April 4, 2008 -- These days it seems like everyone is looking for recession-proof ways to make money at home. Here are some options:
Home-based customer service agents. Business is strong for home-based customer service providers. I talked with several companies that look for home-based customer service reps and they say they are looking to recruit at least 20,000 new agents through the end of this year. The reason? Some large companies are cutting back on staff positions to save on salary and benefits. One of the first departments they look to outsource -- because they can -- is customer service. From banks and retailers to infomercials, consumer-focused companies require people to answer calls from customers.
Among those now recruiting: LiveOps, West, Convergys, Alpine Access, Arise, VIPDesk and Working Solutions. Each company has a different business model, pay scale and criteria for certifying new agents, so visit their Web sites to determine what may be the best fit for you.
TeamDoubleClickfocuses exclusively on virtual administrative assistants. The company says its client hours billed for 2005 were 8,840 and for 2008 they are on pace to exceed 80,000 client hours.
Freelance opportunities are growing. The work isn't downsized even though the work force is. So many companies are turning to freelancers to fill the void. Freelancing is very viable option for people facing job uncertainty either because they're out of work or need some extra money to make ends meet or create a safety net.
Elance, for example, says it has more than 40,000 active buyers (the companies looking to hire freelancers), which is an increase of 60 percent from a year ago. And the site has 4,000 new projects posted every week, totaling more than $2 million in value.
oDesk, which has nearly 7,000 job opportunities posted per month, is an online staffing marketplace that supports time-based work. The company supports the entire work relationship, and its solution includes software that tracks a provider's time and gives the buyer visibility into work as it is being done. The company says this approach enables people to build teams and work as if everyone were in the same office.
The most popular categories for freelance work tend to be clients looking for experts in various marketing and technology functions -- from coding and Web design to copywriting, customer service and more.
One word of caution: some (not all, by any means) of the jobs posted on the freelance sites offer relatively low fees for the work and expertise they're seeking, which can be an immediate turnoff -- for example, a project that will pay a few hundred dollars for something that perhaps is really worth a few thousand dollars.
Think of these sites as a way to get your foot in the door with a potential client. If they like your work, they'll hire you for more -- and over time, you'll be paid what you're worth. This is a very viable option for making hundreds -- and even thousands of dollars -- every month depending on the time you have to devote.
Find money around your house! An eBay/Nielsen survey found that the average U.S. household has 52 unused items lying around worth $3,100. It's a mix of clothing and accessories, toys and electronics, sporting goods and other stuff. It's one of the easiest ways to make money from home, and it's certainly savvy recycling because 83 percent of people believe that selling used items is a form of recycling.
You can also email us if you'd like me to come to your home to help you find hidden treasures in your home to help you make money at home.
Need a computer? For just about all work at home opportunities, you must have an up-to-date computer, which has been an obstacle for some viewers who've written to us. Click here for resources to help you identify organizations that provide free or low-cost computers to people based on financial need.
Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women for Hire. Visit www.womenforhire.com.