The coronavirus pandemic did more to change the workplace than require heightened hygiene in the office.
I know …
You’re tired of reading articles about the pandemic.
But when it comes to changes in our overall approach to work and career, the coronavirus turned a lot of things upside down.
If you’ve heard about the great resignation that has slammed into the economy, you know what I’m talking about.
And if you’re hoping to quit your job and start working from home, you are one of an overwhelming 93% of workers in the United States not working your dream job.
The question you might be asking now, though, is this:
Is it too late to start working from home and launch your dream career?
After all, if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, that means thousands of people got a head start.
For many people in the United States, “working from home is the new normal.”
Have they taken all the available work-from-home opportunities?
Fortunately, even though remote working is one of the “fastest-growing areas of the workforce” according to a March 2021 article by Great Work Life, only 28% of remote workers are freelancers.
So, if you’re hoping to start your own work-from-home career in freelancing, there is undoubtedly a niche where you can jump in.
Your question, then, is this: What is my work-from-home niche?
And the answer is …
It’s the area of work that is right for you.
When it comes to launching a work-from-home career, you need to do a bit of work.
Not the work of the career launch itself … that comes later.
You first need to trace your own story back to find where your work-from-home journey should begin.
It’s not easy to look back on your life “story,” but it’s important …
Because it will enable you to connect the dots …
And connecting the dots will reveal the direction you should go in your work-from-home career path.
Let me give you an example by tracing a few highlights from my own work-from-home journey.
Naturally, your work-from-home story will look different from mine.
Perhaps it is a journey you have not yet begun.
But every story begins somewhere …
Connect the Dots in Your Life and Experience
This is what connecting the dots looked like for me:
At the age of 28, I could make a few unique statements about myself:
1. I had learned to read before the age of two. (Thanks, Mom, for teaching me!)
2. I had graduated from high school at the age of 14. (Thanks, Mom, for homeschooling me.)
3. I had lived half of my life in a foreign country. (My parents had been missionaries, and then I had spent my young adult life doing social work in India.)
So, there I was.
- I could read quickly and loved it.
- I was inclined toward English and writing.
- And I had done nothing with those “skills” for over a decade.
My husband and I had just moved from India to my hometown in Central California with our three young children.
After years overseas filled with social work and mission projects, the big question was, “What now?”
Not long before our move, I had begun doing some freelance work online, finding writing and editing projects to help ends meet.
I did not yet think of it as a career.
It was simply something to keep us afloat as we began building a life in Central California.
I used the freelancing platform Elance (known as Upwork since 2015).
A published author contacted me on Elance and invited me to help him with a couple of writing and editing projects.
Before then, it had been sort of hit and miss with my working from home.
Sometimes I would place a dozen or so proposals, for one job after another, and not get any response.
But this author (I’ll call him Ken) was willing to pay me twice what I had been asking for.
He had confidence in my writing and editing abilities.
Confidence that I had not had in myself.
And it encouraged me to also have confidence in launching a work-from-home career in writing and editing.
By that time, I had been using Elance for a couple of years. I began to think maybe I could actually make a career out of working from home.
And I did!
I am now a Top-Rated “Plus” freelancer on Upwork, and I receive probably half a dozen project invitations on a weekly basis.
Sometimes I get five or six requests to do a work-for-hire project in a single day:
I get so many requests that I have to decline most of them, especially those that don’t fit with my skills.
(I keep having to say, “Thanks but no thanks” for the invitations to ghostwrite Western romance novels … I know I live “out west” in California, but it’s just not my thing.)
I don’t have my overall work stats from my five years working with Elance (2010–2015), but in the six years I’ve been with Upwork, I have completed 250 writing and editing projects for 68 clients, and earned nearly $100K.
Why so little, you may wonder?
Well, during that time I was also earning an MFA in Creative Writing, homeschooling my kids, and teaching or working as a graduate assistant to gain experience.
I could have focused on my work-from-home career full-time, but I had other priorities.
All the while, though, I have been traveling along the trail of this work-from-home journey.
It took me a little bit to recognize the trail, the story penning itself onto the pages of my life, the dot-to-dot connections leading me.
You remember those connect-the-dots puzzles, right?
When I was a little girl, I always tried to figure out what the picture was before I traced the dots.
Usually, I could …
But sometimes, a picture would completely surprise me. I would not be able to figure out the image until after I connected the dots.
Invariably, those were the most complex pictures.
They were also the best pictures. The ones that would surprise and impress me the most.
Decide Where Your Work-from-Home Journey Begins
So what about you?
When did you last spend time connecting the dots of your life?
If it’s been a while, devote some time to connecting the dots of your experiences and your interests.
As you do so, they just might give you the outline of a picture, an image to point you in the best direction for your work-from-home career.
The path of your “dots” will lead you in a unique direction based on your passions and skills and background.
So, reflect on those milestones in your life.
Think about where they might be leading you when it comes to your work-from-home journey.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Why do I want to work from home?
2. What life experiences or career highlights might guide me as I look for ways to work from home?
3. What skills or expertise can I utilize in a work-from-home venture?
4. Am I ready to start right away, or are there skills or certification I need first?
For example, if you have a unique or sought-after skill (or a creative angle to fulfill a needed service), you might be a step ahead when launching a work-from-home career.
Some work-from-home methods also take less time and fewer resources to begin.
For example, you can begin doing online work such as content writing or editing from home right away.
All you need are a computer and an Internet connection, and a bit of time to create profiles and account on various platforms (more on that in an upcoming post).
Or perhaps you have a background in the finance industry, and you would love to work from home freelancing as an accountant or financial coach.
In such a case, it might help to get a certificate before launching an independent finance career.
It might take a bit of time to think back …
To assess your skillset and interests and see where your career passions might be.
But it’s well worth the time spent because it means you will be off on the right foot and you won’t have to stop and retrace your steps later …
Or worse, start all over again.
Good luck connecting the dots!
I hope they reveal an amazing story that will take you further than you’ve ever been before.
The pandemic of 2020 and 2021 led many people to reassess their careers.
A lot of workers realized they just weren’t happy doing what they had been doing.
If you are one of those people and you are looking to reinvent your life by launching a work-from-home journey, it’s not too late.
But you do need to get off on the right foot …
Which means assessing your background and experience and determining what career/industry would be the best fit for you.
Taking the time to assess your strengths, interests, and unique set of skills will enable you to step out in confidence as you begin your work-from-home career.
Note: This article is one in a series I’m posting on Medium. You can follow me on Medium to read more related posts.
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