Wouldn’t it be great not to have to commute to work, battle with the traffic, endure the crush of the train, or get up at the crack of dawn? For many people the dream is to work from home, to fall out of bed at a reasonable time, stagger into the next room, switch the computer on, grab a coffee while the computer churns into life, and then settle dwn for a hassle-free day, just you, the internet and the cats.
The only thing stopping most people actually doing this is finding some way to make it pay. What can you do from home that will make some money?
There is no magic answer that will work for everyone. If there were then office buildings would be deserted shells. The following are a few suggestions for ways that you might be able to make enough to work from home. The key is, right from the start, to decide out how much money you need to make to maintain the lifestyle you want, and whether working from home can meet that demand. Remember the reduced commuting costs; maybe you can get rid of that second car?
Do you have an excellent command of English, or any other language? Would you class yourself as a ‘native’ speaker, i.e. have a fluency and understanding of a language that comes from years of living and speaking it? If so, you might be able to work as a proofreader or editor. This is not an easy market to break into, with a great many people seeing this as a cushy job. However, to do this effectively you will need to be almost obsessive about punctuation, the correct use of English and be able to follow fussy house styles that cover everything from the type of hyphen used in particular settings to the spacing around mathematical symbols. If you have a particular interest, or field of expertise, this can give you an advantage, whether it is an academic field (medicine, chemistry, ecology etc.) or business related (banking, architecture, engineering).
How to find work? Look for publications, journals, websites or other media related to your area of expertise and try a cold application. Many of these will have a high rate of turnover of editorial staff, particularly at the ‘lower’ levels. You may have to go on a waiting list, pass a standard evaluation of your English and proofreading skills or jump through other hoops. For more general work try services such as Scribendi (www.scribendi.com), which will edit just about any form of written work, from love letters to scientific papers and have occasional recruitment drives for editors.
It should go without saying that any application email, or other correspondence, must be well written, correctly punctuated and clear!
2. Previous experience
Do you have any previous experience – work or hobby related – that you could sell from home? Possibly you have marketing or sales experience, are an excellent administrator or have detailed knowledge of a niche area which you could use on a consulting basis?
There are a number of online sites that seek to link those with skills to those needing jobs done. Try Skillpages (www.skillpages.com) or Elance (www.elance.com).
Look through your LinkedIn contacts; are there companies or individuals there that could benefit from your experience, knowledge or contacts?
3. Repairing things
If you have the knack of fixing things you may be able to make money from home repairing electronic devices. Ebay is an excellent source of damaged, malfunctioning, last generation or simply unloved gadgets, many of which can be repaired through replacing a battery or changing a screen/motherboard. Find a device with a broken screen, and another with an intact screen, but other damage. Buy them cheaply, go to youtube.com or Ifixit (www.ifixit.com) for instructions on dissembling and repair, and put together a fully functioning device for resale on ebay or elsewhere. Just type ‘broken’, ‘for repair’ or ‘spares’ into ebay and see what you can find!
Unfortunately just about everyone can put a website together nowadays. There are a variety of drag and drop website programs, with plenty of free templates, that make it easy to build quite presentable websites. However, many people haven’t got a clue about good design, colour or how to make a website attractive and easy to use. If you have a skill in this area, and are prepared to put the time in learning the basics of HTML, or can find a good web design program, you might be able to break into this market. To be successful you will need a good portfolio of sites that you have built, demonstrating your abilities as a designer and coder. Buy a few web design magazines, look at sites that other people have built, make up some sites (for a reduced fee) for friends, family or local businesses and build a website to display them on – effectively an online CV.
5. Dog walking/sitting
People who don’t work from home often have pets that they have to leave alone all day. If you like animals it may be possible to find work walking dogs or housesitting. Although not strictly working from a dog walk can certainly beat a day in the office. Have a look at the article on www.moneymagpie.com (http://www.moneymagpie.com/article/make-60-an-hour-while-getting-fit-by-dog-walking).
6. Fostering children
If you have a spare room or rooms in your house, are good with children and happy to devote a great deal of time to helping children then you might be suitable to foster children. This is certainly not for everyone, the children may come with difficult behaviour and emotional problems, but they can benefit greatly from a stable foster placement. Payment for fostering is usually on a per week per child basis. This is intended to allow you to provide all the food, clothing and other needs of the child, with a surplus allowance, which is effectively your pay. It is a 24-hour a day job, but there is usually a good deal of support from the fostering agency or authority and, hopefully, the satisfaction of helping a child cope with what can be a very a traumatic time. Search online for fostering opportunities in your area. There is always a demand for good foster families.
Fosterers have to attend training courses and are fully vetted before being allowed to look after a child, so expect some detailed checks into your family and social life. The first priority is the safety of the placed children.
There are bloggers who make their living from their writing. Various schemes exist to use adverting to generate a decent income, but depend on you having a lot of visitors to your blog or website. How difficult is it to build up the number of visitors? Ask me again in 6 months!