All the Various Ways You Can Work From Home

Heart of the Matter Online has posted an article I wrote titled

All the Various Ways You Can Work From Home

“Work from Home!” the ads scream and get your attention. The offers sound great and all promise you can make excellent money working from home, but you may be confused by the opportunities that are offered for work at home moms. Are they  real jobs or just business opportunities? Are the workers employees or self-employed salesmen? Is all the work performed at home or are they only based at home and require time outside the home?

The options for working at home can be confusing. As a work at home mom who has been both an employee and a self-employed business owner, I will explain some of the opportunities available to moms that want to be at home but still earn a living.

Home-based or Completely-at-Home?

Be careful to distinguish between “work at home” and “home-based” businesses. The latter means your work is based at home rather than in a store or factory. It may mean that a lot of the work is done outside of your home, such as meeting and serving clients, or delivering products. This may mean juggling childcare and family demands.

On the other hand, many businesses can be run completely from home including daycare, transcription, virtual assistant, web design, writing and editing, and  internet-based businesses. Shaunna Howat is the Academic Coordinator for the Potter’s School, an on-line school offering classes for homeschool students across the globe. She works completely from her home—except the time a power outage meant she had to work from from a nearby coffee shop with Wi-Fi!

My website designer, Kelly McCausey, is a work at home mom. Her business is internet-based and completely-at-home. Kelly has moved her business twice in the past 3 years as she moved her home.

Employee, Independent Contractor or Business Owner?

Both home-based and completely-at-home opportunities can be as self-employed business owners, such as Kelly, my web designer, or as an employee such as Shaunna. Before you begin working for any business ask the owners if you will be an employee. If they say you will be an independent contractor, then you are considered self-employed for tax purposes and will be responsible for making your own income tax and Social Security tax payments. It’s recommended that you consult a tax expert to discuss your tax obligations as an independent contractor.


Telecommuting means you are an employee of a business, but work via the telephone (or internet)   from your own home. Some telecommuting jobs come about from a current employer who allows workers to work from home. I worked full time for six years before I had my first daughter. Then I arranged to work from home part time as a telecommuter. I did the same job as before and for the same employer—I was just at working from my home instead of at the office.

Finding a new job as a telecommuter can be difficult because you must already have the skills a potential employer is looking for such as writing, bookkeeping, computer software design, medical transcription, editing, etc. Be careful to avoid scams. Tishia Lee, a work-at-home mom posts telecommuting jobs weekly on the blog and warns readers:

While these (telecommuting jobs) have been researched and seemed to be legitimate work at home jobs you still need to be careful and watch out for scams! Just remember that you should NEVER have to pay someone to work for them! If someone asks for money that’s a red flag! [1]

You can use Tishia’s site to find telecommuting jobs or try employment web sites like Craig’s List and Search for jobs that match your skill set. Avoid jobs that prominently mention “work at home.” Working at home is a benefit, not a job title.

Homeschooling mother Katy D. of Loveland, Ohio found a job working as an on-line tutor  helping students with essay writing and English homework. She works from 8 p.m. to midnight several evenings a week. “I wanted a job that allowed me to be in my home, but also not have clients or students come into my home; my 2 year-old is too disruptive.” She finds that the evening hours are very productive. Her biggest pitfall is that she makes only half of what she could make by doing private in-home tutoring, “Right now at this point in my life, on-line tutoring is a good fit,” she explains.

Sales for Another Company

Many advertised home-based businesses involve as selling products produced by another company such as Mary Kay, Pampered Chef and Usborne books. These are considered “home-based” because you will work some time at home making phone calls and placing orders, but many hours are spent outside of the home also.

Many homeschooling mothers enjoy this type of work because their selling “parties” offer an opportunity to get out a bit and are frequently held in the evenings when a spouse is home with the children. Cindy, a jewelry sales representative from Forest Park, Ohio, finds that the best part of her work is dealing with people. “Getting people to commit to booking a party and return my phone calls can be difficult,” she admits. “But I have met the nicest people, too.”

Business Owner

Many home businesses are operated by people who do not work as an employee or independent contractor, but rather own their own business. People are finding hundreds of ways to make money from their homes. The internet opens the door to several ideas including:

  • Web design
  • Advertising via websites and blogs
  • On-line auctions
  • Information products and electronic books
  • Virtual assistant helping businesses with newsletters, marketing, and administrative tasks

Cindy Rushton converted her home-based book selling business to a completely-at-home business selling electronic books. She used to travel the country selling her books and CDs at homeschool conventions, but now sells only ebooks and audio  files of her books. It’s the same business, but has a different way of delivering the products that allows her to be home all the time.

Don’t neglect old stand-byes that are low(er) tech, but still viable businesses such as:

  • Childcare
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Music teacher
  • Fitness trainer
  • Caterer
  • Tutoring
  • Consultant
  • Artist
  • Dog trainer, groomer or daycare

I love running my accounting business from my home. Usually my tax clients come to me and I rarely leave home unless I want to. Many of my clients are nonprofit homeschool groups that are not even in the same state, but because of the internet I can work for them remotely.

As you can see there are many options when it comes to working from home. As you consider the alternatives be sure to discern whether you will be home-based or completely-at-home. Also inquire as to whether you will be an employee or a self-employed independent contractor.  Finally, you could consider starting a business that is run from your home.

Carol Topp, CPA is an author and accountant bringing cents and sensibility to families, small/micro business owners, and nonprofit organizations. Through her writing, speaking and consulting, Carol converts tax rules and business language into clear, easy-to-understand English. She is the is the author several books including the Micro Business for Teens series, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out and is currently working on Business Tips and Taxes for Writers for release in June 2011. Carol worked for the US Navy as a cost analyst before obtaining her CPA license in 2000. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two daughters, both homeschool graduates. You can find her site at Carol Topp, CPA


  1. Pat says:

    Some great advice here. I’ve been working (completely) from home for a few years now and it was a great decision, but it can seem daunting at first. “Working at home is a benefit, not a job title” – I completely agree!


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