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I get a quite a few emails from people wondering how I started working from home. In fact, this is probably the question I get second most often (the question ask I’m asked most often is how do you eat so many beans?). I decided it was time to post about working from home.
Because I have lots of thoughts on this, it will be more than one post. This post will focus on my work from home history and experiences. I’ve been working from home for five years this go around. Yep, I’ve worked from home before.
My first work-from-home experience was when my oldest two girls were just babies. I did what lots of young moms do. I started a day care. I went to the classes and did the registration offered by my state. I set up a daycare with a little preschool program and it went okay. For awhile. I didn’t set the business up very good and instead of taking an experienced day care providers advice and using contracts and weekly amounts I tried it ‘my way’. My way resulted in me not getting paid when the children didn’t come (often with no notice). It was a great deal for the parents but not a great deal for me. I considered implementing a contract system when I lost one family and brought in another family but that didn’t seem fair to the new family. After a year or so I realized that things had to change. The change that I made was to go back to the work force.
For the next eight or nine years I worked outside the home jobs either part time or full time. During those years, two more girls were added to the family. When the youngest girl was three years old, I had a desire to be at home again. To make this happen, I ran an early morning paper route. It was only a few hours each day and then I was back home. The money wasn’t tremendous but it was okay. I ran the paper route all summer long and also worked a direct sales business. The combination of the two really worked well for me. I was making a couple of hundred each week doing direct sales and another couple doing the paper route. When the end of summer was approaching a friend asked if I’d be willing to babysit part time for her while she attended college classes. She’d pay me a weekly amount and the hours were set. A few weeks later another friend also needed a part time sitter. And then another. That actually worked quite well for me. They each had a set schedule and would sometimes overlap but it was never a crazy amount of children at one time. And the babysitting meant that I could stop doing the paper route. While it was a fine thing to do, not getting up in the middle of the night to deliver papers was great. I resigned my paper route but I let the other route people know, that if they ever wanted to take a vacation, I’d cover for them.
For the next four years, I worked from home building my own home-based businesses. I did the day care for a couple of years, ran the paper routes when someone needed me and spent the bulk of my energy on the direct sales job. Pretty soon, the direct sales business became my main focus. I worked hard at it and advanced up to Senior Director. That was supposed to be a pretty good to be and I even had a ‘free’ car for my efforts (not a pink Cadillac but the same company). BUT I hadn’t built that business in smart way. I followed some rather poor advice and took out lots of loans to build a crazy amount of inventory. By the time that I paid off my bills each month, I was putting very little actual cash in my pocket. I was also not crazy about the product. When I started the business I didn’t even wear make-up. I struggled to ‘put on my face’ each day and ‘become’ the product. I finally realized enough was enough and once again went back to work outside the home. The children were all in school by this time so it was has hard emotionally for me.
One thing that I did learn during that work from home time was that having multiple income streams worked very well for me. I think if I would have stuck with that instead of putting all of my eggs in the direct sales basket things might have turned out different. I also learned a lot about going into debt and how easy it is to do and how hard it is to get out of debt. That was a hard lesson that took several years to recover from. I was very fortunate to find a job that paid extremely well and, while it lasted, it helped a lot.
This Time Around
Five years ago, I once again started working at home. This time was quite by accident. My high paying job had ended a few years before (when the housing market bubble began to burst) and I’d been fortunate to get out before the economy became too bad. I found a job working in the office of a machine shop. It was a family owned business and it was a nice fit. When we decided to move from Oregon to Wyoming I was sad to leave the shop. The owners suggested that since I did most of my work over the computer, why not keep doing it. It wouldn’t matter if I lived in Wyoming. We would divide my duties into two jobs (it had been two jobs when I started there and then the other person quit and we didn’t rehire). I would keep all of the bookkeeping, human resources, and other miscellaneous things that could be done from afar. We hired someone to answer the phones and do the data entry. This worked well for them since it gave an extra layer of protection with the financials. It worked well for me so I could work from home and stay with our new little boy (he was born about two months after I started working from home).
For the next two years my focus was our little boy, our home and my part time from home job along with a few small ‘farm endeavors’. We’ve tried our hand at raising chickens for eggs and meat using pastured and free-range methods. The one summer that we really concentrated on raising meat chickens was a whole lot of work but was a financial success. Unfortunately, the next summer my husband had a schedule change at work that did not allow us the time for processing chickens. During this time, the economy was not great and a few times the shop had some rather tight months. We even had to lay off the machinists for about six weeks when we were without work. We were very close to laying off the office person when things turned around. It was during then that I thought back to the multiple income streams and how smart that would be to repeat. I was very fortunate to have another work from home job come available to me. It was a contract job that I was in the right place, at the right time to get. Right before the contract came available I’d started researching Virtual Assistant (VA) work. I had even started putting out ‘feelers’ for VA work. I put the VA business plans on hold when the contract job came through. The person who’d had the contract before me had fallen very far behind. It was a big job to get the work caught up!
In January of 2012, I was almost completely caught up with the contract job and realized that I had been ignoring an income stream. I had been blogging since November of 2009 but had never seriously considered monetizing the blog. That month, I moved from a free platform to my own domain and did start monetizing. I have to admit, that I was never under any illusions that I’d make “Big Bucks” blogging but that simple move opened a whole new realm of possibilities. The contacts that I made when I stepped my blog up a notch changed things and opened up additional income streams through affiliate programs, ad space and eBooks.
About the same time that I decided to monetize the blog, an online friend asked me if I was still thinking about VA work, if I was she had a few projects she’d like help with. I thought that sounded like a great idea. Those few projects led to additional projects and I’ve been working with her ever since. In March, I met another person (in real life) that became a friend. She was struggling to keep up with her the Social Media for her business, the next month I started doing VA work for her that role also continues. I believe that I’ll be adding another VA client in the next few days for a total of three.
In August of this year, I decided to diversify my income a little bit more. I stumbled across a product that I absolutely love and decided to once again venture into direct sales. I have to admit after my previous financial fiasco with a direct sales company I never thought I would go that route again. The reason I decided to was because of the way the company (It Works Global) is structured. First, there is a not a large inventory purchase encouraged (or even recommended) so the start up costs are minimal ($99). Second, the company itself is entirely debt free and encourages all of the distributors to also be debt free. That thinking is in-line with our own goals of striving to be debt free. Third, the training is excellent and can be done in a manner that fits my schedule. Fourth, I love the product. My results have been AMAZING.
I’ve only been an It Works! Distributor for six weeks. So far it is going great. In fact, I made back my initial investment within a couple of days after joining! And made a profit within two weeks. Shameless plug– if you are interested in more information about the product or the business message me on Facebook or contact me through my online store.
Multiple Income Streams
Multiple income streams really works well for me at this time. I love not having all of my eggs in one basket. I love knowing that if one of my income streams dries up, I’m not completely without earnings for the month. Yes, it does get a little crazy sometimes keeping everything going and meeting all of my deadlines. Organization is super important! Making a daily (and weekly) To Do list is also essential. Some days go very smooth and everything comes together well. Other days, not so much. Add in having a small farm, a small boy and a house to attempt to care for and it gets interesting. I can’t say that I’ll have this many income streams forever but it feels right for now.
Now that I’ve shared my experiences with working from home, I’ll share the nitty gritty details in future posts. It is my hope that if you are interested in starting your own work from home journey these posts will give you the information you need to determine if working from home is right for you.
What kind of work from home subjects would you like me to address? What interests you most about this subject?