woman-792162_640If you’re a parent returning to work, you may be torn between wanting to be with your child, wanting adult companionship and needing money. If you can get your adult conversation outside of the office, consider working from home.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you say, I’ve seen the ads. “Make $$$ From The Comfort Of Your Own Home!!!!” Riiight.

It’s true that there’s a lot of hype out there. Many so-called work-from-home jobs are not home-based at all. It might just be one day at home, and four days at the office. Or you might be based at home, but need to travel the country seeking sales, or doing home demonstrations at other people’s houses and offices.

In my opinion, while these options might work for some, they are not truly work-from-home jobs.

But, if you are realistic about what to expect from home based earning, you’ll discover that there are actually plenty of opportunities to earn money from the comfort of your own home.

Work from home options


  • Be a Virtual Assistant (booking tickets, typing up documents, putting slideshows together, and whatever your employer needs).
  • Transcription – listening to audio and transcribing it into a clear, well-formatted document.
  • Copy writing or editing – writing and editing articles, item descriptions, advertisements and more for magazines, blogs and websites. Opportunities abound if you have good written English skills.
  • Accounting – if you have MYOB skills, many small or online businesses outsource their accounts to freelancers.

Start your own small business

  • Online sales – do you make gorgeous crafty things? Sell ‘em. Or purchase an existing online business.
  • Is there a need in your community? Fill the gap. Think: making meals for busy families (Dinner Ladies, anyone?), walking, washing or babysitting pets, gardening, home maintenance, Family Day Care, visiting elderly people at home, massage or beauty treatments, teaching a language, computer skills, dancing or anything you can do.

Realistic expectations

Research how much your chosen work is paying. Administrative jobs pay very little until you have regular clients and until you are good enough to work fast. At first, you may only earn pocket money for a lot of effort. But if you persevere, do relevant training to add value to what you offer, and plan ahead, you can make a reasonable living.

If you’re starting a small business, do not expect to make a good living for two years. That’s how long it takes to build your network and perfect your product or service.

Making it really work

Always think strategically. If you wing it, you will waste time and earn less money.

  • Offer several things to diversify your earnings. If it’s a slow month for accounting, perhaps you can do some editing.
  • Invest in the right equipment and training. For example, transcribers need to stop often and listen carefully. Buy a foot pedal mouse for quick pausing and excellent earphones. Also arrange care for this unless you can do it when your children are asleep. Another example: if you’re offering massage or want to teach people, make sure you have the right certification and insurance. These are valid business expenses.
  • Sign up to reputable online freelance sites, such as Elance and Fiverr. Get your friends and family to support you by signing up and hiring you for small jobs and leaving 5 star reviews (obviously deliver good work to them!). People looking for freelancers always look at the number of jobs people have done and their rating. So make it work for you. Do not over or underprice yourself. This takes practise. Aim to get regular clients by offering good value.
  • Get a website and/or social media presence. There is plenty of advice for work-at-home parents or small business start-ups online. Search it out and read the free advice voraciously. Never sign up and pay for advice until you have read every free tip you can find and you’ve stopped learning new things. By then you will be informed enough to know what is worth paying for.
  • Offer realistic deadlines to your clients. If you’re working while your kids tumble around you, you may not be able to fully concentrate on an urgent job. Use child care wisely and consider working at night or taking jobs that can be done even under fire, as it were.

With the right tools you have every chance of making a new career for yourself as a home-based earner. Good luck!