Take a moment to ask yourself this important question: When you picture your perfect job, what do you see? Do you envision yourself in an office or a store where you show up by nine and escape at five? Probably not. As a busy, full-time mom, your idea more likely involves a simple commute, a good salary, a comfortable working environment, and the freedom to spend more time with your kids. If this scenario sounds intriguing, you may want to consider working from home. Think about it — you can clock in when you want to, save money on a professional wardrobe, and the only boss you have to answer to in the house is you.
The biggest question you may have is “What do I do?” Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Turn crafts into cash.
If you’re crafty, check out Etsy.com. It’s an online marketplace that connects people who want to sell their handmade stuff — candles, bags, toys, clothing, food, jewelry, and more — with a worldwide audience. It’s free to get started; the site takes 3.5 percent of your sales, plus a 20-cent listing fee per item. An added benefit is that boutique buyers and gallery owners across the globe regularly scour the site to spot new talent, which can lead to wholesale orders and showcases.
Answer customer service calls.
When you call the customer service department of your bank or a retail outlet, for example, the voice you hear on the other end may well belong to someone working out of her living room. If you’ve got solid people skills, a quiet room, a computer with high-speed Internet access, a phone line you can set aside for work purposes, and at least 20 free hours a week, you could do likewise as a virtual agent. The pay ranges from $8 to $15 an hour, depending on skill level, call volume, and assigned accounts.
To get started, connect with one of the major players, including Arise.com, AlpineAccess.com, LiveOps.com, and WorkingSolutions.com. Each operates differently, so visit their sites to learn which might be best for you.
Identify freelance projects on the Web.
Many businesses would love your help with tasks ranging from coding Web sites to writing press materials. Sites like Elance.com and oDesk.com post thousands of these kind of opportunities and then facilitate the hiring and payment processes.
Both sites allow you to create a free profile to tout your skills and experience and take assessments to certify your skill level. Bid on appealing projects and determine your own hourly or project rate. (Project fees range from $50 to design a logo to more than $10,000 to develop a Web site.)
This one takes you out of the house, but on your own terms. As a mystery shopper, you make anonymous visits to retail stores and restaurants to make sure they’re up to brand standards. You might rate the greeting you receive, the cleanliness of the environment, or the availability of products. To get started, look into the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MysteryShop.org).