I check out a lot of freelance and remote job boards with an unholy level of regularity. I do this so I can keep abreast of how the telecommute “industry” is doing. Even though I have a full-time job, I’m always on the lookout for new challenges.
At the same time, I spend a portion of my time checking out various online communities. I want to see what kind of questions people are asking and how they are being answered.
One of the most common questions that “newbies” (I use the term lightly) pose to the “remote work community” tends to go along the lines of…
…how do I find an entry-level remote job?
From that, it’s easy to deduce that they are simply looking for a position they can work remotely, without any prior experience of working remotely. That’s understandable, except there’s one thing you should probably realize…
…’working remotely’ is not a career path.
Just like “office worker” literally does zero to describe your profession, “remote worker” says nothing about your job. The only thing “remote” means is that you can do that job (whatever it is) from anywhere you like.
So, here’s a little secret for all you seasoned, mid-and-late career professionals who are wondering about “entry-level” remote jobs:
…there’s no such thing!
If you work in any job within the knowledge economy (i.e., primarily done on a computer) then you have telecommuting experience. I am willing to bet you have telephoned people, emailed people, used Slack/Skype/Telegram/MSN messenger (in the Olden Days)… all while sitting in the office. Maybe you were contacting people in the office next door or halfway around the world. It doesn’t matter, you were doing exactly the same thing that thousands of remote workers do every day.
The only difference? You’re sitting in an office and they’re at home/at a coffee shop/on a train.
For seasoned professionals, if the desire is strong then getting a remote job shouldn’t be a problem. Your core skills and experience are more important. “Telecommuting experience” is little more than icing on an otherwise well-rounded donut.
“Entry-Level Remote Jobs”
Now, if you’re only just starting out in your career… That’s a different story. You may want to do something, anything – as long as you can do it remotely. So, you may be wondering what industries you ought to start off in.
Well, you’re in luck. There’s a crapload of them. Some can lead to great things but they aren’t necessarily the most well-paid (at least not at the beginning).
The greatest advantage is that they allow you to get started building and expanding your skillset. When beginning anything new though, you need a starting point. For those who want a telecommute job, it can seem intimidating. It may seem that these jobs require years of experience, high qualifications and impressive portfolios.
And of course, they do… if they offer a high wage. But many companies are also willing to hire absolute beginners and train them.
So, what I’ve done is compiled a small list of the four most common remote jobs that can be done at entry level. These are essentially “foot in the door” options. At the very least, they can still be a wonderful way of gaining experience. You’ll very quickly learn about what you really want… and what you don’t want.
Content Writing & Copywriting
Writing of any kind is more than just a skill. It is a craft to be shaped and honed over many years. However, professionals with basic writing skills are needed for a number of tasks. Namely, writing content. These “entry level” jobs are posted online with a high level of frequency and are the perfect place for any aspiring copywriting to practice their skills, becoming a persuasive wordsmith.
Copywriting was in fact the first every remote job that I had. I worked as a freelancer back then, simply selling my words. It wasn’t paid well by a long shot – at least, not at first. But that was more to do with the places I was looking.
If you have a passion for writing and just want something to kickstart your career – content writing could be the perfect introduction.
Content moderation requires a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of speed. You are essentially “cleaning up” the content of a brand’s page. For example, if a company has a Facebook page promoting something, you probably don’t want to have too many rude, negative and sexist comments on it. That’s where content moderation comes in: essentially, you ensure that content (often user-generated) adheres to specific guidelines. Offensive or irrelevant comments are deleted.
While this job often doesn’t require previous experience, you do need to have a good eye for detail. Another challenge is working fast and ensuring that a page or a channel is spanking clean – and lives up to community guidelines.
Much like content writers, VAs can command a high wage and many companies wanted experienced people. But again, there are plenty of smaller companies and start-ups that are willing to hire someone with little to no experience. Virtual assistance can involve anything from simple content management (posting stuff on a website, updating Facebook/Twitter posts) to doing general admin: organizing cloud files, booking hotels or answering emails.
Customer service jobs exist online too. Many “call center” jobs can and are done from the employee’s home: depending on the company. But customer contact also takes place through the medium of writing. Which can mean answering customers’ emails and queries, or replying to them through social media channels.
In fact, this type of job can be very versatile. Even though it isn’t the best paid (at the start), the salaries for customer service reps tend to be on the stable side.