Home Is Where The Money Is

Published Date
01 - Feb - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2005
Home Is Where The Money Is
"Earn Rs 4,000-10,000 every month by online surfing. Full/Part-Time from Home/Cyber café. Franchisees required all over India. Contact: ..."

"Work 1-2 hours per day on home/office Internet. Earn extra income without leaving your present occupation. Training provided. Contact: ..."

Looks familiar? It's splashed all over the classifieds in newspapers, in notices stuck on local trains and buses and in dozens of handouts distributed  at busy street corners. While the reliability of a significant portion of these notices is suspect, working from home is an option being explored not just by homemakers but also by full-fledged professionals tired of the corporate rat race.

The proliferation of the Internet and cell phones has given several users the choice of exploring alternate careers within the comfort of their homes. And web-based ventures that survived the dot-com crash are providing such opportunities to people in India and abroad.

Programmer For Hire
A 29-year-old programmer with five years of experience in IT is resigning from a top firm to do freelance assignments, working from home. "I have been offered a freelance assignment from a US-based firm to develop Web-based applications using Flash and Flash Communication Server," says Sanjeev Menon. The project, spread over a few months, will earn him  as much as $1, 300 (Rs 56,500) per month.

Sites such as www.rentacoder.com help programmers like Sanjeev touch base with companies and individuals seeking freelancers. These sites charge 15 per cent of the programmer's pay for every project sourced through their service. "The clients rate you based on your performance, which is then displayed on the site," says Sanjeev. With a rating of about 600, out of 93,000 programmers listed on the site, Sanjeev is aiming to head the top of the pile soon. A better ranking obviously means more lucrative offers. Who needs placement services in such a convenient setup?

If you are a programmer, tired of a structured corporate career, head to getafreelancer.com, rentacoder.com, scriptlance.com and elance.com-to code and earn, without leaving home!

The Write Stuff
Freelance journalism has been around for a while but thanks to the Web, sourcing projects has never been easier. As an offshoot of the outsourcing boom, journalists in India can now freelance for foreign publications on a wide variety of subjects.

Chennai-based Power Quill (www.powerquill.com) is one such company that employs a network of freelancers and is the brainchild of former business journalists K Nitya Kalyani and Arun Natarajan.

Power Quill has worked on assignments for publications in the USA, India, south-east Asia and the Middle East. Co-founder Arun states, "We mostly employ people who work from home. We tap our pool of editorial staff depending on our clients' requirements. At times, we even fill in for temporary shortage of editorial staff. I think a lot of women who have school-going kids and the time to spare benefit from this kind of a setup. All you need is a good broadband connection at home-most of our communication happens over instant messengers." 
A bulk of Power Quill projects includes writing articles and news reports for domestic and foreign publications, creating corporate communications material for small and medium businesses (SMBs) and Public Relations firms and Web-based content.

"Once our work is appreciated, we receive more responses through word-of-mouth referrals. But Google is our best sales guy! We browse the Web for potential projects and rely on it for advertising our services," adds Arun. Apart from the Internet, Power Quill also makes use of VoIP, e-mail and Skype. "We believe that technology can drastically bring down the cost of publishing," Arun affirms.

Another company that has capitalised on the outsourcing boom is Bangalore-based Stylus System. Stylus develops Web applications and manages BPO projects for clients in India and abroad.

We mostly employ people who work from home...most of our communication happens over Instant Messengers."
Arun Natarajan, Co-founder, Power Quill, Chennai

It recently inaugurated a division called Chillibreeze (www.chillibreeze.com), which employs freelancers. Chillibreeze provides people such as Nishi Roopa, a doctor who wanted to switch to a career in writing, opportunities to work from home. Suma is an instructional designer who freelances in order to spend more time with her five-year old. Arka and Aniban are freelance scriptwriters, working with Chillibreeze. 

Journalists Supriya and Jigna, founder of company that employs freelancers

The requirements of international clients like Business Intelligence or even market research reports are met by freelancers in relevant fields. Those interested in writing business-related white papers can contribute (on a royalty basis) to www.outsource2india .com, another Stylus venture.

Anusha Subramanian, a freelance journalist in Mumbai works from home. She freelances for print publications and also edits.

Anusha has been a freelance writer for over three months now. She coordinates with 'The Word', a company based in Mumbai. "All you need is a good cable Internet connection at home and you are your own boss!" she claims.

Anusha is also a member of several online business networks including the popular Ryze.com, where she meets prospective clients. As for the payments, "Cheques are delivered home just like other publications," she states.

Set up by journalists Supriya Madangarli and Jigna Kothari, The Word offers editing, marketing and content creation services to companies and publications in India and overseas.

Says Supriya: "We make use of the huge network of freelancers in India and contact them when a specific service is required."

The duo bags projects through the Web and has enrolled in business networks and also rely on referrals. "Typically, magazines pay around Rs 2 per word, newspapers Re 1 or Rs 1.50 per word. For other services, we charge according to the project."

Click To Translate
Linguaphiles with a flair for translation can turn to the Web to polish their linguistic and translation skills and make moolah while they are at it. Prerna, a freelance translator who has worked on French-to-English projects, initially scoured the web for services that advertised freelance assignments. "Google is your best bet. Simply type 'freelance translation' and follow the links. Most sites are reliable and pay well," says Prerna.

Sites like ProZ.com-a directory of freelance translators and translation agencies, Yahoo! Groups and Elance Online have discussion groups on best practices followed, payment and project details. "People normally bid for projects. The bids are placed by both agencies and individuals," says Prerna. These sites also offer ratings. The higher your rating, the better your chances of obtaining a good project. Online forums also help network with other translators, across the globe.

The ultimate repository for freelance projects in any field, be it programming, editing, writing, graphic design, marketing, content development or e-learning  is probably Elance Online (https://snipurl.com/digit_elance).

Elance lets companies 'find the right professional' for the right job. This 'global marketplace' has a ranking system and also lets you bid for projects that are up for sale and consult sourcing experts. Other aspects such as payments are also handled through the website itself.

Uncharted Territory
The Internet is flooded with gateways that you can tap to earn money without leaving home. A reliable Internet connection, comfortable workspace, requisite software and inputs are all you need to get started.

Exercise caution, though. You must have the strength of mind and the resources to deal with delayed or erratic payments, long periods without sufficient work and even lack of opportunities to match your skill sets.

It pays to upgrade your skill sets from time-to-time, enrol in forums or business networks, and interact with people online and offline, to stay marketable.

If you are willing to risk the pitfalls and are confident of your talent and endurance, take the plunge-the Web is your oyster.

Team DigitTeam Digit

All of us are better than one of us.