Working At Home To Build Passive Blog Income And Giving Up Full Time Job Pay
Published 4/3/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
As I may have mentioned before, I'm a recovering attorney - and a fairly young one at that (I'm in my late 20's). Right now I'm in the process of working at home on my online blog and business ventures for a few months before returning back to my full time work as a contract attorney.
So how did I end up doing this type of work instead of using my law degree to pursue a so-called real legal career? Sometimes I ponder about what my dream job might have been had I not gone to law school, since it wasn't my passion in life to begin with. My decision to attend graduate school was more due to process of elimination. I started out college on the pre-med track to become a doctor, did well in my studies, got bored with chemistry and biology, and eventually shifted gears into computer science. I loved taking programming theory and practice courses and did very well, but after a few semesters, I decided that I couldn't see myself stuck as a computer programming nerd - so I moved on (how ironic, now that I've come full circle again). So then I decided to go the business route and major in finance. After a few more semesters during which I did pretty well, I pondered what else was out there. However, by then I had enough college credits to graduate and my parents were beginning to wave the tuition baton, "encouraging" me to move onto bigger and better things. After looking around, I decided I wasn't ready to financially support myself just yet. So I took the LSAT exam and sent in my application to a few top tier law schools. Before I knew it, I was attending the state law school and working my way through civil procedure, contracts, and criminal law classes.
Going The Law School Route - But Still Not Sure Where I Wanted To Go Professionally
One thing that I noticed during law school was how incredibly math-adverse law students are. I suppose that's why they all chose to attend law school to begin with - to avoid having to deal with mathematics or anything related to numbers. However, it just so happened most of my law school friends were of the opposite persuasion - they were mostly into tax law, a legal field riddled with numbers and statistics. I wasn't particularly fond of all the math involved, but I went with the herd and ended up taking most of the tax law courses available - everything from individual tax planning and corporate tax, to the most difficult law school course I ever took - partnership tax.
After law school I worked for a trial judge and later when on to work for the federal government as an associate attorney for a year or two. After another very short stint working for a crazy female cougar attorney (I'll share that story one day, as it was a very eye opening experience, but for all the wrong reasons), I ended up choosing to work for myself. After starting up a few profitable blogs such as the personal finance blog you are reading right now and another law related one, I now work as a contract attorney on the side when I'm not working from home. I receive most of my contract attorney assignments from staffing agencies that place me on legal projects that last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. The job description usually entails very simple duties such as legal document review and mindless legal tag coding. Many dread performing contract lawyer work, but the work provides very lucrative pay without the heavy responsibilities (I often refer to it as my "stripper pay"). It's perfect for my lifestyle at the moment since I don't want my full time job to hinder the time and effort I devote to my personal small business operations.
The great thing about contract attorney work is that it is extremely stress-free and unlike a traditional lawyer job, my responsibilities and duties end at the end of the day. I never have to run into the office after work or cut a weekend short to file a legal brief or prepare a memo. However there are long term drawbacks to this line of short term work. The biggest downside is that the work is only temporary and isn't career track oriented. With temping, while meals and transportation are frequently reimbursed, you usually don't receive any health benefits or job security. But then again, in this day and age as well as economy, do any of us truly have solid job security anymore, or even guaranteed health benefits? The other downside with legal temping is the lack of professional development. However, I simply cannot see myself pursuing the traditional attorney path anyway. Lawyers notoriously burn out fast and work tremendous hours that ultimately take a terrible toll on their health, family wellbeing, and lifespan. Plus, legal employment prospects for attorneys isn't what it used to be as the market has become extremely saturated. Almost anyone with half a functioning brain can go to law school these days as there are no significant barriers to entry or pre-requisites that need to be overcome to apply. Especially in a major city like Washington DC, you can't walk in any direction without bumping into a lawyer. It's utter and complete saturation.
Looking To the Future - Sacrificing Some Income Now To Build Up My Online Blog Businesses and Incubate My Other Real World Ventures
Thus, I've come to realize that the key to building wealth and reaching financial prosperity is to build up multiple streams of alternative and passive income, apart from your primary full time employment. Otherwise, you simply run the risk of living your entire life trading hours for dollars. Passive income generation through methods such as blog income or stock market investing help to get around the finite time problem by allowing you to generate income even when you are not actively sitting and working at your office desk.
However, I don't regret going to law school at all. I was prudent to have attended a state school with relatively lower in-state tuition, and I was very fortunate to have been able to consolidate my student loans at a very low fixed interest rate. My college loans are all paid up and my graduate school loan payments are thankfully quite manageable. Other than tuition issues, law school prepared me for the future by teaching me how to more aggressively and confidently combat conflicts in the legal and business world. Overall my finance, tax, and legal background has helped me to better improve my personal finance blogging tasks, as well as enhance my non traditional legal pursuits. I knew after law school that I didn't want to pursue the traditional law firm job path since I had a passion for entrepreneurship and running my own business. When I discovered how to make money blogging and developed the ability to tap into the limitless potential of online business income, I knew I had found my calling. It's a key component part of my solution to end the 9-5 workweek cycle, and the reason why I'm currently sitting at home right now tinkering on the computer instead of collecting a steady paycheck at a stressful full time lawyer position or even at a contract attorney gig.
For now, I plan to only take a short time off to work on my ventures full time as I currently am not yet able to live off of my online income alone. Perhaps that day will someday come, but for now, I plan to return to my legal contracting job after a month or two off. Obviously I don't see contract attorney work as the future for me since the profession is inherently unstable, unpredictable, and projects do tend to dry up during recessions and slow economic periods. I merely see it as a necessary means to an end for now. Meanwhile, I also realize that by taking a few months off I am forfeiting a substantial amount of contract attorney pay to spend time building my passive income businesses, but I think in the long run and even in a few years from now, the short term financial sacrifice will pay off. The amount of money I am losing by not working full time is quite substantial however. Contract attorneys in my area get top wage rates of $35 an hour with time and a half of $52.50 per overtime hour worked past 40 hours. My contract projects usually require that I bill around 50 or so hours, which comes to a weekly income of $1925.00. I've worked at least one extremely time demanding project before in the recent past, during which I worked and billed 96 hours a week for a span of one month. The work was a simple breeze, but the hours were brutal. Of course during that time, I earned $4,340.00 per week before tax. I guess it speaks highly of how much potential I see in online and passive income businesses that I would forsake that wage income now.