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Working from home makes it easier to care for my son
Soon after the Navigator’s Autism diagnosis I left a full-time job to become a work-at-home mom.

My job required a great deal of travel and while Autism Dad did a terrific job when I was on the road, the Navigator really needed more structure than my irregular travel schedule could give him.

I have frequently been asked how it is that I am able to work at home, and for advice on how other parents can work at home as well.

Running a business from home isn’t easy and for us it didn’t result in a full-time or even part-time paycheck right away.

Autism Dad and I talked a lot about it and planned for a year before we made the change. It required saving up funds and adjusting our spending so that the loss of my income didn’t shock our budget.

It required preparing a marketing strategy so that the people I hoped to be contracting with were aware that I would be available to them.

Here are my suggestions for people interested in working from home.

What Are You Good At Doing?

When people ask me what they might do to work at home, my first suggestion is they look at what they are good at – what do they know how to do? What do they enjoy doing?

The work I do from home is essentially the same work I did outside of home, reduced in scope and without the travel. I am selling my expertise to people who, after 10 years in my field, know who I am and what my skills are.

Sometimes people are a little dismayed by the suggestion – maybe they don’t think they have any skills, don’t enjoy their current job and don’t want to keep doing it at home, or think that their skills can only be used outside of the home, such as in an office or service environment.

Be Creative in Thinking About Your Skills

My next suggestion would be to think of their skills in a broader context – for example, I worked as an administrative assistant for years. I definitely developed skills from it – typing, understanding software, and business practices, etc.

Skills that might be parlayed into becoming a virtual assistant, for example. There are websites on which someone can set themselves up as a virtual assistant working from home.

I had a friend who was skilled at accounting and worked from home as a bookkeeper. There are online bookkeeping service websites as well.

What if someone’s skills are more creative, like graphic arts or website development? There are sites like www.fiverr.com where someone can sell those skills online.

What about people who are skilled artistically and are really good at making things? Websites like www.etsy.com allow those amazing people to sell their unique creations.

If folks were still uncertain about their skills, I would suggest that they ask their family and friends what they think they are skilled at and build from there.

Do Your Research

Once someone settled on the work they wanted to do from home, I would suggest fully researching how they would move forward before making any commitments. Things like checking out the websites on which they might offer their services and reading reviews of the websites, its users, etc.

On Fiverr, for example, people offer to complete simple projects starting at $5.00, and requesting more complex elements add to the cost.

Someone offering their services on Fiverr might need to think about what their starting service would be and how to build on that to earn more.

Someone offering virtual assistant or bookkeeper services might need to be prepared to develop a robust client list over a period of time.

Be Willing to Learn

A key suggestion is to think creatively and be willing to learn new things.

Experiment with learning Power Point, for example, to increase the skills a virtual assistant could sell.

Take online Excel classes to be able to add graphs to bookkeeping work.

Try making a movie with your computer’s movie making software for skills that can be offered on Fiverr.

Network

I have a friend who, after months of hunting, finally found the perfect job for her family needs through networking.

All that means is talking to your friends, telling them what you’re looking for, and asking them to keep you in mind when they hear about opportunities.

I believe there could be lots of opportunities for folks – beyond those awful “you pay us” work at home schemes – looking objectively and creatively at what they already know and love to do.

Originally published on Autism Mom

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