Working from home and not having to go in to an office, factory job or retail job is still the dream of many people who wake up dreading the commute and daily grind of an 8-hour job. It's no different for older adults who are trying to find ways to make extra income after they have started retirement. The problem is sorting through all the work-at-home scams – which are the good offers and which are the bad ones?
There are lots of so-called “offers” floating around out there and many scams are easy to spot. The best rule of thumb to start is, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!” Promises of untold riches, mansions, expensive cars and unlimited travel … I know we are the land of opportunity, but let's get real!
Most of us just want a way to make ends meet and there are ways to do it. We just have to do our research to determine which opportunities are worth pursuing and which ones are a total ripoff.
If They Require Money to Start – Don't Start
Never sign up for anything that requires an initial investment up front. You should never pay to become an employee of some company. It just doesn't make any sense. Most services provide at least 10 days to a month or two for a free trial.
Even if you are starting a new business online, there are ways to start for free and then upgrade your services once you determine if the service is going to benefit your business. Do a little soul-searching and decide what it is that you are trying to accomplish with the job, how much you need to make, and how long you are willing to work for it and what you are willing to do to get it. This will help determine how to proceed.
Working from home can take on various forms:
- Go to work as an employee for a company that offers online/remote employment.
- Find contract/freelancer work with companies that are outsourcing their workload.
- Start an online business of some type.
Do you want to work for someone else who decides what value they place on the work you do, or do you want to venture out on your own and determine your own value? Do you have skills and experience that a company will find valuable? Are you willing to invest time to learn new skills and put them to work to build a new business? Do you have income from a steady source until you can build an alternate income with your new position/business?
Whatever the answers to these questions are, there are decisions to be made and they all involve the answers to those questions.
What About Support, Tools, and Training?
As with most any new position or business, there is going to be some type of training involved to learn the ins and outs of what you will be doing. There are companies like BELAY that offer accounting, web design and administrative assistant services. BELAY hires individuals who have these skills and the experience necessary to perform these types of tasks for businesses. Assessments are administered to potential contractors to determine their level of skill and then the contractors, if accepted by BELAY, are matched with business owners and executives who are a good match for the contractor. There will be ongoing training and research required by the contractors to stay up on new programs, applications, and skills. The training never stops if the contractor wants to be successful. The company that contracts with the contractor should have free ongoing training available to the contractors as a tool to keep their contractors up to date, sharp and valuable to their clients. There should be mentoring and support to the contractors so that new contractors successfully service the company's clients and maintaining a reputation for professional, cutting edge, reputable services. There is no fee for the contractors to work for BELAY. This is a good service and we give them our seal of approval. Be warned … their contractor assessment process is lengthy and being invited to contract with them is an accomplishment. They receive hundreds of applications each week and only accept the most highly skilled individuals in their specific field.
If you are looking to start your own online business, your startup process will depend on the type of business you are developing. A good place to start is to get the training you need to develop an online presence no matter what type of online business you are developing. From website development to marketing, to social media campaigns and blogging … training is time-consuming and can be expensive if you choose the wrong programs.
A great place to start is Wealthy Affiliate. They offer a free startup package that allows you to have a free website, training, support and mentoring program that allows you to move ahead without any investment until you have everything moving along successfully. The training offered at Wealthy Affiliate will provide you an opportunity to begin your online business with a plan, goals, and tools for any type of business you want to do online.
Freelancer and Upwork.com
Both Freelancer.com and Upwork.com are freelancer sites that offer available work to freelancers of all backgrounds and skills. Both have been around for over a decade, Freelancer since 2004. Both are free to start, with Freelancer requiring a membership plan for anyone going beyond just casual job searching. Upwork, however, takes its fees from payments to freelancers from the contract payments (% of payment per a sliding scale). It takes some time to set up and even more time to develop a working profile, bid and follow-up process. There are complaints about customer service and payments on both sites, but not enough to dissuade me from using them. Competition is stiff and there is a learning curve on getting through the competition to actual interviews.
Still … there are opportunities to build income from these sites if you have the skills their clients need.
Flexjobs offers a way to connect with companies and employers offering remote, part-time, freelance and flexible jobs. Flexjobs is one of the best and biggest databases of hand-screened flexible jobs. They have researchers that find and screen the best flexible jobs from entry-level to executive. There are 50+ categories to search from. They provide research on companies and have skills tests, video introductions and much more. You can depend on knowing the jobs that are posted have been researched and verified.
There is a cost though. This would be considered the exception to our rule of not paying to work. A Flexjobs membership starts at $14.95/month and offers discounts on yearly memberships of $49.95/year. Much of their database is part-time or flexible work jobs. There are a few work-from-home positions, but they aren't as widely available as the others.
Work From Home Jobs
There are so many ads posted for “Work From Home” jobs you couldn't research them all if you tried. The classifieds and online Career sites are filled with them. It's impossible to sort through them to get to the real job ads anymore. Ads like, “Work From Home – Posting Ads”, “Stuffing Envelopes”, “Supply Chain Manager”, etc. Some of these offers may be legit, but often they are scams and will need your bank account information and your social security information before hiring you. This is a very risky way to proceed as this is all they need for identity theft. We don't recommend connecting with any of them.
There are scams set up that offer you a job accepting payments for companies located outside the U.S. made by their U.S. based customers. They state you will deposit the check into your account and send them a wire transfer for the payment amount minus a percentage which will be your payment for processing the check. The checks you receive are counterfeit checks and will not clear through the issuing bank. The money you used from your account to wire to the company you work with is gone and you have even more money going towards fees from your bank for the returned check.
We recommend The Good:
We do NOT recommend The Bad:
- Mail jobs
- Paying for Applications to Post Office Jobs – Apply for free at USPS Careers
- Work From Home – Posting Ads
- Giving out your bank account info and social security card to online job offers
- Accepting employment that requires you to deposit customer payments into your personal bank account
As always … please leave your feedback and comments below. You can also provide any information you feel we should add. AND … don't forget to sign up for our Newsletter.
Best wishes in your search for an income stream!