Ask 1099 Mom: How Do I Work From Home With No Skills?

This is a sad question.  Many women want to work from home -- need to work from home -- but they hold no official schooling or don't feel qualified to have a professional career from their domicile.  But this is not the same as not "being skilled."  We all have skills.  The key is to finding out what they are, then determining which are marketable!

So how do you go about figuring out your talents, and which ones are best-suited for a home business?  Here's a simple checklist to follow:

1.  Make an inventory of compliments.  This one may be difficult to do, but it is very important.  Think back to all the interactions you've had with people over the years.  Has anyone said anything to you by way of flattery that indicates you have a special talent?  Examples could include:
  • While helping a friend pack for a move, they say, "Wow! You sure do know how to fit things perfectly into boxes!"  (This indicates a gift for organizing.)
  • During a family reunion, you organize a game for the children to play to stay entertained.  After, one of your aunts tells you, "You have such a way with children.  They really listen to you and feel safe around you."  (This indicates a gift for working with young people.)
  • When dropping off a plate of cookies to a friend who is ill, she proclaims, "I always look forward to your treats the most.  I would never bake again if I could guarantee I could always have some of your desserts!"  (This indicates a gift for baking, of course!)
After you've recalled all the ways you've been complimented in the past, write the "gifts" down in one column.

2.  Connect these gifts to career fields.  Now that you know what you are good at, it is time to tie these into actual, profitable jobs.  Note that you may think of several careers that can be done with each talent, and this is a good thing!  Remember that compliment for organizing we mentioned before?  This particular skill can be used in a variety of work-at-home jobs, including professional organizer, moving service, and efficiency consultant.  Write down all the jobs that you can use each skill in the second column of your sheet.

3.  Rule out the ones you would never want to do.  This is self-explanatory.  If you hate working with children besides your own, for example, you won't want to have a business around them -- even if you may be good with them.  Indicate which jobs you would be least likely to want to do in the third column.

4.  Identify additional opportunities.  If you find that your list of career options are too few, or you just want to explore every possible avenue for making money at home, review our questionnaire for identifying needs vs. offerings.  You'll likely get some additional ideas for careers!

5.  Pick for profit.  We all like to do things that are enjoyable.  (I have played the piano at weddings in the past and loved it!)  These aren't always the same things that can make much money, however, especially with the economy the way it is.  If possible, separate out those jobs that are least likely to make money in your local area, and focus on those that have the most earning potential.  (You may always be able to return to some of those other jobs when/if the market recovers.)

6.  Settle on a career -- for now.  You may, like many 1099-Moms, end up with more than one job at a time.  I currently make money blogging, as an online community manager, doing freelance writing, by being a brand ambassador, and from opportunities I got through speaking at conferences.  I hope to add my nonfiction book into the mix, as well.  The point is that no one I know makes it doing any one thing after awhile, but you do have to start with one.  Once you pick the thing you will focus on first, you can move on to the next step.

7.  Get your business plan in place.  This is not as daunting as some make it seem.  See our tips for making it happen with our business plan advice.

8.  Go for it!  Now that you've decided which career you want and have your plan in place, it's time to get cracking!  It will be a slow start, but the sooner you announce to the world that you've opened up shop, the sooner you can see that first dollar come rolling in.

Have you recently started an at-home job with natural skills you possess?

*Photo by Edsel L via Flickr.


  1. I like the idea to write down the compliments you receive. I think for many of us we struggle to know what we are good at.

  2. It's true. I don't do as well with a "professional assessment" of my skills as I do with a self-analysis of my given abilities. Making the connection between your natural abilities and the perfect WAH job, however, is a bit more difficult. Thanks for the comment. I love your blog!

  3. I love this post! So many women feel like they have nothing to offer but they do. I added this to my buffer to share with my readers and I'm pinning it. Thank you.

  4. Sometimes you have to stop trying to fit into your preconceived notions and think outside the box. There are hundreds of options available for work at home. Don't limit yourself to those you hear about most often.

  5. Going with compliments you've received is not so easy when you've been homebound with no connections to anyone and so have never received a compliment to work with. Where do you find your talents then. Great article by the way. Thanks!


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