Homework Help: Income Opportunities For Stay-At-Home Spouses/Parents
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
We all like the feeling of being independent yet we all complain about the daily grind, and most of us have a “love-hate” relationship with being in the workforce.
Also, its no surprise that many newly married ladies and mommies struggle with the notion of staying in the workforce or staying at home, and what will fulfill and complete them more as individuals and women, working or doing housework.
Well, who says you can’t have the best of both worlds. Certainly not some experts who find (financial) independence and “freedom” in working from home (and we don’t just mean making dinner and doing laundry).
1. These professionals do everything an “in-house” administrative assistant does, only they do it from home, and some even specialize in certain areas of expertise.
Depending on your level of experience and area of specialization, the pay can range between $15 and $100 an hour, with most positions requiring you to work for 10 to 12 hours a week. While many such positions may require you to work during the day handling phone calls and clients, you may be able to fulfill other obligations such as generating memos, flyers or filling out spreadsheets on your own time, in the evenings or on weekends.
All you’ll need is a reliable computer, and Internet connection, fax, separate phone line and knowledge of typical office software such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Kick start your “career” by contacting the International Virtual Assistants Association and the Alliance for Virtual Business. Then check online (guru.com and/or elance.com) for job opportunities and listing. You may also want to network by joining some local business groups in an effort to network. And, don’t forget to contact past employers with whom you remain in good standing.
2. Virtual Auctioneer: This online career of selling products on sites like eBay, Yahoo, or MSN auctions offers dual opportunity.
First, you can purchase items at a discount and resell them online for a profit or you can work on consignment, selling used items for other people and taking a portion of the profits. However, you’ll need to do your homework when it cones to the auction sites, noting what’s hot and what’s not and what similar items are selling for. And, if you are selling your own creations, you’ll also have to keep an eye on what others in your field are doing.
Keep in mind that just like any “retailer” you will have your good days and your bad days, and your income will vary. Those who resell discount items can make up to $5000 annually working only 10 hours daily. Those who work on consignment generally are limited to about 25 percent of the sale price.
Still, you get to pick and choose your own hours and to some degree can control the money you make.
And, all you need is a working and reliable computer, an online connection and a digital camera and a download system for featuring items on sale.
Start by getting a feel for how the system works by initially posting some of your own “antique” or garage sale items on sale and branch out from there.
3. Direct Marketing And Sales: This position allows you to combine business with pleasure by selling your goods via home-based parties where you can show off your wares. Besides offering a flexible schedule in an area you may have always dreamed of working in, this type of at-home career can yield up to $5000 a year for no more than 15 to 20 hours a week of work. Plus, you can often earn a commission on the items or products you sell. And, some companies even offer monetary incentives and commission for bringing others into the business.
Basically all you need are ample people skills, the gift of gab, some good connections, belief in the product, and motivation.
Set yourself up by simply scooping out companies that do direct sales via the net (dsa.org) and put yourself in contact with those that you’re interested in and ask about speaking with a current sales person regarding current opportunities and what the “career” entails.
4. Live and Let Learn: If you’re not into at home daycare or babysitting, how about turning your teaching career into a tutoring career by helping students with homework, test prep, college application, etc. You can even pick an area of expertise.
Pay can range fro $10 to $125 and hour varying with age taught, subjects taught and areas of specialty…as well as going rates where you live. And, again the hours are flexible (within reason) and up to you. However, most tutors work after school (in the evenings) and on weekends.
For starters you’ll need to be well versed in the subject or subjects you are teaching or an advanced degree in the subject or in education. Plus, you have to have patience and a love for working with kids, as well as a neat and organized space to conduct business in.
Get started by visiting or making appointments with local schools and the guidance counselors, principals or other academic advisors therein to inquire about programs and students needs as well as referrals. Don’t forget to leave a business card or flyer including all your information including contact number and qualifications. You can also post your flyer at your local bookstore, library, place of worship etc.
5. Secret Shopper: If you’re motto is when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping, but are limited on window shopping time and funds, this just may be the job for you. You get to pose as an ordinary customer in a store, restaurant, bank, website, etc and follow up your experience with an evaluation.
At first, you may start out with simple assignments where you’ll be asked to fill out a simple yes or no questionnaire, but over time, you can be assigned more challenging and rewarding assignments and questionnaires.
The pay rate varies again between $5 and $150 per report depending on how elaborate and detailed it is and the hours also vary depending on the type of report and how many you do and the complexity of each.
All you’ll basically need is excellent communication, writing and observation skills. You may also want to invest in a small note pad or tape player so you can keep track of your experiences and thoughts. And, if you’re really into it, you may bring along a laptop to fill out your report immediately following your experience, keeping a fresh perspective.
Get started by contacting The Mystery Shoppers Providers Association (mysteryship.org) for a list of opportunities, or the International Association of Service Evaluators for a directory of member companies. And, look for businesses you already do business with so your can get your work and your shopping done at the same time.
Finally, A Note Of Caution:
Working from the home has many perks and advantages, but it also has its disadvantages, including not necessarily knowing whom you are working for and how legit the business is. In fact, experts assert that some unscrupulous businesses may try to convince you to sign up for work, then charging you for signing up usually via an application fee. Generally these businesses suggest there’s lots of money to be made and that NO experience is necessary all while working from the comfort of your home.
Protect yourself by:
· Investigating the company you’re interested in and note that most “shady” companies have addresses with P.O. Box numbers where they can collect your money and run. Also you’ll want to inquire as to where the company is headquartered than call information to see if it’s actually listed or exists. And, you’ll want to call the local post office to confirm the information as well.
· Proceed with extreme caution when it comes to clerical jobs that ask for money up front for more information. They usually request between $25 and $99 and are a scam.
Note however that with direct marketing companies you often WILL have to pay a start up fee, but if the kit costs more than $500 you should be skeptical and legitimately concerned.
· Also steer clear of direct-sales companies that decline buying back products you can’t sell and make sure there’s actually a product to be sold. More often than not what may seem like a direct-marketing business in simply a cover-up for a pyramid scheme sucking money OUT of you rather than helping you earn more.
· Additionally, avoid any mystery shopping opportunity that asks you to pay a fee to get started. Start up for secret shoppers should be free.
· Finally, check with your local Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office to affirm any complaints that may have been filed against the company in consideration.
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