I’ve been working from home as an independent contractor for about 15 years now. Though I’ve had the occasional dry spell (client-wise), I’ve been fortunate to have a steady stream of clients, in a variety of industries. In this time, I’ve also come across many opportunities that are advertised as “jobs” but really aren’t.
I’m not against making money online, getting money back on purchases, or having a side hustle or two, but I’m also realistic. While I have nothing against making money doing certain things, I think some companies play fast and loose with the term “job.” Getting money back for something isn’t necessarily a “job.”
Things That Are Telecommute Jobs
Here’s how Dictionary.com describes the word “job.”
Whether I’m working as an independent contractor or permanently employed by an organization, I’m doing a job. It’s something I do regularly for an agreed-upon price. It’s not something I do in hope of getting selected to get paid, nor is it something I do to earn gift cards or free merchandise. A job is something I do for a client or employer where I am guaranteed to receive money in exchange for a service.
Jobs are full time employement, a freelance gig where you are receiving money in exchange for a service, or other projects where someone is paying an agreed-upon rate in exchange for you doing whatever it is you do.
When I see an ad for a telecommute or “work from home” job that isn’t really a job, I throw up in my mouth a bit. There are people who desperately want to work from home, and it’s those people who are being targeted for home-based opportunities that aren’t really jobs.
Again, I’m not begrudging anyone their ability to earn some coin doing these little side hustles, but let’s be honest about what they are, and why they’re not “jobs.”
Things That Aren’t Telecommute Jobs
In my opinion, the following aren’t jobs and shouldn’t be advertised as such:
- Surveys: Here’s how most survey taking places work: You receive a notice that a survey paying X amount of dollars is available for the taking. However, it’s not as cut and dry as all that. In most cases, you have to spend 15 or 20 minutes seeing if you qualify to be paid for the survey. So you’re investing your time and giving your opinion, in many cases, only to find out you’re not eligible. And when you are eligible? You get paid a couple of dollars for your time. Sporadic surveys that you may or may not get paid for aren’t jobs.
- Rebates: Getting money back from shopping feels like the best of both worlds, doesn’t it? But earning a few cents on the dollar for buying things now and then isn’t going to put food on the table. Mind you, the money you get back over time can add up to a significant amount, but earning change or a couple of dollars here and there will take months, if not years, to earn a significant enough amount of money to actually get a payout. Earning change every time you buy a blouse isn’t a job.
- Contests: Giving someone your personal information or entering your name onto a mailing list in order to maybe win something, clutters your mailbox – it doesn’t pay your mortgage.
- Situations that don’t pay money: My rule of thumb is that I don’t do anything that can’t pay the mortgage. Getting free products or gift cards in exchange for my hard work isn’t a job. Until my bank accepts gift cards or boxes or spaghetti, I’ll pass. Oh, and guess what? You still have to pay taxes on those items. No thanks.
- Doing it for the glory: Doing work for a byline, to “pay dues,” or get a link to your blog isn’t a job. It’s giving someone else something for nothing.
There are plenty of ways to earn money from the comfort of your home office. However, if you’re going to “apply” for a job, make sure it’s really a “job.” Otherwise, you’re just helping someone else out, while getting little in return.