Monday, September 7, 2009

So you've decided to try working from home

Anyone can be successful working from home. After spending twenty years in the bricks and mortar world, I have been successfully telecommuting for the past six years. I have worked in a virtual call center for financial services, worked with an online tutoring company, blogged, evaluated web searches, and writing for a grassroots outreach effort. You can do this too; first you need to ask yourself a few questions

1. Do I want a part time or full time income?

2. What are my marketable skills (writing, customer service, technical support, web designing, tutoring, sales………..

3. Do I want to be an employee or independent contractor (Employee means the company you work for deducts all your taxes, Social security, etc. from your paycheck. This in turn usually gives them the right to hold you to a scheduled work time with direct (remote) supervision. An independent contractor (IC) contracts with a company to perform specific duties. They pay you a flat rate, sometimes an hourly rate for services performed. The contractor is responsible to manage or pay their own taxes. If you are an IC you are not eligible for unemployment or workers’ compensation. Think in terms of employing a personal assistant (employee) to answer your phone on specified days/hours with specific instructions on what duties they would perform versus a web designer (IC) you contract with to build a web site for your business. You might still pay this person hourly but other than achieving your goal, you will not be supervising them or even telling them how to do the job. If you are working for yourself you may want to consult a tax professional on the benefits of forming a sole proprietorship or even a corporation. For more information on employee vs. IC see,,id=99921,00.html

4. Do I want or need a flexible schedule or do I prefer a structured environment?

5. What type of home office do I have: Depending on your job path, you will need to create a business environment. This could be your lap top outside in your garden, or a more formal secluded place in your home. Friends have converted closets, basements; personally I have a guest bedroom that doubles as my office. What you use will primarily depend on the job you are doing. For example if you are writing or blogging, the laptop in the garden is perfect. Now if you are an employee performing technical support via phone for a large cable company, they will be pickier. Many require a land line phone (some use Avaya type systems), a headset (type USB vs. analog will depend on the software your employer or contractor is using, a computer, and a noise free environment. Many customer service or technical support employees are required to consistently demonstrate a professional quiet background. Translation – no dogs barking, babies crying, television in the background……………………you should get the picture now.

6. How much money can I make? It is very varied and really depends on the skills you have to offer. It is important to remember that you are not going to get rich overnight by doing something legal. As a web designed you will need to market yourself and charge the going rate or even slightly lower to attract clients. Writing and blogging again will vary depending on what type of writing you are doing. Individual bloggers can get paid by the word or a flat fee per article. Many writing jobs require you submitting samples of published work. Customer service or sales jobs are by far the easiest to come by. CSR’s usually work P/T at rates from an average of $9.00 to $12.00 per hour. Sales have the potential for more based on incentives.

7. Research the company you are applying to. Don’t just read the available jobs and what the salary is. Read about the company. Is this something you can see yourself doing? If not, move on.
8. How do I know who is legit? Do your own research, Better Business Bureau, research the owner of the web site through or other sources, check for complaints through sites like , and ask questions in virtual forums. Remember if it’s too good to be true it probably is. No one legitimate is going to pay you $25 hour to surf on the web or chat in a chat room. They might pay you $12. per website to critique and write a report after viewing them. Never pay for a job, same as in the B & M world. Legitimate companies will hire you without a fee. Having said there are a few exceptions, some call centers may require you to pay for the background check, others may require you purchase a particular piece of equipment (this is a personal decision if you want to do that).

Check back next week for how do I get these jobs. In the meantime check out my favorite work from home forums.

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