When I was desperate to find a way to work from home, I looked everywhere. We didn’t have a lot of money for me to be throwing away (okay, okay, we had NO extra money). I had a brand new baby, a new mortgage (which was less than our rent used to be, thankfully), but we’d been stripped of my income. Sure, we planned ahead…a plan that included me to returning to work in 90 days.
Separating Fact From Fiction
In the first two weeks of being up all night and wanting to sleep all day with my newborn, I knew that I had to figure something out…fast. So I started searching. I found a lot of sites and people who promised me “full time income” and “work from home” jobs…but they were more interested in signing me onto their team (which required a “small” investment of anywhere from $50-250.00. That’s not a small sum of money when you have none!) than my personal success.
Now, I’m not anti-MLM. I actually have tried my hand at a few, and my current “venture” brings in a few hundred dollars a month. But to me, that’s not steady income. I don’t have time or patience for in home or online parties, and I’m not terribly fond of the idea of selling all.the.time. So I don’t. Do I like the products? Yes, I use them and love them. But they do not pay the bills.
And I needed to help pay the bills.
Free Search Sites
Sure, there are lots of free search sites out there. I actually like a few of them, which are listed HERE. But personally, I never had a lot of success with them, or if I did find a job, I felt like I was working for peanuts.
I was in constant competition with outsourced VAs, who could literally work for pennies on the dollar. When I finally sat down and figured out my per-hour rate, and it was less than a DOLLAR. You ready that right. I was working for less than $1.00 per hour, which was not okay with me. I couldn’t help support our little family with that low income.
I had a realization: My time is valuable. I was worth more. I was worth 10 times what I was being paid! I had experience, a degree…it was time to suck it up. I signed up for two paid job search sites: HireMyMom and FlexJobs using income that I’d earned taking piecemeal work from the free sites.
Are Paid Sites Worth The Cost?
I was suddenly in a whole new world! The job offers were vetted offers, meaning the employers were screened by the site. To me, that alone was worth its weight in gold (or the $40 quarterly fee for access to their sites). I also noticed that there weren’t any lowball bidders for jobs.
In fact, I couldn’t see anyone else’s applications, and most of the jobs listed the expected pay, or was “commensurate upon experience” which made me feel like I was applying for an actual job, not in competition to be the lowest bidder.
I also had to step up my game if I wanted to compete for the higher wage that I knew I was worth. I had a lot of experience, but not a lot of online experience, which is important when you’re applying for a virtual position. So I took a good hard look at my resume and how I was presenting myself. And for the first time, I had to prepare for an online-via-Skype interview. It was a totally different world.
You Get What You Pay For
If I wanted to eliminate the low-priced competition, I had to do something about it. I know of VAs who have been very successful with free sites. But I’m more interested in long-term projects and job security. For that I had to look into paid job searches. I know that it’s an investment, but if you’re serious about making a living at this, it’s definitely worth a few months of membership.
Once I have found a client, I generally cancel or do not renew my membership on a paid site. To me, that would be wasteful. If I still have hours available, I may stay on the site a bit longer, but eventually I always end up leaving so that I can focus on my clients.
When you start out, you are going to apply for a lot of jobs. I mean that. A LOT OF JOBS. I applied for anything that I was remotely, kinda-sorta qualified for. Initially, I just sent out a lot of applications. For months (3 months, actually). Eventually, I got three interviews. Of those, I got one job. That one job got my foot in the door as a reliable, loyal contractor. I worked for that client for over two years.
So, in my opinion, yes, the paid sites are worth it.