I once took a Saturday freelance editing class at Duke University, and the instructor began with the line, "If you're in this for the money, you're in the wrong class." Freelance editing has been more lucrative for me than writing has because the work is more consistent. There will always be website copy to proofread. Editing, however, is really, REALLY boring and offers no creative element unless you have to revamp someone's dissertation. Torture.
Unless you have another way to write about teenage vampire romance, the chances of making a lot of money writing from home are slim. With some connections and some photography skills, magazine copy can be worthwhile. In general, writing articles just to have clips to show a major magazine requires a lot of research, travel, and time for little or no money.
With a toddler and a family business to co-run, I had to find a way to make money without the overhead, travel, or wait (for responses to queries). That's where TeachersPayTeachers came in. Now that the site takes school purchase orders, there's a lot of money to be made, and there are folks who are making it . . . and finding themselves able to leave the classroom and control their own schedules.
So, what does a passionate writer do until the sales start to pop? I found that I had to change the way I lived in order to live the life I wanted. Here are some recommendations if you're serious about writing from home:
1. Move. But that's so drastic! So is quitting your day job. We went from 2200 square feet (plus two attics and a basement) in a high-tax city to 1600 square feet (no attic, no basement) in a rural area. We cut our mortgage in half, our taxes in half, my husband's commute in half, and our electric bill in half. (The real sacrifice here is, of course, the 30-minute commute to Target.)
2. Hire an accountant. You might think you're saving money by doing them yourself, but a professional can find all kinds of tidbits here and there.
3. Watch "Hoarders" and "Hoarding: Buried Alive" at least once a week. I watch an episode or , two while I'm cleaning. Purge and sell. I'm just getting into Craig's List, eBay, and consigning.
4. Open several bank accounts (at the same bank so that you can see them all online at the same time) and tuck away for emergencies, repairs, and holidays. You will not know what you're making month to month, so you need to save where you can when you can. Have a yard sale just for the Christmas fund. Sell on eBay just for the emergency fund. Consign just for the kids' clothing money. Using an envelope system works just as well if you won't borrow from yourself. I've tried it---epic fail.
5. Brace yourself for hard choices. Last week, we became a one-car family. Last year, we were on the borderline for Medicaid qualification. Today, I put my grandmother's glass candy dishes on eBay.
6. Cut up your credit cards. What the what? Leaving teaching or any other semi-secure job is ter.ri.fy.ing. If your security is in your credit cards, you'll use them instead of choosing not to make the purchases. You may not have the extra income to pay off that bad debt, so don't accumulate it. Set up an emergency fund first and then, snip-snip!
7. Hang this sign up somewhere in your work space: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The list of what you might have to do to set up life so that you can quit your day job will be long. Take one bite at a time and do it well.