Earn money from home!
February 5, 2007 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Jobs my friend could do with a laptop and an internet connection? (i.e., data-entry from home?)

I have a wonderful friend who has spent the last year in constant pain, due to a mysterious back injury. She is finally getting back on her feet (quite literally), which is wonderful. However, she's still far from "fully functional".

She's an activist, and a good one. When she is healthy again, she plans to return to her previous occupation--helping poor folks in Palestine. For the moment, however, she's still too sick to leave the house for more than an hour or two (and sometimes needs to rest all day). This makes it rather difficult to find a job, as you might imagine. She has no professional internet-type skills (e.g., she's not a programmer or graphic designer, &c.).

The one bit of good news is that she isn't too concerned about salary--after spending years on an activist's stipend, she's quite used to living in poverty. She does need rent money, money for medication, &c., however. And yes, she's applied for disability, but has no idea about how long that will take / whether she'll qualify.

This post is prompted by the revelation that another friend happens to have a job just like she's looking for--apparently he gets a list of data in an email, and he manually enters it into a database every day, from his laptop. I'd never heard of anything like that before, and it sounds way too good to be true, but he's been doing it for a while now. Maybe there are other jobs like it? Maybe you know about them, or could point me in a useful direction.
posted by Squid Voltaire to Work & Money (18 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds dicey. If the data is in an email, you should be able to dump it directly into the database without too much trouble, unless it's completely unformatted.
posted by electroboy at 1:58 PM on February 5, 2007

Best answer: Another thought: has she considered taking a position as either an apartment manager or a dorm supervisor? (latter may not work if she's not in a college town). Housing is usually free, sometimes comes with a stipend and (if you hit the jackpot at a university) might even give privileges at the university health service.

Most similar positions don't require *that* much facetime, just being there and in a position to call repairmen/let them in or be on hand for students who have questions, etc...

Meanwhile for money, she might want to think about advertising her services as a lister on eBay (people send her photos and basic info on items they want to sell, she uploads them and tells them where to send the item when it sells) -- it can be surprisingly lucrative, isn't time-dependent and doesn't involve leaving the house.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:27 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

These things do crop up sometimes. In most cases a programmer can write a script to migrate the data all at once, but sometimes the system the data is coming from is so antiquated/specialized that hiring a programmer with the appropriate skills is more expensive than just paying somebody minimum wage to type it all in.

I agree with electroboy about the specifics; if it can be turned into an email, there are an army of perl experts who can parse those emails and dump them into a database - is it possible your friend is getting the data in some other format? I had a friend in college who worked a job like this, and it involved driving to the company and picking up reams of dot-matrix printouts filled with incomprehensible strings of parameter names and digits. I don't know how they error-checked it - maybe they gave her each page twice or something.

As for where to find such work, good luck. The whole reason for creating a job like this is that it's a simple, brute-force approach that doesn't require any special skill, and is therefore easy to fill. My guess is that these jobs are mostly filled by nepotism; what company doesn't have somebody with a kid in highschool, or a friend of an intern, or somebody else willing to take on some piecemeal, low-effort work?

Amazon Mechanical Turk has some low-paying data-entry jobs, but I don't know if it could possibly support somebody living anywhere in the US. If she wants to try it out, though, there are 9 minute podcasts to be transcribed at $.75 a pop, for example.
posted by contraption at 2:34 PM on February 5, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, the email-data-entry thing is totally crazy, and I'm a little jealous of the guy. On the other hand, talk about zero job satisfaction...

Mechanical Turk is certainly an interesting possibility, and I had no idea that people were professional "eBay listers". Where do people advertise such listing services? Craig's list?

posted by Squid Voltaire at 2:57 PM on February 5, 2007

Best answer: Medical transcription pays well and can be done from home; however, some training is required - I'm not sure how much longer she is going to be off her feet, but if it is more than a few months this may be something that she may want to look in to.
posted by btkuhn at 2:59 PM on February 5, 2007

Can she write or edit? Freelance writing starts at about $35 an hour.
posted by acoutu at 3:18 PM on February 5, 2007

It's only part-time, but she could probably be an Ads Quality Rater for Google. It doesn't seem to require any particular technical skills.
posted by Urban Hermit at 4:08 PM on February 5, 2007

You may also find some useful answers in previous threads.
posted by davar at 4:14 PM on February 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

she's applied for disability
If this is in the US and applying for SSI, working may interfere with getting disability. She might want to check on that first.
posted by yohko at 5:05 PM on February 5, 2007

My wife used to do internet forum moderation for a massive media corporation from home. She did it for 5 years, paid $10/hr. She lucked into the job, but many of the the others doing the work were prominent and well-regarded forum posters who were recruited by the company, so it's not really the kind of job you can "apply" for. That, and the fact that said company always denied that its forums were moderated.
posted by Emanuel at 7:22 PM on February 5, 2007

she's applied for disability
Applying for SSDI is not the same as getting it; most get shot down as a matter of course and must appeal, apply a second time, a third time, et all. I hope that your friend has good representation, either through an attorney who specializes in this or a non-profit, which is what my friend used, and amazingly got through the first time, without getting shot down. And yohko is right - any sort of employment gets scrutinized very carefully, though once approved for SSDI you are allowed to earn a small amount of money per month.

And for acoutu, where can she get $35 an hour as a freelance writer? And what sort of writing?
posted by dancestoblue at 8:56 PM on February 5, 2007

Dancestoblue, I have replied to you via private email. However, that rate is not atypical in the US and Canada. I was making that fresh out of college as a freelancer.
posted by acoutu at 9:48 PM on February 5, 2007

Best answer: If she has a bachelors degree she can score standardized writing tests on ETS.org. You make your own hours and I think it starts at $10/hr. All you do is score essays written by (mostly) high schoolers on their standardized tests (not the SAT) from your computer at home.
posted by greta simone at 5:54 AM on February 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

In RE: disability, I concur with the others who advise caution in her setting her dreams on disability. My stepfather lost both of his legs to diabetes and it took him almost three years to get his disability started. On the other hand, if she has a drug addiction problem, many areas can get you started on disability right away!

acoutu, can you send me that information, too? :)
posted by Spoonman at 7:30 AM on February 6, 2007

Response by poster: Fantastic answers, thank you all very much. Certainly she isn't "setting her dreams on disability" . I think she's setting her dreams on feeling great and returning to Palestine. However, for the moment, things are tough.

And yeah, there are some good answers in the other threads, too, thank you. I'm a little surprised that no one mentioned poker here! (:

posted by Squid Voltaire at 9:10 AM on February 6, 2007

I worked for Google in a similar position, and the challenge was that it wasn't guaranteed income. Some weeks they had work, some weeks they didn't. Some weeks they had enough work for a handful of people. I don't know the particulars of this assignment, but it's certainly worth submitting a resume, as it is for real, interesting, and can be done at home.
posted by micawber at 7:27 PM on February 6, 2007

ok, your friend needs to be careful as this is a HUGE scam area, and lots of good folks get sucked in and end up losing money.

A common work at home job involves doing 'clearances' for overseas/foreign companies: getting legit-appearing money orders and cheques, including ones that seem certified, depositing them to one's bank, then wiring 85 - 90% to a company.

of course, the funds are always fraudelent, and one is on the hook for bank fraud, wire fraud, etc. and one has to also pay the money back to the bank. you'd be suprised how many really smart people fall for this. and these ads are found on places like Monster.com and Craig's List.

anyway, if she has any doubts about a job's legitimacy, tell her to check Fraud Aid - http://www.fraudaid.org/. for example, regarding the above 'job', see here

another one involves coughing up money to learn how to be a 'net marketer'. these so-called coaches and gurus don't make their money from doing what they purport to teach, but from fleecing the gullible with over-priced and useless ebooks, tutorials, mp3, screencasts, etc. once the gurus get their hooks into these people, it's like they are on crack, and they get taken time and time again. check this single page for a summary on the sleaze.

anyway, here are two great legit part-time work at home jobs:

Sulake/Habbo Hotel Moderators
(up to 24 hours a week)
- NOTE: you don't actually have to live in the country where they are hiring. You can live here and be hired.

Second Life In-World Liaisons
(up to 25 hours a week)
posted by TrinityB5 at 3:00 AM on February 7, 2007

Perhaps she could start an activist blog about Palestine. Granted, this is not guaranteed income, but she could at least create a small stream of income by monetizing the site or asking for donations. There are plenty of ways to do this without much programming or design knowledge.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 7:50 AM on February 7, 2007

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