How to get started in remote work

One of the hardest parts of military spouse life can be losing your job every damn time you move. Now, some spouses have federal jobs that are easily transferable from station to station. Those people are a wonder to me and I envy them a bit. I never had such luck, or, when I did manage to find work on-post, it either didn’t pay enough or just wasn’t a good fit for me. (Pro shop employee at the on-post golf course in Hawaii would have been amazing, though!)

Eventually, I started to find ways I could do remote work and always take my job with me. If you’ve never done remote work before it can be hard to find a remote work gig. Many employers won’t want to talk with you unless you have previous remote experience because, let’s face it, the desire to stay in your robe and sit on the couch can be pretty real.

Photo by Jesus Kiteque on Unsplash

 

This means that you need to prove yourself. You need to prove that you have skills, whether that’s teaching, data entry, writing, or some other thing. But you also need to prove that you can meet deadlines and not be swayed to do laundry when you should be knocking out blog posts for a roofing company in Fort Lauderdale.

Here are three ways you can step into remote work to prove yourself:

Try UpWork. Or Fiverr. Or Elance. or Guru. Or any other freelancing site.

With a little bit of work you can create a profile that gets you noticed on a freelancing site. To get the first few jobs, keep your rates low. Build a small portfolio, then increase your rates to a more reasonable level over time. Write proposals that are clear, with actionable key points, so the employer knows exactly what they can expect of you.

Contact a former employer.

Do you have a former employer who you got along great with? Whether it was in an office setting or a fast food restaurant, contact your boss and ask if there is anything you can do for them from where you’re at. Even just a short-term project, like making follow up calls or doing data entry, can be a big help to them and will give you a “remote” job that can prove your ability to work at home.

Try online teaching.

If you have a degree already, try online teaching or tutoring. There are thousands of schools looking for people with bachelor’s and master’s degrees to teach and tutor. Teaching online can be quite a bit of work, but if you enjoy working with people, have your degree, and like teaching, this can be a great option.

Have you had success finding remote work? I’d love to hear about it! Tell me in the comments.

 

My One Hundred Houses

In the months leading up to our moves, I spend a lot of time dwelling on…dwellings.  I download rental property apps and search, and re-search, and then analyze the homes that I find.  Too big! Two small! Is that wall really chartreuse? Is the neighborhood really that nice or did Google street view just catch them on a good day?  Will our couch fit along that wall? How can there only be four cupboards in that kitchen? I edit my ‘favorites’ lists depending on my ever-changing must-haves and suffer tiny heartbreaks when my dream homes disappear, the keys given to some other family.

It’s an obsession that I can’t quite stop and I know it’s futile since we won’t even contact properties until a month before we leave.  In my mind’s eye I place our belongings in these homes, organize our lives, and settle in.  We haven’t packed a single box yet but I’ve already moved into a hundred houses.

I torture myself in this way for two reasons, I’ve realized.  The first is hope.  It’s fun to think of a different life in a different place. In my mind, in whatever home I’m looking at, I’m a better version of myself.  Magically more organized with better decorating skills and a knack for DIY.  My imagination also lets me have a new wardrobe and my email has achieved Inbox Zero.  Whether it’s all possible or not doesn’t matter, I have Pinterest boards full of possibility (and an alarming number of mason jar craft ideas).

The second thing is control.  It’s a weird feeling not knowing what my address will be in three months.  I’d like to play the cool ‘I just live the life of a nomad’ card, but I’m too high strung, let’s be real.  Every time I save a home a small part of me thinks that one is The One. Good.  I found it.  That’s over! It’s a lie I tell myself that gives me a sense of peace and eases my worry.

Having done all this before, I know it will all work out.  We’ve always had a roof over our heads upon arrival, even if it means living in a hotel for a month.  We’ll find a house and make a home. The couch will fit.  I’ll grow fond of the chartreuse wall.  The neighborhood really will be nice.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy my hundred houses and let my imagination unpack boxes.

A meal delivery service changed the way I cook forever…

When I first heard of meal delivery services like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, I thought that there was no way in hell I’d need such a thing.  My thoughts veered toward food snobbery – first, I know how to cook!  I have tried-and-true recipes!  I’m a kitchen goddess! (Wishful thinking…) Secondly – I live in Hawaii – they aren’t going to ship that box here!  Thirdly – the expense – I can go to the store and buy ingredients for far less! Smug, smug, smug, smuggity smug with a side of “so there”.

Fast forward to Christmas 2014.  A very pregnant me received a subscription to Fresh Box from The Sarge.  I had pretty much stopped cooking and most of our meals came from boxes, cans, or delivery.  I couldn’t go to the grocery store because the mere sight of food made me ill.  Fresh Box meal delivery became our saving grace.

Fresh Box is based here in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, so my shipping argument went out the window.  Every week The Sarge and I would visit the Fresh Box website.  If we liked the three meals that were available that week, we’d order the box for $72.00.  The owners would deliver it to my office for me – though I could have chosen home delivery too.  Inside were all the fresh ingredients we – and by “we”, I mean The Sarge – would need to make three health dinners for two adults.

I didn’t think I’d like it…and I didn’t.  I LOVED IT.  We aren’t getting boxes right now because I’m on maternity leave and am home to cook.  But when I get back to work, we’ll be back to our Fresh Box subscription.

Here’s what we learned from our meal delivery experience:

Have higher standards for the ingredients you purchase.  The meat and produce we received in our meal deliveries where always very fresh and had excellent shelf life.  Everything was organic and was of highest quality.  I had gotten used to grabbing whatever was on the shelf at the grocery.  Instead I join my local CSA or go to the grocery store that has higher quality produce or if all else fails, am just more selective when selecting produce and meat at my usual grocery store.

Time is money.  And it takes a long time to grocery shop.  I thought that $72.00 was expensive, but I was wrong.  The value we received was so high that my cost argument seemed silly.  Trying to grocery shop and then cook after a 12 hour work day was insane.  Having everything we needed to cook a healthy meal from scratch plus all the instructions to do it was worth every single dang penny.

There are more cooking techniques than boil and fry.  The recipes pushed us to learn new techniques – searing and broiling were added to our slim repertoire and we learned to appreciate how the cooking technique changes the final meal.

Herbs change a meal in ways we never understood. I was never one to shy away from trying herbs and herb blends in my cooking, but I never truly understood how much they could change a dish.  One night we forgot to add one of the herbs to our meal and half way through eating we mixed it in.  It was like a different dish!  So we got in to the habit of trying the meals we made without and then with certain ingredients and learned a lot about how herbs impact a meal.

We weren’t as adventurous as we thought we were.  The Sarge and I always thought we were pretty open minded eaters.  We aren’t picky and we like trying new things.  But that’s mostly at restaurants.  When walking through the grocery store we had blinders on to new foods and were stuck in the rut of picking up the ingredients we knew.  Meal delivery offered up new types of veggies and cuts of meat that we had never tried and we were pleasantly surprised by what we were introduced to!

Meal delivery is pretty amazing.  I guess you could say I’m eating crow but that’s actually not in the box! (Har har!  See what I did there?)

Featured photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash