I got my first computer about seven years ago. I was late to the game but one of the first things I tried to do was figure out how to make extra money from the comfort of my home. Seven years later I have my own website and a nice variety of sites lined up on which I make extra money. Guess what? It’s still not a living wage but it’s getting better. I merely dabbled in the whole, “work from home,” thing until the recession hit. My personal recession hit last January when my husband lost his job. Since that time my online earnings have gone from around $50/month to around $350-400 and it’s increasing.
This article is specifically for the technically unskilled, for those who find themselves in need of extra income, in need of a pep talk, in need of reliable sites to try and for those who have much more time on their hands than money in their pockets. A brief list of my personal favorite work-from-home money making sites will appear at the end.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned hard and fast in the last nine months:
Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Working from Home Isn’t “Real Work”. It doesn’t matter if you’re clicking ads for a half cent, selling articles for $5, or designing websites from your dining room table for hundreds of dollars. If you’re getting paid for it, and you’re doing it for the money, then it’s work. Period. And it’s hard work. Actually, making extra money from home is a lot of things: Exciting, flexible, creative, boring, terrifying, mind-numbingly monotonous, thrilling (sometimes all in just one day). But easy? No.
You don’t need to be self important but try to reevaluate your thinking a little bit when it comes to the work you do. Do you sell your articles to Associated Content or to another website where you get paid for your writing? Then you’re a freelance writer, even if the articles you write aren’t published under your name. You don’t have to say it out loud if it sounds a little too grandiose; just think it to yourself and start believing it because it’s true.
The IRS will happily require you to declare your income from any one source once it reaches $600 and it doesn’t care whether it’s paid emails or professional consulting; the IRS, in other words, classifies you as an, “independent contractor.” So let’s stop thinking of ourselves as, “bringing in a little extra,” or “just messing around a little bit,” on the computer. If you want the work you do at home to increase – in monetary value, in complexity, in satisfaction – then stop regarding it as an insignificant activity.
Realize It Takes Special Traits to Work from Home. Working from the home requires risk taking and guts. Would the average person still trot off the work each morning if they didn’t know whether they’d be paid at the end of two weeks? I doubt it. Yet virtually everyone who works from the home is essentially working on spec. You click that ad or write that article or submit that task but you don’t know whether you’ll be paid until it happens. You don’t think that takes guts? Sure it does. And not everyone’s cut out for it.
You also need to be persistent. A little obsessiveness doesn’t hurt either. I was putting together my website for selling vintage jewelry about three years ago. Doing it from scratch, doing it all by myself and learning as I went along. It took quite a few 12 hour days, obsessing over it and trying to get it to match the vision in my head. After a couple of weeks my husband remarked, a little resentfully, that I was, “always on the computer.” Well, yes, for that very brief period of time, I was. But how was the website going to get put together if I didn’t do it? Anyone who’s put together their own site can tell you that it’s not an “easily picked up, easily put down” kind of task. There’s copy to write, photos to take, pricing to figure out, links to set up and more.
That’s not to say you should obsessively sit at your computer, hour after hour and day after day, unless you need to for economic reasons. But work is important. Folks with regular jobs get the benefit of leaving the home for a designated work environment. No one there is going to call them obsessive. No one there is going to tell them they’re taking their work too seriously. No one there is going to gripe because they’re working hard. As a work-at-home individual you will not have that benefit.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket – Ever! So you’ve located your dream website, whether it’s paid emails or paid-to-click ads or Associated Content. And you’re happy. But what happens if you wake up one morning and your dream website’s server is down? Or the website’s just plain gone? Or you log on and there’s no work you can do? Or you’re suffering from writer’s block and can’t come up with a single decent idea?
Always be on the lookout for other legitimate sources for your work-at-home income and give yourself as much variety as possible. If you can’t write an article for Associated Content because you’re out of ideas, have a site lined up where you can pick up writing assignments, rather than having to come up with your own topics. If you’re having one of those days where you don’t want to think too hard you should have a site lined up where they offer easy tasks to do. Sign up at several reputable sites so that you have work available to match your skills and your mood at any time of the day or night. That’s one of the things we love about working from home, right? The ability to work when we want, where we want? “Masters of Our Destiny” and all that happy stuff? But it’s a double-edged sword. We can only work if there’s work to do. Signing on with a variety of sites almost guarantees that there will be worthwhile work for you whenever you’re ready for it. Which brings us to another double-edged sword…
Flexibility is a Two-Way Street. Yes, you’ll be able to work when you want. This is not as big a deal as you’d think. Rather, it’s usually the opposite that happens. It’s not your work that gets flexible so much as it’s you that gets flexible. Let’s say it’s a beautiful day and you’re getting ready to go for a run. You logged on to Amazon Mechanical Turk earlier and there was no good work to do. Now you check it just before you head out the door. Look! There’s a job up that pays 10 cents for 30 seconds worth of work. It’s a big job but it’s up and it’s going fast. What do you do?
Those are the kinds of little decisions that oftentimes end up running your day. Or ruining your day depending on how you look at it. The decision you make affects your bottom line and your wallet. And you need to be flexible. That’s just the way it is.
Stop Being a Prima Donna! In a previous paragraph I mentioned a hypothetical job that paid 10 cents for 30 seconds of work and I could hear everyone doing the math. Yep, that means $12/hour at best. And I can hear a bunch of you griping. “My time is worth more than that!” Gee, is it? I don’t care what rate of pay you commanded in a regular job. That’s past history. If you have the financial wherewithal to hold out until a higher rate of pay comes along, then thank your lucky stars. If you have skills which allow you to do much, much better than $12/hour, then you are blessed. But if you’re struggling and need the cash, for Pete’s sake get off your high horse and get to work! Money is money and all I know is at the end of the month it’s better to have some than not. Roll up your sleeves and get to it. Believe me, if you don’t do it someone else will.
A List of My Favorite Sites. This is not a recommendation for one site over another nor is it an attempt to gain referrals. These are just sites which suit me and which work for me and my tastes and skill level. I’m including only the briefest descriptions of each because there’s enough information out there for you to do your own research and determine whether any might work for you. Here they are, in no particular order:
Associated Content: Allows you to submit your original articles for publication. The first time I ever saw my name in cyber-print it was thanks to Associated Content. I have been paid many times by Associated Content.
Amazon Mechanical Turk: Offers a wide range of small tasks to do for a variety of pay ranges. This is where I’ve made most of my income this year. I started in earnest on April 1, 2009 and have made over $1,400 so far. Requires accuracy, diligence and a high tolerance for repetitive tasks. I worked until I had $1,000 on account and then transferred it to my bank account. Mechanical Turk allows you to transfer to a checking account once your balance reaches $10 or you can use your balance for shopping on Amazon.
ChaCha!: I managed to pass their evaluation and become a ChaCha! Internet search guide. It’s a bit nerve wracking because your work is timed and must consistently meet their quality guidelines. Not ordinarily a problem but sometimes the guidelines seem inconsistently applied. It offers a relatively decent pay rate if you can work quickly; that same pay rate can become nightmarishly small if you don’t work quickly. I have not yet been paid because I have yet to reach their $100 minimum for transfer to my bank account. There’s also an option to transfer your earned balance at anytime to a bank of their designation (you open an account and get a debit card and your balance transfers to your debit card) but each transfer costs $2 and I’m too cheap to pay it.
Textbroker.com: A recent find for me. The application process includes submittal of a writing sample. If you get approved you can pick up writing assignments to do for pay. Great for those times when you can’t seem to think of an original idea of your own. The editors are conscientious and will provide feedback on your writing technique. This is a wonderful site if you need to improve your skills or get better acquainted with working keywords into your article submissions. I have been paid by Textbroker.
QuickRewards: I use QuickRewards for my survey source. They always have at least three daily surveys to do as well as paid emails and paid clicks. It’s also a great cash back shopping site. There are no minimum cash out levels and payouts are processed almost immediately (within a couple of days) which is a huge plus in my book. I’ve been paid many times by QuickRewards. QuickRewards has the option of taking payment in gift cards too.
MyLot: An online community that pays you to post or reply to posts. Not a bunch of money but it’s a fun way to unwind. It’s also a great source of information on other work-from-home sites. Check out the “Making Money” and “Making Extra Money” interest groups. I have not yet been paid by MyLot but do your research; they are a paying site and have been such for quite a while.
Various “Paid Clicks” Websites: Certainly not big money but it’s where I started out and I still find these sites oddly relaxing. The ones I use are Clixsense, Big Kahuana Clicks, Fusion Mails, Donkeymails and LinkGrand. I’ve been paid many times by all.
A Final Word. Using your computer to work from home can be an adventure or it can be a nightmare. Take your time and figure out what works best for you. You will never have a better opportunity to mold the flow of your workday as you do right now. Take advantage of it. Learn your strengths and weaknesses and use both to your best advantage. Now stop reading and get to work!