I was recently approached by two different people in very different situations asking what I know about how to earn money from home. Although some folks prefer the social aspects of heading out to work (and also like the idea of separating work and home life), for many of us working at home offers the ultimate dream career solution.
I already wrote a post about certain facets of working from home and hope you’ll take the time to review some basics as well as warnings about scams and promises that are indeed too good to be true:
And the biggest warning is…this is NOT for everyone. So if you try it and then decide it’s not for you, congratulations on knowing for sure what your dream isn’t. -)
Let’s Dream Up Businesses
But this post is about more than stuffing envelopes or get-rich schemes. And it’s not really about jobs others design for you to do at home – although there are jobs like phone annoyer…I mean phone sales and surveys – that may allow you to work from home.
But I want to talk about using your creativity to create an at-home business for yourself. Although it most definitely takes lots of hard work and patience to get your at-home business going, and you may never become a millionaire from it (although some do), the possibilities are endless and the ability to have it fit well with your life is very motivating.
I have no idea what you want to do or what shape your dream at-home job would take, but I’m going to brainstorm some ideas and let you see what sparks may fly:
Work-at-Home Business Possibilities
You’ll have to be willing to do some canvassing or full-out marketing for clients, but as you build your business slowly and it takes off, even that can get easier. So here are some off-the-top-of-my-head ideas:
- Use your computer and printer to create flyers and menus for local businesses
- Help local small business with bookkeeping or their data entry needs
- Get trained to become a resume writer or certified career/job search coach (you can do this by phone and computer.) You can also help with interview screening from home. I had a friend who was an actress and supported herself this way.
- Really comfortable with computers? You may be able to create a business testing software from a user’s/customer’s point of view
- Website support as a copy writer, newsletter editor, are even website design/maintenance (take classes if you need more skills)
- Computer programmer or database support (I know folks who get paid well to work from home – may be worth learning the skills; although easiest to find if company knows you already.)
- If you’re a writer with computer skills, you can get work creating comprehensive user documentation. It’s boring at times, but pays well. (I’ve done it.)
- Freelance writing & editing (many caveats, but I’m just listing ideas)
- Handiwork solo or group – sell homemade pillows or knitted caps or wall decor or furniture or specialty items you see a need for (ask local stores)
- Graphic art support for company art departments or websites
- Daycare (of course you need licenses and training)
- Fundraiser/development writer for non-profits (you may be able to solicit some part-time work at home)
- Any part-time support for a business – ask what kind of things they might need done that requires phone work or computer work
- Build your own blog providing information or a service others need that you know a lot about. Although for many bloggers ads earn VERY little, I know someone (not mythical) who trained himself (he studied hard and figured out how to fill a need) who in just one year grew his site to earn over $3,000/month. This is NOT typical – just possible.
- Create a business finding other people part-time work locally and charge a small percentage fee. (You may have to become contractor and create sub-contract roles. You’ll also need to screen resumes and do phone interviews for the folks you represent.)
- Tutor in your home or by phone plus online if that feels more comfortable
- Voice-overs (with plenty of caveats, but if you have the gift you can create a small at-home studio)
- Music lessons
- Writing lessons
- Writing for others – ghost writing, joke writing (a few have done it), website copy
- Know another language? Business liaison or translation possibilities exist.
- Part-time virtual admin (there are online agencies that offer this service or ask local businesses if you can do that for them)
- Part-time day planner/organizer or appointment scheduler (this takes a lot of time and maybe some medium-large local company would agree to outsource it to you)
- Help planning office or other parties by contacting folks and managing projects from home
- One-person help desk (IT support or customer service)
This is just what I came up with in the moment. I’m sure there are many more possibilities for you to explore. And while I know this is heavy on computer-related jobs, that’s where a lot of the at-home work is. So beef up those skills if you need to!
Or maybe you can come up with a product you can manufacture (legally) at home – and actually sell it for a profit. (I have images of Lucy and Ethel hawking Aunt Martha’s Salad Dressing and then realizing they’re losing money on each jar. In fact, Lucy’s schemes in general are best avoided.)
If you have talked a local business into letting you work from home for them, you’ll probably want to allocate time for in-person visits a few hours a week if at all possible…to nurture the relationship, get additional information, and look for other things you can take on. A person who works for himself or herself always needs to be thinking at least on some level about where the next opportunity might come from.
Where would I start?
First…see what if anything sparked interest from my list. Then do your own brainstorming, both alone and with the help of friends and relatives. Take a friendly walk and visit local businesses just to see what comes up for you, even before you speak with any of them. You can also ask around for ideas even if the person you’re speaking to doesn’t have anything specific at the moment. Networking at its best. And remember to create a general networking business card (about $25-$35 for 500 or create your own), so they can contact you if they do think of something later.
There will also be things to look into like getting your EIN (employer identification number) from the IRS so you can freelance as a sole proprietor, possible need for liability and/or other insurance (Freelancers Union offers health insurance in New York), any licenses or regulations that apply, cash flow analysis so you won’t find yourself broke before your business even gets going, etc.
PLEASE don’t let any of this scare you off from at least seeing what might be out there for you. But also maybe don’t quit your day job…at least not quite yet.
Would love to hear more ideas, as well as any of your own work-at-home stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, Career Nook and on Google+.