For the last few years I’ve had a pretty soul-crushing call center job. From stalkers to quid pro quo sexual harassment to fighting over unequal pay, I have dealt with more than my fair share of drama at work. This job is one of the main reasons I have crazy meds.
At the same time, I’ve been busting ass on my side hustles in the hopes of one day working for myself, at home, full-time. The big one is writing erotica for Amazon, which is starting to peter out after the Kindle Unlimited pay structure debacle.
Tomorrow I’m leaving cubicle farm life to be 100% self-employed.
It’s a great feeling.
I’ll probably pick up a decent (read: paying) internship or two in the upcoming school year, now that I have the schedule availability. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the life of a freelancer: working the jobs I want to work, when I want to work, and working for myself.
I recently did a crash course on finding work-at-home side hustles on my Tumblr, but I’ve had a lot more people express interest in working from home upon finding out that I do it full-time. So this post will be all about finding jobs, creating a work schedule, and being your own awesome boss.
Every so often I get questions on Tumblr or Twitter about how to make money without a job, or how to work from home. A lot of students and young adults think they’re “not qualified” for anything other than food service or retail because we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that until we have an overpriced degree, we’re not worth anything in the job market.
It’s not true!
I’ve spent a grand total of six months working in food service or retail in my entire life. At 23, I was managing a call center and making more money than either of my parents–and I had benefits. Now I’m 27 and I still have no degree, but I’m able to pay my bills and student loans (!) through my side hustles.
It all started with Pinterest. A couple years ago, everyone and their mom had become work-at-home mommy bloggers, and I started cultivating a Pinterest board just for side hustles and WAH jobs. Then I got some transcription clients and landed a local freelance journalism gig. I realized that I was one of the few people in my call center office without a degree–and I was actually the boss of people with PhDs.
I became terrified that even after I graduated, I’d be stuck in this call center forever. So I started busting ass and following all the mommy bloggers I found, to learn how to work my side hustles and be a kickass solopreneur.
The first freelance job I had was transcription, and I got it through networking. The next few jobs followed the same pattern: someone passed my name on to a colleague and that person reached out to me for work. Networking is the most powerful tool in building up your client base.
Seek out people, organizations, groups, and forums where you can connect with anyone who might need the things you can do. This can be in-person, through blog networks, or even in LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn is a great tool for freelancers and solopreneurs so be sure to have a full, active profile.
Blogs and Communities
I follow a lot of mommy blogs, work-at-home blogs, and student blogs across different social media. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them all, but I’ve found ways to keep up with all my blogs through the media I already obsessively check every day: Bloglovin, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Facebook.
25 Work At Home Blogs, Forums, and Resources
5 Search Terms for Work-At-Home Gigs
- flexible work
- online/virtual jobs
- remote work
- work at/from home; WAH
If you’re looking for a specific type of job, do a search with one of the terms above combined with a job title, like “virtual secretary” or “work at home moderator.” Some jobs are more adaptable to online work than others, so I’ve compiled a list of the most popular types of work-at-home jobs below.
25 Popular Side Hustles
- clinical trials
- competitive crowdsourcing
- data entry
- direct sales
- eBay/etsy shop owner
- fiverr shop owner
- focus groups
- freelance writing
- human intelligence tasks
- MOOC teacher/designer
- mystery shopping
- online moderator
- paid surveys
- phone, email, or chat support
- phone sex operator
- search engine/website evaluation
- social media management
- test scoring
- virtual assistant
Don’t limit yourself to searching for jobs in your area. Remember: you’re working from home. When trawling through Craigslist, don’t just look at the nearest big city; even if you live in Podunk, Iowa, see what side hustles are available in Atlanta or Portland.
And don’t be afraid of using regional-specific sites–look through state and university job boards. You never know what you might find!
10 WAH-Friendly Job Boards
Scheduling Your Side Hustles
I need deadlines. I’m a pretty good self-starter, but unless there’s an immediate deadline, I struggle to finish things. There’s just so much Glee fanfic out there that I could read instead of work, and it’s so tempting to stay in bed and read all day.
I never leave the house with my planner, which allows me to dedicate specific times of the day to work on things or be somewhere and also has sections for writing and class so I can keep track of my ongoing projects. In addition to the planner, I also started making notecards to track the tasks I need to do in order of importance and urgency. I was inspired by bullet journals on Tumblr, and started making my own.
Every week I take a plain notecard and divide it into this grid (color-coded, of course) to plan out the things I need to do for OSG, work, and class, and to track all the adulting tasks and errands I need to run.
Urgent tasks require immediate attention. Important tasks are for long-term planning.
Too often we conflate urgency with importance–but a lot of things that have immediate due dates aren’t really important in the big picture. This productivity hack is how I manage to skip several assignments and classes per semester and still pull a good GPA in college. It’s all about knowing what’s really necessary and what’s just tripping you up because it’s due.
Important, Urgent tasks are things that have immediate due dates: readings, papers, work stuff.
Important, Not Urgent tasks are things that I need to think about throughout the week or things that support the important and urgent things: looming due dates, health and wellness, personal connections and networking.
Not Important, Urgent tasks are the day-to-day things I should do, but can get away with procrastinating on: blog admin, household chores, adulting errands.
Not Important, Not Urgent tasks are either the things I procrastinate with or things I can take some time procrastinating on: month+ due dates, weekend planning, things I want to read.
Work Life Balance
One of the dangers of being your own boss is being your own boss. Working from home means being surrounded by temptations and distractions. Knowing when to keep your butt in the chair and when to indulge in those distractions is the key to successful side hustles. Naps and Netflix are great rewards for accomplishing things, but they shouldn’t take up the bulk of your day.
On the flipside, without a strictly scheduled shift in an office, it can be tempting to do work at all hours of the day. When I had the option of working from home at my old job, it was hard to turn off my need to check work email after I got home from the office. Make a schedule and stick to it–tell yourself you won’t check your work email after 10 p.m., or commit to going to the gym for an hour before starting the work day. Find a good balance of work and fun while you’re at home.
Extra Links: Reddit
I’m slowly starting to come around to using Reddit for information about finding and managing my side hustles. There are a lot of communities I would avoid like the plague, but there are also a lot of great subs dedicated to job leads, budgeting, and saving money–so here are 25 subreddits I follow to make working from home a little bit easier:
What are some of your favorite WAH communities or side hustles? Let me know in the comments!
Here are my faves: