The 12th Invest in ME Conference, Part 1
OverTheHills presents the first article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME international Conference (IIMEC12) in London.
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Working from Home

Discussion in 'Finances, Work, and Disability' started by David Jackson, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. David Jackson

    David Jackson Senior Member

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    My health and energy have reached the level where I’ve started thinking about this. However, I’m a little unsure about how to go about it.

    Back when I was healthy, I stayed at university for a long time, and got my Masters. Straight after that, I joined a monastery for a few years. After that, I got sick. Thus, although I studied accountancy at uni, I never got any kind of career started before my health crashed.

    After a lot of work, and a lot of luck, my health is gradually returning. I’m gardening for an hour and a half every day, and doing yoga most days too. While it doesn’t really feel like I have CFS anymore, in reality, only 5% of my energy has come back thus far. It’s still not easy to leave the house for all that long, and, thus, I’d need to start out working from home.

    Does anyone have any thoughts and/or experience with this? Anything at all would be appreciated, even really out there suggestions. Think of it like this: what would you do if you were me?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. jaybird1

    jaybird1

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    I did this after losing my job with the National Trust a few years ago. I decided to pursue my creative side so became a self-employed artist. I took over the spare room and set myself up with everything I needed which could be left out for a few days at a time, that way I didn't waste energy setting up/putting away each day. Even though I've now been SE for two years I still can't do it full-time; I'd say I'm 50% healthy now but it's tough when you add in running around after the family etc. I probably work 15 hours per week max doing art. Have you thought of consultancy work? Could you meet with people at home?
     
  3. hellytheelephant

    hellytheelephant Senior Member

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    HI @David Jackson

    Firstly- that is brilliant news that you have improved so much!

    Out there suggestions: teach on a 1-1 (any of these appeal? meditation, yoga for the physically challenged, basic accounting, IT troubleshooting for seniors....?) If you have individual students then if you are having a bad day you can shift them to another time.

    Set up an Ebay shop

    I know someone who set up a 'can do' business offering to do all the jobs that people can't find someone to do- she did everything from changing lightbulbs, dealing with paperwork and forms, cutting toe nails, shopping, gardening, driving....

    Unless you are desperate for funds you could volunteer for something at first, to see how it goes, it is less of a commitment.

    Can I also recommend a book which got my thinking 'unstuck' ( about another matter, but it is a good book to get you thinking 'outside the box', about your life)
    http://rogerhousden.com/product/ten-poems-to-change-your-life/

    Good luck

    Helly
     
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  4. David Jackson

    David Jackson Senior Member

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    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, @jaybird1. Please can you tell me what SE stands for? Don't think I've come across that one yet...

    That's an awesome idea, being an artist... so, do you paint, then? Like with oil colors and stuff? It's interesting that you mention that actually, because I can draw, as a matter of fact. It's been so long that I've forgotten I could even do that. Don't think I could paint, though. How do you sell your paintings, and how much do they fetch? Do you have any of your art work saved as a photo on your computer that you could share with us?

    Consultancy... I'm an academic, but never had so much experience actually working as an accountant, that is the problem there. If I did have experience, that would be easy, and I would have to ask the forum about this... it's kind of embarrassing for me, really. 32 years old, and never had a full time job for any proper length of time. Of course, uni was a lot of work, as so was the monastery, but they're not quite real work, are they?

    Thanks for your reply also, @hellytheelephant. All good ideas that I just wouldn't have thought of myself. I'll look into that book you suggest as well. And, yes, it great to have improved a bit. Funny thing is, though, I still look the glass as half empty, and feel like I need more energy as soon as possible...

    Please keep those suggestions coming!
     
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  5. Thinktank

    Thinktank Senior Member

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    You could work from home as a freelance accountant or bookkeeper for small businesses. I know a few accountants (CPA) doing exactly that.
     
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  6. jaybird1

    jaybird1

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    Self Employed......

    I use watercolours, acrylics, coloured pencils and more recently just started with oil paints. I've been 'doing' art since being a kid but being ill and losing my job kind of put things into perspective as to what I should be doing with my life.

    I sell my paintings online via Etsy and Artfinder, also through a local gallery and through events such as the upcoming Cambridge Open Studios (starting this weekend.....must get organised!). I also have a website I can link you to.

    My paintings range in price from £100 all the way up to £1495 for big canvases. Some of my work is below:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. lauluce

    lauluce as long as you manage to stay alive, there's hope

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    argentina
    Oh, great work! have you ever painted something about ME?
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  8. David Jackson

    David Jackson Senior Member

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    Awesome artwork, @jaybird1, I'm glad I asked if you could share them with us. No wonder you can make money as an artist.

    Well, I have about as much artistic talent as a doorknob compared to you, so I think I'd better find something else to do myself...
     
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  9. jaybird1

    jaybird1

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    You're too kind @David Jackson; everyone can do it, just takes a bit of practice and confidence. I've taught people before who thought they couldn't paint and then shocked them when they produced amazing work. I didn't mean to put you off.....


    @lauluce no I haven't painted anything about ME, but it's always something I think about doing.
     
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  10. Alvin2

    Alvin2 If humans were rational...

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    How could ME/CFS people provide this service, we usually need someone to do these things for us which would be cash outflow instead of inflow ;)
     
    hellytheelephant likes this.
  11. Art Vandelay

    Art Vandelay Senior Member

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    I have been doing some book-keeping and admin work for a few small businesses from home. I'm not a qualified accountant or book-keeper but it is (mostly) not too intellectually taxing because both businesses use user-friendly accounting software. I find I can always use google to find answers to any curly questions.

    It's only a few hours a day and I am able to do most of it lying down in bed with my laptop. I try to keep all communications via email (since I find face-to-face meetings and phonecalls to be tiring) which helps.
     
  12. Murph

    Murph :)

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    Freelance writing can be a good way to make money. The market for people to review films and restaurants is saturated but the market for accounting content is quite the opposite!

    I have written stuff for accounting company websites as well as reports for accounting companies and pieces for accounting magazines. It has been quite lucrative - it's a wealthy industry with a shortage of writing talent.

    If you like the idea and think you might be well suited feel free to ask any other questions. I expect you might have to start pro bono to build a little portfolio but not for long.
     
  13. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    Hi @David Jackson,

    I'm in the same boat as you. I'm exploring building my own business because 'conventional working' patterns on other people's terms are unsustainable for me and make me too sick over time.

    Before I continue, I think it's important to define what I think the main issue is with working with a fluctuating health condition: It's not that you're unable to do the job, it's that you can't always consistently show up every single day. Most companies appear to value attendance above meeting business targets. In my opinion, individuals with CFS would be much better off working in a situation where hitting targets is the priority, instead of being penalised for not showing up each day to the office or to perform a particular function (regardless of where they are in the world).

    It's not impossible to show up and perform a function. However, in order to show up you need a lot more autonomy to control your environment of work, which makes working from home a lot easier to manage.

    With the above definition in mind, I have been doing a lot of research on the subject and I have defined three paths for working on your terms from home. I personally think the last option offers the most resilience when working with a fluctuating health condition.

    Your options:
    Selling your time for money

    This has been the main suggestion in the discussion so far. Selling your paintings (very lovely by the way, @jaybird1 !), selling your services as a freelance accountant etc...

    Personally, I am doing web development for holiday homes and retreats and online session musician contracts.

    Provided you're being SPECIFIC enough (https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/getting-clients-approaching-the-company/) and can provide real value, this is great as a short term way of making some money.

    The downsides are that you're still directly trading your time for money, like you would do in a 'conventional' job setting. If you became too sick to work your income will directly suffer because of the direct time = money relationship.

    This approach is not guaranteed income and you are reliant on your health remaining fairly consistent to do the work, find new clients etc... Because of this, it's my least favored approach as someone with CFS who wishes to build a sustainable income.

    I fully recommend this as a short term venture to help keep you afloat but not as a long-term sustainable strategy.

    Working for a company remotely

    If you have the right skills, there are plenty of companies that are looking for individuals to fufuill roles remotely (this is also known as telecommuting). This is very lucrative if you're wanting to explore roles in software/web development, customer support, various design disicplines such as user experience design etc...

    https://weworkremotely.com/ is a good place to find jobs. Here is a link to a blog post that lists the best ways to find these jobs (I can vouch for the recommendations because I use them myself):

    https://skillcrush.com/2014/10/10/sites-finding-remote-work/

    Again, this approach still relies on a time = money relationship, but it's not as direct as working as a freelancer. Most companies that hire remote workers value you hitting targets over when and how you work.

    So, provided you feel you can hit the targets you can be guaranteed income even on your more unwell weeks. The other bonus is, as with working freelance, you have a lot more contorl over your environment and therefore can manage your condition better, which may make it easier to hit said targets.

    Again, if you got too sick for any reason, it could lead to losing your job and perhaps no other income streams.The other risk is 'not knowing until you try'. It might be hard to gauge just how good or bad the role will be for your health, even working from home until you do it.

    I personally haven't worked for a remote job so I can't vouch personally. But I am working hard on being in a position where I could be. You need to make sure you're an active, visible member of the community online and that you can prove you are an authority on your subject. For me, I am establishing myself as someone who is great at customer experience by starting my own blog on the subject and getting involved int he community. It's visible steps like that which make you attractive to employers looking to hire remotely. It's a relationship built on trust so you need to openly show how trustworthy you can be.

    I would NOT recommend doing this approach AND freelance work. Depending on your health, from my own experience, you won't be able to do both.

    Building a platform online that let's you make a passive income

    This is the long-term game I recommend playing and the best option by far. Building your own passive income streams. Passive income means working hard on creating value now and seeing the rewards appear later.

    You have to find a real problem real people have and be that bridge that takes people from their current state to what they consider their ideal state to be. You then need to create valuable content, services, products etc. for people to use/consume over time.

    Example 1: you're passionate about internet routers, so you start a blog that reviews different types of internet routers that you have bought and tested. With each review you leave a link to the routers on Amazon. Because you have worked hard at making your blog an excellent resource of high quality content that people feel they find valuable to look at, they are likely to click through your link to the router and buy it. This link would be an Amazon AFFILIATE link where you get paid commission per item sold. So you make passive income when someone puts trust in your recommendation.

    Example 2: You have built an audience by discussing a topic that interests you online on a blog/YouTube channel/podcast etc... These people consume your content because they have similar interests and they like how you present it. They find value in every bit of content they consume from you. Because you have built a community, you get to have back and forth discussions with a group of people within a niche. You get to understand the common problems people have, which lets you come up with a software service that completes a task people find valuable and saves them time. You then tweak this product over time with feedback from your audience to make it the best you can be. People pay a small monthly subscription to use the service. You make money every month not by trading time but by maintain the service.

    This is my preferred way because even if you get too sick to work for a couple of weeks, you still have money coming in because you have created value that people regularly consume. It still takes hard work, but it's work that pays off over time and continues to pay off.

    The con is it takes a long time to establish yourself as an authority/expert in something and trial and error to know what people in your space consider valuable or not, and that can change over time. You have to really enjoy keeping yourself relevant.

    Here are some books and links on the subject:
    https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Meaningful-Story-Ideas-That-Fly-ebook/dp/B016CUPB5K

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Badass-Making-Awesome-Kathy-Sierra/dp/1491919019/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

    (just so you know, these are not affiliate links, lol)

    If you're successful with any of these approaches:
    If you're successful in any of these approaches: invest as much of your money as you can into passive income assets as you can. Stocks, bonds, real estate etc... These are other ways of creating passive income for yourself.

    These links give you, in my opinion, the BEST information out there on how t olook at money, and how to make money work for you instead of you working for the money.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Money-Master-Game-Financial-Freedom/dp/1476757801

    https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCT3EznhW_CNFcfOlyDNTLLw

    The guy who runs Mr. Money Moustache was able to invest at least 70% of his income into passive income streams by changing his lifestyle to let him do this. Another way to look at this is that you're planting seeds that will grow into flowers and then plant their own seeds etc.. so your money starts making money.

    The main lesson to learn is you need to delay gratification if you want true financial stability.

    If you're worried about success in any of these approaches because you're worried you will need thousands and thousands of people to make the business work, you'll be suprised how little people you need to be successful: http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/

    Skills needed for all these approaches:

    The main skills for any of these approaches is the ability to sell yourself and your blogs, portfolio etc, get your product/content in front of people and be able to hold their attention better than other people.

    To do this, you need to learn digital marketing (also known as inbound marketing, which includes SEO, content marketing etc...) and how to get to the point about how valuable you are.

    https://www.quicksprout.com/university/ and https://www.quicksprout.com/blog/

    http://backlinko.com/blog

    https://moz.com/ (click the learn SEO link at the top, look at the 'Get started with section' and read all the main guides)

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/This-book-will-teach-you-write-better/0989895300 - this book teaches you how to get to the point and how to sell yourself. Lettting people know precisely what you can do for them.

    I know this is a tonne of information but I hope you find it useful, I'll be happy to answer any questions :).
     
  14. David Jackson

    David Jackson Senior Member

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    Well, first of all, let me say thank you to all the contributors to this thread; it's been appreciated. I'm really glad I asked.

    For a long time, I was thinking that I would eventually find what was wrong with me, and then I would get all the way better in the space of just a few weeks. After that, I would be able to address things like what to do for money, etc.

    However, I'm starting to think, now, that it's going to be a much more gradual recovery, where the rest of my energy slowly comes back over a number of years - much the way it has done over the last two years, really, to get me to this level. Thus, waiting until I'm fully recovered before looking at how to earn money isn't going to be very practical at all.

    I know exactly what I want to do when I'm 100%, but I'm not certain how to earn money when I'm just at 5 or 6%, or all the percentages in between where I am now, and fully recovered. Not having a great deal of actual experience compounds the difficulty.

    @markielock, I really like your post because it put to words a lot of the thoughts that had been swirling around in my head for the last few days, especially regarding the pros and cons of the different ways of working from home. Clearly, you've been thinking about this topic a lot, and you're also rather good at explaining it all too. You've advanced me several steps ahead of where I was, and given me plenty to think about. You've probably also saved me a lot of trial and error with those links that you give as well - so thanks for taking the time to write all this.

    I do like the passive way of earning as well, and had been thinking about it a little. But the big question is, what should I get into, there? I know a lot about conspiracy theories, haha. I wonder if I could dovetail that...

    Just thinking out loud there. I'm going to go away and mull over all this for a few days and see what comes to me.

    Thanks again to everyone for all the ideas!
     
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  15. PennyIA

    PennyIA Senior Member

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    I was going to suggest volunteering to do the books for an animal rescue or any other small, nearby charity. Just ask if you can post your card in return for offering your service or have them include a small statement in any flyers or newsletters they post ONCE you think you can take on an additional client or two. I know that, me, personally? We're looking at eventually getting an accountant to help with our local Home Owner Association, because we think we can "maybe" handle the managing of the property without a management company; and any, I mean ANY accountant would be better than what we have in the management company we have right now. (it's a small association with 27 homes, and the books actually LOOK like they've been cooked, it's really, really bad).
     
  16. markielock

    markielock staying independent, one day at a time

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    @David Jackson , No problem! Thank you for your kind words :)

    This is the billion dollar question! When it comes to a topic: just start with what you know or what interests you. There are two approaches to figuring out what to do in that topic.

    The first approach is one I have been hinting at: talking about and getting involved in an interest online, such as conspiracy theories! Carve out a little place on the Internet where people with the same interest can come and get value each time they come. You can talk to them, get to know them, identify their problems.

    The second approach is picking an industry, such as estate agents or restaurants, contact them and ask them what their day to day problems are. Get in touch with enough people and you will start to see the patterns.

    The benchmark I use is if you can get to a point where you can identify the top 10 problems and then the top 3 problems the people in that interest/industry face, then you will be in a good position to start experimenting with making a good solution for people.

    Speak to enough people they will TELL you (usually indirectly) what to make to help them. If you help enough people you help yourself :).
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
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  17. PennyIA

    PennyIA Senior Member

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    And if anyone in that position is a friend of yours and one of your top problems is NOT one that they face? Or two or three of them? Ask them why it's not a problem for them. Either they didn't think to mention it... or even better... they have ideas for solutions.

    I was in a key place once where I knew of a problem and had an idea to solve it... but was working 60 hour weeks, a single mother, dealing with chronic pain... with my computer programming skills in the 90's, I was certain an online system with a database would allow nursing homes to post when medicare paid beds are available (most nursing homes limited the number of beds they make available for medicare patients since they got more from insurance/life savings/etc than they got from medicare. And they literally were taking on average about 100 calls a day ASKING if they had a bed available from hospitals, family members, etc. And those family members and hospitals were calling every nursing home in the area. Wheras if I could build a system for the nursing homes where they could update their information online (and I would be willing to link to/from their website and provide their website for them if they so desired ... for a fee of course)... and they could refer all callers to the web... and if you were a family member or hospital and could do a search for a nursing home within x radius of your location (say 50 miles); AND see a rating system and link out to websites instead of trying to look up each individual nursing home and trying to identify if they take any medicaid patients (or not, if you had insurance/savings); let alone a bed available... it would save EVERYONE time and money. I had the skill set, not the time nor focus to do anything about it.

    But really... half the time they 'know' how to fix it, but also don't have the time to invest in solving it for more tham themselves.
     
  18. David Jackson

    David Jackson Senior Member

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    Thanks for those encouraging words, @PennyIA. I have uncooked books before, and I know what you are talking about. The trouble with me is that I am incapable of saying anything that I am not 100% sure of - so before I tell anyone I can do their books for them, I really just need a bit of actual experience somewhere to see that I can... I'm weird, basically.

    Thanks again, @markielock. Like I said, you've probably saved me a great deal of time with that post. I'm sure what you've given me is going to come in very handy.

    Well, this has been a good thread, hasn't it?
     
  19. Daffodil

    Daffodil Senior Member

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    i was thinking of taking pizza orders over the phone. not glamorous or well paying, but maybe can make a tiny bit of money. i think my brain could handle that at this point, although it could not before.
     
  20. caledonia

    caledonia

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    Thanks for your informative post @markielock.

    I've been interested in trying out option #3. Any idea of the tax implications? Is passive income earned income or not?

    I can also add Fizzle.co as an excellent resource. They help people write blogs which earn income in various ways. There is so much scammy stuff out there - these guys are the real deal.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017

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