Many people dream of having a work from home job but few pursue it. Yet, what exactly does work from home mean?
Most people associate the work from home concept with being able to do your job at any time of the day, without leaving your house. Complete flexibility if you may.
This is partially true. As a freelancer, you’re likely to create your own schedule and choose your workspace as long as you deliver work on time. If you’re a team member who’s just taking a couple of days off to work from home, you’re still tied to the usual office rules of showing up on time and being available online. Not to mention the extra distractions like your dog or kids.
But freelancers are the ones who usually encounter the more challenging aspects when deciding to work from home. Because there’s no one to guide you, find you clients, or do the books in your place.
That’s why I’ve put together this guide to help you understand whether a work from home opportunity is right for you in the long run and how to prepare for it.
Types of work from home jobs
Before you start making the switch from your daily office job, consider your opportunities to work from home. I’ve put together a list of jobs you can do from home to consider for your next job, side gig, or even career change.
For this, I used Glassdoor to highlight the pay range for each of these online jobs.
If none of these job opportunities spark your interest, don’t worry. In reality, you can do almost any job from your home part-time or full-time. So here’s a list of the most in-demand work from home positions:
What you’ll do: Arguably one of the most common home jobs among freelancers, being a Virtual Assistant (VA) is a perfect choice for anyone who is looking for a side gig and doesn’t have enough experience yet. Companies and even individuals hire VAs for help with common administrative tasks they don’t have enough time for like:
- Managing emails
- Making phone calls
- Scheduling events
- Updating social media accounts
- Preparing presentations
- Data entering
What income to expect: $20,000-$49,000/year
How to get started: Most VA opportunities don’t require any experience – as long as you know how to use basic tools like Google Docs and Gmail. To become a top VA, go on and take a few courses on developing skills like social media marketing or graphic design. There are also several different VA blogs you can check out if you want to pick up on other virtual assistants’s brains.
What you’ll do: There’s surely something you’re highly interested in and would like to further share with a larger audience. This is exactly what blogging helps you do: take your ideas and make them available on the Internet.
Of course you can’t expect to make money just by publishing content. Most bloggers earn from sponsorships, collaborations, affiliate marketing, or selling their own products. Blog topics like technology or self-improvement are more common than others, but even smaller fields of interest such as agriculture and pottery have a high readership on the web. The only challenge is getting to that audience and nurturing it.
Blogging is really a tougher work from home job than it seems. Since most bloggers don’t earn money right away, be prepared to take on additional small jobs for other companies or well-known individuals like writing blog posts for them.
What income to expect: $9-$49/hour once you get a solid readership
How to get started: Brainstorm all of your ideas to find the right niché for your future blog. Then, you’ll need to get a domain and host and hire a web developer to create your website . You can also opt for a WordPress website and do the design on your own. If you want to test a niché and see if blogging works for you, WordPress.com lets you host and start a blog at zero costs. However, you’ll need to gradually make the switch towards your own domain if you want to start earning serious money.
Customer Service Representative
What you’ll do: A perfect opportunity for those of you who like to talk to people and help them learn or achieve a goal. A customer support at home position is not something you usually do on your own. A company will hire you to be in charge of helping their customers with troubleshooting bugs or onboard new users. Whether you like technology, fashion, e-commerce, there’s an industry for everyone.
What income to expect: $23,000-$39,000/year
How to get started: Besides a good amount of patience, you need a fast Internet connection, a decent laptop, and a pair of headsets. The employer will provide training so you’ll know all of the tiny aspects and details of a product, service, or policy. Just be prepared to handle any conflicts as you‘ll be the one that gets to hear all possible client complaints. If you want to grow a solid career for this job, start researching the topic in more depth by starting with a couple of customer support-related blogs or podcasts.
What you’ll do: One teaching aspect that will prevail even in the future is the human touch. Having a real person guide you through the learning experience and share their own to the trade.
Teaching online is very similar to real-life teaching except you need to be prepared to keep students engaged in a different manner than before. Licensed teachers are already holding courses over Skype or other similar tools either with one student or an entire group, depending on the requirements of each lesson. The good news is that people who are taking online courses are more likely to be interested in what you’re teaching than an in-school student who’s just “forced” to sit through the lecture.
What income to expect: $33,000-$57,000/year (varies depending on the subject you’re teaching)
How to get started: As with any teaching job, even when working online you’ll need to get your teaching license. Topics like English and Maths are more in demand so keep this in mind if you consider switching to a full-time online teaching job. The next step would be to mentally prepare for this change. Consider what you’ll do in situations like bad Internet connection or students not being able to hear you properly. See also if you have enough patience to handle all issues. Moving on, you have to get your resources: a good webcam, the best microphone you can get your hands-on, and a drawing board.
The last piece of the puzzle is finding your students. Websites like Teach Away let you find online teaching jobs you can do from home. You can also post your own ads offering tutoring opportunities on websites like this one for language teaching. The possibilities of teaching online are endless and you can even create your own courses. Teachable is a great starting point in this case for hosting your courses and managing your students.
Website or App Tester
What you’ll do: More and more companies are looking for potential users to offer feedback on the website or app they’re going to launch. If you’re a detail-oriented person who’s patient enough to sit through a full session of testing, this might be a good opportunity for you to earn extra cash from home. To put it simply, testing is the more modern version of your classic online surveys. In fact, if you regularly do surveys, you’ll probably get one related to an app’s usability from time to time. The difference is that you now have to record your computer screen and talk about your experience with the website throughout the entire session.
What income to expect: This is not a full-time job so pay will depend on the number of tests you qualify for and finish. Most companies pay around $8-$10/test.
How to get started: There aren’t many prerequisites to start this side job from home. Just make sure you have modern hardware tools and an up-to-date system. Then, you can look for testing opportunities on websites like Userfeel or UserTesting which are actively looking for new panelists.
What you’ll do: Always in demand, there are so many specific areas you can focus on: logo design, illustration, web design, product design, even fashion design. You might already have design experience to some extent if you’ve made a couple of social media posts or logos, but check the market’s demands before going for one field of design over the other. Usually, clients who are looking for freelance designers need help with editing photos, creating logos and illustrations, editing videos, creating promotional materials like flyers or banners, etc.
What income to expect: $34,000-$69,000/year
How to get started: Watch a couple of YouTube design tutorials or courses and try the tools yourself. You’ve got the popular Adobe Creative Cloud , cheaper alternatives like Affinity, and even free ones such as GIMP or Krita. Next, master your trade and start looking for clients on freelancing websites or by showcasing your work on Behance or Dribbble, where people are searching for new talent to do their design work.
Like freelancing, there are so many work at home jobs you can pursue. Just be open and think about what you really want to be doing, either full-time or part-time. Here are more jobs to do from home:
- Travel agent
- Digital marketing manager
- Content writer
- Airbnb host
- E-commerce website owner
- Pet sitter
- Sales consultant
- Search engine evaluator
Make sure to do a thorough check-up of client or company you intend to work for. Ask a couple of people who’re already doing the job you want to see if it’s a legit work from home opportunity and avoid scams. As a general rule of thumb, avoid anyone who is asking for a starting fee and make sure you talk to a real person. Research the company’s information in close detail too, using Crunchbase or typing in news: “company name” in your web browser.
Where to find work from home opportunities
Along with the specialized websites I’ve mentioned already, there are different job directories you can check out too:
- General job directories: Glassdoor, Indeed, Hired, Monster.com, CareerBuilder, PeoplePerHour
- Work from home directory: Dream Home Based Work
- Websites for remote work: Remote Global, FlexJobs, Dynamite Jobs, Remote.co, Remote Work Hub, Jobspresso
Do not miss out on legit work from home job opportunities that are posted on social media. While Facebook and Twitter leave more room for scams, I strongly advise to look for jobs on LinkedIn where only people who are part of companies can post ads. The only catch is that you’ll have to sort through the listings to see which ones actually allow you to work from home. Particular listings only accept remote workers for the first months while others will only let you work from home for one day a month. Here’s a search example:
To get a general idea, companies such as Amazon, Concentrix, United Healthcare, TTEC, Liveops, or Appen have already made a name for themselves as strong supporters of jobs in this area.
The advantages of work at home jobs
Before choosing to work from home over going to an office job, you need to balance all your advantages and challenges. Eventually, it all boils down to your preferred style of work and on how well you get with other within a team. With that said, let’s have a first took at all the advantages of work from home jobs:
Save good money
Working from your very own home automatically means no commute, no parking permit, no expensive lunches because you didn’t have time to pack your own food for the day. And yes, the costs are significant. Working from home can save you an average of $513 each year just on gas you’d be using to commute. The number is only going to increase depending on the length of your drive and maintenance costs.
Just more time
The average worker can spend up to 31.3 days on commute each year according to this study from The Washington Post, which I strongly encourage you to check out. No commute also gives you at least 2 extra hours a day to focus on what matters the most for you. And let’s not forget you won’t have to spend time actually preparing to go to work or trying to find a parking spot. Add them up and you get roughly 3-3.5 hours each day to do the things you love, spend time with your family and pets, or cook a nice dinner.
If you’re working as a freelancer, you can really make your own schedule. We all have different work behaviors but today’s common workplace is mostly suited for the early birds. Working from home allows you to structure your time in a way for YOU to be at your productivity peak. Whether that’s working 6 hours a day, taking a break at noon, or just working 2 full days a week, test a couple of options to see which one is the best choice.
Your workplace is what you make it
Get the office table or that perfect chair you want, set the room’s temperature to your liking, listen to loud music, or enjoy the silence of the morning. When you’re in an office it’s much harder to get that quiet time you need to focus on a task. Meanwhile, if you miss that buzzing office noise at home, use a tool like Noisli to mimic these or the more relaxing sounds of rain and leaves.
More job opportunities
A work from home job is often a life-saving solution for professionals who can’t find the right position in their own city, either because of low demand or low wages. When working from home, remotely in this case, you’ve got thousands of job positions and work from home companies to choose from.
Be better at your work
According to a study ran by Nicholas Bloom, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, employees who work from home are 13% more productive than their in-office teammates. At home employees are more likely to actually work their full work hours. Your home environment can actually boost your focus, provided you stay away from other common distractions such as your dog or kids. On the other side, office workers tend to take longer breaks for lunch and even leave early more often.
Keep your happiness levels high
Overall, if you add up all of the advantages of work at home opportunities, an online job can truly boost your mood. Just think about it, you get extra free time daily, more hours spent with your family, and less money wasted on lunches or your car/commute. And did I mention those sweet hours of more sleep?
But are you prepared to work from home?
Despite all of the pros of jobs to work from home, it’s not an option for everyone. People who feel the need to interact with their colleagues on a daily basis are more likely to struggle doing an online job from home. On the opposite side, introverted employees don’t thrive in office environments, since 63% of introverts actually feel lonely at work.
To see if working from home is right for you, test it out. Get a part-time work from home job or ask for a trial period to see how well you can collaborate with your colleagues. This will also be the perfect opportunity for you to see what qualities make you right for this kind of lifestyle and where you need to improve.
The challenges of having a work from home career
Regardless, there are a couple of problems anyone who is working from their home or remotely will face. Among the most common ones I’ll name the following ones that most people who work from home will encounter at some point:
When you’re working online as a freelancer, you almost always have to find your clients. This is perhaps the most significant downside of being an independent contractor. But it doesn’t have to be the most time draining one. The first 2-3 years can be rougher and will require you to put more effort into getting clients. Once you’ve made a name for yourself and have past projects and clients to recommend you, new clients will reach out to you.
To find new work easier, research where your potential clients are. Individuals and even companies are looking for freelancers on professional networks like LinkedIn, industry-specific websites like Behance for designers, and exclusive ones like Toptal and Upwork.
To take it one step further, aim to turn your clients into loyal ones who will get back to you whenever they need a service like yours. Kevin Kelly explains just how important this is in his 1000 True Fans book. Here’s a video resuming the concept:
I’ve already mentioned how difficult it is to work from home with no one to watch you over. There are so many other distractions that make it fairly difficult for anyone to maintain focus if they know they can slack for one more hour.
So how do you keep up your motivation? You need to set your priorities from the very beginning and find valuable reasons to pursue your work. Whether you’re working online independently or as an employee, think about why you’re doing each task. Is it because you want to develop yourself professionally? Or maybe you need to develop a new skill? Regardless, link it with a long-term goal of yours for more results. For instance, if you want to set your own shop one day, start by “stealing” all of the secrets from your current workplace and learn to master them.
The contrary to a lack of motivation is valid too. When you’re working from home, there’s a fine line between your business and personal life. Too many work from home professions make you lose track of time when you’re working: writers who need to get one more paragraph done, illustrators who are looking for that perfect color palette, web developers fixing one more bug.
An office will just close after a certain hour. Your home doesn’t.
So the risk of overworking until midnight is real. This is fine once in a while. But working full days for a couple of weeks will eventually turn into burnout. This is by no means an issue exclusive to office workers. Our guide on how to recover from burnout can give you all the details to make it less of a daunting process.
Loneliness and a sense of isolation can settle in since you don’t get to see too many people throughout the day. In an office, you get to go to lunch with your colleagues and enjoy team building games. With loneliness levels on the rise, the last thing you want is being forever alone at work too.
Not getting to interact with other human beings becomes a huge issue you need to handle if you want to become a good communicator. You’ll inevitably have to talk to your clients, colleagues, or partners at some point. Online tools will only make it easier for you to collaborate with team members and clients. Plus, you can always go and work from a coffee shop or a co-working space when you feel like it.
Anything that has to do with finances can take away an important part of your day. Technology can help you with the invoicing process so you don’t have to do everything manually anymore. Online tools like Paymo or invoicely can help you send invoices or estimates automatically, see their status, and even accept online payments.
Invoice in Paymo
Or you can always create an invoice template once and just reuse it as necessary.
To see how others are handling the issues of jobs that allow you to work from home and ask a couple of questions, check out discussion boards like the Digital Nomad Forum, Quora, Reddit, or LinkedIn groups that tackle this topic.
Tools you’ll need to get started with an online job
Finding the right digital tools to work with when you’re working from home can take weeks or even months from your time. You’re always testing one more tool, dealing with bugs and back and forth emails with customer support representatives, then you realize you need a feature that’s missing and you’re doing it all over again. I’ve previously analyzed the pros and cons of 65+ tools in this guide to free tools you can use as an individual. Here are the best options you can use for each one of your needs as you are doing your online job:
Managing your tasks
Paymo is a project and work management software with time tracking and invoicing capabilities that will help you organize all of your clients, projects, and tasks from the moment you send the first quote until you’re getting paid. You can also use it to track your time as you work so you can invoice based on worked hours and even dock it in your Adobe tools of choice (InDesign, Photoshop, InCopy, Illustrator, and Premiere) with a 2017 or newer license to work in parallel on your designs.
Canva is your go-to choice if you’re looking to create images without the hassle of using a more advanced tool like Adobe Photoshop or Affinity. The friendly UI is sure to get you hooked from the first use as you’ll learn to use the tool almost immediately. You can create social media posts, flyers, presentations, logos, cards, and many more materials with this tool.
Figma is a prototyping tool that allows web designers to build UI and UX designs from scratch and collaborate on them with their teammates or clients. The tool has a desktop app but if you don’t want to download it you can use the web browser version too and access your account from any device.
Writing your thoughts
Grammarly is a must-have app not just for writers, but for any Internet user. Once you install the Chrome extension, you’ll notice the tool underlines your grammar mistakes or misspelled words. This way you won’t have to re-read your text after writing it as Grammarly automatically detects what should be corrected.
Marketing your business
Google Analytics is the only tool you’ll need to keep track of your website’s traffic, understand what your audience wants, and see which channels work best for you. The platform allows you to easily create reports, create custom goals, and connect it to your Google Ads account.
Organize your ideas
You can use Evernote both on your computer and on the go through their mobile app. This way you’ll be able to organize your ideas, take notes and screenshots for inspiration, and even create task lists regardless of where you are or the device you’re using.
You already have access to Google Drive if you have a Google account so setting up your storage system is fairly easy. All the files and data you work with in your Google accounts is automatically stored in the cloud and you can also upload your own files from your computer for safe backup.
Communicating with your clients
Calendly is a simple-to-use tool that lets you schedule your meetings, events, interviews, and any other important duties you have. You’ll no longer have to resort to sorting yours emails and phone calls for this. Instead, you’ll send calendar link to your clients from where they’ll be able to schedule an event during your free time slots.
Through HelloSign you’ll be able to share and sign contracts from anywhere with no paperwork required. Contracts can be signed using your phone, by uploading a picture of your signature, or simply by drawing it with your mouse. You will then receive a copy of your contract and see it whenever you want to review its content.
What to remember
Before deciding to work from home, make sure you understand everything it implies. It’s not all about the benefits. Loneliness, lack of motivation, and administrative duties will creep in. Being able to anticipate them before they even happen will give you a head start in having a successful career – even when you’re not in an office environment.
Luckily, there are a lot of digital solutions available for all kinds of needs. That’s why taking care of your legal and financial duties is easier than ever, giving you more time to focus on what you love doing for a living.
I’d love to know what your thoughts on this topic are. Do you already have a work from home job or plan on finding a new position?
Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to work happy!