The world of work has seen a huge upheaval since the COVID-19 pandemic became our new reality. Some of us were already working from home, and not that much changed for us. Others were suddenly flung into a work-at-home arrangement that required a whole new set of skills, including the ability to focus while managing kids, pets, and spouses underfoot 24–7.
But what if you weren’t one of the lucky ones who already worked from home, or whose onsite job transitioned into a remote position in the wake of the pandemic? Maybe you were furloughed, or laid off altogether, and you need to find paying work sooner rather than later. Or maybe you’ve had a taste of the no-commute, no-office-politics lifestyle and want to find a permanent work-from-home position.
If that’s you, you may be asking yourself, Is it really possible to find a legitimate, rewarding work-from-home job or freelance opportunity?
Yes, it is.
9 best work-from-home jobs
- Virtual assistant
- Call center or customer service representative
- Web developer or web designer
- Social media manager
Here are nine work-from-home or freelance jobs that pay well (if you’re committed to doing a thorough search to sort through the “this must be a joke” pay rates on some of the bigger remote work job sites).
One caveat: Some of the sites listed below, like Upwork, Freelancer.com, and similar sites, have scores of low-paying jobs and projects. However, there are better-paid opportunities on these sites if you’re willing to dig deep and find them. So be sure to do your due diligence.
1. Virtual assistant
Virtual assistants have been part of the work-from-home economy since at least the mid-1990s. And with many businesses now operating solely online, virtual assistants are even more in demand.
In case you’re unfamiliar with this type of job, the International Virtual Assistants Association defines virtual assistants as “independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.”
While some virtual assistants perform standard administrative, clerical, and support services; others take on higher-level tasks, like research, social media management, writing and distributing content, creating graphics, uploading and scheduling email sequences, and other tech-oriented services. The more specialized your skills, the more you can potentially earn.
If you’re fluent in two languages, becoming a translator might be right for you. Most translators are self-employed freelancers, while a handful work as salaried employees. Industries that work with translators include government agencies, hospitals, private educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services, among others.
You can find translator jobs by researching translator job boards or by signing up for a service like Gengo, where you’ll need to create an account and pass a test to begin translating. Or you can search for translator opportunities on sites like Upwork or FlexJobs.
Transcription professionals convert audio, video, and other voice recording files into written content. This kind of work requires a high level of accuracy and attention to detail, and the ability to type quickly.
Keep in mind, transcription often pays by the audio minute rather than by the hour. There are opportunities for general transcriptionists and for transcriptionists who specialize in fields like law, medicine, or higher education.
To find transcription jobs, you can create a free account on sites like TranscribeMe! or apply at Rev (due to the COVID-19 crisis, there’s currently a wait list to apply). Alternatively, you can search for transcription projects at FlexJobs or Upwork.
Private tutoring can be very rewarding, as you’ll be able to put your specialized subject matter knowledge to use. Tutoring is especially great for current or former teachers, college students, graduate or Ph.D. students, and others in academia.
If you have an excellent command of grammar, proofreading might be more your speed. Proofreading and editing jobs are often lumped together, but they require different skill sets. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be good at both, but be aware of the differences when applying for jobs.
Proofreaders mainly focus on catching spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, spacing, or other similar mistakes, whereas editors typically make suggestions for larger-scale structural changes to a piece of writing. For example, an editor might restructure, remove, or rewrite entire sentences or paragraphs, or improve the overall clarity and flow of an article.
You can find proofreading project work on Upwork, or search on FlexJobs for temporary or freelance proofreading work. For full-time positions at companies that offer remote opportunities, check out LinkedIn or Indeed, and use the word “remote” when searching.
6. Call center or customer service representative
Yes, remote customer service reps are a thing, especially now, with more businesses operating online. If you have experience in retail, data entry, or customer service, this could be a good option for you. It might not be ideal for those with young children at home, but if you have a quiet space to work uninterrupted for several hours each day, it could work.
One place to check for opportunities is Amazon, where you’ll find listings for remote customer service jobs (along with other available positions). Another big tech company offering work-from-home positions is Apple, with their At Home Advisor opportunities. Remotive specializes in remote jobs and has a category of listings for customer support/customer success positions.
7. Web developer or web designer
Many web developers and designers are already working from home as freelancers or as part of a remote team with an existing company. This is one of those specialized jobs that has long been done from home, so there are robust online resources for finding freelance projects as well as remote job postings.
To find opportunities, search on the careers page of the websites of companies you want to work for, pitch your services to advertising and marketing agencies, or consider the Upwork or FlexJobs route, if you’re just getting started. You can also check standard jobs sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, or Remotive, which specializes in remote positions.
Much like web development and design, freelance writing has been a fairly standard work-from-home job for many years, so there are plenty of resources to help you find clients, projects, and even full-time staff jobs you can do from home.
A warning, though: Watch out for content mills, which hire writers to churn out low-quality articles quickly, at very low rates, as well as ads online for terrible writing jobs that pay pennies. Steer clear of these kinds of “opportunities,” if possible. (You’ll find low-paying writing jobs and freelance gigs on writer job boards and places like Upwork as well, but those venues also have well-paid writing jobs if you’re willing to hunt for them.)
Businesses large and small have a nearly endless need for persuasive writing, so you can find lots of good opportunities if you’re diligent. There’s an enormous variety of projects available for those with the right experience — blog posts, press releases, white papers, case studies, and client success stories to name just a few.
If you’re a copywriter with digital experience, you can write website copy, landing pages, email sequences, sales pages, Facebook ads, advertorials, launch copy, long-form articles, and much more.
As with most work-from-home jobs mentioned here, you can find freelance writing jobs on places like FlexJobs, Upwork, and Freelancer.com. However, it’s usually a safer bet to go to job boards and sites that specialize in writing jobs. These include Mediabistro, Problogger, and JournalismJobs.com. There’s also an abundance of job postings on LinkedIn and Indeed, and many of those positions are remote.
9. Social media manager
Almost every business uses social media in some form or fashion, and someone has to create and schedule all that content, not to mention strategize how it comes together to meet business goals.
The great thing about social media content is that it must be produced anew every week, so it’s ongoing work. You might create and schedule social content for two to three (or more) platforms for the week on a Monday, then undertake this same process every week for the life of the company (or the social media campaign).
Most business owners understand the value of a social media presence but are too busy to manage their social media accounts on their own, which makes for a lot of opportunity. To find opportunities in this category, you can search for remote positions on Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Remote.co, among others.
It’s not possible to list every site that offers work-from-home opportunities here, but a handful of others where you can find remote jobs or freelance gigs in the categories above include SkipTheDrive, We Work Remotely, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder, and SimplyHired.
If you’ve long dreamed of finding the ideal work-from-home job or freelance opportunity, now may be the perfect time to explore this option, especially with so much demand for remote workers of all kinds and so many online resources available to help you find the ideal position.