How to Quit the Rat Race and Work from Home
A recent survey found that 85% of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. They hate their salaries and their bosses, but they also hate being forced to do the same thing day after day, with little control over how they live their lives and what they do with their own time.
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You need money to live, and you need work to earn. However, there are alternatives; if you’ve reached breaking point, it could be time to call it a day and go your own way. In this guide, we’ll show you how to do just that, looking in-depth at three of the best ways to quit the rat race and go it alone.
The age of the freelancer and the gig economy is firmly upon us. More than 50 million Americans are proud to call themselves freelancers in 2020, and that number is on the rise. In years gone by, being a freelancer required you to create a tight network of employers, entrepreneurs, creative agencies, and more, all of which would send you work when you needed it, either contacting you by phone, mail or email.
You’d get your check in the mail after every job and if you ever ran out of work, speak with your client every once in a while, and if you ever found yourself without work, you could phone around and see what was available.
These days, the process is faster, easier, and more advanced. Everything is done online, with messages and payments sent in a matter of seconds and with new clients and opportunities always just a message or a proposal away.
Sites like Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer do all of the hard work for you. Simply sign up, input your details (including your portfolio, qualifications, and experience) and go in search of work.
It’s easy money for high-skilled writers, editors, artists, designers, and coders. If you have any experience or qualifications, you shouldn’t have an issue finding work and can build a strong profile in a matter of weeks, after which the clients will come to you.
Just keep the following in mind:
Create a Succinct Profile
Clients don’t want to see a long and boring list outlining all your academic qualifications. In most cases, especially for writers and artists, none of that matters. Clients are more interested in samples, especially if they’re visually striking.
As a writer, you’ll have more chances of securing work by posting the cover of your published novel than you will by listing degrees in literature and creative writing. As an artist, more clients will seek your services if they can see multiple samples from several different themes, as opposed to a list of jobs you had or prestigious clients you worked with.
The freelancing world works differently from the world of salaried employment. Clients want to see proof that you can do what you claim to do; they want someone different, unique, someone who stands head and shoulders above the others. If you have the qualifications, include them, but make sure you place samples, snippets, and other impressive elements of your portfolio front-and-center.
In freelancing, it’s important to stay professional at all times, while still allowing for a little informality when prompted. Clients want freelancers who are friendly, agreeable, and professional, and that’s the way you should remain. However, if they relax, and become a little less formal, then you need to mirror their actions.
Don’t be a straight-faced, uncompromising, humorless vacuum when they’re trying to be friendly; don’t be the laid-back joker when they’re trying to keep it professional.
In the beginning, you need to reduce your price. It doesn’t matter what you think you’re worth or what others are charging. If you don’t have the feedback and the credentials, then you can’t charge the same as the freelancers at the very peak of their powers.
When you begin, you’ll have no feedback and will be competing with many freelancers who have histories dating back several years. If you’re charging the same price, the client will always choose them over you. To account for this, you need to drop your price and take the jobs that no one else wants.
However, this doesn’t mean you should start working for clients charging cents an hour. Believe it or not, the clients who charge the least are often the most demanding. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s because those clients are on limited budgets and are often in poorer countries. They can be very strict, very demanding, and, on occasion, very threatening.
It’s important to act fast when you’re just starting out. Many clients work quickly and will read the applications as soon as they come in, before messaging all the freelancers they like. If you’re active late at night or early in the morning, and you respond to the most suitable jobs, you could have these conversations and secure the job long before the top freelancers even realize the job is available.
When you first start as a freelancer, you’re in a very unique position. If you get any bad feedback, your career could be over before it begins. As discussed above, few clients will take a risk on a freelancer with no feedback, and if you only have bad feedback, you have no chance.
Before you agree to a job offer, look at the client’s profile. It doesn’t matter how many 5-star ratings their previous freelancers have left them, what matters is the ratings they have left those freelancers.
Many clients are very strict and will leave 3 and 4 stars, even if they loved the work. God knows what they were expecting and what it takes to get 5 stars, but if that’s the attitude they have, you can’t risk working for them.
Low Skilled Jobs for Freelancers
Don’t have the skill? You can still freelance. As long as you can use the internet, navigate yourself around some basic software, converse in a friendly and professional manner, and work hard, you have what it takes to make money as a freelancer.
You can’t command the same sort of money being paid to the most-skilled workers, but there are other jobs you can do with some basic skills. For instance, if you can do any of the following, there are options available.
You Can Type Fast
Fast typing is a great skill for any freelancer tasked with writing on a daily basis. This is true whether you’re a talented writer trying to increase your output or someone doing basic, low-paying jobs, such as:
This is a skill in itself, but just like writing an academic essay is much harder than writing a simple Twitter post, there are many different levels. As a fast typist with limited experience, you can take the jobs that experienced transcribers don’t want.
Transcribing is simply the act of listening to audio and writing it down. These jobs are common throughout many industries. The bulk of them are focused around the legal and medical fields (where the work can be quite technical and the skill-level more demanding) but you’ll also find jobs from entrepreneurs who want someone to transcribe notes, podcasts, and phone conversations.
You’ll often find that you’re a small part of a big chain. In the above example, for instance, an entrepreneur may ask you to transcribe notes they dictated during long car journeys. These will then be given to a ghostwriter who will use them to put the client’s thoughts onto paper, after which editors, publishers, and other experts will get involved.
However, if you do a good job and make it clear that you have other talents and will be happy to help if needed, you may find yourself securing more jobs in that chain.
Even in this technologically advanced digital world, there are still people who insist on writing with pen and paper. If they ever need their work digitized, they turn to low-paying, fast-typing freelancers. The same goes for anyone else looking to convert old written texts into new, modern ones.
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Of course, there are scanners that can do the work quickly and automatically, but if you’re a regular person with stacks of books that need to be copied into Word documents, your options are to hire a fast typer for a few hundred dollars or buy a printer for a few thousand. It’s a no-brainer, and that ensures steady work.
Not all written work is complicated. Some jobs require the most basic of tasks, such as rewriting bulk texts to make them original. Thousands of sites make their money by copying content from other sites and simply rewriting the content so it is original. They don’t care if it’s perfect because they focus on quantity, not quality.
This is highly dubious work, but in the end, no one gets hurt, you get a few bucks an hour for some basic work and you can build your career as a writer. And the great thing about jobs like this is that you earn more the faster you type, incentivizing you to work harder and faster.
You Have a Lot of Patience
One of the oldest “work from home” scams in the world was to convince single parents and those seeking a second income that they could get paid simply by stuffing and licking envelopes. It often involved an initial fee, and in most cases, it amounted to little more than a multi-level marketing scam, with the envelopes often containing junk materials that advertised the very same job you were getting paid cents to perform.
It was a job that many dismissed because they couldn’t possibly envisage why anyone would need to pay someone to perform that role, and that attitude exists for many freelancing jobs.
They rarely pay a lot of money, because as with the envelope stuffing of old, it’s simple, monotonous work that anyone can do, and it doesn’t generate any profits for the client.
If you have the patience and the will, you can try the following jobs:
In simple terms, data entry is the act of moving data from one place to another. It sounds technical and it can be, but the most basic of data entry amounts to little more than copying and pasting.
It is soul-crushing work, but it can fill your days and allow you to build your career earning around minimum wage. Once you get into the swing of things, playing music as you write and trying to ignore your sense of adventure and fun, those hours will fly by.
Imagine, for a moment, that you run an online business that requests users to submit content the site will then post. Things start well, you check all submissions yourself, and then you reach a point where you’re getting thousands of submissions a day.
You don’t have the time to review them yourself as your insight is needed elsewhere, so what do you do? Easy, you hire a freelance to do those checks for you.
Patience is all you need for a job like this, and there are many jobs that involve reviewing texts, images, emails, and more.
Teaching Students Online
If you’ve spent your adult life teaching and are seeking an escape from the classrooms and rigid schedules, think about becoming a self-employed teacher. The most basic way to do this is to hire your services out to adults and children in your local area. You charge them a fixed sum of money an hour and you teach them an array of subjects, visiting their house or allowing them to visit yours as needed.
As with freelancing, this is something that has existed for decades and something that many teachers choose to do after they retire. However, there are better ways to earn money as a teacher, especially if you have a skill that students actually want to learn in their downtime.
Parents seek tutors for their children when they are falling behind with their schoolwork or they want to give them a helping hand to get into college. Adults seek assistance because they worry they have missed some vital information at school and want to play catch-up. But there are many more kids and adults looking to learn specific abilities and if you know any of these, you can make a very healthy living:
Speaking a Second Language
Multilingual freelancers can earn between $20 and $40 an hour, on average, teaching their second and first languages. The more languages you speak, the more opportunities will present themselves, but generally, students will pay you the most to learn your first language. For instance, if your native language is English but you’re also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, you can teach Spanish/Portuguese speakers English.
The more obscure the language, the better. There is no shortage of Spanish and Portuguese speakers in the world, and if you’re living in the United States, you may struggle to compete with the many Spanish and Portuguese speakers living in poor countries. However, if you’re targeting people in richer, developed nations, and you’re offering languages that are less common, you can corner the market.
And don’t worry if you’re not an accomplished teacher. As with freelancing, there are multiple levels. Many students simply want someone to talk to in their chosen language, as well as someone to teach them a few words and some basic grammar. Anyone who speaks a language can do these things and if you’re charging a competitive rate, you don’t need to worry about competing with the more experienced tutors.
You don’t even need to chase the students, because if you join the right sites and create a good profile, they will come to you. All the following sites will allow you to set yourself up as a tutor:
- Chegg Tutors
The doors will also open for you with regards to translation, assuming you can turn your verbal skills into written ones. For this, take a look back at our freelancing tips above.
Playing a Musical Instrument
Playing a musical instrument is another highly teachable and profitable skill. There are millions of people all over the world trying to learn piano, violin, guitar, and countless other instruments.
In fact, most people have tried to learn an instrument at least once in their life and many gave up at the first sign of difficulty, believing that they would have persevered if they had a tutor helping them.
With online learning portals, they have the chance. These platforms connect talented musicians with aspiring ones, allowing the former to teach the latter and to charge a tidy sum for their services.
The following sites do for musical instruments what the aforementioned sites do for languages:
Mastering a Game or Skill
Video gaming is experiencing a golden age right now, with streaming generating unbelievable sums of money on platforms like Youtube and Twitch and with countless tournaments all over the world paying million-dollar sums to the best players.
If you are very good at a specific game, then why not teach others? There is no shortage of kids willing to learn so they can become successful streamers and champions, and there are also plenty of parents looking to learn just so they can beat their kids.
And that’s not all, just as there are students desperate to learn how to master the latest FPS or strategy game, there are also students who want to learn marketing techniques so they can build successful Youtube, Instagram, and Twitch accounts.
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If you know any of these things, you can charge a premium for your services, using some of the sites we’ve discussed above as well as general gig-based sites like Fiverr and People Per Hour.
Starting an Online Business
Starting a business has never been easier. It’s a risky strategy, but it’s not as risky as you may have been led to believe and it need not be risky at all. For example, many aspiring business owners, as well as the family members and friends that try to deter them, often quote the statistic that “9 out of 10” startups fail.
And that’s true. Eventually. In the short-term, the truth is nowhere near as concerning. In the first year, just a fifth of all new businesses will fail, and the majority of these are the result of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs just putting the feelers out.
Half of all businesses will have failed by their 5th year and 70% will have failed by their 10th year. This means that as many as 30% of businesses are still going strong in their tenth year. A 70% failure rate doesn’t exactly give you confidence, but only because you’re assuming all of these businesses make economic sense, and that’s rarely the case.
If you have ever watched an episode of Shark Tank, or the many shows that try to turn around unsuccessful restaurants and hotels, you will know that many business owners are ill-informed, naive, and reckless.
They invest everything they own into a business they have no experience in; they refuse to accept that they are failing, even as the business is toppling down around them. All it takes is for one informed individual to come in, point out the obvious, and the business turns around. If you have that “obvious” info from the beginning, you can increase your chances of success.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Do What You Know (and what makes sense)
Everyone has a hobby, a skill—something they have a lot of knowledge in. This is what you should base your business on. Unless your skill is SEO, marketing or retail, you shouldn’t simply focus on the business with the most profit.
By sticking with something you know, you will greatly reduce the risk of failure, while also reducing the money you to pay to hire experts. It will reduce overheads and liabilities, and that’s key in any business.
For example, let’s go back to freelancing for a second and suppose that you are a talented artist and graphic designer with 20 years of experience. If you decide to start your own visual agency, you will have the network to find clients and freelancers; you can complete most of the contracts yourself to begin with, and you’ll be ready to deal with any of the issues you face.
It’s a business that can fund itself. The only outlay is the initial expense of a website and a little marketing.
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As for the rest, you can wait until the money comes in, use that to reinvest, and then grow from there.
Now compare that to someone who has no skill in design or aesthetics but simply decides that this is where the money is. They don’t have the network, so they need to spend more money on marketing; they don’t have the skills, so they’ll need to market designers from the outset. And if anything goes wrong, they’ll struggle to deal with the fallout.
This is just one example, but it’s something that transfers to all skillsets, even retail. If you have a passion for the thing you sell, the final product will be better, you’ll have more connections to make it work, and you’ll understand how to grow and how to deal with the complications that arise.
Keep Capital Down
The lower your capital, the lower your risk. Many business owners fund their companies using their savings and insist that they won’t invest anymore. But money goes quickly in business and before long, they’re mortgaging their homes, selling their cars, and acquiring business loans just to make it work.
They refuse to give up, and that attitude costs them everything.
By keeping everything to a minimum, you won’t have that concern and can drop the business as soon as things turn bad, knowing that you won’t be losing much at all.
Your capital should come before the business, not the other way around. For example, don’t decide that you want to start selling computer equipment first and then run the costs to find out how you can make it work. Calculate the capital before you do anything else and then find businesses that fit.
Stick with Digital
Struggling to find a business with low capital? The answer could be at your fingertips.
A digital business is one that doesn’t sell a physical product but instead relies on digital services. These businesses can still be expensive if you start big, but you don’t need to do that. Going back to the idea of a visual agency, you need to start small and use all profits to fund your business’s growth.
Create a product or a service that can be transferred online, whether you’re offering a skill of your own or connecting other skilled individuals to the clients who want to hire them. There are a multitude of ways you can make money—get creative!
Sell a Non-Perishable Product
If a digital business isn’t quite what you’re looking for, find a non-perishable, low-cost product and build from there.
The problem with retail businesses is that you need to buy large quantities to create realistic margins and if those products are perishable, you’ll need to sell them quickly. That means your marketing should be on-point from the day that your business launches, and the only way to go from 0 to 100 straightaway is to spend a substantial sum.
You end up spending a fortune on stock and marketing, and none of that is sustainable.
Instead, find a product that is cheap and does not perish. That way, it can be purchased in large quantities for small amounts, and you can take it easy with the marketing, knowing that your product will be okay in storage.
That doesn’t mean that you should simply find a cheap product on AliBaba and then resell it. This is an oversaturated market and thanks to AliExpress and countless drop shipping sites, it’s no longer viable. Instead, purchase a product that can be repackaged and rebranded, one that contains something relatively common and cheap, but something that can be turned into a “premium” product with some creative packaging design and an additional unit cost of just a few cents.
Forget About “Passive Income” Programs
If you got to this article by searching for easy ways to make money online, tips for starting your own business, and similar search terms, there’s a good chance that your web browser and social media feeds will be littered with ads that feature some fresh-faced youngsters telling you that you can make “X” amount of money from home with “one simple trick”.
They show you their riches and their ad revenue and then they promise that if you watch the ad, buy their book or visit their site, they will show you how to do the same thing. If you’re over the age of 35, it’s enough to make you despise the entire Millennial generation and wish you could punch them right through the screen.
If you’re curious and/or desperate, you may have purchased their books already, only to be told that the trick to making a fortune is one of the following:
- Running Google Ads for billion-dollar companies. Because apparently that’s something that everyone can do; we have Coca Cola knocking down our door right now to beg for our unqualified marketing expertise.
- Drop shipping big ticket items. These ads usually begin with the speaker trying to convince you that drop shipping isn’t dead. They’re wrong, at least for those who have no experience in reselling.
- Buying and selling AliBaba products. Because everyone needs more useless crap in their life, apparently.
Don’t believe any of them and always ask yourself this question: if they are really making $1 million a week by sitting on their backsides, why are they so committed to selling me a $0.99 book? In the majority of cases, they’re lying to you and using a simple HTML editing trick to fake their income.
Sometimes they tell the truth and really did make a lot of money by exploiting a specific activity during a boom, but when that boom ends, that income slips away, and they turn to selling the idea instead.
Not only will you be wasting your money purchasing these guides, but if you follow through with any of them and use them as the basis for your business, you could lose everything.
Summary: No Rash Decisions
Quitting your job and going it alone could be one of the best decisions you make, one that you remember fondly in years to come and one that will prepare you for a bright and prosperous future. However, it’s not a decision that you should take lightly because if it goes wrong and you struggle to find a stable income, you could be broke within a year.
Instead of making and acting upon that decision straight away, give yourself some time. Put some feelings out, join freelancing/tutor sites, research your business, and, most importantly, start saving some money.
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Ideally, you should only make the decision to quit when you have saved at least enough to cover 6 months of bills and other expenses, and when you’re absolutely confident that you can make things work. This will be easier for freelancing and tutoring, as you can start working in the evening and on the weekends, but you can do the same with your business and simply quit your job when it starts eating into your important business time.
In any case, whether you’re making the decision gradually or preparing to raise your middle finger to your boss and leave in style, you will need to work hard, probably even harder than you do now. You may hate your life, your job, and your decision, but once everything settles, you will be afforded more freedom, more income, and a better quality of life, and when that happens it will all be worth it.