In 2007, I discovered that remote working was a legit thing. I thought to myself, “Wow, why did no one tell me that I could work online and not waste my time traveling to and from work every day?”
Here I was at the time commuting 6 hours a day to and from my job and found out that people have been working remotely since the 70s…
Never in my career-searching life had I heard tell of working online. Why?… Why?? In my defense, I had only been in the workforce for a few months when I discovered the option of remote working. My commute was soon to be a thing of the past.
So let’s start with my first remote job.
E-mail Marketer – Spoiler alert it was a Scam
I found an ad on Kijiji (Canadian equivalent to Craigslist) for an at-home position as an e-mail marketer.
I can’t recall exactly what the job description was, but I remember the general description of being paid $5-$25 for every e-mail that I sent. I thought I’d be a good fit, so I sent them $20 for the training material.
A few hours later, I received an e-mail with a .txt file explaining the job duties to me. I felt a wide range of emotions when I saw that the training was less than 100 words and read:
- Post an ad to Kijiji
- Receive the payment for training
- Send this document to the person who paid you
Sure, if I lacked ethics, wanted to scam people out of their hard-earned money, and lacked morals, I could have made some significant bank online.
1 point scammers – 0 points me.
Fortunately, I didn’t give up. I was determined to work online, and shortly after, I found another online gig that sounded great.
Live Sales Staff Work at Home chat Job – the last straw
In 2007, I landed a job with Live Sales Staff as an independent contractor. The job was doing live chat support for a web-hosting, site-builder company (similar to wix.com.) The job itself was great. I loved it. Troubleshooting websites and domains all day was fantastic. Being able to listen to music all day was even better.
What was the downside to the job?
The CEO thought it was a good idea to hire contractors, and not employees, to get away with paying slave wages. They expected us to do a “training period” for a month with “training pay.” This training period was a euphemism for doing the actual job. There was no formal training.
I was expected to work 40 hours a week for four weeks and get paid $500 for the entire month of work. If we do some math, that amounts to just over $3 an hour. Yup. $3 an hour.
Things could have changed since then. It’s been over ten years since I worked there, but I don’t recommend them at all.
At that time, this turned me off and killed my determination to find a work at home job. Considering the first “job,” I tired as an e-mail marketer, and then this. Need I say more?
Giving up on working at home
At this point, I was over it. I was done searching for jobs online, and I decided to go work in-house at Convergys (if you didn’t know they have work at home positions too.) While working here I decided to go back to school, and when researching jobs that I could do from home Career Step made it on my radar. I got a student loan and started their online course for Medical Transcription.
Fast forward a few years later, and I ended up moving to another town and got hired at another in-house call center doing technical support for cellular phones. Some of my co-workers at that time were quitting to work at home for a call center, and I soon followed suit.
A remote job at Alpine Access – Almost, but not quite!
In 2010, while I was still studying medical transcription, I got hired on for a full-time position to do customer service at Alpine Access (now Sykes.) The job was amazing! I woke up, walked to my desk, logged into training, learned all day, and got paid bi-weekly via direct deposit. A-freaking-mazing.
The awesomeness was short-lived. The hours became scarce, and voluntary-time-off became mandatory-time-off. I had just got a new apartment, in a new town, and needed work. I was freaking out, but I was determined to continue working from home since the flexibility was too good to pass up.
Sykes at home – the light at the end of the tunnel
I’ve already written a review on Sykes, so I won’t say too much here. They’re a legitimate company that really made me a believer in remote work. After bad experiences, I finally found a legit job that was just like a regular in-house call center job. They paid me bi-weekly, just like Alpine Access, and I had a steady 35-hour work-week.
I worked there for four years until I decided to go back to University for a Computer Science degree, and unfortunately, their schedule wasn’t as flexible as I needed it to be. That’s when I found Arise Virtual Solutions, which I’ve written a review on already. Arise gave me the flexibility that I needed to attend college and learn. They allow you to choose your hours week-by-week and schedule yourself in 30-minutes increments. Pure flexibility.
I eventually had enough of call center work and decided to start a blog, make YouTube videos, and do transcription full-time at Crowdsurf while I continued learning web development and worked on my coding skills.
Between 2015 and 2018, I lived off of my savings while learning and made $50-$1000 a month (depending on how much time I put in) with:
- UserTesting – Usability testing apps, websites, and prototypes for various companies. $10 USD per test paid via PayPal. (other companies like UT)
- Swagbucks – Everyone knows about Swagbucks. GSN games were the biggest earner for me.
- Crowdsurf – Transcribing short audio clips for TV, YouTube, Universities and online courses. Made between $4-$10/hour USD depending on the day.
- Appen – I mostly did voice evaluation here. The work was slim, but I’d randomly make a few dollars now and then.
- Blogging/YouTube – Making videos and writing reviews supplementing my income with advertisements and affiliate marketing.
How am I making money online now?
I still use Swagbucks to make some extra money, now and then, and the same with Crowdsurf. I regularly log into UserTesting, still blog and make YouTube videos.
My savings were running low, so I started applying to jobs, and I was hired on at Transcom, the same day I sent in my resume. I went through training and made it to the first day of the phones and realized telephone customer support was not my forte. Yeah, I’m good at it, and I love to help people, but I wanted more of a challenge and to make use to my web development skills that I’ve been working so hard to develop for the last few years. Before I move on, Transcom is legit. I recommend them. They pay bi-weekly via direct deposit, and they have a ton of work available.
Recently, I was hired on to a large tech company to provide technical support via chat and e-mail, submit bug reports, respond to tickets, customize websites, and other duties. My hard work finally paid off. I’ve seen this position called Happiness Engineer, Customer Advocate, Customer Hero, Customer Success Agent, and more. I won’t mention my companies name due to the NDA (non-disclosure agreement,) but I will say that Buffer offers a position that is similar.
Buffer is transparent when it comes to their pay and lists all of their employee’s salaries here. They’re a fully distributed company, meaning that all of their job positions are remote. Other companies that have positions like this include:
As of now, this company gives me the flexibility I want, the challenge I need, and the opportunity to grow my skills and advance my career. I get to choose my schedule on a weekly basis, travel whenever and where ever I want since I can take work with me. The freedom and flexibility that this company offers are just what I needed.
Don’t give up. Never stop learning. If you want something: make a plan, follow-through, and just go for it!
My Future Plans of Working at Home or Remotely
It’s been a goal of mine to work in a software development role since the remote jobs in that field of work at limitless, but most importantly because I enjoy building things with code.
I’m hoping to continue working with the tech company that recently hired me and moved into a software QA position, and from there I’m interested in either moving into web development, app development, or data science. I’ve yet to decide, but all of these positions have remote employment options.
If you’re interested in learning more about jobs available at tech companies here are a few resources:
- 75+ Remote Tech Companies With Non-Tech Positions Available
- 15 Remote Tech Careers (Plus 34 Companies that Hire)
- 3 High Pay Remote Tech Jobs Make $96,000 a Year
I highly recommend this field since there are so many opportunities available to work at home. Most remote tech companies are distributed companies that let you work from anywhere in the world.
I hope this will inspire to you start your work at home journey, or if you’ve been working online let me know what your favorite job was in the comments, and where you hope to be in the upcoming years.
Until next time.