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May 27, 2018
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Ways for at-home elders to earn online income

By: Julie Ann Soukoulis
May 4, 2018

Sometimes elders find it hard to sort through online scams from the real opportunities to earn substantial income online. Some of the “gotcha” job offers from the past include:

Check-cashing schemes

Mystery shopping

Medical billing “jobs” that require you to purchase expensive computer software

Craft-making jobs that ask you to pony up the cash for materials before you get started

Don’t forget about the famous envelope-stuffing scam that was nothing more than a pyramid scheme designed to siphon money from as many people as possible

In 2018 we continue to have questionable work-at-home jobs online. Although today we also have improvements in technology, along with the birth of social media, this has ushered in a new wave of online jobs that are legitimate.

A 2017 study from Upwork and Freelancers Union predicts that more than half of the workforce will do freelance work in the next decade. Nearly 50 percent of millennials today are freelancing already.

The online “virtual” assistant

With so many businesses operating mostly, or completely, online it’s no wonder they hire virtual assistants to perform administrative tasks to help keep them organized. According to the International Virtual Assistants Association, these workers are; “independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative and technical services.”

Virtual assistant jobs vary dramatically. Primary activity includes: Composing and responding to emails, creating and distributing business-related documents, responding to media and business inquiries, writing and creating content and more.

You can check out virtual assistant jobs at sites such as Upwork.com and Zirtual.com

While pay varies, virtual assistants can typically charge between $15 and $75 an hour. Earnings depend on who you work for and the level of skill required for daily tasks.

Online medical transcriptionists

Most medical transcriptionists work for hospitals or physicians’ offices. Many already work at home at a time or place of their choosing. Since the primary tasks involve transcribing recorded medical dictation, a computer, desk and earpiece are generally the only equipment required. You must also have completed a post-secondary medical transcriptionist program.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that medical transcriptionists earn a national median wage of $35,720. This translates to $17.17 an hour. Even though many medical transcriptionists are self-employed, most find jobs through their local hospital, physician, community college or vocational school.

Language translators

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows most translators do their work at home. Some may need a bachelor’s degree, however, the most important requirement for translators is fluency in at least two languages. In 2016 – 22 percent of translators were self-employed. Most of the translators were spread out among professional, scientific and technical services (30 percent) and state, local and private educational services (23 percent); hospitals (8 percent); and government (6 percent). The national average wage for this career is $46,120. The top 10 percent of workers earn an average of $83,010. Postings for translators are on sites like Upwork.com.

Travel agent

Demand is decreasing; however, the opportunities remain for travel agents who can harness the Internet. Those who earn clients and help them plan their adventures have job prospects as travel agents who offer expertise in specific world regions. If you have experience planning tours or adventures, or can focus on group travel, around 15 percent of travel agents are self-employed as of 2016. Travel agents earn an average national wage of $36,460.

Freelance online writers

More than ever, writers are needed to formulate news articles, create content and generate the creative ideas that grace the pages of almost every website on the Internet. Many bigger sites have in-house writers. Most sites now outsource their content and hire freelance writers and content creators. Sites like Upwork.com , Freelancer.com and Media Bistro present freelance writing opportunities. To get hired, you need to have a portfolio of solid work, or at a minimum - some writing samples to include with a resume.

While writing fees vary depending on the job and the freelancer, many as much as $150 per article and some earn up to $1,500 for a high-quality finished piece. Online writers earned a median wage of $61,240 nationally in 2016, although the top ten percent of workers earned $118,640, respectively.

Data entry

Many businesses need workers to enter data. Regardless if that data is used to track inventory or shipments, generate business plans, or measure performance and output. Computer use and typing skills are the most important requirements for this job. Because of this - data entry workers are often able to work at home. BLS reported data entry workers earned a national median wage of $30,100 in 2016. The top 10 percent earned about $45,360. There are always dozens of data entry job postings on Upwork.com, Freelancer.com and SimplyHired.com, as well as many others.

Call-center representative

Many businesses need workers who can answer the phone at all hours, assist customers and process orders or deal with returns. More businesses operate online, so a growing number of these jobs are going to at-home customer service workers. Being an at-home call-center rep requires a computer and perhaps some specific software. A great phone voice helps. Any experience in customer service, data entry, retail sales, or management will count.  Scores of sites list jobs for call-center representatives, including Upwork.com, Freelancer.com  and SimplyHired.com. You will also find listings offered by local businesses in your local newspaper.    

Websites offering job postings include Monster.com, Indeed.com, Guru.com, iFreelance.com, and Freelanced.com. When searching use keywords like “telecommute” or “work-from-home” and enter “anywhere” or “remote” in the location field.

Is this work-from-home job a scam?

The scams of years ago still exist. You can find them and steer clear although it’s not always simple to tell the real deal from a scam.

The National Consumers League and Fraud.org, offer steps to take and signs to watch for when you’re starting your search for a work-at-home job:

Research: It’s important to know exactly who you’re working for. Research the company that’s hiring. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau and conduct a Web search for complaints or poor reviews.

 Ask for references: Any company hiring workers to work at home usually have other people working for them as well. Ask how many and find out if you’re able to contact them. If they are unwilling to provide references or contact information, it’s not a good sign.

Think long and hard before shelling out any money: while work-at-home jobs will sometimes require you to purchase materials or equipment to get started it is a red flag. If you are asked to pay for equipment, understand what you’re buying, and from whom. Ask about the return policy for any equipment if the new job doesn’t work out.

According to Upwork, many of today’s scams involve “employers” who try to pay workers outside the site’s payment system. This leads to some sort of check or money order fraud. If you are serious about working from home, research the possibilities and develop the skills required to qualify for these jobs.

Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’s love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.