Money & Retire

Could You Really Earn Income At Home?

ZestNow: Many women would love to earn income at home – especially after they’ve left an office or school environment. What sort of work are women over 50 doing at home now?

Jennifer Forest: I can easily think of a several people over 50 I know who have taken their years of experience and their skills to earn a home-based income. For example, using their academic background to become an editor of PhD thesis for candidates, managing projects for government or running a media and public relations business from home. One of my blog subscribers even said that he would have loved a book like Work Women Want when he retired five years ago!

My book Work Women Want was written for mothers who want to earn an income at home. Even though most mothers are in their 20s to 40s, I feel that women over 50 are often struggling with the same issues. Both groups of women usually have a strong reason for seeking more flexible ways of working – often caring responsibilities for children or aged parents. And of course, regardless of what age you are you can trade shares, set up an Etsy store or freelance on oDesk or Elance, just some of the work at home methods in my book.

ZN: What’s the best way to find opportunities?

JF: I feel very strongly that the best way to find opportunities is to build on the existing skills you already have. This can be easier for someone who has qualifications and years of work experience in a profession or trade, but most people have a skill that customers will pay for. Take a skill you used in your working life and turn that into a work at home business.

ZN: Can you give us a few examples of women who are successful at working at home?

JF: Most of the women in my book are successfully working at home – in that they have achieved what they wanted both in terms of money and lifestyle. Some are the sole or main income earners for their family while others have made good, decent money while juggling other responsibilities. The other women who aren’t yet have just started out, but I felt they had valuable lessons to share in this start-up phase. Just three quick examples:

Sarah Stein
Miss Efficiency Bookkeeping

Allison O’Kelly

Kristyn Lenc
Resume-Expert on elance

ZN: What’s a reasonable amount of time per day one should spend on this sort of work? Could one work 3 or 4 hours a day? Every day?

JF: It all depends what you want – do you want a full-time income or a part-time or supplementary income? Diane Gilleland from CraftyPod, who has been a professional blogger for eight years, has said that if you want to make a full-time wage out of blogging you need to give it full-time hours and full-time effort. I think she is so right. That also applies to other money-making activities. You may be able to set up a business that in the medium to long term won’t require your full-time hours or effort but in the short term, in that set-up stage it will.

ZN: Is a monetary investment necessary?

JF: For a lot of work from home businesses you do need to put in some money. Often this is a small amount of money – like paying for blog software or the starter packs as a beginner party planner.

ZN: Can you tell us about your own experience.?

JF: I tried a number of things to work from home, such as starting a tour business and share trading. I really didn’t enjoy either of these, particularly the share trading. (But I do think share trading could work for the right person!) I’ve had the most success in building on my existing professional skills set. I’ve applied the professional skills from my career in government and museums to writing books and doing freelance work in business writing and collections management for different clients.

ZN: I’ve heard there are quite a few ads for work at home that actually turn out to be frauds? What should we watch out for? What are the telltale signs that the offer isn’t legitimate?

JF: I spent a lot of time looking into this for my book. I really wanted to investigate all those ads you see over the internet and in the newspapers. I also talked to the consumer watchdog in my country and did a few little experiments myself. And you know what I decided in the end? Yes, most of those ads are scams. The only thing they want from you is your money. They aren’t offering real jobs or projects to do from home. The top telltale signs to watch out for:

– It all looks too easy. They tell you that you can make lots of money from home without doing much work. I’m afraid the truth is that anything real and honest requires you to put in a decent effort.
– They don’t actually tell you what you have to do. They ask you to just fill in this form and we’ll send you more information. A real honest opportunity tells you right up front what it is exactly you have to do. In this case, they are just looking to get your contact details.
– There’s a false sense of urgency. There might be a clock ticking away at the bottom of the webpage or the language is encouraging you to act now, don’t miss out.

ZN: What special advice would you give to retired women who want to work from home.

JF: While the media focus may be on the young, women over 50 have the advantage of experience. They have years of experience – often a mixture of professional and life experience which lets them judge opportunities from an excellent foundation. When you are young, it is so very easy to jump from one exciting opportunity to the next. As I grow older, I tell myself that now I have experience, and that experience teaches you how to judge opportunities for what they really are.

Jennifer Forest’s new book, Work Women Want: Work at Home or Go Part-Time, is available now.

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