Most of us are pretty smart in our day to day lives. We don’t go plunging into just anything without thinking about it first. Yet too many people do exactly that when they decide to work at home. They plunge into the first opportunity that makes the promises they most want to hear, without really looking at what they’ll really have to do, or if the opportunity is legitimate at all.

It’s the blindness of desperation, I think. We want to do something from home, to contribute to our families as earners as well as mothers (or fathers). That desperation leads to some very hasty, poor decisions.

This is why I consider research the first step to working at home. If you want to work at home successfully, you need to take action. Taking action doesn’t really mean pick something and get started, however. It should first mean figuring out what you want to do.

The Common Questions I Hear

Take the typical person who contacts me saying they want to work at home. That’s all they know, they want to work at home.

Folks, that’s not nearly enough information for me to say much to you. You need to know what it is you want to do.

Then there’s the second group, who says they know they want to earn money from home doing data entry. They’ve heard there’s good money in it, and they want to get started.

We’re slightly better off here, but not much. Most of what people hear of as data entry is either a scam or pay per click affiliate marketing. There are companies that pay people to do their data entry, but not many, and the pay is not what most of these people seem to think they should be getting, because they’ve read too many scams.

Generally speaking, neither of these groups quite knows how to get started. Most are very worried about being scammed, because even if you know nothing else about working at home, you’ve probably heard from every family member you’ve mentioned it to that they’re “all scams.” That’s just how the average person sees it.

What Are You Good At and Interested In?

I always tell people to start looking at what they’re good at and what they’re interested in. These two areas can help you figure out which home businesses or jobs you should be looking at.

When it comes to home business, there’s a reason why people say “follow your passion.” It helps. It really, really does.

Home businesses are hard to get started. You probably won’t be the success story you read about on whichever website, where you started earning 6 figures after just 3 months of effort. Those are the exceptions, not the rule.

You have to have the passion to keep going when it’s costing you more money to run your business than you’re earning from it. The passion to work late nights and/or early mornings just to get things done. The passion to not give up just because you didn’t realize it would be so hard.

You have to have the passion to accept that you need more than just an interest in whatever line of business you’ve decided to go with. You’re going to be learning new skills, such as marketing. You’re going to have to learn to talk about your business and earn people’s interest.

That doesn’t work so well if all you saw was dollar signs. Money is wonderful, and greed a great motivator, but it’s rarely enough.

Enjoying what you do also helps if it’s a work at home job you’re after. It’s bad enough dragging yourself out to a job you hate if that’s the only way you can make a living. You at least have a boss to report to, often face to face during at least some part of your day.

With a work at home job, your boss won’t necessarily notice right off if you’re a bit late (except in some industries), or that you’re working more slowly or with little enthusiasm. There’s a lot of pressure to motivate yourself. You’re pretty easy to replace when you work at home, and so your productivity will be their main measure of you as an employee. Hate what you’re doing and start producing less, and you might not keep that job.

Lack skill in it, and you probably won’t even get the job in the first place. If you do, you’ll be expected to bring those skills up quickly.

Read Up On Your Options

Once you know the kinds of things you’d like to do, start reading up on the various ways you can put your skills to use. If you’re thinking data entry because you have great typing skills, for example, you are not stuck with just a work at home job typing in data from forms people have filled out.

You could consider transcription jobs.

You could look at your other office skills and consider being a virtual assistant, either as your own business or working for a virtual assistant service.

I won’t say you could do pay per click affiliate marketing, because that is NOT data entry. Writing good ads is an entirely different skill. It’s one you may have, but nonetheless it’s not really data entry. If that’s what you want to do, I suggest skipping the entire data entry job hunt and reading Perry Marshall’s AdWords Guide instead. You’ll be better off.

Doing your research may seem like the long way to go at times. You’re probably eager to get started. But if doing some research cuts out the time and money you would have wasted on scams, you’re ahead of the game.

Don’t Overdo

You can keep reading and researching and learning until you suddenly realize it’s been a year, two years, and you haven’t even started anything. You’re too busy learning about the work you’d like to do to take action.

There’s a balance here. Once you have the information you need, you should get started, even though there’s more to learn.

There’s always more to learn. I’m still learning and I’ve been at this since 2003.

You need enough information to make a good choice and to get things started. Not much more than that, at first. Just be sure to include time for learning in your routine, and you’ll pick up the rest as you go along.