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. I realize that today is Wednesday, and that is because I was camping with my family yesterday. Sometimes schedules have to go out the window when it comes to family, a priority.]

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. I realize that today is Wednesday, and that is because I was camping with my family yesterday. Sometimes schedules have to go out the window when it comes to family, a priority.]

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. I realize that today is Wednesday, and that is because I was camping with my family yesterday. Sometimes schedules have to go out the window when it comes to family, a priority.]

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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Too Many Tears?

Tears in the Writer


Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Quotes, Written by Others


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Work from Home Lesson 3: Understand Workload before Committing

Jim Carrey typing

While browsing through Elance’s “search new jobs” section one day in the beginning of my work-from-home career, I happened upon a transcription job. Having worked in administration, I was familiar in taking down dictation and transcribing audio material. I usually transcribed a half hour to an hour at a time, but had been doing so for years. I was a pro and placed a bid for the job.

It was 33 hours of audio material they needed transcribed. I assumed that I could get an hour’s worth of audio typed up in a little over an hour. And this was the beginning of my building a portfolio on Elance, so I knew I needed to make my bid reasonable. I bid $400 for the project. Yes, the whole project. About five hours of audio into the job (roughly fifteen hours of work), I realized that I had overestimated my abilities and underestimated the work involved … by far.

We were still living in India at the time and in the middle of the project, my kids came down with fevers. My primary memories of that project is sitting in a dark room with headphones on, transcribing until one or the other of my children would need me for juice or a snack or help going to the bathroom. Then I would get back to work.

Eleven hours into the job, my clients contacted me and let me know they didn’t have the rest of the audio material ready and that they would get in touch when it was complete. They closed the job and paid me for the work I had done. I breathed a sigh of relief.

They didn’t contact me for the remainder of the project, and I was not disappointed.

Because of weak wrists (that undoubtedly developed due to years of transcribing), I no longer take on transcription projects. Whenever I type or even browse the computer, I wear wrist guards (which my son dubbed my “elbows” for reasons known only to his four-year-old mind). I don’t know what completing that transcription project might have done to my wrists, but I’m glad that I never had to find out.

I am also very glad for the latest voice-to-text technology which allows me to speak into my tablet and watch the words appear on the screen. Although I don’t use it much yet, I have a feeling it will save time and effort, and my wrists. If you have a tablet (or a laptop or i-Phone), you might want to look into voice-to-text apps if you have a lot of ideas and want to be able to record them as you go.

Work from Home Lesson Three:

Just because you can take on a particular project doesn’t mean you should. Determine in advance the amount of time and work involved before committing to a job rather than being stuck with a work project you wish you didn’t have.


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

If you’re looking for an editor or ghostwriter, please contact me.


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