New to the work-from-home world? Are you worried about taking the leap to working at home because you’re afraid you have to spend money to make money? You can relax! The truth is that there are plenty of ways to earn an income from home – a full-time income, no less – that don’t require any financial investment. I’m going to break down the main types of remote work for you, share legitimate work-at-home opportunities, and even show you how to avoid scams.
Let’s dive right in.
One of the holy grails of work-from-home jobs is landing an employee position with a company online. In these positions, you are not an independent contractor or a freelancer. You are a bona fide employee, and you get all the perks that entails – from your employer handling your taxes to a host of benefits, like health coverage and PTO and holiday pay. You may also enjoy a greater sense of security, since you’re traditionally employed and not worrying about the end of the project or contract you were hired to complete.
Since finding employee work is just like landing a traditional job, you should never have to pay anything to land one. You just apply! There may be some companies who require background checks, and those you’ll have to pay for – but that’s the only legitimate expense that may be required of you.
Here are some employee jobs for your consideration:
- Alorica at Home – Alorica provides outsourced communication solutions, and is a popular choice due to their flexible scheduling as demonstrated through their hiring of students and retirees, among others.
- American Express – American Express hires both customer service representatives and travel agents to work for them from home – they pride themselves on their 24-hour concierge service for their members.
- [email protected] – Hilton hires both sales specialists and customer care reps, so you can find the role that best fits you – both involve helping folks with their hotel reservations.
- Sitel Work at Home – Sitel offers more in the way of customer service work – just like Alorica, they’re an outsourced customer service solutions company – though they only hire from certain states (see if your state is on the list here).
- SYKES – SYKES also hires customer service agents to take inbound calls and help their customers and, like the above companies, they also offer paid training.
You can learn more about remote employee jobs and find more companies that hire employees to work from home in my post here.
Independent Contractor Work
You’ll find that the most prevalent remote job offers online set you up as an independent contractor – they pay you an agreed-upon amount for a project or contract, and that’s it. They don’t handle your taxes – you have to keep track of that. You don’t get any benefits. Often, however, you do get an incredible amount of control over your schedule, making freelancing a very robust option for those with only small, nonconsecutive windows of time to work (stay-at-home moms) or those who keep unconventional hours (night owls!).
Not only should you never have to pay anything for independent contractor work – unless you choose to get yourself a certification to open up your job options – but you should never give away any work for free when bidding on a job or pursuing a contract. Don’t work on spec – meaning, don’t create a finished piece of work before the client formally agrees to pay you.
Writers and artists, especially don’t write or design for someone who promises you great exposure and nothing else – remember, exposure is something that people die from.
Here are some independent contractor jobs for your consideration:
- Freelance Writing – You can write anywhere, anytime – find paying jobs by working through a service (like BKA Content or Scripted) or by checking job boards (like ProBlogger).
- Transcription – There are many companies out there hiring transcriptionists – check out 23 companies here that welcome beginners – and this is one gig you can grow into a career by specializing into medical or legal transcription (which involves certification).
- User Testing – You won’t make a living wage this way, but it’s good side gig money – especially if you fall into the most targeted demographics and can land a lot of tests. $10 for 20 minutes of your time isn’t a bad ratio: find 13 legit user testing companies here.
- Teaching English – This industry is growing fast – every time I turn around, I seem to find another English as a Second Language tutoring company; most have relaxed requirements (you just need to be a native English speaker), but many also require a college degree. Here are 18 companies to consider.
- Moderation – There are so many unruly communities on the Internet – from social media to message boards to comments sections – that many big companies need help moderating those spaces and ensuring community guidelines are being followed. Check out companies like ModSquad and ICUC for open positions.
Watch Out for Scams
Have you ever heard the phrase, “there’s a sucker born every minute?” Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous people out there in the world that have heard the same. While the Internet has been a great equalizer in making remote work available to more people, it’s also made it easier for scammers to prey on people.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
Want to know more about common scams? Check out my post “Top Ways to Spot & Avoid Work-at-Home Scams.”
Start Your Own Business
There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and some types of work-from-home jobs do require an upfront investment. But that investment should be in yourself – like buying a headset to perform customer service work, or purchasing materials to craft jewelry that you plan to sell in an online shop. Or formally starting your own business – or increasing your marketable skills through courses and certifications.
There’s still plenty you can do without spending any money upfront, of course – you just may need to put in a bit of sweat equity! Doing business as yourself, build your brand, your portfolio, your reputation and earn an income.
Here are a few businesses you can start today:
- Social Media Manager – Build a basic website for free at WordPress.com and start looking for customers; curate your own social media professionally until you build a portfolio and testimonials.
- Graphic Designer – If you’ve got the design skills, flaunt them! Build a free website to host your portfolio, and hustle through various job boards (like Authentic Jobs) for clients until you build your rep.
- Freelance Writer – A lot of the jobs mentioned above can be done with you as the boss as well! Freelance writing is one of my favorite remote opportunities for those looking for a flexible schedule and great earnings potential. Learn more here.
- Virtual Assistant – If you come from an administrative or customer service background. Virtual assisting may be for you. Small – and large – businesses worldwide are outsourcing their office tasks these days. Turn your skills into cash. Learn more here and here.
- Transcription – If you have excellent typing and listening skills, you can start a transcription business. This industry isn't for everyone, however. This free 7-day course can help you determine whether it would be a good fit for you.
- Proofreading – Maybe you love grammar, but aren't interested in becoming a writer. There's also a large demand for online proofreaders. This is definitely one you will need the skills for, however.
Ready to start that work-from-home career now? That’s what I thought! There’s no money required, so get out there and get started.