Many of us want to work flexibly from home – but do you really know how to do the business working from home and can you actually earn a living from the get-rich-quick schemes flooding your inbox?
Quitting your job to start a new business can be exciting, but it’s also a huge financial burden if you don’t have a lot of money saved up. Taking on a part time side business could help ease the strain on your wallet, and help you gain some other skills while you transition into entrepreneurship.
If you’re passionate about your business idea and willing to do the necessary research (including obtaining any necessary certifications), you can make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
Demand for flexible working hours is growing. The internet is allowing more people to break out of their nine-to-five routines, and the number of homeworkers has soared 16% this year, according to a BT report published last month. What’s the reason for this rise? Kindly bosses letting more staff work out of the office, or gullible mugs answering internet ads and spam emails promising easy money?
It can be difficult to distinguish between the legitimate businesses operations and the scams: the Office of Fair Trading estimates that $70m is lost to fraudulent work-at-home schemes each year which proves you really need to know how to do the business working from home.
Googling “make money online” churns out some choice offers (earn “£20K+ a month”), and if you’re looking for a steady stream of income, several sites offer information on how to set up a killer e-business in a day – even if they do seem highly suspect.
The internet has completely changed the way freelance workers operate, including how they get commissioned. Sites such as peopleperhour.com and elance.com connect projects with providers all over the world – but of course, the web has also made it easier for everyone else to muscle in too, as I find out when bidding for writing jobs.
Unlike sensible auctions, here the object is to undercut one another, with the winner usually being the one who’s prepared to do a job for the least money. I browse through the jobs on peopleperhour. Men’s lifestyle writing required? I can do that. Budget range: %500-700. I play them at their own game and offer to do the job for $400. I don’t win, and nor do I get the lucrative contract to write press releases about double-glazing either.
Success! At long last do I really know how to do the business working from home and finally struck gold. Or $4.75 to be precise, though it’s taken more than a few hours. Customer survey websites offer a slow and simple method to earn some pocket money online. There are scores of them, offering everything from prize draws and vouchers to the princely sum of $2 for giving your two cents – so long as your two cents is agree, not sure or disagree, anyway. Even pollsters Yougov and Ipsos are taking the nation’s temperature this way, handing down some of their commission to you at the same time.
Signing on for two schemes earns me $4 straight away, while a survey for valuedopinions.co.uk bags an extra 75cents. Another survey has a bounty of $2, but after a few questions, it turns out I don’t fit the demographic and I’m banned from answering it.
So what’s the catch? The sites only pay out once you’ve reached a high target of $50 or so, and given that I’m only offered three surveys during the entire week, that could take some time.
Now this seemed like a winner before I started. The idea that new websites needed to pay people to post to populate their forums and get the ball rolling seemed a logical one. One site, paidpostingtools.com, states that it vets its contributors beforehand for literacy and general common sense, but after jumping through far too many hoops (post 15 times on a supposedly unrelated forum) and then hearing nothing from them ever again, or any other similar operations, I become highly suspicious.
Trying to trace anyone in the real world who has actually made money from these schemes proves impossible, so I turn to a pay-to-blog site, PayPerPost.com, which is actually operational. Although the site insists you disclose that you’re on its payroll, it’s widely hated online, with high profile bloggers such as Michael Arrington of TechCrunch waging war on it. Sadly, like the dodgy e-business I tried, it also requires you to have a blog with steady traffic in place, and since only pitying friends and relatives have gone to mine, I’m not eligible for any contracts.
What I don’t realise until after I’ve signed up and slapped their advertising badge on my site is that PayPerPost has been blacklisted by Google, with any sites opting into the scheme having its all-important page rank removed – making PayPerPost traceable only by the handful of web users who don’t search with Google. Zero again.
Ignore those banners telling you how to make £500 in 15 minutes at online casinos – they’re fakes set up by shady casinos themselves. The only way is to hit the virtual floor and play for real. Al McClenahan, a graduate from Cricklewood, London, funded a year out entirely by playing poker online, averaging about £1,800 a month in winnings. He gives me some tips to try and max out my earnings. “Maths and patience are key,” he reveals. “There’s generally a correct thing to do.”
Having made just shrapnel after a week’s hard work can Tony Neate, managing director at Get Safe Online, a Home Office-sponsored advice organisation, tell me where I went wrong. Are others trying to make money the same way? “Definitely,” he agrees. “People are feeling a bit of a crunch happening, and are looking around more for money.”
So how can they succeed where I’ve failed, and sort the scams from the real opportunities? Neate is an ex-policeman specialising in hi-tech crime, but his advice is simple: update your common sense for the digital age. “Be aware: they can be very engaging and sound very genuine. Look for a landline telephone number and a physical address.” Follow that advice, and who knows?
Until now when successful entrepreneurs who have made millions and really know how to do the business working from home and are willing to help people just like you and me to make a decent income either part-time or full-time working from home.