Self-Employment and Work From Home Jobs
Home-Based Jobs Require Space to Work
How Stay-at-Home Moms Can Work From Home
How to Find Home-Based Jobs
It’s like a fantasy to some people – they want to earn more money, and they want to work from home. This is especially a daydream of stay-at-home moms who, understandably, don’t want to give up their precious time with the kids.
Often, the thought of working from home comes to mind, but there’s little information available to help transform the goal into a reality. Where do you start, how do you find a stay-at-home job, and (most importantly to many people), how much can you earn.
Another question you should ask, though, when you’re considering a home-based job, is what it’s actually like to have your office in your living room, the spare bedroom, or a corner of the kitchen (I’ve actually used all of those at one point or another, plus a few additional cubbyholes in various places where I’ve lived).
You should also ask yourself whether you can juggle the responsibilities of your house, family, kids at school and work, all from the same location.
Here are some tips and pointers to help you decide what’s best for you:
How Can I Make Money Working From Home?
There are indeed some legitimate companies that hire people to work from home. I’m not talking about telephone sales, or stuffing envelopes. Some people also start their own business – but this can take a lot of time to grow and develop, and can require a head for managing and marketing a business.
Here are a few types of home-based jobs and places that will pay you while you work from home:
Call Centers: One big sector that often hires homebound workers is the call center industry. In recent years, major firms have realized they can save money by putting a computer in your home (yes, really – but you can only use it for work), and paying you to sit at your own house and answer calls. The pay is not huge – but when you consider you’re offsetting the expense of travel, lunch and a wardrobe for work, the pay may not sound so bad. In Austin, such jobs go for about $10-$12 an hour, with increases based on productivity. You will likely need to be on duty for regular hours, and the computer will be equipped to monitor your online activity and phone time.
Customer Service: I recently had to call a publisher for a textbook I ordered for one of the classes I teach. The very polite customer service rep was working from her home! The only reason I knew this was that she mentioned it (she had to call me back, and she apologized profusely). The pay is likely in the range quoted above for call centers, but it may vary.
Insurance Enrollment: Some firms pay individuals to contact physicians’ offices and gather enrollment data for various insurance or government programs. The last I researched this, pay started out around $10 to $12 per hour and eventually transitioned to pay-for-productivity.
Research Firms: Some research firms pay for making calls from a remote location. Pay can be either hourly or per contact.
Medical Coding: These people are usually self-employed, but it can be a lucrative field. Coders translate diagnostic information on medical forms to standard billing codes. Have you ever seen a list of procedures on your insurance statements? Each one has a number, and insurance firms pay doctors based on the code number of the procedure. You will need to take some training to do this, but it can be a long-term career and can go with you if you move to another city. You can also somewhat set your own hours with this field (more so than with call centers). You will need some hours to be available by phone during the working day, but can probably do the coding at whatever time best suits your household schedule. You can either be on the staff or self-employed in this field. Most who work from home are freelancers.
Start Your Own Business From Home
Cake Decorating: Are you good at cake decorating or baking? I know many women who run their own business doing cakes for special occasions, or even cupcakes and other desserts (for which they create interesting decorations and presentations). It will take time to develop a stable of clients, but people tend to keep using their favorite cake maker once they discover someone talented and reasonable. If you undercut expensive bakeries in price but offer a beautifully done product, delivered on time, your business will eventually grow through word-of-mouth (not to make a pun!).
Childcare: This may be one of the most accessible jobs you can do, and the one that most readily fits your daily home schedule, especially if you have children at home. If you are already watching a toddler or two, adding one more (or even two more) to the mix will be hectic, but it will also blend well with doing laundry, dishes, cleaning a few things and spending time with your children. Many new moms would prefer leaving their baby in a home near where they live (or near their job). Create flyers, with your picture on them, and distribute them in your neighborhood, place an ad in your subdivision newsletter and check out any major businesses nearby. If you have a college degree (especially in education), mention it on the flyer, and mention if you have other special skills, such as familiarity with another language.
Be sure to research guidelines in your city or state for providing home-based daycare. Often, you can watch one or two children without a license, but you will need to be registered to take on more clients. Daycare centers are very expensive, and you might find a good client base by charging a bit less, but offering a loving, attentive atmosphere for a child.
Writing and Blogging: If you’re on this site, chances are its crossed your mind to support yourself through writing. Just as a word of warning, it takes a lot of time to break into this field, and it does take skills. See the links below for tips on making money as a writer.
House Cleaning: Yes, really. Many busy career women are stressed for time and can’t even look for a good housekeeper. If you’re in a subdivision, you might even find clients in your own neighborhood. Research small local papers to see what the going rate is, and create a flyer. Then drop by the houses near where you live and introduce yourself, along with your flyer. If possible, put a photo on the flyer to show you look clean, trustworthy and friendly. If you have pet allergies, you may want to consider whether you’ll be in homes with cats, dogs, or other special friends. Otherwise, this can be a good way to earn extra money, and you can determine the days and hours when you’ll take clients. Tip: It’s often a plus if you offer to bring your own supplies and vacuum cleaner.
Part-time Office Duties: Some small businesses need help with office duties, but can’t afford a fulltime employee or the space to set up an office. Ask around and see if someone would like a smart person to answer phones and schedule appointments (you can have the line transferred to your home), and to do invoices, billing and other paperwork. You will need to be on duty for certain hours, but you can also be home when your kids leave for school and when they arrive home.
Book | Tips on Working From Home
Self-Employment Tip | Learn to Prioritize Your Time
Facts About Working From Home | Home Based Jobs
Here are some important things to consider when you explore working from home.
You will indeed work! Many people who haven’t been in the career world for a while mentally go from step A to step C (I want to ‘work from home,’ and I want to get paid) without considering the all-important Step B. You will be working. Nobody will pay you just to stay home with an uninterrupted schedule. Often you will need to keep specific hours, which means you won’t be able to go to the kids’ schools at the drop of the hat, or run down to the grocery store. Yes, they will indeed find out if you’re AWOL.
You May Get Interviewed: Even though you'll be working from your own home, if you're on a payroll, you'll go through an application and interview process. Practice your interview skills so you'll be prepared to score high on an interview when the time comes.
Things will change: Life at home will not be the same once you start working. Even though it sounds like you can get all your housework done and maybe check the computer now and then, that’s not how it works. You will have responsibilities, deadlines, paperwork and other diversions that keep you out of the kitchen and away from the unmade beds and dirty laundry. Yes, you won’t be leaving your house (unless you opt for one of the self-employment ideas that will take you elsewhere), but you also won’t have the hours you now have to tend to household chores.
Your schedule will change: I often hear people say, when discussing a job opportunity, “I can’t, because . . . (fill in the blank).” Usually, the barriers they mention are volunteer hours at school or perhaps church, or maybe the hours they try to see friends or spend with family members. In the career world, we adjust the rest of our life to fit what’s left after we put in 40 hours a week (or whatever the position demands). Even work-from-home positions will require some sacrifices in the schedule you currently have.
The noise factor: If you’re looking at a position that has phone duties (call centers, insurance enrollment, etc.), what sort of background noise will callers hear? Do you have a baby who might wake up and cry? Are there noisy kids and a TV blasting after school lets out? Will the dog bark? What about your home phone? Even though you’re working from home, companies want to know you’ll present a professional image to callers. These things will come out in an interview, and you'd be surprised at what interviewers say about job applicants afterward!
Desktop Computer for Home Office
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Where Can I Get a Job That Let's Me Work From Home?
Here’s the good news – once you know where to look, you can find the openings in your town. Here’s where to start:
Staffing Firms: These are the agencies that recruit people for call centers and other home-based corporate work. In bigger cities, they can hire hundreds of people at a time. They may give you a test to see how accurate you are with spelling and data entry (you’ll be entering names and numbers in the computer, and they need to be entered correctly). Then you’ll have a training period, which can be 90 days, give or take. Then, if the position allows, you can work from home. Some companies will provide you with a computer, and most will require you to have high-speed Internet, and perhaps a landline. Even though these are staffing agencies, the positions can sometimes include benefits, by the way. You generally do NOT pay a fee to be placed through these firms.
Major Corporations: Check your city’s industries and look for major corporations with call centers, then see if they hire people to work from home.
Craig’s List: Some firms will place ads on Craig’s List – watch the language of the postings to make certain it’s not multilevel marketing or other risky work.
Websites: Check Indeed.com, Monster.com and others for jobs that might be suitable for home workers.
Government Job Banks: Most states will have a job bank as part of their back-to-work agency programs. Private sector firms as well as governmental agencies place postings on these sites.
Word-of-mouth: Ask around to see what your friends are doing or who they might know who works from home. Then see if there are openings you can apply for.
Community Colleges: If you take a course to gain skills for medical coding or even cake decorating, see if your community college has an office to help place people who complete the program.
Local Businesses: Find small businesses in your area and see if they need some part-time work that can be done off-site.
Home Offices in Small Spaces
How to Furnish a Home-Based Office
Once you decide what you want to do, you'll need a few things to get started. Depending on what your work is, you may need:
A workspace: A corner of the kitchen or dining area can be all you need. If you have a spare room, clear out a spot where you can work in peace.
A desk: Many work-from-home opportunities will require desk space. You can always use a spare table until you can afford a regular desk, if you don't already have one in the home.
Phones: You might be able to use a cell phone, but it's not the best idea, especially if your work requires telephone contact. A land-line gives better reception for you and for the caller. Some companies that pay home workers require a land-line. You might get adequate phone service through a computer-based phone service, but check the quality.
High-speed Internet: Many firms that pay for home workers require you to have high-speed Internet. This investment will likely pay off, but it's one to factor in if you don't already have that expense budgeted.
Equipment: You may need more equipment or extra items in your house for your new job. If you're offering child care, look for cribs and highchairs in garage sales. Cake decorators may need a few extra icing tips or special pans beyond what they already have on hand. If you don't already have a printer or an answering device for your phone, you may need to invest in those things.
A good lamp: If you'll be at a desk for many hours, be sure you have adequate lighting. You can find lamps on sale at various places.
Where to Shop? Read Below!
Shop Garage Sales or Office Surplus Stores: There's no need to spend a ton of money on your home office. You can find sturdy, usable furniture and fixtures almost any weekend at neighborhood garage sales. If your town or city has an office surplus store, that's a good place to check as well. You'll furnish your office at a fraction of the cost of buying things new.