Who can resist the dinging sound of a new email? You, that’s who, especially if you want to stay on task. And forget about signing in to Facebook “just for a minute.” It’s easy to get distracted when you telecommute—unlikely distractions that just don’t exist at work abound at home. At the office, for example, you might visit the company kitchen once in the morning and once in the afternoon for a cup of joe (because that’s what’s appropriate), but at home, you’re hitting the fridge every hour on the hour. Or more.
What It Is: Many companies pay online testers to make sure websites are intuitive and easy to navigate. "You basically follow the instructions you're given to check out the website," says Anna Thurman, founder of RealWaysToEarnMoneyOnline.com, a site that has reviewed more than 500 online work opportunities. "It usually only takes about 15 minutes per test." Thurman recommends registering with 10 to 12 different companies since the opportunities to test these sites are doled out first come, first served. "There are people who make $100 to $200 a month by staying on top of those tests," Thurman says.
For example, let’s say that your washing machine at home broke down and you need to fix it. Instead of calling the handyman to come, your husband decides he’s going to fix the machine. He ends up spending half a day figuring out the machine, and does eventually fix it. He did however have to make a trip to the tool shop to buy some extra tools and parts for the machine. Now, if you had called the handy man, it would probably have taken the handyman much less time, and he would have all the necessary tools and parts already, because that is his job. So in this instance, was your husband’s time and effort worth it? Oh, and because he took half the day fixing the machine, you now had to take over his duties of dropping the kids off at soccer and swim practice.
Ugh. I’m so sorry to hear that. You’re not the only freelancer to have gotten lured into one of those sites. My rule of thumb, even as a newbie, was never to accept less than $10 for every 100 words, unless it was a fantastic gig that would get me good exposure. Even if you don’t have a portfolio, you should only take on projects you’ll be proud to show to other people when they ask what you’ve done. It sounds like you are creating good work right now, but unfortunately, it’s for a client who totally doesn’t deserve it.
Another flexible non-phone option in the educational field is test scoring. There are a few reputable companies that do hire home-based workers to score everything from standardized tests to essays. Before you apply, you should know that ETS and Pearson (listed below) do require that you have certain qualifications and/or past teaching experience before they'll let you become a scorer. WriteScore on the other hand requires just a two-year college degree.
This is a job with much potential, in part because the title description covers many things. “You can fit your offerings to what you know how to do,” says Stephanie Foster, a former medical transcriptionist who runs the website HomeWithTheKids.com. One can own a virtual assistant business or work from home for a company that makes you available to other employers or clients. HomeWithTheKids.com, for example, currently features several such companies.
The online application process for these jobs—or perhaps “gigs” is the better word, since they're all for independent contractors—is pretty simple and straightforward with very little required of candidates. Some of these opportunities—like the micro-jobs—you could very well apply and start the same day. And these jobs require very little commitment and can typically be done on your own schedule.