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Ask Slashdot: Money-Making Home-Based Tech Skills?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the remote-viewing-seems-best dept.

Education 332

New submitter ThatGamerChick writes "I'm a stay-at-home mom, but I'd like to be a work-at-home mom. I've done a few writing gigs, but I'm not a really good writer and cannot charge the fees needed for it to be worth my time. I'm just looking for something that I can teach myself in a few months and start taking small projects and working my way up from there. I've found that PHP, HTML and CSS to be the most demanded skills on sites like Elance, but the talent pool is flooded with overseas workers and Americans with so much more experience than me. Even when I was offering writing and virtual admin services on Elance I was having a hard time against them. So I'm asking here, because I think most of you may have a good insight on this type of thing as an employer of freelancers or as the freelancer themselves." What success have you had, either working from home, or employing those who do?

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332 comments

Home porn videos? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850185)

Seems like the best way to me!

Production values (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850201)

There's an article in Cracked about why homemade porn tends to fail [cracked.com] : good makeup, lighting, camera work, editing, writing of the frame story, and marketing all cost money.

Re:Production values (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850237)

Thats talking about professional mainstream type porn.

The trick is niche porn. Heck most of them you don't even need to be naked so long as you fill that bizarre fetish space many weirdos want.

Only really works for women tho.

weird captcha: warships

Re:Production values (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850543)

An interesting niche porn sector to exploit is the full dressed porn.

Re:Production values (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850709)

CFNM over webcam?

Re:Production values (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850435)

writing of the frame story

Not sure about that one...

Re:Production values (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850527)

I think that most folks do better being an affiliate for one or more large porn outlets as opposed to making & marketing their own porn. I would expect that a well-designed website that was essentially a portal to many porn offerings (as affiliates for those companies) would do well with commissions. I have been tempted to this so many times but it comes down to not wanting to make money from porn.

Re:Production values (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850647)

In general, "affiliate marketing" is a scam or involves spam or spreading malware or something.

Specifically in the case of porn, you have to buy the porn, pay for link placement, pay for hosting, etc, and then you might get a .00001% conversion rate (because everyone knows how to get porn for free). Nobody really makes money this way unless they have a high-traffic domain or have been doing it for 15 years.

Re:Home porn videos? (5, Insightful)

zerobeat (628744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850441)

Why is it that just about every time a women posts something on the internet someone has to immediately turn the topic to sex???

Re:Home porn videos? (5, Insightful)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850481)

I guess porn was mentioned here because there are actually no well paying work-from-home jobs that you can get in 2-3 months. If it can be done from home, it can be done from India as well.

Re:Home porn videos? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850681)

I guess porn was mentioned here because there are actually no well paying work-from-home jobs that you can get in 2-3 months. If it can be done from home, it can be done from India as well.

but not if you want your actresses without moustaches

Re:Home porn videos? (3, Interesting)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850707)

...there are actually no well paying work-from-home jobs that you can get in 2-3 months. If it can be done from home, it can be done from India as well.

- Unless being local is either necessary or preferred.
I would start with things I like to do and see if others are interested. Crafts, programming for kids, educational crafts, helping others with assembling technical home improvement projects, building water barrels, ..

Parents might pay for something that is in between a daycare and technical home-schooling - especially if the class meets Saturday night occasionally.

Re:Home porn videos? (5, Informative)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850515)

Because it's a stupid question that's offensive and lacks common sense. She thinks she can learn some magical wizard skill that is not location based, but will allow her to make money without overseas competition, or people that are way more skilled.

I'd say camming is the best bet (it used to pay decent anyway).

Competing locally on WordPress/drupal websites may work too, but the marketing is going to take significant out of house time. I'd suspect one could learn to make decent websites in a couple months, sell them for $600, half week's work, but again, you'll have to seek customers locally.

Would you really want to pay anything to get PHP written by somebody that learned it in a few months?

Re:Home porn videos? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850537)

What else are they good for? Certainly not conversation.

-- Ethanol-fueled

p.s. Submitter - I'm hungry. Would you be a dear and get me a sandwich and a beer? Thanks, darlin.

*Pbftshttttttt!* Godammit, this beer is WARM!

pr0n (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850187)

porn of course

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850193)

woah!

Re:first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850241)

Try again. One day you'll make it.

Do something local (5, Insightful)

bobbutts (927504) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850197)

The cheaper internet competitors from other places cannot enter this market.

Re:Do something local (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850239)

Very true.

You can advertise is the local or regional papers.

You have 3 advantages:

1. You speak English as a native, and understand the culture.
2. Talent overseas is not always a bag of chips and then some. Cut rate offers means you get what you pay for and it doesn't work right.
3. The locals can spell and say your name.

Conversely, if you were to compete with AsiaPAC talent in their home land, they have the advantage locally.

Re:Do something local (5, Interesting)

halfaperson (1885704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850291)

I agree on this. About a year ago I quit my job to try my luck as an independent web developer. Pretty naively I assumed that all I had to do was make sure I was visible online and people would find me. Nobody did. I started browsing various sites that offered contracts on a freelance-basis but just like the original poster, I was shocked to see pretty complex projects being sold for 1/10th of what I would have offered without even trying to make a profit! Would I have made a better job than them? Probably. Did they care? No. So what to do?

After a couple of months I gave up on trying to outbid the competition and started calling some local companies. Turns out a lot of them needed help either with web related projects or IT in general, such as networking, small office servers, etc. While web development was what I was going for when I started, I've noticed I really like the variation in the tasks I'm assigned now. And I still get to do web development.

So yeah, going local is good advice.

Re:Do something local (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850601)

Based on what I've seen and heard the customers you'll find on Elance, rent-a-coder and similar are the ones you want to avoid like the plague. Seriously.

Forget about learning PHP in a few months unless you want to deliver the crap that so many already are delivering (SQL injections, etc.). Also, PHP itself is not enough, you have to learn some things about Apache (web server), MySQL, etc.

Start with HTML & CSS and read some good books on design, accessibly, and usability. A (female) friend of mine started several years back with providing accessible HTML and CSS coding services and she's now successful. Be prepared for at least 3 years of hard time.

As for local: she works mostly (as far as I know) with customers overseas (UK).
As for myself: I am a freelance Perl programmer -- type it in Google and you got me: SEO is a skill you should learn as well -- living in Mexico. I don't work local because the pay would be 6 times (or more) less and I don't speak Spanish (can understand it, though). So I have customers in the USA (yes, I am one of those curry lovers stealing your jobs :-D), Europe, even Japan. While local makes it possible to visit in person and hence break the ice and maybe sell yourself easier, I don't think it's really needed for my line of work, and maybe not for web design either. Personally, I think personal conversations (skype or in person) are a gigantic waste of time; email works way better (in my case and in my opinion).

To summarize:

* forget about PHP in a few months: that's long term and requires study of PHP and at least MySQL, Apache, and several other things.
* make yourself visible on the Internet
* forget about eLance and rent-a-coder: the customers you'll get there suck and you can't compete with the others
* learn HTML, CSS, usability, accessibility and SEO: I would recommend at least 1 hour of study, 3 days a week. And don't learn
    those things from "learn online" sites. It's very hard to find ones that actually know what they are talking about (more so with PHP)
    get yourself 5 good books and read w3c.org

Good luck,
John

Re:Do something local (3, Interesting)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850389)

Take a look at learning how to setup and "program" FileMaker Pro for small businesses. I am not claiming you can jump in and become an expert in 2-3 months. You need an organized mind and a desire to figure out effective business solutions. It will require a lot of FMPro training of one type or another and you might work with one of the certified developers in your area. Plenty of books exist on database development, so the core knowledge is out there.

FileMaker is also entering the larger company markets, too, what with their iPad & iPhone apps connecting back to the FMPro on a server.

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/01/27/filemaker_highlights_successful_deployment_of_ipads_by_austin_texas.html [appleinsider.com]

http://www.filemaker.com/ [filemaker.com]

Re:Do something local (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850521)

Hell yeah, just pretend the 1990s never ended. Maybe you can setup some LocalTalk networks while you are at it.

Most Filemaker work is probably legacy shit where some guy has been hacking on a db for 20 years, or clueless idiots who think FM is still some blessed thing from Apple.

In conclusion, skip Filemaker and program Lotus Notes instead.

Re:Do something local (3, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850659)

Nice job bashing both the product and Apple in one paragraph ... but the guy actually had a valid point, which you simply wanted to bulldoze over. SMALL businesses are not likely to invest in a Lotus Notes solution. A copy of Bento (mobile version of FMP for iOS devices) is very inexpensive and has a modern, up-to-date look. (Not some relic from the 90's.)

If, like many businesses, they simply need a basic database of contacts or some other specific info, accessible and editable from multiple, portable devices? It's not a bad solution at all.

Re:Do something local (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850719)

OK, you want a serious answer? There's all sorts of websites offering small business services such as invoicing and list management for a nominal fee. The era of homebrewing databases for this stuff is over.

And I was just kidding about Lotus Notes. Obviously the OP should teach herself VisualBasic 6 instead as it is very popular among businesses.

(also lol at your 'bashing apple' faggotry)

Quality Assurance (5, Insightful)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850203)

Lots of software companies will either hire you on staff or contract with you as a freelancer to do remote quality assurance on their products.

You can pitch your writing & communication skills as an asset here. Instead of saying: this doesn't work, you can write reasonable, reproducible, clear defect and quality reports.

Re:Quality Assurance (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850321)

I'll second this. I have received many surprising compliments on my bug reports. It takes some time to get used to thinking in terms of a detailed report, but once it's natural, developers will greatly appreciate thorough and clear reports. If your writing is detailed enough, there are companies where the developers will actually look forward to having you test the product. As a developer myself, I have seen far too many terrible reports to count, where the procedure wasn't clear, text was inaccurate, or the "steps to reproduce" didn't actually reproduce the problem (even on the user's machine).

High-quality QA is in demand, but many companies don't even realize it. They see their usual reports as "good enough" and spend countless extra hours trying to reproduce that one unwritten action that caused a problem.

Re:Quality Assurance (4, Informative)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850323)

I used to do tech editing for books like some of the Idiot's guides (). Pay was $2/page and very easy.

Re:Quality Assurance (1)

c_sd_m (995261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850705)

How did you get started doing tech editing?

Re:Quality Assurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850339)

This is actually an awesome idea. I wasn't aware one could do this. I'm a very good writer and overall communicator, and I've done beta testing before. I've been chosen for additional testing sessions because my feedback was useful. Do you have any idea as to what companies need this or how I could get the ball rolling?

Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850205)

Learn to program iDevices.

Re:Apple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850251)

Learn to program iDevices.

Cool idea, bro! Nobody else would ever think of that. And you get to pay the Apple Tax just to write software on a device you thought you owned! Yay!

Re:Apple (1, Flamebait)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850267)

Yes. I'm not really into mobile, but I'm sure there are a lot of opportunities there. But you'll need knowledge not only of the language, but the specific kinds of apps that are needed in the world.

Re:Apple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850347)

Yes. I'm not really into mobile, but I'm sure there are a lot of opportunities there. But you'll need knowledge not only of the language, but the specific kinds of apps that are needed in the world.

Yes. I'm not really into niggers, but I'm sure they have very fine penises. But you'll need to handle both girth and length for the specific kinds of fuck positions that are needed in the world.

Switch fields. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850209)

Home-based medical transcription pays $14 an hour. Only 2 or 3 classes are required. Then your income is steady and not "competitive" against freelancers, as you have a stable job then. =)

Re:Switch fields. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850555)

Hey it's Sally Struthers! Medical transcription is a dying occupation - doctors actually use computers now days.

Re:Switch fields. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850715)

Yes. They use them to record dictations which someone else transcribes.

Video Game Commentary (3, Interesting)

TheSimkin (639033) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850211)

If you are good at video games and enjoy them you could make some money playing video games professionally, making walktrhoughs etc! http://tgn.tv/ [tgn.tv] is where i started, they have a lot of tips and tricks on how to get started and get more views quickly. good luck!!!

Have you considered webcam work? (-1, Troll)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850213)

If you are even marginally good looking, you can make more $ doing that then any type of brain work. I write for a living online, but would gladly give that up and just do cam shows, were I female & decent to look at...

Re:Have you considered webcam work? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850319)

If you are even marginally good looking, you can make more $ doing that then any type of brain work. I write for a living online, but would gladly give that up and just do cam shows, were I female & decent to look at...

You are a disgusting piece of shit. I don't think the OP was looking for a patronizing sexist answer.

Re:Have you considered webcam work? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850355)

You are a disgusting piece of shit. I don't think the OP was looking for a patronizing sexist answer.

I'm not the person you responded to, but I think their answer is pretty valid here. The woman has no real skills, wants something she can pick up and be proficient at in a few month's time, and not be underbid by foreign competition. Porn that takes her particular ethnicity into account is about all she has in terms of career prospects - don't make her feel dirty about it by projecting your personal views onto the subject.

Re:Have you considered webcam work? (1)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850489)

Thank you. My wife made mad scrilla doing webcam work, and transitioned from there into writing about sex & technology. She now edits a popular website on the topic and makes better money than I do ghost writing for "sex experts." Cam work is a great way to get started in the field of making money online.

Re:Have you considered webcam work? (1)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850523)

Also, you will learn a lot about making graphics/web pages. Good operators run several different websites, each with a different "persona" or character, and often members of the community contract other members of the community who have proven skills to design pages/graphics for them. Just because it involves sex, that doesn't preclude the use of technology.

Re:Have you considered webcam work? (1)

Gorshkov (932507) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850545)

That's almost like saying being a hooker is good training for being a mom.

Re:Have you considered webcam work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850603)

That's almost like saying being a hooker is good training for being a mom.

Don't be ridiculous - hookers practice abortions and use contraceptives - in fact it's their key distinguishing trait from mothers.

Re:Have you considered webcam work? (1)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850607)

Are you saying it isn't? Most men who seek out hookers are emotional children anyway; many of the associated skill sets are transferable...

Work for yourself, not others. (5, Insightful)

DustPuppySnr (899790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850235)

If you are interested in learning a web development language, use that skills to work on a idea for your own sites. When I started learning web development, I created a small on-line tool that people can use. Every time I learned a new language, I've re-written the web app in that particular language as an exercise. So my little webapp went from Perl, PHP, Python WSGI to the current Python Django. Now after a few years, I'm getting 1.5K visitors a day and earning about $300 a month for doing nothing. So instead of working for someone else at $100 per project, I starting on some new ideas and seeing if I can earn more recurring income while sipping on a beer. The only hard part is finding the idea to work on.

You're Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850249)

If you can't write a profile that differentiates yourself from some arab on Elance that speaks English as his 4th language, you're probably not going to be a successful writer.

Start a blog, work for a non-profit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850253)

You are just stating the reality that all the skills you name can be done remotely and are commodities now.

Not many employers are going to pay you for newly acquired skills, when there is such a surplus of people with experience in those same skills. I work at home, but only because I have 15 years expertise in my field. i suggest two things:

1. Start a blog, and host it yourself. Get your hands dirty in customizing the html, css, php, javascript. Oh, and the blog content should showcase your writing ability.

2. Go work for cheap or free at a local non-proft. Offer to maintain there website or write proposals. They always need help with that.

Sell local, not global (3, Interesting)

dugjohnson (920519) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850271)

You'll find that your skills, assuming you can put together a decent website, will do fine if you work with a local organization.
There are tons of organizations near you/anyone who need help with their web sites, but who would feel very uncomfortable working with an eLance or an overseas company...and they don't have the budget to really pay the costs of what most consulting firms would charge. This means you are going to have to get out and make some contacts. The easiest thing you can do, assuming you can present at all, is to put together a talk (approx 20 minutes) that you can give with power point and without on "Promoting your company on the web" and then offer it to your local chamber of commerce and Rotary and women in business organizations. The information has to be useful whether they hire you or not. But there will be leads that come from that and off you go.

If you can make sites... (4, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850279)

Little side jobs that I do often come from business contacts of friends, followed by word of mouth from those jobs.

Real people like to deal with real people. Asking someone in India to do work for you feels like a bizarre gamble for your average business. That's your competitive advantage and you should use it.

Re:If you can make sites... (2)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850503)

Real people like to deal with real people. Asking someone in India to do work for you feels like a bizarre gamble for your average business. That's your competitive advantage and you should use it.

Just to add to that, many small businesses want part-time/remote/on-call support, not a full time employee. Tell people you're a stay at home mom, that you may not respond right away, and that you're only interested in smaller projects. Combined with a cheap hourly rate and a sample portfolio, small business people will be happy to hire you. You can raise your rates with experience and contacts.

Also, learning the basics is essential and the right way to start, but you should also learn how do an entire website, from start to finish; buy a DNS name, install a database (or configure one that's hosted), change web server settings, etc.... Learning WordPress would probably be a good next step.

I was a freelancer (4, Informative)

zaydana (729943) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850287)

I haven't done any online projects recently, but for some years I used to work pretty much exclusively on projects from rentacoder.com (now vworker.com).

The way I got into it was by starting bidding low on small jobs, getting good feedback, and progressively moving onto larger jobs. You'll find that the people willing to pay a decent amount on these websites also want experience and good reviews.

Once you have the reputation to even be considered, you need to make sure you bid on the right projects. That means finding projects that don't have a huge number of bids, and projects which match your previous experience. You need a portfolio. If you have spare time, spend it working on something which you can show off to prospective bidders. I'm pretty sure a little javascript asteroids clone I wrote 5 years back got me more work than any other reasons I gave people to hire me.

It also helps to concentrate on projects which are the latest big craze - when I was working, this was javascript. Not many people knew how to use it properly, so there were fewer bidders and you could charge higher prices. Of course, everybody "knows" javascript now days - I imagine phone apps is where it is at.

However you approach it, don't be discouraged when you don't win projects. It takes a while to get into the game. And regardless of how well you do, remember that you'd still make more money by working for locals (which is why I quit). Unless you enjoy it, theres probably better ways of making money.

Good luck!

Re:I was a freelancer (5, Insightful)

Courageous (228506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850409)

Pay particular attention to zaydana's recommendation to do a significant pet project. Tangible, proven skills even in an otherwise toy problem are one aspect of breaking into the software business, no matter where you ultimately work.

Conversely, if one doesn't have the personal inclination or passion to actually come up with such a project, one perhaps should consider something other than a life in software.

Re:I was a freelancer (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850549)

I'll second this. I started coding before finishing high school, and got my first "real" (summer-long, paid hourly and a damn good rate for a credential-less 18-year-old) job before starting university. The reason? A hobby project I'd developed, and could quickly describe to the manager. That let me break into the world of paid summer internships, which ended up paying for my entire education without requiring me to work during the school year (not an easy task, in the US).

Now, I'm looking to switch jobs or the first time since graduating. My past experience, both before and after graduating, is certainly valuable... but since I'm likely switching fields as well, there's a limit to how useful that other experience will be. Instead, the thing that got a friend-of-a-friend very excited about bringing me into his company was a demonstration (using my phone) of a hobby project relevant to the new area.

TL;DR: Hobby projects show both passion and experience, and that's a big part of what employers want to see.

Astroturfing for Elance? (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850293)

Nice subtle slashvertisement for Elance.

Re:Astroturfing for Elance? (1)

halfaperson (1885704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850423)

Yeah, except for the fact that the OP makes the case that it's pretty much impossible to earn an income that way.

Re:Astroturfing for Elance? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850425)

Nice subtle slashvertisement for Elance.

Yeah because the OP stating that she was having a hard time finding work using it is going to make people flock to use that service. I know I thought to myself "Wow! I wonder if I can waste my time, too!" and couldn't sign up at their site fast enough.

Work for the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850301)

Collecting checks.

YMMV - It's very hard (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850309)

I've tried what you've tried. I was on Rent A Coder, Moonlighter, Guru, and a few others.

First of all, with a '0' zero score, it will be extrememely difficult to get work - even if you offer your services for $1 or whatever the minimum is these days. Those sites are saturated with people. And many folks posting jobs actually have geographical restrictions: if you're not in a Third World country, you can't even bid.

Local business?

Again. Depending are on where you are matters, but here in Metro Atlanta, things are saturated. There have been a large amount of lay-offs and many folks are trying to do what you're doing out of desperation. Every Tom, Dick, Harry, Larry and Mary are in web development, support and PC repair. And contrary to the opinion here, they're not all screw-ups or mediocre - there are quite a few talented people out of work. Many of them had real jobs doing those things and got canned during economic meltdown. I constantly see signs on the side of the road from folks trying to get web design, coding, PC repair, and support work.

Retrain?

Good luck. Without paid experience it is also very hard. Folks want to talk to previous clients and see what other work you have done. And even then ... Out of desperaton, I tried putting up my own websites under different company names to use as "references" but my measely two websites werent' enough or I just sucked - I don't know because I never got feedback from people who mattered. Sure, all my friends said they looked great but apparently they weren't good enough.

I do know someone who did do well - as a graphic artist. She had a following at her old job and when she quit, the folks who liked her recommended her and when they changed jobs, they hired her - that way she didn't get into trouble for poaching people.

tl;dr Starting in this day and age as a freelancer is extremely difficult. All the folks I know who are making a living as freelancers were doing it since the 90's early '00s.

I forgot one guy .... Embedded systems guy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850415)

I know an embedded systems (Linux) guy who was freelance but a couple of years ago, he was offered direct employment by a customer and he jumped on it. He said freelancing was getting too difficult and sparse.

Isn't that job great (-1, Offtopic)

joelletoon88 (2562747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850337)

I would love to do the same as what you are doing now and be able to really find myself survive on the additional income. But then again there probably be too much set backs and risks to be laid out for such an attempt. How did you actually start doing this and what are your considerations when you take up the offers? I attempted and you can of course read it at http://sgbrandedbags.com/ [sgbrandedbags.com] how be great if you give me some advise too!

Re:Isn't that job great (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850367)

mod up! she can make money posting ads on slashdot!

Working from home not for the First World (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850345)

If you can work from home, you can work from Bangalore. And people working from Bangalore are cheaper.

Be good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850349)

I provide work and hire online all day. I have more work than I can do. Because I am the best at what I do. Specialize in something complex. Not simple web sites. Something difficult that takes years to learn. Be great. You'll end up refusing work. Some companies will pick you up and hire you full time. 90% of freelancers on those sites are Indians. Most are cheap, and most are bad quality. The good ones are hired full time and pulled offline.

And please do something useful. I'm tired of people choosing useless work (like webcam stripping), and complaining that their market dried up.

BotNet Herder (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850359)

The real home money is in BotNet herding. You can read all about this great money making opportunity in this PDF. ;)

Think local (1)

mhrivnak (752549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850365)

Focus on networking in your local area. Even if you mostly work from home, many employers value the fact that you could come in once in a while for meetings and such. This is what differentiates you from someone overseas. Join local user groups for whatever languages interest you, and any other tech topics that interest you. I see quite a bit of professional networking happen in linux user groups, for example.

Few employers will advertise for a part-time developer, but if you have a chance to make a pitch (hopefully based on a personal introduction from the professional network you're trying to grow), many employers will go for it. But it's up to you to make the case for why it will work.

In the mean time, a great way to get some experience for the resume and learn a lot about how to design software is to work on one or more open source projects.

Online Tutor (1)

martiniturbide (1203660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850371)

A good way to make some money (not to get rich) is being an online tutor for virtual classroom. My local College had set up a Moodle server and created a few contents for "MS Office / Google Docs" course rooms and "Information Technology", that virtual courses are for the University student mass, and requires several tutors. The tutor opens each week a new material, grades homeworks, and help the students on the forum when they are stuck in a problem with the course. I only see the students face to face at the end of the course for the final exam. I don't know if were you live there is this alternative. It is better if it is a local College when you can have at lease 95% virtual and 5% onsite so you can different yourself for overseas contenders. But I don't know if you like teaching ;) Regards

Virtual assistant? (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850379)

In my ongoing research into digital nomads, I stumbled across the idea of a "virtual assistant" — whether or not this would be up your street, I've no idea, but mentioning it just in case.

There are loads of results to a simple Google search, but the Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] is probably the best starting point.

what to do.... (1)

graphius (907855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850395)

There are a few ideas presented here, but I would approach the problem from the other side. Find a client or two and find out what they need done. For example, I have had a few aquaintances who need websites. I am not a guru by any stretch, and I am sure there are people here who could code circles around me, but I knew what these people were looking for. In fact one person had spent a ton of money on a website designed by an offshore company. She was not really happy with it, and when I had a look at it, the code was utter crap. I tuned the site, improved the load time by almost 30%, made the site cross browser (yes, the site worked in IE, but it looked awful in even firefox) and added a few features my client wanted.
Another friend wanted a website, and kind of knew what he wanted, but it was very complicated, and would have cost a fortune to have made. I agreed that I would charge him much less than a "professional" with the understanding that it would take me a lot longer than said pro. The advantage of this was I learned a ton about Java while being paid. In other words, I was paid to go to school....
I have yet another friend (yes I have more than one....) who needs help with various programs such as Excell and Photoshop. She could take a community college course, but she prefers to learn from me. Mind you, she doesn't always pay with cash, but she is a great cook. A great meal, and a bottle of wine can be better than $100.

TL;DR find small jobs that need to be done and do them.

Re:what to do.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850443)

She could take a community college course, but she prefers to learn from me. Mind you, she doesn't always pay with cash, but she is a great cook. A great meal, and a bottle of wine can be better than $100.

This sounds like a plot to go with the first post

Remote technical support (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850403)

With the increase in tools like LogMeIn, could you provide remote technical support to home users, who might appreciate a more personal touch than the likes of PC World?

Starting in the local area, perhaps, to build up a reputation, then expanding? You "kill what you eat," but would need to be available at the times which suited those paying you, unlike, say, documentation writing, which would likely be more flexible on you.

Re:Remote technical support (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850439)

Indeed, worked for large multinational corps the past decade+ doing tech support and implementation. Typically you do need to work in an office for a while before they'll let you work from home, but those types of jobs are out there.

Re:Remote technical support (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850497)

That is to say I did them from home.

Write apps/applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850407)

There must be some things that you or other people are missing on smartphones or other markets that have easy selling channels for small software programs sold at low prices.

You may not get THAT many customers or become rich, but it could be income and you would certainly help some people. Maybe some of them will approach you with better ideas or on demand work, too.

And yes, I guess you cannot rely on your existing skills for that, but I hope you didn't expect to be competitive in any software / information oriented market without learning and improving, anyways...

Run remote / local / home-visit classes? (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850437)

If you are a geek, chances are you either worked hard, or else found computing easy, I'd have thought? In either case, you likely have a lot of knowledge which you could share, and charge for doing so? Whether running weekly classes in a local community hall, perhaps even library, or teaching remotely over the Internet (which is obviously easier to tailor to individual needs), I would have thought that there would people looking to learn from someone who does not sound like a corporate drone but comes across as knowing their stuff?

Do you have other mothers in the area, who might like to know how to take better photographs of their children, process the images and then share them with family?

Remote home tuition would likely be safer than in person home tuition, although I'd have thought that most people are perfectly harmless.

thank you for the tips (1)

dezzie (2562753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850445)

Thanks everyone for the tips--like the OP, I would like to be able to stay at home during the time that my noobs are young, but I would really appreciate ways to make side money with geeky ventures. Also appreciate that troll/immature comments have been kept low.

More Damage Than Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850447)

The problem I encounter when I've let an inexperienced designer or developer loose on my code base is that they tend do more damage than good. The highest cost in software is maintaining it. To keep that cost low, and to react quickly to the ever-changing needs of my customers, code needs to be as elegant and simple as possible. It takes a lot of experience to know how to achieve that; an inexperienced person can wreak havoc on my app's maintainability to the point where it would be better (and cheaper) for me to write it myself.

My advice to you is to gain some experience by volunteering your skills for a charity or non-profit, or come up with an idea for your own application and create it. I'm much more likely to use someone who has a portfolio they can show me. I can get a pretty good idea of someone's abilities by looking at their portfolio. Also, as you're building your skills, make sure you get feedback on how you're doing. User groups can be a good way to get that feedback. Always strive to find better, more elegant ways of achieving some design or feature.

Above all, be passionate about what you're doing. We can smell mediocrity from a mile away. We want people who eat, sleep, and breath design and programming, rather than someone who's just in it for the money (because there are a LOT of those people!)

Fix computers and network that way for local jobs (3, Interesting)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850461)

Everyone knows someone with computer trouble and often its not that hard to resolve. Especially if you can do it as a house-call.

Additionally, people with computers are often trying to do things with them.. websites, imagery, newsletters, blogs, etc. and many folks don't know how.

Setting them up document templates, blogs, and other workflow in addition to good free software, and advising on purchases is a good way to go for someone with even modest experience.

Computer experience is a "culture" of knowledge that many people aren't connected to. By having face-time with your clients you can know them well enough to do remote desktop or phone support from home on their projects as they do them. They will recommend you to everyone they know if they are happy and that can lead to bigger contracts. In home-based you need both the big and the small contracts.

This can also lead to doing contra with any local businesses you are a customer of. woohoo!

Re:Fix computers and network that way for local jo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850533)

I'll throw this out there to the whole "Fix computers" crowd.

It sounds fun and easy, but it's not. The Pizza Techs have taken over the market. By "PT's", I mean all the 16 year olds and reject Geek Squad kids that stole the MRI CD and think they can undercut you at $10 an hour. Go look at your local Craigslist Computer Repair section and re-think that "I'll just fix computers!" thought. There are people that will trade any service that you can think of to repair computers, take coupons for meals, etc. I knew one gent that bragged that he fixed a lady's computer, got a free haircut, a 50% off coupon for a meal at a steak place and...she cooked him breakfast the next day.

I ran a valid store-front shop, with insurance, licensing and tools for about a year and a half. I made money, not much. What ultimately did me in where the customers. I started hating them. After a year and a half of listening to everyone cry about their problems or reinfecting themselves with malware from porn sites, I sold the business and went back to the corporate world where I now my about 900% more take home pay. Sounds absurd, but after insurance, rent, phone & internet bills, workman's comp, taxes, etc - small businesses have a hard and stressful life.

I suggest an introductory course in economics (4, Informative)

slk (2510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850469)

What you are asking for is not possible due to the way markets work.

If there is a skill that takes only a few months to learn, doesn't require formal background, and then you can do meaningful projects, that skill is not worth much because just about anybody can learn it.

Pick something that is more than a simple skill (i.e. artistic aptitude, something unique), find a niche, find something that's still widely used but "out of fashion", go local (works better in a relatively "low-tech" locale), find somebody who will take on an apprentice / mentee in some area deeper than a "2-3 month learning curve".

Also, if you're already writing, they way to get better at writing is to keep writing. Start a blog or two, volunteer to write documentation for a non-profit or open source project or similar, use that as a portfolio to find better paying writing work.

Speaking of non-profits - volunteering with one is a great way to network, find somebody who might pay you for the skills you're using as a volunteer, etc.

Work for IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850485)

Working from home doesn't have to mean freelance work. I work full-time for IBM and do it from my home office as a software engineer. The first few years of my employment were in a traditional office but the last 4 have been from home. I'm 1000 miles away from my manager and work with people in various time zones so it's not like I'm the odd one out of the office. Very few of us have ever met in person and it makes it easier to work remotely when we're all dealing with the same types of issues.

Gee, I don't know (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850493)

Maybe it's best to just wade through all the spam that's swamping the journal system..

Avon calling (0)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850499)

Have you considered Avon?

Set your own hours. Income potential is up to you. Lots of brand recognition.

It's not geeky, or technical, but it's easy to excel, and you're looking for _income_ right?

Email me, I can put you in touch with my wife who is an Avon lady.

brian.dunbar at gmail dot com

Or Amway, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850585)

...any MLM where you can be a profit maker for someone else. Oops, you wanted that money for yourself, didn't you.

Most really good foo-at-home people became experts (or at least very good) in their own field before deciding that they didn't like the corporate structure and struck out on their own. They normally have to be very talented and in a demanding field where knowledge is worth a lot, as they are not standing on the shoulders of employees to make their living. (making enough per hour to both break even and pull even a median salary is surprisingly hard).

Honestly, good luck. (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850507)

If you are not an expert in something, don't think you are going to learn it easily and do it at home. "At home" means you get paid 1/10th the pay for 5X the work. if you are ok with working from 7am to 7pm every day and getting basically $1.00-$2.00 an hour, then go for it.

honestly you need to be a seasoned expert that is highly skilled and knowledgeable in a field to make any real money at home. My wife is a CPA with 22 years of experience and does taxes at home for small businesses.

You can look up medical transcription, but you have to be a stellar typist that has a very high accuracy and speed to make it. But you can make a good wage (for home based, entry level wage for a go to work based)

your best bet, find a regular job. Your kids will be fine with daycare, and honestly it's healthy for you to get away from them for periods of time.

Treasures are everywhere. (1)

englishstudent (1638477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850529)

Rather than look at the stuff that is demand, look at the things you like doing. You may not make much, but then again you might make a killing.

How about ... being a mom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850583)

I'm sure I'll be called chauvanistic, old-fashioned and be modded into oblivion for saying this, but how about ... oh, I dunno, being a mom and raising your children?

Parenting is not a part-time job. I'm not going to pretend to know your situation (maybe daddy is out of the picture for whatever reason), but you'll contribute more to society by spending your time raising your kid(s) to be decent human beings.

Re:How about ... being a mom? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850727)

the trick is if you have any talent at all you can in fact work (at home) and raise kids at the same time. If you want to get very old school look up proverbs 31:10-31 and then ask yourself IN THIS DAY AND AGE would not this translate to doing a good bit of work at home??

Aiming at the wrong market (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850587)

The kind of customer who uses $1 dollar an hour coders is not the kind of customer you want to be working for. They have no idea about price vs quality or how an economy is supposed to work.

I have in the past had to deal with more then my fair share of companies and individuals who had let their software or website be developed by either outsourcing or paying some kid a below minimum wage rate. Eventually it turns out that this doesn't result in even good enough code and then they came searching for someone to fix it all. And geesh, often they had spend their entire budget and more on the promises of "it will be fixed in the next version if you pay me now" and now they had nothing left but an average and outdated idea, useless code and a lesson not learned. The lucky ones can loan some more money but now have to start in debt with a website that has to be rebuild from scratch and is now last to market.

I have seen everything from sites where order lines were overwritten with new orders by the same person, to simple exchange rate errors on the financial report which the IRS does NOT find half as amusing as you might think to programs that load everything from the database and then search through it in memory. Works perfect for a demo with 5 products, enter your 50.000 and you need a super computer.

BUT the customers using these rent-a-coder site still think you can rent a coder for a dollar and get quality because obviously quality coders have no other options. Region matters less then they think, if it is no problem getting a coder in a low wage region to work for you, then it is no problem for that worker to get work for higher wages from your region... open borders work both ways. Here is the sting with outsourcing, the capable people in outsourcing regions don't want to work for your wages AND will work on their OWN ideas so THEY get the big bucks.

If the customer is only interested in low price, then you are racing to the bottom trying to compete. There is currently a big market for anyone who can setup a Magento webshop. But there are a LOT of bidders out there thinking they can do it for less and less money. Sure, you might try to persuade that YOU can do it better, make it more efficient, not have pages load in under 1 minute and be proud of it but you would be surprised just how few companies that want to start a web shop have either the know-how or the budget to do it right. You are setting yourself up for despair.

In many ways, getting a cleaning job pays better. People might not appreciate the work of a web developer but they do appreciate the work of the person that stops their toilets from becoming alive. The bottom end of web development is not a place to look for an income. To many competitors, not enough employers who know that quality costs money. Hell, the OP is part of problem, someone who doesn't need to make a real living from it undercutting those who do. How can you make a wage if there are people doing it for tips? Plenty of university girls make a living as a hooker, not so many boys do. How can you sell what so many are willing to give away for free or the cost of a beer?

Same deal.

Advice from a web professional: (4, Informative)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850631)

1st -> Find the free open source web content management system used most in your area/country in the professional field. In Germany that'd be Typo3, in your case (I'm guessing you're a US resident) that would probably be EZ Publish, Drupal or something like that.

2nd -> Learn that system and learn it well. Do this in the following order (timeframes mentioned are basic estimates based on my experience in 13 years of web development):

        a) 6 months: Editing and Management, understanding the systems structure principles, Backend/Admin Interface Navigation, core system functions and features. (Coverd with User Maunals and User Books on your CMS) --> take on first jobs as an editor for installations and websites using said system.

        b) 4 months: Markup stuff. Templating, HTML, CSS, minor changes and adjustments at that level, look into mobile templates aswell, everything is going mobile, you want to be on top of that when doing markup stuff (covered with HTML and CSS books)

        c) After about a year: Installing and maintaining, DB structure, MySQL DB Management (I'm presuming it uses a MySQL DB, since they all do), low-level maintainance, basic admining and maintainance at shell access level (Unix/Linux/OS X type stuff), DB and media directory backup, versioning ... Here is where 3rd party tools come into play and will become an important asset. FTP GUI tool, Versioning GUIs, DB Tools, editors, etc. As for versioning my hint: Go with Git right away, the tools awailable now are foolproof and if you start versioning with the distributed paradigm right away you won't have problems understanding it later on. (covered with DB adming, Shell navigation, Linux, Apache and Books on Versioning ... you're entering solid OReilly territory here)

        d)1,5 - 2 years into your new field: Programming, internal framework structure, maybe some PL basics before hand (more specialist tools, perhaps an IDE of some sort, maybe your own remote system) (covered with books on the programming language the system is implemented in ... most of them are built with PHP, Ajax / JavaScript would be the other end)

If you really want to make this your job, *do* focus on one system and one system/framework only! Pick the one most people are using or the one with which you get your first big-time paying customer. And don't be fooled, even then getting good money won't be easy at first. Proper editor level maintainace of a non-trivial web CMS requires experience, as does handling whiny customers and keeping your cool when the system goes offline for some odd reason you'll be researching for the next 30 hours :-) . You'll gain experience on the way, but also some grey hairs, so I expect anyway.

Start with maintaining your own test system and your own site running said system. Offer yourself up for editorial and maintainance work. Take it from there going into low-level maintainance and programming This will become interessting after 12-18 months into your new job.

Bottom line:
Popular system, start of as an editor, take it from there.
Good luck.

My 2 cents.

Government work (1)

jakkals (1036974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850637)

It has been some time since I've been freelance, but if I did it again today I'd strongly consider government work, or work for companies doing government work. Being DIACAP certified [wikipedia.org] is flat out not possible for somebody outside the USA. And yeah, getting this (or similar) certification is a pain, (and depending on youthful / other indiscretions it mighty even not be possible for you) but once you have it, you should be able to use it as a competitive advantage.

Server - Nagios/Cacti Babysitter. (2)

grelmar (1823402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850651)

First, to repeat what others have said - think local and network like crazy.

There are a lot of small-mid sized corporations that have a small (1-4 person) IT team but have an infrastructure that needs 24/7 monitoring. And if there's one thing that's universally despised by overworked sysadmins, it's being force to carry "the pager".

No matter how well you set up your Nagios/Cacti monitoring, there is inevitably a high number of Flaps going to the pager "WARNING!!! Agg!! I can't ping Server Z! Panic! Meltdown! The sky is falling" page goes out automatically to the pager. 5 minutes later after an automatic recheck "RECOVERY!!! Oh, never mind, it was just a network burp, the sky is not falling, the world is a calm blue ocean."

For anyone who's been through the "pager" rotation mill, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

The actual skills needed are "common sense" and responsibility. The pager goes off, you read the page, and try and determine whether it's something mission critical (ie: worth waking up the high priced help at 3am over), head to your keyboard so you can do a quick check of the detailed message/status, and fiddle and kill time for five minutes while you determine if it really is a flap. If it turns out to be something that's a) Important (something that can't wait until the morning) and b) not a flap, then you call the high priced help and they sort out the problem.

Equipment needed: A Cel phone with an obnoxiously loud ringer (the better for to wake you up), a computer/laptop with an internet connection (so you can log into Cacti/Nagios remotely), comfy sweatpants.

In a short time you can build yourself a rep for being reliable and trustworthy, you will have no problem increasing your income by adding more and more small customers.

Funny (-1, Offtopic)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850661)

A lot of /. kiddies posting that the Monty Python crew is to old when the same complainers whined for Futurama to come back just so we can have yet more episodes of Bender learning he cares and promptly forget it again. The same people who probably also think that Family Guy is funny. I heard that somewhere in the endless seasons they hide one joke, and that is the entire joke.

So, the old farts are at it again eh? Good for them, god knows we need some comedy that you know, has actual jokes in it, not just... I got no idea what Simpons of Family Guy has, they might be series like the A-team or Knight Rider, once you thought they were great, then you grew up and will kill to hide the fact you once liked them.

But Monty Python has survived that. Only the wannabe elite snobs who hate anything that is popular are against it because if everyone gets the joke, then they ain't special anymore.

Technical writing (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850675)

I assume your experience is in writing fiction or somesuch. Have you considered technical writing, i.e. creating user manuals, etc.? The skill set overlaps somewhat, but if it's the creative aspects of writing that were the problem, this may be an option.

--
(tech writer)

build a library of code (1)

hobrah (910031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850679)

your first projects will requires lots of time. after time you will have a library of re-usable html and code. re-use will reduce the time and effort to produce a decent website. Or just learn to configure Drupal/Wordpress. there is a lot of functionality in those packages. I'm sure those low-ballers are just configuring their in-house cms or drupal/wordpress.

be a technical writer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850685)

For the last 13 years my wife has been living your dream. She makes a very decent living putting together course materials for corporations that need to train employees and/or customers. 95% of time she works from home with only the occasional on-site meeting. It turns out my wife's formal education (MS Educ., BS geophysics) is a notch or two above those of most of her colleagues and that is appreciated by her SMEs (Subject matter experts. Technical writing projects pair the writers with SMEs, pronounced smee. The SME is usually very busy with his main job and needs to be gently but persistently chased). Check out STC.org.

Technical writing is basically a cottage industry and will likely remain so. It outsources well, but not to India. It took a few years for US corporations to learn that :-)

Database reporting (1)

Fnord (1756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850697)

My girlfriend is deaf, and traditional office environments have typically been hard for her. At some point she decided to start working from home so most of her interactions would be over email. She had experience working for non-profits and picked up some SQL and knowledge of some of the databases backed financial systems that those non-profits use (notably Raiser's Edge). She found a decent amount of work on E-lance doing financial reports for non-profits using Crystal Reports and SQL Server Reporting System, and when it came to hard SQL she was able to ease her way into it, taking on more and more complex reports over time. Now she's a full time contractor, working from home, telecommuting to non-profits all over the world, making good money.

Learn some SQL, one of the report generating tools, and how some type of business stores its financial data, typically a non-tech heavy one that's not likely to do this stuff in house.

Tech work... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38850703)

...sucks dick compared to prostitution.

All puns intended.

Network Engineering... (1)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38850711)

First of all, get experience and knowledge in many different systems (e.g.: MS, Unix, Linux, Cisco, Mac, etc.) and learn how to make them work together. Use your house LAN and your free time now to interconnect them in ways that would be useful to potential LOCAL clients. Combining free Linux applications (installed on cast-off computers your customer has in a closet) with local licensed applications can often save a small LOCAL company a lot of money.

Secondly, make a business... I suggest an LLC or an S-Corp... with business cards, letterhead, and web site of your own (I now use Bluehost).

Thirdly, get out there and join local business associations, clubs, and even fraternal organizations (Elks, etc.) and hand out business cards. This is the old-fashioned form of networking.

I subsidize my retirement income with remote administration of several databases, VPN networks and backup systems. Plus I have one Internet web forum that uses advertising to give me a small income.

You won't get rich but since you have to be around the house anyway you'll get some income (possibly), some more experience (probably) and have some interesting stories for when *you* retire. :)

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