By: Mary Walton
(Editor’s Note: This story is part of a partnership between Chasing the Dream and Next Avenue.)
After you turn 50, there may be many reasons why you don’t want to work 9-to-5 in an office anymore. Maybe you have to care for a loved one and can’t be away from home. Maybe health issues make it difficult to get out. And although the overall unemployment rate continues to drop at a steady rate, it’s still a different story for older Americans and things are even more difficult for the long-term unemployed. Whatever the reason, some people are opting to go it alone and become freelance.
The Internet has made this easier than ever. Often, all you need is some time, a computer and a good Internet connection. Here are six freelance jobs you may be able to do from the comfort of your home:
1. Customer Service Representative
Many companies are realizing they don’t need to bring their customer service reps into the office because the reps can do the job just fine from home. If you have a background in customer service, this could be the freelance job for you: Take calls from customers, take orders and deal with issues that arise. If you’re good with people, you could make a good living doing this.
You’ll need a computer and headset to take calls on behalf of your company. Luckily, headsets are inexpensive (and you probably have a computer), so there’s very little outlay required. Try getting in touch with a site like ACD Direct to find your first clients.
What you might earn: Pay for this kind of work is usually hourly, so it’s best to work as many hours as you can. Pay typically averages about $16 an hour.
2. Online Tutor
You may have done some tutoring in the past, maybe even when you were a student. Nowadays, tutoring can be done online from anywhere. To do this job, you need to be able to encourage students and help them get the most out of their learning. (See this Next Avenue article about why people tutor after age 50 and how to get started.)
If you want to get started, try getting in touch with sites such as Paper Fellows and Ox Essays. You can use them to find potential clients, from elementary-school students to adults.
It helps, of course, to have background in a specific subject. If you don’t, websites like the ones listed above can tutor you in one. If the site has a big demand for tutoring in a specific subject, you may be asked to undergo training.
What you might earn: Pay for an online tutor varies depending on the sites you work through and your expertise. Here, too, pay is usually hourly; you may be able to earn around $25 an hour through a tutoring website. If you’re working on your own or can tutor in a highly-specialized subject, you may be able to charge more.
3. Virtual Assistant
With so many businesses downsizing these days, many are short on assistants. As virtual assistant, you can do all the duties a regular assistant would from the comfort of your home, as long as you have a good Internet connection. You can find virtual assistant roles through regular job boards online. Search for “virtual assistant.”
As a virtual assistant, you’d be expected to do things like book meetings, plan business trips and create correspondence for your employer. You’ll have to be a quick typist and be able to juggle several jobs at once. Most businesses will expect you to work normal business hours — 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. However, some may ask you to work other hours and possibly on weekends.
What you might earn: The good thing about being a virtual assistant is that you’d earn a salary just like a regular assistant. The average salary: around $22,000.
4. Resume Writer
Maybe you’re the person your friends come to for advice when they need to freshen their resumé. If so, you’ll be great at this job. There’s a real demand for online resumé writers, so you could make a good living, too.
To find work, get in touch with a site such as Resumention or CV Writing. Plan to spend an hour or two on most resumés. If you’re writing one for a more high-powered role, you may need to take longer.
What you might earn: This is a niche industry, so payment can vary widely. That’s why it’s wise to check out what various sites would pay before you start working for one. What you’ll earn will also depend on who wants the resumé. Someone looking for a retail job may pay around $50; someone looking to land a Fortune 500 company role may pay more like $200.
5. Academic Writer
If you were good at writing essays in college, you may want to look into becoming an academic writer. Many sites are looking for people to create unique, well-researched papers. To get started, all you need is your computer and a good background knowledge in a subject.
Check out sites well-known and respected sites for academic writing such as Big Assignments and Essay services. You might end up correcting a student’s grammar and writing style or help him or her get the most out of the assignment. You’ll often need to create examples of work to show students how assignments should be written.
What you might earn: Payment for academic writing is usually done per page, and will depend on your experience. When you start out, you’ll make around $2 per page. As you become more experienced, you can earn over $8 per page.
6. Online Juror
Yes, really. You won’t be participating in active criminal trials; being an online juror means you help prosecutors evaluate cases and with the likelihood of the verdict once one goes to trial. This isn’t a full-time job, so you can’t rely on it to make a living, but it’s great for picking up a bit of extra cash. Most assignments take a few hours or so.
If you’re interested, sign up with sites such as eJury. This kind of work isn’t as consistent as the others here, however.
What you might earn: Payment will be made per case you sit in on, ranging from $10 to $60.
This story is part of our partnership with Next Avenue. Next Avenue is public media’s first and only national journalism service for America’s booming older population. Their daily content delivers vital ideas, context and perspectives on issues that matter most as we age.