3 Ways to Create a Second Income from Home

In today’s economy jobs are scarce and more and more employers are looking to cut expenses by laying off workers, cutting benefits and hiring at lower wages than ever before. However, accepting a job at a lower pay rate or paying for private health insurance doesn’t mean that your household budget has to take a hit. Working from home doing things you love can be a great way to generate some extra cash to help bridge the gap while leaving you free to be time flexible.

This was something I was faced with a few years ago. I hadn’t lost my jobâÂ?¦yet, but working for a bank in 2007 and 2008 was a very scary place to be. I knew that I had to do something to ensure that my family wouldn’t suffer if I was laid off or had to take a salary cut, but I also knew that spending any additional time away from home would be detrimental to my family’s well being. So, I started looking at the Internet for ideas on how I might be able to make some cash from home. I felt as though I was computer savvy enough to find a way to earn a few extra bucks that I could squirrel away for a rainy day without having to place an undue burden on my then young family.

What I found was disappointing to say the least. Page after page of “buy this now and learn how to make millions from home” kept showing up on the results lists, but no matter how far down the list I went, I didn’t see anything that looked like a viable, non-scam opportunity to earn some extra bucks from home. It was then that I started thinking about putting in my application at Wal-Mart and McDonalds.

It wasn’t until I saw Tory Johnson on Good Morning America that I started to realize that working from home was a real opportunity and not just a pipe dream. There were plenty of opportunities out there, I just had no idea what I was looking for. But, after spending some time on the Women for Hire website, I knew that I was on the right track.

What I found was that while there were plenty of opportunities out there, there were a few things that stood out to me as something I thought would fit into my family’s lifestyle and afford me the opportunities I was looking for:

1). Freelancing– Freelancing is one of the best opportunities for freedom and flexibility when it comes to generating a secondary source of income. Ultimately, control over your schedule, total number of hours worked, rates and other things rests with you. Freelancing is not a get rich quick scheme and your success will ultimately lie in how hard you work and the number of hours you invest in building your client lists and your portfolio. But know that the sky is the limit when it comes to how well you can be compensated as a freelancer. Content sites like Textbroker, Demand Studios, and Interact Media help freelance writers get started earning money quickly while job boards such as freelancewritinggigs.com and WAHM.com help writers find private clients to work for.

I started my freelance web content development “experiment” in 2008 and am happy to report that the niche that I carved out for myself as a way to make some extra money to get us through the recession has recently become my primary source of income. I made the switch from working a regular 9-5 job to working as a freelance writer 100% of the time and I will say that the freedom and flexibility are wonderful, but the ability to be compensated directly for the amount of effort I put in was the key driver for me.

It’s important to understand that freelancing doesn’t necessarily have to mean writing. You can become a freelance photographer like my mother in law and best friend did. My friend actually look her freelance photography a bit further and not only submits her pictures to online venues looking for images to enhance their sites, but has also become the photographer for the entire Little League baseball and softball program in Knoxville, TN. She has also branched out to offering prom and senior picture packages as an alternative to traditional (and expensive) professional photographers.

Freelancing does afford plenty of opportunity, but there are also drawbacks. I don’t have paid sick days or vacation days. I can take time off whenever I want, but I don’t earn any money for those days, so planning and organization is key. I also have to pay for my own health insurance, which can be a big drawback for many just getting started. And, last but not least, I am paid as a contractor, so no taxes are withheld. This can add up to a large tax bill at the end of the year if you aren’t careful.

2). At Home Customer Service– This is something I never thought would be possible when I started my bank career in the call center 15 years ago, but it’s true. More and more companies are hiring individuals to work from home in a virtual call center offering customer support for everything from flower orders to cable services and more. These companies will hire anyone with any background as long as you can pass a background check and a credit check. Companies like AlpineAccess, LiveOps and West at Home offer legitimate work from home customer service jobs.

Of course, having call center experience will definitely help your chances of being hired, but is not required by most companies. You will need a quiet place away from the day to day activities in your home as well as a high speed Internet connection, a landline phone and a headset. What’s nice about these positions is that many will hire you as an employee, meaning you will have taxes withheld. Some companies even offer benefits like health insurance and such.

I applied for a work at home customer service job and landed it, however I didn’t end up working there very long. It wasn’t because the job was bad or anything like that, but having to work in a quiet environment, away from the family wasn’t working for us. It was much like working outside the home and that was what I was trying to avoid. This is a great job for someone looking to cut down on commuting times and expenses, but not for someone looking to cut childcare costs as crying babies are definitely not allowed.

3). Direct Marketing- Direct marketing may not ring any bells with you, but names such as Avon, Tupperware, Mary Kay and others probably do. The idea is that if you enjoy spending time with others and can sell, getting connected to one of these brands is a great way to generate some extra cash. This isn’t something that I was ever able to get into, but my sister in law has done very well selling Tupperware and Mary Kay cosmetics. Well enough to be able to allow her the freedom to be a stay at home mom, go back to school and get her masters in early childhood education while continuing to support her family.

It’s important to understand that direct marketing is a business opportunity, not a job, so you will need to be prepared to handle the business aspect of direct marketing along with the presentation and selling aspect, but for those who are highly motivated, this can be an excellent way to earn a living.

And these are just some of the things you can do to help you if you are looking to make extra cash or need something to bridge the gap between jobs. The one thing I want to impart to anyone looking to work from home is that no matter what avenue you choose to pursue, legitimate companies will not charge you up front to begin working for them. Some direct marketing companies will charge you for inventory and a few at home customer service companies will charge you for your background check, but this is normal. Never pay a company for the opportunity to work for them or to get access to listings. There are plenty of free places to search for legitimate at home work opportunities.

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