I visit a number of finance-related forums. On many of these boards I hang out on, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “How can I make some extra money from home?” The question is usually asked by women who are home with kids. They want to contribute to the family income, but aren’t at liberty to take on part- or full-time work outside of the home. The answers given to this question always bother me. Usually people toss out ideas like take surveys, do mystery shopping, sell stuff on eBay, work for a site like ChaCha, or write for a content mill like eHow or TextBroker. There’s nothing really wrong with this sort of work. It does pay money and it can be done from home, so in that sense it can be helpful.
However, what bothers me is that most of this type of work pays you pennies for a lot of effort. You may spend thirty minutes on a survey and get seventy-five cents. You may spend an hour on ChaCha and make a dollar. You may churn out a three hundred word article for TextBroker and get $3.00 (a penny per word or is a standard rate at the content mills). If it took you an hour, that’s not even close to minimum wage. This type of work isn’t going to make anyone any serious money and, unless you have a real passion for surveys or answering other people’s questions, isn’t all that fun or fulfilling. After a while, it gets demoralizing to realize that you’re putting out so much of your effort for so little money. On top of that, you’re not really building anything for yourself.
It depresses me to see people so willing to work for so little. (It’s also bad for everyone because when a large number of people are willing to work for free or close to it, many companies stop seeing a need to pay fair wages for the work. They figure they can get it cheaper somewhere else, so why pay professional rates for a writer or artist.) Many people are willing to sell themselves short and don’t even try to reach for something bigger.
I don’t know whether it’s fear or laziness that keeps people from trying to create meaningful work for themselves. Why people choose to spend hours plugging away at surveys or other repetitive, low paying tasks when they could spend those hours developing a business that suits their passions and abilities mystifies me. Which is better: To spend forty hours a week taking surveys that pay a dollar, or to spend that forty hours launching a business that you love, will provide income for years, and that will actually pay you a living wage?
When I see people who want to make money from home, my first question is, “What interests you?” Whatever your passion, there’s a way to monetize it. It may not be immediately obvious, but there is something out there for everyone. You may have to get creative and there will probably be some trial and error. Many businesses can be started with very little money, so it’s not like you’ll have to shell out your life’s savings to try to create something bigger. Thanks to the Internet, almost any kind of work can be done from home and there are plenty of free online resources to help you get started. You only have to want to try.
Sure, you may not make a lot of money in the beginning. You may even have to do some jobs for free to build up your reputation. But it’s far better to take low paying work in the pursuit of something bigger than it is make a “career” out of surveys or other low paying online work. There are tons of things you can do from home that will actually make you happy and match your interests. You just have to be willing to stop selling yourself short and put your business idea out there. Think about what you’d love to do and then find a way to do it. Put your effort into creating something for yourself, not fattening the coffers of some company that doesn’t want to pay you a fair wage for your work.