As someone who's been able to solely work at home for the last 10 years or so, I can tell you that being able to work at home is truly fabulous.
But I can also tell you that being able to work at home is something that you’re going to have to work at; if you want to do it, you're going to have to make it happen. Working at home is not something that other people are going to set up for you.
Unfortunately, there are many shysters and con artists out there perfectly willing to pretend that they have work at home work for you (and everybody else) and all you have to do is call or email them and you will be able to work at home and make tons of money while you're doing it.
Read Common Work At Home Scams to learn how to avoid getting sucked into one of these schemes, and remember, please, that you should never ever pay a fee of some kind to get a job or get further information about a business opportunity.
Remember, too, what I said at the beginning of this article. No one is going to do it for you. If you want to work at home, you have to do it for yourself.
How You Can Get to Work At Home
This is the fast-track to getting to work at home and can be the perfect solution if a) you are able to start and run a profitable business and b) you are able to run that business out of your home.
The first consideration, of course, is to find or create a profitable business that can be run as a home business. There is nothing wrong with running a business as a sideline just to bring in a few extra bucks (and many people do) but if you're looking for something that's going to pay the bills, you have to make profit your first priority.
How to Start a Home-Based Business That Will Succeed will show you how to create your own home-based business that will actually make money.
If you have no idea what you might do, browsing my collection of small business ideas should help. Hopefully you'll find something that appeals to you and will suit your location and circumstances.
Secondly, you need to be careful to pick a business idea that will allow you to actually be at home. There are a great many small business ideas that will work as home-based businesses, but you might end up just using your home as a base rather than actually working there. For years, for instance, I provided instructional services, which meant that I had to travel to client sites to teach courses or present workshops. While I was technically running a home-based business, I was hardly ever there!
This is not to say that starting a business providing instructional services is out of the question if that's what you want to do. You might be able to do this and still work at home if you live in a suitable house in a suitable neighborhood. In my case, I gave up this line of work because I don't live in a place where I could have clients/customers coming to the house and didn't want to move.
Learn more about the ins and outs of operating a small business in your home and how to tell if your residence is suitable in Before You Start a Home-Based Business and Starting a Home Business Checklist.
But if you can meet these two conditions, starting your own business is an ideal way to get to work at home. Starting a business is easy. In some cases, literally, all you have to do is start doing whatever it is – you don't necessarily even have to register your business. See Steps to Starting a Business for the steps you need to follow to get your own business up and running.
2) Build trust with an employer.
While starting a business was my route to getting to work at home, it's also possible to do so when you're employed by someone else. In most cases this seems to require a patient paving of the way to create the work situation you want.
First, just as with the starting your own business option, you have to have a job that can be done working at home. If you have a job as a frontline receptionist, for example, no amount of time or effort is going to change it into a work at home position.
But if you do have a job that could be done from home, work on building a relationship of trust with your employer so you can get his or her consent to do your work away from the workplace. This will take time as you will have to demonstrate that you have the work ethic and skills to get the job done without onsite supervision.
Once you feel that you have proven this and have a relationship of trust established, ask your employer about the possibility of working at home at least part of the time. Often employers just haven't thought about work at home options and are willing to try it out on a part-time experimental basis.
Assuming that the arrangement works well, you may then be able to work your part-time work at home option into full-time work at home.
3) Look for positions/contracts that specify work at home.
While still relatively rare, there are work at home jobs / positions out there and they are worth searching for. I once worked for a magazine, for example, that was staffed entirely by work at home people. The publisher, the editor, the graphics designer, the writers – everyone except the printer worked out of his or her home.
Being an About.com Guide is another example of authentic work at home. All of us About Guides work at home, wherever that home may be. As an About.com Guide, you get to write about a topic that you’re passionate about, share your advice and experience and set your own work schedule. This is my eighth year as an About.com Guide and I still say that this is the best freelance writing gig available anywhere. Here's how you can become an About.com Guide.
Two tips to make your work at home search more successful:
When you're searching job boards or sites, don't just search for 'work at home' jobs. Instead, search for positions in the field you want to work in, such as human resources, horticulture or editing. You’re much more likely to find a genuine work at home job this way and won't miss out on any opportunities in your field.
Also, be flexible about your employment status. Often employers who post work at home jobs aren't looking for employees at all, but contractors who are willing to complete particular projects for them. Don't write off these positions because they're not "jobs".
Remember, starting a business is easy and just because you're not a contractor right now doesn't mean you can't be. Contractors don't get the benefits that many employees get, but being able to work at home may be enough of a benefit to you to make up for that. See Are You a Contractor or an Employee?.
It Is Possible to Work at Home
...if you choose to. You have to make the intelligent choices and do the diligent searching to make your work at home dream a reality. That may mean reshaping your career or patiently working towards your goal of working at home. But once you get to do it, I'm sure you’ll agree – home is not only where the heart is but the best place to work.