Many employees long to quit their day jobs to be able to work from home or while travelling the world. Some just want to be able to be their own bosses and set their own hours. Others just want a secondary source of income that can be pursued on a whim, whenever and where ever they feel like it. The good news is that collecting cans and bottles is not the only way to make a side income. Especially with the internet, it has never been easier to develop an income from the comfort of your home or from anywhere you feel like being. If you really get the hang of working remotely, you might even be able to make a full-time remote income.
Scams and Frauds
Before you dive head first into pursuing remote income, remember that nobody out there is handing out free money. There are lots of scammers who know how to take advantage of people’s dreams of working from home. Always be on your guard against anything that seems too good to be true, or otherwise seems suspicious.
“The big businesses are paying millions out to people like you just to know your opinions! CLICK HERE!” Sound familiar? And it is true that businesses spend a significant amount on market research and surveys. And it’s even true that you can get paid to do surveys. You just won’t become a millionaire doing it. In fact, you’ll probably have a hard time breaking minimum wage. But, if you do them during otherwise dead time or if you just find them relaxing, they can add up to a significant chunk of spending cash.
But with so many survey companies vying for your opinions, which one should you choose? Some definitely pay more than others, and some are definitely scams. I’ve just started a Remote Income Directory, but since I mostly recommend services that I’ve tried, it’ll be a perpetual work in progress. The Penny Hoarder, has a list of survey companies that he’s tried that can get you started on surveys.
Along the same lines as surveys, website testers gather the public’s opinion on website designs. Most of these tests require you to navigate the website and perform a few simple tasks while speaking your thoughts aloud using a mic or webcam. In general, website testing pays much better than survey companies- upwards of $50/hr. However, often the tests are by invitation only and are not very plentiful. Nonetheless, putting your name on the list at a couple of website testing companies is an easy way to make a few bucks a month for very little effort.
The Work at Home Woman has a good list of website testing companies here. The best website testing company I’ve worked with is Validately, which pays $5 for short 5-10 minute tests, or $50 for 30-45 minute tests.
A big part of marketing research includes analyzing shopping habits. A number of apps such as Receipt Hog, Checkout 51, and Ibotta reward you for sharing your receipts with cash back or coupons. The payback on these is somewhere in the survey range- you won’t make a ton off of these, but there’s not too much effort involved either.
Freelancing is the most legitimate and likely way that you’ll be able to make a full-time income working remotely and on your own terms. Freelancing is essentially hiring yourself and your skills out to businesses or individuals for short or medium term gigs. Unlike being a regular employee, you work on your own terms and on your own schedule, as long as you complete the tasks you were hired for. Once you’re done with a project, you can take a break, or pick up another one.
Of course, the downside of freelancing is the lack of guaranteed work. Once a gig is complete, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to pick up another gig right away. You may have to settle for lower pay for some gigs if you want to keep working. You also don’t get paid for your times off, or receive other benefits, although freelancing often pays well enough that this won’t be an issue, as long as you budget these things in.
Freelancing typically works best for individuals with skills that are in high demand and short supply, such as coding and web design. A good way to get started freelancing is via a web service that links you up with clients, although these services often take a healthy commission. Here’s a list of services to get you started. The alternative is just old school networking- giving out business cards to potential leads, sending out flyers, taking out ads, face to face elevator pitches, etc.
Similar to freelancing, task marketplaces pay you do short or medium term projects for clients. Unlike freelancing, however, you don’t have to market yourself before picking up a gig. On task marketplaces, clients post tasks along with payment, and the first person to claim the task gets it, and then has a certain amount of time to complete the task before it goes back to the posting board. As long as you perform the task to the specifications, you get paid.
The advantage of this is that you spend a lot less time looking for gigs, and a lot more time actually earning money. However, since the tasks are awarded on a first come first serve basis, there is a lot less quality control, so the pay is generally significantly lower than freelancing. If you’re not careful in selecting your tasks, you can easily end up working well below minimum wage. However, if you’re picky and efficient, you can squeeze out $10/hour or so.
Cash Back Cards
Using a cash back credit card responsibly can earn you an extra couple hundred in rewards for no effort on your part. However, if these cards make you spend more or if you carry a balance and owe interest, then they will quickly end up costing you more than you earned. One relatively safe way to use cash back credit cards is to only use them to pay bills and set them up to auto-pay the full balance each month. Obviously you’re not going to replace an income with credit cards, but they are essentially trimming your expenses, or earning you a little extra spending cash, depending on how you want to look at it.
Remember, you don’t get something from nothing. Making a full-time income from home won’t be a cake walk, so don’t quit your job because you saw some ad claiming you can make hundreds a day taking surveys. You’re best off trying some of these gigs in your free time. If they earn you a little bit of spending cash without too much inconvenience, great. If you find out that freelancing is really panning out, and you’re making a steady part-time income, even better! Only then should you start considering expanding it into a full-time gig. And if you find out that none of these side income projects work for you, you’re not out anything other than a little bit of your time. And remember to watch out for scammers. I had a close call with a 419er the other day.
Did I miss anything? Leave any suggestions in the comments, or shoot me an email!
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- While I do strive to only write accurate information and dispense valuable advice, I am not a licensed financial adviser. All information is based solely on my personal experience and personal research and should be treated as such. Find out more.