No matter which way you do it, it’s passive income—money you earn while you sleep because you put these products up for sale on your website and a customer can buy and download them any time of day or night, automatically. All you have to do is check the sales periodically to see what topics or types of products are selling best so that you can make more of those.
How to Get It: Customer service is the biggest work-at-home field, with companies including Spiegel, Hilton, Best Western, HSN, 1-800-FLOWERS and many others using at-home reps. Fill out an application with staffing companies such as Arise, Alpine Access, VIPdesk, LiveOps, and Convergys, all of which vet the companies who are hiring through them. If you need benefits, search through a staffing company that will hire you as an employee (Alpine Access, VIPdesk and Convergys do this) rather than an independent contractor. If you're a contractor, you may be asked to pay a small fee (between $15 and $35) for a background check. While a fee can be a sign of a scam, independent contractors are responsible for their own expenses.
They are generally solopreneurs who offer their services to small businesses who need help with a given range of tasks. Some people might argue that being a virtual assistant isn't really running a business. But somebody like Gina Horkey can prove that's simply not true, and she has a booming business to back her claims up. She's also seen as the “go to” person for a step-by-step guide to running your own VA business.
Through this experience, one thing I learned is that development, and the selling of the product you develop, takes time and money. This is a lesson I took to heart when I built another software company, SPI Labs, with my partner Matt Gartland. SPI Labs is behind the Smart Podcast Player, which was a significant undertaking that started out as a custom solution for AskPat and eventually became a successful WordPress plugin used by thousands of fellow podcasters.
We need to get this out of the way first, and besides, maybe you haven’t thought of this because you’re in complete panic mode. Check the sofa cushions, your pants pockets, old coats in the closet, and your car, where spare change may have fallen between the seats. If you haven’t ransacked your home lately and cleaned yourself out, there’s got to be some money lying around.
Skillshare: Want to teach people things but don’t want to make them publically for free? Skillshare is a platform that allows people to create online courses to help others and if people use your course, Skillshare will pay you. Want to learn from other creators? There isn’t a better place on the internet. Skillshare comes built-in with an audience interested in learning online.
Now, here's an online business model that has unfortunately become the butt of far too many jokes. This is because a certain segment of society (that’s you, hipster!) went around loudly telling anyone willing to listen that they were full-time bloggers. The net result of all this misplaced enthusiasm is that if you tell any of your friends or family you're going to start a blogging business, they'll wrinkle their collective noses at you, while coughing politely.
But, as I said, development costs money. For the Smart Podcast Player, it’s a plugin so it requires constant validation, testing, upgrades, and a solid customer support system in place, all of which costs money. If you have a plan to do something similar for your online business, you’ll need to think about this before you even get started so your processes are covered. Read about the lessons we learned in building the player and how we validated it before launch.
In 2010, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my entrepreneurial journey. I had paid a developer a large sum of money to develop a couple of WordPress plugins I had ideas for. I had seen others successfully create and sell WordPress plugins, and I wanted in on it. But the problem was that I rushed into it. I made the mistake of chasing the money, and didn’t actually validate the idea, or consider who the plugin was for. The result? Nobody wanted them. I didn’t even sell one. I spent $15,000 to get the plugins developed, and they didn’t go anywhere.
In today's hotly-competitive marketplace, if you don't understand how to drive paid traffic and optimize your conversions, you need to turn to a company that does. The truth is that paid ads can get incredibly complex. Things like re-targeting and custom audience definitions, along with understanding the ebb and flow of everything with a sales funnel, is complex and confusing to most.
How to Get It: Check out K12 (K12.com) and Connections Academy (ConnectionsAcademy.com). Both organizations offer various benefits—including health insurance, retirement savings accounts and paid time off—depending on where you live. As in any job where you work with kids, there will be a background and reference check as well as interviews. You may also need to be licensed to teach in the state where the students reside.
I recently stumbled on the Trim app and I have to say, this one is a game changer. It’s a simple app that acts as your own personal financial manager. Once you link your bank to the app, Trim analyzes your spending, finds subscriptions you need to cancel, negotiates your Comcast bill, finds you better car insurance, and more. And of course, the app is free! My bet is that it will only take a few days for Trim to put an extra $100 in your pocket. So easy!
If you're at all scarcity-minded, it's important to understand how much abundance exists today. Considering that virtually every brick-and-mortar store has made the transition to an online business, there's certainly no shortage of competition. But there's also plenty of so-called blue ocean. While most might make it out to seem like Amazon is the only company reaping the benefits of the ecommerce boom here, the growth is widespread and across every single sector in business.
To work in customer service, it is important that you have a noise-free environment so that you can listen to customers and respond in the appropriate way. One basic requirement for this type of position is a landline phone – not VOIPs (voice over Internet phone service) or cell phones. Some companies listed will hire you as an independent contractor, so you will be responsible for your own taxes. Businesses that provide home-based customer support opportunities include Arise and LiveOps.
I’m a huge fan of blogging because I love writing and connecting with people all over the world. To give you an idea of what is possible with blogging, DollarSprout.com is part of a group of blogs that routinely brings in over $20,000 a month. While it takes time to build your blog up to that income level, you can get the initial set up done in under 30 minutes (no experience needed).
To avoid any confusion, I want to make it clear first that virtual assistant work is not always non-phone, but it can be. Virtual assistants tend to do a little bit of everything, just depending on their skills/expertise. So if you are good at various non-phone tasks (social media marketing/moderation, writing, graphic design, research etc.), then you may be able to do work for some of the companies below putting those non-phone skills to work.