Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mommy 101: Working From Home (Part II)

The Mommy 101 posts are part of an occasional series in areas where we feel knowledgeable. Each mom brings her own set of life experiences to these posts and we hope that you can benefit from these tidbits. Read all of the posts in the Mommy 101 series here.

By Katie

Finding work on Guru.com has worked for me
Last week I gave a few tips on how to be efficient and maintain your sanity while working from home. Those tips were general and hopefully universal in nature. This week, I'd like to take a look at some specifics of working from home and how to make money.

Keep in mind that this post is based solely on my experiences and is geared toward people that write. Some of the tips can be applied in other industries, of course. This post is more about going out and finding the work on your own and being paid as a contractor (generally no health benefits, paid time off, etc.), as opposed to working full time for a company that just happens to let you work from your home office from time to time.


So let's get started. If you have more questions about this post, email them to me at mumblingmommyblog@gmail.com. I may do a follow up post based on questions that I receive.


1. Create profiles on several online websites that cater to contractors. The website that has worked the best for me is Guru. You can create a free profile that includes things like your resume and work samples. Employers who want to hire contractors for short term or long term projects can peruse profiles in particular subject areas, like creative writing, copy editing or administrative assisting. You are also alloted a certain number of "bids" per month that you can use to bid on projects that employers post. If you consider yourself a writer but also want to try your hand at being a virtual assistant (return emails, make phone calls for an employer), you can create two separate profiles in those two subject areas. You can create as many profiles as you like for free.

The way that Guru makes its money is by offering to "upgrade" your profile and charging a service fee for handling the finances between employers and contractors. The great thing about any fees that you pay to sites like Guru is that they are all tax deductible as business expenses.  Other good places to find work are Sologig and even Craigslist (use caution but there are plenty of legit gigs). In researching this blog post, I found a link to "10 Great Sites Where Freelancers Can Find Work Easily" that looks pretty informative as well.

2. Make it easy to get paid. Set up electronic ways to be paid. Paypal is the most common way that people exchange money online, but there are other sites that do the same thing. Moneybookers is another great site to use when invoicing employers and getting money sent to you (with cheaper rates than Paypal). If the company is large enough, they may offer a direct deposit option into your bank account, but make sure you have researched the company and made a few phone calls before handing out your bank account information to anyone. You will also want to be sure to fax or mail direct deposit information or use a secure online form that the company provides. Never send the info through an email.

3. Create project agreements. Some sites will guide you through this step but if not, take the time to do it yourself. You can look up templates online or just make your own. The main things that you want to be sure to include are:
  • Your full name or business name
  • The name of the business paying you, with address if you have it
  • A description of the project
  • Important deadlines
  • Payment schedule, with dates
  • Your e-signature and a place where the employer needs to sign and provide a tax ID#
4. Tap into your strengths but be creative. I like to write. My experience is in the news industry but since going full-blown freelance in June, here is a short list of projects I have taken on: writing SEO web copy to improve the search engine page rank of several websites, written "cliff notes" style study guides for classic books, created educational modules based solely on Wikipedia content, ghost written some pages for a vampire novel, written newsletters for a global handyman association and edited/provided feedback to a Ph.D. student on her dissertation. I am by no means an expert in any of these areas but I was able to apply my own writing experiences in each situation and learn a lot in the process too. You will have to go out on a limb sometimes, no matter what your expertise, and there will be days that you do projects that you really hate in order to pay your cell phone bill. You are going to have "bad days in the office" and projects that you really wish would just go away. Just keep going. If you find a company or type of work that you really enjoy, find ways to keep the work flowing.

5. Don't be stupid. You wouldn't accept a traditional job without first finding out what you will be paid, when you will be paid and how you will be paid. Do not do even one second of work until you know exactly what money you will receive, when and how. Now, I have made a few exceptions to this rule. In the case of a company that wants to see a sample of my work before deciding if it wants to hire me for a larger project, I will usually allot a few minutes to write something up. My personal limit is twenty minutes. If something will take me longer than that to complete, I will not do it for free. I also have these employers agree that if my sample ends up being used somewhere, I will be paid for it.


I hope that these tips help! If you freelance and see something big that I missed (or simply do not know about), email me or leave a comment on this post.



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Check out our other posts on freelance writing:

Tax Breaks for Freelancers

What Exactly is Ghostwriting?

Finding Balance Between Home and Work

What I Learned My First Year as a Freelancer

5 Things You Thought You Knew about Freelance Writers

6 comments:

  1. Great post Katie! I'd like to add, if I may, that networking has been, for me, one of the most effective tools for finding freelancing work. Half of the projects I'm working on now are a product of effective networking, from friends to old colleagues to people I've met at business events who have called me needing help with a project.

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  2. Thank you! I would love to do freelance work from home but have always been a bit intimidated by the prospect of actually finding legitimate work. This was very helpful!

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  5. I'm just coming to terms with trying to be a work from home writer/editor/producer, so your post was truly appreciated. I've been working some contracts for a national media group, but I need to grow my accounts if I want to keep eating.

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  6. Unlike all the silly spammers, I LOVED the resources you listed and the ideas. I guess I don’t need to chat with you so much now, but if it works out...yay. I particularly liked the point in your part 2 that you would get distractions at an office too, finishing what you are doing before ‘taking a break’ to manage family & house. NICE! I also learned recently about ONLY doing laundry two days a week. Wash dry fold and put away and then STOP doing it. LOVE is. I also have a friend who only does dishes once a day.

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