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Dear Electra,

Would you be able to give me any information on where to find out if there are any jobs doing data entry/word processing from my home computer? Are there any specific places where I should start looking? Please send me any information that could be helpful for what I'm looking for.

Working at Home

There are at least two ways to approach working at home:

  1. Working at home as an employee of a business.
  2. Working at home as an independent contractor with one or more businesses.

1. Working at home as an employee of a business.

This is probably the most difficult option if you are not already an employee of the company. Most companies offer home-based positions only to their most valuable and productive employees. You pretty much have to be on the inside first to both prove yourself and prove that your job can be done well (if not better) from home.

"At home" positions, in most businesses, are a perk rather than an essential part of the job description. "At home" positions are also so desireable that an employer rarely has to look far to find someone willing to do the job--chances are a current employee will snap it up on the spot. Because of these two factors, you won't find positions advertised with the "work at home" option included.

Probably the best way to get hired as an "at home" employee is to find a company that really really wants you and then, when the job offer is made, negotiate this as a requirement for joining the company. Many employers won't go for it...but you might find one that will.

The advantage of being an employee, though your work site is home, is that you can expect health benefits and other perks offered to regular employees.

Insider Reports offers a very useful article, "Is Telecommuting for You?" with telecommuting resources & tips on convincing your new boss to consider a telecommuting arrangement.]
Because this option seems PERFECT to millions of folks who want to work at home (benefits, a bit of security and an at-home job), you'll have to be careful. Ever see those ads: "Make hundreds of dollars a week stuffing envelopes at home?" Sounds wonderful! Next thing you know, you've spent a hundred dollars for an "Exclusive Guide to Money-Making Opportunities." SOMEONE made a hundred dollars...but it wasn't you. [See the Better Business Bureau's Work at Home Schemes for a run-down of the most common scams.]

Electra can't vouch for any of these sites, but you may want to take a look. Beware of wild promises and big checks (yours.):

Yahoo! - Business and Economy: Employment: Telecommuting

2. Working at home as an independent contractor with one or more businesses.

[To learn more about Independent Contractors, see Electra's answer to Contractor or Employee?]

Once you've established that being an independent contractor is for you, your next question is going to be:

How do I find potential customers? (Remember, they are customers NOT employers.)

Here's where you start constructing your marketing plan!

Do you have skills or experience that make you more valuable to one kind of business than another? For example, which databases do you know and have on your computer at home? What kinds of companies use these databases? Are they used for mailing lists? (Think about mail order companies, direct mail marketers, publishers of newsletters, etc.) Are they used for inventory? (Think about businesses that need to have paper-based inventory information entered into the database.)

You'll have to focus and target the best companies for YOU. This will take networking (contacting people to find out about their needs) and research. Take a look at JobStar's Hidden Job Market. You're going to work through the Step-by-Step Hidden Job Market to find companies that will CONTRACT with you (instead of hiring you.)

The great thing about being connected to the Internet is that your customers don't HAVE to be located near you. You can communicate via e-mail, send files to your customer or post directly to a ftp site.

The bad thing is you have to learn how to SELL, line up customers, price jobs, negotiate deliverables and make contacts with people who can help you get contracts. So there is a fair learning curve involved.

Some websites that might help you get started:

The websites listed in JobStar's Contractor or Employee?

Making Your Case for Telecommuting: How to Convince the Boss
A step-by-step plan for making a telecommuting proposal from Katherine Hansen of

SOHO Online--Resources for Small Office/Home Office Entrepreneurs
Features books, articles and discussions for the smallest business.

SBA - Manage your business from start to finish
Guidelines, resources and a wealth of information from the Small Business Administration.

Home Based Business
Guides to start up, taxes, business liccenses, marketing and management from Entrepreneur Magazine.


Page last updated: 11:06 AM on 5/22/09