My work from home journey has been a long and interesting one. Back when I started looking for work from home, I had been working part-time at a clothing store. However, I wasn’t making a lot at that job – most of what I was making was getting eaten up by the cost of transportation.
So I started looking for work from home, and found my first LEGITIMATE work from home job with West Telemarketing in the fall of 2003.
When I first started, I was taking calls for the Home Shopping Network, and then later I had the chance to add the Direct Response and Pizza Hut lines. I loved working for West Telemarketing – I was making better money than what I had been making previously at my part-time job at the clothing store – and I didn’t have to leave my house to go to work, which saved a ton of money on cab fare.
After 8 months with West, my contract was terminated with no reason given – luckily though, I had started the process of applying for a job with another company, Onsite Sourcing, and that same day I got an email from them saying that I could start working.
Onsite Sourcing was a refreshing change from West because it was data entry work, rather than phone work, and also because they withheld taxes – back when I worked for West, I worked as an independent contractor.
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Though the work with Onsite was plentiful in the beginning, it quickly became scarce, so I had to find other work from home jobs that would provide me with a more stable income. That lead me to working for Sterling Testing Systems making outbound calls to verify education, employment and personal references.
I thoroughly enjoyed that job and worked there full-time for 3 years. I ended up losing that job though, because they started outsourcing all their work to their team of verifiers in India. From there , I was able to find other work from home opportunities – since then I worked for Onpoint, Westat, and Babytobee just to name a few. Plus, I’ve found a lot of extra income eggs – some of them I’ve covered in other posts, like Scribie and Mturk, and others have been covered in posts that Miranda has written.
In addition to these sources of income, I had my first opportunity to work on a freelance job for a private client I found on Elance in 2008 – I called the 800 numbers for different companies, went through their phone trees and put them in a spreadsheet, which I then sent to the client so he could put them on a website. I considered this a form of general transcription, and that got me started doing some general transcription, and also sparked my interest in wanting to learn medical transcription.
After looking around at different programs, I found a program with Penn Foster that I could do from home, and that was affordable.
It took me a little over a year to complete the program, but I completed it in 2010. One thing I forgot though is how difficult it is to get into a new field without experience – while many companies hire medical transcriptionists to work from home, most of them require experience. Some will waive the requirement if you completed your training through a certain school (usually Careerstep, which is a much more expensive program), but other than that, most work from home medical transcription companies require at least one year of experience. So, though I’ve done some general transcription, as well as a good bit of freelance writing, I still rely mostly on telephone work for the majority of my income.
I agree with Miranda that technology has changed a lot since I started working from home. When I first started working from home, flip phones were everywhere – while I still see a lot of people with flip phones, smartphones are a lot more prevalent now.
I’ve also noticed a lot of work at home companies taking advantage of technology in different ways – the biggest one I can think of is text messaging. Some of the question and answer companies are set up so that you can text your question to them, rather than just sending them through their website.
In addition, I’m occasionally able to get some extra time in with Apptical by going on “pings,” – having an email or text message sent letting me know that there’s a certain amount of wait time in the queue so that I can get on and help out when I have extra time.
My work from home road has been a winding one, just like Miranda’s, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve met a lot of great people on this journey and gotten a lot of experience doing different types of phone work. I’ll be interested to see where the journey takes me next…
Erica Martin is a regular contributor to WAHA and has a wide variety of experience within the home based world. If you would like to know more about the home based jobs Erica has experience with, check out her personal site depicting her personal Work at Home Journey.