During my 20+ years as an office worker, I always used to think working from home was cushy. The life of a work from home blogger was surely all taking flat lay photographs, drinking coffee and meeting for lunch. As I’ve written before, I saw self-employment as a chance to work in your PJs accompanied by the muted shouting of Jeremy Kyle or the incessant giggling of Phil and Holly.
In truth, after dropping the kids off to school and waving the Husband off for another 3 or 4-day stint in London or somewhere abroad, it is, briefly, wonderful to have the house to myself.
The quiet is soothing – I say quiet because when you have tinnitus you never really experience silence – just an absence of different types of noise.
But after a while, it dawns on me that I am quite alone and responsible for passing the school hours in a productive fashion.
There should be a book called the loneliness of the work from home blogger because, you see, without colleagues, team-mates, co-workers, call them what you will, those six hours can seem very long.
I am one of a faceless army of home workers carrying out chores such as data entry jobs, photo editing and social media management.
Ironic since, generally, I have always preferred to work on my own but it’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off, isn’t it? Or share a quick natter over a coffee.
I think there is a definite need for more co-working spaces. Some ensconce themselves in coffee shops to benefit from the free WiFi. Perfectly acceptable, I think if you are buying more than one coffee and are not sitting there nursing your solitary drink for hours hogging a table.
The only other option seems to be renting a serviced office but who has the funds for that?
Perhaps the answer is to form an online community and to communicate via Skype or Facebook Live but these always feel so forced and lots of us hate appearing on our own PC screens.
And whilst there is a certain amount of information sharing amongst bloggers, you rarely get to know really useful information – for example, statistics such as page views and users.
We are all just blogging in the wilderness relying on indexes such as Tots100 to give us an idea of how we are doing.
Some blog for themselves and don’t care about stats but for those of us whose blog is now our job, the guesswork is exhausting. And probably unnecessary.
After all, the big retailers all know how each other is doing. Profits and losses are declared. There is a greater degree of openness (never total of course) about progress.
One of the biggest blogger bugbears is the apparent randomness of fees paid by brands and PR agencies. Some bloggers hold out for a decent fee, some will just take the cash, no matter how low (for example £10) and it is a personal choice.
But if we’re not sharing information, how can we ever create a level playing field for blogger fees?
You can’t have it both ways.
So I think that there is huge potential in local bloggers meeting up – not just to socialise but to work together and to discuss competitive strategy and ideas for collaboration.
That would be vastly more productive than listening to the chuntering of ITV Daytime, wouldn’t it?
The potential loneliness of being a work from home blogger aside, it isn’t all bad news. Here are some pros and cons you might like to think about if you are about to take the leap into self-employment and make your blog your job.
- You can make your hobby a job and invest your time in something you feel truly passionate about.
- You’re the boss – and if you have worked somewhere where office bullying is rife, that can literally be a lifesaver in terms of your sanity and happiness.
- You finally have an opportunity to create the degree of work/life balance that works for you.
- You can create a healthier working environment. For some of us, the offices we work in can actually make us sick.
- You get to spend more time with your children.
- You are there when they are ill and able to pick them up from school if need be.
- As a parent, self-employment can give you the flexibility to attend school events you would otherwise not have been granted time off to see. Sports days, Christmas concerts, parents’ evenings – all of these can cause a scheduling conflict when you’re an employee.
- If you want to take a last minute holiday or extend a break you can – workload permitting of course.
- You can schedule hospital and dental appointments to suit and at least try to avoid times when the surgery is likely to be heaving.
- No office politics – there’s nothing worse than working in an office where relationships have turned toxic and more time is spent bitching about management than actually doing the job.
- If you have elderly parents, particularly if they are unwell, being on call can be very reassuring for them, if a little stressful for you!
- You will have to submit tax returns and budget for National Insurance contributions if your income reaches a certain threshold.
- There’s no sick pay or holiday pay and no employer contributions to your pension.
- Unless you can create a space for your home office, you might find it difficult to concentrate – particularly if you’re lounging on the sofa in front of the TV. On the other hand, you can choose the music you listen to, have as many tea breaks as you like and choose who you work with.
- If you do have little ones at home, you will have to juggle childcare with work which can be quite tricky! It can be difficult to explain to a little one why you are not available to play just now.
- Setting boundaries can be hard. It’s too easy to work all the hours God sends and never switch off.
- There’s no office party – not always a bad thing in my experience though.
- Friends and family might not take your working from home seriously. Lots of people think working from home can be a cushy number and you’re playing at it – when in reality you may well be working harder than you ever have before!
- If you work with your partner, it might be tricky to stop the office talk and concentrate on family life. Spending all that time together might create a bit of friction too.
- As a parent, even if you are a full-time blogger, you may still end up having to do all the housework and after-school activities – particularly if your partner works away a lot as mine does.
- Sometimes you’ll miss having somebody to bounce ideas off and brainstorm with
- Without structure, you’ll find it’s difficult to juggle everything and concentrate on your work. At home, it’s easier to get distracted and you end up not finishing anything.
- Another downside is finding work at the end of each contract. You have to up your marketing and sales game.
I often see excited and somewhat breathless Facebook statuses saying “I’ve done it. I’ve left my job and I’m going to be a full-time blogger”. Swiftly followed by “how do I actually make money at this”?
Working from home isn’t a bed of roses but if you are determined to make it work you will find a way. Just make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for and do your research – before making life-changing decisions that might come back to bite you if you are not prepared to work very very hard.
Are you a work from home blogger? How do you find working at home?