My Work-From-Home Story

My work from home story - click on the picture to read more about my journey through self-employment to a 9-5 and back again.

My work-from-home story…

Working from home must be the holy grail of the blog world.

It’s not surprising, since the world of work isn’t exactly cut to fit our lives; we cut our lives to fit into it.

Home work is real work!

Mums looking to get back into paid employment – and I have to emphasise ‘paid’, because housework and bringing up kids is real work – need flexibility, and being able to work at home is ideal. As for the rest of us, it just sounds better than having to trudge over to a workplace before you’re actually awake and deal with the grumpy sods that share that workplace with you.

I’ve been on that quest before as a single parent to a toddler, and I’ve done all sorts to make an income, including sewing and selling clothes, bags and homewares online, and singing in bands.

Now, this may be a bit misleading, since singing for my supper wasn’t something I did from home, but it wasn’t a 9-5, and I could manage the childcare by taking Little Balders to rehearsals and booking babysitting for gigs. I’ll have to deal with this one separately, I think, under a ‘working at what you love’ type post.

From craft fairs to craft empire?

As for working from home, I worked so hard at my sewing business. Little Balders’ father had just left us, and I was broke… and frantic. I invested what little I had into building up an e-commerce website for the things I made, and guess what? I did sell a few bits.

I set up stalls at little farmers’ markets and then, I did great big retail fairs. I had to shell out thousands of pounds in rent to get my foot in the door, and I had to make enough bags, cushions and clothes to cover the costs before I could even think about making a profit.

One of the first craft fairs I did after starting at farmers’ markets. They got bigger and bigger… and more expensive.

I plugged away… until I looked around and realised that I was working harder than I would have to at a ‘real’ job, for next to nothing, and that my house was covered in fabric scraps and threads that never got put away, and that I wasn’t actually able to spend enough time with my little boy because of stressing over fairs, childcare and website management.

To make it work, I’d have had to have my products made by someone else in a factory. I couldn’t stump up the outlay, and I didn’t want to do that. I made things by hand, that was my ‘thing’.

I eventually used a garden summerhouse to store the things I made and sold.

Falling out of love with my home-based job

In short, I worked so hard at it that I lost my love for it. It might have been easier if I had someone around to help, or to bounce ideas off of, but doing it alone took it out of me.

Plus, I had to admit that I HATE SELLING! I can’t stand it! I couldn’t maintain a marketing face to save my life. It was time to be realistic and pull the plug. I wanted a 9-5 job!

I had to go to uni (single parent grant helped) and get the bits of paper to convince employers that I was their lady. Luckily for me, I managed to find part-time work in an art-related field to pay for the tricky business of living.

Now, I get frustrated by my job, but I don’t really want to leave it. What I want is to be able to leave it whenever I feel like it! I’m still dreaming of raking in the cash without having to get out from under my duvet, just like everyone else, but I’ve drawn a line under turning my home into a factory again. So, what am I up to when I’m not at work?

What I’m working at (at home)

I’m writing a book – there, I said it out loud! This is more for love than money.

I’m writing this blog – again, this is primarily to document my money-saving hobbies and renovating my shabby ex-council house. However, I’ve monetised it by allowing ads, and I’ve recently taken the plunge and tried affiliate marketing with Affiliate Window. Of all the blogs I’ve started (and abandoned) over the years, this is the first I’ve done this with. I figure it makes sense, as a blog about money.

I do a few surveys, but nothing like I did last year. Turns out I can’t be bothered! I stuck with one company after I cashed out the others – I don’t do many but I get £3 per survey. Hey, I pick up pennies, so I’m ok with this.

I use cashback apps like Receipt Hog, ClickSnap, Shopitize and CheckoutSmart. Everybody should! I’ve only just started with Receipt Hog so not sure about that yet, but I definitely recommend the others. I use TopCashback and Quidco, of course, but all of these are about clawing back money you’d otherwise have spent. Not exactly earning, but still very worthwhile.

I don’t do eBay much but I might…

I open bank accounts and switch them for incentives. Simple!

I don’t do task-based apps like Roamlr, etc as they don’t really suit us (the Mr and me). I don’t do matched betting as I’m against gambling (each to their own, I know I’m missing out on a fortune but I’m ok with that). There are other things that others do… but I’m not flogging anything here, just describing what I do personally.

Once I get a bit further on with my house renovations, I’ll turn my attention back to my artwork. I need a studio, though, and we’re hoping to make one in our loft. Still, that’s going to take some time. That’s one thing I’ll always do primarily for the love.

A bit of home work, a bit of 9-5

My two days a week pays for our major outgoings – sure, I could earn a lot more by working full time. But I don’t want to work more! I’m happier and less stressed because I work less. My plan now is to document how much I can make on my own, from home. I’ll update the results monthly – hopefully there’ll be something worthwhile!

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