The following are a variety of legitimate ways to earn extra income, get a second job, launch a full-time solo career, or start your own small business – all from the comfort of your own home. Some of these opportunities build upon hobbies that you might already pursue without economic gain; you’ll find many in this article from Top Trends Guide on income-producing pursuits.
Spotting Scams. Lots of at-home voice work is legitimate, but there are plenty of scam artists too. Don’t invest any money upfront without thoroughly checking your prospective employer’s credentials. Start with the Better Business Bureau and cross-reference with first-person testimonials at watchdog sites such as Ripoff Report and career boards such as Indeed.
Regardless if you need to earn some fast cash or we're just talking about making money in the grand scheme of things, there's an important psychology that needs to be mentioned before getting into the strategies. If you study Freud's model of the mind, you'll discover the Psychic Apparatus. It's the three-part construct in your mind that controls all of your behavior.
Ever since the idea of online auctions came into existence, the online selling market has been on the rise. Many are interested, but don’t know how to get started. There are still all kinds of ways to make money by selling online, whether you’re selling what you already have or buying and selling like a store. Before we get started, here are a few general tips when selling anything online:
Your blogging journey begins with an idea. This is an early make-or-break decision for your blog – if it’s not entirely unique, your idea must at least be sharper and more compelling than your competitors’. You should know your blog’s subject matter cold – ideally from personal experience or formal training – and have no trouble writing fluently about it.
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Better yet, you can even upload your own book to one of the world’s largest book sellers: Amazon. With Amazon self-publishing, you set the price, retain the rights to your book, and get access to Amazon’s massive audience. For every sale, you keep 70% with Amazon taking the remainder as a fee. If you want to get started, check out Tara Gentile on CreativeLive as she shows you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week. Who knows, you might just write one of the best business books or blogging books of the year!
Flipping a website is a lot like building and monetizing a personal blog. The key difference is that when you flip, you’re working toward the clearly defined short-term goal of selling the site for a tidy profit. You can and should earn money through advertising and affiliate relationships along the way, but you’re not looking to hold the site over the long term.
To get started as a game tester, sign up with a reputable network such as Keywords Studio, whose Global Beta Test Network (GBTN) helps game developers push their products to the limit and ensure they go to market with as few bugs as possible. GBTN’s tests typically involve dozens to hundreds of testers around the world running simultaneous tests on different aspects of clients’ games. Most tests are time-limited, project-based affairs. Pay varies but typically ranges from $20 to $50 per hour. Diligent, skilled testers who work part-time can earn $10,000 to $20,000 per year; testers who work at or near full time can easily exceed $50,000 per year.
The second (and cheaper) path assumes that you have the design and dev chops yourself to build your dream software. Naturally, it’ll take more time to get your product off the ground, but being able to bootstrap the development of your software lets you retain more ownership in your business and be more in control of your path, making this a lower-cost, but higher time investment to make money selling apps.
It’s not the sort of online money making opportunity that’s covered in glory, but everyone needs a set of eyes to make sure the numbers add up at the end of the year. Every business and most individuals need someone to help prepare tax returns, especially time or resource-strapped small business owners. The Income Tax School provides an array of training programs that’ll certify you with tax prep in as little as 10 weeks, and once tax season rolls around you’ll be able to charge an average of $229 per return as a freelance tax preparer with this way to make money, reports CNBC. Plus, this skill also creates the opportunity to spin your expertise into a larger online business where you could produce written content, videos, podcast episodes and further niche down into a specific industry like advising on taxes for bloggers.
UserTesting’s website testing gigs do require focus and rigor, but they’re far shorter and don’t need to happen simultaneously, making them much easier to fit into your schedule. They don’t pay quite as well as game testing, though. If you’re diligent, you can reliably earn $20 per hour, though the overall work volume is sometimes thin. You need a decent, relatively new computer or smartphone to complete tests.
(As an example, this still happens, even now: Just recently, I spent 4 months working on a business idea with my team, spending a huge amount of time and money, until we ultimately concluded it wasn’t worth it. We shelved it away and I wrote an email to the team, telling them, “We can’t figure out how to make this work. We’ll re-look at it in 2 years.”)
If you’d rather sell locally, ask around at non-franchised cafes and restaurants near you if they’d be willing to display your art for sale in their dining area. If the owner or manager likes your work, most will gladly say yes. You’ll probably still end up paying a commission on any sales, but at least your art will be enjoyed by patrons in the meantime instead of sitting in your home.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to start a side hustle or a small business, make sure you have the right tools. Start by setting up an LLC through LegalZoom. This will help separate your business assets from your personal assets. Next, open a business checking account through Novo (you’ll earn a $25 bonus with a new account). Finally, Freshbooks, a cloud-based accounting software, will allow you to invoice clients and track all your expenses.
Though the niche is surprisingly varied, proofreading jobs generally fall into two broad categories: general proofreading and technical proofreading. The former covers non-technical, relatively unspecialized media like blogs and books. The latter covers transcripts and other technical materials; court reporters, for instance, are seasoned technical proofreaders. Which you choose depends on your innate strengths as a proofreader and what you’re hoping to get out of the job. Technical proofreading is harder to break into but typically pays better; general proofreading is more competitive but easier to launch.
Find a profitable niche. Starting with your interests, write down as many niche ideas as you can. Think about topics people might search online. Ideas include passions (like surfing or body building), fears (like spiders or speaking in front of crowds) and problems (like getting out of debt). Do keyword research to see it others are interested in the topic. Find out if a domain name is available that matches the keyword 100 percent.
If you’ve developed valuable skill sets or picked up certifications within your industry over the years, offering your consulting services to local business owners can be a lucrative way to make money online. Whether you’re an expert marketer, business strategist, or manufacturing aficionado, there’s likely a local business owner who’s willing to pay you to help them solve an issue with their company. Start with my guide to launching a freelance (consulting) business and then use my breakdown of crafting an effective cold email to convince local small business owners to hire you. You can even get hired as a consultant by putting your work online and publishing helpful content (take my roundup of honest Bluehost reviews as an example) and prospective clients will want to hire you for more personalized help if they like what they see.
If you’re a college student or have graduated within the last year or two, chances are good that you still have some textbooks that you could easily sell for a few extra bucks. Usually, when you sell back textbooks, you get a tiny fraction of what you paid for it. I remember getting around $40 for a $300 physics textbook that I sold back to my university bookstore — a horrible deal.
Test websites. Remote usability testing means getting paid to navigate a website for the first time and giving feedback to the website owner. Most tests take approximately 15 minutes, and you can get paid up to $10 for each test. A test involves performing a scenario on the client’s website and recording yourself doing it. For example, you might be asked to go through the process of selecting and purchasing an item on a retailer’s website.
Venue. When you’re first starting out, choose reputable, high-visibility venues for your classes. Don’t expect students to find their way to your personal or professional website before you’ve built a reputation for yourself. Udemy is a great option for budding at-home teachers looking to earn real money from their work. YouTube is another viable option, though you can’t directly charge people to watch your YouTube videos. You’ll need to monetize them indirectly (we explain how in Section 12.)
Build your audience on a course community: If you’re just getting started building an audience for yourself and want to leverage communities already actively looking for content you can choose to host and sell your online course on a site like Skillshare or Udemy. These are easy, cost-effective ways to build an audience and test your niche to see if there’s demand for it.
Car rental apps abound. Before you choose one, read the fine print and make sure it has adequate liability insurance that protects you in the event of a serious accident involving injuries and property damage. Getaround has a good reputation and a relatively long track record. According to its website, car owners in high-demand cities such as San Francisco can earn up to $10,000 per year. That’s a pretty impressive passive income stream. Another option to consider is Turo.
Medical transcription is semi-skilled work. While you don’t have to be a doctor or nurse, you do need to complete an intensive training course that can last a year or more and cost several thousand dollars. During periods of increased demand, some employers may be willing to finance your training course, or at least partially or fully reimburse you after the fact. Once you’re employed, you can expect to earn about $16 per hour on average, according to PayScale.
Some opportunities pay better and more reliably than others. Netflix reportedly pays “taggers,” who watch and categorize Netflix shows, at least $10 per hour. Individual shows or production companies occasionally advertise for similar positions, though these opportunities are becoming fewer and farther between. Competition is stiff when positions do open up.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to make money online is to do surveys. You can use sites and apps like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, or Opinion Outpost to fill out questionnaires and get paid in cash or other rewards, like gift cards. However, it can take a while to find a survey that’s a good match for you, and you may need to make a certain amount before you can get your payout.
Though seeing and hearing your name in print is a worthy accomplishment in and of itself, selling audiobooks probably won’t make you rich. In most cases, your royalty-sharing arrangement will amount to just a few dollars per download. A lot depends on the extent to which you promote your audiobook and how visible it is on platforms such as Audible and iTunes. If you’re lucky, a successful audiobook can generate a five-figure annual income stream. More obscure titles might earn just a few hundred bucks per year.
Some companies like 1-800flowers.com outsource customer-service operations to third-party companies who then hire home-based workers or "agents" to take calls and orders. When you call 1-800-flowers, you may be speaking with Rebecca Dooley, a retired police officer and employee of Alpine Access, a major call-center service. When you dialed the number to 1-800-flowers, your call was automatically routed to Rebecca's spare bedroom in Colorado.