5 Ways to Make Extra Money at Home

Technology has always been an integral part of how our generation communicates — from dial-up AOL profiles and instant messaging, to invented short-hand lingo and, well, Facebook. (Remember when Facebook was just for college students? Ah, simpler times.) We are the people who popularized and normalized this stuff, and now that we're (ahem) grown ups, that technological influence is following us right into the work force.

We hear a lot about "the myth of having it all" — the struggle to thrive in your career, or just make ends meet, and also be there for your family. And although our lives might feel more hectic and complicated than in generations past, we also have new, budding, ever-expanding avenues for money. Again, circling back to technology.

I made a full-fledged career out of something that didn't exist 10 years ago — or at least wasn't very lucrative: online media and blogging. Those of us in a creative and/or computer-driven industry have much more flexibility (quite literally) at our fingertips — but it goes beyond full-time careers. There's now more opportunities for stay-at-home parents to work from their house, if only for some extra spending cash.

In the coming weeks, I'd like to talk more in-depth about the realities of starting a work-from-home career (using my own experiences, plus advice from other "early mamas" who took this route), but first let's look at some basic, reputable ways you can make extra money from home:

 

Etsy.com

Pretty much everyone knows about Etsy, right? A booming hub for the most creative people: the crafters, the bakers, the candlestick makers. You can start your own shop within the Etsy community — either handmade items or even vintage finds — and make money via Pay Pal. And considering so many blogs and even big magazine gift guides look to Etsy for unique shopping choices, there's some serious success to be had. Some Etsy shops eventually break out into their own small business — either with storefronts or just their own Web sites — and some eventually use their shops to fully support their families. (I've interviewed countless successful "Etsy parents" for Babble.com each year, and the vast majority have the same "I needed to find a creative outlet/more flexible work schedule..." story line.)

For those getting started, Etsy has a "Seller Handbook" section on their blog, which has regular "Quit Your Day Job" features (which interviews the most successful Etsy shops for their tips and tricks), and general how-to advice.

 

Elance.com

I've never used Elance.com myself, but I've known a few writers who snagged temp jobs through the site. And it's not just writers — Elance has freelance opportunities for graphic designers, marketers, accountants, programmers, administrators, and other independent contractors. Most of the work is for those with technical skills, but it's worth a look.

There are other freelance outlets too: WAHM.com, Yahoo! Voices, and ProBlogger.

 

Ed2010.com/MediaBistro

This is for the writers in the group. Ed2010.com is more geared for those looking for internships/editorial jobs in NYC, but there are some remote freelance opportunities from time to time. They also give basic magazine-writing/working advice, plus the contact information for magazine employees, which is a good resource for pitching articles.

The most comprehensive freelance job database for real, quality gigs is definitely found on MediaBistro — but again, a lot of them happen to be NYC-based. The downside with MediaBistro is that there's a yearly membership fee, which might not be worth it for those just looking for a work-from-home side job. But they do have helpful articles on how to pitch to specific magazines — although I'm planning an upcoming post about pitching article ideas (considering I get dozens of emails about this each month).

 

Beauty Company Rep

Although this isn't exactly a new concept, social media has expanded the scope and, in many cases, the success of beauty reps (like Avon, Mary Kay and Arbonne). I know nothing about this from a personal level, except that it seems a charismatic, outgoing, I'll-talk-to-anyone type of attitude helps in this business.

The reason I included this is because I have two stay-at-home "early mama" friends who recently started with Arbonne and love it. One friend does this as a flexible way to make a little extra cash (and have some adult interaction) along with her three other part-time gigs (she works in a local mommy-friendly boutique a couple of days a week, and she's a part-time nanny for two families). My other friend is more gung-ho about climbing through the ranks, and she's actually done impressively well in such a short amount of time — especially considering she's still able to stay home with her toddler. They both love working for the company for different reasons — although the mom-friendly culture is the biggest perk for both of them.

You can read more about Arbonne, or you can just stay tuned here, because I want those friends to talk more in-depth about why this could be a good path for other "early mamas" like yourself.

 

Tutor.com

If you have a college degree (or in some cases, if you're working towards a college degree) — and especially if you're taking time off from being a teacher — this could be a fantastic way to make some cash from home. Again, I don't know much about Tutor.com from a personal stand-point, but it's a reputable company with plenty of opportunities for those with certain skill sets. According to their FAQ section, tutors are paid monthly based on how many hours they tutor (expect $10 - $14 per hour), and their "most active Chemistry tutors earn anywhere from $800 to $1600 a month," with opportunities for bonuses and performance incentives. All of the tutoring is done over the computer (meaning you can be on your couch, in your PJs), and whenever you're available.

You do have to take extensive exams and pass a background check, so it seems legit.

 

TaskRabbit.com

 This is SO FREAKING COOL, you guys. You can basically make cash by doing errands and busy-work for people — everything from house chores to grocery delivery to skilled electrical work. Seriously, everything. Like Tutor.com, you'll have to go through some extensive testing (not to make sure that you're smart, just sane and reliable) and you can work around your schedule. The only downside is that it probably works better in a bigger city, where more people are requesting tasks (although you can give it a shot). It's also not a reliable, steady source of income — although it could be a quick, easy way to put some cash in your pocket.

 

Do you have any other tips for us Early Mamas? Did you find a flexible work solution that works? Do you have a helpful Web site to share? Spill it.

Oh, and be smart, mamas. Any site that promises $97/hr. working from home is most likely a scam. Stick to reputable companies with reasonable promises.

photo: decor8 via Babble.com