There was a time in the not too distant past when having a secure office job was the ideal situation. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who is telling the story), the needs and allowances of the workaday world have changed, allowing some people the liberty of working from home. Such factors as the status of the economy and the trend towards changing family dynamics have led to opportunities for creative individuals to not only work from home, but to create their own situations from wherever they may be.
This creates an ideal situation for employers as well as those who want to work from home. The US tax code also makes for an advantageous situation by the ability given companies to deduct the cost of independent contractors from their tax bill versus a traditional employee who must remain taxable as a cost of doing business. The net effect of this is to create an advantageous situation for both the employer as well as the home worker.
Below are just a sample of the avenues some creative individuals have used to not only survive from their home workplace, but to thrive and enjoy the benefits of their home.
- Online Surveys/Focus Groups: There is a lot of information related to how a business is run that can be obtained from practically anywhere. And some businesses have come to realize that instead of sacrificing scarce (and expensive) office space to such functions, many more people can be employed for the same (or less) money working off-site. Those who gather data, whether it is for surveys or focus groups are just one example.
- Online Tutoring: Just like a lot of businesses, the tutoring world has been revolutionized by the online approach. If you have a knack for teaching others how to do something, want to be a teacher, or even are a teacher who is currently out of the workplace or wants to make extra money, you can put your skills to work by offering your know-how online. Combining your teaching skills with the love that young people have for computers and practically anything online, there’s a winning combination that is sure to benefit everyone.
- Freelance Writing: If you have a way with words, chances are very good that you can make a good living as a freelance writer. There are several ways of doing this very profitably. There is what is called the lottery method, where you approach magazines, newspapers and websites in an attempt to sell them your work. This is called the lottery method because the writer never knows when he or she will strike the big time with the perfect work in front of the perfect publisher. The fun part is that you can make money along the way to your “fortune”.
Another method is using numerous online websites that allow writers to earn money for those who post their editorial needs on the websites. Students and teachers also hire writers to create papers and other documents for them when they simply run out of time or ideas.
Finally, there are countless other avenues for selling your writing to others such as businesses that need website copy, pr copy, and other sales materials. Executives and others often hire writers outside of their businesses to write speeches and other position papers in order to keep their ideas fresh and gain a different perspective.
- Data Entry: Data entry is a tedious task that is often farmed out by a company to independent contractors who work on projects from their homes. This is a mixed blessing for everyone involved. Fortunately, for a home worker who is conscientious and willing to work hard, data entry can be a blessing in disguise. Data entry is time consuming work, but this is very suited to someone working from home who probably does not have the distractions often present in an office, which would lend itself to lower quality work. Fortunately, just as is the case of any work, when you prove yourself as a capable and dependable worker, the world will become your oyster.
- Selling Photography: The photography business is one that anyone interested in it can enter to several and numerous degrees. From taking your own pictures and selling them to clients or to the general public as in the case of nature photography, the business can be very lucrative. The equipment often required can be very expensive, but at the same time, you can “make do” in many circumstances until you have the money to invest in more.
Another approach for photography is the commercial aspect. Depending on how much you want to leave your home, you can hire yourself out as a photographer at weddings, and other such events. For those who want to stay closer to home, perhaps you have an area that might be suitable as a studio or a yard that might be an appropriate setting for backgrounds. Either way, or both, you’re in business.
- Affiliate Marketing: How would you like a job that allows you to make money while somebody else does the work? That’s affiliate marketing, and there are many companies who do it. There are also many people who make considerable amounts of money doing the work. Even better, once you have gotten more people to work for you, your profits can be considerable, with an ever-expanding network, making money for you every step of the way. With time and patience, affiliate marketing can be a good business.
- Virtual Assistant: Did you ever have a task to run and you simply didn’t have the time or the energy to do it? There are a lot of business people who are in exactly the same situation and are happy to relieve themselves of their errand onto someone else. Even non business people need errands run from time to time. What stay-at-home mom didn’t have an errand to run but had sleeping child that they couldn’t leave? You could hire yourself out as a virtual assistant who could perform these tasks for them. And if you can’t leave your home, you could hire your own assistant to be your assistant.
- Customer Service: Remember the last time you had a problem with a company and spoke to a customer service representative who was able to effectively help you with the issue? Remember how good you felt afterwards? You could create those feelings full time and working from home as a customer service representative working for a firm that farms out those responsibilities to workers offsite.
- Online Auction Seller: In recent years, Ebay, Etsy, and other auction websites have created an entirely new concept in selling merchandise. Gone are the days when if you had something to sell you had to “go amongst them” to get the attention of buyers. Now, all you need to do is take a picture of your product, write some sell copy to accompany your picture and sell the product, then post both online. You’re in business.
- Drop Shipping: If you’ve always wanted to have your own business but didn’t have the money to buy a lot of inventory, perhaps a business as a dropshipper is for you. Drop shipping is a business that can be as small as you want it to be, but reward you with big income potential. Basically, a dropshipper is a business (it’s often no more than a website) that offers goods for sale and that receives money for those goods. When it comes time to ship the goods to the customer, however, the dropshipper.
- Mystery Shopper: Do you like to shop? Do you like to give your opinion about the customer service of a store or other organization? If you like being a spy, but the CIA never got your application, maybe a business as a mystery shopper is a good fit for you. Mystery shoppers are people who are employed by many different types of organizations to provide feedback on all sorts of things. You might, for example, be asked to report on employee attitude, their promptness in serving you, making refunds and other things. You might even be asked to check to see if the restroom is clean. Even churches and other unlikely groups use mystery shoppers (mystery worshippers?) to give feedback on how well they are serving their publics and other aspects of their work.
- Proofreading Jobs: Proofreading is another of those tedious but important jobs that many businesses are happy to farm out to home workers. Companies can produce hundreds of important documents every day, and their importance necessitates proper spelling and punctuation, for form if not legal reasons. Further, proofreaders outside of the company offer the added benefit of an objective, fresh set of eyes to ensure that standards are met.
Finally, a word of warning: There are many legitimate work from home jobs available. Some can be very lucrative and offer considerable freedom from the normal stresses of working in an office environment. Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks. First, out of sight really is out of mind in this case. When you are not a regular part of the company “family,” you can often find yourself on the outside looking in and rarely enjoying the trust that can be there for the asking when being an employee. Any trust that is accorded to you is the result of trust that you earn by hard work. This is difficult, but can be very rewarding.
Another part of finding work at home jobs are the scams that are a common threat. As stated above, there are many good, legitimate works at home jobs, when a prospect requires a fee up front, chances are good that it’s a scam. Taking part in these, no matter how tempting the offer, will probably only part you from your money and leave you empty handed in the end.
The bright side to all of this is to remember that where there’s a will there really is a way for anyone who wants to work from home. In fact, horror stories should not deter anyone since there are far too many opportunities for success available. It is also important to remember that with the changing economic conditions, opportunities stand a good chance to increase significantly in number in the coming years, so those who get on the bandwagon sooner rather than later, will probably benefit faster than anyone.