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Working From Home 101

Updated on December 8, 2015

Start With the Basics

One of the most common questions asked by those wanting to work from home is what their options are: should they try selling Avon? Survey sites? Freelance writing? Where can they make the most money? Which ones have no start-up costs? Will they need a website?

All good questions, but I would suggest that anyone asking them has skipped the first, and most important, step towards successfully working from home. Before you even begin thinking of which job to choose, there are a few things you're going to want to do:

  1. Create a new email account, completely separate from your personal account. Choose a simple and professional sounding address from a reputable service, such as gmail or outlook. This is the account you will use to register with whatever business(es) you choose, and the one you will be giving to potential clients or referrals.
  2. Draw up your daily schedule - not your desired schedule, but a real-time account of how you currently spend your day. This will give you an idea of how many hours a week you can devote to working from home, and what times of day you most often have free.
  3. Create a list of reasons you want to work from home. Obviously, we all want to make money, but go beyond that. Are you a parent who wants to spend more time at home? Are you a writer wanting to hone your skills? Are you a student who wants to dip your toe into your chosen field? Having a clear picture of why you want to work from home will help you choose a position that's right for you.

Home-based businesses are a fun way to make money, and new friends.
Home-based businesses are a fun way to make money, and new friends.

Know Your Options

Once you've drawn up a basic idea of how much time you have to spare, what you are hoping to get out of working from home, and what you think you might want to do, it's time to explore options. There are 4 basic work-from-home categories:

Market Research

Most companies pay for market research - that is, data on your likes and dislikes, what you purchase most often, what keywords catch your attention, which ads work on you and which don't, and your habits and hobbies. This information tells them how to better market their products, and who to market them to. By signing up for survey sites, pay-per-click ad sites, and home-scan agreements, you can earn money by volunteering the information they are seeking.


If you have a talent for writing, photography, graphic art, Photoshop, music, or any other creative enterprise, you can sell your services to various companies and individuals. There are numerous websites that can connect you with potential clients, and you always have the option of self-marketing as well.

Home-Based Business

Companies like Scentsy, Avon, Partylite, among countless others, give you the opportunity to create a home-based business with an already reputable name. This option does come with start-up costs, but if you have a talent for sales and enjoy socializing, can be highly lucrative.

Ad Revenue

If you already have a website or blog, ad revenue is an easy way to boost your income. This involves posting ads or links on your site - for every click or sale made through your site, you earn a portion of the revenue.

Know the Scams

When you begin researching your options, you will be overwhelmed by the number of companies claiming you can make thousands of dollars a month (or even a day!) for doing little to no work. You'll encounter "real people" supporting this claim - people that "honestly made" ten grand their first month, just by processing emails or getting referrals. Run, don't walk, away from these offers, especially if they require you to pay for the privilege of being in on them. That's not to say that anyone asking for a start-up fee is scamming you - most legitimate home-based businesses come with fees, but for obvious reasons - they are selling you the products you need to get started. Online ventures that have nothing to do with selling a physical product have no reason to be asking you for money, and 9 times out of 10, it is that fee that accounts for most of their income. They are making money off of you, not vice versa.

Sites offering thousands of dollars for virtually no work sound too good to be true for a very good reason.
Sites offering thousands of dollars for virtually no work sound too good to be true for a very good reason.

Build a Network

If you're at all like me, the term "networking" makes you cringe. A lot of people who work from home report doing so because they aren't particularly social or fond of being around large groups of people, so the idea of networking is a touch counter-intuitive. However, once you jump in to the work from home dynamic, the necessity of networking becomes unavoidable. Whether it's to build clientele, become aware of new scams, brainstorm ideas, trade ads, call attention to your business, or get involved with the businesses of others, having a network of like-minded home workers is vital. If you're not big on venturing too far outside your comfort zone, try social media, small local meetings, or signing up for online newsletters.

This isn't likely to happen right away.
This isn't likely to happen right away.
But this can, and it looks pretty good itself.
But this can, and it looks pretty good itself.

Have Patience

It is our lack of patience and desire for instant results that allows the biggest scams to succeed - few can resist the promise of thousands of dollars your first week. In truth, however, working from home is just like starting any other business; it takes time, perseverance, and patience to begin seeing the results you hope for. Most people who have truly succeeded at work from home ventures say it took six months to a year to become financially independent. That may seem like a long time, but when you consider that the end result is being completely free of bosses, strict deadlines, commutes, professional attire, and schedules, it's not that long at all. And it's important to keep in mind that you will be making money in the meantime, even if it isn't quite as much as you'd hoped to. Hard work and patience are the two most vital ingredients in the home-business cocktail, and the results are well worth it.


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  • torrilynn profile image

    torrilynn 3 years ago

    this was a thorough and very useful article. thanks for the read and the great information.