My Twitter account was compromised this past weekend by a phishing scam that, in retrospect, should have been quite clear. As a result, I inadvertently sent direct messages to numerous people that may have done the same thing to their accounts. In the course of all this, I've gotten a few messages promising me that I can "Earn Guaranteed $8000/Month Working From Home!"
I've been pondering lately why these ads get such a high hit rate. Certainly, many people want to work from home — surveys find huge chunks of people would like to do so, and there are real benefits (some of which I'm writing about next week). Of course, the fact that such messages come as a result of a phishing scam suggests that there is probably not a legitimate job offer out there — just waiting for you! — to earn a good salary working at home. In my experience, there are basically two ways to earn $8000/month working at home:
1. Work for a company that already pays you $8000/month, and then negotiate the ability to work from home some days or more regularly.
2. Do something entrepreneurial you dream up that brings in $8000/month.
The issue is that many people caught in these work-from-home scams seem to believe that working from home is about doing a quick project somebody else has drummed up while the baby is napping, and that you won't have to pay for childcare. While I do know a few people who manage to earn $8000/month during the time their kids are in preschool or napping, the majority of people who earn $96,000 per year working from home do exactly what people who earn $96,000 working from an office do. That is, they work full-time. They devote their time and attention to growing their business. The fact that they do it from home is nice, but is kind of a side issue to the business.
So how do you do something entrepreneurial that keeps income high? In my first book, Grindhopping, I created an elaborate metaphor about cavemen hunting mastodon. Mastodons are big, career-building projects. You always want to be seeking one of those out. However, they are not exactly common, and don't drop in your lap. So you also need some "fish and berries" projects — reachable, good projects — and some "grass and tree bark" projects. These are projects that are quick and pay well (if not necessarily the be-all and end-all of what you want to show for your career).
The question is how much time you devote to each. I'd say 50% to mastodon hunting and eating, 30% to fish and berries, and 20% to grass and tree bark. That's a hard proportion to keep up, as the 50% of time devoted to the latter two categories will, in some cases, produce 100% of your income. But mastodons are what bring in the work down the road. I had basically zero income from 168 Hours for the 18 months it took to sell it. I ghost wrote a book (grasses and tree bark!) and did magazine pieces (fish and berries) to earn money. But now, the speaking gigs and gigs like my BNET 168 Hours blog have come to me because of that. It's about keeping the pipeline filled. Just how you would with any other business. It's about long-term planning and prospecting and strategizing. Unfortunately for those drawn to scam links, there are no surveys you can fill out online while the kids are watching Dora that will get those $8000 checks coming regularly.