Work from Home Lesson 8: Take Care of Yourself

handwritten manuscriptIt had been nearly two months since I’d seen my husband. I was staying with my parents, along with the kids. My husband hadn’t been granted a visa the first or second time we tried. That was while we were in India. The only option left was for me to go ahead and move back to the States with the kids, set up “life” there, and prove that we were planning to stay. Only then could we hope that he would be allowed to join us.

In between putting my daughter in school, trying to get my driver’s license, opening a bank account, and trying to find a job, life was more than a little bit busy. Helping the kids adjust (and trying to adjust myself after living in India for nearly 12 years!) was a challenge. My eighteen-month-old son, who had been potty trained for about half a year, started wetting himself and having accidents every time we went out. My daughter was quieter than a mouse at school. My middle son entered a very whiny stage.

I knew I needed to keep things going on the work-from-home front, so I kept looking for jobs. One project that came through was a transcription job. A man had written a 25,000-word middle grade novel. The only problem was that he wrote it. By hand. He mailed me a thick package of papers and I got to work.

One night, I had just climbed into bed after taking my son for a last trip to the bathroom, when the phone rang. It was my husband. The proof I submitted was accepted. He had already booked a flight and would arrive in a week, the day before Thanksgiving.

I was thrilled. I was also determined to finish my transcription project before he arrived. I began typing every night, trying to finish the project. My wrists began to ache, but I ignored it. Some mornings, my fingers would be tingly and numb. The pain in my wrists traveled up towards my elbows.

I mentioned it to my mom. “Carpal tunnel,” she told me. She had had surgery for carpal tunnel a few years before. “You need to get wrists guards or you’ll need surgery.” The next day, my dad drove me to Walgreens and picked up a pair of supportive wrist guards. I could feel the difference immediately.

I finished the transcription project. The client was very happy and asked if I’d be interested in typing up his 125,000-word novel. Thanks, but no thanks. 

My husband arrived, and though jet lag wiped him out, we still had so much to be thankful for that Thanksgiving.

I still wear the wrist supports every single time I type. If I do even a little bit of typing or internet browsing without them, my wrists start to hurt. When I am working more than usual on a writing or editing project, I sometimes have to wear the supports at night as well.

When I was young, I remember my dad telling me (when I would stay up late reading in bad light), “You only have one pair of eyes.” When he insisted on picking up the wrists supports for me, he said something similar about my wrists. He still asks from time to time if I’m being faithful in wearing them. Yes, Dad, I am.

Working from home, I don’t have insurance. I can’t sign up for “worker’s comp.” I have to be careful, because my dad is right. Only one set of wrists. But I still have so much to be thankful for. Concerned family. Supportive wrist guards. And a typing speed that enables me to finish the occasional transcription project in an impressively short amount of time. Life always compensates.

Work-from-Home Lesson Eight:

When you work from home, you need to be mindful of things that those who have full-time employment might not need to worry about to the same extent. Be aware of common issues such as carpal tunnel (if you do a lot of typing or writing), or other health problems. If you love what you do while working from home, you’re probably hoping to do it for a long time. So take care of yourself. 


[Why am I writing about working from home? Every Tuesday this summer, I will post about a lesson I have learned from 111 writing and editing projects.]

If you’re looking for an editor or ghostwriter, I’d love to hear from you. I have over ten years of experience in writing and editing and would be happy to work with you to take your project to the next level.


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Work from Home Lesson 7: Remember When

when I grow upI read somewhere that by the age of two, you know what you want to do with your life, but then afterwards you forget about or lose it. I can’t remember what I wanted to be at two, so I can’t personally vouch for the theory.

But my daughter, when she was two, wanted her last name to be Books because she loved books. She’s nine now and will devour a 100-page book in less than an hour. She is always reading. And I mean, always. Some girls don’t like to leave the house without their newest purse, some kids without their cuddle toy.She makes sure she has a book or two for the car ride … and the destination.

I don’t know what she will do with that when she grows up … perhaps nothing, or perhaps something. There are lots of options for an avid reader – writing, editing, teaching, tutoring. I know she loves it and if she finds something along those lines to do with her life, she’ll probably be very happy.

I would hate to pressure her into choosing a vocation that might give her more financial stability if it’s something she can’t find joy in doing.

I’m sure you can remember something like that. What did you love doing as a child? What did you dream about becoming? What were your favorite activities? Did you enjoy having your own little garden space in your mom’s back yard, where you could plant tomatoes or squashes and beans? When your mom would plan your siblings’ birthday parties, were you right beside her, making sure there was enough of everything, double checking that nothing was forgotten?

Looking at my own childhood, I don’t know if there was any one sign that pointed the way I should go vocation-wise. I loved expressing myself through making up songs, but only when no one was around. I had four older siblings who could do everything better than I could; I was competitive and would often give up on anything I couldn’t do as well as them. I let go of my love for writing for a good long while, opting for a vocation far removed from anything my older sisters and brother did, partly so I would be not considered a “copycat.”

And partly because I wanted to live a life of purpose and meaning, helping others. I learned so much in my years doing social work and involved with various mission projects in India. Looking back, those years also helped me to determine who I was and why I was doing what I was doing.

I also started a family there. Having children told me a lot about who I was and what I was capable of. Even involved in a variety of ministry and social projects, certain skills kept coming to the fore. They often had to do with writing, editing, teaching, administration, or facilitation.

When I finally began to recognize, “Hey, I’m a writer,” I wondered why I hadn’t realized it earlier. But if I had, I’d likely not have gained the experience I needed. I’d have been sitting there with an empty ink well, no experiences or life tests to draw from. There is a good reason for everything we face and do in life, even if we take a detour or two from finding that thing we love to do.

If we keep the mindset that everything can teach us something, we’ll be set for learning great things in life.

Work-from-Home Lesson Seven:

In choosing a work-from-home vocation, look back at your childhood, your interests, your skills, and what you wanted to be “when you grow up.” Even if it takes a while to determine what you love to do, even if you spend years involved in some other vocation, every position and every experience serves its purpose. You might take a few detours along the road of discovering what you truly love to do, but there is a reason for it and always something to learn.

[Why am I writing about working from home? Every Tuesday this summer, I will post about a lesson I have learned from 111 writing and editing projects.]

If you’re looking for an editor or ghostwriter, I’d love to hear from you. I have over ten years of experience in writing and editing and would be happy to work with you to take your project to the next level.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Work from Home


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Work from Home Lesson 6: Look at all Options

consider all options when working from homeWhen I first began working from home, I did not start with Elance. In fact, I exhausted a few other options first. Each of them, for some reason or another, did not work for me. But there is no way I would have known whether or not they were a good work-from-home option for me if I did not try them.

Following are the three other methods of online earning I attempted before moving on to Elance:


The first thing I found when searching for online jobs was a task-driven site linked to Amazon. It is called “Mechanical Turk.” The description states, “Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for work. We give businesses and developers access to an on-demand, scalable workforce. Workers select from thousands of tasks and work whenever it’s convenient.”

With three kids at home the ages of five, three, and one, I needed “convenient.” I signed up for an account and began looking for tasks, called “HITs,” and doing any of them that seemed to pay a fair amount. Within a couple of months, though, I realized that was the primary problem. Most HITs didn’t pay “fair amounts.” When I took into account the amount of time the project took, as well as the amount of time browsing for an applicable project, I ended up with well under minimum wage.

The main projects I did were transcription jobs, in which I had quite a bit of experience. I also found the occasional article-writing project, which paid a few dollars per 300-word article. One evening, as I wrote an article about chocolate-covered strawberries, it occurred to me that I could probably find other avenues for writing, ones that paid more. Ones on more inspiring and engaging topics than strawberries.


At around this time, my husband got an email from a friend that had links to at least a dozen survey sites. You sign up, they send you links to the surveys. You click on the link and if you are eligible for the survey, you complete it and get anywhere from 50 cents to a couple of dollars per survey.

Mturk also posted surveys and I thought, Hey, if I just filled in surveys, that’s a relatively easy task that doesn’t take too much time.

So I signed up for about half a dozen of these survey places and every day I would get invitations to participate in some survey or another. More often than not, I would click on the link, answer the first few questions, and then get “screened out” because I wasn’t in the right demographic. They never stated what demographic they were looking for, so I never knew what I didn’t have that they wanted. Maybe I was too old, or too young, or didn’t earn enough. In any case, I didn’t earn anything from that survey.

Within a month, I stopped clicking the links to all the survey sites and stuck with one, hoping that I could at least earn enough in one of them to get a payout. I never did though.

I had to scratch yet another online “opportunity.”


A friend of mine who spent a lot of time online suggested two sites to me. One of these was Guru, a site for freelancers. Its definition explains, “Create a profile and define the freelance services you want to offer. Employers will find you by these services when they search for freelancers to hire. Search and apply for jobs that interest you, in any category. We make it easy to showcase previous work you’ve completed to back up your proposals. We also provide Job Matches daily so you don’t miss out on an opportunity.”

This was a different kettle of fish than Mturk. In this case, I needed to “bid” for projects among however many other freelancers interested in the same project, and the client determined whether or not to accept the bid. I signed up, created a profile, and began to place proposals for jobs. At the same time, I created a profile on Elance, and as I mentioned in a previous post about my early days working with Elance, it became my main method for working from home.

Believe it or not, I still sometimes browse through Mturk when I don’t have anything going on. It’s still preferable (in my opinion) to playing a video game or crushing candy (or however candy crush works). I’ll fill in a survey and get a couple of dollars out of it. When I have enough, I’ll transfer the money to Amazon and order a book for myself, something for one of the kids, or a gift for someone whose birthday is coming up.

I also browse through “Guru” for jobs, but nothing has ever come through that. However, this is not to say that nothing ever will. Perhaps you’ll sign up for both Elance and Guru and find that your experiences run opposite to mine. Maybe you’ll start getting work on Guru and never get a project with Elance.

Work-from-Home Lesson Six:

Before you get settled in one particular area of online earning, look at all options. Something that did not work for another person may be the perfect option for you. You might find that you enjoy working in a variety of websites and accomplishing different tasks on each one. If you have the time, browse through one or more of the above sites and experiment. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

[Why am I writing about working from home? Every Tuesday this summer, I will post about a lesson I have learned from 111 writing and editing projects.]

If you’re looking for an editor or ghostwriter, I’d love to hear from you. I have over ten years of experience in writing and editing and would be happy to work with you to take your project to the next level.

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Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Work from Home


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Jedi Perks – Working from Home

work from home Jedi

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Work from Home


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Work from Home Lesson 5: Pursue Every Opportunity

work from home opportunityYou never know what might happen when you knock on a door, much less when you walk through that door. I began working in Elance with the hope to use my editing and writing skills to help support our family. That was about it. I jumped at any and every writing or editing job, even the occasional SEO project.

One project I bid for was an editing job for a Christian who was self-publishing a book on apologetics. I didn’t get the job. But I wrote him once or twice and we ended up chatting via Skype one day.

He invited me to join a Facebook group he was in, which had hundreds of members interested in Christian apologetics. Within a couple months of joining the group, my “friend list” on Facebook had grown, and I began developing a number of acquaintances.

A year passed, and my Elance work had grown. As I mentioned in my last post about finding your niche, I had been focusing mainly on working with Christian authors, as an editor, proofreader, or ghostwriter. In the process, I had also develop a growing interest in writing and had started a couple blogs, a parenting blog, and a blog that followed my writing journeys. I also began getting ideas for novels and started writing them down.

One day I saw a status update from a guy I friended through that group. He talked about his plan to attend a Christian writer’s conference the following month. I clicked on the link he posted and noticed that they were offering ten free scholarships.

I remember the evening so clearly, as my husband was at work, my kids were very active, and I was trying hard to think of how to write down my experience, skills, and hope for the scholarship. I knew there would be no way I could attend the conference any other way. It took me close to an hour to fill it out, and I was on edge for the next two weeks, waiting to hear back. And waiting. And waiting.

The deadline passed and I didn’t hear anything. Oh well, I supposed, other people probably need it more than I do.

Two days later, I received a letter from the conference organizer. It was very short, something to the effect of, “Father impressed upon me that you need this scholarship. Congratulations. See you at the conference.”

I got it!

The conference was such an amazing learning experience – meeting other Christian authors, hearing their stories and how they felt the call to write, realizing there are so many communities of authors, agents, publishers, and editors (and that I have so much to learn from them). Phrases such as “query letters” and words like “hashtags” and the dreaded SASE were wholly unfamiliar to me before the conference. I also joined a couple writers’ groups and met some authors who have since become close friends.

Above all, after that conference, I had a new focus. One that I knew would not soon fade.

I was meant to be a writer.

That project of editing a book on apologetics never worked out for me, but the author is still a great friend. Last year I critiqued a short work that he self-published, and earlier this year he critiqued a non-fiction book of mine.

It took me a while to connect the dots of “meeting” him through Elance and the opportunities in my life that have risen through that single chance meeting. But then, maybe it’s not left to chance.


Lesson Five: Pursue every opportunity that comes your way, even if it is not “work” or it looks like a job might not come through. This isn’t to say that you should start writing every person who declines your bid. That likely wouldn’t go over well. But if an idea rises in your mind that you can’t shake, or you feel a strong impetus to follow a lead and see where it does lead – don’t ignore it. You never know what might happen. And you might be surprised.

[Why am I writing about working from home? Every Tuesday this summer, I will post about a lesson I have learned from 111 writing and editing projects.]

If you’re looking for an editor or ghostwriter, I’d love to hear from you. I have over ten years of experience in writing and editing and would be happy to work with you to take your project to the next level.


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What Pulls on Your Soul?

quote on finding your niche

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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in Purpose, Quotes


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Work from Home Lesson 4: Find Your Niche

find-your-nicheWhen I started looking for writing and editing jobs, I placed no mental limits on what I could do. I placed no realistic limits either. I looked at every single job available, even briefly considering whether I could pull off translation. I put forth proposals for pretty much everything: from SEO content writing to children’s stories, from ghost-writing to editing web pages. Thinking back, I’m glad that not everything I bid for worked out. I would likely have been in over my head.

I now understand why clients often like to hire experienced people … at the beginning I didn’t exactly know what I was doing. I knew a lot about writing and editing, yes, but there was so much more I didn’t know. After four years of freelancing, there’s still a lot I don’t know. I’m simultaneously reading through a number of books on writing, editing, publishing, branding, and marketing, and every one teaches me something new. But back to the lesson.

After a few months, I began to narrow my job searches on Elance. Instead of looking at everything under the category of writing and editing (and there were generally about 800 jobs within this category at any given time), I started typing in key words of projects I had already done and was beginning to feel more confident in. In my first six months of working from home, I did quite a few children’s story projects. I wrote over 40 children’s stories and edited a number of other authors’ children’s stories. So that became one of the categories where I spent time perusing and bidding.

A year or so later, I had for the most part stopped looking for jobs that fell in the children’s story category. I had discovered another niche: writing and editing for Christian authors. This began to take most of my freelance time, and I was glad for this because I had found something that matched my skills and interests. I did not have the time to search through for projects in other categories. Of course, if invited to place a proposal for a children’s story, or if someone were to get in touch through my blog with the request to write or edit a how-to or self-help book, I am not going to say no. It’s important to stay open to projects in other areas, and to keep learning about different fields of interest. I enjoy editing the occasional political or psychological non-fiction book, or YA novel.

If you’re just beginning to find freelance work, I recommend that you don’t start out in too narrow of a field (unless you have a Masters in that field; then you’re probably good to go). You might be surprised at what categories and niches interest you that you had no idea about when you began working from home. It takes time to find your niche, so experiment and test the waters of different styles and projects. See what fits your interests and skills. Some people can spend eight hours a day writing SEO content. If I did that full-time, I would probably feel like my soul was being sucked out of me. I need projects in which I can experiment with creativity and the best way of stating an idea or concept. Even in editing and proofreading — which comprises a main portion of the jobs I undertake — I let the clients know at the beginning that I will proofread and edit to ensure there are no grammatical errors, and that I will also give suggestions if I think there might be a better way to get some idea across.

Back to SEO, just because it’s not my preference, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t learn what it is or how to write search-engine-optimized content. It’s a good idea to expand one’s skill set. But it’s likely not a good idea to spend time chasing after something I have no interest in doing, or spending time doing something that just does not “fit.”

Sometimes work becomes slim in one area. For instance, the end of the year (November and December) are generally not good months to find new projects under the Christian category. Christian authors and writers are likely occupied with family and preparations for Christmas and the New Year. During those months, I either focus on my writing projects, or look for other projects that don’t fall within that niche. (And of course, I try to cut back on my work then to spend more time with my kids, baking cookies, making candles, decorating the house, and doing those exciting seasonal projects. Only five months to Christmas!)

Work from Home Lesson Four:

[Take time to find your niche, and have a good time doing so. You might be surprised at what new field of study suddenly takes you by surprise and becomes your prime area of interest. Even when you've found your niche, stay open to other possibilities and opportunities.]


[Why am I writing about working from home? Every Tuesday this summer, I will post about a lesson I have learned from 111 writing and editing projects.]

If you’re looking for an editor or ghostwriter, I’d love to hear from you. I have over ten years of experience in writing and editing and would be happy to work with you to take your project to the next level.

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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Editing, Work from Home


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