I don’t have a “real” job. I haven’t since about 1999.
I have worked shelling shrimp, baby-sitting, cooking, dish washing, waitressing, reporting, writing, typesetting, doing product inventory, photographing, selling new and used cars at dealerships, filing, reception, rendered blueprints into elevations suitable for advertising and sold print advertising. I was a PBX operator, print ad designer, sign designer, sign installer, head of an auto parts shipping department and worked at a car wash. I earned my Real Estate license and sold homes for a builder. I have had my share of jobs and learned a lot.
But in 1995 I bought an old vinyl cutter and rented a computer to run it. From home I started creating decals, signs and banners and specialized in race car and vehicle lettering, while working for a small local newspaper. I soon found I did not need the “real” job.
In 2004, I decided to sell some items I had taking up space and signed up with eBay. I soon found out that I could use my knowledge of auto parts, vintage kitchen items, tools, antiques, books and other random things to get the right items listed that would appeal to buyers. I did well, and improved my skills with weighing, packing, shipping, researching and figuring values.
Three years later in 2007 I discovered garbage. Yes – trash – the metal kind to be exact. Over the course of a year, scrap steel prices crested at over $420 a metric ton and other metals such as copper, brass, aluminum and others increased to all-time highs as well. It was short-lived, but there was a lot of money to be made collecting and selling junk. Prices have since fallen drastically, but recycling still pays.
In 2012 I became involved in social media. Sites like Facebook opened new doors, as people formed “groups” especially for selling locally. Items that I did not sell or were not suited to online sales I dispersed at swap meets or donated. I also sold for others for a small commission via eBay, craigslist or Facebook.
Of course I did other things, like cartooning and writing for local papers and sometimes sign work and website development. I am but one of the people in this community making this lifestyle of self-employment work for us and our families. Working from home and being able to do it successfully is not easy, but several local people have made it work well for them.
Johnathan Schmidt recently became his own boss. He created a business called “Schmidt’s Ranch Services” and he does all forms of building, fence repair, ranch labor and even venomous snake removal.
“I started working for myself out of necessity as much as desire,” Schmidt said, “I was down after a surgery and had lost my job, and unable to afford travel, I started doing local labor, eventually pursuing the ranch style work that I was accustomed to and enjoyed.”
Schmidt has built a very good reputation for himself through his hard work and his excellent work ethic. How did he get there? What talents and skills did this require?
“More than skills you have to be motivated. There is usually no one around baby-sitting you while you’re working so you have got to push yourself,” he explained. “Common knowledge of odds and ends is good but anyone who has drive can do ranch labor.”
What of people who would follow in his footsteps? Schmidt had this to say, “If you have a dream, chase it! But do your best, there’s a lot of risk working for yourself and it’s hard work, not usually fun and the seasons are brutal. But if it’s your dream you will still find enjoyment in it. I love my work and wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
There are many tried and true businesses that count on people working and networking from home: Tupperware, Avon, Scentsy, Mary Kay and many more. These businesses have proven methods of sales and a reward system and incentives for working hard. They are easy to start up and offer a lot of support to assist in a person’s success. People could also do consulting, freelance writing, blogging, website development and tutoring to name a few examples.
Anza resident Lyle Perez went in a slightly different direction when it came to working for himself. His main theme was to diversify. Perez is the owner of Zombgeek Computer Repair with an office in Temecula, but he got his start transitioning from a “real” job to working for himself.
He began his transition in 2013. “When I first went to working from home, I was doing computer repairs. It wasn’t just from home, I would have to travel to people’s houses and do in-home repairs. It was semi-successful as I was already doing this while I had a full-time job.” He also became an author and podcaster. His novels, “Existing Dead” and “Death’s Too Short” are available on Amazon, with audio books on Audible.com.
Today, Perez does computer, phone and tablet repairs. He has a stellar reputation. He can also be seen at the Anza Swap Meet and Temecula Farmer’s Market selling essential oils. His original books also provide an income stream. He is full of energy and drive.
“Now I am doing all sorts of things to make money. Not one thing is going to pay all the bills if you work from home,” he said. “You just gotta get out there and try to do it. You may not be successful right off the bat but you gotta keep at it. The more people see you, the more likely they will buy what you’re selling. Don’t just stick to one thing. You gotta get multiple things going and see which ones work best.”
I also diversify income streams. From recycling and doing property clean-outs and buying estate sale and yard sale leftovers and vehicles to resell or donate, to cartooning and writing, I am my own “boss.” There are so many different ways to earn money from home. And this lifestyle is particularly well-suited to our rural area.