Is Working from Home Really That Difficult?

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When it comes to working from home, people have 2 different reactions: some consider freelancing to be just a waste of time (and you really should look for a ‘normal‘ job), while others feel like it’s rocket science and you need to be some sort of a superman to run a home based business.

In the past 6 years I was able to earn a living online, travel and also care for my daughter. My work-hours are flexible, I don’t get too stressed and the income has been enough for us to fund our lifestyle, pay taxes, develop our business and save a little as well.

Here are few of the things people complain about regarding freelancing:

You do need to be hard-working and efficient

Many fear they won’t be able to do so. Not that they are lazy or stupid, they just feel that a boss is great to have, since such a person will plan the work and make sure the employees will work properly on the assignments.

Some think a freelancer has some sort of productivity gene, maybe they were born this way.

I am not an organized person. Getting into the ‘zone’ to do my work is difficult, I get easily distracted. Now it’s even worse, with a toddler by my side almost every waking hour. And, late at night, when she’s finally asleep, it’s difficult to focus, because of exhaustion. I tend to forget stuff, it takes too long to do tasks that would normally take me few minutes.

It’s hard to get the energy to do my work, it’s tricky to stay alert and also forget as little as possible.

But I have my web design clients. I have people who want to advertise on my blogs. They are paying me for my time / skills / products. I have to do the work and, ideally, try to respect my deadlines. They PUSH me forward, they motivate me.

Knowing that I have to deliver some work gives me the kick I need in the right direction. I don’t need a boss to tell me to work, the opportunities my clients give me are the ones pushing me forward.

With a regular agenda, Asana and various other tools I have tried in the past, I can keep track of my tasks and deliver the work.

I am not a genius, I wasn’t born a manager, but I had to learn. You can, too.

You have no one to rely on

When you are working alone, you are … well … alone.

Rather than seeing this as an issue, being my own boss worked wonders for me. I do take responsibility for all my actions, I strive to learn as much as possible and I answer directly to my clients.

No more miscommunication, no more people to take the blame for, whatever you do, good or bad, it’s your own responsibility.

You’ll make mistakes. Oh, don’t worry, you’ll make them.

But you’ll be accountable for each of them, you’ll say sorry, try to give the client satisfaction and you’ll move on. Every success and every fiasco will teach you a lot.

Don’t be afraid of being alone, embrace the opportunity to really achieve greatness.

Working from home doesn’t provide a ‘sure’ income

Probably the biggest issue we all have with running our small home based businesses is that income is flexible. The good part is that flexible can mean crazy big earnings, while it can also mean few bucks.

Yes, you’ll probably have ‘those’ months too, when you can barely cover taxes.

You know what?

You’ll survive.

It’s scary to not be able to rely on a regular income, it’s scary to have such bad months, but you can still make it work in your favor.

Use the money you earn in those ‘insane’ months to fund your biz, when it’s slow.

Save money, have a budget, plan accordingly.

You need to care for your insurances, pension plans and all the jazz

Employees don’t have to worry that much about all these: taxes, insurances, pension plans. At least in my country, most of these are deducted directly from your salary and you receive the ‘rest’. The company has to match some of these taxes and that’s it.

Maybe it’s different in other countries, but truth is for a freelancer / home business owner taxes, insurance and the rest need to be personally managed.

It’s a bit scary to have to think about all these, but, with some guidance, you can make the best decisions.

People might not take you seriously

I’d be rich now, if I saved a penny for every time someone rolled their eyes telling me this is not a real job.

Work from home? Web designer and blogger? Ha ha.

As long as this does earn me income and pays the bills, then it’s a ‘job’. And it’s the same for you, whether you bake cakes, walk dogs or tutor high-school students.

Are you paid to do something? It’s a business/job.

Don’t fret about what others are thinking, while some are starting to see freelancing as a viable business, there are still people who expect you to hold a 9-to-5 job.

You are in charge of your time

The best way for me to understand how valuable my time is and learn to really appreciate every second was to start working as a freelance web designer and try to squeeze in as much work in the time I could spend doing it.

At first I’d work for 14 hours/day for measly fees.

In about 3-4 months it was clear that something had to change: so I decided to increase my rates.

Magic: less work, more money. I was able to get some rest, have some fun and grow my small business faster.

This was the most valuable lesson of all: I still have just 24 hours in my days (just like you all). And it’s up to me to work 23 hours for nothing or find ways to be more productive, provide better services, earn more.

While it’s a bit shocking at first to have all this ‘power’, you’ll soon learn how to maximize your productivity and also have a lot of ‘me’ time.

For me these would be the biggest challenges when it comes to working from home. I do love every moment of my new life, it works great for me and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What about you? What other challenges would you add to my list? What are you struggling with?

25 COMMENTS

  1. Loved the article! I can totally relate to what you described in it!
    However, the way I see it is, you have to deal with struggles ‘n stuff at a normal job as well! Maybe it’s even worse so, I try to just focus on the positive!
    … and maybe tell myself whoever doesn’t support me is just jealous they can’t work from home as well! Ha! 😀

  2. I think one of the reasons some people think working from home is a waste of time is because you always see these scams going around on job-related websites, or even freelance-related ones. People nowadays are desperate for money, so obviously, when you see the “opportunity” to earn thousands of $$ a month, right away, you get excited and when you see it’s a scam… well, you just lose all faith!

    • You are right, and even if you are successful at making an income online, there is still that stigma associated with it where people automatically think of scams and things like that. Of course we know this is not the case, but people tend to always think towards the extremes, so I cannot say that I am too surprised here. Interesting to think about though, nonetheless.

  3. I very much agree with the concerns you have raised here and also the counter arguments to them. These tend to be peoples usual barriers to entry when it comes to taking the leap of working from home. People fear the isolation of the idea and also the success chances. I think freelancing and working from home is not for everyone, but the people who it’s not for are people who have fortified their own barriers. As with all sorts of business, it is about taking a risk – yes there isn’t a set chance of income but there is also no limit to the income you can earn. It’s all about taking a calculated risk and you are completely in control of your situation. If you think you can’t control your time well enough – ease yourself into it. I think the biggest problem I face is getting motivated to do the work that I am tasked with, I get it done on time of course, because the customers and the service I provide them is key to success within freelancing, and therefore my ability to pay the bills requires high customer satisfaction. But I tend not to get the work done as efficiently as possible, I am always finding reasons not to do it rather than reasons to do it.

    • I have similar struggles and it’s probably happening to many of us.

      The good thing is that I was also able to avoid any projects / clients I wouldn’t like, so I’ve been constantly thrilled with the projects I need to develop and the people who require my services.

      Firing those very few bad clients allowed me to focus on some really great ones and the money I’d lost cancelling a bad deal was easily earned back by working with someone who respected me and proved to be a great customer.
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

  4. Working from home is indeed a big challenge, which is why it’s probably not for everyone.
    However, I find that the most important thing that should help anyone stay motivated is thinking about the alternative! Would you rather make an effort and stay focused on working hard, from home, or would you rather go back to the regular job you probably hate (because, after all, why would you try freelancing if you love your job so much?)

  5. I agree completely with just about everything you’ve listed. Working with kids home is almost impossible for me. Now that both of my kids are in school I have about five hours per day of uninterrupted work time. When I used to have to fit in all of my freelancing at night work was definitely harder.

    I also like knowing that my success is in my hands. Sometimes I just don’t “feel” like working and I earn less money. It’s freeing to know that what I earn is dependent on what I put in. It’s a major motivator for me.

    I also had that charge more = work less epiphany a while ago 🙂
    Alexa recently posted…The Pros and Cons of Living in a Bigger HouseMy Profile

    • Welcome to PFtoday, Alexa. Thanks for joining in 🙂

      Right now my work hours are very few, since my daughter is just one year and a half, but in 2 years time I’ll have about 4 hours during the day, when she’ll be in kindergarten. I’m gonna become a millionaire with how much I’ll be able to earn 😀

      Squeezing 2-3 hours at night is indeed difficult. I am very tired most of the time and, if she’s ill or just super-tired I’ll probably not get time either.
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

  6. Just because you work for someone, doesn’t necessarily mean your financial security is 100% there. Lets look at this from a different perspective. If you work for someone all it takes is one, or a group of people, to decide that you are fired or laid off. When you have your own business, it would take all of your clients to “fire” you by not doing business with you anymore. There is nothing I love more than being financially responsible for what happens because this is true freedom. I am free of people higher up than me who may embezzle the company’s money. I would be free from having to settle for making a certain amount of money per year and instead get to determine for myself how much I would like to make.

    • You are right. Having a job is not a guarantee you’ll still have it 2 years from now. I was laid off 3 times (businesses closed down and we all lost our jobs) and it was clearly not my doing. Nothing is certain in life.

      In freelancing, you can make it or not, but it does depend A LOT on your own abilities, perseverance, hard work and a bit of luck 🙂
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

    • Everything is relative, and I think that people often get caught up with their assumptions about making money online, and these days they are just not really that true anymore. There are so many ways to go about it, and there are more and more hybrid ways to combine and work it in there. I just think that assumptions are dangerous.

  7. After reading your article I can just tell that Working from home has its ups and downs. There are always pros and cons of everything even the best of things. I generally consider working from home much better as compared to a corporate life. They just suck every drop of blood in you while working from home has risk but with risk comes rewards. I had worked in a big company but the culture they had in their office is awful. They don’t care about employees and just want their employees work to their limits and sometimes they force to work for more than the actual working hours. All in all working from home may be risky, not immediately rewarding but according to me hard work with persistence always pays off.

    • There a pros and cons in everything, that’s for sure.

      Having a ‘normal’ job is good, since you have a salary, you don’t have to worry too much about work once your work hours are over, you have your tasks and work.

      Having incompetent bosses and nasty colleagues is something that can indeed make it a nightmare. And, as you mentioned, you are nothing but a pawn in the grand scheme of things.
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

  8. I don’t like working from home. I don’t condemn anyone who does it, of course, I have tried it myself for a while (worked as a freelancer in college) but came to the conclusion it’s just not for me! I constantly feel the need to get out of the house, I need to interact with human beings face to face, I can be efficient and get the job(s) done with a bit of effort, but I constantly feel like I’m trapped or something.
    I don’t like going to the office either, though. So, my plan for the near future is to open up my own business, like a grocery store or a bar or anything that involves me being my own boss, but interacting with my customers as well.

    • I have a friend who tried a month to be a freelancer (before she gave birth to her daughter) and HATED it. It’s OK, at least she tried and now she knows it’s not something she’d enjoy. Running your own business that caters to the public is indeed a great way to make connections and still be your own boss.
      Ramona recently posted…The 11 Top Benefits of Having a Company BlogMy Profile

  9. In the last few years, even if I’m not a full time freelancer, I have learned that working from home is indeed a big challenge! It’s not for everyone (I feel this is something that should always be mentioned in this context), but if you want to be a successful freelancer bad enough, you’ll find a way.
    I really enjoyed reading your article and, I have to say, I love the strong attitude! It’s inspiring, to say the least 🙂

  10. Being efficient and the uncertainty of income are my top two struggles with working at home.

    The home setting is just so conducive for resting. Back when I had a 9-5 job, I consider being at home as down times. But now I that I am at home, I still think that I should be resting. It’s more of a psychological test really. So, I figured, if I set a certain number of hours for work, then that should give me focus. And it did!

    Unlike a regular job, freelancing is challenging in the sense that you are relying on projects to keep increasing so you can earn more. Smart move on increasing you rate so you can work less and still earn well. Thanks for the encouragement!

  11. I covet your position, your ability to work freely in your home, your disciplined time-management with finishing deadlines. I freelance as a writer, too. But there are days that life here gets too busy, and writing gets set aside, and pending content ideas don’t get written. With technical Web designing, do you suggest that I study and take up online courses on Web Design and Development?
    Because I want to understand web design and development by studying. At the same time, keep up with my writing and improving my blogs with more entry.

    How do you manage? Thanks for the insight.

  12. Great advice and encouragement. I also battle to stay focused and get on with it. I sometimes still have to go and do that awful work that pays you virtually nothing. As a Freelancer you have to develop multiple streams of income, such as ebooks which can be passive income. This means you will still earn from your ebooks whether you work or not. This is very important for us freelancers who have no security of pension etc. You have to set aside time to get this other work done. It may all be well during those flush months when there is a lot of work and money, but this also comes in handy when there is no income from other sources.

  13. Whether working from home is difficult or not, I still think it’s worth making the effort.

    Being hardworking and efficient, having no-one to rely on but yourself, being in charge of your own time/life can actually turn out to be something amazing! It’s all about perspective, you can think about these things and be afraid you’ll fail, or you can make an effort and turn everything to your advantage.

  14. Working from home is the best choice I ever made! For all the reasons you mentioned and more! Sure, there are ups and downs, like in any other business, but working from home gives you the freedom that a regular job never will.

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