Recession turns more American workers to the Web

Yahoo Contributor Network

Michy Lynn sometimes wears her slippers to work. This Texas small-business owner boasts a dream job that lets her log in from her recliner at home, coffee in hand.

Jared Spurbeck, a writer from Georgia, started generating income by penning fantasy fiction and doling out tech advice once he figured out the "real world" didn't work out.

Susan Montag, once an English teacher in Minnesota, turned to books, beads and buttons to make ends meet.

While the career choices of these three are varied, they share a common trait: More Americans are relying on the Web to weather rough patches in the still-downturn economy. At the Yahoo! Contributor Network, we asked readers and contributors to share their stories.

Below are a few:

Telecommuting makes a workplace global: Michy Lynn founded her online writing and editing business, Accentuate, 14 years ago when an illness forced her from her more "traditional" job as contract negotiator. She says she's now tripled her corporate income by working harder than anyone she knows. And relying on the Web has led to opportunities she wouldn't have seen before: "Working online opens up a global marketplace. I have performed editing and translation assignments for people in Spain. I have written Web content for a company in England. I did audio transcription work for doctors in China, Japan and Saudi Arabia. I write for companies in New York, Denver and California, while I live right outside of Galveston, Texas." Read more here.

Seamstress adapts creativity to online wares: Samantha Van Sleet , in rural Alaska, sells her handcrafted diapers, baby carriers and teddy bears to other moms via the Web. "Customers went crazy for my baby carriers, both online and off," she writes, "but what people really loved were my unique and brightly colored cloth diapers." Her income varies: Some months, she's pulling in several hundred dollars, and as demand increases, she's hiring friends to keep up with the workload. Read more here.

On the Internet, no one can tell you're autistic: Jared Spurbeck headed to the Web after not finding a calling "IRL" (in real life). For fun, he started posting fantasy fiction on a message board - and then made money off it: "Pretty soon I had tons of people lined up, waiting to get one of my stories. When I started asking for money, I got their donations easily ... and they kept giving me more than I asked for. I charged $20 for a story, and they gave me $40. When I charged $40 per story, I racked up another long waiting list, and the last person in line paid me $100." He's now expanded into other areas - technology and programming. Read more here.

From hobby to homeless to online career: Rena Sherwood went from working 100 hours a week at two jobs to being homeless for five years after she "ran off with a blue-eyed homeless man during a vacation to Bath, England." All along, she had her writing. It was once "Rena's hobby," (as her family called it), and it's now become her career. "In a good month, I can make $1,500," she says. Read more here.

Book-, bead- and button-selling cushions English teacher from job loss: Susan Montag stuffed 9,000 books into her garage in hopes she can find buyers on Amazon. On eBay, she sells beads and buttons - "it had to be small," she writes. "After all, my garage was already full of books!" Formerly an English teacher at a Minnesota university, she was laid off when the economy tanked. So, she threw herself into her small business: "Selling books online takes a lot of time, energy, and know how. So if you want to do it, be prepared to work hard. It also requires quite a bit of heavy-lifting (literally) as well as a big storage area.... The biggest drawback is that I have not replaced the benefits or all the income that I lost from my full-time job. I've just cushioned the blow a bit." Read more here.

Computer salesman finds more freedom, money working the Web: Millionaire Hoy, with four kids at home, knew he needed to shift gears when the economy shrank his computer-selling position to as few as 15 hours a week. He writes: "As a husband and father of four children, who are 1 to 9 years old, working half a work week is just as bad as not having a job at all, so I decided to jump ship from my day job and try my luck working online in back in 2008." It hasn't made him rich; he says he brings in about $3,000 a month. But he's less stressed. "I am no longer bossed around, entangled in office politics, stuck in rush hour traffic, and I get paid daily instead of waiting for a mediocre check." Read more here.

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