Work from home IT jobs
November 23, 2005 7:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm a techie who would like to work from home. Help me get started.

I live in Australia, but I'm also a US citizen. I've been working as a product manager, Perl programmer HTML guy and SQL person for the last 7 years.

I can't stand to sit in a cube with my Swingline stapler anymore. I'm trying to contract myself out, and have had a little success, but need more to live on, and support my family.

Can you recommend some good ways to score legitimate "work from home" type IT gigs? I'm not interested in selling Herbalife or Ginsu steak knives. Also, I've tried sites like eLance for programming gigs, but am always undercut by computer sci PHDs from Ukrania and India, willing to do work for $2 an hour. (Welcome to globalization, I know, I know)
posted by Dag Maggot to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, the way I pulled it off was to work for my current company onsite for two years, building my reputation. For the past two years I have worked full time from home, continuing the same job, and it has generally worked out very well. But the only way I was able to do it in the first place was because I built those relationships up front and earned the trust of my employer. I don't have the foggiest how to just start from scratch...

Best of luck to you. I am here to say it's great work if you can get it.
posted by Lokheed at 7:17 PM on November 23, 2005

As Richard Feynman once said, there's plenty of room at the bottom.

I suggest that you focus your search on smaller firms that don't have full-blown IT shops, and do so locally. All of that work will be small stuff that you'd have to do from home. It would probably help to build yourself a small demo site highlighting the kinds of stuff you can do.

Another option is to contact small contracting/consulting firms near you and give them a CV, explaining that you're willing to swap leads. Often times a consulting firm will be in a customer's shop spec'ing out a big RDBMS and the customer will ask something like, "Hey, you don't have a perl guy, too, do you?" "No, but I do know this Maggot fella..."

It may also be true that a local web design or marketing firm may not have enough hands to do "back end" heavy lifting stuff that you might be good at.

It's kind of a saturated market (at least here in the States), but it can't hurt to swallow your pride, slap on a tie, and make some cold calls to sell yourself to people who already have their foot in the door.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive to go for places that don't specialize in what you're best at, but it's possibly the best bet for getting small work-from-home contract gigs.

Good luck!
posted by popechunk at 7:21 PM on November 23, 2005

And echoing Lokheed's comment, it's very possible that you could get your current employer to let you work from home if they thought that you're the kind of person who can manage their own time and self-motivate. If you haven't been that kind of person in the past, this kind of role may not be cut out for you.

It's cheaper for them if you work from home. I don't know how you intend to handle your health benefits and stuff, but if you can make them an offer where you'd work part time at your current job from home on a contract basis, they'd probably go for it (if they had any sense). This would at least get you started down the path.
posted by popechunk at 7:25 PM on November 23, 2005

What's his name who posts here had a great bit on getting started with that.
posted by evariste at 8:31 PM on November 23, 2005

It was Mo Nickels, but I can't find the article any more :-( Sorry. It was years ago. Mo, are you around and do you know what I'm talking about? You (I think) wrote some long article about getting started doing freelance work. I remember reading it in 2000 or 2001.
posted by evariste at 8:35 PM on November 23, 2005

OK, with copious Googling I found a mirror of it, but it's actually about doing freelance tech support and not what you asked. I'll shut up now.
posted by evariste at 8:40 PM on November 23, 2005

yep, Lokheed's route wrked for me. most enjoyable employment i've had - working from home can be great if you're motivated and it's a good job.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:41 AM on November 24, 2005

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