Many people long to work from home, but they say, “I don’t know what I could do.” I see posts and want ads all the time from people seeking some sort of legitimate work from home opportunity offered by someone else. They have no idea what they can do from home, so they want to find a pre-made job. Most of the things you see online are scams, though. That or they suggest you chase some already over saturated industry like medical transcription or billing. I’m always amazed at the number of people who are so desperate to find a work at home job offered by someone else that they will risk scams when the best way to work from home is to create something yourself.
Almost any home based job offered by someone else isn’t going to pay very well. Many are commission based which means you may work a ton of hours for one sale. Those that aren’t commission based often pay part-time wages for full time work. The companies get away with it because they know they can find people who are so desperate to work from home that they will allow themselves to be taken advantage of.
If you want a legitimate job that can pay you a living wage, the best way to do it is to start something yourself. It should preferably be something that you’re passionate about. That passion will drive you to do the work necessary to research your field, find your niche, and handle the less than glamorous aspects of running a business. The good news is that technology has made it possible to start and run all kinds of businesses from your home. You just have to figure out what you want to do, find how to make money from it, and then do it. It’s not easy, but it is rewarding, personally, professionally, and fiscally.
If you’re stumped, here are dozens ideas of businesses/jobs that you can operate as a home based business.
Accounting/Human Resources/Office Help
- Accounting consultant
- Tax preparation
- Freelance human resources consultant
- Virtual administrative assistant/answering service
- Answer calls for a call center from your home
- Payroll management/bookkeeping for other small businesses
- Graphic design
- Teach a musical instrument
- Art instruction
- Jewelry designer
- Knitting/designing sweaters, scarves, etc.
- Furniture maker
- Woodworking/cabinetry/furniture making
- Sell your arts/crafts. If you have a talent for making something, sell it ether online or open your own shop.
- Artist, either commercial or fine art
- Artist’s agent
- Portraiture, either photography or paint
- Greeting card design/custom cards
- Songwriter/commercial music composer/jingle writer. If you have a musical talent and don’t want to teach, this is a way to make money.
- Event DJ
- Fashion design
- Flower arranging
- Freelance musician
- College admissions consultant/planner. Help kids and their parents navigate the admissions process.
- Testing coach. From the SAT to the MCAT and the GMAT, plus industry specific certifications, there are many standardized tests that people have to take today. You can coach them to great scores.
- New mom’s helper. Help the overwhelmed new mom by cooking, cleaning, teaching baby care, helping with the baby, etc.
- Create a home study course. If you have a specific skill or body of knowledge you can share, you can create course materials to be used by home schools or adult learners and sell it.
- Educational videos. You can create videos that teach anything from plumbing to art.
- Teach what you know. Whatever you’re good at, chances are there’s a market to teach it, either on an individual basis or through community extension programs.
- Teach online classes. Many colleges and community schools now offer online classes where neither the instructor nor the students set foot in a classroom. You create the materials and teach the classes virtually.
- Personal training
- Coaching sports
- Outdoor adventures. If you live in a suitable area, you can operate a rafting business, mountain climbing excursions, campground, hiking tours, nature tours, etc.
- Self defense/personal safety instructor
- Garden consultant. Help people determine what they can plant in their area, design the garden and teach them pest management and other secrets to a successful garden.
- Aerobics/exercise class instructor
- Personal chef/cook meals for busy people or shut-ins
- Cake decorator/custom cakes/wedding cakes
- Custom candy maker/designer
- Food artist. You can specialize in creating things like giant gingerbread houses, or other edible art for displays, holidays, or special events.
- Ice sculptor
- Medical transcription. Once the darling of at home businesses, this one has fallen out of favor somewhat with the advent of technology that can handle the work and the fact that it has become a haven for scam artists. However, there is still a market for skilled and experienced transcriptionists.
- Lamaze trainer/birth coach
- Elder care consultant. You help people with aging relatives navigate the maze of healthcare, estate planning, executorship, and burial arrangements.
- Healthcare consultant. Most people don’t have time to deal with insurers and hospitals when faced with large medical bills and procedures. They will pay you to help them get through the system.
- Home/private nursing
- Weight loss consultant
- Psychological counseling
- Elderly assistance/companion service. Help with shopping, driving them to appointments, cleaning, etc.
Job Training/Assistance/Career Services
- Counseling/life coaching
- Resume preparation/skill assessment
- Stationary/business card/invitation design for businesses and individuals
- Image consultant
- Public speaking coach
- Foreign language instruction
- Translator, either for print work or as a personal translator.
- Sign language instructor/interpreter
- Professional scrapbooker/photo organizer. You’d be surprised how many people don’t have the time or inclination to organize their family memories.
- Home/garage/closet/office organizer
- Interior designer/decorator
- Wedding planner/consultant
- Personal shopper
- Cleaning service/housekeeper
- Act as a concierge for busy people/executives. You take care of their needs such as securing tickets for events, handling their errands, making reservations, etc.
- Party/event planner
- Professional errand service. You take care of the things others don’t have time for such as picking up the dry cleaning, taking the car in for service, shopping, etc.
- Birthday party coordinator. People will pay you to set up and organize their kid’s birthday parties.
- Teach organizational skills
- Plant sitter/plant care
- House sitter
- Relocation service
- Time management consultant
- Christmas/holiday coordinator. There are people who will pay you to do their decorating, plane their parties, wrap the presents, and handle the whole holiday hoopla.
- Pet sitting
- Pet grooming
- Pet training
- Dog walking
- Pooper-scooper service
- Real estate agent
- Financial advisor
- Appraisal services. Whether it’s real estate, autos, antiques, jewelry, etc. Plenty of people need to know the value of their things.
- Public relations
- Marketing consultant
- Advertising consultant
- Information broker/professional searcher. When people need to find information, you know exactly where to look to find it fast.
- Genealogy research
- Private investigator
- Handyman service/building contractor/remodeling service
- Landscaping/lawn care
- Auto repair/service
- Seasonal lawn/home care. Snow and leaf removal, installing and removing storm windows, clearing storm debris, cleaning gutters and chimney sweeping are all things that people need done at least occasionally. Offer enough of them and you can make good money.
- Restoration/preservation. Whether it’s homes, furniture, art, or other old items, there is work to be had in the cleaning, refurbishment and repair of such items.
- Pressure washing business
- Small engine repair. If you can fix a lawnmower, weed eater, GoKart or ATV engine, your skills are in demand.
- Auto mechanic
- Small appliance/electronics repair.
- House painting
- Auto detailing
- Cleaning service for homes of businesses
- Ironing and laundry service
- Computer repair/set up
- Computer Training
- Web design
- Computer programming
- Video game developer
- App developer
- Software trainer. Teach people to use advanced programs such as PhotoShop, Illustrator, etc.
- Social media training/consulting for other businesses
- Search engine optimization expert for other websites
- Beta tester for software and game developers
- Travel agent
- VIP escort service. No, not that kind of escort. These people are paid to drive VIP’s such as authors and actors to and from their hotels and to their events, to make sure they stay on schedule, to show them the highlights of an area and to generally coordinate their time in the local area.
- Tour guide for your local area
- Freelance writing
- Grant writing
- Write eBooks (fiction or non-fiction)
- Technical writing
- Desktop publishing
- Speech writer
- Small publisher. Print on demand technology makes it possible for you to publish and sell your own books or the works of others.
- Literary agent
- Reviewer. Review plays, movies, restaurants, or other attractions for newspapers, magazines or websites.
- Greeting card writer
- Ad copy writer
- Marketing copy writer
- Freelance journalist
- Small publisher
- Travel writer
- Consulting as an expert in your field. Whatever you do, you can outsource yourself to other businesses on a consultant basis.
- Sell on eBay. Many people make a living at this by purchasing items at yard sales or consignment stores and then selling them for a profit on eBay.
- Work from home for your current company. Technology has made it possible to do most jobs from home. Ask your employer if you could qualify.
- Open a bed and breakfast
- Alterations/sewing/seamstress. If you’re really good, you can design custom gowns or clothes.
- Businesses such as Mary Kay, Avon, or become a consultant/host for businesses such as Pampered Chef, Usborne Books, etc.
- Mystery shopper
- Create gift baskets
- Antique dealer or picker. Antique pickers literally “pick” antiques from estate or yard sales and then sell them to dealers at a profit. Some also run their own shops.
- Video/photo conversion. People will pay you to convert VHS to DVD, or scan photos/negatives to CD.
- “Green” consultant. Teach people how to be greener in their daily lives without disrupting their regular lives.
- Day trading
- Sell used books online
- Home staging
- Anything else you can imagine and find a way to turn into a business.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to choose from. You’re limited only by your imagination. Someone, somewhere is making money doing something that you think can’t possibly be turned into a money-making venture. There are ways to monetize almost anything these days. It may require some trial and error and careful research to find your niche or to tweak your product or service so that it sells, but if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can probably find something to do that motivates you. If you can’t, or you aren’t willing to put in the effort to start and run your business, then you should stick to working for an employer.
(Photo courtesy of DavidMartynHunt)