Working From Home: Do You Need a Home Office?

More people are working from home than ever. Remote work can be really amazing but it can also be challenging. One common question from the new at-home worker is “Do I need a home office?”

Benefits of Working From Home

Working from home can be really amazing for those looking to make a living while still taking care of a family or maintaining a home. The days of being required to get up in the morning and head to the office are over for many professionals. The shift has a lot to do with the way work changed during the pandemic. Employers learned that more work could be done remotely, and employees learned their value. Here are some of the benefits of working from home.

  • Work/life balance
  • Saving time on that commute
  • Flexibility to work from multiple locations as needed.

The Down-Side of Working Remotely

Although working remotely has a ton of benefits, we must also look at the potential downsides. Here are some obstacles you could run into working from home.

  • Difficulty with motivation.
  • Outside distractions.
  • Isolation.
  • Imposter syndrome.

Why You Might Need a Home Office

If you do decide that working from home is for you, consider whether you need a home office. While it is not necessarily a requirement, a workspace at home can make your job much easier. If you look at the cons of working from home above, you will notice that a home office can go a long way in easing these problems.

One of the biggest issues you may encounter in a work-from-home job is Imposter syndrome. Let’s say you are a writer or a graphic designer and you do all of your work from home. You are definitely doing the job, but your mind might make you question yourself because you are “sitting at home.” having a designated office space can help you to feel more confident about your job. Basically, if you are working from the same room where you watch TV, you might feel like an imposter instead of a professional.

Additionally, a dedicated office can cut out distraction. When you are at home, you tend to see all the other things that need attention. Simple things like the laundry or dishes can distract you from your job. If you have kids, it can be even more challenging and you might need to section off an area to focus completely on your job. One bit of caution, however, locking yourself away in an office can make the feeling of isolation worse. Keep an eye on how your surroundings are impacting your mental health.

Ultimately, a home office can be a great asset to your career. There are, however, downsides to everything. The best thing you can do is to look at the pros and cons of any work environment and determine what works best for you. It is also important to understand that you don’t have to figure it out right away. There is nothing wrong with trial and error. You might set up, redesign, and move your office more than once. What’s important is that you find what works for you and allows you to make the best of your talents and opportunities.

Michael J. Snow is a writer who graciously takes time away from his mid-life crisis and existential dread to attempt to create a smile or two. If you got anything out of this post, drop a comment and let him know. Questions, concerns, etc, send them here.

Scam Alert: Joseph Studios is Not Going to Pay You $55 an Hour as a Content Writer

If you are a writer, looking to make a living off of the craft, be careful. While it’s a great way to make a career if you do it right, there are people out there waiting to take advantage. A popular scam that has emerged over the last couple of years involves giving the target a fake job offer. This “offer” is intended to get you to provide financial information. I recently went through the process with a “job offer” from “Joseph Studios.” To be clear, I put the company name in quotes because I believe that Joseph Studios is a real marketing agency that the scanners were imperaonating. The same as of you got an email from “Apple” or “AT&T.” This post is about a scam that could take the form of any legitimate company. There were plenty of red flags, and I did not provide the information they were looking for. I did, however, document the whole scam so you can see what it looks like.

Beware, Scammers are Getting Better

This scam is actually a twist on a classic. Scammers will offer their victims money and even send a check or make a direct deposit. The victim then uses the money to buy something or pay the company for something. It looks real in your bank account and the scammer is banking on you saying “they put money in my account. It must be real.” What they don’t want you to know is that the check will bounce and what you see in your account is pending. By the time the bank realizes, you have made purchases or sent money “back” to the scammer. You spent money you didn’t have and drained your bank account.

In the past, these scams were much easier to identify. Recently, criminals have become much more savvy. Since the pandemic increased the number of people looking online for remote work, scammers have started impersonating legitimate companies. To make matters worse, these criminals are really doing their research and taking the time to appear legit. They will take extra time to “interview” you and will contact you from email addresses that sound real. The alleged names of the people who contact you may even be actual employees from real companies. The problem is, that the people you are talking to are simply impersonating real people.

Make Sure to Investigate Potential Scam Jobs

Investigating any suspicious job listing or offer is extremely important. More and more people have learned to fact-check, which is why the more savvy criminals have begun impersonating real people from real companies. They even copy information from real company job listings. Keep that in mind when you investigate a company offering you your dream job. In the past, a quick Google search of the company name and the word scam would typically show you the truth. These criminals figured out though, that they needed to try harder. By imitating a real company, and using real employee names and real job listings, they can get past the basic Google check. Here are some tips when you investigate a potential job-phishing scam.

  • If they contact you by email, check the domain address. In the past, scam emails were always easy to identify because the sender name may say Pay Pal or something legit, but the actual sender address is a Hotmail account. Scammers are getting smarter. Many will now register a domain that looks real. In this case, the domain showed First of all, “Admin”instead of a persons name is suspicious. Secondly, the teams extension is a little unusual and not typically for business use. A quick WhoIs search showed that the domain was registered the same day I received the email.
  • Look up alleged employees on Linkedin. I was told that my immediate supervisor would be in contact with me (after I set up my banking information) and the scam artists used a real name affiliated with the company. However, her Linkedin showed that she had left the company two months ago.
  • Compare the area code of anyone who contacts you with the location of the actual company. In the scam I experienced, I was contacted by phone by a person in Massachusetts and spoke to a person online who wanted to set up a time to talk at 10 AM in the Pacific time zone. The company they were impersonating is located in Georgia.

Watch Out For These Job-Phishing Red Flags

Job Phishing scams will try to lure you with a huge paycheck and what sounds like a dream job. The hiring process will also move way too quickly to be real. When you really analyze it, there are clear red flags to look for. Ask yourself these questions about any job that sounds too good to be true.

  • Is the Pay Unreasonable?
  • Is the Interview over a messenger app?
  • Dose Contact Information add up?
  • Are You Offered a Job Way Too Quickly?
  • Is it a Job You Didn’t Apply For?

The Joseph Studios Scam

For me, it all started with an email. It was the typical “You would be a great fit for our content writer position” sort of thing. I do a lot of contract work and have a lot of companies reach out to me, so, it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. There were red flags from the beginning, however. For starters, $55 an hour for a remote content writer should raise eyebrows. Not that this range is out of the question, but it is unlikely to be randomly offered to you via email.

Secondly, They very quickly wanted to move on to the interview process. The interview was conducted over the Wickr Me app. This is a text messaging app with encryption and self-destructing messages. Legitimate employers will not go out of their way to hide what they are doing. Criminals will. I went along with the interview (didn’t give out personal information) and it seemed to go well. You have to understand how much effort they put into this phishing scam.

The interview questions all seemed very real, and the interviewer did not use broken English and horrible grammar which often tip you off to a fake person trying to steal your identity. I believe that Joseph Studios is a legit company, but criminals are impersonating them. Interestingly enough, I found an actual Joseph Studios job posting from two months prior with much of the same information. Not only did the scammer copy and paste much of the job information, but I believe they may have interviewed with the company or a similar company themselves and copied elements of the process.

The way the scam works, is they tell you that you are hired and there is required equipment for the job. This will include things like computers, iPads, printers, etc. They will tell you that they will pay you for the required equipment. Many scammers will send you a check to buy equipment with. You deposit the check and it takes a few days for the bank to realize it’s bad. By that time, you have ready spent your money and sent the devices to the criminals who are enjoying the new iPad you bought them. Alternatively, they may “overfund your account” so that after buying equipment for the new job, you need to send them what’s left. In any case, you are giving your money to them and getting nothing for it.

As I said, scammers have become much more savvy. Personally, I was amazed by how far they went to make themselves sound real. I’ve included below for your education and entertainment, the conversation I had with the scammer. Hopefully, this will help some people who might be targetted by the same type of scam. Keep in mind, these criminals are always shifting and will come at you with different company names, different job titles, etc. Be careful out there.

Joseph Studios Scam
Joseph Studios Scam  Interview
Job Fishing
Job Phishing
Joseph Studios Job Scam
fake messenger job interview

And just like that, he had nothing else to say. Interesting, no? If you found this information helpful, take a moment to share this so others won’t become victims of this scam.

Michael J. Snow is a writer, marketing professional, and unlicenced comedian. Check out his Fiverr page to see all the neat tricks he can do. Want to collaborate on a writing project? Send an email here.

Loss, Grief, and Moving Forward When You Don’t Feel Ready.

Right now, I’m sitting at my computer in my home office. Next to my laptop are a few items that I have decorated my desk with. Each item gives me some kind of inspiration, motivation, or just comfort. I have a globe, a small Buddha statue, and vintage figures of both Luke Skywalker and Godzilla. It’s my happy little nerd zen space. Recently a new item found its way onto my desk.

Just to the right of my computer, is my mom’s Casio wristwatch. She has owned several exactly like it over the years. This, however, is the one I brought back from the hospital when she didn’t come home. September 8th, 2022, my mother passed away. Earlier that day, phone calls were being made and treatment plans were in place for the physical therapy she would undergo for the next two weeks as she built her strength up to return to independent living.

That night, however, her heart stopped. We gathered at the hospital arriving too late to say goodbye and just a few short days later gathered in a larger group to honor the memory of the woman who raised me alone and touched the lives of so many. After blurred days of dealing with what happened and what to do next, It’s time to get back to work. Life goes on and bills keep coming. As I sit here to write, I hear the chime of that Casio marking the hour and it somehow feels wrong that I should hear it but not her.

It feels like I should be hearing that sound while she is at my house playing with grandkids, falling asleep in my recliner, or just telling me the same story for the 9-billionth time (which I now miss.) It seems surreal when the one person who has been a constant part of your life since birth is gone. I also have to reflect on the fact that I would likely not be a writer today if it had not been for her. A writer herself, she inspired me to pour my imagination onto the page and to create.

Now, I realize how difficult it is to tap into that imagination when the real world has become unimaginable. Never before have I been at such a loss for words. It’s at times like these in which we become self-critical and have this unreasonable expectation that we should be able to jump right back into our normal lives. This is an unfortunate human tendency to at least lightly salt our own wounds. We allow ourselves a moment to grieve and then act like something’s wrong with us when we get that lip tremble in the middle of the day because of a song on the radio, or when we can’t sleep or can’t get up in the morning because our pain is too heavy.

The thing that occurs to me right now is that those who are worth shedding tears over are the ones who accept us and love us without condition. Those that we grieve for would not demand more than we have to give. Now, as I look at this Casio watch next to me, I remember the bells in Buddhist monasteries that ring to remind those nearby to stop and embrace the present moment. When I hear that familiar chime again, I will take it as a reminder that it is okay to be where I am right now.

Furthermore, I want to tell anyone who has taken the time to read this, that whatever you may be going through, it’s okay to be where you are and to feel how you feel. If you have lost someone close to you, don’t try to “move on.” Instead, move when you are ready, be kind to yourself, and hold onto the love they gave you. Trust that they would want nothing less from you.

Have You Read This Yet?

As a freelance writer, I do a lot of web content and marketing copy, things like that. Occasionally, I have time to work on passion projects. Below is one that came together over the course of a few years as I added little bits at a time. This poetry collection is like a time capsule holding an array of important moments and emotions. If poetry is your thing, check it out.

Also, of you’re interested in colaborating to create your own personal poem for a loved one or a special occasion, check this out.

Michael J. Snow is a writer who graciously takes time away from his mid-life crisis and existential dread to attempt to create a smile or two. If you got anything out of this post, drop a comment and let him know. Questions, concerns, etc, send them here.

Branding as a Freelancer

Branding is one of the most crucial aspects of a career as a freelancer. Even mega-corporations can’t ignore the importance of building a strong brand image. When establishing a freelancing career, you have to build name recognition that associates you with quality work and builds trust with potential clients. You could brand your own name or start your own business and work on branding your business name. The latter is pretty risky for newer freelancers, so many chose to market themselves instead.

Freelance writers especially, will tell you that their name is there brand. Part of the reason for this is that client’s are looking for a person they can trust. They do not want to leave their business in the hands of a content mill, or a faceless company that is going to outsource the work to an unknown. This is why branding your name as a freelancer is generally a good idea. There are, however, risks and challenges involved.

One of the first things you have to look at is how common your name is. A good example of great personal branding is the highly successful blogger Elna Cain. Early in my career as a freelance writer, I would google my questions about blogging and would more often than not, land on one of her blogs sharing her experiences. She has built an amazing career and part of her success comes from her name and how she marketed it. I, personally have never met an Elna. I haven’t seen many Cains either. If you have an uncommon name, branding is a little easier. Of your name is Steve Jones or Sarah Johnson, it’s going to be harder to differentiate between others online with the same name. You think that’s bad though, I’ve got a story for you.

Here’s my story. As I was picking up steam on Fivver, I decided that I needed to work on marketing and branding for myself. My first and last name, however, are the same as a well-known Canadian writer and artist. If you Google me and the word Writer, I’ll pop up on the first page, but way down. So, here I am competing with a famous writer with the same name. So what am I to do? I start using my middle initial. Good right? Well that was until a guy in another state with my exact name decided to murder some people. What do you think appears on the first couple of google pages when you search that name? Yep, news stories about someone nobody wants to hire. What’s the moral of the story? Take time to brand yourself online, but remember, it’s a big world and someone can always come along and mess up your plan.

Real Estate Bios – Boost Your Agent Profile | Michael J. Snow

real estate agent bio

If you are a real estate agent, there are many factors and considerations to how you present yourself to clients. In my career, I have worked on real estate bios for people relatively new to the career as well as seasoned professionals. In this field, it would be hard to argue that a strong agent biography isn’t one of the most important aspects of success.

Why are Realtor Bios so important?

In my experience, there are two broad categories of professional bios. Type #1 primarily highlights technical skills and professional achievements. Type #2 is more personal and helps the reader connect to the person and build trust. The best ones often incorporate some of both. A well-written real estate bio is so important because real estate agents are knowledgeable professionals who also have to connect in a very human way. A good bio presents a business professional while also creating a personal connection to the client.

Building Client Trust is Essential

Buying or selling a home is very stressful and very confusing if you don’t know the ins and outs of realty. This is where a good bio comes in handy. Real estate is a compettitive industry and as a professional agent, you need to stand out. Good presentation when a potential client finds your website or real estate listing can help to earn their trust and confidence.

What Should a Real Estate Agent Bio Include?

Any professional bio needs to cover two main things: 1) Who you are, and 2) What you can do. The first part is where you get to show your personality, your passion, and what motivates you as a professional. The second part is where you let your skills and experience shine. For a real estate agent, it is essential to strike the right balance so that clients have faith in your skill but also trust your honesty and integrity. Make sure to include significant professional history as well as information to connect in a human way. This can make all the difference.

Want Help Writing your Real Estate Bio?

I’ve worked with professionals in a variety of industries to help tell their stories. If you want help creating your perfect bio, send me an email or simply click the link below.

Social Media Marketing: Get Social and Get Results!

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is essential to modern business. In the past, when we thought of marketing, we might think of billboards and magazine advertisements. Today, it’s all about Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, etc. Why? Because modern marketing strategies are not about throwing ads at people but rather, they are about engagement. Connecting with your audience is the most important thing you can do to build your success.

Social Media Mistakes

While social media is a great tool, misusing it can have the wrong effect. It is important to avoid common Social media mistakes. Here are a few things to avoid.

  • Spamming – Have you ever followed a page on Facebook and ended up unfollowing them because of repetitive posts clogging your feed? Don’t be that page.
  • Abusing trends – Sure Twitter hashtag trends and popular TikToks can be a good way to get views. However, jumping on a trend and adding nothing relevant or interesting sends the wrong message.
  • Failing to Connect – The beauty of social media marketing is the ability to really connect. If you talk “at” your audience without connecting meaningfully, you are missing a golden opportunity.

What’s Your Marketing Plan?

Social media offers so many opportunities to grow your audience and build your success. You have to have a plan though. Just jumping on Facebook or tossing a bunch of tweets into the void will not magically make you go viral and start earning six figures. So, what’s your plan?

To help you carve out your marketing strategy, take a look at The Biggest Marketing Mistake you are going to want to avoid. Have any questions, comments, or tips of your own? Drop a comment or shoot me an email. I love hearing from people on every part of the path to success.

Michael. J Snow is a marketing professional and writer who’s had the good fortune to work with individuals from around the world. Want to work with him? Check out his services.

Marketing in 2022: It’s time to sharpen your skills.

Marketing in 2022 is as important as ever. In some ways, it may be even more significant. If you are trying to start a new business or helping your existing business recover after taking a hit during the pandemic, strong marketing is a necessity.

In 2022, we find ourselves in a new world. Some of the rules have changed while others have been reinforced. To thrive in the seemingly upside-down world of today, we have to know where to focus our energies. This can be challenging and a little intimidating.

For myself, as a writer, marketing always seemed intimidating. It sounded like something people in New York with MBAs talked about and Mid-West creatives like myself were scared of. However, The more I’ve leaned into it, the more I’ve found that marketing is not what I thought it was back in the day.

Marketing is really about communicating and building relationships. it is also easier than you think. If you feel stuck or like you are a hamster on a wheel, look into how marketing yourself can change everything. Not sure where to start? Check out some of my favorite tips.

Michael. J Snow is a marketing professional and writer who’s had the good fortune to work with individuals from around the world. Want to work with him? Send a quick email, or check out his Fiverr page.

Take Action and Excede Your Goals

I don’t know about you, but in my part of the world, it’s a gloomy, rainy cold day. These are the days that a motivation boost can be much needed. I’ve found that the best way to get out of a rut and into the game is to look at actions instead of circumstances. I’ll elaborate.

Circumstance vs. Action

The circumstances of your life are important. I’m not going to deny that. Some people are born into privilege and handed every opportunity. Others face struggles and challenges from birth. I’m not going to pretend life is an even playing field. What I will remind you is that what you do on the field is what is most important no matter the terrain. How many people born into poverty facing nothing but adversity have achieved great success in business, sports, the arts, etc? The answer— a lot. How many people have been given every opportunity and did very little with it? The answer — also a lot. What makes the difference? Action.

Why You Should Take Action Now

No matter if you are a struggling artist, an aspiring entrepreneur, or just trying to find the motivation to put on your socks on a rainy, gloomy day, your actions today will determine your results tomorrow. This post may be a little heavy-handed in its cheerleader style. If so, I apologize. If you find yourself needing this message, however, I’m here to remind you that you can accomplish more than you think if you simply take action. Whether it’s small steps or huge leaps, every step forward gets you closer to your goals. Don’t sit in your comfort zone waiting for something to change. Take control, take action, and take the path to the future you want.

Michael J. Snow is a writer, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Enthusiast. Please direct any questions, concerns, love letters, or kindly-worded hate mail

Is Your Comfort Zone Holding You Back?

As humans, we work really hard to avoid discomfort. Unfortunately, staying in our comfort zone can actually make life harder in the long run. The important thing to remember is that your comfort zone is about keeping you where you are. If you stay where you are, you will never get where you want to be.

To Grind or Not to Grind?

We’ve all seen the t-shirts and coffee mugs espousing the idea that success is about “grinding every day,” “Always hustling,” or whatever other fun way of saying work hard 24/7. Is this really the path to success? I’m going to take a bold position here and say…maybe. Here’s the thing, this world is full of people who stay on the grind and work hard day after day and don’t get anywhere. Hard work is important, but if your work is not moving you toward your goals, what are you accomplishing? Remember, a hamster can spend the day running full speed on the wheel and ultimately still be in a cage. Hard work is essential, but mindset might be more important.

What’s Your Mindset?

I’m a word guy. I like to break words down to their roots. This can be surprisingly helpful, so let’s take a look at a favorite. What is a “mindset?” Your mindset is the life direction you “set” your “mind” to. Think of it as a plan, a blueprint, or a goal. How you focus your mind influences your actions and ultimately your results. Ask yourself, is your mind set to growth? Is your mind set to building on your potential? If you don’t set goals and put everything into building toward them, then no amount of work will put you where you want to be.

This is Your Life. What Are You Going To Do With It?

Your life is largely the result of your decisions. Knowing this, you must ask if your choices are moving you forward or holding you in place. Moving forward, means stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s called a comfort zone because it’s familiar, safe, and what you are used to. It is, very literally, staying put. In the same way that you can’t see the world without leaving your home town and you can’t fly without leaving the ground, you cannot reach your life’s potential without leaving your comfort zone. It is your life. Where do you want to go?

Michael Snow is a writer whos passions range from poetry and philosophy to marketing and business. Check out his writing services on Fiverr, and drop a comment below if you got something positive out of this post. Remember, writers feed on caffeine and positive feedback needing both to survive.

While you’re here, check out:

Why a Professional Bio is Important For an Entrepreneur