How to (really) earn $8000/month working from home

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.

11 thoughts on “How to (really) earn $8000/month working from home

  1. Also I think it’s important to note that working from home is about reducing commute times and the office water cooler chit chat and really working 35, or 40 or 45 or more hours a week. It isn’t necessarily about working less or having an easier workday. For many salaried folks who work from home they are on a blackberry leash so Sundays and other times they are expected to work. For entrepreneurs it is similiary about maximixing work — and it is a lonely and work-intensive road — most folks who have never had to earn what they eat really do not understand how it works.. childcare is extremely expensive … and most working at home entrepreneurs still pay for it..
    For a working mother this often means, wake up work at 6 a.m. Or take kids to pool, then put them to bed, then do another hour or two of work at night. A home office means the chance when you take out daily commutes, bs meetings, colleagues who weigh you down on chit chat and focus on clients and the bottom line all the time all day with no down time.. you get to 35 or 45 or 50 hours of work.. and it is very very intense to live this way. A lot of folks like water cooler chit chat the down time a paid salary implies and they like that the responsibility for this lands on someone else’s desk. But they are going to be forever leashed to a commute, an office and a salary structure not based on sales and revenue collection. There are trade offs.
    When you work from home you maximize both say your regular work and your family work b/c you can work from 8 to 6 (assuming your childcare is in home or near your home and affordable which is a big assumption in modern day america as affordable local childcare before kindgergarten is a bit of a disaster.. but ) you are really really working.. and most people don’t get this… it is the best of both worlds but also the most work of both worlds.

  2. Another way to look at this is that working from home can allow you to work fewer hours, avoid paying for childcare (or much childcare) and wind up with the same net income. If you earn $8000/month, pay $3500 in taxes and pay $3000 for childcare for three children, you only have to earn $1500/month after taxes if you avoid paying for childcare to match your full-time “net income.” There are career trade-offs, but for some people, that decision is sensible, and the tax rate is lower when household income is lower.

  3. Basically moms are penalized for work in this country. And most people are penalized for work that creates income by income tax. The earned income credit for poor people should be eliminated — how comes 5x percent of the country pays no income tax but working moms pay income tax. Conservative women are so busy talking about abortion and birth control they think we should all just have 10 kid and have sex without birth control they are missing the point… We are penalized for being married for having two incomes while poor people get the EITC and get paid for being poor and rich people hide al their income an pay no tax. It is obscene. With the money we are sending to pakistan and to paying poor people for being poor, we should get sensible child care that allows professional women to contribute just like we did when our work was needed to make world war II. Is it no less necessary now that we are in economic crisis.
    I love Laura but I find it hard to believe that fiction writing or even freelance non fiction writing pays for a nanny and daycare for three kids. Work = making money. Working mothers = have a very hard time making money and justifying their salaries even when they make more than their husbands. And are among the most oppressed women in the world. This is because we live in a sexist world that oppresses women. I really cannot see any other reason for it sorry to be negative. I’ve seen the numbers from publishers and it isn’t really working if you are doing your hobby while your husband makes a ton of money…What we have to talk about is the hard things that have to happen so women can MAKE money and have power. Getting your husband to “let” you work or living in a country whose tax policy eliminates your sensible right to work is umm not empowered. We are not there yet. It is doing your art while your husband works. Maternity leave should be paid by the government to women who pay in to SS and unemployment.. hello wtf am I paying taxes for if I get nothing. If we can pay poor people to be poor we can pay women to breast feed and cut back the first six months. And by cut back I mean work from home and breast feed which is a public health issue. We should be paying women to breast feed not subsidizing poverty.

    1. @Cara- phew. I think I had to stop reading at the line that US working mothers were among the most oppressed women in the world. Let’s try places where women routinely die in childbirth, or are raped as a calculated war-time decision, or have their genitals mutilated or can be stoned for adultery or… on and on. As for whether my writing is a fun little hobby, I don’t really consider it that.

      1. Laura,
        You made a sensible decision to pursue a career that can work well with family needs. If you were a bus driver or a prison guard, the whole breast-feed-while-working during the first six months would be harder.

        1. I agree. I have chosen a career that I love (teaching) which is on the surface appears to fit in easily with being a Mom (a job I also love), but there will always issues. My husband will be adjusting work hours and taking days off to accommodate the fact that our sons’ school schedules conflict with the district I work in. I also need to find child care for days when my husband is away.

          I made a choice to stay home with my kids, which was supported by my husband, not dictated by him. I chose to work in a lower-paying district than the one I live in b/c I had the security of a guaranteed job when my leave was up. Five years per child is allowed, other districts give you two years only.

          We can live with our choices and often we must work within that choice for a while until we can see another way to work things out. I would not give up my career to choose another solely b/c it brings in more money. (The fact that a friend mentioned she’d like to switch to teaching b/c “no offense, it’s really a part-time job” is another story.)

        2. @Twin Mom- it really had little to do with family needs. I decided to become a writer long before having kids, and indeed did the freelance thing years before having kids as well. I thought it was a better way to earn more money than you would on staff as a writer somewhere, and still have the freedom to pursue book projects and have your byline all over the place.

    2. Wow! Where is that little button that says, “I find this reply offensive?”. I would definitely click on that, and if I were you, Laura, I would click it about ten times. But perhaps that would interfere with your little “hobby”. Keep up the good work, Laura. I have gained so much knowledge from your writings, and have recommended your book to many of my clients, many of whom are entrepreneurs.

    3. Hi Cara, I was almost ready to agree with you until this line:

      “I love Laura but I find it hard to believe that fiction writing or even freelance non fiction writing pays for a nanny and daycare for three kids. Work = making money.”

      This is exactly me. I’m a freelance writer writing non-fiction and it pays our mortgage, our nanny, most of the household expenses and even provides work for a few other people I hire as contractors. My husband does work too, but he makes about a third of what I do (and I’m okay with that! His job was our anchor when I was getting started and we make a terrific team. I couldn’t do much without him.).

      But I don’t entirely think American professional women are THE MOST oppressed people. A lot of us are pretty lucky. It could always be much worse.

  4. Twin Mom – I don’t know how most people could work enough to earn $8000/month without paying for childcare, unless they hardly sleep at all! Maybe if the kids are all school-aged and in school all week it would work. But my kids are 3 and 6 and I can’t get much work done when they are awake, especially not work that requires concentration. I can do an hour or two at night after they go to bed but I can’t stay up till 2 am working or I am a miserable grumpy mom and wife and my work is hardly the quality it should be. I certainly don’t need full-time 9+ hours a day childcare the way I did when I worked in the corporate world but I do need regular childcare to have a productive business.

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