Keepin' it real

Helpful Hint : This “How To” is not one of the wrong ones.

When you start working from home (or when you’re preparing to) you may be seduced by a siren call which has tempted many unwary souls onto a particular path. I heard the call and followed it.

This path is not evil, or dangerous. In fact, it is highly popular and can be extremely lucrative for some.

I’m warning you about it, because choosing that path can take away a lot of your valuable time and energy.

Worse than that, it can drain some –  or all of your self confidence – and I don’t want that to happen to you.

We’ll walk the path together so that you can recognise it and be prepared to avoid it.

And then I’ll show you a safe detour.


Getting Started


Is it really that easy?A lot of people who dream of working from home, start by trying a few side hustles. I was one of those people.

A side hustle is a way to make some extra money without quitting your day job.

I worked part time but I spent every other waking moment devouring all of the “How To’s” on making-money-fast.


Who wouldn’t?

We would all like more money.

And we’d all like it fast.

I soaked up those money spinners like a dehydrated sponge.

How To start a six figure Blog that would enable me to live on a Caribbean island in two years

How To outsource everything to Fiverr and indulge my dream of driving all over the U.S. in a Winnebago

How To use SEO to discover the secret of the Crystal Skulls…

You get the gist. I’m sure you’ve read them too.

I ate and slept long tailed keywords, niche websites, affiliations (Amazon, CJ, ClickBank, et al), evergreen content, being real, faking it until it feels real, knowing slightly more than the next person so that I’m an expert.

I had this stuff down.

Hanging the washing out is such a dragNow, I am in the enviable position of working from home.

You can read how I managed that here.

And yes, it is lovely – especially as I live in the Outer Hebrides. (Hanging out the washing is such a drag…)

I’ve just enjoyed the first winter where I didn’t have to face the daily struggle to my car while maintaining a 45 degree stance against the gales and horizontal sleet.

At home, I’m livin’ the dream.

I have a website for my work as a Freelance Writer and two others. The two others are growing slowly and have their full complement of Social Media, weekly newsletters and Blog Posts.


Confession Time

So – were those side hustles paying off?

I’m about to make a confession that may rock the very foundations of the “How To” make-a-ton-of-money-world…

…or as I like to call it “yes-it-may-happen-but-when?”

Ready? *Takes a deep breath*

It ain’t that easy.


You Want Authentic?

He does his best...Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love what I do. I’m totally blissed out when I work on my websites.

I particularly love, love, love Social Media.

Which is just as well because on a good day, my internet is powered by an arthritic hamster limping in a rusty hexagon.

Nothing as smooth as an oiled wheel for that bad boy.


Social Media Blues…

Updating two lots of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and YouTube Channels should be a relatively quick job.

It isn’t.

Sometimes, I’m still at it when my Long Suffering (But Hugely Supportive) Husband comes home – and I start work at 8 am. just after he leaves for work.

Run!I am a patient person.

I’m an ex-Nurse. It’s in my genes.

But some days, I can feel the frustration building up inside me and it’s only held in check by the thin veneer of my deceptively calm exterior.

Er – you might want to take a few steps back. That thing’s gonna blow any time now…


So…Am I Rich Yet?

Ah, the 64 million dollar question.

It probably won’t come as shocking news to most of my fellow entrepreneur-work-at-homers that I can’t live solely off my websites.

Not yet.

A quote makes everything better

So, while I’m working on world domination writing blog posts, something else has to pay the bills. That would be my Freelance Writer gigs.

Actually, it’s not.

It’s mostly my Long Suffering (But Hugely Supportive) Husband – but I do contribute when I can.

Why only when I can?



Time Management and Choices

I need a rest...Have you noticed how there is never enough time? If I had more, I’d start working out how to manage it.

I have a constant mantra playing on a loop in my brain. “Need-to-pay-bills but must-work-on-websites“.

Does anyone else have this issue? Please tell me that you do.

Disclaimer: If anyone tells me that we all have the same 24 hours, there may be repercussions. Did you see that unexploded bomb just now?

Do you focus on the short-term but necessary financial gain of working for Clients?

Or are you living on pasta and frantically building your blog?

It’s lonely out here in “confess all” land. It’s OK – you can be honest. You’re among friends here and keeping it real is the order of the day.


Confession Time – The Sequel. And This Time It’s Personal

There appears to be an element of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” about this whole “How To” make a ton of money scenario.


“The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen

Two devious tailors offer to make the Emperor an amazing suit of clothes that is invisible to those courtiers who are abusing their highly paid positions. When the Emperor parades his very expensive new clothes, not one of his employees dares to say that he doesn’t see any clothes at all until an innocent child cries out, “But he’s not wearing anything!”

Let me tell you friends, from where I’m sitting, that Emperor is as buck naked as it gets.

But how can that be? It was all going so well…what could possible go wrong?


Starting to Work on the Interwebz

Breathe in..!People like you (hi everyone) and me who work at their pc’s all day long enter a strange world.

Your pc screen is like the back of the wardrobe that takes you to Narnia.

When you first step through (to start earning your living in this alternate reality – rather than updating your Facebook and watching cute animals on YouTube) what lies ahead?

The likelihood is that you will pass through a series of quaint Towns. This tourist information is based on my own experience.

I like to call it a “Stop by Stop” guide.


First Stop: “I’m Going To Be Rich and Retire By Next Year” Town

On arrival, you will start to look for things to help you. This is survival 101 – Bear Grylls style. Stay focussed. Remember – look for helpful information – not Bear Grylls.

As long as you stay away from Google Images, you will quickly find a mass of helpful “How To” information. You will feel elated and delighted that you have found these sets of instructions so easily.

And there are so many of them…

You will feverishly create a myriad of folders to store them all – and sign up for a ludicrous amount of newsletters.

And – it all looks so straightforward. If you do x, y and z you’ll never worry about your finances again, right?

Heck. Why isn’t everyone doing this?

The Emperor is bedecked in Couture. It’s top notch Designer gear – heavily jewelled and dazzling.

You’ll be feeling: excited, motivated, amazed, enthusiastic and raring to get started.


Second Stop: “Once I’ve Read All of the Information” Town

By now, you will already be feeling like a professional. You have collected a ton of very promising information. All you have to do is read it and then start putting it all into practice to get you closer to earning a fortune.

The Emperor  is still bedecked in Couture – but he’s tapping his foot (clad in butter soft, hand stitched Italian leather) and looking at his solid gold Rolex.

You’ll be feeling: excited but more than a little intimidated by the amount of work that lies ahead.


Third Stop: “Once I’ve Created My Plan of Action” Town

Plan. What plan?As you read…and read…and read you may find that two out of three things happen.

Helpful Hint : b and c are the most common.

a. You’ll feel empowered, organized and in control. You will methodically start to work out a plan of action as you read through everything. You feel so relieved that your money worries will soon be a thing of the past. You can almost see six figures on your Bank balance.

b. The Emperor is standing there, still waiting for you and he’s getting hot and bothered. So he has shed a few layers of heavily jewelled and dazzling Couture.

c. You’ll be feeling: so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that you need to read, let alone take action on, that you will quickly move on to the next Town – Fourth Stop.


Fourth Stop: “When I Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed” Town

Aaaaaaaaargh!You may feel overwhelmed for days.

The Emperor is now down to his Calvin Klein underwear.

You’ll be Feeling: as if your brain has been fried.

There are just too many ways to make money. Doing them all is obviously going to be far too time consuming so you need to “niche down” and decide which one (or maybe two) to concentrate on.

But…how do you know which one to go with? What if you choose a non-starter?

This relentless internal dialogue will continue until you reach a point of creative paralysis and complete non-productivity.

This usually culminates in watching tragically bad day time TV with a BIG tub of Ben and Jerry’s.

Helpful Hint: You’re not alone. This is the Town where many people decide that they’ve had enough of the journey and turn back for home…and watch tragically bad day time TV with a BIG tub of Ben and Jerry’s.


Fifth Stop: “I’m Going To Be Rich And Retire By Next Year – Once I’ve Read All Of The Information – And Created My Plan Of Action – When I Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed – I’ve Followed all of the Steps, Now Where’s the Money?” Town

I'll never be able to do this...Here’s the kicker.

However much you want it, however hard you try, however many “How To” articles, posts, books and newsletters you read – massive financial rewards are not guaranteed or instantaneous.

This is where you will probably start to lose confidence.

Ironically, you don’t lose confidence in the information that you have gathered.

You lose confidence in yourself.

This is a guaranteed outcome if:

1. You are creative

2. You are a woman

3. You are a Mother

All three of the above already have lack of confidence (and guilt) as their default setting – and now you can add in the free, added bonus of feeling a failure.


This is Not Good

It’s horrible to lose confidence – especially when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong – other than chase a lovely dream that only comes true for a select few.

And we creative people need to hang onto every shred of confidence that we have. We are masters at lacking confidence so we don’t need any more help in that direction. Thank you.

We put our heart and soul out into the world to be judged by others.

And then we do it again, and again and again. And every time, we wonder if what we’ve produced is good enough and every time we tell ourselves that it’s not.

Then we do it all again.


Say After Me – “This is Normal.” Rinse and Repeat.

You need to know and to truly believe that lacking confidence is ok.

Even if you haven’t been lead astray by promises of quick money, I can guarantee that at some point, your confidence will dip.

it is very common for creative people to suffer this affliction.

But it’s a bit of a taboo subject So let’s talk about it.


Proof That Even the Very Best People Doubt Themselves

Lots of people – really great people – that I have met on this amazing journey, doubt their own talent and abilities.

And that makes me sad.

Sir Jaime of BuckleyI spoke with a dear friend, in a comment thread on my website, about this affliction.

Jaime Buckley of Wanted: Hero fame, is beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the most hugely talented people that I have ever met.

He is a brilliant writer, published author, illustrator, podcaster and World Champion commenter. See the comments section below for a demonstration of this.

He also manages to be a loving husband and a wonderful, inspirational father to 12 (yes, 12) children.

As if that wasn’t enough, he has been teaching, empowering and inspiring youth in his community for over ten years, on a shoestring budget. He’s now looking to expand the foundation.

And here’s what Jaime had to say about confidence (reproduced with his kind permission).

Now lack of confidence is one that hits me between the eyes. In fact we talked about it in the comments of one of my posts–and we were talking about ‘trolls in our minds’…and I referred to (an email conversation I had with) Mandie Sanders –

Quote from Jaime in an email to Mandie:

You know what my biggest secret is about Wanted Hero? It’s the fear that my stories really aren’t any good. That people are just being kind because they like me as a person…Is it beCAUSE my books actually suck—that I’m not making the money I want, to support my family in the way I think I should–who are willing to go the distance with me….
That’s what terrifies me.
 For some reason, $$$ is the proof I’m always looking for to show me I’m “valid”

Here’s what Mandie emailed back to Jaime. She has very generously given me permission to quote it here.

Huh, you want to know a secret?? That’s the biggest fear of ALL of us who dare to put our creative endeavors out into the world. “Am I good enough? Am I really talented?
 Because – not to be mean – but we see other people putting their stuff out there and, well…it sucks, but they seem to be full of confidence about it. So you start thinking, maybe I’m not as good as I think I am. Maybe I’m the idiot who’s just blindly confident. Someone once said that the mark of a great creative mind is occasional crippling self-doubt in one’s own talent…so, sounds like you’re on the right path ????

You can read more of Jaime and Mandie’s comments here.

mandie white right

Mandie’s fears are unfounded – as are Jaime’s.

Mandie Sanders is a highly talented writer. You may know her as ace travel blogger RamblingMandieUpdate from Mandie: (Technically, by the way, I’m an EX-travel blogger, current Opinionated Web Designer.) :)

If you’re looking for authentic (and I believe that we all should be) you must read Mandie’s penultimate post on RamblingMandie, Finding Yourself on the Right Road in the Wrong Direction and the comments section too.

Update from Mandie: “One teeny thing – I was soooooo confused about where you got the name Awesome Sauce from and then I remembered it was on my under construction page and I totally cracked up. To clarify, my web design site is just – ‘awesome-sauce’ is an expression used by nerds, like myself. It WOULD be a fun name for a website, though!! Haha :)

Note to everyone: Just to save you going to look, is already taken. Drat!

Mandie is currently working on her new site, Awesome Sauce.  Oops – my mistake, so sorry Mandie! It should be

Here are a few more creative people who lack confidence

I rest my case.


This is Crazy

All of these people can do it. And they can do it to a very high standard.

Want to hear something ironic? I’ve re-written this post five times for fear of “getting it wrong.”

So – as I said before, we really, really need to hang on to every shred of confidence that we have.


Remember That the Internet is Not Your Average Workplace

We all need friendsGenerally speaking, real people in real workplaces –

Support each other

Help each other

Confide in each other

Work together

This happens fairly quickly once you start working in the real world – and it continues on a daily basis.

It also happens when you work on the internet – but – and this is a BIG but – it takes a lot longer.


There are Added Pressures On The Interwebz…

When you start out, you will probably spend a while not knowing anyone.

All you can do is gaze up in awe at those who are already working at dizzy heights to which you can only aspire.

It can feel lonely

Everyone else seems to have already “made it”

Everyone else is doing great

All the “How To’s” that you have painstakingly saved say “I’m doing fine and if you do what I say – you will do fine too” …but that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon.

Once you start to lose confidence, your goals will appear to be well out of your reach.

Then the internal dialogue kicks in.

“Why did I ever think I could do this”

“This is never going to happen.”

“Will I ever make friends?

“Will I ever get to join in?

“Will I ever make it?


How to Deal With a Lack of Confidence

Dr Susan Jeffers wrote a book in 1986. The title is advice which most creative people live by. The book was called

Keep going...


Why You Should Lose Confidence in the Information – Not in Yourself

You have simply been looking at the wrong information.

Don’t beat yourself up about this. You’re not the first and you sure as heck won’t be the last.

I would urge you to pass over anything that seems too good to be true.

Remember the old adage – if something seems to good to be true…it probably isn’t.

So, where does that leave you?


The Good News : All “How To’s” Are Not Created Equal

Avoid step-by-steps such as How To Get 10,000 email signups in a month. Does that sound do-able to you? Me neither. So…

1. Spend some time roughing out a plan of what you want to achieve.

2. Look for people who are already successfully doing what you want to be doing.

3. Which are the most successful parts of their website / blog?

Now go looking for “How To’s” – but ones that offer you ways to achieve much more realistic goals.

There is a lot of very good help available. Wonderful, informative, helpful content that doesn’t offer you quick riches or an insanely early retirement.


Remember time?

Easier said than done...That thing we’re always short of?

It takes time and patience to get your name / face / website / blog out there.

It takes even more time and patience to build trusting, enduring relationships.


How To Become Successful…Seek Out Real People Who Inspire You in the Virtual World

Success on the internet is not about how many “How To’s” you devour and slavishly follow only to be left disappointed and feeling a failure.

Back out of that wardrobe and bypass those time wasting Towns altogether.

Start on a different journey to connect and interact with real people who enter the virtual world to go to work, every day – just like you.


The Shocking Truth (sorry, couldn’t resist)

Once you reach out to people, you will start to make relationships, feel more at ease with what you’re doing and start to work steadily towards your achievable goals.

And that’s when the magic starts to happen.

Good luck!

It WILL happen

Mary Collings About Mary Collings
I've been a freelance writer for ten years. You name it - I've probably written it. I love working from home and I want to help you so that you can love it too. Hook up with me on Social Media and let's enjoy the journey together.

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