If you’re not interested in the stress and hassle of running out to work every single day, exploring the different options for working-at-home careers may be just right for you. According to a news report from the Office for National Statistics, UK, more than 4.2 million people in the UK prefer working from home than going out to work to a regular job. Among women, the rise in the number of those that prefer working from the comfort of home is pegged at nearly 35% in the last decade. In fact, the trend is not only confined to women; according to statistics, 912,000 men in the UK have opted for working at home compared to standard office jobs. Increasing commuting costs, traffic jams, stress of maintaining your vehicle, parking and toll fees coupled with the responsibilities of home and childcare have made work at home options attractive and feasible. You no longer have to feel stressed about being in two places at the same time.
The evolution of the Internet and communication technologies renders physical location increasingly redundant. We can receive and answer emails from our laptops and Smartphones while sitting at home or in a café. Hence, it’s no longer mandatory to be physically present in an office day in and day out. You have the option of completing reports, preparing presentations, analysing numbers or communicating with vendors/customers etc. right from home. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of employers are offering the option of working from home. As long as you are a reliable and diligent worker and invest effort into achieving work goals, employers are happy to pay you a good salary regardless of where you choose to work from. They are beginning to recognise the value that work-at-home employees are able to bring to their businesses.
This article will describe some of the most lucrative and engaging work from home career options that you may like to consider pursuing.
How to become a Transcriptionist
Transcription refers to the process of listening to an audio file and typing out everything that you can hear. Transcription services are used in several industries including general businesses, legal and medical fields. Transcription often involves listening to court hearings, business meetings, lectures or personal conversations, etc. Transcription requires basic skills such as listening, typing and good English. It also helps if you are a patient person because sometimes audio files are not clear and you may need to play them repeatedly to understand what is being said. You should also be familiar with computer functions such as downloading files, using headphones and so on.
With regard to medical or legal transcription, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the terminology as it’s very important to be accurate when you transcribe an audio file. Transcription is an ideal job to do from home as most companies are usually willing to try beginners. There will usually be a preliminary test and if you pass, they will start you off right away. Most companies will pay anywhere between £10 and £20 per hour. To begin with, you can start with a lower paying company (they will be more likely to take on beginners) just for the sake of practice. Once your transcribing skills improve, you can consider looking out for a better company that pays a better salary.
One more important thing that you should note is that many transcription jobs pay per ‘audio hour’. For example, they may offer you £50 per audio hour. Audio hour is not the same as a standard hour. What this really means is that you will be paid when you have completed transcribing one hour of audio time. In actuality, this may take you much longer depending on the complexity of the audio file and your own experience and skill level. As you become experienced, you must avoid companies that pay very low rates and look out for better ones. Experienced transcribers usually expect to be paid not less than £50 per audio hour. Some companies may also pay by page.
Equipment that you may need in order to become a transcriptionist:
- In order to pursue the career of a transcriptionist, you need certain basic pieces of equipment which includes a computer, a high speed internet connection and a foot pedal. A foot pedal is commonly used during transcription because it enables you to control dictation speed, fast forward, stop or rewind, etc., with your foot so that your hands are free to type. You can buy good quality foot pedals online. They come in two types: USB and Serial type.
Transcription may become tedious without a foot pedal because you will have to use your mouse button to stop, pause, rewind and so on while you sit and type. This will waste a lot of time and therefore a lot of money too (since transcription rates are paid for according to time worked).
- An Internet connection that provides about 4 MB should be adequate in order to do transcription.
- You may also need to download reliable transcription software. The conventional audio and video playback software may not be adequate for transcription. Transcription software is also different from dictation software because you are able to customise the transcription script. Transcription software also allows ‘time stamping’. Time stamping is a way of recording when someone did something. Please note that dictation software is also not suitable for recognising multiple voices at once but transcription software is designed to recognise different voices.
Good examples of transcription include Express Scribe and FTW Transcriber. While there are several free transcription software packages available online, they usually offer limited features and may not be useful for advanced transcribing requirements.
General skills required for transcriptionists include:
- A sound understanding of English language, grammar and spelling. It’s also a good idea if you are familiar between the different styles of English like American, British and Australian, etc. If you happen to possess expertise in a second language like French, Spanish or Japanese, etc., this could prove to be a huge advantage.
- Please pay attention to the client’s requirements to the letter. For example, some may like you to spell Ok as OK, others okay and still others may prefer O.K. So you may have to spell the same word in different ways for different clients.
Please proofread your document once you have completed it. This will help identify and eliminate typos or spelling mistakes, etc.
How to become a Virtual Assistant from Home
You may also wish to consider honing your remote computer skills in order to become a virtual assistant from home. This could be a lucrative career and an attractive work-at-home career option. A virtual assistant provides the same services as a traditional administration assistant does in the office. The only difference is that you provide administrative services from a remote location and have the option for multiple employers. In fact, virtual assistants often have more work than they can handle and they make a decent income – many times they earn much more than conventional administrative assistants. Virtual assistants often start out earning between £20 and £40 per hour. With time and experience, you can easily command as much as £50 to £80 per hour. It’s a good idea to first start out by taking on jobs that come your way (you can try websites such as Upwork and Freelancer) and build up a portfolio of good reviews so that you are able to upsell your skills to subsequent clients.
The following list describes some of the duties and tasks typically performed by virtual assistants (also known as VA):
- You may handle responses and posts on social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and so on. Many businesses need assistance with handling social media communication and feedback.
- Editing, proofreading and publishing blogs and other forms of content
- Typing documents, reports and minutes of meetings, emailing clients, scheduling meetings and so on – all the tasks that an administrative assistant would do
- Making travel arrangements for your employers or clients
- Participation in phone conferences during work hours
While you should capitalise on your current skill set, invest time and effort into developing them further. If you are able to establish yourself as a virtual assistant in a niche industry, (for example, the construction, finance or legal industry) you can command a higher salary owing to your specialised experience.
How to become a freelance writer
One of the best, most interesting and lucrative ways to earn money from home is to become a freelance writer. There are more than 250 million websites and this number is still growing. Every website requires content and content needs to be written by writers. As a freelance writer, you can expect to perform one or more of the following tasks:
- Write blog posts or articles
- Create web content that will be used as web-copy
- Write press releases and e-books
- Post social media messages
Important skills that you need for becoming a successful freelance writer include:
- Excellent proficiency in the English language including spelling, grammar and sentence construction
- Promptitude and courtesy to clients. Please complete and deliver your work within the agreed deadline
- Pay attention to the work brief and ensure that you are satisfying the client’s requirements
- Do not scrimp on research; freelance writing involves ferreting out information and facts on a wide range of subjects.
- Take care to create your own content after researching information and make your articles or blogs engaging, useful and interesting to the reader.
You must also make it a point to ask clients if they are satisfied with your work. If your client requests any revisions or changes, be willing to incorporate them (within reasonable limits). Above all, ensure that you do not copy-paste information from other sources. Every sentence on the Internet is protected by copyright; please do not jeopardise your hard-earned name with copy-paste gimmicks. Those shortcuts are never worth it. When you have the time, write to online publications like Ezine Articles, Hubpages and Hubspot and so on. This will help add credibility to your online presence and writing skills. Also remember that most contracts will require the handover of copyright once you have completed a specific set of articles or blog posts, etc. for the client. This means you cannot reproduce the article anywhere without permission to do so.
As with other online careers, you may have to begin with lower paying jobs but can aspire for better paying ones as you gain experience. Freelance writers can earn anywhere between £10 and £50 per hour. High profile online business and financial publications, etc. pay up to £70 per article. Successful freelance writers easily earn £3,000 to £4,000 per month.
Read on for the following tips to make a successful career out of freelance writing:
- Be prepared to first build a portfolio of reviews first. It can prove challenging to find the first few jobs because you find clients are unwilling to accept newbie writers.
- Freelance writing does not imply that high school English skills are enough. To be a successful online writer, you must be willing to develop new skill sets including email marketing, copywriting (which is different from article writing), press releases and so on. Diverse portfolios are likely to lead to better jobs.
- Use your free time productively instead of looking around social media websites. Spend your time writing more articles or pitching for more projects.
- You should not wait for clients to come to you. Be willing to research different websites, create your portfolios and apply for jobs. It may take time to get high paying writing gigs; be patient and committed.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify doubts before starting a writing job for a client. This does not reveal your flaws. On the contrary, it tells prospective clients that you like to understand what is required of you before you begin.
- How to become a Corporate English Trainer
This is an ideal job for native English speakers or those who speak fluent and flawless English. With increasing globalisation, UK businesses often employ workers from other cultures and ethnicities. They often require training in speaking or conversational English. If you are a person who likes to chat with other people and have a friendly and extrovert disposition, this may be just the right job for you.
What you need to become a professional English trainer is a high speed Internet connection (so that your voice, video, audio, etc. are clear and undisrupted) and a reliable computer. If you are bilingual, it’s a big advantage because you will be able to communicate with your clients. Most training sessions will be conducted over the Internet or Skype. If you work with international students, you may have to work at night in order to synchronise to different time zones. This can be an extremely interesting work-from-home career option as you will enjoy the opportunity to work with different nationalities, different age groups and different levels of corporate workers. Just so you know, corporate English training often pays much better than teaching English at schools or universities.
You also get the opportunity to make contacts in different sectors. Read on for a few nifty strategies that help you become a successful corporate English trainer:
- Incorporate games, fun and activities into your teaching methodology. Corporate students enjoy fun as much as school students and it also helps make the lesson more interesting. Sometimes, corporate students can be exhausted at the end of a tiring workday and fun activities help to make the lesson engaging.
- Start off lessons by allowing students to ask questions about you and each other. Low self-confidence is often the first hurdle to cross when it comes to cross-cultural interactions. Funny guessing games can help break the ice and establish friendliness.
- Make sure you find out what the student wants out of his or her interaction with you. You could begin by asking about the nature of difficulties that they face in English. This will also help provide insight into how you need to design your tutoring sessions. Requirements may vary across students. For example, if you are training a group of marketing executives, talk about marketing, sales and other points relevant to their job profile.
- Even if you are conducting the classes on Skype, ensure that you dress the part well. Dress in formal clothes just as you would if you were physically teaching a class.
- Since you are dealing with adult students, do not reprimand or scold them as if they were children. They probably had a perfectly good reason behind an incomplete assignment.
How to become a Customer Service Executive from Home
This is one of the most popular work-from-home career options and an exciting career option to pursue. Top companies are on the lookout for computer-savvy individuals with an excellent command over the English language. Your job will involve chatting with customers, resolving conflicts and responding to enquiries and so on. The job profile is explained below:
- Engaging prospective customers by explaining features of products or services. Over time, you can specialise in a niche field, for example, insurance or financial products.
- Open and update customer accounts and records after listening to relevant details from the customers. For example, you may have to update address or contact details.
- Problem or complaint resolution by advising the customer on the best method to resolve the complaint, alternatives available, etc. Your ability as a customer service executive will often determine the nature of the relationship that the customer enjoys with the company.
- Providing recommendations to customers based on analysis of customer requirements and information. Your recommendations could involve services or products.
In order to become a successful customer service executive, you must develop product knowledge (spend time reading up about the product or service that you plan to deal with), documentation skills, listening ability, problem solving approach and excellent communication skills. Many companies provide training to customer service executives so that they are able to provide high standards of service. The good news is that you can choose to work as a customer service executive either full-time or part-time from home. If you work part-time, you can expect to commit at least four hours each day. Some companies also provide incentives to customer service executives if you meet their targets. The job may also involve efficient multi-tasking between phone calls, documents and analysis.
As with any career, working from home involves dedication, motivation and discipline. Perhaps working from home may involve higher levels of commitment because you are responsible for your choices and decisions. The most important lesson to remember is to keep investing effort without feeling disappointed if it takes time to attract better paying clients. The trick is to keep trying and develop your skills and even if it begins with lower rates, you are likely to progress to higher pay once you build up a portfolio of work or reviews.
In many cases, a large portion of our income from a regular job is spent on babysitters, household help and so on. By opting to work from home, you can help reduce those expenses and keep a watchful eye on children and nannies while you continue to earn money. The flexibility, ease and comfort of work-at-home careers makes it an excellent career option for those of us who do not want to spend half our lives stuck in traffic jams. In addition to added care for children and the elderly, work from home careers also provide improved options to disabled individuals who are unable to commute to work on a daily basis. In effect, the number of people opting to work from home has surged in the UK due to the earlier economic downturn as well as changing work-life balance ideologies. In fact, work at home trends indicate that the lack of office pressure acts as a spur to being more productive because the mind is relaxed.
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