Working from home isn’t always easy. We’ve talked about that before, but today I’m focusing on one of those all-encompassing concerns: what can you do to create a consistent income from your home-based job or business? It’s a serious concern, especially in such a wide-spread industry as online work – a sector that can vary wildly in legitimacy, available hours, and pay rates. Happily, I’ve got several strategies to suggest that can help you develop a consistent pool of funds to support you. Read on for my top five methods to make the work-at-home livelihood a consistent livelihood.
Find a full-time work-at-home job.
The first tactic is also the most obvious and ideal one. If you’d like to guarantee a consistent income while working from home, the best way to do that is to land a full-time home-based job. The great news is that these positions are out there – especially with so much customer service being outsourced to home office workers these days. (Not to mention the ever-growing corporate moves to take advantage of the Internet to transform their sales tactics and customer retention strategies. Which means more online jobs!) Even better, quite a number of these full-time positions also offer benefits from medical insurance to retirement planning. There are tons of great resources here on my site to help you find these jobs, too – get started with my How to Find Work at Home email series, if you haven’t already, and be sure to explore my site.
Find one or more part-time jobs with minimum weekly work hour requirements.
If you can’t find a full-time job – well, don’t give up! However, while you’re looking, think about picking up one or more part-time work-at-home jobs (depending on your income needs). The key to making this work for you is to look for those positions that require a minimum number of hours weekly. This should mean you have a good idea of what you’ll be making with them, even if they only offer you the minimum amount of hours. Once you’re settled into one of these positions, you can possibly look for a second to supplement the first one’s income. It all depends on your particular needs, of course.
As always, be careful not to overextend yourself. In a professional sense, having too much work is as dangerous as having too little: if you commit to too much, your work may suffer. You may not be able to finish all the work at all, damaging your reputation – not to mention endangering your income!
Keep hustling – while you’re working one gig, line up the next.
Sometimes, the home-based careers you excel at revolve around freelancing – and, if you’re a freelancer, it can be very hard to normalize your income stream. How much you make is all about how many gigs you have lined up, and the rates you negotiate with each of your clients. So how can you attempt to make such variable work into a more constant paycheck?
One strategy is to market your freelancing business through a third party – like a Virtual Assistant company. When you work for sites like Time Etc or Worldwide101, they match you up with clients and they pay you (sometimes on a monthly basis). You might not make as much as you would dealing with clients directly, but you also have a reliable framework within which to find gigs.
If you’re working alone as a freelancer, make sure to constantly keep an eye out for opportunities – even while you’ve got a job that you’re working on. Lining up the next job is crucial to keeping the money coming in, so make sure you set aside a little time daily to recruit your next client or pitch yourself for a new opportunity. (You will find some great tips for getting clients and padding your income in my eCourse The Blogger’s VA.)
Make sure current clients become future clients.
Piggybacking off the freelance advice above, remember to invite all current clients to send you more work. You can do so upon the final delivery of your current assignment, and maybe follow up with them a week after the conclusion of your business. In addition to being fantastic at your job – whether it’s helping customers, booking events, or writing articles – asking for more work from established clients is a simple and effective tactic to score more assignments. Being excited about the work, being reliable, and consistently delivering quality work are highly sought after qualities in freelancers. Don’t be afraid to confidently wield those qualities and solicit more work.
Diversify your income.
In the work-at-home world, there is a lot of risk and reward in almost any situation. Securing a full-time job with benefits may sound great, but what happens when and if that job ends? It happens!
Because of that, I strongly encourage you to diversify your income. Take a few hours to consider opportunities that don’t require much of a commitment like Fancy Hands or search engine evaluation. Think about how you can increase your freelance income with affiliate marketing or selling digital products. Little steps can greatly increase your bottom line and the cash you earn can be stashed away for a rainy day.
Prepare for droughts.
Just as in every other part of life, you can’t control everything in your work-at-home career. If you’re unable to find a full-time position (or multiple part-time jobs with guaranteed hours), you may have trouble keeping your income stream consistent. Often, the freelance life feels like it veers from feast to famine, from month to month. When that’s the case, one of the best things you can do is plan ahead. When you have a flush month, don’t spend frivolously because you’ve got extra cash. Put a little away for a lean month. Build a realistic budget and work within it – know the minimum you can make each month to keep your life rolling along.
This doesn’t mean not to have fun – you don’t need to become a penny-pinching killjoy. In fact, that’s the #1 way to ensure you break your budget by snapping and splurging to make yourself feel better. Build little luxuries and leeway into your monthly budget so that you can keep on task, but still enjoy the life you’re working so hard to live.
I hope I’ve introduced you to at least a couple new ways to maintain a consistent – or at least somewhat constant! – income while working from home. I know there’s a measure of luck involved in landing some of these quality full-time and part-time positions – but even more, you just need to be working hard and paying attention when the opportunities crop up. Let my advice see you through the rich months and the not-so-rich ones – I’m right there beside you.