Make Money

Making Money from Home: Expectations vs. Reality

WANT TO EARN EXTRA MONEY?

You’ve always wanted to work from home, you quit your 9 to 5 job and start a career from home. You’re hoping to make much more than your previous job, but after a while, you’re struggling to eke by.

I’m not talking about those “get rich quick schemes”, those will ultimately fail anyway. I mean the legitimate jobs and side hustles we discuss frequently on FFL. There’s a discrepancy between what we expect and the honest reality of working from home.

Let’s look at ten different expectations vs. realities of working from home:

1. Exaggerated Earnings

All the income figures reported in Frugal for Less articles are either carefully researched or reported by the writers what they have experienced themselves.

However, there are articles out there that do exaggerate their earnings. Such as those “I earned $3,650 blogging last month” income reports floating around the internet.

This particular blogger claims to earn through sponsorships, freelance writing, and advertising, plus having two other income streams – affiliate marketing and selling online courses.

Who knows, this figure may be true for that blogger, but when I started my blog with the hope of earning a self-sustaining living, after 5 years I wasn’t even making $3,000 a year let alone in a month.

So, be aware that what someone claims to make may either be exaggerated, or works for that particular person and may not work for you. Do your homework and learn as much as you can about your specific field to be successful yourself.

2. Your Efforts

There’s a quote – “What you put into life is what you get out of it” by Clint Eastwood.

This simply means how much work and effort you put into your work from home job is how much it will be successful. Are you treating it like an actual career or as a hobby?

If you think working from home means being able to sleep past noon, work for only a few hours and then go off and enjoy yourself – you’re going to wonder why it’s not working out.

You may think that escaping the rat race and the 40+ hours a week is awesome – no more company policies, office politics, co-workers to tolerate, relentless daily routine, long hours and the dreadful commute.

Sure, there won’t be any more policies, office politics, or commute, but you will need to have a new tedious daily routine and to put in long hours to be successful too.

The reality is you need to learn to manage your day-to-day routine and put more effort into making your work from home endeavors a success.

3. Work from Anywhere

Who else thought that working from home meant being able to take your laptop anywhere and work? Having visions of sitting in your favorite coffee shop, out on the deck, or from a lawn chair at the beach?

The problem with this is all the different distractions. How much work will you actually get done? How “professional” will you sound on the phone when there’s background noise happening – like kids screaming and playing?

It actually helps productivity to work in a different location, but only once in a while. The occasional change of scenery boosts our creativity and drive, but doing it too often and for too long actually starts having the opposite effect.

It’s best to have a designated home office where you can have everything you need within reach and schedule work hours to concentrate on what needs to get done. Save the outings for breaks and weekends.

4. Personality Type

Your personality type will greatly influence how successful you can be.

Are you a Type A or Type B? Are you extroverted or introverted? Are you a self-starter or do you need direction?

As you can imagine, the type of personality you have is going to determine how you approach work and even how you’ll approach potential customers.

Let’s say you want to make a little money selling Avon. The minimum order must be $50 per campaign. So, on a $50 order, your profit margin would be 20% which is $10

An extroverted, type A personality who’s able to approach people, recruit new team members, host many parties and such, could possibly make $6,000 a month.

But if you’re shy and introverted and only relying on leaving catalogs in random places or sharing your online site is not going to be as successful.

Be truthful to yourself when deciding on your home career and ask yourself if you really can accomplish the steps needed to be an effective business.

5. Matching your Capabilities

This closely follows #4 and also influences how much success you will have in your remote job.

Being honest on what you’re actually capable of doing goes a long way in picking what new career you want to have. For example, if you’re uncomfortable talking to strangers then a sales job with a lot of cold calling would not fit you.

I can use myself as an example – I’m Deaf and optimistically thought I would be successful working as a bank teller but after six months of frustration with struggling to lipread all day and frequent communication errors I had to admit that this job wasn’t for me.

So I decided to work from home, after searching around I know I’m not going to be successful as a home transcriber, heh. I did end up finding work that fits my skills and capabilities.

I currently work as a freelance writer and online sign language tutor and am loving it.

Maybe a good way to look at potential professions is not by job title or potential earnings, but by your interests, personality, and abilities.

6. You’re going Solo

Was the idea of working by yourself a strong motivator to work from home? No more needing to entertain co-workers’ idle chit-chat, no more waiting on someone to finish their part of an assignment and no more competition.

It’s just you, your laptop and the freedom of your own control and decision-making.

Sounds awesome right? Until reality sets in and you realize your “network” harder to upkeep, you start doubting the decisions you’ve made or find out you’re unskilled in a particular area of your job. These can be real confidence killers.

Again, you should take into consideration your personality type, your level of confidence, and your overall experience in deciding what remote field you want to be successful in.

You can start a new network of contacts, find a trusted confidant to bounce ideas off of and learn and improve your skills to match the work needed.

Going solo should be an exciting adventure to pursue but as long as you have the right “tools” in place.

7. Money Flow

There’s an expectation that once you start working for yourself or start the perfect business, the money will start rolling in and you’ll have more money than your previous 9 to 5 paycheck.

This expectation ties in with #1 – exaggerated earnings, and #2 – your efforts.

The reality is that you’re not going to be getting a steady paycheck. No matter how consistent you are -the real challenge is with everyone else.

You remember I mentioned I’m a freelance writer? I get most of my writing gigs on Upwork, at one time I was working for eight different clients all at once, sounds great doesn’t it?

The reality was that only one client was consistent with work every week, one client was sporadic and would only give a bunch of work every 3 or 4 weeks, but a few clients stopped responding after several post submissions.

I actually had to file a dispute with one to get them to pay up and then end the contract. It’s really a hit-and-miss business sometimes.

Even if you’re not a freelancer, there’ll be times when you’re working without pay – setting up your websites, creating courses, marketing yourself, networking and contacting potential clients, and other tasks in the beginning stages of your business.

Now mind you I chose to only work part-time, but you can have steady success as a freelancer – just keep your expectations a little more conventional and reasonable.

8. Stay at Home Parenting

Maybe your motivation for a work from home job is to be closer to family and raise your kids. That’s a great incentive and for the most part can be a successful one.

I said “for the most part” because if you’re not strict with keeping a dedicated work schedule and are not easily distracted, this won’t work out.

Trust me as a mom of two there’s always going to be another load of laundry, another fight to break up, another mess, another nap (for you too), and on and on. I didn’t start my freelance career until the kids were teenagers!

It is possible to work from home successfully with children around, but this again depends on your personality type and actual dedication to your career.

9. Will Get So Much Done at Home

Working from home means I can get more stuff done around the house. I’ll be able to do all the chores, all the repairs, shopping when I want to, take the kids to activities and so much more!

Can you wait until I stop laughing first, please?

The truth is you’re pretty much going to be tied to your desk working and you’ll be lucky if you find something decent for lunch – because you actually didn’t have time to go grocery shopping.

You end up telling yourself “I’ll do it after this spreadsheet”, or “I’ll go after I finish answering these emails” and other excuses you tell yourself.

Again, it’s all about having good discipline, being a successful planner, and learning great project management skills.

10. I Keep What I Earn

Perhaps you thought that whatever you’ll make from home is all yours. No more federal and state deductions, union fees, company fees and so on.

That would be nice if it were true, but the cold hard reality is that you may end up earning less than you think.

First, there’s the self-employed income tax you need to report and that takes out the deductions that would’ve been taken out of your employment check anyway.

Then there’s having to pay for your own health insurance and retirement savings that your employer may have been covering for you.

There are also many costs associated with your remote job – internet fees, home office expenses, marketing expenses and so forth. Yes, some of this is deductible on your taxes, but that happens a year later and actually doesn’t help in the current moment.

Calculating all your working expenses for each project you’re working on and passing those costs onto the client is a great way to defer these costs.

Final Thoughts

It’s great to dream about being your own boss, nothing wrong with that at all, the trouble lies with having high expectations – for both the job and for yourself.

Some great tips on having a successful work from home job include:

  • Get organized – Keeping things organized helps your productivity and ability to work faster.
  • Have a designated workspace – Try and create a true working space with minimum distraction.
  • Plan your day – Create blocks of time to complete everything and stick to it.
  • Be computer and tech-savvy – Since most of your work would be done on a computer, it helps to know how all the different programs and technology works. (Also saves money by not having to hire out for specific tasks).
  • Avoid distractions – Schedule your work when it’s quiet and eliminate other distractions when possible.
  • Balance work and home life – Tell clients you are only available between a set time (and charge more for after hours). Tell your family and friends the same for your working hours.
  • Take breaks – Do take reasonable breaks throughout the day, get out of the house, run an errand, change tasks.
  • Continue learning – Keep brushing up on your skills, add new skills to your repertoire, stay fresh.

Just remember, if having a work from home job was easy and effortless to be successful – everyone would be doing it.

Want some ideas for working from home?

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