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I get asked this question all the time, and understandably so. These days, working from home is no longer an exception to the rule but a realistic and viable option, you just have to know where to find opportunities and how to set yourself up for it.
If you’re thinking about quitting your office-based job and starting a location-independent career, there are several pathways that you can pursue:
1. Start your own business
This option is the riskiest one and usually requires longer financial planning and preparation. You might want to try out your business idea as a side-hustle first to see if it will take off.
You also want to have at least 6-months worth of salary saved up before taking the leap because you can go on for months of hard work without seeing any profit.
Still, given the risks, this option is the one where you can really be your own boss and work at your own terms.
Be a full-time blogger
Let’s consider this one a subset of starting a business. A blog, after all, should be treated as a business if you want it to replace your full-time income.
Like a business, there’s a lot of work to be done before you start seeing profit, especially if your blog is new. If your goal is to become a full-time blogger, check out some of my recent posts about this topic:
2. Offer your services as a freelancer
There’s a lot of freedom and flexibility when you’re offering services as a freelancer, but there are also limits in terms of calling the shots and being your own boss.
As a freelancer, you’re somehow at the mercy of your clients, which means you’re technically working for multiple bosses at a time. Income may be irregular, but if you work double-time, you can possibly earn double too.
3. Get a remote job
If you’re not keen to start a business or offer freelance services, applying for a remote job is an increasingly popular option.
Some of the most common remote jobs are Virtual Assistants, Graphic Designers, Digital Marketers, Social Media Managers, Customer Support Specialists—basically anything that can be done in the “cloud”.
A remote job is something you can aim for without putting too much risk on your career or savings. You’ll still likely be bound by a 9-5 schedule and a fixed rate, which is desirable if you’re the type who likes the comfort of a routine and the security of a monthly salary.
My husband and I experienced doing all of the above in the past decade, and today I’d like to share important lessons from our own journey.
My story: How I established a career I love, from home
I was 25 when I first left my corporate job to grab an opportunity to work remotely.
I loved the corporate job I gave up, by the way, but I loved the idea of exploring the unknown more. Especially at that time when I was young and had some space in my life to test the waters.
I had big dreams to travel and to try out entrepreneurship—two things I couldn’t do as much as I wanted because of the demands of my office-based work. It took a lot of courage to leave behind a secured job and a promising corporate path but there’s no denying the restlessness that was building up in my heart.
Fun fact: It was actually what my former boss said that inspired me to register this domain name 9 years ago. On that day I told him I was filing my resignation, he said (and I remember that moment quite vividly), “I don’t want to get in the way of chasing dreams so, okay.. just give me a month.”
I thanked him, filed my 30-day notice, said goodbye to that chapter of my life, and never looked back. Hence the beginning of my location-independent career.
(Also the beginning of Chasingdreams.net.)
Throwback to the time I lived in New York City for two months where I took my remote job with me.
So here’s another thing about me: I LOVE working, you guys. I do miss the 9-to-5 grind, all the brainstorming sessions, the random pizza parties, picking my boss’s brain, meeting deadlines. Call me weird but I even enjoyed getting dressed in pin-striped slacks, putting on my heels, and stepping into my office cubicle.
In fact, as I said before, I sometimes feel like I’m more confident at having a career than I am being a mother!
So even as I have experienced the freedom and benefits of working remotely, the thought of going back to corporate life was not far from my mind.
Two years after I took that remote job—back home from traveling and getting hitched *cough*—I knew that my husband and I were going to settle down in Manila for a while so I found myself in an office cubicle again.
This second attempt at an office-based job didn’t last long. After about a year re-joining the corporate workforce, I birthed twins and had to take an indefinite maternity break.
Life was never the same since. Suddenly, landing a remote job is not anymore an option but a necessity.
I needed a job I could do in front of our twins’ crib. Something I could do without having to change out of my pajamas in the morning (because I probably didn’t sleep the night before) and in between breastfeeding twins.
Good thing for me, because of my digital marketing background (which is a big thing when finding remote work), it didn’t take a while to find a startup company who was willing to take me in even with my unique circumstances.
Surely God had it all planned out from the beginning.
And the plot thickens. On my husband’s last year at nursing school, he signed up for a remote job himself. He applied for a Virtual Assistant position and got the role easily, even though he didn’t have any previous experience as a VA.
PRO TIP: You don’t need years of experience to start applying for remote jobs. ;)
For about a year, both my husband and I would work side-by-side on our dining table, our daughters’ playpen within arms reach.
And while all of these were happening, we also started a few small businesses (a story for another time) and launched passion projects.
I know. We’ve been soooo busy! :)
But looking back, we know we’re only able to do all of these because we didn’t have to leave home, which gave us about 3-4 extra hours we didn’t have to spend on commute or traffic.
Eventually, when my husband completed his nursing licensure, he let go of his remote job to practice nursing.
As for me, this year would be my 5th year (7th, if you count those pre-motherhood years) working remotely and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As a mother, nothing beats knowing I could help provide for and raise my family, without sacrificing this career that I happen to love.
Surely when the kids are older, busy with school and their own sets of friends, I’d like very much to keep practicing my profession. And having a home-based job that allows me to keep up with the trends and continue gaining experience offers so many immediate and long-term benefits.
Benefits of working from home
As I already mentioned, having a remote job allowed me to travel and take my work with me. When I was younger, that opportunity was more than anything I could have hoped for or imagined.
As a mother, I’m grateful that I can do my job without missing out on my children’s growth. Although of course, you’d need a lot of help (like a babysitter or a grandmother—thanks, Mom!—who looks after your kids while you work), there’s nothing compared to being just in the next room from where your kids are playing or taking a nap.
Consider all the hours you would have wasted on traffic and commute—convert those extra hours to work on a side-hustle, hone your skills, or focus on self-care.
Count all the expenses you would have spent on fast food, work clothes, and transportation—convert that extra money to invest in a creative business or a family trip.
Pin for later
Transitioning from an office-based job to a work-at-home lifestyle may be a bit of a process, but totally doable. The first thing to do is to consider which work-at-home situation you want to pursue. Do you want to pursue a business, become a freelancer, or apply for a remote job?
How to transition to a work-from-home lifestyle
Preparations vary depending on the path you want to take, but here are some general tips that are applicable across the board:
1. Get up to speed with the trends and best practices
You don’t have to forge your own path or reinvent the wheel so to speak. Working from home is not a new discovery, thousands of people are already doing it successfully. You just have to take it from them and learn from their successes and mistakes.
There are many free resources available online, and if you’re the type who likes to dig into Google and find the hidden gems, then by all means! As a fair warning, however, you will encounter numerous fake job postings and scams online so you want to be very careful about your search.
This is why I would also recommend investing in premium resources when you can. There’s so much ground to cover, to be honest! 9 years ago I had to navigate this space without that much help!
This Work from Home Bundle, is a limited edition toolkit that includes work-at-home resources and ebooks that will help prepare you for that work-at-home lifestyle.
I personally bought the bundle for myself even though I’ve been working remotely for 7 years. I find that continuous education is necessary to stay creative and inspired.
Buy the Ultimate Work at Home Super Bundle
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2. Get obsessed with growing your skillset!
Work-at-home opportunities are largely dependent on technology and the internet. Naturally so, since it is through the internet that we’re able to work remotely.
That said, whether you want to apply for a remote job, start your own online business, or advance your career, you need to keep on gaining new creative and technical skills to complement your existing ones.
Say, if you’re a writer, you can learn other forms of content creation skills like photography, graphic design or social media.
If you’re a graphic designer, you might want to add website design and development to your skillset.
If you’re a website developer, you’d want to learn new programming languages, analytics, or user experience.
If you’re a customer support expert, you might want to consider learning virtual assistance or project management too.
And so on.
3. Launch a blog or a website
A website is a necessity, whether you’re selling products, offering your services, or applying for a remote job. Having an updated and a healthy online presence is always a good way to attract buyers, partners, or employers.
For the past 7 years, my job comes with the occasional responsibility of scouting and hiring writers and digital marketing professionals. Guess what’s the first thing I look for when I have a pile of CVs on my desk?
Yep. I check if the applicants have blogs.
For me, more often than not, a blog speaks louder than a CV.
One time I hired a travel blogger for a Content Strategist position. Countless times, I’ve hired mommy bloggers to do freelance writing for a wide range of blog topics and niches.
I, myself, use my website as a portfolio—my best case study. Every now and then when a potential client or employer asks me to show sample work, I only have to send them a link to this website. #hacks ;)
Regardless of the industry, a blog is a way for employers to assess not only your thought leadership and communication skills, but also your discipline, creativity, and personality. Believe it or not, these come handy when deciding which candidate is the best one for a position.
There’s just so much to cover about this topic, but I’ll cut this here.
If you want to ask me anything, hit me up with your questions in the comments below or subscribe to my mailing list to get updates.