7 Ways to Be Self-Employed and Work From Home
Whether to earn extra income or as a primary occupation, being self-employed and working from home is now a viable option for many. My friend in her fifties discussed with me this morning that she is just about to leave her high-profile job in an accounting firm and begin teaching online.
Many tertiary institutions are hiring professional educators (teachers, tutors, content providers) to work remotely. The Internet has made it possible. The basics for working remotely include a reliable computer with the typical office software that just about everyone uses—Microsoft Office or the free look-alikes such as LibreOffice and OpenOffice—and a reliable internet connection (20 Mbits will do). Both LibreOffice and OpenOffice produce documents that are interchangeable with the Microsoft Office counterparts so there should be no disadvantage using these free tools.
The seven ways to employ yourself and work from home that I discuss below are all very practical suggestions. I have friends and colleagues actually doing all these things.
7 Ways to Be Self-Employed
- Sell on eBay.
- Sell on Amazon.
- Create unique gift items.
- Become a writer.
- Produce sale-able items and/or services for local needs.
- Freelance professional service.
- Teach ESL online.
1. Sell on eBay
Buyers use eBay to search for just about anything. You may have items that no longer serve your purpose and you want to re-sell. Examples: brand name fashion items such as clothing, jewelry, accessories; antiques and collectables; gifts you no longer need; home accessories; baby clothing; art & craft … the list goes on to include anything of interest that people buy. Instead of holding a garage sale many people post the items for sale on eBay where there is the possibility of a much larger market. If you are a good bargain hunter then use this skill to buy items for re-sale on eBay.
In the early days of eBay, craft items were the primary sellers. and though this is still one of the popular categories eBay listed items have extended far beyond that to include almost any category that is legal and non-hazardous. I have bought a laptop computer, beads for crafting, cartridges for my printers, clothes, gifts, food supplements and more.
Get familiar with eBay by first buying an item or two. Check eBay’s ‘hot items’ page to see the top selling categories. If you plan to establish this as an ongoing business and use eBay as your virtual storefront, then choose the types of items that you want to sell and set about determining how to acquire these items. Warning: it may be difficult selling into a category that is already saturated. Do your investigation.
The Internet has a great deal of information for setting up your eBay business. Check it.
2. Sell on Amazon
Similarly to eBay, you can choose to sell on Amazon. In addition to selling products you can sell your services on Amazon. For instance if you are a computer technician you can see the openings in your location and seek them out. Here is what Amazon says about this facility:
Selling Services on Amazon allows top Pros, like Assemblers, House Cleaners, Handymen, Electricians and more, to sell professional services directly to Amazon customers in their area. With the Selling Services on Amazon app, you can see every new job in your area and only choose the ones that fit your schedule.
Amazon has an affiliate program which many online marketers find useful. It requires, however, that you maintain a personal website because it is based on individual websites promoting Amazon’s listed products on their sites. When items are sold having been initiated from your link, a sale commission is earned by the website. I have used this program to promote Caribbean novels and selected books, all listed on Amazon. If this sounds interesting, investigate the Amazon affiliate program and plan your approach. I personally recommend it.
Another interesting service that Amazon offers is its self-publishing service. You may publish to Kindle for free or publish to print through their facility called Createspace. The Amazon site has information on all of these offerings. One is advised to do research and become familiar with the platform and what others are doing with it, before moving into any of these areas. My first ebook,Your Favourite Jamaican Recipes, was self-published on Kindle.
3. Create Unique Gift Items
To create unique gifts there are two initial questions to ask yourself – What am I skilled at? Who might be my buyers? Answering these questions will provide great insights into the gift items that are likely to excite. My friend is skilled at horticulture and she created a business out of cultivating potted plants. But recently she has gone further into creating little portable gardens using beautiful pots in which a variety of selected plants grow and bloom. Other considerations for gardeners may be potted fruit trees, or aromatic herbs for the kitchen such as mint, basil, rosemary, peppers, tomatoes…etc. These are great gifts for Mother’s Day, birthdays, thank you statements, gestures of welcome to a new member of the community. On many occasions I have given gift plants to friends who have lost a loved one, but the type of pant is important for occasions such as this. Unique gift items may include stuffed toys for kids, accessories for special occasions, gift packages for men. It is always a challenge to find a suitable gift for a male friend who already has everything.
I recently discovered this fast-paced bidding site called 'Tophatter' which is an e-commerce website and invites sellers to sell their products through their platform. This may not be beneficial to everyone so check it out carefully.
See also list item #5 below.
4. Become a Writer
Freelance writing has become an industry. There are a number of service agencies that have organised around seeing clients who need writing services on the one hand and matching their needs to potential writers offering writing services on the other. These include Freelancer.com, Monster.com, Indeed.com, Hubstaff.com, Upwork.com and several others. If you are new to this you may want to decide on the type of content that you are best at creating. Below are some of the more popular needs that clients have expressed
Needs That Clients Have
- Website content writer: Often but not always, the clients require knowledge of a web development system such as Wordpress. Sometimes also clients require research skills for content creation or they may provide content which needs to be massaged and re-written for online marketing purposes.
- Copy writers: this is about writing text to promote a product or service or a brand
- Ghost writer: these are person who will write, re-write or edit text which is ascribed to someone else. The Wikipedia definition for a ghost writer “…hired to author literary or journalistic works, speeches or text that are officially credited to another person”. A number of celebrities and politicians hire ghost writers and recently I have seen people publishing ebooks requesting the service. In music also ghost writers are used to write or edit song lyrics.
- Writers in technical areas: computer software, and the medical field provide many opportunities for persons with the appropriate skills
- Software development: writing computer code
- Academic writing: writing and editing essays is typically the requirement here. I have often wondered how ethical this might be.
More and more persons are writing for themselves and finding ways to sell online or monetize their creation.
Ways Writers Can Sell Online
- Creating ebooks for Kindle.
- Creating a niche blog—you may have expertise or interest in a subject that many other people are also interested in.
- Creating a niche website.
- Seeking out online magazines that are hiring writers. Magazines are usually specific regarding the type of content they wish to have and this is related to the niche that the magazine appeals to—fashion, lifestyle, religion for instance.
If you are new to freelance writing, take some time to browse the Internet for freelance writing services, develop an understanding of self-publishing (if that is of interest), before contacting a magazine to offer your service get familiar with some of their published articles. In short, start by informing yourself. If there is the need to polish your writing skills then search for affordable writing courses from online platforms such as Udemy, Udacity, Coursera, edX and others. These are great platforms which I have used and recommended over and over.
5. Produce Sale-able Items and/or Services for Local Needs
Think about the ordinary people in your own and neighbouring communities and what their needs might be. There will be home planners and decorators, mothers with small children, notable events occurring from time to time such as weddings and graduations, home gardening needs, the ‘honey do’ list of things. Creating products and services to address some of those needs could result in a viable work from home enterprise. Everyone in my community knows that Mrs Brown bakes and cooks for large and small events even including individual requirements. This has become her primary means of income. All mothers of young children in the Stony Hill community know that Mrs Jackson sews school uniforms for kids, and homemakers also know that she sews curtains, cushions, bed-skirts and sheets. In addition, her son recently established his lawn cutting service, available to anyone in the neighbourhood.
Many small and rural communities lack a ready supply of everyday and/or 'must have' items. This could be an opportunity to become a supply source. Donna, from a West Indian community, now lives in Washington and earns ancillary income by periodically supplying to a select group of extended friends, cultural items such as food, condiments, hand craft and accessories. Using social media and email she informs her clientele of what is available and when, then throws a wine and a cheese party to launch a sales weekend.
Joanna my dear friend and spiritual colleague recently converted her garage at home into a store selling accessories and ‘special occasion’ clothing. The accessories are made by her group of young community crafters. Not only does this provide income for her but also for these young people. Joanna is currently planning to expand by selling online—eBay, Amazon or Etsy.
It is quite easy to promote ones products and services to a local clientele—flyers, email, word of mouth, posters placed in strategic locations. Remember to request permission to place advertising material in public places such as the local church and community centres.
6. Freelance Professional Service
Do you have a professional skill? Are you a Mom who has left the workplace to stay at home with your kids but you need to continue earning? Are you a recent retiree who wants to boost your retirement income? Are you a young graduate who wants to continue your education and need both money and time flexibility? Whatever the reason is if you have a professional skill you can create your own professional service agency which allows you to work from home. My accountant Sonia, works from her home office and she serves dozens of small businesses. I used her services when I operated my fashion business, as do many other sole proprietors and small family businesses. Boutique enterprises do not usually require full-time professional services such as accounting, information technology support, payroll services.
As the Internet becomes more pervasive individuals, celebrities, sports personnel, politicians, business persons find it compelling to create and maintain a strong social media presence. The amount of time required to mount and support an effective social media network to promote and communicate, must not be underestimated. Angelica a young professional, works as the social media administrator for a female gold medal Olympian and she offers this service as her full-time job. There is growing demand in this area for skilled and experienced support personnel working remotely. You can research this on the job platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer.
Virtual assistant is another service being frequently requested by professionals and small business operators seeking someone to manage their schedules, carry out a number of office tasks, make contact with clients—working remotely.
7. Teach ESL Online
My friend Racquel left her traditional teaching job, because she did not think it paid her enough, and applied online to teach English as a second language (ESL). This was my introduction to the fact that there is enormous demand for teaching English online and a considerable percentage of that demand comes from China, Japan, and other Eastern Countries. I found also that to a lesser extent many countries in the Middle East seek out this online service. Although in my research my focus was on ESL I did also notice that many other subjects were being requested—other languages, math and science, technology and more.
Requirements for Online Schools
- computer at home (typical configuration for an administrator),
- stable Internet connection (wired not wireless is the usual requirement),
- clear microphone,
- space with little noise or interference
- There are so many online schools looking for ESL teachers and tutors therefore if one is interested one simply needs to conduct a Google search and do some basic evaluation.
Important Points About Teaching ESL Online
- Some schools ask specifically for persons with the American or British or Canadian accent
- Many (but not all) require teaching experience. This may not necessarily be in-school teaching
- Many of the requests from China that I have seen have been for teaching small children
- About a half of those I have seen state that certification is an advantage. These certificates include TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). If needed these can be acquired from many online teaching platforms
Although the focus seems to be Asia there are a few requests from Europe for conversational ESL for adults learners.
Finally, do your research. Use the Internet to inform yourself further in any of these areas which you may find appealing. Thousands are already making considerable success at working from home, online or otherwise. It pays.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Doreen Mallett