Our Top 10 Recommended Work-at-Home Websites

Obviously, I’ve Tried That is the premier work-at-home website; however, there are other websites out there that provide lots of useful information about making money at home and avoiding online scams. Most of these sites not only offer realistic ways to make money at home, but the recommended methods have been tested by the webmasters or their followers. Thus, you’re not just getting inane suggestions on how to make money; someone has actually tried and been successful at making a legitimate income from his/her proposed methods. So, without further ado…

1. Work at Home No Scams

Since 2003, work-at-home Dad and affiliate marketer Eddy Salomon has been offering everyday folks the opportunity to replace lost income, make extra income and become their own boss. Work at Home No Scams lists many different money-making sites, the type of work involved with these sites, and how much money can be made at a particular job. Some of these sites (e.g., paid survey) enable one to make a few extra bucks a month, while other sites (e.g., Wealthy Affiliate) can lead to a full-time career with comparable income. Work-at-home scams are also highlighted.

2. Work at Home Truth

Paul Schlegel offers a no-nonsense approach to finding work-at-home job opportunities and avoiding scams. Additionally, he lists work-at-home opportunities that aren’t scams but also just aren’t worth your time. Best of all, the money-making products recommended on WorkatHomeTruth are personally verified by Paul to be legitimate or your money back.

3. Smart Passive Income

Pat Flynn makes an incredible five figure monthly income from his work-at-home ideas including affiliate marketing, selling instructional ebooks, building iPhone apps, and of course blogging about making a passive income. Pat’s money-making techniques are a bit more advanced than answering online surveys or selling tchotchkes on eBay- but his advice is well worth it to those who want to dream and eventually earn big.

4. Real Ways to Earn Money Online

Arguably the most organized and comprehensive work-at-home site I’ve perused, Real Ways to Earn Money Online offers a huge directory of money-earning opportunities, with everything ranging from answering questions to writing. The site’s webmaster, Anna, also provides many opportunities to save money at her sister site Real Ways to Save.

5. Entrepreneur’s Journey

Yaro Starak, the webmaster of Entrepreneur’s Journey, shows readers how they can start and be successful at an online business. His content, much like Pat Flynn’s, addresses the larger aspects of running an online business rather than just making a little cash on the side. Yaro also offers several instructional and money-earning programs like Blog Mastermind and Cranky Ads.

6. The Four Hour Workweek

Timothy Ferriss, the author of a set of books by the same name, created a blog that not only addresses how to break free of the rate race but also how to take charge of your own life. His content is at times more inspirational than instructional, but you can’t fault a guy who is passionate about his career/life calling and challenges people to live up to their full potential.

7. Rat Race Rebellion

Admittedly, it was the title that first attracted me to this work-at-home site run by Christine Durst and Michael Haaren. What kept me coming back to Rat Race Rebellion was the many work-at-home opportunities that the site advertised. Perhaps the most valuable resource that the site offers is its daily updated job lead board, which offers a plethora of prescreened telecommuting positions including editing, customer service, management, blogging, transcription, IT, etc.

8. The Penny Hoarder

Kyle Taylor, the webmaster of The Penny Hoarder (whose site design oddly resembles Cracked.com), offers many work-at-home or just-outside-of-home job opportunities that you may not have even considered. With article titles like “9 Ways for Slackers to Make Money Playing Games”, “The 7 Highest Paid Political Mistresses (+ Should You Become One?)” and “Get Paid to Spy on the Mailman”, it’s hard not to get drawn into this site and spend a good hour or two reading its posts.

9. Freelance Switch

This site offers some hearty advice on how to create, run and advance your freelance _____ business. Freelance Switch also posts an extensive job board as well as links to outside job boards. Furthermore, the site offers many useful business resources such as invoice creators, client contracts, accounting software, tax advice, etc.

10. All Stay at Home

Job boards, blog posts, articles, business opportunities- if you can think of it, this site has probably got it. Traci Dillard, the webmaster of the All Stay at Home family of websites, offers work-at-home job seekers numerous methods by which they can earn money, start a home business, and obtain information on topics such as choosing the right stay-at-home job and dealing with work-at-home job stress. And, just in case this top 10 list was not enough for you, her site also provides a page linking to even more work-at-home websites.

Drop Shipping: A Viable Business Model if You Can Avoid the Scams

You’ve probably seen eBay PowerSellers offering discounted brand name items through dozens of posted auctions at a time. Alternately, you may have noticed how some Amazon sellers never offer fewer than 100 items on their featured sites. Perhaps you’ve wondered where and how these sellers get their merchandise and then are able to sell it so cheaply. Additionally, how much money do they make in such a business? More often than not, such sellers obtain their bulk merchandise through drop shipping intermediates.

What is Drop Shipping?

Drop shipping is a special type of retailing technique where the retailer keeps no merchandise in stock but instead transfers the responsibilities for holding product and fulfilling customer orders to a wholesaler or distributor. The retailer typically makes his/her profit from the difference in retail versus wholesale product price. The wholesaler or distributor, meanwhile, saves money by not operating a retail store and by having a salesperson that can sell product quickly.

Almost anyone can get started with drop shipping and make money from it. There is no government oversight of drop shippers and you do not need a special license to start listing wholesale items on your website or an auction site like eBay. However, it may be a good idea to obtain a general business license from your home state or municipality, since you are running a legitimate business and need to operate legally. Your state or city government small business office or the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) can help you out.

There is also the matter of sales tax; most states require sales tax collection if the company that sells the products is located in the same state as the customer. With drop shipping, however, this situation gets complicated since the question arises of who actually sold the product to the customer. While you, the drop shipper, advertised the product and collected payment on it, you never actually owned or possessed the product itself. In such a case, it doesn’t hurt to enlist the services of a business accountant in your state.

Beware of drop shipping scams!

Before you can start drop shipping, you need to find wholesalers and distributors. Many online sites claim that they will get you in contact with lots of wholesalers and/or distributors whose products you can easily click and drag to your online store. These sites are called drop shipping aggregators (or drop ship warehouse companies) and are essentially middlemen between you and the wholesaler/distributor. The problem with using aggregators is that there isn’t much of a price difference between the merchandise offered to you versus what’s being offered on eBay or Amazon. Thus, it’s very difficult to achieve any significant profit margin on what you end up selling (since most of the price difference has been claimed by the aggregator). Oh, and did I mention that you will also need to pay a membership fee to establish your store and sell products under the aggregator?

What really shocked me was finding out just how ingenious these aggregators are. Some aggregator sites like WorldWideBrands, Salehoo and Doba charge you a membership fee on the premise that they find the wholesalers for you, thus cutting out a significant portion of your workload. Other sites, however, know that you are looking for the “Holy Grail” of wholesaler/distributor information and will pretend to be the actual wholesalers/distributors. For example, an “objective” article on Yahoo! Voices claimed to provide a first person account of how the author used three wholesale sites to find and sell discounted products. When I clicked on these three different links, all of them directed me to the same squeeze page that wanted $200 for a list of wholesalers. Um…no!

I’m not saying that there aren’t legitimate aggregator sites that provide actual contact information for wholesalers. However, after perusing various online scam reports, I found out that most of the provided wholesaler/distributor lists are horribly outdated. Furthermore, since many hapless individuals have already purchased the advertised lists, those wholesalers are probably working with a number of retailers and don’t need you. In summary, it’s unlikely that you’re going to get anywhere by searching online for wholesalers/distributors.

So, how do you find wholesalers and distributors?

Arguably, finding your first two or three wholesalers/distributors is going to be the hardest part of the entire drop shipping business. However, here are some steps you can take to get started:

  • Direct inquiries
    Email and/or call given manufacturers to find out if they do drop shipping and, if so, do they deal with retailers directly or through a distributor. Doing this will entail that you know the business first-hand; for example, if you wish to sell Bath & Body Works products, you should know that it operates under the parent company Limited Brands in Columbus, Ohio. On the company’s online FAQs site, it does appear that Limited Brands works with suppliers and subcontractors. Going on this information, you could contact Limited Brands and inquire about whether or not it participates in drop shipping.
  • Trade publications
    Many business-to-business (B2B) publications are available for free through sites like Free Trade Magazine Source. You might consider subscribing to a few magazines that are within your desired selling niche. These publications frequently list product manufacturers as well as who should be contacted directly.
  • Basic legwork
    If you know of a factory or manufacturer in your geographic area, don’t hesitate to go over there (after first making an appointment) and find out if it would be interested in a drop shipping arrangement. Making personal contacts could be the best way to get you in the drop shipping door.

What’s next?

Once you have a few direct product lines set up, highly consider obtaining a domain name for your business and creating a website. Also, establish a merchant account with Paypal so that you can start accepting larger sums of money and not have customers leaving your site while paying for an item. Look into shopping cart platforms while you’re at it; Magento, OSCommerce, and 3DCart all work well with Paypal and give your website a professional retail look.

Of course, you can just sell your products through places like eBay and Amazon; however, the commissions on your sales may eat into a significant portion of your profits. Furthermore, many customers will want to see what other products you are offering through your website. It’s a lot less work to have a sales page posted on a web page than to always be listing new auctions on eBay and Amazon.

Advantages and disadvantages of drop shipping

There are several big advantages with having a drop shipping business:

No inventory. You don’t have to rent space to hold inventory or fill your house with merchandise that might be damaged or stolen.

No need to ship. The wholesaler/distributor packs and ships your sold merchandise, saving you the time and hassle of weighing packages and going to the post office.

There are also some disadvantages:

Little control over merchandise. You’re going to have some issues with accurately describing your items to potential customers, especially if they want additional information like product measurements or material composition. In most cases, obtaining such information will require that you contact the supplier on the customer’s behalf.

Little control over shipment. If the wholesaler/distributors ships something and it gets lost or breaks, this is going to reflect badly on you and not the shipper. Again, you will need to work with your wholesaler/distributor to rectify the situation.

Retailer responsibility. No matter whose fault it is, you are ultimately responsible for making things right with the customer. You must never give out your wholesaler’s/distributor’s information and ask your customer to contact the company directly; not only is this highly unprofessional, it also negates the customer’s need to deal with you (i.e., the customer can now get the wholesale discount on his/her own).

The Bottom Line

If you can do your homework and make the necessary contacts with several wholesalers/distributors, drop shipping may be a good source of income for you. Some people even do drop shipping as their full-time business, making a good profit from the hundreds or even thousands of products sold every month. For example, Chris Guillebeau of The $100 Startup writes in his book section “Stumbling onto Freedom” how he “…started by importing coffee from Jamaica, selling it online because I saw other people making money from it; I didn’t have any special skills in importing, roasting, or selling.”

Beware of any shortcut methods when obtaining wholesaler/distributor lists, however; most list sites are scams and sell irrelevant lists that get you nowhere or put you in direct competition with a hundred other retailers. In short, don’t take shortcuts.

Can You Make Money Through Crowdsourcing?

Jeff Howe, in his June 2006 article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”, called crowdsourcing “The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.” In essence, crowdsourcing utilizes the combined efforts of a group of people to help a person or business resolve a problem, create a new product, etc.

The person or business compensates the group’s efforts by either paying all participants a nominal fee or by awarding prizes to those individuals that come up with the best resolution, idea, etc. Unlike employees, these people are not directly hired or fired by the person/business. Also, since this group is derived from the general (i.e., anonymous) public, it is not considered outsourced labor.

Crowdsourcing is not new. Back in 1714, the British government offered The Longitude Prize to anyone who could find a way to determine a ship’s east/west coordinates at sea. Built in 1827, the Fourneyron hydraulic turbine was the result of a crowdsourcing competition created by The French Society for the Encouragement of Industry.

Modern examples of crowdsourcing include iStockphoto, an image-sharing site that features the work of amateur photographers for $1-$5. There is also Threadless, where community members submit and vote on which T-shirt designs should be produced. GeniusCrowds, a product invention site that I myself was a part of for six months, offers members the opportunity to submit their product ideas and vote for the ones that should be developed into prototypes.

Crowdsourcing Site Compensation

Crowdsourcing sites fall into one of two categories in terms of their compensation: pay-on-task or contest/prize. The pay-on-task sites offer a nominal level of compensation, say $1-$30, for a completed task. It’s not a lot of money but at least it’s a guaranteed amount of pay. Contest/prize sites pay significantly more money or offer job contracts, product prototypes and royalties; however, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually win that amount or get that offer. Overall, it’s best to find out beforehand just what you’re (not) signing up for with a crowdsourcing site.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing has many benefits for the sponsoring person or business, including access to a vast pool of talented and cheap workers, instant feedback on product ideas, little/no overhead (e.g., severance pay), free marketing and customer loyalty. Furthermore, those individuals that best perform on a crowdsourcing project can later be retained as contractors or employees, reducing a business’s hiring costs. For crowdsourcing members, the benefits of crowdsourcing include personal satisfaction from seeing a product idea realized, feedback from community members, job offers and monetary (or other) compensation.

Crowdsourcing also has its disadvantages. For starters, payments to crowdsource members are rather low. Ownership of your original ideas, designs, etc. is uncertain and the business may later capitalize on your submissions without compensating you. Because crowdsourcing is conducted in an open and public forum, competing businesses can easily swoop in and steal your work.

Crowdsourcing Sites

Despite its criticisms, crowdsourcing is here to stay. Here is a list of crowdsourcing sites that pay money and/or offer monetary prizes for various member tasks:

crowdSPRING: With nearly 90,000 members and roughly 250 ongoing projects, crowdSPRING is one of the biggest and most competitive crowdsourcing sites online. Monetary prizes range from $100-$1,000 for winning a task like naming a company, designing a logo or image, or creating a home page. If you are an accomplished artist or programmer, this may be the place for you.

Crowdtap: This site assigns you points based on your activity, whether it be through posting Facebook Likes, providing product feedback, answering questions or even hosting product-related parties. When you have attained enough points, you can cash them in for gift cards or donate them to charity. Also, 5% of your earnings are donated to a charity that you select from the Crowdtap site with Crowdtap matching your donation amount.

IdeaOffer: This site allows you to view projects that are in need of ideas. If you submit an idea and it is picked as the “winner” you get paid up to $100. Most winning ideas pay out between $5-$15. Here’s one example project and idea:

Daycare in Grocery stores
I have been all over the United States and there has been only one store that I’ve come across that had a childcare or babysitter inside of the store. There was a woman inside of a kids play area that was hired to watch the customers children while they are busy shopping. I would really like to see more of this being that there are a lot of parents out there that could use a hand while trying to focus on shopping. If this a good idea?

Mechanical Turk: Amazon’s micro-labor site offers members a chance to perform Human Intelligence Tasks, or HITs, for a few pennies per completed task. These HITs are easy to do for a human but are a bit too complex for a computer to understand. An example task might include something as simple as finding a URL’s Page Rank for $0.12 or writing a 350+ English resource article for $17.50. Personally, I have found the cheaper HITs to not be worth my time because I had to first contact the task requester and wait for a response before completing the task. However, the more highly priced HITs are worthwhile if you can complete them quickly.

NamingForce: Much like IdeaOffer, NamingForce focuses on the creation of product and domain names. Prizes for submitting a winning name range from $50-$250. It’s easy to sign up to the site and start inputting names almost immediately or just start voting for the names that you like the best. Pro Namers, which are those members who submit at least 200 votes in 30 days, can win as much as $500.

My Personal Experience with Crowdsourcing

As I mentioned before, I was part of GeniusCrowds for six months. During that time, I submitted a lot of invention ideas, some of which were touted as quite innovative by the community members. However, my ideas were never selected for prototype development. After some time had passed, I decided I’d be better off developing these product ideas on my own. Now I just need to get motivated and build my very own human-powered TV.

I also signed up for Crowdtap several months ago. The site doesn’t offer much in terms of instant pay but I am getting closer to cashing in my points for an Amazon gift card. I’ve also had the opportunity to provide feedback on several products that only months later appeared on store shelves.