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Paulina is an entrepreneur, an online marketer and a software developer. She makes money selling private label products on Amazon and running a software business ShopKeeper.
1) How did you get started working from home?
I am the kind of person who really likes to be home and spend time alone. I studied software development at university, so naturally I was spending a lot of time with the laptop, at home. Instead of going out, I started researching various ways to make money online. There were many scams and it was hard to filter through what would actually work. If you Google ‘making money online’, most of the results will be certainly scammy, or at least you will not make any money with them. The way to find real gems (profitable niches) is to just test it out. So I applied for 7 credit cards, and topped them up testing different things. I ended up spending around $50,000 in total, until I found a niche that worked. The first day I made 39 cents and I was ecstatic! The next day I made 3 dollars, the next week 100 dollars, and eventually I was making enough to pay off my credit card debts, quit my full time job and start my own company.
The problem with working online is that online businesses are changing really quickly and are highly volatile. What was making me money 2 years ago, does not exist anymore, or changed in ways that are not profitable now. So I have to always adapt to new technologies, new ways, find new business partners. For example, when I started, affiliate marketing and SEO websites was a very profitable niche, and now it’s really hard to do SEO after Google has changed their algorithms. Most affiliate marketers have switched to something else. Since I started 6 years ago, I already changed my business direction 3-4 times. Now my strategy is to have a diverse income portfolio, so that when one basket of eggs drops down, I still have others to live from.
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I did not enjoy office work at large corporations where I did my university internships at. All day in a cubicle with tall walls, very boring. I especially did not like that my tasks were always pre-defined for me. I had to test software or write some features using specific design patterns, and there was little space for creativity. I wanted to create everything myself from scratch, to invent new ideas, new things. Entrepreneurship was the way to go. Without a boss I can now plan my day as I like, and create new things every day. I first discover something that might work – for example I create a website. Then I write a few articles for it. Then I outsource the writing. Then I outsource the management of the whole website, and move on to another idea. This works really well with my personality. At a corporate job, I just was getting bored so quickly from repetitive tasks.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
When I started, I was still working full time, and had to do a long 1 hour commute. So I would spend that time listening to various audiobooks about millionaires and entrepreneurs. It gave me the motivation to start something of my own. Most people get stuck on this dream phase, the ‘wannabe’ phase. And it took me a while to get over this hump as well. But one day, I took a leap of faith. I sat down at the computer, and found a list of ways to make money online. I chose one item on the list, and started implementing it. When it did not work out, I chose another, and worked on it for a while. Repeated the same over and over until one business direction worked! It was a magical feeling.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
My very first business idea that worked was promoting affiliate offers on paid traffic sources. I signed up with multiple affiliate networks, then researched many different paid traffic sources, tested them and eventually found the ones that were profitable. It was very expensive to test the traffic sources, but it all paid off in the end. By now, the affiliate networks I worked with have closed down, the traffic sources have changed, so this business direction is not viable for me anymore.
5) How do you market your business?
Right now I sell private label products on Amazon, where I use Sponsored Ads to promote my products on Amazon platform. As far as my software business ShopKeeper goes, I advertise in all places where my target market – Amazon Sellers – are. Places like Facebook groups, forums, question & answer websites, google search, YouTube, Reddit, live webinars, and so on. The idea is to find out where your customers are online, and then market to them there.
6) What does your usual day look like?
After I bring my toddler to daycare in the morning, I first sit down to check my email. I delete what is not important and flag what needs my attention. While I eat breakfast, I decide what one most important thing I have to get done today. When I start working, I try to focus on that one thing. It’s hard to completely dedicate myself to one task, as I have multiple businesses and manage a team of people who work for me remotely. So communication takes some of my day. But I like multitasking. I focus on my main task for a while (let’s say creating a mockup for a new feature, or researching what product I could sell next on Amazon), at the same time putting out small fires along the way, answering incoming questions from my team and replying to emails that need my attention. By the end of the day, I usually have the main task done, and many other small daily tasks taken care of as well. When my toddler comes back from daycare, we spend time with the family. After he sleeps, I come back to my laptop to work a few more hours, during which I read articles, chat on FB Amazon Seller communities or think of strategic ideas what I could implement in my business next.
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I would know not to spend all my money for one idea/niche, and not to overspend on logos, branding and fancy designs. In the beginning, the most important thing is to make sure there is an actual need for your product or idea. You should start selling it, and only then add fancy branding, get trademarks, get legal paperwork done, all funded by revenue. I spent too much money on things that can be done cheaply – for example, my first logo I paid $250 for, when I can just order it from Fiverr these days for 5$, or, even better, make it myself using a nice font. I also spent a lot of money on testing freelancers that were not passionate or very good at their job. I learned to choose my team members better. I would say, when you start, don’t be afraid to make mistakes – but learn from them quickly and move on. Don’t overthink things. Just enjoy the process. It’s not about far fetched goals, it’s about daily routine of entrepreneurship and achieving little milestones that is so enjoyable.
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
Just do it. Don’t linger too long on deciding what idea to pursue. Choose the first one that comes to mind in five minutes, and try it out. It will get the ball rolling, and the next one will come so much easier. In the beginning, focus on one thing at a time, don’t spread yourself too thin. Try it, learn everything you can about it, optimize as much as you can, and kill it quickly if you don’t get any results in a month or so. Try another idea, and then another. Once one of them works, you will be on your way to a successful work from home career.
Find Her Online:
Linkedin: Paulina Masson