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Start with the skills you have
â€¨One of the best ways to find a work-at-home job is to consider the jobs you've done before, as well as your interests, and to assess whether there's a work-at-home job or business opportunity there. An increasing number of fields are open to remote workers: public relations, virtual office work, copy editing, freelance writing, bookkeeping, tax preparation and design are among them.
You can also consider services to provide out of your home. While the classic possibility is at-home child care, there are a lot of other options. Consider teaching a musical instrument, art or other creative classes, tutoring, coaching, organizing, pet care and even home esthetic services (check regulations in your area).
Keep in mind that if you are starting your own business, marketing and sales tasks will also take up your time.
Work-at-home jobs to try:
If your previous job doesn't mesh well with an at-home lifestyle, here are some hot jobs to try from home.
• Remote call centre jobs: Many companies are outsourcing their customer service to people who work from home. Be aware that many of these jobs require that you prove your children have an alternate caregiver during the time you are on the job.
• Data entry: If you have good attention to detail and don't mind spending the time in front of the computer you can often find short- and long-term data entry jobs.
• Medical transcriptionist: If you have a medical background and don't mind putting in the time, these jobs exist in Canada as well as the United States. Bonus: This is work that can often be done after the kids are in bed.
How to find work-at-home jobs
So where do you find work-at-home jobs? The first places to start are regular job posting websites, such as monster.ca and workopolis.com, and even at your local Service Canada centre. It's a bit of work to sort through the listings, but here are some terms to use to narrow the field: remote, virtual and part time.
You can also look for work on a contract-by-contract basis at websites designed to match people to smaller projects. The newly launched freelancer.ca is a great example. If you've got technical or web savvy, have a look at the jobs at freelancer.ca. It's a bidding process, so you control which projects you pitch for. Allow time to get a feel for the process and be aware that there may be gaps in work opportunities. Guru.com is a similar site, with jobs (and freelancers) from all over the world.
For virtual assistant work, check out the Canadian Virtual Assistant Connection.
And of course network, network, network. As with any kind of work, one of the best ways to find a job is to let everyone you know you are looking for one. You never know whose office could use some help or who might be looking for a virtual assistant with exactly your skills. It's also not a bad idea to network with moms in the same boat. One place to start networking online is at WAHM Canada.
And be sure to set up a LinkedIn profile describing your skills and the type of work you're looking for.
â€¨Avoid work-at-home scams – do the math
One thing to watch for when looking for work-at-home job are scams. Envelope stuffing, selling shady merchandise and pyramid schemes are all likely to be scams. And make sure you do some basic math.
• Hourly wage: Do not believe any advertisement that claims you can make hundreds of dollars an hour. Get precise information from your contact about what the job entails and then do your own estimate of how long each step will take versus what you'll get paid. While you may become more efficient at the work, there won't be any miracles. Use that as your baseline.
• Startup costs: If the job involves investing in a kit or marketing materials, or signing up for monthly orders, it's probably a good idea to give it a pass. The real money to be made is probably from your wallet.
• Profit per unit: If you're considering a sales job, be sure to figure out how much you might make on each order – and how long that will take. See below for more about sales jobs.
• Payment: Don't accept delayed or late payments. If you don't get paid, look for a new job – quickly.
Should you go for a sales job?
There are people who make money selling products such as Avon or Tupperware, so finding a work-at-home sales job is possible. In order to succeed beyond a budget for coffee, though, keep the following in mind.
• The sales cycle involves a lot of work. After you've done one round of parties with your friends, where else will you find potential clients? Can you handle hearing 10 or 15 nos before getting a yes?
• Choose a reputable company with a proven product you really can get behind as well as a low initial investment.
• Keeping doing the math on the hours you're putting in versus the money you're getting back.
• If you're an impulse shopper, make sure you know whether you'll be spending your profits by talking yourself into buying rather than selling.