A couple of months ago, I asked members of the HomeWorkingClub mailing list to complete a survey. I was keen to gather some feedback on the website, and to seek opinions on future plans.
If you were one of the many who completed the survey, then I’d like to express a huge “thank you.” This kind of feedback gives me the best possible data to take HomeWorkingClub forward. It also means I can continue to produce the kind of content that readers actually want. That way everybody wins!
Ploughing through the survey results was one of the main objectives for my “working holiday” over the past couple of weeks. I’m now back, and ready to formulate a plan for the next year of the site.
A such, I thought some of you might be interested to see the key findings from the survey, and how they’re going to steer the site in the months ahead. As these are decisions made based on surveying you, the readers, hopefully they should please most of you…
1. More content coming for remote workers
Although the majority of HomeWorkingClub readers are most interested in freelancing, there’s still a significant percentage (44%) who are more focused on finding remote work for a single company.
With this in mind, the first big lesson I’ve learned from the survey is that I need to produce more content for teleworkers. While I’ve produced things like reviews of FlexJobs and Virtual Vocations, and written about big remote working stories such as news of Apple recruiting home workers, I can (and will) definitely do more.
One of the first things I plan to focus on is some content about ways to uncover remote opportunities using traditional employment websites. With the right combination of search parameters, it’s possible to unearth some great options – so stayed tuned for some content on that, and on various other ideas I now have percolating!
2. MANY People want to Write and Blog (and Perhaps don’t Consider the Alternatives)
At certain points, I’ve worried that I’ve been producing too much content around writing and blogging.
However, it’s always felt like a large proportion of the emails I receive are about these topics.
The survey results support this, with writing, blogging and editing the clear winners when it comes to what work people dream of doing at home:
This interests me in a number of ways:
First off, I’m very pleased that I’ve been writing the right kind of content for many readers. Big articles like my step-by-step guide to getting started in freelance writing and my recent guide to starting a profitable blog take a lot of effort to produce, so I’m glad to know people actually want to read them!
Secondly, I know that there’s plenty of demand for MORE content along these lines, so I can continue to produce it knowing that it’s what people want to read.
The third point is rather different:
I can’t help but wonder if the reason so many people are attracted to the idea of writing at home is that they don’t consider that there are plenty of other ways to make money freelancing.
When it comes to making money looking at a computer screen, we’ve recently covered translation, transcription and working as a virtual assistant. But these are just three out of hundreds of ways to build a home working career.
Writing can be great and IS genuinely enjoyable, especially if you’re blogging about something you care about. But there’s an awful lot of grind involved with much of the online writing work out there.
Something I’m going to write an article about soon is the importance of working backwards from what you WANT to do in life, and then working out how to achieve it.
I can’t help but wonder if at least some of the people who are interested in writing are interested more because it seems like a way to earn from home, than because it’s what they truly dream of doing. Perhaps I’m completely wrong! Either way, I’d love to hear your views on this in the comments.
Whatever happens, there are clearly plenty of people interested in more content on writing and blogging, so there will be lots more of it in the months ahead.
3. HomeWorkingClub IS Working for Readers
One of the most heart-warming and gratifying parts of running HomeWorkingClub is to see people actually taking the advice forward and becoming successful. I never get tired of seeing things like this:
As I mentioned at the end of my Upwork Tips article, the things we suggest really can and do work for people. The important part is actually following the advice as well as just reading it 😉
4. We have Plenty of Positive Testimonials
While I’m crossing into “self-congratulatory” territory, I will also mention my delight at some of the kind comments I received in the free-form answers from the survey, reproduced here with permission:
5. People Enjoy Honesty
One of the very first things I wrote for HomeWorkingClub was a description of the site that still appears on my email signup form. It says that home working is “not without its ups and downs, but this is a place where we’re honest about them.”
An overwhelming number of survey comments supported my decision to take this honest, “warts and all” approach. In fact, the word “honest” was the one that came up more than any other.
The fact is, not many sites take this approach; Most just attempt to wow people with promises of six-figure incomes and location independent lifestyles – usually only on offer to those who pay to subscribe or buy an expensive product (more on that in a moment).
There’s nothing wrong with lofty goals, and they’re sometimes achievable. However, catering to people’s desire to “get rich quick” results in many sites glossing over the hard work that’s really involved.
I’m glad that people appreciate a different approach.
The fact is, for many real people, establishing enough side gig income to pay for treats and holidays is life-changing; Setting up a blog that could one day bring in enough money to replace an average-earning job is more than enough for many; And simply being able to enjoy a freelance lifestyle that means avoiding a commute and spending more time with family is hugely desirable for most.
I’ve earned more working for myself than I ever did working for a company, but it’s often hard. I’m also far from the point where I could consider early retirement! However, I enjoy what I do because I choose what I do. Helping people to get to that stage is what HomeWorkingClub has always been about.
So the honesty stays, and will remain the overriding priority as the site continues to develop.
6. Some Areas need Improvement
There were two main areas of improvement that came up multiple times in the survey responses:
The first, ironically, was that some people felt there was too much content on writing, blogging and editing.
Well, as this article has explained, those are topics that a great many people want to hear a lot more about, so I won’t be cutting back on that kind of content. However, I have always been keen to cover anything and everything people can do from home, and I will continue to make sure my writers and I produce content about a broad spectrum of home working options.
Anyone who doubts the breadth of content will see in the home working ideas section that we already have alternatives covered from working on scientific research to setting up as an IT support specialist.
The second area for improvement is one I suspected would come up: site navigation.
In truth, the site navigation on HomeWorkingClub kinda sucks at the time of writing. I’ve published nearly 200 posts since the site started, and the biggest issue is that older content gets buried. I’m starkly aware that there are lots of helpful articles that people probably aren’t finding.
The reason this happens is that when you start a site, you only have a basic idea of the direction things will move in. You have to base all your categories and menus on certain presumptions. I need to take a good look at how things are categorised and work out a way to make it easier for people to find helpful and related articles.
A couple of things I’ll be doing very soon include:
- Setting up some “hub” pages for various topics so that you can – for example – find everything to do with writing in one place, and everything to do with online selling in one place.
- Going back through popular older articles to do a lot more internal linking to newer content. (Obviously, I didn’t link to it at the time because it didn’t exist!)
Hopefully, this will go some way to improving navigation until I can make time for (and afford) a more comprehensive redesign.
7. News on Forthcoming Products
I’ll end on the most controversial section: HomeWorkingClub “products.”
Several people commented in the survey that it’s refreshing that I provide free information and don’t try to constantly sell products and courses.
The irony here is that for everyone who said that, there was at least one other person who said they’d love me to produce a blogging course or offer some kind of mentorship program!
In the interests of continuing the theme of honesty, I’m going to put straight out there that I do intend to work on some products of my own in the coming year.
HomeWorkingClub is consuming more and more of my time; Hundreds of new members sign up every week, and the site is on the cusp of approaching “full-time project.” This is great, but if I’m to turn down freelance work of my own in order to work on this site, I need some more sources of income beyond ad-clicks and affiliate commissions.
So, I did a lot of thinking and worked out some ways to offer some products, with certain crucial priorities in mind. This is what I came up with:
- Any product I offer should stick to the same principles of honesty and “no holds barred” realism that HomeWorkingClub has become well-known for.
- The site must never become a mere “sales page” for courses and eBooks (yuck!)
- HomeWorkingClub will only ever develop products that readers have actually asked for.
- The site will always put providing free information first, and the stream of new reviews, articles and guides will not slow down.
With all that in mind, these are the offerings I plan to work on over the coming year:
A Blogging Group
The first project I plan to work on is a pilot blogging group for people who wish to develop a blog or niche / authority site of their own.
I plan to sign just three people up for this initially, and will charge a reduced price based on them being a “trial” group; I will work with them both as a group and individually to help them look at their site ideas, assess where they can make an income from their blogs, get the sites set up, initial content produced, and promotional efforts underway.
The people in this group will benefit from an exclusive “behind the scenes” insight into HomeWorkingClub, because I see no better way of demonstrating than by using a real, live site that’s gained success over a short period.
I still need to put some thought into exactly how this group will work, what will be included, and what it will cost. Importantly, I won’t be able to offer it to everyone, as a certain level of existing knowledge will be required (otherwise I run the risk of becoming an unpaid technical support person for three websites!)
I plan to get this group underway by the end of this year. If you’d particularly like to be a part of it, please contact me now and I’ll make sure you’re at the top of the list.
I was rather blown away by the number of people who asked me for personal mentorship, generally regarding freelance writing and blogging.
It’s not something I intend to do on a large scale. To be completely honest (again!) my rates for IT consultancy and writing are pretty high, so my rates for mentorship would need to be high to make it worthwhile.
That said, I am going to dip my toes into the water with this. I have made a note of all the people who specifically requested mentorship and will be in touch with them in due course with an outline of what I can offer. If you’d like to be added to this list, just contact me and let me know.
A Blogging Course
Plenty of people asked for a step-by-step blogging course, and with HomeWorkingClub and other sites to use as examples, I am in a good position to produce one.
I had a good look at some of the other blogging courses out there, and I think it’s fair to say many give a really unrealistic view of how easy it is to make money from blogging. As such, I think there is space in the market for a more realistic, down to earth and (dare I say it again?) HONEST course.
I’ve produced a couple of good step by step articles on starting a blog, but this is one of those topics where every step could warrant thousands of words of information. It’s also something that’s arguably easier to teach by actually showing people what to do.
This course is likely to be at least several months down the road. While I was away, I sat and produced a trial video episode, and discovered – to my horror – that I say “erm….” approximately every seven words! Aside from improving my on-camera performance, I will need to prepare scripts, slides, video transcriptions and all kinds of other things. Hopefully, if you’ve read enough of my articles, you’ll know I like to be thorough and not let anything out the door that doesn’t reach a high quality standard.
With that in mind, I feel I can produce a course that adds something unique to a very crowded market and delivers value for money. But it’s going to take time. Stay tuned!
A Freelancing Book
I wrote the outline for a “Beginners’ Guide to Freelancing” while I was away in Valencia back in May.
Plenty of people who responded to the survey said they’d be interested in such a book. I just have to finish writing it now!
I’ve published a book before and doing it is easy. Doing it well is a lot harder. Most of the “books” people in my position produce are glorified eBook PDFs littered with spelling mistakes. My “Beginners’ Guide to Freelancing” will not be like that. It will be professionally edited, long enough to justify its place as an actual book, and – most importantly – available as a printed book and not just a download.
Exactly when I’ll have time to get it finished remains to be seen. But if it’s not out and selling a year from now I’ll be disappointed in myself!
I’d like to finish off by offering some reassurance to anyone who thinks my plans to dabble in some products will in any way dilute or compromise what you’ve come to expect from HomeWorkingClub.
I have no intention of allowing that to happen.
So here are some pledges so you know I’m serious:
- While I will inevitably do some low-key promotion of new products, I know from past experience on other projects not to flood a site with such promotion.
- When I get to the stage where I’m offering courses and mentorship, I will deliver these services from a completely separate domain, so that they don’t encroach on the existing setup here.
- Things that are free now, such as the HomeWorkingClub Private Advice Group on Facebook, won’t suddenly become chargeable.
Ultimately, any product and service I choose to offer in the future will be strictly optional, and I hope will deliver enough value to ensure that anyone who purchases it will be delighted. Those with no interest in these offerings won’t feel pressured or hounded to buy them, and will continue to find plenty of completely free and regularly updated content on the core HomeWorkingClub website.
I can’t be fairer, or more honest, than that.
Thanks again if you helped contribute to the survey.