Secrets From the Queen of the Random Job

Strategies for piecing together a living and paying taxes on a patchwork of unusual projects.

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"R" stands for research the heck out of every single detail. I tell people, "Look them up on Facebook on LinkedIn, Google their emails, their phone number, their physical address to see where else they come up."

"A" stands for ask for more information. People are so concerned about contacting companies because they don't want to get on the "bad list." So I tell people, "use a different email address, use a different name." Just contact them to see what other information you can get, then you can research their email address.

"M" in the SCRAM formula stands for mouse over images and links. If you're contacted by a company and you can get an email, you can mouse over an image, and it will show you in the lower destination browser bar where you will actually be clicking. And if the email is supposedly from PayPal or Monster but the image goes somewhere else, you know it's a scam.

[See Why Freelance Jobs Are Hotter Than Ever.]

Once you've worked through these principles, how can you determine if a random job is right for you?

Sometimes it is a matter of trial and error. What I teach people to do is assess their skillset and their skill level. Working from home isn't really a career in and of itself. You have to take your skillset, and then translate that into an online job or a job at home.

Figuring out your taxes must be a nightmare. How do you keep track of your income?

Keeping track of my taxes is a pain, because I'm signed up with over 150 companies. So Excel is my friend, and QuickBooks is also my friend. I keep track of everything.

I recommend to people who do random jobs to pick up a W2 random job because they'll withhold your taxes versus an independent-contractor gig. When I do mystery shopping jobs, that's all independent contractor work.

However, when I do election poll work, that's a W2 random job. I just have them take out as much tax as I can, because then at the end of the year, my tax liability is a lot less. Having some random W2 income helps offset your taxes.