I started our website www.LivingOnADime.com in 1999 after we self-published our first book Not Just Beans (now called the Dining On A Dime Cookbook).
For many years, Living On A Dime was a hobby for my mom and me. My husband worked on it in the evenings and on weekends. We had hoped to eventually turn it into a second income producer for our family.
Mom and I both have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I have Fibromyalgia so we weren’t able to work as many hours as we needed to really get the business and website going.
Five years ago, after several years of working at a not so great job, we felt like it was time for my husband to quit his job and start working for our website. Up to that point the business had not made a profit, but each year we did grow bigger.
We thought we would share some of the pros and cons of working at home as your main income. At first it does seem like an “ideal” dream job but it is a lot of work and does have its own problems. We would like to share some of our experiences and things we have noticed along the way.
Here are some pros and cons of having a web business:
Pro: You can take a vacation whenever you want. When I was on bed rest with my 4th pregnancy, it was a lifesaver for Mike to be able to watch the kids or run me to the hospital for emergency hospital visits at a moment’s notice, which happened several times.
Con: You don’t get paid for that vacation plus you will have to work overtime before and/or after the vacation to get all the business stuff done. For us, the work that we have to do before going away is getting all the posts written and ready to go ahead of time, which means working several very late nights before we leave for our trip or before the baby was born.
Pro: You can take off to go on school field trips, doctor visits and other things that are harder for most people.
Con: Your friends and family think you don’t have a job and if you’re not careful, you can end up spending too much time NOT working.
Pro: You can take your work with you on vacation if you need to.
Con: You can take your work with you on vacation so it’s not all vacation. (Mike: Especially if you’re having a big sale and your web host accidentally breaks your ordering system when you’re in another state…)
Pro: You can stay home with the kids.
Con: You can’t get any work done while the kids are awake so you will either have to get up early, work late or work during nap time. For us we have noticed that the older the kids get, the harder it is to get work done. Mike has found that it’s easier for him to take his work to the library (which means you aren’t really at home with the kids).
Pro: You control the amount of income you have. If your septic tank fails and you have to come up with $9,000 cash fast, you can have a big fire sale or two to pay for it.
Con: There is always the pressure of wondering, “Will we sell enough to pay our bills?” If you don’t work, you are not going to have an income.
Pro: You’re not just “checking in” to a daily grind at a job where you don’t like your boss and you don’t agree with the way the company runs. You can do the things you think are best to make your business succeed and, if you improve your business, you get paid more because of the extra effort you made.
Con: You are responsible for figuring out how to operate your business efficiently, adapting to address issues that come up that you hadn’t expected and learning how to market your product. Just having a good idea doesn’t guarantee you will sell it. If you don’t figure out how to connect your product or service with the people who need it or if you spend too much time on Facebook, you don’t get paid.
Pro: When your spouse works at home you can always collaborate and think of new ideas and new ways to do things.
Con: If you’re not careful, the business will consume your life and that will be all you talk about.
Pro: You don’t have to worry about a nasty, rude and discouraging work environment.
Con: If you’re a people person, working by yourself at home can get lonely. If you work with your spouse there are days you will drive each other nuts and wish you could leave for work! Then there are always rude and nasty customers. Most customers are reasonable, but there will always be some unpleasant ones no matter what you do.
Pro: You can set your own hours.
Con: If you aren’t careful, your 8 hour work day can turn into 5 or 6 hours doing “one more thing” around the house. (Mike: There’s also the danger of working the 8 hours but also finding yourself unable to resist the temptation to check your e-mail every hour in the evening, on Sunday or on a holiday, which gets you focused on work (stressing about work) when you should be spending time with your family.) You also don’t always get to choose your hours, like when the website crashes at 11 p.m. and you have to stay up to fix it.
These pros and cons aren’t meant to discourage you but to help you evaluate if you are ready to work at home as your sole income. Hopefully they will help give you a few more ideas before you take the big leap.
-Mike and Tawra