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Donna M - Edit Profile

United States

I Have been involved with the work at home industry for over 10 years. I have worked and tried many work at home careers and know quit a lot about them. Actually I guess I reached the goal of what most work at home searches look for. I am currently a salaried employee for a corporation located in Florida but I telecommute from my home in California and have done this for the past 5 years. If you have a question about working at home please ask.

Even though I like my job I am always looking for new things. I am currently investigating online work at home offering and am very involved in SEO and how to get traffic to a site. I think of it as a game to take a website and bring to the 1st pages of searches. I do believe that if one puts effort into something that most anything can be achieved. so with this thought I have begun investigation different online programs and actually working them to see what the results are hopefully within the next few months I will be able to give a review of the programs on my website ( which is not up yet) the work at home sleuth.
Donna M | VBelladonnaV

Working From Home for The Beginner

Jul 26th 2010 at 3:32 PM

So you’ve decided that you want to work at home and have started your search for the perfect job. After entering the key phrase “work at home” in the search engine you are bombarded with hundreds of sites, blogs and articles, all claiming to have the answer that you seek. Confronted with this overwhelming barrage of choices a beginner may easily become confused at just where to start.

So, where does a beginner start? Well, it helps to first understand the classification of certain work found on the internet prior to investigating particular industries. There are basically four types of classifications that you will find in your search.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
Many times when you are looking for work at home employment you will come across varied companies that advertise you can work at home with their program, although true you can work at home with their program, the wording that these companies sometimes use can be ambiguous, and can lead a beginner to mistake the offered business opportunity as a traditional employer/employee job, which it is definitely not.

Instead what you are being offered is an opportunity to work for yourself. In most cases you will usually either be selling products or some kind of services, which you will be paid a certain commission on. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, and many people do well in this type of field you need to understand that you will not receive a weekly paycheck and it may take time before you see a steady flow of income.

Another problem that beginners may run into with business opportunities is not keeping adequate records for tax purposes and forgetting that the commissions they earned throughout the year did not have any withholding taken from their checks, so come tax time they are surprised to be looking at a very hefty tax bill and no documentation to use to help write off some of the liability.

With business opportunities the companies do not withhold any Federal, State, Social Security or Medicare taxes which will leave you responsible for paying them at the end of the year. Some companies will send what is called a form 1099 at the end of the year which will list your earnings and can help if you did not keep those records, but it will not help in reducing the amount owed. If you did not keep receipts or records for your expenses to use for write offs then the only thing left is to learn from experience and pay your tax bill.

Unfortunately some companies do not send a 1099 and you will have to file based upon your records. If you didn’t keep records then you are guessing at your earnings, meanwhile the company that wrote your commission checks is reporting what they paid you to the IRS, and any large discrepancy between what you report and what the company reports can open you up to get…Audited. This is why record keeping is so vitally important.

If you are unsure what a company is offering, employment or business opportunity here are some things that can alert you to what is being offered. With business opportunities there usually will be an initial investment that you pay prior to starting. The costs can range from ten dollars to several thousand depending on the business. Don’t be fooled by a low cost start up investment, many times there can be additional items you will need to purchase along the way. So investigate thoroughly. Read everything; understand exactly what you will be selling, what the total cost of the product or service is, what your commission or fee will be and how you will be paid, make sure you are aware of any possible hidden fees.

If you’re not sure whether the opportunity is right for you ask yourself, if you were being presented this product or service by someone else would you buy it? If your answer is no, then ask yourself why? If your reasons have anything to do with price, quality or trust, then perhaps you need to continue your search. If you already feel this way about the product or service, how will you consciously and convincingly sell anyone else on a product or service you don’t believe in or trust?

FREELANCING
With freelancing you will also be working for yourself, the difference is that you will work for many different companies or individuals instead of just one. Freelancing jobs can include, administration work, writing, editing, answering phones, clerical work, website design, graphic arts and many others. In most cases you will work on a per job basis or per piece basis for a fee that you have negotiated with your client.

There should not be any upfront fees from clients, companies, or websites. Be wary of any individual or company that asks you for upfront fees for training or equipment. In the case of training most reputable companies may ask that you go through and pass their training course, without pay, prior to working for them. This is fine if you care to take your own personal time to do so.

Equipment may be required to do certain jobs and companies can ask that you already have the required instruments. If you don’t, then it will be up to you if you choose to purchase the equipment from a retail establishment of your choosing.If a company requires certain equipment, especially products that can obviously be purchased at any local office supply store, but the company insists you purchase from them at exaggerated prices before you can work, think twice or thrice before pulling out your credit card.

If the equipment is specialized most up front companies will supply it to you free of charge, but you will have to sign a contract stating that upon completion of the job that you will return it in proper working order within a certain number of days. If the equipment is not returned in a timely fashion or is returned broken then you will be held libel for the cost of replacing the supplied equipment at the stated cost in the contract.

In some case companies may require a reasonable deposit for specialized equipment. In this case take in consideration the reputation of the company, the cost of the type of equipment that they are supplying and what’s in the contract prior to submitting the deposit.

Other fees that you may pay at your discretion are monthly or yearly membership dues to freelance boards such as Elance. As with the business opportunities again you will be responsible for keeping records of your earnings and expenses for tax purposes.

Many people make a good living freelancing. If this type of work is what you are interested in your best bet is to first start with a freelancing board that has a good reputation. These boards do allow some protection in that you will be able to gauge the client’s honesty and integrity by their listed points or reputation on the board. Boards are also good if you are first starting out.It allows you to gain not only experience, but you can create your own positive reputation by supplying quality and timely work. As with everything it is always a good idea to use discretion before giving out any personal information.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR
Many companies will use what is called Independent contractors. Most of the time an Independent contractor can resemble the traditional employer/employee relationship, you can either be paid on per job basis or may receive an hourly wage, You will fill out an application for the job, give past employer information and supply your social security number.

The difference is that once your services have been retained you will also sign a waiver explaining that you have been hired as an independent contractor and no taxes will be withheld on your checks. You will also not receive health coverage, vacations or other benefits. You will also not be eligible for workers compensation if something should happen on the job, and you will not be eligible for unemployment once your contract with the company ends.

Jobs range from call centers, virtual assistant, mystery shoppers, merchandisers and many others. Generally as an independent contractor you have more freedom than the traditional employer/employee relationship. You will be able to either accept or decline assignment or have the added ability to set the hours you care to work.

Same rule applies here as in freelancing, you should not have to pay for training or overpriced supplies prior to working. Again I want to stress, be careful to whom you give information. Do your research.

EMPLOYEE
This is your traditional employer/employee relationship. Just because it may be found via the internet doesn’t mean it’s any different than working at the office down the street. You will fill out an application, provide previous work experience, social security number and since they haven’t seen you in person you will more than likely have a background, criminal and possible credit check done on you. Of course the company should advise you if this is their policy. These checks should not be done without your knowledge or consent. Just like a brick and mortar job you will have deductions withheld from your check.

Working at home in an employer/employee relationship is no different than a regular job. There are some people that think if they work at home as an employee receiving a salary that their time is their own and they can work whenever they want to. Although there maybe some exceptions the majority of the time this is not true.

You will be required to abide by company rules and regulations, work certain times and certain days, meet job performance expectations and perform work on the scheduled days and times agreed upon. Your performance will be reviewed and you may have to pass a probationary period. It’s all pretty much the same as a regular job, just without the morning and afternoon commute. Hate to burst anyone’s bubble but there is no work at home job where you can sit around all day, watch T.V and sleep while earning a weekly salary. I’ve never found it and if you have, please let me know.

If a company is asking for upfront fees to work this is not an Employer/Employee relationship and you should review the offer thoroughly.

You should not have to pay to work as an employee, They should pay you!

With all the classifications above please do your research on the opportunity offered before getting involved or sending money or personal information to them. Unfortunately there are many scams that people fall victim to unnecessarily and with just a little research it could have been avoided and less costly. Some things you can do to better protect yourself from the scammers:

Check with the Better Business Bureau@http://www.bbb.org look up the company - it’s easy to do.

Check and see if the company has a working phone number – Most reputable companies should have a phone number to contact them.

Check to see if the company has a street address – Although having a PO Box is not an indication that the company is dishonest, but having a PO Box with no working phone number should raise a red flag.

Check the website by doing a Whois search – Is the website registration private? Again having a private registration does not necessarily mean that the company is a scam but if the company has a private registration, no working contact phone number and no street address then ...THIS IS A MAJOR RED FLAG!

Do a Google search on the company and look for reviews (I have found much useful information this way.)

Last but not Least and Most Importantly!

IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT PROBABLY IS!

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