Online Jobs: Have a Boss or Be the Boss?

You know online jobs exist. But did you know there are a million different opportunities available for those of us willing to put in the work? You might have already skimmed over my posts about signs you need to quit your job and why a work at home job won’t solve all your problems. Now let’s talk about the actual opportunities that await you!

Did you know there are a million different opportunities available for those of us looking for online jobs? Four categories cover them all. Online job talk from

Online jobs: working for someone else

Do you want to just do the work and get paid, no strings attached? There are two general categories of online jobs where you’re still provided guidelines, feedback, and a paycheck.

Option 1: Apply for a “real” job

There are a huge number of companies that hire qualified, full-time staff who work from home. Some might require occasional travel to a headquarters or training center, others might be strictly virtual positions. You’ll have a relationship with a company and technically be an employee.

The benefits of such a position are that they generally involve benefits, scheduled (aka reliable) hours, and your taxes are deducted just like in a ‘normal’ job. You might need to buy specific job-related equipment. This will vary depending on the type of position. However, these types of jobs can be fairly limiting for your home life. Time off may need to be scheduled far in advance, the same as an in-house position.

Examples of “real” online jobs offered by companies are guest service (scheduling appointments, offering tech support) and sales (if cold-calling happens to be something that doesn’t make you feel ill).

Option 2: Apply for smaller jobs

If you’re not in immediate need of a full time and heartily lucrative position, smaller task-type jobs are abundant online. You can typically log in and complete tasks according to your own schedule. It’s highly likely you won’t even have a phone interview to get in. Odds are you’ll only speak to your ‘boss’ via email. You won’t be considered an employee, and taxes can be tricky.

Task related jobs can be a quick and easy way to earn some extra cash, but it would be rather inconvenient to cultivate a full time income from these jobs alone. You will also need to be fairly tech savvy and willing to troubleshoot issues on your own.

Jobs in this category include website/chat moderators, survey takers, and writers for ‘content mill’ writing sites.

Work at home jobs: working for yourself

This is where the entrepreneurial side of you feels thrilled and a little sick at the same time. Here’s your chance to do something you’ve always loved and [hopefully] get paid for it.

Option 1: Open up shop (and get crafting)

Odds are you’re familiar with Etsy, and if not, you should be. It’s essentially the most well known online sales platform for handmade everything, and it’s simple to get started. Anyone who’s even remotely crafty can hop on and open up shop. All it takes is a little marketing to get your shop the attention it deserves.

You won’t need startup cash for office space or storefront real estate, but you will need to invest in materials for whatever product you plan to sling. Knitting, crocheting, sewing, jewelry crafting, woodworking, painting, printing- all of it finds a place on Etsy.

Check out shops that offer what you plan to sell, calculate costs, and have at it. Ideally you’ll sort out your shop’s branding, images, and sweet product descriptions (need a little help?) before going live, but the beauty of it is you can tweak it any time.

It might take your online sales a while to take off, but Etsy will give you an idea of whether your business venture is viable or not. Who knows, you may end up being so successful that you’ll start your own online store.

Option 2: Set up a site (and get to cold emailing)

Obviously this is my favorite option- everyone quit your job today and redesign yourself as a freelancer!- but I know it’s not for everyone. Establishing yourself as a freelancer seems simple, but it requires as much work as opening an online store, if not more.

All the experts recommend cultivating your own legit website, and I enthusiastically agree. I would never hire someone who based their business on a free WordPress site, because any schmuck can claim to be a professional. So buy a domain name, get in good with BlueHost (I haven’t had a single issue yet and apparently they offer perks for a shout out, though personally I’ve no clue how that works). I also recommend some good imaging software or a subscription to a site like BeFunky, which is super easy for those of us who aren’t designers.

Other business necessities will vary hugely depending on your field of expertise. You might be a writer, in which case a few dozen notebooks and your brain will suffice. For a web designer, a tech support guru, a photographer, or a marketing consultant, your toolbox will have vastly different contents.

The exciting thing about freelancing, is whatever task you’re good at, there’s someone who values that service enough to pay for it. Your job as a freelancer is to spend time finding those clients and convincing them to hire you. Sadly, those aren’t billable hours.

Online jobs: Watch for the scammers

Hopefully you already know where to look for legitimate at home work opportunities, but if not, check out my virtual work Pinterest board for some direction! Wherever you look for online work, stay away from sites that charge up front fees. Don’t pay to apply for a job, or pay to get on lists or take tests!

There are a ton of scams out there, but also endless choices, so take heart- if you’re consistent and start out with a game plan, you’ll find the right online job for your lifestyle. Get more advice and some quick tips in next week’s post on getting your credentials in order for online job searches.