When I began working from home in 2010, I was completely lost about where to find legitimate jobs. The interwebs are filled with listings that promise high wages, minimal effort and long-term stability. Uh-huh, right. You know the old saying: If it sounds too good to be true…it’s a phishing scam.

Virtual or no, work is work and it’s important to find employers that value your time and skills. Anyone who promises $50 an hour for data entry is probably selling something. I like to end WFH posts on a positive note (because the pros far outweigh the cons!), so let’s start with the duds. WFH newbies can spend hours, days, months of wasted time on leads that aren’t worth the effort. I speak from experience. If you have full-time wages in mind, save your energy by avoiding:

Bidding Sites

These sources promote individual jobs that include everything from clerical work to web design. Rather than providing an hourly wage, they ask applicants to bid on the job in order to win it. This business model bugs me for a couple reasons:

  • My skills have value. And so do yours. Think about it: Do you really want to land a gig because you were the lowest bidder? Me neither. Give yourself some credit. Your career is worth more than a string of competitions.
  • I don’t gamble with income. Funny thing, my mortgage lender likes to be paid every month. Mister also likes food and electricity, the little rascal. I don’t have the luxury of gambling with income. Sure, my salary fluctuates from month to month, but not by much. A steady wage requires predictability, something a bidding site rarely provides.

Content Mills

Content mills connect third-party writers with customers, acting as a middleman in the process. The problem with this service is the fee. Most earn 60% or more of the bottom line, cutting your profits and marginalizing your efforts. Who needs a middleman, anyway? There are better ways to earn money, and they don’t involve finder’s fees.

Direct Sales

In my experience, telemarketing is a bit like becoming a buzzing fly: you’re usually stressed out and everyone is trying to swat you away. Most WFH sales jobs pay on commission rather than providing a reliable wage. While it’s not the worst way to make  a buck, we’re talking about building a full-time career here. I don’t bother with this option. I can’t muster a salesy voice, anyway.

Multi-Level Marketing (MLM)

Like direct sales, MLM relies on your ability to work in volume. MLM “independent consultants” sell everything from cooking supplies, health supplements, skincare regimens, and more. Remember Tupperware parties? Bingo. While a few consultants may rise to the top, most cannot support themselves with the MLM business model. I wrote an article about this topic a couple years ago. Learn more about the drawbacks here.

Craigslist

Like everything listed on this site, Craigslist job postings are hit-or-miss. For every reputable job I have found, there are 10 others that lead to a dead end. Consider using SearchTempest.com if you decide to pursue Craigslist for leads. Its search engine compiles Craigslist postings from multiple cities, allowing you to search near and far for telecommuting gigs.
5 Work-From-Home Leads That Pay- MetroCozy.com

Leads That Work

And now for the good stuff!

HireMyMom.com

Despite the name, I used HMM long before becoming a mom. Anyone can join and the postings are from legitimate employers. I found two of my long-term clients via HMM and I still work with them today. The site requires a fee, but it’s been worth it in my experience. Bonus: Postings remain active until the positions are filled, which means you’ll never have to guess whether a listing is old news.

Flexjobs.com

This site is the holy grail of WFH resources. Although there is a fee, you have the option of choosing one of three service plans. FJ also allows you to view job listings before signing up.

BloggingPro.com

Freelance writers can earn big bucks from jobs listed here. Usership is free, but posting is not. Translation: Employers must pay to advertise open positions, which means you’ll find serious offers from reputable companies.

Niche Sites

Here’s a secret for you: I’m a strong personality on paper, but I don’t always possess the same confidence in person. Shyness is no bueno when it comes to self-employment, and it took me years to realize that the best way to get work is to get over myself and ask for it. Example: I wanted to write about parenting after Mister was born. I did some research and found popular sites that paid well for contributions. After many rejections and a lot of self-doubt, ScaryMommy decided to publish my article. MommyEffect followed shortly thereafter. I can now call myself a paid mommy blogger, and it only took 30 days of determination to get here.

Word-of-Mouth

My bookshelves are filled with titles like “Self-Promotion for Introverts” and “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.”  I love writing, but selling myself? Not so much. Thank jeepers that about 80% of my business comes from word-of-mouth recommendations. There’s nothing more powerful than a colleague taking time to vouch for you as a reference, or better yet, actively reaching out to a manager on your behalf. Use each opportunity to build a strong network of business friends. You’ll be surprised how valuable these friendships can be.

The bottom line: Working from home isn’t as simple as posting a resume, but the opportunity is there for those who look. These are just a few of the resources I use on a monthly basis. Do some digging to learn more about how each site can benefit your career!