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I Work All the Time…When Will I Get a Break?

Mom at WorkOh man, I remember when I first realized I could earn money as an online writer, I felt like I worked all the time. I’d get up early and write before the kids woke up. Once I got them up, ready for school and successfully on the school bus, I’d go back to work.

Sometimes it was the pangs of hunger that made me realize that I had been at the computer for hours only to realize that I was still in my PJs and the kids were on their way home. Like a nut I would first take a shower then make my bed, prepare snack grab a quick meal and prepare myself for the after school hurricane of activities.

Job # 2

The hours immediately after school involved listening to the stories of the day, doing homework, eating, running errands (my kids would always find a random school supply list in the bottom of their bags for items that were required the following day) car pool to practice of some sort and then prepare dinner.

Super MomOnce the dinner preparations were done, the mini-hurricane would come home and a smaller storm would take place. The minute my husband came home there were the war stories from the job and of course the kids would have to give him a run down if their day. I’m sure this routine sound familiar to many of you (notice how I skipped the part about the household chores ).

Back to Job # 1

Once everyone was fed, house put back in some sort of order, the dog walked and the nightly routine completed, it was time to get back to job #1 which was getting as much writing done as possible. Every day when I woke up, I would bump my head on the HUGE carrot that kept me going. That carrot was residual income. I knew that if I stuck with it long enough I could eventually earn enough residual income that would allow me the freedom of working less.

Stages of Success

My current residual income didn’t happen overnight. I spent more time than I should writing for extremely low pay (I did that initially because I lacked confidence). I also spent more time than I should writing for Demand Studios (I did that because I was silly). You see, I had to write for up front pay for several years until my residuals picked up to a point where I could let the up front writing gigs go.

After all, my hubby and I have kids to feed and a mortgage to pay. Keep in mind that when my last full-time job moved several hundred miles south in 2001, so did my $75,000 a year salary. That’s a lot of lettuce to make up. I bumbled around with part-time jobs for a few years until I finally found online writing. The good thing is that my work from home expenses are minimal so we can survive on less.

What I’m saying is that you have to work real hard and stick with what you have until you can get to the next step. Since I chose not to seek private clients, I had to stick with Demand Studios as my up front pay and work like the dickens to build up my residuals. As my residuals grew, my reliance on Demand Studios lessened. My current work schedule is a dream compared to what it was when I first started 4 1/2 years ago.

There are four things that I want you to take away from this post:HUGE Carrot

  1. Place a HUGE carrot over your bed. Your carrot is the goal that makes all the hard work worth while. My initial carrot is to earn $100 a day in residual income (clearly define your goal so you know when you’ve reached it). Once you’ve reached your carrot get a new and bigger one.
  2. Be prepared to work hard and for a long time. You’ll not only have to work hard writing, but you’ll have to work hard at juggling your family responsibilities along with your writing schedule. I’m telling you now, find a stress reliever that will be your “go to” when things get rough because there will be times when things get rough.
  3. Chart your progress. Sometimes seeing your progress on paper is the only indicator that you’re actually moving in the right direction. More often than not, especially in the beginning, you’ll feel like you’re not making any progress at all. A trick I learned is to track percentages rather than dollars.
  4. Don’t forget to get some exercise. The last thing you want to do is reach your goals and then have to spend all of your hard earned cash on a new and larger wardrobe.

{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Ken August 17, 2011, 10:25 am


    I love number 3. I go to the gym in the mornings before or work or directly after work-prior to going home. (I change at the office.) I know that if I allow myself to get in front of the computer in the mornings or directly after work that I’ll get trapped.

    I like the idea of building up to resids and your story is a constant inspiration. The carrot for me is working part-time in creating resids for the 3-5 years I have until I retire from the Army and have a good foundation made. I’d love to be able to pull the pension and work from the house at that time.

    As usual, I look forward to your posts and you remain the the shizzle-bomb-diggity!

    • Felicia August 17, 2011, 11:11 am

      Wow, that’s the highest complement I’ve ever been paid. I’m the “shizzle-bomb-diggity!” 😀

      Ken, I think you’re pretty cool too (even though you’re a Boston fan…we bleed Yankee pinstripes in my house). 😉

      • Ken Muise August 18, 2011, 10:13 pm


        You know that’s gonna’ change the complexion of this whole thing. Pedroia Rules!

        • Felicia August 19, 2011, 7:34 am

          Uh oh. I knew things would change between us, but I love ya anyway!

          You have to understand that I am the granddaughter, daughter, sister, wife, mother and sister-in-law to die hard Yankee fans. I have an osmotic relationship with the Yankees. From young I knew that Yankees and Red Sox don’t mix.

          Because they’re always on during baseball season, I’ve learned more than any non baseball fan should learn about baseball. However, because I’m not a true baseball fan, I watch the game picking up idiosyncrasies that most true fans ignore.

          Each player has a special name according to their idiosyncrasies or features. In my household the players have different names. Sebathia is called Wankie, Teixeria is Mr. Intensity, Granderson is the Cookie Jar Thief, Burnett the Crane, Colon is Fred Flintstone and so on.

          The energy in the house increases almost to an uncomfortable level when the Yankees and Red Sox play so I often find other things to do outside of the house. However, the next time the two teams play, I’ll watch Pedroia to see what he’s all about.

          As an aside, however, I have an increasing affection for Mr. Intensity (Mark Teixeria). His ability to hit the ball from both sides of the plate and field is a rather attractive quality, not to mention intense stare he gives pitchers when he’s at the plate.

          So there you have it. My take on the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry.

  • Michael August 17, 2011, 11:37 am

    This is a timely post. I am dealing with the upfront hard work bit, hoping my efforts pay off. I think they will if I keep at it. I agree with you that the best idea is to write for the upfront pay while you’re working on residuals and then slowly shift that ratio over time. Another solid post.

  • Angela August 17, 2011, 5:08 pm

    The title of this post and numbers 2 and 4 hit me right between the eyes. Your last few posts have really fired me into action, and I’ve been working like a dervish trying to establish a foundation for my happily-ever-after residual income lifestyle.

    This was just the boost that I needed for today. I did a marathon writing session this weekend, 24 hours or so with no sleep or food, and today it’s taking its toll on me.

    I couldn’t believe it when I saw this title. It’s the exact question that I asked myself this morning and which some of my loved ones have been asking me more urgently for the last few weeks. I work an incredible number of hours on my 9 to 5 and now the added responsibility of doing what I need to do to make my online writing pay off is straining me just a bit.

    In addition, 95% of my workday is spent in an online context, so all of this sitting has blown me up like a balloon with all of the attending negative side effects that overweight brings. I was a gym rat up until about a year and a half ago and never felt better in my life, so I recognize very clearly the differences between being sedentary and being active.

    I say all this to say that sometimes guideposts present themselves at just the right time if we keep ourselves in a state of mind to receive them. Today’s post was my guidepost.

    Every day I run over to NJFM at least a couple of times a day if I don’t see a new article in my feed or receive an email from you that a new post is available. I feel comfortable here. It’s my newfound ‘vacation spot’ where I refuel and retool so that I can press forward to meet my goals.

    Another light bulb has come on so that I can see even clearer the path to working smarter and not harder. Tonight when I get off I’m going to put my goals to paper, set out a clear plan of action that’s more effective and less taxing, and get this body in gear to get moving again.

    I didn’t have a hope that I could get my question answered this quickly. When will I get a break? If I keep pressing on with reasonableness and consistency, it might just be sooner than I think.

    Thank you again, Felicia, for all that you bring to us.

    • Michael August 17, 2011, 10:17 pm

      I go through periods like this too where I’m writing and coming up with ideas at a near manic rate. I find that while I often get quite a bit done when I’m in that state it’s never as much as I think I got done. It also throws me off later when the fatigue hits and suddenly I don’t have the energy to work a regular day. I find consistency and working hard within reason is the best bet.

  • Joni August 17, 2011, 6:23 pm

    Another inspirational message. I do hope you keep NJFM forever! I did not have to experience Panda because I have only been writing about 9 months online and only for up front sites. When ya’ll speak of Panda, I imagine it to be as if I woke up one day and NJFM was GONE! I do not have a Plan B.
    Thanks for keeping me going another day Felicia.

  • Loretta August 17, 2011, 6:24 pm

    Felicia, you are indeed a Supermom. My children are grown, gone and on their own and I still cannot find enough time in a day to write to my satisfaction, but I keep plugging away. I like the idea of waking up to a carrot overhead. It sure beats sitting in front of my PC with a brick wall blocking my thought process when I need to be writing. You are absolutely right about exercising. In fact, sometimes when I am unable to get the words flowing, I take a break from the computer and go do exercises. I am one of those people who enjoys exercising, so it’s a fun break for me. If only it paid in $$$ I’d be home free! One thing I know I can depend on – I always get inspired by your posts.

  • Felicia August 17, 2011, 8:49 pm

    I’ve got to say, NJFM motivates me as much as it motivates you all. I get post ideas at the weirdest times spurred on by the most seemingly insignificant occurrences (usually when I stop thinking and just allow myself to be). I’m learning to heed and yield to such moments. As long as I learn to mentally shut up and allow the posts to flow, NJFM will continue to exist. If one day you come by and it’s not here, it’s because I “overthunkit.”

    Loretta, I’m not so much a Supermom. I’m just a gal that’s doing what a gal’s gotta do. I’m sure you can relate. I sure wish I had your joy for exercising. I get spurts where I absolutely love it and then there are days like today. 🙂

    • Crystal August 18, 2011, 11:32 pm

      Love your “Trading Goals for Shopping Lists” post, Felicia – absolutely brilliant!

      • Felicia August 19, 2011, 7:36 am

        Thanks Crystal. I added a link to it in your comment just in case anyone else wants to trade their goals for shopping lists.

        I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that site.

  • Mandy August 17, 2011, 10:28 pm

    Thanks Felicia! I really needed this post! Working from home is a great blessing, but the unexpected struggles can derail us. It isn’t as neat as a 9-5 job. You don’t start with a nice hourly income and hours to match. For a long time, I thought I was doing something wrong needing to work so many hours. After all, working from home meant life would be simpler, right? WRONG! Most businesses require an initial investment. Online writing may not want your money, but it does want your blood and sweat. Thanks for being there to show us what it looks like when it all pays off. And thanks for this post that reveals the gritty details!

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 7:08 am

      Mandy, you were on my mind when I wrote this post. I’m glad it helped.

  • Felicia, Sounds so much like me (and a million others, am sure) a couple of years ago. This year I have different kinds of pressure, but I love it. At least I can say “no” sometimes, confidently = confidently being the operative word. Oh, but I really would like to “tell the house to shut up!” – especially when I am deeply immersed in a wonderful writing project. Still – it is a lot better now than before :D.

    Haven’t thought about building a residual income though.

    Wonderful post, as always.

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 7:19 am

      Vidya, with your writing abilities and SEO knowledge, I think your doing yourself a disservice by not investigating the possibilities of residual income. I’ve finally gone 100% residual and boy is it freeing!

      I’m free to experiment as much as I want and write only when I want to. Last month was a particularly busy month for me (off line) so I only wrote a total of 20 articles/posts and 9 of them were for NJFM (which I don’t consider work), and the rest were on hobby blogs of mine. I’m still in “dabble” mode. I won’t get back to serious writing until September when school is back in session.

      I wouldn’t be able to take such writing breaks if it were not for residuals. You should give it a try. I’m a HUGE residual fan. 🙂

  • Anne Baley August 18, 2011, 6:31 am

    Felicia, you’re truly an inspiration. I start feeling like I’m on a treadmill, doing nothing but work from morning until night. Instead of telling me to take it easy, you turn it around and justify my actions, telling me they’re good and will pay off in the end. Even though it feels like it’s taking forever, it’s great to hear it from someone besides myself. I do have a carrot and it’s taped on the wall above my desk. Now the exercise part… I need to work on that. I’m experimenting with 5 minutes intervals every hour during the work day. It’s better than nothing, and I don’t feel like I’m taking away from my work hours when I do it.

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 7:23 am

      Anne, your exercise routine is a great idea. Sometimes I fall into the “all or nothing” category and burn myself out. 5 minute intervals is very doable. After all, it’s not like your co-worker in the cubicle next to you will think you’re weird or anything like that. You can run in place, do squats or even do crunches from your work desk. I really like that idea.

  • Terr August 18, 2011, 7:26 am


    Thanks for your post, and for your personal response to me. I will send you a more detailed message, but in short, it’s true that most of us have to do what we need to do to pay those bills.

    But the lesson is perseverance is the key. It’s all a matter of how bad do I want this? Do I want this? One thing I like about your blog, is that it’s produced with a very common-sense tone. There will come times where I will have to ask myself, and I do ask myself “How bad do I want this? What exactly do I want? How does this fit into my overall life plan?”

    I’m learning in spades personally that with some things, there are no shortcuts. It sucks, but I try to be grateful that this opportunity is here for me, because lots of people would love to be able to have the talent that I have.

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 2:28 pm

      Terr, for some reason your post went into the Spam folder.

      You’re right. There are times when only you know what is right for you, no matter how much advice you get from outside sources. I have the sneaking feeling that although the road ahead of you will be tough (tougher than for some), you’re going to fight through it. Don’t waste your talent.

  • Ruth August 18, 2011, 8:56 am

    Love the idea of tracking progress in percentages, not dollars. Such a good way to avoid getting discouraged and see progress when it’d otherwise be difficult to find.

  • Amanda August 18, 2011, 9:12 am

    This post comes in handy. I am at a point of screaming to myself, because I find out nobody seems to understand me. You know, when your career is concerned, everybody (yes, everybody) only looks at your monthly salary. I am yet to work out something that’s presentable. So, almost always, I find it hard to tell others what I am working on. I’m not confident of myself, and it shows. I want to find somebody to talk with, but I know no one will understand, because we are not in the same boat. I’m glad there are blogs like yours.

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 9:47 am

      Amanda, I can relate to the confidence issue. When I first started my confidence was low. Seems silly because I’ve been writing most of my life, but writing for yourself to earn money without an employer is a bit scary. Just keep at it. Your confidence will build over time.

      In the beginning I had to curb my enthusiasm about my online writing venture. It’s hard to get approving nods when you’re barely making any money. The combination of low confidence and disapproving looks was more than I could take, so I wrote quietly and kept what I was doing to myself (well, except for my hubby…he’s been a rock throughout this journey). Hang in there. It gets better.

  • Charlotte August 18, 2011, 9:22 am

    Great post at a great time!
    I’ve been dabbling on Squidoo and Info Barrel, but 99% of my money is coming from Textbroker. I’ve written 187 articles and all have been rated 4 and no rejections. I still can’t pass that darn proofreading test to get to level 5…and I was rejected by DS…so I’m thinking I really should cut back on TB and start making my own sites. I have a great deal of knowledge on several topics and I understand niche sites in theory. I just haven’t done it. But I’m pressed for time and quite honestly, it’s scares me to cut back on the area where I’m making my money.
    Now as I’ve rambled, I’ve decided to finish this one TB article and then buy a domain name and get busy.
    Thanks for “listening” to me 🙂

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 9:51 am

      Charlotte, you can get started for free if you use a site like Blogger. This way you can learn the ropes for free and then get your own domain and hosting account when you’re ready for it.

      I like operating at a profit so I always try to make sure my writing pays for my business related expenditures. I’m cheap…er…frugal. 🙂

  • Gip @ So Much More Life August 18, 2011, 9:31 am

    I’ve been self-employed in some way or another most of my life, and decided when I’ve done enough has always been the hardest part… “Sure, this is a nice museum, but I really need to be doing something.”

    Well-rested and inspired people do everything better, so breaks during the day and days off during the week are essential for me to maintain productivity.

    Nice post, as usual.

    • Felicia August 18, 2011, 9:54 am

      “Well-rested and inspired people do everything better…”

      Gip, I’d like to borrow that phrase.

  • Alina Bradford August 18, 2011, 7:02 pm

    As always, great advice, Felicia!

  • Gisela August 19, 2011, 2:12 am

    My goals are pretty high and I have a rather short time in which to complete them. I want to first earn enough to not have to work outside of my home, if I have to work a regular job my body and health will suffer greatly. That is plenty of motivation. The second is I want to move out of state in no more than one year from now, I need to be able to rely on writing to make that possible.

    My plan to speed up the process is that for every content mill article I write, I write 2 residual ones for either my own blogs/sites or for hubpages or helium. This way, at least I hope, the residual will grow quicker.

    I agree with tracking your progress, since using spreadsheets to track everything I can see that I’m earning when I thought I wasn’t. That creates major motivation.

  • Crystal August 18, 2011, 11:50 pm

    Thanks for the numbered summary, Felicia. Life has been getting in the way the past three months or so and this clear, concise reminder is just what I need to help me get back on track.

  • Ken Muise August 19, 2011, 4:44 pm

    May the the holy cows of an entire nation shine down upon me! Are you kidding? You can teach me how to blog and earn residual income AND talk Yanks/Sox? Holy cowabunga!

    Texeira: I don’t hate him.
    Jeter: A great professional, dirt dog, classy athlete.
    Mariano Rivera: Same as Jeter only he’s from Panama and so is my wife so I actually root for him.
    Cano: The best pure hitter on that team.
    Posada: Great now, a little too heated for me when he was younger.
    A-Rod: The ultimate, scum-bag athlete. And not just because he’s a Yankee. The Red Sox had a scum bag for a while too, and his name was Manny.

    My world changes during football season when I actually plan my life around Sundays. Baseball is my passion but I am more intense about football because each game means more in the short season…unless its’ Sox/Yanks…then each game to me is like WS/SB all in one!

    This is great fun!

    • Felicia August 21, 2011, 7:50 am

      I’ve got to agree with you on A-Rod. I asked my hubby about Pedroia. Well, this is a family friendly site, but he basically said that Pedroia is a royal pain when he plays the Yanks.

  • Laura @ Cornerstones for Parents August 20, 2011, 11:30 am

    Thanks Felicia,
    I find that I get discouraged at times – like I am spinning my wheels – putting in a lot of effort for little results. But then the other day, I used my google analytics and looked at my graph for the past TWO years that I have been running my website. That general upward trend was very encouraging. Slow, but steady. Part of what I do is as a ministry to parents (although making a little on the side is also nice!) so I try to keep that in perspective as well. Thanks for all your tips and encouragement.
    Laura Kuehn, LCSW

  • Melissa August 21, 2011, 4:17 pm

    Felicia, did you forget the “Dear Melissa” at the beginning of this post? Because it sounds like it was written directly for me, and lots of others, I bet. LOL Thank you for a wonderful post. You really know how to put things into perspective!

    • Felicia August 22, 2011, 11:17 am

      LOL! I’m glad it helped you, Melissa.

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