While it may seem like these sites are your best best when you’re a newcomer, they’re largely a crapshoot when it comes to winning a project. These sites are a rush for the lowest bid, and you’re competing against hundreds if not thousands of other desperate freelancers prepared to sell their firstborn for the chance to write someone’s 250-page ebook. (Some writers have been able to make a decent buck on sites like Upwork, but they are often the exception rather than the rule and have usually invested huge amounts of time to make it happen.)
How to Get It: Customer service is the biggest work-at-home field, with companies including Spiegel, Hilton, Best Western, HSN, 1-800-FLOWERS and many others using at-home reps. Fill out an application with staffing companies such as Arise, Alpine Access, VIPdesk, LiveOps, and Convergys, all of which vet the companies who are hiring through them. If you need benefits, search through a staffing company that will hire you as an employee (Alpine Access, VIPdesk and Convergys do this) rather than an independent contractor. If you're a contractor, you may be asked to pay a small fee (between $15 and $35) for a background check. While a fee can be a sign of a scam, independent contractors are responsible for their own expenses.
Of course, there are opportunities for part-time work off-campus, too. Spend a little time digging for the right kind of part-time job, that leaves you with enough time to get your school work done. Also consider lining up an online job, part-time evening job or flexible gig where you can set your own schedule. You'll be able to up your earnings from the comfort of your dorm room or apartment.
While most of these companies advertise that you can earn upwards of $18 or so an hour, the reality is that you're not going to make that much once you figure in your gas expenses and wear and tear on your car. Also, work may not always come in consistently. I would recommend doing more than one of these if you really want to make it worth your while.
“I first learned about TTEC from the university I was attending. I thought it would be a great idea to get a job working from home while going to school. When I first started working for the company, I was a seasonal agent. This grew into a permanent agent position. TTEC has enabled me to earn a degree, provide support to my family, gain skills in communication and technology, and meet great people from different parts of the world. What a wonderful company to work for! Every day is a great day here at TTEC!”
Even better, the national median wage for web developers was $66,130 in 2016, with the top 10% earning an average of $119,550. And you typically don’t need an advanced degree to begin working in this field. All you need is some postsecondary education, applicable experience, and a portfolio of successful sites you’ve built and managed. There are even intensive coding boot camps designed to teach programming skills in just a few short months.
To get hired, you fill out an application and take an exam to test your knowledge. “If you pass, you go through a mock session with an experienced tutor who assumes the role of student and evaluates your creativity, empathy and teaching skills,” says Cindy Hamen Farrar, Ph.D., senior director of academic tutoring at Tutor. “We look for people who know their subject matter and who can break it down and communicate effectively.”
What It Is: Think Mary Kay (cosmetics), Pampered Chef (kitchenware), or Rodan + Fields (skincare) — over time, you build a base of clients to whom you sell a company's wares. "There are several reasons why I decided to become a consultant," says Rodan + Fields independent consultant Debbie Royer. "I had seen how much of a blessing the business had been to a friend of mine and my sister-in-law. Plus, everything can be done from my phone, and being a mom to a preschooler and an infant I don't have a lot of extra time to be sitting at a computer."
Sound up your aisle? Fill out an application through the site, which pairs brides and bridesmaids based on personality and location. You could make between $200 and $2,000 per month, says Glantz, working anywhere from a few hours a month to a couple of hours a week, and you'll generally handle everything on nights and weekends. Most projects—er, weddings—require between 3 to 11 months of your time.
But once you’re in your home office—alone, every day—you might start to miss that collegial camaraderie. Since the UPS incident, I’ve reached out more to colleagues via IM and will post cute pics of my new puppy for my colleagues to see on Yammer. And when we’re on deadline, we even (gasp!) talk on the phone. It’s helped tremendously to make the disconnect not feel so severe. It’s a good balance between having peace and quiet when you need it and much-needed interaction with others, too.
Because the fee is so small but the task takes so little time, the strategy is to do as many of them as possible. However, be sure to read the fine print because many of these companies have a minimum payout, meaning that if you earn $8.55 doing 20 micro jobs, you may have to wait until you’ve earned as much as $50 to actually get your money. Read more about some of the pitfalls of this kind of work.