Last Updated September 11th, 2018

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?

Most of the time when you look at a work at home job opportunity, you only have to worry about whether the job is legitimate. If the company is real, and they pay you, most of the time you’re in good shape. But there are a few cases where you may need to consider whether the work you’re doing is illegal or unethical.

It may seem strange that this is possible, but it is. Just because the company treats you well doesn’t mean they’re behaving properly to everyone.

Some issues are a matter of location. Laws may vary from state to state, so what is legal where you are may not be legal elsewhere. It’s entirely possible that it may come back to bite you even if you are somewhere where the work you’re doing is legal if you provide services to someone in a place where it is not.

essay writing

College Essay Writing Services

College essay writing services are one of those special cases where you should really think about what you’re doing. Writing for pay as such is legal, but in some states writing college essays for pay for someone is illegal. Consider California Education Code Section 66400:

“66400. No person shall prepare, offer to prepare, cause to be prepared, sell, or otherwise distribute any term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material for another person, for a fee or other compensation, with the knowledge, or under circumstances in which he should reasonably have known, that such term paper, thesis, dissertation, or other written material is to be submitted by any other person for academic credit at any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher learning in this state.”

Or Florida Statutes Section 877.17:

“It shall be unlawful for any person or business entity to sell, offer to sell, or advertise for sale any term paper, thesis, dissertation, essay, or report or any written, recorded, pictorial, artistic, or other assignment which the seller or advertiser knew or reasonably should have known was intended for submission by a student, unaltered to any substantial degree, in fulfillment of the requirements for a degree, diploma, certificate, or course of study at a university, college, academy, school, or other educational institution in the state.”

It’s a second degree misdemeanor in Florida.

Essay writing services try to get around these by saying that the papers are for use as guidelines, or for use in citations. You should decide how much you’re willing to trust these disclaimers before accepting such work.

Illegal or not, you should also consider the ethics of the matter. Are you comfortable with what your work would be used for? How would you feel about someone who had used essay writing services to make it through college, rather than graduating entirely on their own merits? Then there’s the risk to the student if the college catches them using a service. No college allows students to buy papers – all work must be your own.

legal or illegal

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing opportunities can be legal or illegal, depending on how they’re done. There are plenty of legitimate companies which focus on making sales rather than recruiting. But there are too many companies which are pyramid schemes and are illegal.

The difference is in the focus. Is the company more interested in how many people you recruit or how much you sell? Some recruiting is necessary for any multi-level marketing program, but it shouldn’t be the main thing. Too much focus on recruiting is one of the signs of a pyramid scheme.

Also look at the claims made about the products you’re selling. Companies, as well as individual recruiters, can make inappropriate claims about the products they sell, and if you make those claims, you may be liable for it.

You especially see this in any products related to health. Any claim about curing, treating, mitigating or preventing actual diseases has to be proven. Don’t make health claims that aren’t backed up by studies. There’s a fine line between stating your own experience with a product and making a health claim that might get you in trouble. If you’re looking at joining a company that makes any such claims about their products, find out how they back it up. Not only are such claims illegal, they’re as unethical as can be when they’re wrong.

Beware of making income claims too. Overstated income claims are all too common, and can get people and companies into trouble. There’s a huge difference between what top earners make in an opportunity and what the average person makes. The FTC expects income claims to be what someone can actually expect to make. Appropriate disclosures must be made before a new distributor can join.

The Business You Start Might Be Illegal

Illegal work at home opportunities aren’t only scams that you fall for. Sometimes people start a home business and don’t realize that they’re breaking the law in doing so.

The first thing you need to do to ensure that your home business stays legal is check the zoning in your area. Check your lease agreement as well if you’re renting.

If your home business is completely online, you’ll be just fine in many places. Not everywhere, so you still need to check.

If you’re seeing clients in your home or if you have products stored in your home, the rules are often more strict. Anything that impacts the traffic in your area is more likely to be an issue.

Most city websites will give some information about how to run a legal home business. They’re common enough, after all. But if you can’t find the information online, you have to go to the appropriate offices to ask.

While you can run a home business a long time in many cases without getting caught, it’s a risk you shouldn’t take. Getting caught can result in fines and you may have to shut your business down until you can make it legal again.


What About Other Illegal Work At Home Jobs?

Most other illegal work at home jobs I already list in the scams section. Often enough, the illegal part hits victims fast enough that they won’t make money – they’ll be out money.

Take the reshipping scam, for example. You receive goods at your home and send them off to someone else. It turns out that the goods were paid for with a stolen credit card or counterfeit check, and you have now helped them in that crime and can be in legal trouble yourself. They might even pay you with a counterfeit check or money order. It’s just a nasty business all around.

Then there are the classic envelope stuffing or email processing scams. They’re pretty much the same thing – when you respond to the ad, you get instructions on how to place the same ad and have people pay you for the instructions. You might make some money, but the method you’re using is illegal. There are several variations on this theme, but they all amount to the same thing.  Just don’t.

I haven’t names every illegal job you could do at home. If you have your doubts about a work at home job or home business opportunity, investigate it and make sure it’s neither a scam nor illegal, and that you’re comfortable ethically with what you’re doing.

What To Do If A Work At Home Job Is Illegal Or Unethical

Deciding what to do when you realize that a possible work at home job may be illegal or unethical can be hard to do. It may not be easy to figure out how to report it.

You can find some good advice on recognizing scams and frauds and how to report them on the site. Most often, you can report to either the FTC or the ICC.

If the legality depends on location, there may be little you can do. Certainly you can try to report it locally, but there will be only so much local law enforcement can do.

Of course, none of what I’m saying here is legal advice. If you’re concerned about any of these issues, take a careful look at what concerns you and decide if advice from an attorney is necessary. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you keep aware of the law.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 3rd, 2018

How Do You Know When Your Work At Home Job Interview Is A Scam?

How Do You Know When Your Work At Home Job Interview Is A Scam?

Have you ever had a work at home job interview which made you wonder if the job was a scam? That would be a terrible feeling, wouldn’t it? You’ve looked hard for a work at home job, found something you thought was worth applying for, and then boom! You realize that this work at home job interview is a scam, nothing more.

What a waste of time.

The problem is that it’s not always that obvious that they’re setting you up to be scammed. You have to be alert to the signs of a work at home scam anytime you go on a job interview. These scams can start with jobs you’ve found on otherwise legitimate job sites. You always have to be careful in your work at home job hunt.

Here are some of the red flags to consider:

Interview Is For A Job You Never Applied For

If a company contacts you to interview for a job you never applied for, don’t get too excited. It’s all too likely that it’s a scam.

A few legitimate companies will seek out the resumes of qualified people, but more scammers do this. If a company contacts you out of the blue for an interview, do your research before trusting them.

Most often, they will claim to have found your resume on a popular job site. This means the first thing you should consider is if your resume is even on that site.

But even if your resume is there, that’s not enough to trust the person contacting you. If your resume wasn’t on that site, however, you know it’s probably a scam.

They Want Your Personal Information Too Soon

When you’ve been hired by a company, there’s a lot of information you’ll need to share with them. They need your Social Security Number for tax purposes. They need your bank account information to do direct deposit of your pay. This is perfectly reasonable.

A legitimate employer will not, however, need this information right at the start of the interview process. They will need to confirm at some point that you are qualified to work for them, and that may include knowing where you live and that you’re a legal resident, but that only matters if they’re going to hire you.

Share your personal information only if you’re confident that the job is legitimate. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk of identity theft.

computer desk

They Ask For Money

There are very few exceptions to the rule that if a job asks you for money, it’s a scam. You should never have to pay to show interest in a job. But sometimes scammers are tricky. They can make it sound reasonable.

The challenge is that some legitimate employers have potential employees pay for a background check. This even happens with some outside the home jobs; it’s not restricted to work at home employers.

If a potential employer wants you to pay for a background check, get information on who will be doing the check and whether you will be paying the employer or the background check company. You can then do some research to find out if this is truly a normal practice for that company or if someone is pretending to be them.

A few other companies will hire you as a freelancer and you may have to pay for certain kinds of training. This should also be viewed with caution until you know that the offer is legitimate.

I have never seen any other legitimate reason for an employer to ask a potential employee for money. Businesses should make money from their clients or the products and services they sell, not from potential employees.

Legitimate companies will not ask you to give them money for the equipment to do your job. You don’t need to buy software from them. Legitimate employers will either provide these things to you or expect you to have them already.

They Want To Send You Money To Buy Equipment

Some legitimate work at home opportunities will give you the equipment you need to do your job. Some will give you a budget with which to buy your own equipment.

If they say they’re sending you a check or money order for this, be careful. It could be one of the classic scams.

In this scam, they’ll tell you to cash the check, use part for your needs, and send the extra back. The problem is that the check is not legitimate, and you will be on the hook for the entire amount of the check.

They may even tell you that the money is to be sent to someone in particular, who will then send you the equipment you need. If you stop to think about this, you’ll know that it makes no sense. If they have a company they regularly buy from, they could pay that company directly and have the equipment shipped to you.

Interview Is Done Entirely Online

It’s not uncommon for parts of a work at home job interview to be done online. It’s certainly more practical than trying to do interviews in person.

But most do at least a part of the interview by telephone.

The most alarming is if they want to interview you only by email or on a messaging app of any sort. Your typical employer wants to actually talk to potential employees, as that gives them a better idea as to how you present yourself.

Skype is sometimes used for job interviews, as are similar apps that allow you to talk to each other, rather than using only text or email.

If you cannot find a way to confirm that the person who is interviewing you is connected to the company, be careful.

Email addresses are an easy way to connect someone to a company. They should belong to the domain owned by the company you’re interviewing with. A Gmail address or other free address is far more likely to be a scam. An email address that is similar to, but not identical to the company’s domain should also be viewed with caution, although some companies have multiple domains.

They Don’t Care About Your Qualifications

Any legitimate employer is going to care that you’re qualified for the job. In an interview, they’ll want to know more about your qualifications and experience than what they saw in your resume. They will ask you questions to draw out the details that are important to them.

Someone who is running a scam wants to lure you in as fast as possible, so they can move on to the next victim.

On a related note, they may also be vague about the details of what you’ll be doing in the job. That’s because they’re either more interested in stealing your personal information or because they know you’ll catch on if they tell you too much too soon.

laptop scam

They Offer You The Job Almost Immediately

Very few jobs hire people during the first interview. Most employers go through a lot of interviews with applicants to find just the right employee for the job. Even if you have an excellent interview, employers usually have to review how all the interviews for that position went, and possibly conduct more rounds of interviews before deciding who to hire. This can take weeks or even months.

A scammer knows that they need to land you quickly or you’ll have more time to realize that it’s not legitimate. They also count on your need to earn money and desire to do so quickly and easily. If you’re so eager to find a way to work at home, you’re an easy target.

The Name Of The Company Isn’t Clear

While some scams will claim to be from legitimate companies, others won’t make it clear if they have a company name at all. Often enough, this is done by someone claiming that they are recruiting for another company. They’ll tell you that it’s so you don’t go to the company directly and that the recruiter wants to be paid for finding you.

It has more to do with the fact that if you contact the company, you’ll find out that there is no job.

If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a job, get as much information as you can about the company and the person you’re talking to. You can look them up on sites such as LinkedIn, and see if the information given matches up.

What Do You Do Next?

There are few things as frustrating as finding out that your work at home job interview is a scam. Your time has just been wasted. It’s a bump in the road of your work at home job hunt. You can’t help but worry about whatever information you shared in that interview.

But you may not be completely helpless. There are things you can do.

If you believe the job opportunity was a scam, you should consider reporting it. The services they used to contact you may be very interested in this information. They don’t want people pulling scams through their services, as it gives them a bad name too.

If the scammer was using the name of a legitimate company, you can contact them as well. They can’t do much to stop the scam, but they’re usually very interested in knowing. This is why some companies have a scam warning on their job pages.

Reporting a scam as best you can is how you can help slow them down. You won’t stop a determined scammer, and arrests are rare due to the difficulty of catching them, but you can make things a little more difficult for them. That’s not a bad thing at all.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 20th, 2018

How Can College Students Work At Home (Or Dorm)?

How Can College Students Work At Home (Or Dorm)?

One thing most college students need is a flexible job. College is expensive, and most cannot rely solely on parents, loans or scholarships. Can college students work at home or in their dorm rooms, or is that an impossible dream?

So long as students consider the limitations of their living arrangements, it should be completely possible… provided you don’t do anything against the rules of your dorm or apartment. Check the rules for your residence to ensure you won’t get into trouble.

What Makes It Difficult For College Students To Work At Home?

difficult for college student work at home

One of the biggest challenges a college student may face in looking for a work at home opportunity is their need for flexibility. Class schedules vary so much from semester to semester. One semester, all your classes might take place in the morning and early afternoon. The next, you might have one or more classes in the evening.

Finding a job or business which can cope with that isn’t always easy.

Then there are roommates.

Some roommates are great. They’re considerate, and if say you need to work, they’ll keep the noise level down and let you work. Others will be loud and distracting.

If you’re in a dorm or apartment building, it may not even be your roommates causing the problem. Sound travels well in most buildings, and if someone else if having a party, you don’t have quiet time to work.

Don’t forget your homework load. Sometimes college students have a ton of homework, and making time for your work at home job will be difficult. You’d have that same problem with an outside the home job, but being home where you could do homework sometimes makes it feel more like you should do homework rather than work on your job.

What Do College Students Need To Work At Home?

what do college students need to work at home?

The supplies that a college student needs to successfully work at home are much like what anyone else would need. Much of what you need is the same as you need for your schoolwork.

You aren’t likely to have space for a private home office, but you should do the best you can. Some work at home jobs can be done wherever you are on campus, but others will require a more private workspace.

If a job says you need a private place to work, you have to consider if you have that available when you’re a college student. You might not have a sufficiently private place to work. That means you can’t take a job where you’re handling sensitive or personal data.

You usually need a computer and internet connection, of course. Odds are you have those already.

A desk is a very good idea, both for your job and doing homework. You’ll probably work more efficiently if you have a desk with an ergonomic office chair and at least two monitors.

Trust me on the dual monitors if you haven’t used them before. They’re great. Not an absolute must, but truly wonderful if you can get them. They save a lot of going back and forth on some projects.

Most jobs these days can pay by direct deposit, but a few will send checks in the mail. Some companies will pay by Paypal as well. Pay attention to how employers say they will send payment so you’re prepared to deal with it. Don’t send banking details, however, until you’re positive it’s a legitimate opportunity.

Talk To Your Roommates

If you’re going to work at home or in your dorm while at college, you will need your roommates to understand what you’re doing. Most importantly, they need to understand when they need to let you work and when they can interrupt you.

How strict you need to be will depend on the job you get. Some are super flexible, so long as you get your work done. Others need you to adhere to a strict schedule.

But a flexible job doesn’t mean you should encourage your roommates to interrupt you freely. That’s an easy path to working too few hours. Hold yourself accountable for working a good number of hours regularly even if no one else will.

Who Hires College Students?

So long as you have an appropriate place to work, college students should be able to qualify for a variety of work at home jobs that don’t require a degree. There are even a few companies, such as Apple, that regularly hire college students for work at home jobs.

Any of the companies that I listed as work at home opportunities for teens will probably also work well for college students. Such jobs can work around school schedules and don’t require a lot of experience. The difference is that there are a lot more companies that will hire you once you’re over 18.

The big thing you need to look at when considering a work at home position is if you can set up a workspace that meets their requirements. If you have that and meet their other requirements, you should apply.

Some people will suggest GPT (Get Paid To) sites and survey sites. These are not jobs, of course, but some people do well enough with them. I’m not listing them because very few pay enough to make it worth the time.

Here are some options to consider:



Tutoring is one of the classic college student jobs. It’s flexible and you can share your knowledge with other students. The pay can be pretty good too.

You can go the traditional route for tutoring jobs and look for opportunities to tutor other students on your campus or at nearby high schools. You can put flyers up advertising your tutoring specialties.

But you can also tutor online. This has the advantage of being more flexible, as you can reach a wider range of students.

In many cases, online tutoring involves teaching students in other countries. Helping people learn English is a popular option, as it often involves simple conversations following whatever rules are set up.

One of the most challenging things about being an online tutor can be knowing where to draw the line. It’s pretty easy to work with students who are simply working on conversational language skills. But if you’re tutoring a subject where students need homework help, you may find that some expect you to do their homework for them. You have to learn how to help your students without simply handing them the answers.

You will probably need a webcam and microphone for online tutoring. It’s helpful for your students to see you as you tutor them.

Here are some companies to consider. These require no teaching experience or credentials. Your current GPA may matter:

Customer Service/Tech Support

If you want to do work at home customer service as a college student, you need to be aware of the requirements. Any customer service or technical support position that requires you to talk on the phone will require a very quiet place to work. Even chat based positions where you’ll just be typing your responses will require a place where no one will distract you as you work.

If you have roommates, these can be very difficult jobs to deal with, as roommates are often distracting or loud. Don’t go for a position that requires a completely silent background unless you’re confident you have that available. In general, these aren’t the best jobs for college students who live in the dorms.

AdviseTech: AdviseTech states a preference for college students or retired people. You only need to dedicate 2-6 hours per week, so obviously this isn’t going to pay all of your bills. If you need something to fill in a financial gap, getting only a few hours isn’t a bad thing at all.

Apple: Hires college students for Apple advisor at home positions from participating universities. This is tech support for the various Apple products.

ContractWorld: Hires in the United States and Canada. Positions can be extremely flexible, but you definitely need to have a quiet workspace. You’ll take calls for a variety of companies, depending on the projects you join.

LiveOps: You must be able to have a dedicated business line for this opportunity, as well as a quiet place to work. You can schedule your work in 30 minute blocks, making this nicely flexible for college schedules so long as you can meet the other requirements.

There are a number of other companies that hire people for work at home customer service jobs. So long as their needs fit with your schedule and location, many of them will hire college students.


Website Testing

Website testing is rarely a consistent job, but individual tests should pay well enough to be worth the time. How much you can earn overall depends on the tests available at the time. Pay rates when listed are what I find on the sites as of this writing but are subject to change. Check with the individual sites to see what they’re paying per test when you apply.

You may be required to have a microphone for website testing jobs. They want to hear your thought processes as you go through the site, not just read whatever you type. If your computer has a built-in microphone, that is usually good enough. They may have requirements for operating systems and other features.

If you do website testing, you will probably want to sign up for multiple companies. You probably will not get enough tests to make a significant income, but it’s an easy side gig.

Website testing jobs often pay by Paypal and require that you be at least 18 years old. A few accept users as young as 16. Users under 18 may need to talk to their parents about accepting payments for them, as Paypal has discontinued their student account option, which was how people under 18 could previously get a Paypal account.

Try My UI: Pays $10 per test. Each takes about 20 minutes.

User Testing: Pays $10 per 20 minute testing video you create.

Testbirds: Pay averages about 20 Euros. Usability tests pay based on the complexity of the test, while bug tests pay based on how many bugs are found and how severe each bug is.

UserFeel: Pays $10 per 10-20 minute test.

Userlytics: Pay is mostly from $5-20, but they say some projects go up to $90. This site allows testers as young as 16 years old. Tests take 20-40 minutes on most projects.

WhatUsersDo: Pay appears a bit lower than many other testing sites – the site says it’s $5 per test right now.

MyCrowd: Another site that says users can be as young as 16 years old. MyCrowd has testers submit bugs to a list on their application and expects testers to check for duplicates so a given bug is not listed more than once. Pay comes from finding bugs, validating test scripts, or reviewing results reported by others.

Testingtime: Testingtime is a little different from some of the other testing sites. Some tests are done in person at a client’s site. Others are done while speaking with the client on Skype. Tests pay up to 50 Euros, depending on how long the test takes. Pays £8 per review. You must be at least 16 years old to sign up as a reviewer.

Intellizoom: Pay ranges from $5-10, depending on the type of study.

uTest: uTest is one of the few online website testing sites where I see reports that some people can make a full time living at it. This is true only for the best of their testers. Most people will not make anywhere near that much, and it will take time to reach that level, even if you’re good at software testing.

Validately: Tests can pay from $5-10 dollars for regular tests, or more for longer tests.


I started working in medical transcription back when I was in college. It was a good job. Once I had my skills built up, I could earn a respectable hourly rate from most recordings, although a few doctors were incredibly difficult to understand at best.

But you don’t have to go into medical transcription. You can do general transcription, which takes much less training. Some get into it without any training at all, but I believe that getting a little helps.

The Transcribe Anywhere course is a great resource for anyone considering working as a transcriptionist. You get a free mini course first, so you can decide if it’s worth paying for the whole thing before you risk your money. It’s a good way to find out if being a transcriptionist is a good choice for you.

I have a lot of transcription companies listed in my post about finding remote entry level jobs. I won’t duplicate it here.

Mystery Shopping

While mystery shopping often involves going to a store or restaurant and evaluating their services, it is sometimes also done over the phone. Either can be good when you’re going to college, especially if there’s a lot of shopping in your area.

It is difficult to get enough work as a mystery shopper to make a decent income, but it can be a fun extra. If you do mystery shopping in person, it can be an easy way to get the occasional meal out.

Be careful of scams related to mystery shopping. One of the classics is for a company to send a cashier’s check or money order to you, tell you to cash it, keep part and send the rest to them. Trouble is, the check is fraudulent and leaves you on the hook for the entire amount. Banks and places that wire money are fairly aware of this scam these days, but you should be aware of it as well.

If you want to really get into mystery shopping, you may want to visit the MSPA website. You can access some things for free, but other features require a paid membership. You can see a list of member companies for free, which can help you find legitimate mystery shopping opportunities.

A Closer Look: Shops may be for a variety of services. They also hire schedulers and editors as independent contractors.

BestMark: Requires shoppers to be at least 19 years old. They also hire exit interviewers who talk to customers as they leave a retail establishment.

Call Center QA: Pay $5 per telephone mystery shop and likes to work with students over the age of 18. They emphasize that this is not a part or full time job, just something for a little extra money. I like that kind of honesty.

Intelli-Shop: Shops may include going to a store, calling a business or visiting a website.

MarketForce: Has opportunities for mystery shoppers and theater checkers.

Perception Strategies: Focuses on healthcare telephone mystery shopping. They list the markets they’re hiring for on the application page.

Freelance Sites

college students earn money

Depending on your skills, freelancing can be a great way to earn money from home when you’re a college student. It takes time to find enough clients to keep the money coming in, but freelancing is as flexible as you make it.

Obviously, you have to balance how many clients you take on with your course load. You don’t want to get poor grades because you spent too much time on a client project. Likewise, you don’t want unhappy clients because you needed to focus on your schoolwork.

Freelance sites can be picky about who they allow to sign up. Many will decline to add you to their site if they have too many people signed up already with the same skills. But once you’re in, you can try for projects using whichever skills you choose.

Freelance writing is one of the most popular options. You may find that some sites are overloaded on freelance writers. On the plus side, there are lots of freelance writing opportunities out there.

Fiverr: Fiverr took its name from the price people would pay freelancers on its site for projects. That’s no longer a strict limitation. Freelancers can have addons and higher priced services now on Fiverr, although you have to prove that you do high quality work to use some features. You can offer a wide range of freelance services here, from the traditional to the strange.

There are also more typical freelance job sites such as:

Virtual Assistant

Being a virtual assistant is often a type of freelancing. You usually have multiple clients. The work can range from scheduling appointments to social media management to answering phone calls or emails, and beyond.

I’ve written a post on how to become a virtual assistant, so you can check that out if this might be of interest to you. There are a lot of factors to consider in starting this kind of business.

The great part about a business like this is that you can add to your offered services as you learn more in college. It can also help you build a great resume for your future career or be something you keep doing long after college.

What About Microtask Sites?

There are a lot of websites, such as Amazon’s MTurk and Clickworker, that offer payment to people who do microtasks, that is, tasks that take a few seconds or minutes to complete. Are those worthwhile?

I’m not a fan.

While some people earn a decent hourly rate once they get going with these sites, it’s difficult to get paid that well. Tasks that pay more than a pittance aren’t always available. These sites aren’t necessarily a scam, as they pay you what they say they’ll pay you, but in many cases you’ll struggle to earn even a few dollars an hour at them.

You have better things to do with your time, even if it’s your downtime.

If you want to learn more about microtask sites, here are some review’s I’ve pulled up for you to consider:

If you’re one of the lucky ones who can make microtasks work for you, great. But if you can’t earn enough money at these, move on.

What you really need to consider along with the low pay most people get from doing microtasks is the opportunity cost. What else could you have done with that time that might have given you a greater benefit in the long run?

You could have spent that time looking for a better work at home job or starting a blog or other home business. These may not pay off as fast as microtasks can, but the income you earn in the long run will probably be greater.

Sure, a few people do well with microtasks, such as this fellow. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

If you really want to do microtasks, fine. Do them. But make sure they’re really worth your while.



While there are no guarantees that you will earn anything as a blogger, I still like it as a work at home option. It can always be a side gig while you do more reliable things. Then, when/if you build your blog up into a profitable business, you can spend more time on it.

The great thing about a blogging business is that the costs are low and you can do it entirely on your own schedule.

Don’t go for a free blog. The limitations often come back to bite you later.

Paying for your domain name and hosting is quite affordable. I use A2 Hosting, which starts as low as about $4 a month. I don’t use the lowest level of hosting but I still get a really good deal from them.

The great thing about blogging is that you have so many options. You can blog about almost anything that interests you.

The hard part for some is monetizing. A blog isn’t a business if you don’t make money from it.

You have a lot of options to make money from your blog, however. Consider these:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Adsense
  • Selling ads
  • Working with brands
  • Selling ebooks
  • Selling physical products

What will work for you depends on what you’re blogging about and what you’re comfortable doing. Some things will come more naturally to you than others.

Don’t assume you will have huge success as a blogger, no matter how many ebooks you see trumpeting how this blogger or that makes six figures or more annually. They’re the exception. Take what advice from them that works for you but don’t assume you will get the same results.

Beware Of Scams

You’ll probably be very eager to find a way to earn money from your home or dorm room when you’re in college. Don’t be so eager that you’re an easy target for scams.

The basic rule of thumb is “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This won’t keep you from falling for all of the scams, but it will help.

Even with opportunities you believe to be legitimate, be careful. Some work at home scams steal the name of a legitimate opportunity and set up their own, very similar website. These can be very difficult to spot, but if you’re careful, you can find the right one in most cases.

When in doubt, ask around. There are a lot of places where you can ask the opinions of other people to work at home if you aren’t getting enough information from your own searches.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated July 23rd, 2018

Don’t Feel Bad About Learning to Work at Home in the School of Hard Knocks

Don't Feel Bad About Learning to Work at Home in the School of Hard Knocks
Working at home successfully doesn’t come quickly to all of us. Many people have to try several opportunities, whether they are stay at home jobs or home business opportunities before they find the right match for their availability and income needs. Learning to work at home doesn’t come that easy for many people.

It’s often a school of hard knocks before you really get it. You may feel like a failure for months or years before you really get things moving the way you’d like to.

Don’t be Ashamed of Falling for Scams

Falling for a work at home scam is perhaps one of the hardest knocks you can take when you’re looking for the right way to work at home. It’s embarrassing when you realize that you’ve fallen for a work at home scam. It happens to lots of us. That doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail as a work at home parent. It means only that you made a mistake.

uncertainty cloud

The only way you fail by falling for a work at home scam is if you don’t learn anything from the experience. It may be painful, especially if you have to admit monetary losses to a spouse or other family members, but it’s something you have to do.

If you fall for a scam, look hard at what made it possible. There are a lot of different reasons why people fall for scams. Here are a few:

  • Greed – the money looked so good you had to try.
  • Deception – the scam successfully imitated a legitimate opportunity
  • Laziness – the work looked so easy!
  • Scarcity – you believed the marketing hype that told you it was limited.
  • Too trusting – you were too willing to believe.
  • Desperation – you need money badly.
  • Fear – the scam hits right on something you fear.

Some people find avoiding scams to be the most difficult part of learning to work at home. I once had someone contact me repeatedly, concerned that a particular opportunity was a scam. I confirmed that it was, and explained why.

The person then asked me if another opportunity was a scam.

Not only was it a scam, it was essentially the same scam. I explained the warning signs again. They sent me a third opportunity to look at for them.

You guessed it. Same scam.

Some people want so badly to work at home that they have trouble being sensible about it. They can’t see what’s right in front of them. You have to learn how to look at these things carefully so that you catch the warning signs.

The prevalence of work at home scams is why it is so very important to really think before signing up with any opportunity. Do your research. Ask around. This will help keep you from falling for scams.

You May Not Always Earn What You Hope to Earn

Whether you find a work at home job, do freelance work or start some other sort of home business, you probably won’t always earn what you hope to earn. It’s not a good feeling to come up short on your goals, but you have to be realistic. It takes time to get things to where you really want them to be.

Be realistic with your financial goals, and don’t give up on them easily. You probably wouldn’t make your dream income working outside the home right off either. Most of us have to work up to it.

Sometimes you may have to accept lower pay to get started. Don’t do this for too long, and don’t go absurdly low.

It amazes me how often people suggest doing online tasks that pay well under minimum wage. Sure, they’re saying to do it in your free time, but isn’t it better to find work that pays better even then?

Some jobs have a learning curve where you’ll earn less than minimum wage at first, but as you improve, so does your income.

Transcriptionists often face that problem. I remember when I first started out as a medical transcriptionist. It was difficult to earn more than a few bucks an hour. But I quickly improved to where I could earn $15+ per hour.

The learning curve was worth it in that case. If your pay won’t increase significantly with experience, the low pay won’t be worth it.

You Won’t Always Have Perfect Cooperation and Respect for What You Do From Family and Friends

Supportive family and friends are a huge help when you work at home. It’s hard to get everyone to take you seriously when so many people you know are certain that you’re getting scammed, or it won’t work out, or just don’t think what you’re doing is real work.

What matters is that you take it seriously.

The people you know will take their cues from you on how to treat your work. A few may never get it, but the more seriously you take your work, the more seriously most others will take it too.

Talk to your spouse and children about what you need from them. They’re the most important part of your support network, as they are the most likely to be in the house with you when you need to work.

Working at Home Doesn’t Always Mean Working When You Want

There’s the old bit about how you can set your own hours when you work at home. It’s one of the most appealing parts of working at home. The problem is that it’s not entirely true.

Many people are dismayed to find out how many hours it really takes to successfully work at home. It’s not easy. You may work more hours than you would have outside the home. You can’t always choose which ones you want, at least not if you want to bring in an income. Sometimes your work hours are set by the needs of the kind of work you’re doing.

trouble ahead

Working at home also tends to blend into daily life and family time. Your work is always right there. Learning to separate work and family time takes practice.

It’s even rougher when you have infants and toddlers who really need your attention. You may find their needs and the needs of your job or business don’t mix too well. Despite any intentions otherwise, many work at home parents do resort to paid childcare so that they can get work done. That’s not a failure. That’s dealing with reality.

Fortunately, you often will have flexibility. Be prepared, however, to deal with the times when you need to sacrifice some of the fun times to earn a living.

Self Discipline May Not Come Naturally

It takes a lot of self discipline to work at home. There are a lot of distractions. Little things eat into your schedule. If you don’t have the self discipline to minimize these problems, you will have a hard time learning to work at home successfully.

You can’t rely on feedback from your employer if you have a work at home job. It may not come in time.

Self discipline is even more important if you’re running a home business. Your success depends in large part on your self discipline. If you don’t have it, working enough hours to make money from home will be very difficult.

Setting up a comfortable home office is a huge help when it comes to self discipline. It won’t solve all of your problems, but it gives you a regular place to work.

Ideally, your home office should be quiet and have a door you can close. Closing your door when you need to work can close out a lot of distractions. Depending on what you do, you may or may not need to work in your home office every day. But it should be available to you.

But you need more.

You need the discipline to start work on time, and to work hard through the hours you need to work. Distractions abound, such as:

  • Television
  • Chores
  • Online games
  • Social media
  • Friends and family
  • Pets.

If self discipline is a challenge, set goals and rewards for yourself. Some should be relatively easy (but not too easy) to hit. Others should take steady effort over days, weeks or even months.

Teach yourself to work even when you don’t feel like it. You’d have to do that if you worked outside the home, after all. Take your work at home job or home business just as seriously.

Overwork Comes Too Naturally

If you have enough self discipline to work at home, you may find that you also have the tendency to work too much. Finding the right work-life balance can be difficult.


Now, this may sound like a great problem to have. And there are times when the ability and willingness to work long hours will be to your advantage. But there can also be too much of that.

When you overwork yourself, you become too tired to do a good job. This can impact your creativity, accuracy, and how fast you can work.

It also impacts your life outside work. What happens to family time when you work too much?

Boundaries matter when you work at home. You must learn to stop working and be a part of your family when your work day is done.

Sure, there may be times when those long hours are necessary, and even a benefit to your family in the long run. But they shouldn’t happen all of the time.

Expenses Catch You By Surprise

Working at home can save you a lot of money. You don’t drive to work every day. You can dress however you like most days. But there may be some expenses you haven’t considered.

Work At Home Job Expenses

Some work at home jobs will provide you will all the equipment you need. They may even help pay for your internet connection.

Others will require you to provide your own equipment. This is especially true if you’re considered an independent contractor rather than an employee.

If you provide your own equipment and need to repair or replace something, that’s on you. When it’s time to upgrade, that’s on you. If you don’t own a piece of equipment you need, you guessed it, that’s on you.

Some work at home jobs provide on the job training or will help you keep up your skills with ongoing training. Others will require that you get your own training.

These are some of the work at home expenses you might not be expecting:

You’re working at home, kids in the background. Over time, you come to realize that it’s just not working. They’re too distracting.

Trading childcare or having family members help out turn out to be not enough. It’s time to pay for daycare.

You may have to spend some money getting set up to your employer’s standards:

You have a nice home office setup, and a solid wifi connection. But your employer requires a wired internet connection. You have to pay to run a cable to your home office.  This may be as simple as finding a long enough cable for the job, or as expensive as having a professional set you up.

Home Business Expenses

If you are running your own home business, of course all of these expenses will fall on you. It can be a very good idea, in fact, to budget for training to improve your skills. You can improve your business much more quickly if you learn new skills from someone else than if you try to figure it out on your own.

You’ve tried your hand at social media marketing. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram… you’ve tried, but you just aren’t getting results. You’ve heard about the amazing results other people get from social media, so naturally you want to do better too.

Time to figure out which social media training course is right for your needs.

Don’t forget basic advertising expenses:

Social media marketing isn’t enough.  Time to buy some ads!

Home business expenses can add up, even though the basic costs of hosting your website are quite affordable.

Some things can wait on your budget, which is nice when you’re starting on a shoestring. But many of the things you can do to improve your home business a little more quickly will cost money. They also aren’t guaranteed to work, so your risk is increased.

Successfully advertising your site, for example, often has an expensive learning curve. You can take a course that will teach you to run successful ads, but you might not find the right mix right away.

Don’t Let Learning To Work At Home Get You Down

Learning to work at home can be frustrating, especially if you do have to go through the school of hard knocks to find success. You have to keep trying or you’ll never find the right way to earn money from home.

Don’t let the naysayers get you down. They probably mean well, but telling you over and over that you’re going to fail isn’t helpful. There may be a fine distinction between a naysayer and someone who sees something you don’t however, so don’t dismiss all criticism out of hand.

Don’t let your mistakes get you down. Learn from them. A mistake isn’t a complete failure if you learn from it.

Learning to work at home takes time. Not everyone succeeds at the first thing they try to do from home. Even if you start the perfect work at home job or home business right from the start, there are plenty of other mistakes to make. Give yourself time to make the progress you need to do better. You’ll get there.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 19th, 2018

How Can Your Teen Earn Money From Home? Teen Online Jobs & More

How Can Your Teen Earn Money From Home? Teen Online Jobs & More

How hard is it in your area for high school age teenagers to find a job? It’s pretty tough in my area – even the local pizza place only hires ages 18 and up. While there are a few places that hire teens younger than that, it’s hard for 16 year olds in my area to find work. With my oldest hitting that age, I’ve decided to take a look at teen online jobs and other ways for teenagers to earn money from home.

One challenge teens face with any kind of online work is their age. Sites may not allow anyone under a certain age to have an account. That’s not so difficult when the limit is 13, but it’s more of a problem if the company requires that they be 18.

This means that parents may need to help kids get accounts for some things. Paypal, for example, requires users to be at least 18 years old. A teen getting paid through Paypal will need to use an account created by a parent.

Once you’re 18 and have a high school diploma, you’ll have relatively few restrictions on where you can work if you meet the education and experience requirements. Most companies don’t care about your age once you’re legally an adult unless they have specific laws to deal with.

Make Sure You’re Paid Enough

One problem I have with a lot of suggested ways to earn money from home at any age is the very poor pay rate. Too many “opportunities” pay well under minimum wage. Many feel it’s okay to earn that little if you’re just doing them in your spare time, but I still find it problematic.

This is especially true when your teen is just starting out. Teach them to expect an appropriate pay rate, minimum wage at the least, and increasing as the difficulty of the work increases. Don’t fall for the notion that a gig doesn’t have to pay as well as a regular job.

This is why I rarely list surveys or Get Paid To (GPT) apps as work at home opportunities. Very few people make much at all with those, especially when you consider the time spent. It makes more sense to me to use that spare time to build something that makes more money, rather than chasing pennies or a dollar here and there on sites that don’t pay well at all.

Some things by their very nature won’t pay well at first, of course. If your teen wants to start a blog or YouTube channel, they won’t earn anything at first. But then it’s their choice. They’re starting a business, and that involves risk. What is acceptable when you work for yourself is different from when you work for someone else. If things go well with a business, the low income time will be well paid back when money comes in… or it’s time to try something else.


Which Companies Offer Teen Online Jobs?

While most remote companies only hire people over the age of 18, there are some that hire teens for online jobs. If your teen is looking for work, he or she may want to consider these options.


Enroll – Must be 13 to sign up and have parental permission if under 18.

Teens can sign up as a student on Enroll, and tutor other students in whatever subjects you’re strong in. Peer to peer tutors must be at least 15 years old and can only tutor other students who are under age 18.

Care.comTeens ages 14-17 can register as providers so long as a parent has registered an account connected to yours, so that they will receive copies of all communications to and from the teen account.

Teens can offer tutoring services as well as childcare services on this site.

SameSpeak – Must be at least 16 and a native English speaker. Pay is $10 per 30 minute session. It may take some time to get verified.

Freelance Work

Freelance work can be ideal for teens. Pick up jobs when you have time for them, and build great experience you can use later. While some sites may require that you be 18 or older, others will not have an age requirement. Here are some to consider.

Rev – Rev has no age requirements, and offers freelance positions as a transcriptionist, captioner, subtitler, or translator. – Requires freelancers to be at least 16 years old. Possible jobs include website design, coding, writing, data entry, social media marketing, and more.

Userlytics – Test websites and apps and speak out loud during the experience. You must have a webcam and microphone, Windows 7 or newer, and MacOS 10.9 or newer. Users must be at least 16 years old. Pay starts at $5, with some tests going as high as $90. Pay is through PayPal. Tests should take 20-40 minutes to complete.

Freelance Writing

Freelance writing in general can be a good opportunity for teens. While freelance sites may care about their age, teens can also pitch individual publications with their ideas. If you don’t emphasize your age, they may not care that a teen is doing the writing, so long as the quality is there.

money in pocket

Home Business Ideas For Teens

Starting a home business can be a great idea for a teen. They can work their business around their school schedule with relative ease. While your teen may need you to sign up for some programs with them, they can still handle many of the details.


If your teen loves to make crafts, draw, or otherwise be creative, sites such as Etsy can be a great choice. Etsy requires that a parent directly supervise the account of any user between the ages of 13-18. Minors under the age of 13 are not allowed at all.

Your teen does not have to make physical products to sell on Etsy. Some people do very well selling digital products, such as printable invitations, wall art, educational pages, coloring pages, logos and more.

Zazzle, Teepublic, etc.

Custom t-shirts, mugs, posters, and other products are very popular right now. There are a number of places where artists can upload their designs to be printed on t-shirts, posters and more. Check each site’s terms of service to see how old an artist has to be before signing up. Here are a few sites to check out. Some may require parental permission.



Fiverr is an online marketplace where you can sell a service for as little as $5. As you build a reputation, you can offer addons and more difficult services for more than $5, sometimes quite a bit more. Fiverr requires that users be at least 13 years old. If your teen has a bank account, they can have their money direct deposited, but payment through Paypal is also an option. Remember Paypal’s age limits.

The tasks people do on Fiverr range from fairly standard writing, marketing, programming and so forth, to more unusual tasks that can be great attention getters. If your teen wants to try to make money through Fiverr, have them look at what other people are doing in their category first, and brainstorm ideas to help them stand out.


Blogging may come natural to some teens. It’s a great, flexible home business that doesn’t take a lot of money to get started. You can even start for free, although that’s not the option I recommend. Paying for hosting has real advantages over free hosting in the long run.

The first challenge with starting a blog is getting an idea. Take the time to brainstorm and get some great ideas for your blog first. Money generally doesn’t come flowing in right away, but you can make it happen.

You’ll have to learn to monetize to make money from a blog. Once again, many opportunities will require an adult to sign up for the account, but some companies may be willing to work directly with the teen.


Lots of teens dream of making big bucks on YouTube. You’ve probably heard of some of the people who make a lot of money making what look like pretty simple videos in some cases.

While it is possible to make money as a YouTuber, it can be very hard work. It takes time to learn how to get your videos found in search and build a following. But if your teen is doing something they enjoy, showing it off on YouTube is a pretty nice business to try.

If you want to earn money as a YouTuber, watch some videos in the nice you like first. Get a feeling for what people are already doing, and figure out how to stand out. A YouTube account that does exactly what others are doing probably won’t stand out, but add in your own touch, and you may do well.

Start A Webcomic

This is what my oldest wants to do. It’s not easy to make money from webcomics, but a few do well. You have to consider several monetization options to have your best chance at making money.

Monetization can be from ads on your site, running a membership program through Patreon, creating products to sell on Zazzle and similar sites, and so forth. This is a great discussion on on the subject. lets artists earn money through ad revenue and tips from fans.

Remember The Local Teen Jobs

While your teen may want to work online, there are usually a number of local possibilities they should consider as well. It starts with the traditional jobs such as babysitting or the local fast food place, but there are so many more possibilities out there.

Our local public pool, for example, hires teens as lifeguards and swimming instructors. Most of these kids have been on the swim team, but it’s not a requirement. I don’t doubt that it’s helpful in our area, though – the swim team coach also runs the swimming lessons program.

Teens can start local businesses doing yard work for neighbors, pet sitting, tutoring, being a DJ for local events, and much more. These can be excellent opportunities if your teen really goes for it. Don’t dismiss them just because your teen has to go somewhere to work.

Have you learned about any teen online jobs I’ve missed that earns enough to be worthwhile?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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