As sponsored husbands or wives (aka “trailing spouses”), we often give up careers in our home countries to go overseas. Sure, we can try to find jobs in Qatar, but depending on the family, it may or may not be feasible to have two parents working outside the house.
Luckily, it’s still possible to work successfully from home if you start thinking creatively, and you’ll feel more secure moving to another country if your job is mobile. In fact, you’ll be tapping into a world that is becoming more and more accessible from home, and you might just find something that you love. Read on for five tips to beginning your work-from-home career:
1. Know what you’re getting into
A job with flexible working hours and location may sound great at first, but figuring out the balance between home, life and work can be particularly difficult for people who work at home. You may be able to take a business call in your pyjamas or pop off for a mid-day cup of coffee with friends, but this flexibility also makes it easy to get distracted from your work. Working from home can also make it more difficult to “leave it at the office.” Having your job at your fingertips can make it easy to slip into a pattern where you are constantly working, even when you are on holiday or supposed to be taking a break.
Be realistic when deciding what you want to get out of a work-from-home job and how much you are willing to give up. If you only have three hours a day of free time between school drop off and pick up, consider whether or not you really want to give up that time.
2. Choose the right job
Working from home can be an opportunity to finally start your dream career or simply keep your job skills fresh. It’s also a fabulous way to reach an audience that is not location dependent. In fact, working remotely or from home is the direction in which the world is turning now and you may be surprised at the number of opportunities available.
Know your strengths and exploit them. Always dreamed of being an artist? Start building your portfolio. Want to keep up on your accounting skills? Look for remote medical billing jobs. Perhaps working part time or even doing several different jobs that equal full-time work is a solution for you. Editing and writing often go hand-in- hand. Aromatherapy and yoga are often coupled as “healing” activities. Find your niche and let your creative juices flow.
If you are concerned about not having the right certifications or experience, don’t fret. There are myriad opportunities for online learning and certifications right at your fingertips. The useful thing about getting certified or taking courses online is that you can continue your daily routine while earning your new credentials. You can even work your old job and start slowly if, like many families, you still depend on a second salary.
3. Market yourself
Start networking and keep an eye out for business opportunities. You can build your brand by attending local conferences, plugging into the social media scene and contacting others who run businesses or work from home. Perform regular market research to keep your business relevant. Doha has a large network of people who own at-home businesses; find them, connect with them and learn from them.
Take a risk. Once you have taken the plunge, be confident in yourself. Be willing to put yourself out there. Start slowly with family, friends and colleagues. Think fearlessly and always try a different twist.
4. Set a schedule
One of the major plusses of working from home is the flexibility of working hours. You can drop the kids off at school and have that extra cup of coffee to boost your morning. You could run to the grocery store for a quick shop in between conference calls. You could even schedule in a morning school field trip with your child. However, being your own boss can have it disadvantages, too. You can easily get bogged down with working all the time or find yourself too easily distracted from work. Weekends and evenings can start to be filled with those last-minute emails or phone calls. International time zones can be a blessing and a hindrance to working from home. Manage your schedule carefully. Setting careful guidelines and goals can ensure that you are benefitting from being your own boss but not being overwhelmed by it.
5. Create your own office
If possible, create an office space where you can work quietly from home. Be specific with your colleagues and contacts about your working hours and the time differences. Close the door to your office when you are done for the day. Separating home and work physically can help you not to fall between the cracks and start working more and more.
So, now that you’ve got the fine points down, what do you want to do? Upwork.com and freelancer.com are among many online freelance (read: part-time, work-from-home) job sites. Scroll through these sites to get an idea of what you want to do or consider these popular work-from-home jobs:
Many expats with a creative flair find success selling their artwork and those in Doha are no exception. There are many craft markets and bazaars held in Doha. If you have a talent in this area, you can even set up shop at local yard sales where residents come in throngs to sell and buy things. Most of the time, you pay a small fee to rent a table and participate. Check websites like Etsy and Amazon Handmade if you have the ability to ship internationally or littlemajlis.com, a regional online market for crafters and artists.
Freelance editor, publisher or writer
Writing is one of the greatest portable professions of all time. These days, everyone has an opinion and if you are smart about it, you can get paid. Successful bloggers can even earn a living through writing with smart advertising. Take time to create a quality portfolio. There are many writers out there; however, there are far fewer good writers. If you get an offer to write a proposal, take the time to write something that stands out. Companies will likely hire you again if you doa great job the first time, and you might even get a full-time contract.
Tutor or private teacher
This could be anything from language tutoring to music lessons. You should, ideally, have certifications in these areas if you are going to be an at-home teacher or tutor. There is a massive need for speech therapists and pathologists, teaching specialists and executive functioning tutors for children in Doha. Executive functioning tutors teach children how to manage homework, prioritise tasks and therefore not feel overwhelmed at the end of the day. There are even tutors who help older children prepare for exams.
Personal trainer, sports coach, yoga instructor
The fitness industry is booming globally. Many people would prefer to hire a private personal trainer from the comfort of their home versus dragging themselves to a crowded gym. In Doha, where expats come and go at a rapid pace, there is always a fresh batch of newcomers looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Get certified online and start working with friends for free to get the word out. Then let your talent do the talking. Also, here in Doha, some compounds actually seek fitness instructors to teach their classes. Go even further and the next time you plan your holiday, get certified for a specialisation not available in Qatar. A bustling, energetic forward-thinking city like Doha has plenty of residents looking for something new.
Are you a gifted photographer? Do you have a passion for taking captivating photos? Start spreading the word that you are starting your own business and need to shoot some portraits for your personal portfolio. Then, let your talent do the work and word of mouth do its job. Particularly if you often move globally, your portfolio will be packed with gorgeous, fascinatingly diverse pictures, and many families are looking for a talented portrait photographer or beautiful global landscapes for that unique present when they go home. Local bazaars and craft markets are also prime locations for selling lovely framed pieces, and most of the time, you can find low-cost, cool frames to help highlight your budding business.
Finding a job can be tough. Finding a job that you love can be even tougher, particularly one in a new country. Fortunately, we live in a connected world that can set you up for global interaction from home. Many of these at-home jobs can also be very lucrative once you become established and the word starts to spread of your success, and Doha is the perfect place to start realising that dream.
TARA FRAITURE IS A FORMER FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHER WHO HAS SPENT THE PAST DECADE AS A GLOBAL NOMAD WITH HER HUSBAND AND THREE SPUNKY DAUGHTERS. SHE HAS BEEN FREELANCE WRITING AND EDITING FOR YEARS WITH A FOCUS ON EXPAT FAMILY LIFE. IN HER FREE TIME, TARA IS AN EXPERT CHOCOLATE TASTER. SHE HAS BEEN LIVING IN DOHA FOR JUST OVER A YEAR.