I decided it was best for me to find a way to work from home after trying to work part time after my son was born and failing in a huge way. I started out transcribing and now I write resumes & have other writing projects as well. I am not a social person, hate mornings, hate commuting, and hate office politics so working at home is perfect for me. The hardest part for me was time management and a kid who wasn't in school yet. Next year he goes full day, and I cannot wait! It seems like when I drop him off for his current 1/2 day that I'm almost turning right back around to get him before anything got done.
First, I did a lot of research to avoid those 'get rich quick' ads. I hate those with a passion. I hate any WAH ad that claims you will make tons of money fast because it's not gonna happen. It's a small business, even if you subcontract, and it takes a lot of work to get a business off the ground and become profitable. Often you work longer hours and make less, but your expenses have decreased. It really becomes a work/life balance since work is always right there in the middle of your home life.
My advice, which is mostly for subcontracting (1099 workers):
- Find something you are good at and enjoy doing! If you can market and sell and have a large network of friends then maybe candles, adult products, or makeup sales is your bag. I personally suck at those. If you can type, have good grammar & spelling, then maybe transcription or writing is the way to go. I know of a lot of customer service jobs being done from home if it is quiet (no pet/kid noise). Or find your niche and market it.
- Find forums and resources to check if a company is legit & pays on time (subcontracting): WAHM.com, workplacelikehome.com, textilicious.com (adult jobs), etc etc etc.
- Apply for an EIN on irs.com (free) so you're not giving your SSN to companies you aren't sure about.
- If it's a career change, make sure you can break in without experience. Medical can be difficult to find a job without having some experience already. The medical field is changing & getting harder to find work. Newbies find themselves working in brick & mortar jobs to get the experience before they can WAH. Do your research in the field you think will work for you. I know quite a few people who took classes for medical transcription & found out too late they couldn't find a job. Odesk.com, elance.com, and guru.com are good places to get experience but the pay might be lower than industry standard at first.
- It's easier if your kids are in school full time but not impossible. You will be exhausted and they will probably watch too much TV if they're home with you while you work. Anyone with small kids will probably work after they're in bed which means late nights and sleep deprivation. It gets easier after they start school, really. If you have family or friends that can give you a little bit of breathing room, that is a huge help. If your ex takes the kids, schedule more work for those weekends. As much as I love my son, being with him 24/7 took a toll on my sanity while I tried to work. Take breaks from each other in some way.
- I wish I could've sent my son to daycare before my son started going to school, or that the state would've subsidized part time daycare like when I worked part time outside the home. When I started WAH, I was super low income but would've made more money if he was in daycare. For some reason, working at home is still seen as 'less than' going to an office. You have to have boundaries and let your family and friends know it's a real job even though it's flexible.
- Think about what you're going to do about insurance. What will you do if you need to take time off for sickness? What will you do for money if you subcontract and they let you go or go under? It's imperative to have a backup plan, more than one subcontract, & finances to cover emergencies. You have to put away money to pay quarterly taxes or you pay a penalty.
- Find things for the kids to do while you work. Coloring, playdoh, special videos they only watch when you work, etc. It helps if you have a 'quiet time' during the day if they're not napping anymore. McDonalds has WiFi & playlands and the staff doesn't give snooty looks if your kid is making a mess (ahem, Starbucks I'm looking at you). Plan for your work to take 10 times longer if they're home and awake while you work.
Remember, the reason you work from home is to be with your kids more, even if you have to work longer hours than you did in an office. So in the scramble to make ends meet, stop and go have fun! Take time to enjoy your flexible schedule and go to a kids' museum or a park or the library. Sign up for a class and make crafts in the middle of the day. Go to the gym & burn off the stress! Take advantage of a random day off to play with your kid. Take a nap or read a book. That's why you work from home.