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Be a Freelance Tech Support Agent - (starting a business) | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

Be a Freelance Tech Support Agent - (starting a business)

Date February 20, 2008


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If you’ve read Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat, you’d get the impression that most support jobs are moving overseas ,with the bulk going to India. However, in a turnabout, many companies are bringing their professional personnel back to their home countries. The term coined for this movement is “homeshoring”.

Because of increased customer demands, companies who need more sophisticated support systems are providing an opportunity for freelancers to become technical support agents.

As a home based support agent, you’ll be providing the front-line customer support for software, retail, and online service companies.

There are three different ways to approach this tech support business. First, you can operate individually, selling yourself to companies on a freelance basis. Second, you can develop your own network of support personnel—running the business side yourself. Third (my favorite option), you can go to work for another independent operator.

The last option—working with an existing operator—is the most intriguing because it allows you to get started quick. However, as you’ll see, the pay is generally low. But, it can give you a foot in the door to offer yourself as a true freelancer to other companies once you get experience.

Here’s a run down of three support operating companies:

1. Arise

As an Arise agent, you must setup a corporation or use an existing one. It’s required because they’ll only issue payment to the corporation, not the individual.

Once you apply, you go through a series of tests and a background check to ensure that you’ll fit in with potential clients.

Compensation is on a per call, per minute, or per hour basis depending on the company you’re working with. You start out at $10 to $14 per hour plus incentives and bonuses. They give you the flexibility to set your own hours and work with the clients you want to work with.

2. Alpine Access

As an Alpine Access agent, you actually become an employee with the company (Alpine). Alpine goes through a litany of reasons why it’s better to be an employee rather than a freelancer (payment being the big reason).

Just as with Arise, you apply using their online application system. You then go through a pre-interview screening process along with a voice audition. If you make it through this stage, you’ll actually be interviewed, but you won’t get a job offer just yet—not until you get an “official” interview.

If you pass the interview, compensation starts at $9 per hour, definitely the lowest of all three companies I looked at.

But again, this is an opportunity to gain valuable experience that can be transferred into other areas. And it gives you the flexibility to work whenever and wherever you want.

3. Working Sol

Working Sol (Solutions) hires you as an independent contractor, similar to Arise. However, you aren’t required to setup a corporation.

The application process is similar to the previous companies. You apply directly online and work from a home office to handle the business.

Working Sol will also hire individuals who don’t reside in the United States, a definite plus.

Compensation is based on the type of projects you work on and rages from $7.20/hour to $30/hour. Based on compensation alone, I would recommend Working Sol as a top choice.

Being a freelance tech support agent may not give you a full-time income, but it will give you the flexibility to develop your skills without having to put up a large investment.

Keep in mind that you will need a high speed Internet connection, a computer with Windows XP as a minimum, and a second telephone line to receive your tech support calls on.

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  3. Creating a Freelance Business Plan - Part 3

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