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Working from home is an increasingly popular trend. Listings for work at home jobs grew by 51% from 2014 to 2017. There are many career paths you can follow as a remote worker.
I’m one of the millions of freelancers who work at home. But even many traditional jobs don’t require you to come into the office.
While this trend is beneficial to workers, it can be hard to get started. I’ve worked from home since 2011, and I went through a lot of trial and error.
You may do the same, but this post is designed to help you out. Below you’ll find 11 detailed work from home tips. Use this advice to make the most out of your remote career.
1. Learn How To Avoid Work From Home Scams
Work from home scams may leave you feeling hesitant. They often look like real opportunities that pay well.
Unfortunately, these scams cause people to lose money, risk their sensitive information, and much more. Learning to spot the red flags can save you a lot of time and trouble. These are some red flags:
- Suspicious information about a potential employer. Take time to Google the name of any potential employer or company name. This simple tip will help you find the essential information you need to know. Negative reviews or no information at all are both red flags.
- Little to no qualifications on the job listing. Many scams promise you high paying opportunities that don’t require any experience. Any legitimate work from home job will require skills or qualifications.
- A lot of pressure from a potential employer. Scammers will often pressure you to quickly accept the job. They may also say there are only a few openings left and tell you to act fast. This is a major sign that the “job” isn’t something you want to be involved in.
- Being told you’ll have to spend money (in most cases). It’s common for scam companies to urge people to spend money. If you’re told you have to pay for training or company product, it’s very likely a shady deal. However, there are some situations where this doesn’t apply. For example, you may have to buy a headset for a customer service job. Reasonable expenses aren’t a red flag; just use caution.
Overall, you should trust your instinct if a job listing seems sketchy. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be able to weed out scams.
2. Build A Digital Portfolio And Website
When you work from home, you have to use the Internet to showcase your skills, qualifications, and experience. Do this by creating a simple website with a digital portfolio.
You may be surprised to discover how easy the process is. There are many free platforms for making your own websites. The following options are popular and reputable:
- WordPress – WordPress is a great pick if you want a simple website that’s easy to build. I used it to create my freelance site, and the step-by-step process is so helpful. You can choose from many professional page layouts and custom options. This makes it easy to build a page that reflects your niche and your skills. If you do go this route, we recommend Bluehost for hosting since it only costs $3.95/month (under $50/year).
- Wix – Wix is another free website builder that has a lot to offer. You can pick from over 500 sleek page templates, or you can opt to build your own. Their image display options are high-quality and professional. If your portfolio is photo-based, then this is a great option for you.
- Squarespace – Squarespace is a website building platform that’s ideal for an artistic touch. Each template is trendy, professional, and easy to customize. This option is a bit more advanced than WordPress, but it’s still easy to use overall.
Consider these three options to establish your online portfolio. Each of these platforms has helpful resource pages that answer any question you may have. Make sure to proofread carefully, keep your writing simple, and highlight your qualities. This can go a long way when you’re looking to find work online.
3. Create A Home Office Or Work Space
I’m often tempted to lounge on my couch while working on my laptop. But doing that creates a lot of distraction, and I can’t be productive. It’s important for you to create a home office. Use a spare room if you have one, but it’s not always necessary.
Choose a quiet area in your home to set up your workspace. My setup consists of my work desk and equipment in a secluded corner. Having a small DIY office keeps me focused and productive. Make a setup that works for you, but these are two essential items I always recommend:
- An ergonomic desk chair. Supportive yet comfortable seating is a must for any at-home job. This ergonomic desk chair is a great example. It provides lumbar support for your lower back. It also has a thick seat cushion for comfort. Buying a quality chair was worth every penny when I created my workspace.
- Noise canceling headphones. It’s so easy to get off track when working remotely. Eliminating distracting sounds can do wonders for concentration. They can be pricey, but these mid-range noise canceling headphones are a good pick. I view my headphones as an item that paid for itself over time. My focus increased, so my income increased.
The additional items you’ll need depend on your job. But the products above are all about boosting productivity and long-term benefits. I truly consider them necessary for anyone who works from home.
4. Research Self-Employment Taxes
This tip doesn’t apply to all remote workers, but it’s important if you work as an independent contractor. Most freelancers are considered independent contractors. Read this IRS page to see if you’re considered self-employed.
The self-employment tax rate is 15.3%. You need to factor this into your income. For example, you may earn $1,200 per month working as a freelancer. Deduct taxes from that, and your actual earnings are $1,016.40 per month. Knowing your income after taxes will help you spend and budget accordingly.
It’s also important to know about paying quarterly taxes. You can determine if you need to by reading this IRS page. If you’re required to, it’s important to keep up with them to avoid penalties. Fortunately, the linked page offers plenty of information and resources.
5. Create And Maintain A Daily Schedule
Organization and time management are crucial for work at home success. Getting used to such a big change can be difficult. Following a daily schedule is very beneficial. It improves your time management, keeps you on track, and allows you to build a familiar routine.
I personally love using a traditional planner; my favorite one is the Panda Planner. It’s designed for managing productivity and was a true game changer for me. However, you may prefer the convenience of a digital schedule. There are plenty of tools for building one online. Here are two that are popular and highly recommended:
- Schedule Builder Online – Schedule Builder Online is a handy website for creating daily and weekly schedules. It’s easy to get started, and you can fully customize your schedule. Once you’re done, you can download it and/or print it. Schedule Builder Online also offers a video guide to make the process as simple as possible.
- Canva – Canva is another great option, and it’s ideal if you want something a bit more sleek and modern. Canva offers plenty of user-friendly templates, but there are also many customization options. The ‘Learning’ tab features tons of helpful tutorials and other resources.
Overall, you have endless options for creating and maintaining a daily schedule. And it may take some trial and error to find a truly suitable schedule. That’s perfectly normal, so make changes as needed. Soon enough you’ll have a solid work schedule that meets your needs.
6. Follow A Few Traditional Job Rules
Chances are you’ve worked a traditional job. This includes any type of hourly or salaried position – retail, office work, and more. Working from home is a huge change, but I found it helpful to stick to a few traditional job rules. Doing so helped me stay focused and productive. Here are some examples:
- No cell phone use while you are working. This sounds like a no-brainer, but avoiding your cell phone at home can be difficult. It’s easy to get distracted by social media, text messaging, and so on. Set your phone to silent or turn it off while you’re working. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to focus on the job.
- Get cleaned up and dressed for work. You definitely don’t have to put on business casual attire. But make it a point to change into a clean outfit and wash up. Follow the general routine you would for any other job. This can shift your mindset from lounging at home to getting your work day started.
- Set a time limit for any breaks. Later on in this post, I’ll discuss taking work breaks in more detail. But it’s always a good idea to time your breaks. Whether you’re making coffee or grabbing lunch, set a time limit. Sticking to these limits will help you stay in work mode.
- Don’t work “off the clock”. Once you set your daily schedule, don’t work outside of the hours you’ve set. It’s okay to jot down some notes if an idea pops up. But keeping a solid work-life balance is important, and it can be difficult when your office is at home.
These are just a few tips that I personally follow, but you may think of many more. There are lots of rules and guidelines that you’d follow at a 9 to 5 job. If those rules can benefit your at-home work, then give them a shot.
7. Use These Free Work-Related Tools
When I started freelancing, I didn’t realize how many free online tools I could use. I began using many of them over the years, and they drastically improved my work at home experience. There are hundreds of them to choose from. The ones below are popular picks, and each of them has unique features.
- Toggl – Toggl is free time tracking software. I use it to stay on track and monitor my overall progress. If your job involves working with others, you can all use it to boost productivity. My favorite thing about Toggl is that I can break down my work hours by projects, tasks, and/or clients. This helps me see how much I’m earning, and I can improve my work approach if needed.
- Workplace By Facebook – Workplace By Facebook is designed for connecting with your work team members. You can use your computer or smartphone to collaborate and communicate. Text chat and video calls are just two of the convenient features. Check out this free tool if you work with others.
- Grammarly – Grammarly is a free writing tool that polishes your spelling and grammar. No matter what field you work in, Grammarly can be very beneficial. You install the browser extension and it automatically scans everything you write. From e-mails to web page updates, you’ll catch and correct errors that are easy to miss. It’s an effortless way to make all of your writing more professional.
- GitHub – GitHub is a tool that’s specifically designed for software developers. This unique development platform allows you to host and review your coding. You can collaborate with others, integrate tools from other platforms, and more. If your work involves coding, check out the ‘Features’ tab to see all that GitHub offers.
- Google Drive – You may already be familiar with Google Drive. It’s definitely my favorite free tool for freelance writing. Google Drive makes cloud storage a breeze, so your work is always saved in a secure place. You can also use free tools similar to what you’d find in Microsoft Word. I like that you can choose privacy and sharing settings for each file or document. This makes collaborating with my clients very simple. Google Drive is also mobile-friendly, so you can access it on the go.
I’m confident that you’ll find one or more of these tools extremely helpful. All of them are free, though there are paid options available. Trying them out is totally risk-free, so it’s easy to figure out which ones suit you the best.
8. Take Breaks And Avoid Burnout
I experienced work burnout early in my freelance career. My excitement about working from home lead me to really overwork myself. After many days of long hours with inconsistent breaks, I felt like giving up. Before I knew it, I’d worked the whole day.
Fortunately, I discussed this issue with other freelancers through online forums. I learned that burnout is very common for people who work at home. The best advice I received was to take breaks during my work hours. Grabbing a cup of coffee or calling a friend helped me recharge.
I was told to try the Pomodoro Technique, and I still use it nearly seven years later. This technique involves using a timer to break up work into chunks. You choose a task to work on for a specific amount of time and use a timer to track it. The technique usually consists of working on a task for 25 minutes. You take a break when the timer goes off, and repeat the process continuously.
The length of your breaks is up to you. At the link above, you’ll see that the Pomodoro Technique uses a few guidelines to decide how long your breaks are. This technique is well-known and is used to increase focus, avoid overworking, reduce procrastination, and more.
9. Network Yourself Through Free Platforms
Networking is very important when you work from home, especially if you work as a freelancer. Online networking gives potential clients and employers the first impression about you. Having a strong online presence can truly increase your chances of finding more work. Additionally, it presents you in a professional manner. There are tons of free business networking platforms. I’ve listed two of them below that have good feedback and excellent features:
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn is undoubtedly the most well-known website for business networking. This free platform allows you to build a detailed profile. From your resume to listing specific qualifications, LinkedIn covers all of your bases. I’ve been approached by clients solely based on my profile. You can also use it to connect with other professionals who work in your field. This is great for a bit of social communication as well as finding job leads, tips, and more.
- Monster – Monster is primarily known for being a job search website. It’s also a good place to upload your resume. The site is incredibly popular, so your resume can reach many potential employers. Monster also has a career communities section. The ‘Additional Resources’ section offers interviewing tips, professional development info, and much more.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time on these platforms. Create free profiles and use the resources occasionally. You’ll almost certainly learn useful information about your work industry. And there’s a very high chance that you’ll be exposed to new opportunities.
10. Always Have Backup Plans
I’ve learned a lot about working from home, but one piece of advice always sticks out to me. Never put all of your eggs in one basket. This is especially true if you work as an independent contractor. At any moment, you can lose a client or a contract. It’s just the nature of things.
I experienced this during my first year of freelance writing. One company I wrote for no longer had funding, and they closed down without notice. At the time, the company was only one of two clients I had. I was fortunate enough to quickly pick up more work. But that isn’t always the case for many people.
It’s important to have backup plans. The exact details of these plans vary depending on your line of work. But some general advice applies to pretty much every position.
Keep all of your online profiles updated. Sign up for job alert e-mails from job search websites. Maintain two or more projects and/or clients at once.
Sometimes it’s easy to get too comfortable having one client or job with zero backup plans. But being cautious is key when you work from home. Use the advice here to ensure you have options for work no matter what happens.
11. Complete Free Online Courses
This tip can help anyone, but it’s mostly geared toward new freelancers. Perhaps you want to start working from home. Maybe you’re worried about the competition or lack of freelance experience. That’s totally understandable, but you can easily give yourself a competitive edge.
Below you’ll find a list of free online courses and certifications. Courses usually only take a few weeks to complete, and you only spend a few hours per week on a course. These programs are excellent for boosting your career. You can show clients that you’re committed and that you have certifications to back up your resume. Check out these great examples:
- Google Analytics – Google Analytics Individual Qualification shows that you’re proficient in using this incredibly popular service. Companies of all sizes use Google Analytics to assess their ROI, monitor website traffic, and more. You can earn the Individual Qualification by completing a free assessment.
- Google Ads – If your job involves any type of Internet marketing or advertising, the Google Ads certification is worth considering. Google Ads is one of the most commonly used advertising services. Demonstrating proficiency with the service is great for many career fields.
- Google Digital Garage – Google Digital Garage is a platform where you can learn all about online marketing. Knowledge of online marketing is helpful for anyone who works at home. This program is particularly useful for students and aspiring freelancers. You can pick and choose different free online courses. When you complete them, add the certifications to your resume.
- Coursera – Coursera is one of many online platforms that offer free online courses. It’s common to pay for a certificate of completion, but Coursera has many free certificates. Some of the free certified courses include English For Business And Entrepreneurship and Master Class For Corporate Entrepreneurs. Browse the courses to see which ones apply to your career field.
- edX – edX is an incredible resource that offers thousands of free online courses. Most courses only take a few weeks to complete, and you only spend a few hours each week on them. You typically have to pay for a certificate of completion for $99. This is a fairly low price to add a verified course to your resume.
- FutureLearn – FutureLearn is similar to Coursera and edX, and I’ve personally completed courses on this platform. Many of them are business or career oriented, so you’ll likely find courses that are ideal for you. Some example courses are Social and Digital Media Analytics and Raising Funds For Your Startup. All of the courses are free, and you can get a verified certificate of completion for $59.
- Alison – Alison is very diverse when it comes to their free online courses. Over 800 of these courses offer certificates of completion. Some examples include Touch Typing Training and Customer Service Training. Third-party reviews report that PDF certificates start at only $19, and framed parchment certifications cost approximately $60.
- Codeacademy – As the name suggests, Codeacademy is a platform where you can learn to code for free. Over 45 million people have used Codeacademy to learn and improve their skill set. Each course usually takes 11 hours or less to complete. This is an excellent platform for any aspiring developer.
Overall, the detailed tips can help you succeed in any work from home job. It certainly takes time to build a full-fledged career, so being patient pays off. But the helpful info and resources in this post make the process easier.
If you aren’t sure what career path to follow, you can still work from home. Frugal For Less frequently reviews different remote job opportunities. Read 23 Work From Home Jobs To Work Full or Part-Time and 11 Legitimate Work From Home Jobs for great examples, job leads, tips, and more.