Average Annual Pay: Remote Work vs Office Employees
Doing what you love and earning at the same time from your home is the goal. Remember that making this change can be extremely challenging not just because you’re generally working alone, but you will be responsible for so much more.
Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the more popular and common remote jobs where you can work from home and see what it takes to achieve that.
To add some weight to these roles, I’ve added in some feedback gathered from both freelancers and remote business owners who come from various backgrounds and work in different cities around the world.
Job salary is estimated based on recent job listings by employees with at least 10 hire records on UpWork.
Here’s a list of potential remote work opportunities.
1. Graphics Designer
Estimated Hourly Pay: $10 – $50/hour
Graphics designers or any other kind of artist who works to create something that communicates visually probably best fits the work from home profile. Whether you create logos, posters, or any other kind of art, the job normally starts off with a client brief.
Once you’ve gotten what you need from clients, the rest is basically all on you. From your equipment to raw materials and talents – these are all things that you can have on hand at home.
In fact, there are many occasions where working from home is actually beneficial since it means you won’t have to move your tools of trade to and from an office space each day. Of course, exactly how beneficial this is depends on what kind of artist you are.
How to start if you are a beginner
If you’re interested in graphics design then you might like to start off by taking some kind of course like a bachelor's degree in graphic design. If that’s impractical for you due to some reasons or other, you can also learn and practice on your own.
Equipment-wise, be prepared to fork out a substantial amount for a powerful computer, possibly laptop or tablet, as well as original copies of design software.
Charles Yarbrough, President of Webhost.pro, makes use of freelancers for a wide range of tasks, including graphic design. For him, freelance graphic designers above all need to deliver top quality work.
“The time it takes to get errors fixed or find someone new to help, is much harder than paying more money or waiting longer. That is the key reason that we focus so much on ensuring that the freelancers we work with have a decent track record in similar work,” says Yarbrough.
Victor Thomas, owner of website design firm Thomasdigital.com agrees. Based out of San Francisco, Thomas feels that a proven track record of success in similar work is important. He added, however, that it was also important that freelancers be able to manage expectations well.
“I’d want a clear picture of what can and will be done, along with what is not possible. That, plus clear and constant communication on how things are going throughout the life of a project are important,” commented Thomas.
2. Video Editor
Estimated Hourly Pay: $20 – $120/hour
Similar to the graphics designer, video editors can also enjoy the privilege of working from home. Video editors are the ones who work on raw video footage, tuning it into a final, polished product that is ready to be viewed by the public.
While this may sound cool, it also isn’t the easiest in the world since it requires the integration of many elements such as dialogue, sound, special effects, and raw video of sometimes undeterminable quality.
How to start if you are new
For those who want to go into video editing, you can start off by pursuing an education that is film-related such as broadcasting or multimedia communications. There are also some specialized courses you can pick up like cinematography or even those which are software-specific.
Do bear in mind though that unless you’re looking at the lower end of the market like editing personal videos or more basic corporate videos, the requirements for video editing can quickly become prohibitive.
For managing the editing of movies or more complex screenings, you may have to invest significantly into an editing studio.
3. Accountant / Bookkeeper
Estimated Hourly Pay: $20 – $50/hour
While bookkeeping and accounting are both essential business functions, there are a few key differences. A bookkeeper is responsible for the recording of financial transactions, whereas an accountant is responsible for interpreting, classifying, analyzing, reporting and summarizing financial data.
Regardless of which you might prefer, both of these online remote jobs are much needed in nearly every industry today. Another plus is that these jobs can also be easily done from the comfort of your own home – or other places, if you might prefer.
Getting started in this remote work
While bookkeepers only need a basic understanding of accounts to start off in this role, accountants need to be certified. The exact certifications will depend on where you reside, but at the very least a base Bachelor of Science in Accounting is needed. From there, you can choose to specialize later on.
Thanks to the beauty of the Internet, clients can easily share documents and files with you and there are many Cloud-based accounting services which exist today. In fact, you will likely only have to visit a client’s premises a limited amount of time each year – primarily during tax season.
Accounting software is also usually paid for by the clients depending on their company needs, so all you need is a computer, Internet connection, plus what’s in your head.
4. Virtual Assistant
Estimated Hourly Pay: $5 – $15/hour
As you might be able to tell from the job title, the role of a virtual assistant is something you can easily undertake from home. So many industries are in need of virtual assistants, real estate firms, IT firms or even accounting and financial firms.
As a virtual assistant, you need to be prepared for the ultimate in flexibility in your job role. What you do can include answering phone calls, managing schedules, or even booking travel arrangements. Of course, much of that depends on exactly what sort of assistant you are.
How to start working as virtual assistant from home
While you may not need to have a degree to apply as a virtual assistant, some of the more premium placements may set this as a requirement. You can also decide to take up other courses to increase your skill set and make your profile more desirable.
The key to being a successful virtual assistant lies in getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. You should also be highly organized, have good communication skills, be tech savvy, and be able to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
On the equipment end, virtual assistant is a pure “computer job”. Meaning, you will need a computer, some communications gear like a headset with mic, a reliable Internet connection, and software to help keep you organized – and that's about it.
Michael Naval is based in the Philippines but he supports a variety of clients around the world as a virtual assistant cum freelance IT specialist. He advises those considering the job of virtual assistant to always build on skills and most importantly, have a positive ‘can do’ attitude.
The former will serve you well in getting various tasks done, while the latter helps you handle clients who may be demanding. Consider it a ‘likeability’ factor that can help extend contract durations indefinitely.
“It is difficult to advise how much to charge for VA work since the scope of work can be pretty large depending on the client. The main things you need to work out would be your time investment, any additional tools you may need to play a particular role, plus what extra skills you may need to enhance if necessary,” says Naval.
5. Writer / Editor / Translator
Estimated Hourly Pay: $15 – $60/hour
Having been a writer and editor for many years, I can easily tell you that this is probably one of the most flexible working from home jobs in existence. At various times, I’ve worked in offices, in the field, and at home at some point or other.
There are many kinds of writers around – bloggers, feature writers, copywriters, novelists, and much more. Remember, practically everything you see on the Internet or on paper was created by a writer!
If the thought of having your words appear everywhere appeals to you this is one role you might be suited for. Depending on what kind of writer you want to become the requirements can vary quite a lot.
For instance, a technical writer will necessarily need to be knowledgeable in technical detail, while a research writer may need to have a background in the area the research is in. Yet the common ingredient in all of these specializations is the ability to communicate.
How to get paid writing online
Being able to capture the attention of audiences and clearly convey a message is one of the most vital skills you can have as a writer. While you may learn the specifics of this in a course such as a Bachelor of Journalism, ideally, you’ll pick up a mentor who can share his or her secrets gained through experience.
Nevertheless, writer, editor, or translator, the key pieces of your inventory will be a computer, editing software, plus an Internet connection.
Muhammad Ruby Ernawa is an Indonesian-English translator who has built his entire business from freelancing.
With more than 5 years experience in freelancing, he is now the owner of Diamondo Translation. For newcomers to this industry, he advises them not to worry too much about how much experience you have when applying for work – as long as you have a solid platform in skills and communication.
“Being able to communicate well with clients is critical, playing a part in securing the job as well as accurately negotiating and comprehending requirements. If you fail at this, the best skills in the world may not save you from making a mess of things.” says Muhammad
Sharon Hurley Hall, a professional freelance B2B writer and blogger both work for clients and with other freelancers as well.
With 30 years of professional writing for print and online media, she feels that the key trait to be a successful freelance writer is the quality of work and experience in specific niches.
“My clients expect quality from me, and the same quality from any freelancers I work with. I believe it is a mistake to prioritize speed over quality,” she stresses. As you can see, no matter your line of work or employment status, quality is important.
6. Research Assistant / Analyst
Estimated Hourly Pay: $25 – $150/hour
Imagine getting paid for knowing it all – and you would be wrong about what a research assistant does.
As the title implies, research assistants help with things like background work such as fact-finding, data collection, and lots of other things related to supporting the main work producer.
As some might say, Google is your friend, but just remember that there are a lot of things that you may not be able to find on the Internet. As such if you want to be a research assistant you need to be prepared to go out into the field from time to time and dig into non-digital archives if necessary.
Although research is usually highly specialized, the assistant may not need to have all the educational background as the researcher. What will likely be needed though is a qualification in an area related to the research that is being carried out.
For example, if you are applying as a research assistant on a project involving the study of emerging responses to Genetically Modified Crops, it would serve you well to have a formal background in genetic engineering or biochemistry.
Unfortunately, these educational backgrounds take time and money to work on, so your role as a research assistant will likely be limited to specific fields. Still, this is something that can be worked on remotely, depending on what facilities might be needed as part of the job.
Expect to work on an easily portable device such as a laptop and communicate digitally through project management software or at times, simply email.
7. Online Trainer / Teacher
Estimated Income: –
While there may be the old joke that “those who can’t do, teach”, the role of a teacher is, in reality, a very respectable one. However, thanks to the Internet you can be a teacher online as well, as long as you have a valuable skill to pass on.
Some examples of these specialized skills include WordPress, flower arrangement, gardening, knitting – almost anything in fact. This means that the role of an online trainer or teacher can be extremely valuable to a wide range of people. So long as you have the will to do it, you can create and sell your courses online.
A big plus of creating digital courses is that it doesn’t need to be a full time job. You can work and create them in your spare time and shuffle your schedule depending on which is your priority at any given time.
To improve the courses you build, try to learn some soft skills such as public speaking, communications, or anything else which can help improve the experience gained through the courses you create. Once you have these you can start building digital courses.
Depending on what you decide, you may need some sort of webcam or a screen recorder, along with interactive digital tools to teach with.
Special Feature: Kyle Roof
For would-creators of online courses, we have a special treat – a short snippet discussing the basics of things with Kyle Roof. The co-founder of Internet Marketing Gold, PageOptimizer Pro, and a few other sites, Roof has made quite a name for himself with his success in creating online courses, so take his comments to heart!
According to him, beginners at creating online courses need to focus on building their reputation in the business – the more recognized the name, the better the courses will sell. This can be achieved though creating some ‘freebie courses’ that in general, add value to communities.
“Once you've got yourself established (and this can take years) you'll then have a whole bunch of people wanting to buy your course. If you did well on someone else's YouTube channel or podcast, they will be happy to have you back to talk about your new course,” says Roof.
“As you present you can begin to refine your course concepts. You can field test what works and what does not before you take the time to record any videos.”
Roof cautions though that it can be quite time consuming to even create videos, not to include editing time (which he outsources). Each video takes him around one to two hours to produce – irrespective of how long they generally are.
“Uploading videos and content to teachable or any other platform will take a lot longer than you think it will,” he adds.
8. Programmers / Web Developers
Estimated Hourly Pay: $15 – $100/hour
Perhaps normally the most insular of job roles, programmers and web developers have not been known to have the most sociable jobs around. This, plus the nature of the work itself gives an almost ideal scenario for work from home.
Whether you are working on customized projects for a company or even selling your own generic applications, all of it is possible from the very comfort of your home. You will essentially be a freelance developer.
The most challenging part of the job will be getting your name out there, perhaps through an online portfolio, and marketing yourself as well as you can. Naturally, it will help if you’re able to provide potential clients with a strong portfolio of the projects you’ve successfully completed or participated in before.
How to start as a work-from-home web developer
Although programming can be self-taught, it is always best to have some formal background. I have seen many great programmers who know a great deal about the specifics of coding, but remain mediocre due to weak core concepts.
Nonetheless, whatever you decide, you’ll need a dedicated work machine to build and test your code on that preferably won’t be interfered with by personal applications that you might want to install.
Julian Song, a Malaysian freelancer developer, has been independent for more than a decade now. He credits the ability to do this thanks to the experience gained during his earlier work life and the support of his wife.
“Always be sure that you put in 101% effort in every project you undertake. Be sure not to overpromise, but deliver the best product you can. If you're able, suggest ideas to help as well,” says Song.
9. Dropshipper / Affiliate Marketer
Estimated Income: –
By now many of you will probably be big believers in the power of eCommerce. Major platforms have sprung up in big ways and even small businesses have jumped on board thanks to shifts in technology.
Did you know that even you can become engaged in eCommerce? One of the ways you can do this is by dropshipping. This mode of eCommerce lets you sell products online without having to actually have the product.
Create a website that acts as a sales front, then source your products from dropshipping suppliers like AliExpress, SaleHoo, Doba, or many others. You can build a site quickly and with no technical knowledge if you use a website builder like Shopify.
While you will have to pay for the initial investment in hosting and building your website, you don’t have to order goods in bulk or even handle shipping. This can all be done for you through your dropshipping sources.
Affiliate Marketers work in similar ways but they mainly create content which helps sell products. For each customer an affiliate marketer refers, they will earn a commission on that sale.
How to start if you are new in affiliate marketing
When you decide to work from home as a dropshipper or affiliate marketer, you’re essentially taking on the role of a business owner – one which has to wear many hats. Because of this, you may sometimes have to outsource certain areas of your work, be it web development or content production.
Jerry Low, founder of WHSR, BuildThis.io, and HostScore is a veteran affiliate marketer. With 15 solid years in the industry, he shared thoughts on the role for potential newcomers who need to outsource.
“When taking on talent, I have a preference for paying a retainer rather than engaging freelancers since this is more cost efficient. However, it is important that they have the skills and experience necessary to complete the job they were hired to do. In order of importance, I require quality, reasonable pricing, and speed.
Because we all work remotely, one critical aspect of anyone I hire is that they must be extremely attentive to detail. This key aspect can mean a big difference in what you think you are getting and what you eventually get,” said Low.
10. Social Media Manager
Estimated Hourly Pay: $10 – $50/hour
As we all know, social media is all everyone talks about now. Many brands both big and small alike need someone to handle their digital outreach activities – a big part of which is social media.
From managing day to day activities to making content for the company’s target customers, your key role in social media management is to help increase brand awareness, hopefully leading to a boom in sales.
Getting started as social media manager
To excel in a social media management role you will ideally have a background in communications, public relations, or perhaps even marketing. Most importantly, you should have a cheerful disposition and be able to keep your cool under pressure. Remember, you are the public face of the company on certain key channels.
Thankfully, all this can be done from the comfort of your own home as well, as long as you have a device to work on, proper planning tools for your social media content, and perhaps some integration software that will let you easily manage multiple social media channels more easily.
Where to Find Legitimate Online Remote Jobs?
The best thing about Fiverr is that it is relevant to not just a wide range of work from home job roles, but also can help those who are at many levels of their career.
For example, whether you’re a starving writer just starting out on your own or a professional with 30 years of experience – there are possibilities for you here.
Clients on Fiverr bid on your services based on pre-set project definitions that you establish. Custom requests are also supported and you can quote a potential client based on their exact project specifications.
Fiverr is suitable for many job roles and is a good place to start off your work from home endeavours.
Upwork is actually very similar to Fiverr in that it also caters to a wide range of job seekers. The key difference lies in the way that you are paid on Upwork. Where Fiverr lets you set estimated project costs, Upwork allows you to quote customers on a per-hour basis.
This allows for much greater accuracy in billing since you can bill for your time. If there happen to be additional requests or such, your fee will simply be increased due to an increase in the time spent on the job.
Upwork is good for almost any job roles but it helps if you have some experience before starting here.
Toptal is aimed at bringing the cream of the freelance crop to the top companies that want projects outsourced. True to its role in connecting people via its platform, Toptal itself has no headquarters and is truly digital.
To make use of Toptal you need to be able to pass a number of tests, which is how it keeps only the best on hand. Originally catering to engineers, today Toptal has expanded its score to include designers, accountants, statisticians, consultants, and more.
Toptal is good for engineers and some other specialized professional services and only accepts the top 3% of applicants.
SimplyHired may be a job portal but it also includes a fair number of openings for freelancers who can work from home. Uniquely, it offers more remote jobs than are merely registered on its platform but aggregates jobs from dozens of other sources as well.
SimplyHired is suitable for most job seekers but isn’t necessarily specialized for remote workers. There are opportunities though.
If you’re a writer or content specialist, you might be interested in Writer Access. This platform helps connect writers with the right remote jobs for them and features AI-based job matching as well. Of course, these advantages don’t come without a number of caveats.
Firstly, jobseekers on Writer Access are only sourced from a handful of countries including United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland, or New Zealand.If you meet those criteria, you’ll then have to undergo an assessment from the Writer Access team to finally qualify.
This site is especially for designers who want an easy way to get their work sold. All you need to do is sign up with them and upload the items which you wish to market. Since Icon Finder is one of the biggest online marketplaces for icons online, you will have access to a ready market for your designs.
There is, however, a catch. Icon Finder will split whatever you earn on their site 50-50. This means that you only get half of whatever you are selling a product for. Still, it is an easy and quick way to earn some cash without having to find customers of your own.
ProBlogger is more of a community for bloggers rather than a dedicated job platform site. However, thanks to the resources of its members, you do get access to a dedicated jobs section there.
Most of the work available here is related to content production, be it ghostwriting or editing. Budding writers should definitely check it out for its ease of access as well as the huge amount of supporting resources.
Finding work as a video editor can be difficult since despite the popularity, it can be an incredibly niche field in many aspects. Thankfully we have ProductionHub which is specially for video editors and producers.
This platform allows you to not just apply for jobs but also upload and showcase your work so that clients can find you.
For those wanting to create courses and teach things, Teachable is one of the best ways to go. It works like a website builder, allowing you to create courses on its platform and then hosts the course and lets you sell it to students who want to learn.
While offering users the opportunity to get started quickly and easily, it does have some drawbacks. You need to pay for a subscription to use the service, plus Teachable takes a cut out of every sale you make.
One more resource not to be overlooked or underestimated is Facebook since it has many pages or groups dedicated to work. If you’re a designer or other specialist, look for communities on Facebook where those in your line of work gather.
In many instances, job providers will find these groups as well to offer opportunities. It is also common for group members themselves to share work opportunities to the community at large.
Since the key theme here is remote work, you should understand that there is basic equipment that you’ll need to have on your side to make things work. All of these will have to come out of pocket since essentially, you’re providing a service.
Some examples of the tools you may need can include;
For many roles, this can simply be a generic system that you can use to create documents, send and receive communications, or use web-based tools. However, in some cases, you may need a bit extra.
For example, video editors or graphic designers may need more powerful machines since video editing is very resource hungry.
Webcams, headsets with microphones, larger monitors – any or all of these might be needed depending on your role. For example, as a virtual assistant you mgy need to be frequently calling or otherwise communicating, so investing in a solid headset will be invaluable.
For those who work via platforms like Fiverr or Toptal, payments and invoicing are all handled for you. If you decide to work with your own clients you will need to be able to invoice them for work done.
For this, you can make use of anything from Excel sheets or invoice templates to more professional solutions like Cloud-based accounting and invoicing solutions. Zoho and Freshbooks are good examples of these and can be paid for on a monthly basis.
Although working from home is mostly a solo task you may have opportunities to work together with others in a supporting manner. If this situation arises, choose to use some tools that let you work together seamlessly.
Graphic designers will need some software which used to be quite expensive but now are thankfully available as Cloud-based subscriptions and “fremium” browser-base tools. home ideas of what may be necessary might include Adobe Cloud CC and perhaps a resource repository like Bigstock.
Depending on what type of work from home job you decide to go for, sometimes you may need special tools that are dedicated to specific tasks. For example, HootSuite lets social media managers work on multiple channels at the same time and even lets posts be scheduled.
For writers, Grammarly (my review here) can help you correct or highlight areas that need correction as you create text on the fly. There are dozens of specialized tools available for almost any need and many even have free plans available.
As with your own computer, keeping your work devices secure is one of the most important things you need to do. Imagine if a virus were to wipe out your work, or if a hacker could steal your client’s information from your system.
Always run an updated Internet Security software like Norton 360. It would also be best if you can always use a Virtual Private Network service to encrypt all the data coming in or going out of your device, especially since you’re working remotely.
Aside from a headset, you’ll need reliable communication software to work remotely. These can vary according to your needs, from simple video call solutions like Google Duo to presentation applications which come packed with features such as TeamViewer or Webex.
Note: Remember, this list of items and applications only serves as a guideline. Your exact needs may vary greatly, depending on the exact role and circumstances you find yourself in.
Is At-Home Careers Right for You?
What are the Benefits of Working from Home?
First of all, independence. Self-motivation, self-discipline, focus, and concentration. Four things that you will gain after working from your own home (and not just getting to work in your pyjamas at 8AM). It can be a stretch to find your source of motivation. One important tip would be trying to create your own dedicated work space (not your bed!).
I mentioned ‘your home’, but your work space can be absolutely anywhere. Want to work at your favorite cafe down the street? Possible. Want to work from the comfort of your car? Possible. Anywhere you feel comfortable and lets you get the job done can be your workspace.
Commutingcosts can get cut drastically as well. Imagine how much you can save in both time and money by not having to commute for hours each way to an office everyday. Instead, take those savings in time and money and reinvest them equally into your work and family.
For the procrastinators out there – most remote jobs have flexible schedules (we will get into this soon- keep reading!).
The Down Sides of Working from Home
Procrastors or those who are reactive rather than proactive can find working from home a challenge. The lack of clear distinction between work and leisure time are more suited for the ‘go getters’ who are highly self-motivated.
Having no face to face relation with colleagues can be tough. If you like surrounding yourself with people during work hours, working from home can sometimes get a bit lonely. If you are someone who thrives in physical connection, working from home may result in lack of physical interaction – which could potentially place your mental health at risk.
Self discipline is the key to working from home (and quite frankly anywhere). Having boundaries and holding yourself accountable is tough especially in an environment like home where there are many distractions.
Managing your own time and schedule allowing you to be productive is tough. There is no one to hold you accountable on a day-to-day basis. You can sleep in, procrastinate, work whenever you feel like it. Sounds great, but it isn’t.
We often complain about the regular structure a 9-5 job places us in, but it helps us stick to a schedule. However, we are certain that if you choose to craft your own schedule, you will certainly aim to follow it.
Avoiding Work-at-Home Scams
Since the majority of work from home jobs are sourced online, you need to be aware of the possibilities where you might get scammed or otherwise run into problems. Working with job platforms can provide some form of security since the platform itself acts as an intermediary and can assure payment for work completed.
Be especially cautious if you’re soliciting for jobs on your own via public channels such as Facebook or forums since these offer you virtually no protection. As with everything online, exercise some appropriate precautions such as;
Doing some background checks on potential employers.
Not giving out too many personal details.
Requesting deposits for work.
Always get work specifications spelt out clearly.
Always be aware of scams – reputable employers will never need you to pay them anything to get a job!
In the course of this article I've discussed a list of potential work from home opportunities and where to find potential work. Always remember though that working from home can be very different from working a fixed job in an office environment.
Be aware that you’ll need much more than your core work skills to survive – you will essentially be running your own business, with all that it implies. Some months you might make a killing financially, while at others the takings may be lean.
Learn to plan long-term and as you gain experience you may find that you’ve over time built up a very successful online career of your own.
About Timothy Shim
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.