providing is thinking of myself as managing a personal brand.

In this mindset, any service I provide – anything I do in exchange for money – is part of the brand.  My teaching, my writing, this blog, and my social media services are all products offered by this brand.  It’s personal to me and exists in direct relation to who I am as a person but it’s a unique section of my life.

There are a few reasons why I think this mindset is important for others with a similar work style or similar work situation.  Let’s look at those reasons now.

Working from Home but not Working When Home

Okay, that’s a bit confusing but let me explain.  I work from home.  In my family, we make jokes about how I never leave the house and might easily be mistaken for a captive of my family rather than a member of it because they all go out into the world but I spend endless hours in one room of the house.  The jokes are like a thinly veiled coping mechanism for what we all know is an odd reality. I don’t leave the house often.  Sometimes I get so stir crazy I have to leave for the sake of leaving without any actual mission other than getting fresh air.

So how do I know I’m done with work? Honestly, the entering and exiting of physical spaces is something that we often take for granted in our lives. We enter our workspaces and know we are at work, we exit them and can start thinking about our personal lives again.  I’ve done a decent job of making my office my physical workspace and letting what happens in the office stay there when I leave it BUT it’s always right there, calling to me when something could use my attention.  Why wait until tomorrow morning when I could just go grab my laptop and attend to it right now?  Thinking of your work as existing under the umbrella of a personal brand helps to add one more layer of separation between your personal life and your professional one even when the two cohabitate in one physical space.

Not only have I left my office but I’ve mentally left the headspace of the brand and so whatever needs to happen will have to wait for me to get back in the office and back in that headspace.

Your Brand can Turn Down a Project

It’s really hard to turn down work when you’re a freelancer working from home.  You figure there’s always a way to shuffle your calendar around and make time for one more project because security is so elusive.  Work is work and money is money, right?

Sure. But if you’re so busy taking every opportunity that comes along you may end up with a set of projects that don’t fit or make sense together.  This seems pretty benign on the surface but can actually become quite problematic for your overall productivity.  If your projects don’t make sense together then they can start to battle each other for your time and switching projects will become a big interruption to your workflow.

For me, working on Oh My Mermaid and working on Playful Greetings social media work really well together because a lot of the organization can happen from one single platform so time spent on one can easily coexist with time spent on the other.

Thinking of new projects as coming in under your personal brand gives you a buffer between them and you that will allow you to reject them without feeling guilty

You can say to yourself and the potential project, “I’m sorry, that project/job/contract doesn’t work with my current portfolio so I wouldn’t be able to fit it into my schedule or do a good job of it without hurting my other projects.”

When the reason you’re saying no is that it doesn’t work for “the brand” rather than because you just don’t feel like saying yes there’s a lot less guilt and obligation.

It’s also easier to ask for an Opportunity 

Just like it’s easier to say no because it isn’t personal, it’s also easier to ask for an opportunity because just like when you turn something down, rejection isn’t personal.  When you feel like it’s just you, as a person and a freelancer, saying to a company that you’d like the opportunity to work with them then when they say no they’ve rejected you. And that sucks. Nobody wants to feel like that.

But when you apply feeling that you’d like to add that opportunity to your personal brand portfolio and you get the rejection it’s easier to just move on, work on your existing projects and look for the next opportunity that might be an even better match for you and your brand.

A Personal Brand is Something you can feel Proud of

One of the biggest struggles I notice as an independent freelancer is that there is a lot less positive feedback than I might have access to in a regular old brick and mortar job.  As a student for most of my life and in the various regular jobs I’ve had I’ve always appreciated the positive and negative feedback that lets me know what’s going well and what isn’t.

Working in isolation, as I talked about earlier, feedback can sometimes be seriously lacking.  It made me feel like I was lost in space having no idea if I was going the right direction or what was going on.

Thinking of my work as a personal brand somehow makes it a bit more tangible.  I start finding ways I can measure performance.  Income, of course, but also through social stats, leads, and projects.  I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished with Oh My Mermaid and the other projects I’ve taken on.  That’s something that reduces the sensation of being lost in space.

So overall there’s a lot of good reasons to start thinking of yourself as managing a personal brand to create an extra mental layer between your work and you as a person.  It’s better for your mental health and self-worth to feel that it’s still a job, at the end of the day and you do get to be off duty even if that just means going to a different room in your house.

Carmen in Canada’s Top Ten Tips for Teaching Online

As I was writing “working with less” and thinking about what we as online teachers put out there to other potential online teachers, and each other, it got me thinking. I said with that post that you shouldn’t be intimidated by veterans and the elaborate set ups you see online. However, what would be useful when you’re just starting out?

I’ve been at this around two years now and turned it from a side hustle to a full time gig. Here’s my Top ten tips:

  1. Pick something you’re comfortable in and wear it all the time.
    For me, it’s a plain black, long sleeve shirt. I bought several and I keep them on hand. I put it on and then don’t think. From class to class, company to company throughout the day it’s professional without being over the top and it’s comfortable without being too casual.
    If I’m feeling ambitious I might up my game with simple, elegant accessories or a little extra effort in hair and makeup. But truly, you’re in a small box on a screen, keep your look simple and clean.
  2. Pick a space you like being in.
    Sometimes on the really long days I migrate around the house if I’m feeling stiff or stir crazy from endless hours in office. I do that less now than I used to, though. The more you create a space you enjoy being in the better you’ll work in it. So go ahead and hang those twinkle lights, white boards, posters… whatever it is to make it cozy and comfortable for you.
  3. Smile and laugh.
    Smiles and laughter transcend borders like nothing else. When I teach children I also sing with them and I laugh at the sound of myself singing so they know it’s okay to have fun while in class. When I’m with adults I tell embarrassing stories about myself and laugh with my students. Remember that being a teacher is a position of authority and you can be intimidating to your students, especially when they can’t understand the language. But this isn’t regular school – if they don’t like you they won’t book your class again so welcome them and make them feel comfortable.
  4. Take breaks.
    Value your time. A gap in your teaching schedule does not need to be filled with errands and other commitments. During working hours I try to make my gaps refreshing and celebrate the mental down time. I watch netflix, eat, fetch tea, shower and go for walks. Anything to refresh my mind and body.
  5. Use breaks
    That being said, a good passion project on the side doesn’t hurt. Often I write blog posts during my break, check in on the social media channels and promote the blog. I try not to work to intensely in between classes so I don’t exhaust myself but I do like a good side hustle.
  6. Build a props collection as needed.
    When you wish you had X, Y, or Z to reach for take note and either create it or find it to purchase in the near future. This way you build a collection of props based on what will support your teaching style and not just what you see other teachers have.
    Try to avoid wasting a lot of time and money guessing what you’ll want and buying things “just in case”. Stick to things you know are useful.
  7. Organize and Re-Organize.
    As you collect props and equipment you’ll need to create an organization system that works. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. For me – I have one drawer that stays open all the time on my right hand side. It acts like a tray-shaped side table that holds stuffies and props ready. Smaller things like cue cards sit underneath my laptop (which is raised so that my camera is at a flattering angle). Not only should you have a system but as you’re teaching you’ll shuffle stuff around.  When you finish class, shuffle things back where they belong or chaos will eat your work space.
  8. Get your fam on board.
    It took some getting used to for my family to know that even though I’m right here in the office at home, I’m not available.  I felt guilty for a long time, too, as they adjusted.  It feels awkward and strange that sometimes they’re eating downstairs all around the dinner table but I’m not there because I have a class to teach.  It took a while for the idea that what I’m busy doing up here in the old spare room is actually just as serious as the work they do from 9-5 every day and I needed the same kind of respect and space they enjoyed at their offices. Don’t be afraid to have that conversation with your family and help them understand that you need them on board with this job, too.
  9. You are Your Brand – Have Personality!
    Remember how I just said that you’ve got to make students comfortable because unlike regular school, if they do’t like you they don’t have to take your class again… Well as an extension of that, you are a sort of brand. Even though there’s a bigger company or brand you’re teaching with – the company who you work for – you are what makes students come back to book you class after class. I’ve written before about how I have a sort of “Teacher Carmen” personality that is separate from who I am as a whole person (See Carmen in Canada). That’s my brand. That’s the consistent experience that students can connect to, come back to, and rely on. Be yourself – be memorable – build yourself a brand as a teacher.
  10. Pay Attention to Trends & Competition.
    When I started there weren’t a ton of companies doing online education the way my company was. Now? Ther’es a TON of companies.  Pay attention and maybe work with more than one if you want this to be a full-time gig with reliable money. If your company closes its doors they don’t owe you severance or benefits. Nothing.  Pay attention so you know if your company is losing its edge, and keep yourself open to opportunities!

Bonus Tip: Start Now!

You can email me at ohmymermaid.blog@gmail.com and I will tell you more details about the specific companies I work with and I can refer you, which means I’ll be there for you through the whole process of applying and starting out!

This is a job, so have fun with it and make informed choices to create security.  However, it’s a job that is interacting with other human beings so be human and have fun!

Carmen

 

Those whose Career is Building Your Career

When you choose to make a career for yourself that looks and feels different than the beaten path it’s a choice that comes with a lot of questions. Wanting to blog and make money online from home is different than either of my parents careers, it’s different from my husband, my girlfriend or my boyfriend. I don’t have anyone in my personal network who I feel alike to in this regard. All the people who I see doing what I want to be doing are the people I’m following online but don’t know in real life.

This leads to a healthy amount of skepticism, both in terms of doubting myself and my ability to do this but also with people around me doubting the realness of this career choice. When very few people actually know someone in person whose made a paying career online it’s easy to imagine those who say they do might be stretching the truth and us who aspire to similar careers are simply foolish.

If you find yourself in my position, be aware of the vulnerability some people see in us.

Picture yourself from the outside looking in: We are trying to build careers that look like the careers of people we only see online, we are trying to make money from home on our own terms and outside the regular 9-5 or familiar corporate structure, we probably start knowing where we want to get but not a lot about how to actually get there and there’s no hiding that we’ve got big questions on how to reach our goals…

There’s a lot of people advertising answers to our questions.  They’re marketing is alluring like those whose influencer or blogger careers we admire. The people advertising answers to others like us really set themselves up as being among us – boss babes that have broken the 9-5 grind to launch their own business and build their dreams. It’s inspirational and compelling marketing that makes you see them as “just like you” – a version of yourself that’s “made it” and now wants to share how she did it to empower you to do the same.

How kind, right? That’s some on point feminism and the true definition of women for women – helping each other build that dream life.

Some people genuinely do have some useful info that they’re putting out there because it’s useful. I like to think I’m writing myself in to this category. If you read my posts about working from home I hope you find them interesting and useful. I hope they make you feel encouraged to pursue a career you really want and that you know I don’t expect anything from you, and I’m not holding info hostage from you.

You see, that idea that some people just want to share what they know and help out someone similar to them, it’s not entirely false. If my posts help someone land the teaching job, or see a path for themselves that answers how they want to work and define their life – that’s awesome! Given that I really don’t know it all, it’s also nice to think I might make a few friends on this journey while I write.

That’s the thing with the other category. There’s a lot of people who have actually made their online, influencer and blogging or work from home career out of supporting others that want to do the online, influencer, work from home thing. They write posts with tips but really, their way of answering questions inspires more questions. Then they tell you they’ll answer those questions too, but you’ll have to buy the answers. They have courses, e-books, paid support groups and other buy-in resources.

Don’t get me wrong – they might have some really valuable information that can provide the success they promise. They might be really smart, have worked really hard to acquire the knowledge and they probably deserve to be paid for sharing it and supporting your education and career journey.

I’m absolutely not against them working their business and asking you to buy the answers. In fact I’ve purchased e-books and resources that make sense to my business and I’m both grateful to the entrepreneurs that created these resources and truly happy to support their entrepreneurial career.

However you can’t buy all the answers.

So while you shouldn’t write off the idea of paying for some good resources now and then you should be very critical and picky of which resources get your money and which ones you pass up.

Not to mention, there’s a lot of tidbits and good advice out there for free. It takes more time to find it all… you’ll have to read a wider variety of sources and connect some of the dots for yourself instead of having them connected for you in a course format but it’s doable. The idea that you must put a lot of money out before you’ll know how to bring it in is false.

The bottom line is that I think what kills a lot of dreams is the fear that the dream is inaccessible.  So far I can say it’s really more accessible than it seems once you get past the barrage of paid everything and start making your own little space.

What are your biggest questions when it comes to pursuing this dream?

Working from Home and Setting Your Own Schedule

The biggest misconception people have about working from home or working for yourself is that you work when you want or need and can take it easy the rest of the time.  The reality, for online teachers at least, is that we work at the demand of our students.

The only way to make this job work as a full time gig is to set work goals in accordance with your financial goals.  I know I need to make X number of dollars a month to pay my bills, save and have some room for unexpected costs.  It is necessary to translate that dollar amount in to classes taught, break it down by week and meticulously track day by day.

I’ve learned I have to notice early on – by mid-month at least – if I’m falling behind on my goals. After that point there isn’t enough time to meaningfully add to my schedule and make up the hours. With teaching it’s easy to fall behind on goals.  If classes don’t get booked it adds up fast. Being a class or two short of a daily goal quickly means stripping down the budget to accommodate anticipated shortcomings.

The truth about working from home means I am available until my goal is met.  Maybe I only need to work 8 hours in a day but I can’t force my students to consistently fill 9am-5pm so that I can go live my life. I start around 7:30 most days, many days earlier, and most days I work until 11pm or midnight. Some days it’s 1am or 1:30am.

Working crazy hours Monday to Thursday allows me to end earlier (mid afternoon) most Fridays and then take Saturday and Sunday off with my family.

The hard part is having to politely remind people that you actually do work and it isn’t possible for you to change your schedule last minute the way some work from home jobs can.  Even if I could, changing my schedule for last minute plans would still mean making the time up so chances are even if my companies let me change my schedule last minute I would still be held on schedule by financial obligations.

What we really mean when we say our work from home jobs are flexible is that, with 24 hour potential to work you might be able to set up a unique schedule that suits your life.  My whole family works 9-5’s with weekends off so I try to mimic that as much as I can to maximize my time with them.

That being said lots of people are working jobs like mine on a when-the-kids-are-out schedule, or using it as a night job. Flexibility doesn’t mean that I can change my schedule last minute, but it does mean that I can book classes around other obligations outside a traditional work schedule.

Oh, and I guess it’s true that outside of my budget, I don’t have to ask anyone for approval when I want a day off.

Thinking of picking up extra work? What kind of schedule would working from home mean for you?

Don’t Fall for Spam; Don’t write off Opportunity

Okay so I want to talk about something: multi-level marketing companies.  They are also called direct sales, network marketing, and pyramid schemes, among other clever and legitimate-sounding titles.  These are companies that rely on individuals to sell out of their homes rather than building traditional brick and mortar stores – think classics like Avon and Pampered Chef, and newer companies including Jamberry, Lipsense, and ItWorks.

The first thing I want to say is: I’m not here to bash these companies at all.  I worked for Jamberry for about two years and I loved it. I’m going to be honest in this post and share some tips, the pros, and cons of working as a direct sales consultant and some warning flags to watch for if you’re considering joining a direct sales company.

When I browse the #workfromhome hashtag on any platform an overwhelming number of posts come from direct sales consultants encouraging anyone who wants to work from home to join their team.  Of course, direct sales is generally a work from home gig, although I kind of resent their saturation of the hashtag and more seriously, how spammy and awful some of the methods they use are.

Don’t get me wrong: There are a lot of very hard-working people busting their asses and making a great living with these companies.  My sponsor with Jamberry is one of them. (sponsor = the person whose team I joined, so she gets credit for my joining, and looked after mentoring me throughout my time with the company. I loved her!)

Generalized Problems with the Industry

As much as I had a great experience there are a lot of problems with the industry.  There are a lot of people that do and say ethically questionable things with their business.  They falsely advertise earnings to lure team members and promise those team members success without being honest about what that kind of success will require.

These companies by and large are rightfully accused of preying on societies less affluent women.  They encourage them to go into greater financial duress by promising that this job is the way to pay down all debts and look after their families.  Being able to look after your family and give your family a little bit of luxury is a huge attraction, especially when you can do while being home with the kids.  Advertising success and an affluent lifetyle without being upfront about the work it takes to get there is an aspect of direct sales I’ve never liked.  Consultants or representatives gain team members, at times, by knowingly preying on women who are in financial need and not equipped to critically analyze the terms of the contract they’d be signing with these companies.  Consultants who gain team members by doing this are really all about the financial incentives they get for convincing you to sign on the dotted line, not about sharing with you a great opportunity!

Most companies require you to “join” by buying a “start up kit” of some sort. The start up kits themselves are usually great. You get a healthy sampling of products, flyers, maybe postcards, etc. You get what you need to begin operating in the business – but you don’t get it for free. Some companies have different sizes or types of kits at different price points.  This means that you may see some opportunities as cheap or at least as being a good deal in comparison to other opportunities or kits.  Realistically though, when you’re broke is not the time to start a business.  You shouldn’t be spending your last dollars on a kit like this.

And I do specifically note that as a large and generalized industry direct sales companies specifically tend to prey on women.  We are targeted as both their consultants and their customers (the two, naturally, go hand in hand.) This isn’t new.  Think back – those companies our moms and grandmas know like Avon and Pampered Chef are the pillars of the industry and although it has evolved and diversified, the products and market are still dominated by women.  Can you think of a parallell for avon that was targeted at your dad? Can you even imagine some guy knocking on your door with a suitcase full of guy stuff the way old school avon ladies came around?

Not all companies are like this. More importantly, not all consultants are willing to behave unethically to promote their business. When I first met my sponsor for Jamberry it was because she hosted a sales party with a friend of mine.  She made me aware that if I loved the product I could join the company and get paid to do what she did.  However when I told her I wanted to get to know the product before considering a career with the company she was supportive and understanding.  Her style of interacting with me as a customer is a big part of what attracted me to the company, and her team.

I could see myself wanting to be like her.  That was important.

Generalized Pros with the Industry

Realistically the most important part of accessing and enjoying the pros of working in direct sales is finding the right company.

Companies will generally offer some level of training or at least a set of guidelines on how consultants should represent them. This sets up what the company requires, and where the room exists for consultants to make the business personal and unique to them.

Find a company where their requirements fit you and what you’re comfortable with.

A few things to define a good direct sales company for you:

  • It’s a product you’ll genuinely use and are happy to recommend to others
  • Its requirements are compatible with your commitments and goals
  • You feel confident you can consistently sell the product.
  • You see room for yourself in their market – if 25 people you know are already selling this product, who will you sell to start? (Ideally you’d expand, your friends introduce you to their friends, and those people introduce you to more people as you progress with parties and sales so it’s not always about your friends and fam, but it starts there!)
  • The methods their consultants are using to promote the product are compatible with your ethics and what you’re willing to associate yourself with and be a part of. I’ll tell anyone – I would %100 consider another direct sales company if the right one came along BUT I also have a mental list of companies I would NEVER work for because there are so many spammy consultants, even if I ever tried the product and fell in love I wouldn’t put my name to the company because there’s too much spam.

The claims that many consultants make are generally true when you’re working for it.  You do work from home, you do make money with every sale, you can make money by sharing the opportunity.  It’s a good gig.

However, let’s not forget that if you want to make money in any industry you have to work hard.  So sometimes consultants have a habit of making it sound like direct sales is easy money.  It’s not.  It can be good money but it isn’t easy money.

Major Red Flags

Remember that you’re joining this company to make money.  If the company requires you to spend an obnoxious amount to join and maintain status as a consultant, it’s not a good idea.  Life is not consistent – some months you’ll sell a lot and some months will be weaker.  If you have ridiculous monthly requirements you will struggle to create consistency and build success.

  • Do not sign up for auto-ship.  Some companies require you accept and pay for automatic shipments of product that you will have and sell as personal inventory.  Do not do this to yourself. They’ll tell you that you can easily sell the product but they won’t help you when you have a garage full of thousands of dollars of product you can’t move.
  • On a related note: Do not sign a time based contract that requires you to be active in the company for a minimum amount of time. Much like accumulating a garage full of auto-shipped products, you lose the flexibility that is usually a main attraction for direct sales.
  • Do not pay more than you can actually afford for startup.  Most kits run between $50-300 depending on the company and what they include in their start-up kit.  They are making money off these kit sales, for sure, but they also are genuinely providing you with tools to begin your business. Just don’t get tricked into thinking that to start this business you need to spend thousands.
  • Spammy consultants.  If consultants for this company are generally posting bad graphics with obnoxious pleas disguised as pitches and invitations to buy or join… beware! Spammy posts are a good indication that these consultants are desperate to move product and make goals. Don’t fall for it and become one of them.

Ultimately the biggest thing I can say is that sure – with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck, you might be able to make this your main income eventually. Go ahead girl, build you an empire! BUT consider it a side gig until your side gig starts out earning your day job – only when you’re out earning yourself would I recommend assessing it’s potential to be more than a side gig.

Good luck in your potential direct sales journey. I loved working for Jamberry and am entirely willing to work for another company if I am in love with their product.

What companies are you loving and buying from your friends right now?

Working for yourself versus working alone

Just because you don’t work for anybody else doesn’t mean you can’t work with somebody else.

That’s one of the hardest attitude shifts to overcome when seeking success on projects that we own.  At least for me. I get so excited about owning a project and all of the potential it has, and I take pride in working for myself. Especially when the project is walking away from the 9-5 grind and not really just leading a project, but owning my ability to be productive and profitable.  I don’t want to work for anybody else as an employee but I have to separate what it means to work for someone and what it means to work with them.

There are a lot of ways that you can work with others while still working for yourself and from home. I myself am starting just starting to explore what this means and what works for me.

I know that I value the feeling of connection.  Even if we’re just helping each other out in little ways – being generous with “likes” and comments, taking time to share, etc. there’s so much value in making connections.

Then there’s larger projects and affiliations. I’m interested in how these types of profitable partnerships work and can be worked into my current workflow.

A few ways that I know of already to work for yourself without working alone:

If you’re work is largely based on social media reach out to others and exchange engagement (likes, comments, shares)

Doing this works wonders in a few ways. It gets you reading and engaging with what others are doing. There’s no underestimating the value of paying attention to what else is happening around your digital world. However, it’s easy to forget.  We get so busy creating our content, and scheduling, and promoting ourselves that we forget to notice we aren’t the only ones.

Co-Create a Post, a Video, a Series of posts & videos, etc.

When you’re out there engaging with what others are doing maybe you’ll notice someone who would compliment your knowledge and content. Maybe you’ll see a way to work together – go ahead and propose ways that the two of you can create something together and then share it with both your audiences – effectively exchanging introductions.

Find the people who are dedicated to helping you

On sites like Pinterest and Twitter you’ll find lots of groups; boards or accounts that are dedicated to promoting blog content. Personally, I’ve found several dedicated to sharing content created by women and had some success being shared or retweeted by them.

This is kind of a win in that you just need to join the group board or include the appropriate @ or # in your tweet and voila! You’re promoted! It doesn’t have to require that you do a whole lot in exchange.

Be a Gracious Guest

Look for opportunities to guest post on other blogs and websites and benefit from their audience seeing your name.

This is another way to get out there that I am currently investigating. I share these on-going thought processes because putting it out there that I want to know more about this myself puts the pressure on for me to go find the answers, live the dream, and share more with you guys.

One thing I do know is that depending on both your status (knowledge, follower base, the place where you are a guest, etc) there are opportunities that are paid, as well as opportunities that are not.

Opportunities that are not paid may be beneficial, especially when you’re starting out, but if and when you feel confident that you don’t need to share your work for free: don’t.

Once you draw that boundary, keep it, and put your time and energy in to opportunities that meet your criteria as fully as you meet theirs.

Be Open Minded

In the world of work from home, work online, work for yourself dream building the key is always to stay open minded.  Especially while working online, your platform is ever changing.  Embrace changes and opportunities or methods you hadn’t previously thought about.

That’s all for now!

What’s your favourite way to work with people without losing that boss babe feeling?

Blogging and Social media: You’re there but Why?

I am still learning on my entrepreneurial journey.  The blog is launched, posts are becoming more regular, my social media presence is growing and in every week there are lessons learned.

I share these lessons as I learn them to become the resource I crave and build my identity within this industry.  I’ve talked before about following good advice and where to start.  Today I want to talk a little about being valuable versus being accessible.

The thing is that when we start blogging, or really when we start any online project we might secretly dream of overnight fame.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we woke up and tens of thousands of people had “liked” and “followed” us?

Sure, it’d be nice but not realistic in the least.

After all, what makes people follow you?  If you read the how-to guides floating around for Instagram right now the biggest thing most of them say is be consistent.  It’s good advice but it’s leaving something out.  Be valuable. 

You can post all day long, on a consistent schedule but what are you posting? You want to be consistently valuable as much as you are consistent with anything.

The online world will demand your accessibility – people will message or comment at all hours, they’ll forget about normal family schedules and just see you as totally available to them.  There’s a lot you can do too, to foster your relationships and availability is the easy part.

The true art is in being out there and giving people content that they actually want.

Carmen

 

 

 

 

 

How to Find Followers and Be Loved by Everyone

 

Everyone’s working hard and we want to be noticed and appreciated – we want to see our hard work pay off!  We see success in rising stats and so the key question becomes: How do I get followers? How do I become popular?!

I wish there was a simple answer like follow steps 1-3 and BOOM! You’ll reach your wildest dreams! But in a world dictated by algorithms and with everyone being careful and thoughtful about what and who they follow or subscribe to, it’s a little tricker than 1, 2, 3.

I post my tips and lessons as I learn them – I don’t have mind blowing numbers to show off as reasons you should listen to me.  What I have is a genuine experience that I’m sharing as it happens (Imagine, the original purpose of a blog!)

So here are my tips and strategies for finding followers and being loved by everyone.  Maybe when I’m famous I’ll rewrite this post and let you know if it works 😉

You have to collaborate to be successful, but you do have to participate. 

You see, creating great content is only part of the battle.  You don’t have to collaborate and share credit but you do have to interact with others.  How do you expect people to find and appreciate your content if you’re simply posting it and waiting for the big rush of applause and appreciation?  When they say you have to put yourself out there it isn’t about putting your content out there – it’s actually putting you out there and making connections.

Go find, like, follow and comment others who might be interested in your work. Find your audience and invite them in to see what you’re doing.  (And show a little love for them – you know how hard the grind is, after all!)
Pro tip: Do this on multiple platforms! Running a wordpress blog? Go like and comment on other blog posts.  Working on upping your instagram game? You know what to do – double tap and show some love! Looking to be the next twitter superstar? Twitter is a giant conversation platform – don’t just talk to yourself 😉

How much do you love it when you connect to someone, or to a company because they make you feel like a person instead of a customer?  When you are waiting for people to stumble across your content and appreciate it you’re thinking of them as customers or follower stats – not people.  In a fast-moving society where we often feel kind of lost in the masses, we have come to value personal connections.  So provide that!  Provide what you crave!

Support doesn’t cost you anything!

All the practical reasons aside – going out and giving those likes, follows and comments doesn’t cost you anything! Okay, so actually finding people who belong to your target audience and connecting with meaningful comments does take time. But you can work that into your workflow.  It’s actually an enjoyable part of my day so I use seeking and connecting with others who might like my work as a way to break up the heavier lifting.  If I am stuck in my writing I can work my social media a bit. If I am dizzy from the research I can find some new people to follow.  Work the different social media platforms you want to grow on into your daily workflow and watch how much making the first move helps you grow!

Just remember… Don’t be an asshole! Don’t start getting spammy and desperate leaving lazy comments that are just emoji’s or one word like “Great”. It doesn’t feel personal or thoughtful.  You want to invite people to connect with you so it’s worth being a decent member of the online community in the process!

Open your mind – what’s the vision when you say working for yourself is the dream?

So here’s the thing – a lot of people say they want to work for themselves but everyone has a different vision of what that means.  For me, it means the freedom to work from anywhere (usually from home), and to be fluid and ever changing in what I do.  I can control the content I produce and in the vision where I create my own line of products they are my design and I can change up the style as I feel like it.

So as you go seeking an audience don’t forget to look inwards and keep a clear vision of what you want.  It’s easy to get so caught up being someone who will attract followers and likes that you lose sight of who you are and what you want to be doing.

Carmen

Don’t Mistake a Passion Project for an Easy Gig

One of the most frustrating attitudes I encounter is that my life must be easier because I’m pursuing projects I love, and because I work from home.  I’ll admit the commute is alright but that doesn’t mean that I live a life of leisure.

The first word is still “Work

Between teaching and the blog, along with some volunteer work on the side I keep busy.  It’s easy to assume I’m free and open all day but in reality, I have a long to-do list and my projects suffer when I don’t get dedicated time to work on them.

I could be making calls, writing, answering emails, researching or alternating between tasks.  I still look forward to an evening of relaxing just like everyone else.

This choice came with sacrifices

I think part of the reason I get frustrated when people make assumptions about my lifestyle is because they tend to overlook the sacrifices.  It’s not easy to make a full “typical” salary working from home, so there are financial sacrifices.  There’s no health benefits or sick days.  A lot of the things we assume come with a 9-5 we forget don’t come with working for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I love working for myself and being creative.  That being said, I don’t want people to imagine I have it easy just because I don’t leave the house.

The things I’m passionate about doing and the things I find easy are not necessarily the same

Working on a passion project is great – take this blog for example. I get to define what it is about, focus on what I’m interested in and develop ideas from start to finish.  However, that hasn’t made it easy.  I’m not a trained web developer, I’m still learning about entrepreneurial work (a dedication to constant learning is a whole new blog post), and self-promotion is a time-consuming process.  The fact that I am proud of this work and enjoy doing it does not mean that it’s a no-brainer for me.

Don’t assume that people who are pursuing their passions are doing so to get out of doing “real work” or because it’s the easy path.  Really building your own dream takes a lot more than what people see and is about the reward of following your heart, not about doing less work, I promise.

 

What are the misconceptions people have about the work you do (whatever work that is!)?