5 Hard-Earned Remote Work Lessons

So you don’t have to learn them the hard way.

Bonita Jewel, MFA
9 min readDec 10, 2021


I’ve been working from home for over 10 years as a freelance writer and editor.

These days, clients search me out and invite me to work with them …

But it wasn’t always like this.

I’ve learned several lessons about remote work, particularly while launching my work-from-home career.

Some of these lessons were costly in the form of time, some in dollars and cents …

But they all taught me something.

Photo by SHVETS production from Pexels

In sharing these trials and errors with you, I hope to save you from making some of the same mistakes and enable your work-from-home career to be more successful.

Lesson #1 — Start Where You Are

When I began working on Elance (now Upwork), my hourly rate was low.

Very low.

For my first project, I asked for five dollars an hour. This was back in 2010, but it was still below the American minimum wage.

At the time, I was living in India, so the cost of living was less than in the U.S.

I was also more in the mode of “I’m going to try and see if this even works” rather than “I need to earn a living.”

As I got more jobs and built a portfolio on Elance, I started asking for a higher rate for writing and editing projects.

Because I was open to working for such a low rate, that first client I worked with kept me on for several years.

By the time I did my last editing project with him, he was paying me $12 per hour — more than twice what I’d started with.

And each project with him taught me quite a bit.

He was a print-on-demand publisher and gave me a lot of helpful information about working with Microsoft Word.

He taught me how to use …

  • Styles and formatting
  • Headers and footers
  • Content tables and indexing
  • And aspects about track changes I hadn’t known



Bonita Jewel, MFA

Wordweaver. Storyseeker. A freelance writer/editor for 13 years, I offer insights on creativity, literature, writing, freelancing, & living with meaning.