March 12th, 2018

7 Fantasies About Online Home Businesses

7 Fantasies About Online Home Businesses

It amazes me how much people want to believe that it’s easy to earn a spectacular living from home. I know all the big sales pages for internet marketing products make it sound like that, but it’s really not that simple. They encourage fantasies about online home businesses that don’t hold up once you get started.

If you want to know just how unlikely it all is, just take a look at the disclaimers. No matter how much they talk up the ease of big earnings, they have to admit that big earnings are the exception, not the rule. Most people will fail, or at least not do as well as the big earners, by a long shot.

I get how much fun it is to have fantasies about online home businesses. The dream sounds wonderful. It happens for some people. But even the little things you might fantasize about while planning a home business may not happen the way you want them to.

Fantasy #1
More time for your family

How I’d love for this to be true! I’ve been working from home since before my oldest daughter was born, and I’ve run my own websites for 16 years now. Running my business hasn’t always made it easier to have time with my family. I still have to plan it.

Your mileage may vary, but the simple truth is that any business is hard work, especially in the early days. If you don’t work hard, you slow down the growth of your business and it may never take off.

That said, there are some advantages to an online business. You have more freedom to decide when you work, and that’s a big help. You can run most online businesses from home, and that means you can at least be physically present, even when you’re kind of busy working.

And if you work hard, eventually you get to where you can take time off more easily, as well as learning more about when you work best. It does get better from the early rough days of not having enough hours in the day to handle all that your business needs, never mind everything your family needs. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time to hire some help once you can afford it.

Fantasy #2
Easy money

I hear this one all the time. “I’ve been working at this for x months and I still can’t quit my job!”

True. You can’t.

I worked my online business for three years before I was able to quit my medical transcription job, and it was a risk even then. There are times I wish I still had that assured income.

That’s because this doesn’t come easy. If getting rich were as easy as all that, inflation would probably make us all poor again. But it would be fun while it lasted.

If getting rich were as easy as all that, inflation would probably make us all poor again.

Failure in any business is easier and more common than success. Even the most successful business owners usually have a number of failures not only in their past but in their future. Failure means you challenged yourself. It’s only a bad thing if you let it stop you.

Fantasy #3
Lots of tax writeoffs

The trouble here isn’t so much that there aren’t a lot of tax writeoffs for online businesses. Any legitimate business expense is a writeoff come tax time.

The trouble is that many people think they can write off all sorts of things that they really cannot. And that gets them audited.

You have to think before you write off any expense. Is it really a cost of doing business or are you lying to yourself?

If you buy a new computer, for example, is it really for your business or will the whole family be using it regularly? My computer is just for business; we have a separate family computer that the kids and my husband play their games on. If I were to replace it, that would be a business expense. Replacing the family computer would not be a business expense.

My home office is not only my home office. The room is also used as a guest room. This means I cannot claim the entire room on my taxes as a home office. My desk is the only area that is exclusively my office – and I make sure everyone knows to keep their hands off!

Fantasy #4
Build it and they will come

Long, long ago, in the early days of the internet becoming popular, maybe this was true. Now, with so many other websites to compete with, not a chance.

You have to market your site. Get the word out. Advertise. Whatever you want to call it, you have to do it.

The same goes for your social media accounts. They aren’t going to suddenly have a ton of followers. It takes time to build a solid social media following. You have to be interesting. You have to stand out.

And that whole going viral on social media thing? Not as easy as you would like it to be. By a long shot. A few people hit it lucky and go viral with no effort at all. They probably won’t be able to repeat it if they tried.

Be ready to grow your business slow and steady. You might be one of the lucky few to go fast, but if you aren’t prepared for things to go slow, you’ll get frustrated long before things start happening for you. As fantasies about online home businesses go, the dream of going viral with little to no effort is way up there. Worse, it can do more harm than good.

Fantasy #5
Tons of traffic is always a good thing

Nope. Not even close. Not if you want to earn a living from this internet thing anyhow.

There’s good traffic and bad traffic if you’re looking at earning money.

There’s good traffic and bad traffic if you’re looking at earning money. Good traffic has a decent percentage of people who will buy from you or otherwise help you to earn money. Bad traffic overloads your server and doesn’t earn you anything, or only very insignificant amounts.

If you’re serious about your online business, you want buyers! People willing to spend money!

It’s a blast having the traffic on your website take off. I can tell you from experience that it’s even fun if it knocks your server down. Frustrating, but an ego boost nonetheless. It means you’re doing something right even as you scramble to get back online and take advantage of the traffic.

If you don’t earn anything, the ego boost is all the benefit you’re getting. That doesn’t pay bills or put food on the table.

This is the bad side of going viral. Too often it doesn’t do what you would like it to in terms of income and long term improvements to your home business. If the surge in traffic doesn’t include an increase in income, it’s not a good thing, especially if you had to upgrade your website hosting to cope with the traffic.

Fantasy #6
You just need to be an expert on your topic

Being an expert is very good for your business. You need to be one. But it’s not enough to bring you success. There are a lot of experts online, and probably a good number in whatever niche you’re in.

You still have to market your site. No one knows you’re an expert if you don’t tell them. Show your expertise elsewhere. Comment on blogs, join relevant Facebook groups and participate on forums intelligently. Be helpful, but don’t push people about going to your site. If you’re interesting and helpful enough, your signature or profile links will do that for you without annoying the forum or blog owner with blatant advertising.

It may also be a good idea to submit guest posts to relevant websites so that you get in front of their audiences. Find out who publishes the best content in your industry and see what it takes to get something you’ve written shared there. Alternatively, see what it takes to become a resource that they quote. Find a way to get in front of that audience that you want and they already have.

No one will discover that you are THE expert they need if you haven’t spent time marketing your online home business and building a reputation. The internet is big and you are small, no matter how brilliant you are. Do the work so that people will find you.

Fantasy #7
Anyone can succeed online

I see this a lot. Sales letters promising that the system they teach is so easy that anyone can do it. Yet somehow most people trying any one system will fail at it.

Some of that is from people not trying. Most of it is because what works once doesn’t necessarily work twice online. Another part is that working online simply isn’t for everyone.

That’s true no matter what you’re talking about. There is no one type of job or business that is right for everyone. Some people really can’t stand the isolation common to running an online business. Some just never get comfortable with the tools and processes needed to work online. Some fall too deeply for the idea that buying the information and throwing up a trash website should be all it takes. Some give up too easily. Some honestly cannot afford to take the risk of either time or money.

That’s just life. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, sometimes it won’t be the right choice for you and you need to find a new path. Other times it all clicks and is wonderful. Only way you’ll know how it’s going to go is to give it a try.

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.

March 9th, 2018

What Are The Options To Cut The Cable Cord And Start Streaming?

What Are The Options To Cut The Cable Cord And Start Streaming?

How would you like to save money on your monthly cable bill? Cutting out your cable subscription in favor of streaming services has become very popular. Most people save a lot of money this way and still have plenty they can watch on their television. What are your options to cut the cable cord and start streaming?

There are a few factors you should take into consideration first. Some families don’t find it as worthwhile as others. Here are a few.

What Channels Do You Want To Keep?

Some channels are more difficult than others to replace with streaming. This is where your costs can head back up toward what you were paying with cable.

Some channels, such as CBS, now offer their own streaming services, and so are no longer offering their shows elsewhere. You can watch them over the air if you can get them with an antenna, but otherwise you have to pay for them.

Make a list of the channels you absolutely want, as well as the exact shows you watch most on them. This will help you figure out which services will give you the shows that you want most. List the services you would need, and what it would cost per month.

What Channels Can You Get With An Antenna?

In some areas, lots of local channels are available for free if you simply hook up an antenna. This is great if you like your local networks such as NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and your local Fox station.

Others will get few or no local channels with an antenna. This is the situation I have in my area. We aren’t close enough to anything to get the local channels over the air, plus there are hills in the way. The disadvantage of living in the mountains.

You can get a good estimate of the local channels you will get with an antenna. There are a few services that do this, but I like best. The website is kind of ugly, but it uses your address to give you its best estimate of what channels you can get with an antenna.

The list I get tells me an antenna probably won’t be worth the trouble. I would have to get my local channels some other way.

What Other Objections To Streaming Do You Have?

My husband’s biggest objection to streaming is that he loves to channel surf and just see what’s on. Streaming isn’t the same to him and he’s not at all sure he would like it.

You may find objections like this in your family too, that don’t simply come down to “I need this channel/show!” Take them into consideration. They may not change your mind, but you should be ready for them.

Streaming Companies To Consider

There are so many streaming companies out there that I won’t try to list all of them. I will give you a sample listing here, along with current costs. Don’t take my prices as accurate, as they’re subject to change at any time. Also, remember that most don’t have contracts. You could change services monthly if you felt like it.

Most will work on whichever streaming devices you have, along with computers, smartphones, and tablets. Some will not work with older devices, however.

Netflix – $7.99-$13.99 per month – Netflix has been around a while now, and produces some great shows that are exclusive to them, as well as streaming popular and not so popular movies and TV shows. Their selection changes a little every month, which can both delight and infuriate customers.

Hulu – $7.99-$39.99 per month – Hulu has two levels of service. The main one is the $7.99 service and it gives you access to thousands of movies and shows. Like Netflix, they also have shows produced just for their platform. The pricier $39.99 per month option is for those who want to watch live sports, news, and more, as well as having access the the full Hulu library. This is one of the ways you might get your local channels.

You can also add on premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime for an additional fee.

Sling TV – $20-$40+ per month – Sling is another option if you want access to some of your local channels, as well as ESPN. Sling offers three basic channel packages to give you more control over what you’re paying. The plus in the pricing is because they offer addon packages for $5 each, with the exception of premium movie channels such as HBO, which will cost more.

CBS All Access – $6-$10 per month – CBS All Access makes some people nervous about the future of streaming. No one likes the idea of having to pay a fee for each network. That would get more expensive than subscribing to cable, fast. But if you want the shows they have, such as Star Trek Discovery, this is how you do it.

Amazon Prime Video – I won’t list Amazon Prime prices here, as they’re picky about affiliates listing prices online. It’s an annual subscription, and you may have it already for the shipping. You can get Prime Video separate from Amazon Prime as a whole, but you won’t save a whole lot. If video is all you want from them, go for the lower price. Amazon has some great original shows.

HBO Now – $15 per month – If you love HBO’s original shows such as Game of Thrones, this is a hard subscription to skip. Some subscriptions, such as Amazon Prime, will allow you to add on your HBO subscription to your account with them, but it will still cost the same.

DirecTV Now – $35-$70 per month – DirecTV Now offers much of what you would get if you got DirecTV through a satellite dish. It has a lot of on demand options and some deals on premium channels. There is also a 72 hour rewind feature and a new cloud DVR. It is limited to two users at a time.

PlayStation Vue – $40-$75 per month – This is the expensive option. It’s not that different, in many ways, from what you would get from the cable company. The most expensive options include HBO and other premium channels. It has a DVR so that you can watch record shows to watch later. PlayStation Vue does not require a PlayStation, as it works on many other devices.

More streaming companies keep coming. Disney has a streaming service they plan to launch in 2019, for example. The potential to always want to add new services is one of the risks of using streaming services. On the other hand, most are month to month, so you can cancel one and start another if you like to keep each month’s costs down.

Equipment Needed

If you have a smart TV, it may already be capable of streaming from several services. Most also have apps so that you can use them on your computer, tablet or smartphone. And of course, there’s always the Playstation if you have that.

If you don’t have a smart TV, you may need to get a little equipment. Fortunately, it doesn’t cost a lot. Look into Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV Stick. Any current version of any of these devices should be able to handle streaming from a range of services.

If you have to buy something, make sure it can do what you need it to do. You won’t be happy if you buy a device only to find out that it’s not compatible with a service you want.

Make A Comparison Chart

Once you have enough data, you can make a comparison chart, or use this sample one I have created in Google Sheets. It has a sheet for listing the channels you need and where to find one, and a second sheet to compare costs. Contact your cable company to find out what your monthly bill would be for just internet. If you need to keep landline phone, keep that in there as well. We have very poor cell phone reception where I live, making a landline still necessary. You want the most exact numbers you can get for what you would be paying, so this comparison may include keeping or dropping a landline phone.

Make sure you include any streaming services you’re already using on the cable side of the bill. You’re probably going to keep those regardless.

Depending on your need for local channels, you might decide to keep a very small cable TV package just to get those local channels. You don’t have to be a complete cord cutter unless it makes sense for you.

On the cable cord cutting side, include the cost of a high enough speed cable plan for your family’s needs. This includes whatever is needed for the entire family. You will need more speed depending on how many people are likely to be using your connection at once.

It may also be worth throwing in what it would cost to switch cable companies. Sometimes you can get a better deal if you change companies because your old package deal has expired. Cable companies aren’t always nice about giving you a new deal when they already have you as a customer. Take a look at where else you can take your business. It’s inconvenient, but the savings may 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.

March 5th, 2018

How Much Information Should You Share When Looking For A Work At Home Job?

How Much Information Should You Share When Looking For A Work At Home Job?

You’re looking for a work at home job, and you think you’ve found something. But they’re asking for some information you aren’t sure that you should share. When is the right time to share the information they’re asking for? How do you know which information you should share when looking for a work at home job?

This isn’t always easy to answer. It can depend on the kind of work you’re looking at and how confident you are that the opportunity is legitimate.

When In Doubt, Don’t Share

We all worry about being scammed when looking for stay at home jobs. It’s normal. There are a lot of scams out there.

This makes sharing even normal personal information requested on any other job application more difficult when you’re talking about applying online. You just don’t have the reassurance that you get from applying with a local company. Most local companies you can drive by and see their actual location. You know they’re real because you’ve been there.

You can do a pretty good job of researching potential employers if you know how. Look up reviews for them online. Many companies are reviewed by current and former employees on sites such as Indeed or Glassdoor. You can learn about them on LinkedIn as well. Make sure you know the company’s name and do a little research on them before you apply for a job.

When in doubt, see if you can submit the online application without all the information filled out, and use the comment box (if available) to explain why you have left certain information out. A Social Security Number, for example, is necessary for a company to deal with taxes, and may be requested if a background check is being done. It’s really not necessary to share it otherwise, and you can take the chance of offering to provide it only if you make it that far in the hiring process.

Information You Shouldn’t Share Immediately

There is some information that you should not share with a potential employer until you know that the opportunity is legitimate and that the employer needs it. This would include your social security number and banking information.

An employer only needs your social security number once you’re hired or to run a background check. They shouldn’t need it sooner than that. If they want your social security number sooner, find out why and decide if you’re comfortable with their reasoning.

Your banking information can be very high risk to share. It’s wonderful when your employer lets you sign up for direct deposit so that you get paid sooner, but there is a risk in giving them access to that information.

You also don’t need to share information about your family or personal situation more than absolutely necessary. Talking about your kids or other parts of your family life can make you look less professional, and make it less likely that you will be hired for the job. It doesn’t matter that you want to work at home to have more time with your kids. Potential employers want to know what you’ll do for them, not what they’ll do for you.

In general, not just in your job hunt, you should never share your contact information, social security number, or birth date publicly. This includes on social media. Putting too much information out there in general sets you up for identity theft. And of course, never share your mother’s maiden name or any of the other information you may have used to secure your bank account.

Is Professionally Embarrassing Information Already Out There?

A lot of people have discovered that information they’ve shared online socially can impact them professionally. More and more employers check applicants out online to see what’s out there. Employers may expect you to give them links to your social media accounts so that they can check them out easily. If they want this, take some time to make sure your social media accounts won’t mess up your job hunt.

No one has perfect control over what appears on a search for their name online. I’m not currently on the first page for my name, one of the curses of having a very common name. But since I’m not exactly going for the guru thing I’ve never stressed about getting my name up there in the rankings.

But the factors you do control you should take into consideration. Look at how you’re presenting yourself on social networks and anywhere else you appear online. Work at home jobs will mostly be concerned with your professionalism, and depending on the position you’re applying for these things can be quite relevant.

Keep It Professional

One important thing to do when you’re looking for a job online is to make sure you give a professional appearance with the information you provide. This means you don’t want to have an email address that’s fun to have socially but might make a potential employer lose interest in you. An email address based on your name is best for most purposes, and it can be nice to keep your job hunting emails separate from the usual personal stuff anyhow.

Potential employers also aren’t going to be interested in your home situation. Even if they’re hiring you for a home based position, they don’t need to know about your kids or how you’re going to handle caring for them while you work. That’s your problem and the expectation is that you’ll handle it.

What they do want to know is why you’re the right employee for them to hire. Make a good impression in that area by emphasizing your relevant skills. Potential employers need employees who know how to separate their family life from their work at home life. If you can’t do that in the application process, they may feel that you won’t keep them appropriately separated when you’re working.

Don’t Speak Poorly Of Current Or Previous Jobs

Never speak negatively of your current or previous jobs. If you worked for a company and it went out of business, you can say that. It even gives you a good reason for leaving.

But don’t go into problems you had at your old job. Potential employers will only care in that they will wonder how you will speak of them outside of work or when you leave. Speaking ill of an employer, past or present, reflects negatively on your professionalism, not on the employer you’re talking about.

Don’t Be Desperate

You may be desperate to land a job. I hear it all the time from people contacting me about finding ways to work at home. They need money, badly.

That’s not the potential employer’s problem. Some might even take advantage and offer you a lower rate of pay than they might otherwise because they know they have the upper hand.

Any situation that isn’t relevant to that employer is something you shouldn’t share. That goes double if it makes you sound desperate for a job. Needing a job badly won’t make them more interested in you as a candidate. It might make them consider paying you less if they decide to hire you.

Hunting for a job always means sharing some personal information. Someone offering you a job (not a business opportunity) without wanting to know about your work history probably doesn’t have a real job to offer you. Make sure you know what the appropriate limits are, and if it feels wrong to share a particular piece of information, find out if it’s really necessary to share it.

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.

February 27th, 2018

20 Ways To Get Ideas For A Blog Post

20 Ways to Get Ideas For a Blog Post

Writing content for your website is difficult at times. Sure, there are days where the ideas just flow, but other times you can sit and stare at your monitor trying to come up with something to say. That’s just the life of a writer. Here are some ways to get ideas for a blog post that you may not have considered lately.

1. Comments From Your Social Media Pages

Did a recent post generate discussion on your social media pages? Take off from that and cover whatever new angles the comments brought up. Give credit where credit is due, but take the ideas further.

2. Respond To Someone Else’s Articles

Sometimes the stuff you read elsewhere can inspire you. Don’t limit yourself to commenting on their websites; consider whether or not an article on your own site makes for a better response. Make sure you link back to the article that inspired you. They get a link, you get inspiration for more content on your site. Do it right and there’s some serious mutual benefit.

3. Refresh Old Content

Your old posts may still be good stuff, but often enough there’s something more you can add to it or update. Little changes make a big difference. It’s also a great way to bring up a familiar to you topic to new readers who may not be aware of it.

As a matter of fact, this post is an updated old post from 2012. I went through my archives to look for posts that were good, but outdated. I made some changes in recommendations and added new information.

The other advantage to this is that the post has probably already been indexed, and depending on how old it is, may even have some social media activity on it. The search engines love seeing updated posts – it shows that you aren’t neglecting the older content on your site.

4. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

If people email you a lot of questions or post a lot of questions in your comments, you probably have some you see over and over again. Write up a good blog post. You may be able to write an entire post on a single question or cover a bunch of them in one shot, depending on how much detail is required.

Around here, I often get people asking how they can find a work at home job. As that’s usually all the information they give me, I send them to my blog post, How Do You Get Started Working From Home? That usually gets them off to a good start. That post itself was updated from its original version and has had links to relevant newer posts added since then.

5. Read Related Forums

Posting on relevant forums with a signature line can be good marketing, but it can also help you get ideas for your blog. Look at what people need from the forum. What do they talk about? If it’s relevant there, you can probably work it into a blog post.

If the forum permits links, you may be able to refer to your post when answering questions. Even if you can’t, odds are that similar questions are being searched for on Google and such.

6. Check Your Analytics

How do people find your website? The search phrases people use can tell you a lot about what people want from your site. Write more about those subjects.

Google Analytics is what I use. You can use whatever analytics your hosting company gives you, but I like Google Analytics better. It’s very detailed and free to use. It will take some time to learn to take good advantage of some features, but it’s worth it.

7. Check Relevant Hashtags

Twitter hashtags are great for finding out what people think is relevant to what you do. Keep an eye on what’s getting tagged as relevant and figure out how to use it.

You can use a hashtag generator to come up with hashtags if you aren’t sure what to use. There are quite a few out there. I keep a list of my favorites for various topics so that I don’t have to keep generating them. It’s a long list so that I can use a variety.

8. Do Keyword Research

You don’t have to have a fancy tool like Market Samurai (although I love it!) to do keyword research for your blog posts. I recently learned about Answer the Public, which gives an amazing amount of information to queries. Put in the keywords and see what happens.

If you get more ideas than you can use right now, great! Make a list and you’ll have blog post inspiration for a while. Who doesn’t need extra ideas?

9. Use A Blog Title Generator

If you have a keyword for your post, but don’t quite know what to do with it, a blog title generator can be surprisingly helpful. They mostly use the same basic titles over and over, but the good ones have a long enough list that it isn’t a huge problem.

I’ll usually change the title somewhat from what the generator gives me. Every here and there, I’ll be going through the list and realize that it has given me a great angle on a topic.

10. Compile Great Information On A Topic

Your posts, someone else’s posts, whatever makes the list useful. Linking out to other sites can be good for your site, and linking to your own information can help your readers find information they didn’t know you offered. A well compiled post can itself be a great resource for your readers.

If you want to do this regularly, consider joining a roundup post group on Facebook. People post about the kind of roundup posts they want to do, and other members share their relevant links. It can save you a lot of research, and you can usually get information to use an image from their posts if you need to.

11. Ask Your Readers What They Need

The people who know best what they’d like to hear from you are your readers. Ask them in your blog, on your Facebook page, your Twitter stream or wherever else, what they wish you’d blog about. Some days it’s much easier to get ideas for a blog post from your readers than to come up with one on your own.

12. Make A How Not To Post

How to posts are common. Have a little fun and make a how not to post. I did this some time back with my how to fall for a work at home scam post some time back – most posts are about how to avoid falling for work at home scams, so I twisted that around just a little bit for the fun of it.

13. Share Your Milestones

Have you reached a great milestone in your business? It can be as simple as an anniversary or as big as reaching a certain goal.

Readers love hearing about success. This is why so many bloggers do monthly income reports. They get attention.

14. Discuss A Myth

Most industries have their myths, such as the notion that running a home business is always ridiculously easy, what with the fancy house and cars. Discuss a myth relevant to your site and explain why it just isn’t true.

I wrote my 12 Blogging Myths You Can Ignore post a while back, for example. No matter your niche, there are probably a lot of myths.

15. Check Pinterest

What relevant pins are trending in your industry? This works better for some subjects than others, but can have great potential, especially if your take on it is highly pinnable.

Don’t copy what the established posts are saying – come up with your own perspective, and give credit where credit is due. You have to stand out with new information if you want to get anywhere.

16. Share Photos And Other Images

People love to share photos. That’s why Instagram is so popular, as well as the other visual social media sites. If you have a great photo, make a blog post around it. Use it to illustrate a point.

The best photos are ones you’ve taken yourself – you don’t have to worry about having the rights to it. Next are Creative Commons Zero photos, and there are a number of sites where you can find these. Whatever you do, make sure that you have the right to use the photos, both on your site and on social media. Getting this wrong will make your life difficult eventually and may get expensive.

17. Make An Infographic

A good infographic is hard to make, but can be utterly worthwhile. Share some great information in an infographic and make sure it’s easy to share. Include code for those who want to embed it on their own site.

Coming up with a good infographic can be difficult. Design can be challenging, but tools such as Canva and Picktochart can make it a little easier.

18. Use Quora

Quora is a wonderful place to discover what people want to know and get ideas for a blog post. You don’t have to answer questions on the site itself – if someone’s asking there, odds are people are wondering the same thing elsewhere and using a search engine to find the answer.

That said, answering questions on Quora can also be a good way to generate traffic. Keep your answers relevant, and don’t just say “check out this post” – give solid information so that people want to go to your site for more information. It’s a good way to become a trusted resource.

19. Check Current News

Is there anything happening in current news that you can relate to your subject? Be sensitive to what’s going on, but relating to news stories can bring in a lot of visitors. Consider how a particular bit of news will impact your readers or your business, for example. Done right, this can bring in a lot of traffic.

This can backfire if you aren’t sensitive, of course. People will view you and your business more negatively if you seem to be taking advantage of a tragedy.

20. Use Videos

Make your own video or embed a relevant one from YouTube and discuss it in your blog post. You don’t have to have a perfect setup to record something all your own to make use of video. Just find something and include it in an article. Making your own is most effective, of course, but it’s not for everyone.

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.

February 26th, 2018

How Safe Are Work At Home Jobs?

How Safe Are Work At Home Jobs?

Being scammed is one of the big fears of every work at home job seekers. If you’ve done any research at all about working at home, you know that it’s a real concern. But the question is, how concerned should you be? How can you find safe work at home jobs?

In part, this depends on how you look for a work at home job. If you use the right resources, it’s fairly safe. The wrong ones, pretty risky. No matter how you look for a work at home job, there are things you can do to make your work at home job search safer.

Know The Signs Of A Work At Home Scam

The most important thing you need to know when looking for a work at home job is what the signs of a scam are. Knowing this will help you avoid them.

This will help you even if a scammer is using the name of a legitimate company to fool you. It happens – in fact, some companies that offer work at home jobs have warnings about this on their sites because it’s such a problem.

Your classic work at home scam will offer too much money for too little work. That’s the essential basis for scams such as the check cashing scam. They send you a check or money order for hundreds or thousands of dollars, tell you to keep a couple hundred for yourself and wire the rest back to them. It works on some people because they get greedy. The idea that you can earn hundreds for a half hour’s work, including driving, is pretty appealing to many people.

Poor grammar and lots of typos are often indicative of scams. Many come from people who do not speak English as their native language, so when they try to scam someone who speaks English, it’s not written the same way a native speaker would write it. It may also help to weed out those who are too aware, as the ones who dismiss the scam due to how it’s written may be too likely to see through it. Scams prey on the unwary.

I’ve written quite a bit about work at home scam on other occasions. Read these for more detailed information.

The Work at Home Job Seeker’s Guide to Scams
How to Spot a Work at Home Scam
4 Work at Home Scam Emails
What If The Work At Home Job Is Legitimate But Illegal Or Unethical?
The Check Cashing Scam Is Still Around

Know The Kind Of Work At Home Job You’re Looking For

It’s much easier to fall for a work at home scam if you have no idea what kind of work you’re looking for. This is because generic terms such as “work at home” are used to attract you even when you don’t have a type of job in mind.

I see so many people do this. They ask for help to find a work at home job, with no information beyond that because they haven’t thought that far. They want the advantages of working at home but haven’t truly considered it beyond that.

Know what you’re looking for. Are you open to a home business, starting a blog, etc., or do you only want a work at home job? What kind of job do you want? Do you have work experience? What skills, even if you haven’t used them in a job?

Being specific allows you to narrow down your search quickly. That’s vital for a safe work at home job hunt. It won’t guarantee that you avoid all the scams, but it helps.

Use Trusted Resources

Perhaps the best way to have a safe work at home job hunt is to use trusted resources to find a work at home job. I aim to have this blog and my remote job board be that kind of a resource.

If you aren’t certain about the kind of jobs you’re looking to do at home, for example, you can try my list of entry level remote jobs or my list of remote jobs with benefits. Either will give you a good number of places to start your search.

Even trusted resources can fail you. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone through my list of companies to find out that one or another has gone out of business since I last checked. That puts the company’s domain at risk for being used by scammers. Things change fast on the internet sometimes, and it’s not always for the better. This is why you must always use caution in your job hunt.

Use Caution With Your Personal Information

Always be careful when sharing your personal information online, especially your Social Security number, credit card number, or bank information.

Some legitimate companies have been known to ask for your Social Security number during the application process. I recommend trying not to share that until you’ve been offered a job – they don’t need that information until then.

Some companies will ask for credit card information to pay for a background check. I’ve never liked the notion of potential employees paying for a background check, but that’s how some companies do it. Be very, very certain that they’re legitimate before taking a chance on this.

Companies shouldn’t need any banking information until they’re paying you, and so that should never be shared in an application.

Anyone who is too eager to get your personal information too quickly should be eyed with caution. It might be normal for their particular business, but it’s not a good idea for you to go along with it too easily.

Places You Shouldn’t Look For A Work At Home Job

There are some places that are very high risk in your work at home job hunt. I would recommend avoiding these in general.

Street Signs & Public Bulletin Boards – You’ve probably seen the signs on the street or on bulletin boards advertising work at home or easy money opportunities. These are almost certainly scams. You may get the occasional person trying to recruit their downline for a network marketing company (a risk of a different sort), but many others are flat out scams.

Newspapers – Job offerings in newspapers can be legit, but how many people actually look in newspapers for jobs anymore? The scams that get posted in newspaper ads are looking for people who aren’t that savvy. You’re better off using your trusted online sources so that you can do research on the jobs you find during your search.

Newspapers are also too localized to be much good for work at home jobs. You might find one or two, but you can find so many more if you search online.

Comment Spam – How often have you seen spam comments on blog posts, forums, and social media advertising easy money earned from home? They aren’t honest. Usually, they just tell you to post ads of the same sort and make money on commissions. That’s not an honest model.

Craigslist – There are legitimate work at home jobs posted on Craigslist, but there are also scams. The community can flag the postings to shut them down, but they may still be up for a while. You’ll also find business opportunities claiming to be job opportunities. I’ve always hated that sort of deception, but people use it.

Can The Better Business Bureau Help You Find Safe Work At Home Jobs?

Many people will tell you to check with the Better Business Bureau when looking for work at home jobs. I’ve done so in the past, but these days I think there are better ways to figure out if a work at home job opportunity is, in fact, a scam.

Many people don’t realize that the Better Business Bureau is not a government agency. They are themselves a business. Companies pay to be members.

That said, sometimes you can use them to spot a scam. Just don’t use them as your only source, because they can’t tell you if someone is using the good name of a real company to scam you. They’re only helpful if scamming potential employees is all the business seems to do.

Know The Risks Of Home Business Opportunities

If you decide that your work at home job hunt is going to end with a home business opportunity of whatever sort, know what the risks are before you join.

Network marketing opportunities, for examples, are highly appealing to people who desperately need to earn money from home. Promoters can always point to the people who have earned a ton of money from the opportunity. You can usually check out the product before you join so that you know it’s something you’d like to do.

What often gets swept under the carpet is how many people lose money on these opportunities. Some people will lose thousands of dollars trying to keep up a good supply of products to sell. Most people who join even the best of the network marketing opportunities do not thrive at it. Others do very well, but it’s a risk you must be willing to take.

The same goes for blogging, much as I love it. You always hear about the people making five figures or more a month blogging. It sounds wonderful.

From what I’ve heard, most bloggers earn less than $100 a month. Is that a chance you’re willing to take?

The great part about blogging is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything. If you decide you want to blog, I recommend spending a little on it, as good hosting and domain name aren’t free, but they are cheap. The risk is pretty low, and you don’t have to spend more until you’re ready to take that chance. Choose the right topic, and blogging is fun, regardless of the money made. I strongly recommend trying to earn money from your blog, just because it’s so awesome when it works, so long as you don’t overspend trying to make it happen.

Be careful of blogging courses and such. Many high income bloggers have them, and income from selling their courses may be a significant part of their income. Taking their course doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do equally well. The right course might just be a wise investment. The wrong one will be a waste.

The same goes for any other home business opportunity. Know the risks before you risk too much money. There are times when spending money is the best path to improving your home business. Other times it’s no better than a scam aimed at home business owners.

Safe Work At Home Jobs Can Be Found

If you give your job hunt time and don’t give in to desperation, safe work at home jobs can be found. Take the time to look over every opportunity carefully so that you know what you’re getting into before you share your personal information or spend any money. Do it right, and you’ll avoid most scams with ease.

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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