^^^ A photo I took a few months ago to send to Chris that I titled "A Portrait: Working from Home with Children." ^^^
I've gotten a few emails inquiring how I was able to find work from home, and although I am not an expert by any means, I guess I do have my experience to share. I hope even a tidbit of my knowledge can help a mother or father searching for ways to make money with nary a commute.
1) Get help from an HR department. Human Resources at Chris' old job had a person whose sole job was to assist in finding work for employees' spouses. I set up an appointment with her right when we were worried Chris' job might be ending. She helped me work on my resume and cover letters, gave me advice on what to apply to and, most importantly, became aware of what I was looking for so she could be on the lookout. I was very clear with what I ideally wanted. First choice, work from home, second choice, a job at the campus close by so I wouldn't spend the day commuting and we only have one car anyway. I didn't want anything more than 30 hours a week, preferrably 20 hours a week, and I needed it to have flexible hours so I could work around the kids schedule.
2) Let people know you are looking for work from home. This starts with number 1, but let your friends and acquaintances know what you are looking for because they will think of you when they hear of a potential lead. I landed my second work from job purely because my contact in HR had heard of a start-up that was looking for an at-home caller ASAP to conduct truck driver surveys. She sent my resume along with her recommendation, I talked the manager on the phone and boom, job. For my current job, I was talking to my friend about her work from home job and how interesting it sounded when I was ready to move on from my calling job (couldn't handle calling + toddler any longer), and now I have the honor of working for the same company.
3) Check with educational institutions. I have a seasonal position for the local university where I am one of a group of mostly stay-at-home mothers who work for the admissions office during application season. We basically take notes on the applications before the counselors so that they have an easier time seeing what they should focus on reading when they get to the application. You are paid by the file, which can be frustrating at first when you are at a slow pace, but once you get used to the routine, your hourly rate increases as you become more efficient. This lasts for approximately a month in the fall and two months to three months in the winter. All of the work besides training is done at home on the computer.
I've also heard that some schools hire out grading so go ahead and inquire at your local school district.
5) Become a mystery shopper. I haven't found this to be crazy lucrative, but when you have a tight budget, any help counts. There are companies that hire mystery shoppers to visit stores to evaluate the service. BestMark and National Shopping Service are the two companies that I have done "shops" for. There are many different shops you can do, but they normally only offer you small ones at first - oil changes, pizza orders, restaurant visits. Okay, those are the ones that I have done. There is normally a reimbursement offer for whatever you spend and then a bonus pay. Some people do mystery shopping for a living, but I wouldn't have the time to that with children. I just see it as a way to get a free oil change, free pizza for parties and an occasional free date (normally the restaurant visits want you to bring a person and reimburse enough to cover two people). It's worth it if you don't spend hours filling out a report because you are stopping to tend to the children every two seconds. Then you get frustrated with both your children and that you just made $2 an hour rather than quickly doing a report in less than 30 minutes and making $18 in half an hour. All the reports are done at home online, but most of the shops have to be done in person.
6) Blogging. Okay, I guess this would only be helpful if you have a blog to begin with, and the whole monetizing debate can get testy, but there is money in blogging! Maybe not a lot for most of us, but like I said, a little bit helps. Personally for me, I have preferred having my outside jobs for my income rather than wondering if my paltry blog money will ever grow. Worrying about increasing numbers made blogging less fun for me, and I wasn't organized enough to space out my giveaways and sponsored posts enough. Once I got work from home jobs, it was like a cloud had lifted off of my blogging ideas and it was a whole new world! Albeit a world when I had less time to blog, but still. Now, any money I make from sponsored posts, ad providers and affiliate links is greatly appreciated (and THANK YOU for clicking on the links! Truly.), but it isn't do or die. For example, I made $10 from BlogHer this month. That is about two and a half Spicy Chicken Delux Sandwiches from Chick-fil-a. If you are interested in making money off of your blog well, Janssen has you covered. She stays at home and supports her family of five while her husband is in MBA school exclusively from blogging.
7) Writing. This could go along with blogging, but many websites accept submissions from anyone. The ever talented Nell writes for a bunch of people!
8) Keeping kids. Is that a Southern expression? My Midwest roomies and I were confused when our Southern roomie talked about her mom "keeping kids." It's a good way to be able to stay at home with your own children! Many working parents look for home environments that are trustworthy and social so you might have some friends in need of childcare. I know plenty of women who enjoy doing this a few days or more a week.
9) Sell something! This is very much a work in progress for me, but I can't wait until I officially open my shop! Do you have a hobby that you can turn into a business without ruining it for you and that you can do efficiently enough to sell? Start a little shop, write an e-book or sell your product on your blog or to family and friends. I actually was going to start an etsy shop once selling baby boy bow ties a couple of years ago until I realized that my hourly wage would be marginal, and I really just wasn't into making them other than holidays and weddings for my boys. My reaction is completely different this time around, and Chris even commented the other day how he sees me light up whenever I'm working on Hatch Prints. Brim Papery, IvieBaby, and The Jones Market are three of my favorite etsy stories from moms who buckled down and turned working from home from selling their products into living wages. And look how Nell, Olivia, Kelly, Haley, Jacqui, Anna, Kelly and Bonnie just to name a few (and I'm missing lots!) are using their talents.
Well that's all that I can think of at the moment. Work from home is out there. It can be hard to find, but I hope these tips will help you out.
Do you work from home? How did you find your job?