Meet Paula, a baby boomer based in Wollongong who was determined to make her work at home dreams a reality when she was forced to rethink her previous career. She has managed to combine her two loves of writing and travelling. Check out her interview below…
1. Please introduce yourself
My name is Paula McInerney and I am a travel writer based in Wollongong, Australia. I am a baby boomer who is married with children who have all left home.
2. When did you start working from home? What inspired the change?
I had been a teacher forever and totally loved it, but was ready for a total sea change professionally. I got quite ill a couple of years ago and it was during recovery that I thought I might try something different. I always wanted to write, and as we travel so much, this seemed to be the perfect match. So that is when we started our travel blog and now we are starting another one called Best Little Coffee Shops. My husband now is more involved in the business, but I probably do the majority.
3. What different ways have you tried to earn an income working from home? What do you do now to earn money?
Money is coming from freelance writing for various travel and private business companies. One area that is taking off is quite aside from travelling and that is helping private companies speak in normal language to people like me, so they we can understand it. One of my clients is a local financial services company. Normally my eyes glaze over when I hear all of that stuff, so I have been helping them to re-write for people like me. This has led to referrals in random fields because a lot of companies are now getting on the blog bandwagon. Many of these businesses are so bound up in the theory, that they lose the normal person. If I can understand something that they are talking about then anyone can.
I also have an eBook ready to go, but now I realize that before I do send it to Amazon or wherever, then it needs a big marketing campaign.
It is getting better, but when you are used to a regular paycheck, then the erratic nature of income takes some getting used to.
4. How long did it take you to earn enough money to quit your day job?
I “retired” so to speak because of circumstances mentioned before, but maybe I would have been able to stop regardless, but then I am older than many to come into this game and had money behind me, so it wasn’t such a big risk. I often wonder, would I have done this when I was younger with kids. It wouldn’t have been easy, which is why I admire people doing this. As a teacher, I can say children who travel with their parents gain as great an education on the road as in the classroom
5. What tips would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you first started working at home?
Spend money on what you need. I was talking to a friend who has started a fashion design business and she was telling me what it is costing her in rent, fittings, staff, insurance etc just to start it up. It was a huge amount. Then I figured it out. All small businesses require start up capital and if we are to be seen as a small business, then the initial money must be put into it. We do already have a big saving working from home, but there still needs to be money put towards it being a successful business.
I have spent hours and hours trying to figure out one little thing, that someone else could have done instantly. I have made my life very hard for myself and I think that is the case for many of people working from home.
6. What has been the secret to your success?
I don’t know whether I would call it success, but we are doing OK. This is one of the steepest learning curves ever. Total persistence and lots and lots of hard work. Interacting with others is really important as they tend to know exactly what you are going through and this support network has been a big factor. Also, belief that you are “worthy” of this, and not to compare yourself too much with others.
7. What mistakes have you made along the way?
LOL – every single one in the book, because I didn’t know anything. However in saying that, not knowing anything has let me ask for jobs or interviews or trips, that maybe others wouldn’t have been brazen enough to.
8. What is the best part about working from home?
Freedom and flexibility.
9. What is the worst part about working from home?
Hmmmm It is not easy and I don’t even have children at home now. I have family and friends who ring when they feel like it, drop over whenever and think that I can just drop everything when they want and go for coffee… and I do, but then I work until late in the night and get up really early to get some work done uninterrupted. However, my sister works from home and she has strict rules and no one visits during her office hours, nor rings. She is very disciplined. And we are scared to interrupt her :)
10. What advice do you have for anyone starting out?
Treat it as a business from the word go. Put the money into the business from the start Get support and assistance and let professionals help you but never ever not know what is going on. Keep YOUR finger on the pulse. Work your butt off. Have business hours where possible. LOVE what you are doing, despite any other obstacle.