Six years ago, Shannon Levart (pictured right) was raising two kids while working part-time as a courier and pizza delivery person. Then she heard about Etsy, where individuals can sell their wares online. Shannon felt it could be a great way to showcase her passion for jewelry-making while earning income at home. Her original expectations for her online shop, Miss Fickle Media, were humble: “I knew I needed to make $20 a day.”
Shannon is part of a growing group of moms taking on entrepreneurial second jobs from home. The reason for this trend isn’t just money or the recession, says career expert Alexandra Levit, author of New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career. “People with children and sometimes elderly parents who require their attention also need this kind of flexibility.” In Shannon’s case, working from home allowed her to control her schedule. “I don’t have to ask anyone if it is okay for me to clock out and go pick up my kids from school,” she says.
Work-from-home second jobs are valuable even if when not undertaken due to necessity. Moms can gain new skills and explore additional career possibilities—all from the comfort of their own homes. The most popular work from home second jobs, according to Levit, are home-based customer service agents, direct sellers (those who sell consumer products person-to-person outside a traditional retail location) and virtual assistants. And for would-be entrepreneurs like Shannon, there are online seller jobs.
As with all work, these jobs come with challenges, such as feeling distracted by your home environment. “You have to learn to accurately time your work, schedule the needs of your family, your home, your workplace and your customers, then separate yourself from all those responsibilities to take time to relax everyday,” explains Shannon. And being your own boss isn’t always a plus: “A lot of people envy self employment, but they often don't consider that you can never hand over responsibility to someone else," says Shannon. "I have to face problems, challenges, criticisms and obstacles all by my lonesome.”
For those up to the challenge, some at-home second jobs can be financially rewarding. Sometimes the second job can replace the person’s primary job. While direct selling jobs are best for supplemental income, a virtual assistant, full time, can make $39,000 a year on average.
Intrigued? Here's advice from Levit:
- Talk to people already doing it. Get an idea of what you’re getting yourself into.
- Get support. Take advantage of Women’s Business Development and SCORE resources in your metro area to learn more about starting a small business.
- Do your homework. Make sure you're going to work for a reputable organization. If you are launching something new, select an enterprise that fulfills a real customer need.
- Beware of scams. If the ad on Google says you can make $5000 a day without leaving your couch, steer clear.
- Be realistic about time. If you work long hours in your day job, a second part-time job might be too much for you.
- Don’t neglect your day job. Remember that your first responsibility is to your current job. You don't want a second job to interfere with those priorities. And don’t shut out your family either. They’re a main reason you’re doing all this.