Working from the comfort of your own home sounds so appealing. Unfortunately, so many of the offers turn out to be scams, designed to take your hard-earned money.
But a growing number of legitimate companies are looking for home-based workers.
Has time for family and hobbies
Valerie Neal loves her horse. She also loves that she can spend more time with him because she no longer has to commute to a day job.
Neal sells industrial parts from an office that just happens to be in a bedroom of her home.
She is one of millions of Americans who now telecommute, and says she doesn't miss the workplace.
"Working at home is quieter," she said. "I am able to make my phone calls and really concentrate and not be interrupted."
Baking while caring for her kids
Stacey Carter is another successful work-at-home mom.
Friends, relatives and even her 4-year-old daughter told her she baked incredible bread. So she turned her hobby into a home-based baking business, called "Breads of Heaven."
Carter sells at church and craft fairs, and on Facebook, and her business gets bigger every week.
"I'm not sure what title I would have," she explained. "Dishwasher, baker, marketer, sales rep. Everything that needs to be done, I do it. I don't have any employees: its just me."
Major companies look for home-based workers
But you don't have to start from scratch, like Carter, because a growing number of major companies are building home-based sales forces.
Chris Cicchinelli is CEO of Pure Romance, which employs hundreds of women contractors nationwide, who work mostly from home. It's a sort of modern-day Tupperware.
"What it does is allow women to pick the times they want to work," Cicchinelli said. "If they want to work weekends, or week nights, and they have the ability to make a couple hundred of dollars a night, holding parties for their neighbors."
Watch for scams
Unfortunately, one recent report found that for every legitimate work-from-home job, there are more than 10 bogus ones, with no realistic way of earning the income they advertise.
So how can you avoid the many work-from-home scams?
The Attorneys General receive hundreds of complaints about home-based businesses.
The Attorney General says the red flags of a rip off include:
- Ads claiming "as seen on CNN " or "in USA Today." In most cases that company was not featured anywhere.
- Jobs involving cashing checks, or depositing money into your bank account. It could be money laundering.
- Jobs that claim you can make money posting ads on Google.
- Testimonials of anyone holding up a big check and bragging how much money they just made last month.
- Jobs that want your credit card or $79 or $100 cash up front for "training."
"Many times they require you to give them money for training, books, etc. and then there's no payoff at the end of it," Attorney General Mike Dewine said.
Some legitimate opportunities will charge a small application fee, but if you are paying for "materials," chances are that's how they make their money, selling it to thousands of people, who then never make money themselves.
Make sure you have the time and energy
Once you avoid the rip-offs, make sure you are ready to commit.
"You still have to put the time in, you have to make the phone calls," Cicchinelli cautioned. No work-at-home job is automatic, despite what some ads claim.
Then, he says, set up an office just for that job, and keep kids and pets away.
Many home-based workers, like Valerie Neal and Stacey Carter, hope they never have to go back to the morning commute.
That way you have time for the things you enjoy doing, and you don't waste your money.
Legit work-from-home jobs
Companies with legitimate work-from-home opportunities include:
Sykes Home: A division of Alpine Access. Call center jobs for major companies
Arise Virtual Solutions: Call center jobs
Elance: Freelance web and writing jobs
Pure Romance: Home-based marketing of “romantic” items
Working Solutions: Call center jobs
More ideas and opportunities
WAHM: Work at Home Mom.com
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