Working from home isn’t always easy. We’ve talked about this before, but today I’m focusing on one of those all-encompassing concerns: What can you do to generate consistent income from your home-based job or business? This is a serious concern, especially in an industry as broad as online work – a sector that can vary widely in terms of legality, available hours and pay rates. Happily, I’ve got several strategies to suggest that can help you build a consistent fund to support you. Read on for my top five ways to make a living working at home.
Find a full-time work-at-home job.
The first technique is also the most obvious and ideal. If you want to guarantee a consistent income while working from home, the best way to do it is to have a full-time home-based job. The great news is that these positions exist – especially since many customer services are being outsourced to home office workers these days. (Not to mention the increasing corporate move to take advantage of the Internet to transform their sales strategies and customer retention strategies. Which means more online jobs!) Better yet, several of these full-time positions also offer benefits from medical to retirement plans to insurance. There are tons of great resources here on my site to help you find these jobs – if you haven’t already, start with my How to Find Work at Home Email series and be sure to explore my site.
Find one or more part-time jobs with minimum weekly work hours requirements.
If you can’t find a full-time job – well, don’t give up! However, while you’re looking, consider working one or more part-time work-at-home jobs (depending on your income needs). The key to making this work for you is to find positions that require the minimum number of hours per week. This should mean that you have a good idea of what you will make with them, even if they offer you minimum hours. Once you’ve settled into one of these positions, you can probably look for a second one to supplement the first person’s income. It all depends on your particular needs, of course.
As always, be careful not to overextend yourself. In a professional sense, doing too much is just as dangerous as doing too little: if you do too much, your work can suffer. You may not be able to finish all the work at all, ruining your reputation – not to mention jeopardizing your income!
Keep Hustling – While you’re working one gig, work up the next one.
Sometimes, home-based careers revolve around freelancing – and, if you’re a freelancer, normalizing your income stream can be very difficult. Depends on how many gigs you’ve made and the rate you negotiate with each of your clients. So how can you try to work such variables into a more constant paycheck?
One strategy is to market your freelancing business through a third party – such as a virtual assistant company. When you act like a site time etc or Worldwide101, they match you with clients and they pay you (sometimes on a monthly basis). You may not be dealing directly with clients as much, but you have a reliable framework within which to find gigs.
If you’re working alone as a freelancer, be sure to constantly keep an eye out for opportunities — even after you’ve landed the job you’re working on. Lining up the next job is crucial to keeping the money coming in, so make sure you set aside some time each day to hire your next client or prepare yourself for a new opportunity. (In my eCourse The Blogger’s VA you’ll find some great tips to get clients and pad your income.)
Ensure that current clients become future clients.
Piggybacking off the freelance advice above, be sure to invite all current clients to send you more work. You can do this after the final delivery of your current assignment and follow up with them a week after the conclusion of your business. In addition to being great at your job—whether it’s helping customers, booking events, or writing articles—asking for more work from established clients is an easy and effective strategy to score more assignments. Being excited about work, being reliable, and consistently delivering quality work are highly sought after qualities in freelancers. Don’t be afraid to use these qualities with confidence and do more.
Diversify your income.
At work at home, there are many risks and rewards in almost any situation. Securing a full-time job with benefits may sound great, but what happens when and if that job ends? It happens!
For that reason, I strongly encourage you to diversify your income. Take a few hours to consider opportunities that don’t require much commitment, like fancy hands or search engine evaluation. Think about how you can increase your freelance income through affiliate marketing or selling digital products. Small steps can greatly increase your bottom line, and the cash you earn can be stashed away for a rainy day.
Prepare for drought.
As with other parts of life, you can’t control everything in your work-at-home career. If you can’t find a full-time position (or multiple part-time jobs with guaranteed hours), you may have trouble maintaining an income stream. Often, freelance life feels like it’s feast to famine, month to month. When this happens, one of the things you can do is plan ahead. When you have a flush month, don’t splurge because you’ve got extra cash. Put a little away for a lean month. Create a realistic budget and work within it – know the minimum you can do each month to keep your life moving forward.
That doesn’t mean don’t have fun—you don’t need to be a penny-pinching killjoy. In fact, snapping up and splurging to make yourself feel better is the #1 way to make sure you break your budget. Build little luxuries and opportunities into your monthly budget so you can continue to work, but still enjoy the lifestyle you work so hard to live.
I hope I’ve introduced you to at least a few new ways to maintain a consistency – or at least some consistency! – Earn while working from home. I know landing some full-time and part-time positions of this quality involves a measure of luck – but more than that, you just have to work hard and pay attention when the opportunities arise. Let my advice see you through rich months and non-rich ones – I’m right there with you.