According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the proportion of U.S. workers who worked from home at least some of the time was about 25% in 2017 and 2018. In other words, roughly one in four employed Americans works out of a home office.
There’s more. Well over half enjoyed flexible scheduling that allowed them to stop and start work at their discretion. As competition for millennial talent heats up and advancing innovation enables remote work in an ever-widening collection of white-collar (nonproduction) jobs, employers are offering ever more flexible work arrangements that allow many employees to perform their duties from just about anywhere.
But you don’t have to work for a progressive employer to take advantage of the work-from-home trend. Whether your goal is to build a sustainable passive income stream or simply earn a few extra bucks to complement your part- or full-time income, all you need to work from home is a computer, a quiet space, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to follow these straightforward guidelines for working from home more efficiently.
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.
Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities
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.
Also, though they don’t technically qualify as work at home opportunities and therefore aren’t mentioned in detail below, know that money-saving browser plug-ins like Wikibuy can help you find a lower price on the items you buy online everyday – adding some breathing room to your budget just as surely as extra cash does.
Just take care to avoid distressingly common work-from-home scams that can actually cost you money.
Wikibuy compensates us when you get the Wikibuy extension using the links we provided.
1. Blogging: Sell Your Insights
Blogs aren’t just venues for bored people to share their thoughts about anything and everything. They can also be a legitimate source of income.
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.
Next come the nuts and bolts: choosing and buying a Web domain, hosting and designing your site, and planning content. While this is a lot of work to put in before publishing your first post, resist the temptation to cut corners. You’re laying the foundation, hopefully, for a long-term endeavor. Once you’ve created a quality site and built a following, there are plenty of ways to make money from your blog.
Pro tip: You can purchase hosting through Bluehost for less than $5 per month, and you’ll receive a free domain for the first year.
2. Online Surveys & Focus Groups: Sell Your Opinions
Your opinions are more valuable than you might think. Countless companies pay handsome sums to learn more about their target audiences’ motivations and preferences.
You can take online surveys in the comfort of your home whenever you please – during working hours, over lunch or dinner, when you have a free moment in the evening, or in the sleepless wee hours.
Though your answers must be honest and make sense, you don’t need to devote your full attention to online surveys – music to multitaskers’ ears. And you can invest as much or as little time as you like. Individual surveys can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 20 or 30 minutes to complete, and you can do as many or as few as you want in one sitting.
Online surveys won’t make you rich. If you sign up with multiple survey companies and diligently complete your allotted tasks, you can earn a bit more than minimum wage – perhaps $10 an hour. But that’s nothing to sneeze at, particularly if you’re able to accomplish other tasks while you’re logged into your survey accounts.
Reputable Online Survey Options
The online survey landscape is pretty crowded. These are among the most reputable and potentially lucrative opportunities for U.S.-based consumers:
- Survey Junkie. Survey Junkie is a popular online survey site with lots of survey-taking opportunities. You’ll earn points for each successfully completed survey and can cash out your account balance once it reaches 1,000 points ($10).
- American Consumer Opinion. American Consumer Opinion sends users one screening survey per month and roughly one full-length survey per quarter. Screening surveys pay less than full-length surveys – no more than $0.50 apiece. Full-length surveys can pay up to $50 apiece.
- Opinion Outpost. Compared with American Consumer Opinion, there are generally more opportunities on Opinion Outpost. However, the overall earning rate is lower.
- Swagbucks. Swagbucks offers multiple opportunities to earn extra income online, including paid surveys. Narrowly targeted, time-intensive surveys can pay pretty well, but some of the more basic opportunities – which take only a minute or two to complete – pay next to nothing. Learn more about Swagbucks in our Swagbucks review.
Other opportunities abound, but be sure to do your due diligence before signing up. Be wary of companies that require you to pay to join their panels.
Online Focus Groups
Online focus groups are closely related to online surveys, and in some cases, the same companies administer them. Like in-person focus groups, online focus groups require more time and concentration than online surveys. Configurations vary, but you generally have to join a panel and engage on a certain number of issues per week or month. Online focus groups are often more selective than online surveys – if you don’t meet specific demographic or income criteria, you may not qualify.
The upshot: The pay is much better, as are the opportunities for prizes and free stuff. With effort, you can earn $500 and possibly more per month in cash or in-kind awards.
3. Virtual Tutoring: Sell Your Expertise (Part 1)
Virtual tutoring is a more personal way to earn money by sharing your subject matter expertise. Unlike online courses, which are available to dozens or even hundreds of paying customers at a time, tutoring sessions are usually one-on-one affairs. However, you can have as many students as your schedule allows.
As with online teaching, to maximize your chances of success as an online tutor, stick to subjects you know well. Use a reputable and high-visibility venue, structure your sessions sensibly, price your services in line with the market, follow scheduling best practices, and promote yourself enthusiastically (or choose a platform that does so on your behalf).
The best places to find online tutoring jobs are platforms that focus specifically on tutoring, such as Education First, VIPKid, and Chegg. Both pay set hourly or per-session rates based on tutors’ chosen subjects – for instance, computer science tutors generally earn more than English tutors. Chegg starts tutors at $20 per hour and claims prolific tutors can earn upward of $1,000 per month. Before you sign up, make sure your computer meets your chosen platform’s system requirements – you’ll need a reasonably fast processor and real-time video-chatting capabilities. In most cases, you’ll also need to earn a TEFL certification which can be done through Premier TEFL.
4. Downsize & Declutter: Sell Your Unwanted Stuff
Before you roll up your sleeves and monetize your personal or professional skills, why not earn some money by cleaning up your space? Selling your unwanted stuff is a great way to downsize and declutter your life while earning some income on the side. If you’re transitioning to full-time work-at-home status, that income could help you create a proper home office or allow you to maintain your lifestyle during lean times.
When it comes to at-home income, selling your unwanted stuff is the definition of low-hanging fruit. Even if you’re intentional in your purchasing habits, you likely have possessions you can do without. Examples include old kids’ clothing and toys, sporting goods you no longer use, out-of-fashion wardrobe accessories, electronics, valuable but nonsentimental keepsakes such as watches and jewelry, old furniture, dusty tools and outdoor equipment, and perhaps even big-ticket items like a motorcycle or second car.
There are several ways you can sell your unwanted stuff.
Depending on the amount of effort you’re willing to give and your preferred sales model, these digital sales platforms are worth considering:
- EBay. EBay is one of the most popular websites in the world. That means it’s an excellent way to attract lots of eyeballs to your unwanted items, fast. Initially designed as an auction site for DIY sellers, it’s now primarily a venue for fixed-price – and often heavily discounted – sales by professional merchants. As long as you include high-quality photographs and thorough descriptions in your product listings, you can likely break through the noise. EBay’s fee schedule is complex, but as a general rule, expect to lose 10% of your final selling price to the site’s commission.
- Amazon. Many people don’t realize that Amazon is a haven for third-party sellers cleaning out their attics and garages. If you plan to sell more than 40 items per month on Amazon, consider registering as a professional seller. You’ll need to pay a roughly $40 monthly subscription fee, a referral fee that usually ranges from 6% to 20%, and a per-item closing cost for media items. You won’t pay the per-item selling fee, however. Alternatively, you can register as an individual seller. The fee schedule is the same as for professionals, except you do have to pay the selling fee and don’t have to pay the subscription fee.
- Craigslist. Craigslist is the scrappiest of the major online resale options. Its major perk is its enticing profit potential, thanks to the total lack of listing and selling fees for most items. The disadvantages are many and include potential safety risks and higher chances of nonpayment. If you do choose Craigslist, keep your wits about you and use the buddy system.
- Trade-In (Resale) Marketplaces. There are plenty of other places to sell your stuff online, especially if it’s electronic. Popular and reputable online resale marketplaces include SellCell, Gazelle, and MaxBack. Major retailers such as Best Buy have extensive trade-in programs as well, as do national carriers such as Verizon and AT&T. Decluttr, a hybrid option, cuts out the middleman and claims to deliver better value for unwanted tech items.
Hold a Yard or Garage Sale
Prefer to do things the old-fashioned way? Sell whatever you can’t or don’t want to offload online at a garage sale instead.
Follow these tips for a successful garage sale:
- Set a Popular Time and Date. Most garage sales happen on weekends, and for good reason – that’s when most people are out and about. To maximize your exposure, consider a three-day event over a long weekend. If you live in a cold climate, wait until the weather warms.
- Make Sure You’re Legal. Before setting up your sale, make sure it’s legal to do so in your community. There’s a good chance you’ll need a permit, but getting one is usually a formality and rarely requires a substantial financial investment.
- Advertise Locally. Advertise your garage sale in appropriate local venues: your city’s Craigslist page, community social media sites such as Nextdoor, your local newspaper (online and in print), and any relevant local publications, such as neighborhood print newspapers or magazines.
- Put Up Signs. Don’t assume every prospective buyer will find their way to your place using a navigation app. Put up signs directing people to your address in visible locations around your neighborhood, ideally on main roads leading to your street and multiple street corners in your home’s immediate vicinity.
- Research Costs and Set Fair Starting Prices. Before setting prices for each item, research your local Craigslist website and nearby yard sales to get a sense of how to price them. Remember that many buyers will try to haggle, so set prices a bit higher than your bottom dollar but not so high you’ll scare off first bids. Roughly 10% to 15% higher is a good rule of thumb. Consider bunching low-value items, such as old CDs, into lots of five or 10.
- Accommodate Multiple Forms of Payment. Many deal-seekers carry cash, but you want to accommodate every potential buyer. So in the days leading up to the event, consider purchasing a point-of-sale system that can accept credit cards. Square is a popular and relatively cost-effective option. It doesn’t cost anything upfront and bundles credit card processing fees into one relatively low fee: 2.6% plus $0.10 per transaction, for a net of $97.30 for every $100 charged. It’s a small price to pay to capture the ever-growing cashless consumer demographic. On the day before the sale, visit the bank and grab $100 in small bills and coin rolls to ensure you’ll have enough change for buyers who do prefer cash.
5. Freelance Writing: Sell Your Words
Countless Americans, from high school and college students to retirees, earn extra income from freelance writing. If you have a way with words, writing blog articles and Web copy is an easy and fun way to pad your full-time income.
If you aspire to become a freelance writer, follow these steps:
- Create a Home Office Space. First things first: You need a professional setup that helps, not hinders, your prospecting activities and writing work. If you don’t already have one, set up a home office – anything from a spare bedroom to a corner of your living room – with a comfortable chair, spacious desk, ample lighting, and physical storage space for papers. Buy a reliable laptop with a reputable word processing suite, like Microsoft Word, and video chat capabilities via Skype or a cloud-based phone system. Strongly consider investing in a printer. Upgrade to the fastest consumer Internet package your Internet service provider offers. Purchase a lightweight cloud accounting program such as Quickbooks or sign up for a free version. You’ll need it once you have more than a few clients. Note that many business-related expenses qualify for tax deductions.
- Start With Freelance Copywriting Platforms. When I first started working as a freelance writer, I was shocked to discover just how many freelance writing jobs were available for the taking. You can find work on dozens of reputable websites, from general-purpose freelance platforms like Upwork to writing-only portals such as Textbroker. These gigs don’t pay handsomely – starting writers earn little more than $0.01 per word on Textbroker, for instance. And the writing is often monotonous: lots of product descriptions, ad copy, press releases, and throwaway blog posts. But they’re great for getting your foot in the door, learning what editors expect from freelance writers, and becoming a better writer overall.
- Build a Portfolio. Unless you’re very lucky or a credentialed expert in a sought-after niche, such as law or accounting, your first freelance writing gigs probably won’t come with a byline. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add your early work to your writing portfolio with permission from your clients. The more pieces you produce, the more variety you’ll have to show clients down the line. As your portfolio grows, use a professional website or content marketing platform like Contently to present it publicly.
- Become a Query Machine. Once you’ve gained confidence on freelance copywriting platforms and built a modest portfolio, look for companies that actively advertise for writers – both traditional publications and companies with obvious content needs, such as PR firms. Do some research on crafting and personalizing query letters, which is an art form in itself. Then, start sending out queries to blogs, magazines, dailies, and other content-hungry organizations that fit your writing style and knowledge base. If you’re looking for byline work, each query should include a clear pitch for a single article or article series. For behind-the-scenes gigs, such as ghostwriting ad copy or press releases, condense and communicate your value proposition. Don’t sweat nonresponses. This is a numbers game, and more queries than not will be ignored.
- Be Consistent and Professional. Even if you’re just trying to earn a few extra bucks per week, approach your freelance writing gigs with the same consistency and professionalism you’d apply to a career-track position. Clients respect diligent, reliable writers who do what they say they’ll do, when they say they’ll do it, and regularly produce work that exceeds expectations. If you keep up your end of the bargain, clients should reward you with more work. As you get busier, you can safely leave the ones that don’t appreciate your efforts in the dust.
- Know What to Charge (and When to Charge More). Setting freelance writing rates is notoriously challenging. The value of your work depends on many factors, including your writing style and quality, your niche, your subject matter strengths and professional credentials, your research skills, your production speed, and your ability to work on deadline. As a rule of thumb, licensed professionals (such as lawyers, CPAs, and physicians) can charge more than nonexperts with above-average writing skills. But don’t assume your earning potential is static. As you gain skill and familiarity within your niche or with individual clients’ needs and your professional visibility improves, you’ll become more valuable to current and future clients.
- Protect Yourself With Enforceable Contracts. You don’t have to be a lawyer to draft an enforceable freelance contract. You just need to find a legitimate freelance contract template and modify it for your use. It’s fine to use a client-provided contract as long as you review it thoroughly, ask piercing questions if necessary, and seek an attorney’s advice when in doubt.
6. Freelance Editing and Proofreading: Sell Your Grammatical Skills
Freelance editing and proofreading naturally follow from freelance writing. While not every writer is a born editor or proofreader, the skills often go hand in hand.
Once you’ve worked with a few different editors, you’ll likely get a sense of the skills and duties required for the job. Then, it’s just a matter of finding the right editing gigs.
As a new editor, start small. Look for part-time or project-based copy editing jobs. If possible, leverage existing freelance writing arrangements. For instance, if you know one of your freelance clients uses contract editors to clean up writers’ work, approach them about taking on those responsibilities directly.
Once you’ve outgrown your existing client base, look to online job boards such as Upwork, as well as media-specific platforms such as Mediabistro. Common types of online editing jobs include:
- Copy Editor. Copy editors ensure written copy is polished before their bosses hit “publish” and often serve as the main point of contact with contributing writers. Though it’s not exceptionally well-paid, copy editing is often a springboard to more lucrative editing or production opportunities.
- Assistant Editor. Assistant editors supervise copy editors, photo editors, writers, and other support staff involved in producing digital publications. Larger blogs and online-print hybrids generally have at least one assistant editor on staff. These gigs can be part- or full-time. They’re typically intermediate between copy editing and managing editing jobs.
- Managing Editor. Managing editors supervise and direct editorial teams, including lower-level editors. These jobs are harder to come by and require more of your time, but temporary arrangements look great on your resume. If you lack much formal editing experience, start with smaller blogs and niche publications with modest budgets and limited content needs. Some publications don’t have enough work for a full-time editor, making it feasible to string together a handful of part-time editing gigs or try out a single position to see how it suits you.
- Photo Editor/Web Editor. Photo and Web editors create or edit visuals that appear on websites and other digital media, such as white papers and corporate reports. This line of work is a great way to exercise your visual skills and become more familiar with layout and editing programs such as Quark, WordPress, and Photoshop. These gigs often require basic to intermediate coding skills, so they’re great for freelancers who want to expand their expertise beyond the written word.
- Manuscript Editor. Looking for a longer-term engagement? The self-publishing boom has created an unprecedented demand for manuscript editors – specialists who help writers organize and sharpen book-length works before publication. Depending on your clients’ budgets, manuscript editing can be lucrative, though it’ll likely take time to build your reputation to the point that you’re working with accomplished writers. Entry-level opportunities abound on reputable freelance platforms and with niche publishing houses.
The prerequisites and best practices that make freelance editors successful are broadly similar to those freelance writers need. A suitable home office is important, as is aggressive networking, a strong work ethic, a clear understanding of your value, and a hunger for self-improvement.
Freelance proofreaders draw on the same skills and competencies as freelance writers and editors, but their career paths are distinct. The best way for someone new to the freelance proofreading game to get started (even with prior writing or editing experience) is to invest in a proofreading course to establish credibility with potential employers. Proofread Anywhere is a great example. With free introductory modules, there’s no obligation if you decide the gig isn’t for you.
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.
7. Pet Sitting: Start a Doggy Day Care in Your Home
Fun and rewarding as it can be, pet sitting is a business like any other. Successful pet sitters – those operating legit doggy day cares out of their homes – invest in local marketing, commercial insurance, formal accounting, organized recordkeeping, and perhaps even legal services (to manage contracts and reduce liability).
You can juggle all these obligations yourself, or you can outsource much of the heavy lifting to a pet sitting platform like Rover. Think of Rover as the Airbnb of pet sitting – a scalable platform that handles a lot of the behind-the-scenes work of running a profitable home-based enterprise without micromanaging your work. Rover claims its pet sitters earn up to $1,000 per month, though actual earnings vary by client volume and the amount of time you put into the business.
8. Remote Accounting: Launch a Virtual Bookkeeping Business
If you prefer clients who won’t shed all over your house and you have an affinity for spreadsheets, a virtual bookkeeping business could be just what you need to earn a stable income without leaving the house.
Because bookkeeping is a competitive industry that rewards skilled professionals with solid reputations, the surest way to break into the business is to invest in a credentialing course. For instance, Bookkeepers offers three different tracks (“communities”) for bookkeepers at various stages of learning the trade and building their businesses. Learn the ropes with Bookkeeper Launch, then progress to Bookkeeper Lab and Bookkeeper Elite – if you have what it takes.
9. Retail Arbitrage: Learn How to Buy Low and Sell High
“Buy low, sell high” is an expression more commonly heard in the noisy bullpen of an investment bank or brokerage house than the relative quiet of one’s home office. But there’s one type of arbitrage – the art of selling assets for more than you paid without adding value – that’s perfect for at-home workers.
That would be retail arbitrage, one of the top careers for self-employed introverts. Practitioners of retail arbitrage buy products for pennies on the dollar at auctions, from online retailers, even at garage and yard sales, and then sell them online at sometimes-substantial markups. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is the most popular platform for U.S. sellers, but other options work too. Learn the FBA ropes with this low-cost Udemy course.
10. E-books & Audiobooks: Take Your Writing (or Acting) Career to the Next Level
Even the most diligent freelance writers get bored and disillusioned after a while. If you’re tired of writing Web content or blog posts on a contract basis, or you simply want to expand your horizons, consider tackling long-form projects that exercise your creative muscles and carry substantial passive income potential.
You can make money with audiobooks in a couple of different ways:
- Recording Your Work. If you’ve already written a book, you can leverage an entirely new revenue stream by turning it into an audiobook. It doesn’t have to be your voice on the recording. In fact, unless you have voice acting or radio experience, it’s better to hire a trained voice actor. Reputable platforms like ACX typically have low production costs and innovative royalty-sharing arrangements that maximize rights-holders’ (writers’) income potential. Check Publishers Weekly for a list of platform options.
- Recording Others’ Work. If you’re a trained voice actor or narrator, or you think you have what it takes to break into the niche, you can use ACX and other outlets to find audiobook recording jobs. You’ll need to audition for each role, but once you land a gig, you’ll earn money two ways: at an agreed per-hour rate for the actual job and a shared royalty arrangement with the rights-holder and others involved in the production. If you’re a union actor (SAG-AFTRA), you’re required to charge a minimum fee (variable, but above $200) per finished hour (roughly two studio hours). On a 10-hour audiobook, that’s a minimum payday of $2,000 before royalties.
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.
11. Political Advocacy: Sell Your Passion for the Issues
Maybe you’re committed to making the world a better place. Maybe you just love a good argument. Either way, you can work as a political organizer and advocate from the comfort of your home.
Advocacy organizations such as NextWave Advocacy and DDC Public Affairs recruit and pay outgoing, communications-savvy team members to raise support around political issues championed by their clients – private companies, nonprofits, trade organizations, and lobbying groups. The types of work involved include:
- Coordinating phone and email outreach to constituents
- Organizing letter-writing and call-in campaigns
- Galvanizing responses to public comment periods
- Activating small and midsized business constituents
Advocacy organizations generally have full-time core teams that work on-site in state capitals or Washington, D.C. At-home opportunities are typically project-based and may require substantial time commitments – up to and perhaps more than 40 hours per week.
Depending on the nature of the job, the pay can be modest – $10 to $20 per hour. However, if you’re looking to launch a career in political organizing, these gigs can get your foot in the door. Note that they involve advocating for a wide range of causes, so they can potentially put people with deeply held beliefs in awkward positions.
12. Classes & Webinars: Sell Your Expertise (Part 2)
Online surveys and focus groups are great for regular folks who want to share their opinions and influence companies’ decision-making processes. But what about folks who have bona fide subject matter expertise – or, at least, above-average skills in a sought-after discipline?
You don’t have to snag an adjunct professorship at your local university to share your knowledge with your peers and earn some cash in the process. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can cut out the middleman and teach classes directly to lifelong learners without leaving the house. Here’s what you should keep in mind to begin and maintain a successful at-home teaching enterprise:
- Credibility. Selling your expertise works best when you have some credibility. In many verticals, formal credentials are a near-necessity. Students signing up for a class on online tax preparation want to learn from a CPA. Entrepreneurs looking for the inside track on small-business law want to hear from a lawyer or serial entrepreneur.
- 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.)
- Topic and Structure. It’s not enough to select a popular vertical. You need a compelling topic and a tight structure for each class. After all, everyone wants to learn how to code, but you can’t teach every popular program language in an hour. Build your curriculum around interesting, high-demand topics within your niche. Use real-life examples, hands-on exercises, and attractive graphics (whiteboards work well) whenever possible.
- Pricing and Deals. As with any professional pursuit, you need to know how much your teaching skills are worth and price them accordingly. Unfortunately, at-home teaching is a competitive business, so you’re likely to find someone who charges less for similar work. Ways to get around this include multi-course discounts, package deals, and complimentary products or information for early sign-ups.
- Promotion. You don’t need to buy digital ads to promote your classes, but it’s definitely worth your while to drum up support by email – sending out targeted blasts to your professional and personal networks – and social media accounts. As you gain students, reputable platforms like Udemy will boost your visibility, doing some of the hard promotional work for you. However, you must opt into its extensive course marketing network.
13. Question Marketplaces: Sell Your Expertise (Part 3)
The Internet is full of questions. If you’re knowledgeable and unbiased, you could earn money by answering them.
Online question marketplaces pay verified experts to answer questions posed by community members. If you’re particularly knowledgeable about a specific subject or discipline, you could earn a respectable side income simply by sharing your factual insights.
One of the most reputable and lucrative online question marketplaces is JustAnswer. JustAnswer’s verticals include health, home improvement, cars, law, business, tech, pets, and homework. For most verticals, you need relevant official credentials, such as a law or accounting degree.
Pay varies by vertical but seems to be pretty generous. JustAnswer claims you can earn upward of $35 per hour – and sometimes significantly more – if you’re an expert in a high-demand subject. Your work volume depends on the quality of your answers and the volume of questions users are asking, so you may not find as much work as you expect at first. Still, JustAnswer is ripe for multitasking, making it a perfect work-from-home opportunity.
Other options include Wonder, which doesn’t require formal credentials. Wonder is cagey about how much it pays, but client pricing starts at about $40 per completed query, so it’s likely contributors see at least half that figure. However, Wonder appears to have lower question volumes than JustAnswer, limiting your income potential.
14. Paid Search: Sell Your Search Queries
You could earn small but meaningful sums from the same online searches you no doubt conduct every day, thanks to a slew of websites and plug-ins that track your searches and pay you for each completed query.
Paid search queries aren’t nearly as lucrative as expert-answer platforms such as JustAnswer. It’s rare to get more than a few cents for a single search. However, since you can complete hundreds of searches in an hour, the income potential is real. Popular, reputable options include:
- InboxDollars. InboxDollars is one of the Internet’s first legitimate at-home money-making websites. Paid search is just one of the many ways to earn a few extra bucks on the side with this site. And InboxDollars pays hard cash, a major advantage over some competitors. Learn more about Inboxdollars by reading our InboxDollar review.
- Swagbucks. Swagbucks is an InboxDollars competitor with a slew of online money-making opportunities, including paid search. Searches earn Swagbucks, an on-site loyalty currency you can redeem for gift cards and other items.
- Qmee. Qmee is a browser plug-in that pays you to search for specific partner brands. You get even more via cash-back rebates when you buy stuff from these brands, but there’s no obligation to spend any money.
15. Paid Social Posts: Get Paid to Tweet, Post, Pin, & Share
You don’t need millions of followers to become a social media influencer. You just need to follow the basic rules of social media etiquette and find a reputable platform that pays you to share sponsored content from its clients or promote affiliate products.
Pay-per-tweet platforms such as PaidPerTweet can get you started, but they’re not the most lucrative options out there. Unless you have tens of thousands of Twitter followers, you won’t make more than a few bucks per tweet on Paid Per Tweet – and that assumes you’ll find paying clients whose buyer bases align with your follower base.
If you’re serious about making real, sustainable money on social media, try either of these strategies:
- YouTube Partner Program. The YouTube Partner program empowers YouTube channel operators to monetize certain types of videos. Finding paying advertisers is hard work, and you need a sizable following before you can find companies willing to pay for direct or indirect promotion. Plus, your videos must meet YouTube’s monetization criteria, which ban explicit or copied content. Pay potential is directly proportional to the size of your channel following and, to a lesser extent, audience demographics.
- Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your blog or website, but it can also generate income from your social media properties. (Many affiliate marketers do both.) ClickBank is a good place to start. Pay is directly proportional to your follower count and audience demographics.
16. Software & Game Reviews: Sell Your Testing Abilities (Part 1)
Getting paid to test new video games and consoles sounds like a dream come true for gamers. But video game testing is a job like any other. It requires significant time and energy commitments. It’s not something you can do with a few spare minutes or with less than your undivided attention.
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.
Successful game testers have certain capabilities and personality traits in common:
- A Professional-Grade Gaming Setup. If you’re an avid gamer, you probably have this covered. If not, the cost of upgrading your setup in the hopes you’ll be hired as a tester could be prohibitive.
- Unwavering Attention to Detail. Video game testing isn’t like regular gameplay. The whole point is to prod for any bugs and defects that could potentially impact play, no matter how small or unlikely. Your eyes must be peeled for any deviance from expected results.
- Flexible Schedules With Long Blocks of Uninterrupted Time. Simultaneous game tests typically occur at the client’s convenience. If your game’s developer is based overseas, that could mean testing in the middle of the night. For night owls, that’s not a big deal, but 9-to-5ers may struggle. Also, tests typically take several hours, so this isn’t something you can do for 20 minutes at a time and move on.
17. Website and Product Testing: Sell Your Testing Abilities (Part 2)
Websites and products need testing too. Here’s what to know about each type of gig.
If you’re not much of a gamer, or you can’t spare the long blocks of time and unwavering attention required of professional game testers, consider signing up with UserTesting to try out new websites and mobile apps.
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.
If you prefer hands-on testing, consider signing up to test products with Toluna, a leading market research firm. You’ll have the opportunity to try real product prototypes and beta versions before they’re released to the general public, and your feedback could meaningfully influence their development.
18. Cash Back & Coupons: Earn When You Shop
Cash back isn’t technically income because you need to buy something to earn it. It’s more like a discount. But when you earn it for purchases you’d make anyway, it’s a great way to make a little extra money.
The most common way to earn cash back on purchases is with a cash-back credit card. But while a credit card is a great tool for building credit, there are many legitimate arguments against using one. If your spotty credit or personal preferences preclude you from applying for a credit card, don’t sweat it. You have plenty of other opportunities to earn cash back on purchases made in the comfort of your own home. Look into these options:
- Wikibuy. Wikibuy is a browser extension that helps folks find a lower price on thousands of products when shopping online. Use it whenever you need to buy something without leaving the house.
- Rakuten. Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is a wildly popular coupon site that offers multiple ways to save online. Cash back accrues immediately, so there’s no need to go through an extra redemption process. You can choose from thousands of partner merchants.
- TopCashback. TopCashback leverages affiliate arrangements with thousands of merchants to deliver a slew of instant discount and cash-back opportunities for U.S.-based shoppers. There’s some friction involved, as you need to click through to specific offers from TopCashback’s website, but the depth of the savings makes this extra step worthwhile.
- Piggy. Piggy is an intelligent coupon plug-in that works in the background as you browse and automatically serves you with the most relevant, up-to-date coupons on your favorite shopping websites. With over thousands of merchants in the network, virtually every major brand is here. Savings opportunities range up to 70%.
- Qmee. As a low-friction plug-in, Qmee gives you the option to act on or ignore shopping discount offers. You can cash out in virtually any amount, so it’s worth using even if you’re only a sporadic online shopper.
- Giving Assistant. Giving Assistant puts a charitable spin on online shopping discounts. Functionally, it’s similar to Qmee and Piggy, but users have the option to donate their earnings to their favorite charities. Of course, those who prefer to pocket their cash still can. You can reliably earn 5% cash back with Giving Assistant and more at select merchants.
19. Translation: Sell Your Language Skills
Translation software is getting better all the time, and translator jobs are widely considered vulnerable to automation and artificial intelligence. However, there’s still a lively market for translators, particularly those with above-average wordsmithing skills or fluency in obscure languages.
You can find plenty of translation jobs on general freelance platforms like Upwork, but the quality of opportunities on nonspecialized platforms tends to be uneven. Earning potential also varies widely. Entry-level, nonspecialized translation work often pays less than $10 per hour, while highly technical jobs can pay more than $50 per hour. Generally speaking, you’ll earn more as you gain experience, improve your fluency, and attain vertical-specific credentials.
To maximize your earning potential as an online translator, sign up with as many of the following as possible:
- Gengo. Gengo is a beginner-friendly platform that covers a range of subjects and project types. Pay tends to be on the low side, but payment is frequent and predictable – it comes via PayPal twice per month. Experienced and prolific translators can become Senior Translators, who command higher pay rates and are responsible for evaluating and editing entry-level translators’ work.
- ProTranslating. ProTranslating is a boutique agency with a sophisticated digital presence and an in-house marketing apparatus that adds value to its core services: translation and transcreation (the science of adapting prose into a second language without altering its meaning). ProTranslating focuses on expert-level content at the upper end of the market, so if you’re a professional translator with verifiable subject matter expertise, you can do very well. Beginners may want to start with Gengo or another entry-level platform before applying here.
- One Hour Translation. One Hour Translation is a bulk translation service that’s great for entry-level translators. It pays by the word, with hourly rates working out to $10 to $20, depending on skill and speed. It’s a good option for beginners, and there’s ample room for advancement through the site’s elaborate hierarchy.
- Unbabel. Unbabel is another entry-level option. Billed as an originator of “trustworthy large-scale translations,” it pays as little as $8 per hour, but the work is more plentiful and steady than on some competing platforms. If nothing else, it’s a good place to start.
20. Online Boutiques: Sell Your Crafts
The sky’s the limit for at-home crafters. Running a successful at-home crafts business no longer means schlepping your wares to flea markets every weekend or begging for space at your local art gallery. All you need is a reliable Internet connection, a decent camera, and a modest startup fund.
Legitimate places to sell your creations online include:
- Etsy. Selling on Etsy is a fantastic way to monetize your crafting hobby. And with a transaction fee of just 3.5%, it’s a lot cheaper than popular alternatives such as eBay and Amazon.
- E-Commerce Portals. The best way to improve your at-home crafts business’s visibility and credibility is to launch your own website. And the best way to monetize that website is with a turnkey e-commerce portal. Shopify is a relatively cost-effective, feature-rich option for serious sellers – you can build and maintain a decent store for $15 to $20 per month. Volusion and Squarespace are worthy, comparably priced competitors.
- Niche Websites. Depending on what you’re selling, niche websites could be cheaper and more effective than Etsy and onsite e-commerce portals. Check out Handmade Artists, which costs $50 per year and is for handmade goods only, and Zibbet, which costs $5 and up per month and has a handy feature that seamlessly transfers Etsy listing content.
21. Technical Support: Sell Your Troubleshooting Skills
Do you like chatting with people? Do you have above-average technical or troubleshooting skills or the willingness to learn?
If so, you could make a good technical support rep. While many customer service and technical support reps still work in centralized call centers, at-home workers have plenty of opportunities.
At Home Advisors
One of the biggest and best-known at-home tech support employers is Apple, whose At Home Advisor program employs thousands of people at competitive, experience-based salaries. At Home Advisors are part- or full-time employees, not independent contractors, so there’s a measure of security here that’s often missing from work-at-home gigs. The benefits package, including Apple stock, is pretty nice too, and every At Home Advisor gets a free iMac.
The downside is that the hiring process is highly competitive, so you’ll likely need to demonstrate prior experience or make a great impression on the hiring manager. If you’re hired, you’ll need to complete a paid training course that lasts five to seven weeks. And you’ll need to spring for a legit home office, which Apple describes as “a quiet, distraction-free room with a door that can close to keep out ambient noise … a desk, an ergonomic chair, and your own high-speed Internet connection from a reliable provider that meets the minimum requirements of 5 megabits per second download and 1 megabit per second upload.”
Things to Remember
Before looking for at-home tech support jobs, keep a few things in mind:
- 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.
- Demands on Your Time and Personality. Tech support is a 24/7 business. You’ll likely have some freedom to set your schedule, but you’re virtually assured to have some work shifts that don’t jibe with your lifestyle. You’ll also likely be responsible for some holiday and weekend coverage, though how much varies by employer. Finally, you’ll need to be “on” and personable at all times. If you don’t think you’re capable of maintaining a sunny disposition as you near the end of an eight-hour shift, this might not be the job for you.
- Opportunities for Advancement. Entry-level tech support work usually pays between $10 and $20 per hour, though blue-chip employers like Apple can afford higher wages. If you’d like to do this work long-term, look for gigs that offer opportunities for advancement into the ranks of lower and middle management – preferably without an attendant shift to on-site employment.
22. Remote Call Centers: Sell Your Voice
Not confident in your technical support skills or not sure you meet Apple’s stringent standards? If you’re a friendly, persuasive talker, you’ll find plenty of opportunities with remote call center operators.
Though they vary somewhat from company to company, remote call center operators’ technical and equipment requirements are comparable to remote customer support companies’. You need a headset, a fast Internet connection, an above-average desktop or laptop computer, and any proprietary software necessary to do your job.
Remote call center opportunities are more varied than remote technical support gigs. Many call center companies serve as outside sales contractors for companies without internal sales teams of their own. As an at-home operator, you work as an independent contractor charged with selling on the client’s behalf. If you’re personable, persuasive, and believe in what you’re selling, there’s real money to be made in this niche. However, since independent sales agents are usually commission-based, you may struggle to earn a respectable keep if you’re not a born salesperson.
Other common opportunities include insurance claims processing, roadside assistance routing, and customer assistance for health care consumers. LiveOps packages all of these functions, plus a healthy dose of inbound sales, under a single roof. Keep in mind that there’s a modest startup cost – less than $100 – involved, and you’re not compensated for training. So LiveOps isn’t suitable for at-home workers who need cash immediately.
23. Virtual Assistant Services: Sell Your Organizational Skills
Busy professionals and small-business owners often lack the resources or office space to employ an on-site assistant. Many choose to hire virtual assistants (VAs) on a part-time or contract basis, getting all the benefits of a trusty assistant while saving the expense and regulatory headaches of a full-time employee.
Virtual assistant duties typically include:
- Screening calls, taking and responding to messages, and directing important information to the client
- Accepting, deflecting, and scheduling requests for the client’s time and attention and maintaining up-to-date calendars
- Basic clerical and organizational tasks
- Compiling and running reports
- Managing, scheduling, and producing content for social media, email marketing, and websites
- Managing e-commerce operations, including fulfillment
Necessary or recommended equipment includes:
- A comfortable desk and workspace
- A standardized and scalable electronic organization system
- A fast Internet connection
- A reliable telephone setup (either a landline or a cloud-based business phone system), preferably with a headset
- A secure means of invoicing and receiving payment, such as FreshBooks or PayPal
- A secure email suite
- Anti-malware protection
- A virtual private network (VPN) from NordVPN, especially if anonymity is a consideration or you’re working with clients outside your home country
- Permissions and passwords for the principal accounts to which you’re allowed access, such as email and invoicing software
Virtual assistants can work as little as a few hours per week, per client, either in a single block of time or spread evenly throughout. Work is plentiful, so it’s not hard to string together multiple gigs and create a full- or near-full-time job.
The virtual assistant workforce is global, which means two things. First, if you’re in the U.S. or another high-cost country, you’ll likely be undercut by English- and Spanish-speaking professionals in cheaper markets. Second, you’ll need to either stick to clients in or near your time zone or be willing to work odd hours. A reasonable starting wage for North America-based VAs is $10 to $20 per hour, but competent VAs command much higher rates.
Start looking for virtual assistant gigs on general-purpose freelance platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer, but consider launching your own website.
Pro tip: If you’re unsure how to get started, there are online courses available that can provide you with all the information you’ll need.
24. Online Videos & TV: Sell Your Viewing Time
If you’re an avid consumer of online videos, TV programs, or both, you can turn your habit into a legitimate source of side income.
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.
Other opportunities are easier to get but not nearly as lucrative. Many market research companies have video-watching verticals through which participants can earn points for each view. Swagbucks and InboxDollars are two legitimate options. You can earn points with them, which you can redeem for gift cards and occasionally cash. The hourly rates working out to less than minimum wage in most cases but aren’t bad for a few spare minutes of your time here and there.
25. Tailoring: Sell Your Fashion Skills
Tailoring isn’t exactly a fast track to riches, but it can serve as a valuable source of side income or even a full-fledged cottage industry sufficient to support a two-income family. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for tailors, dressmakers, and custom sewers is about $31,000. That works out to about $14 per hour.
The most common at-home sewing pursuit is clothing alterations, a high-volume niche that’s always in demand. However, depending on your skills and interests, you can pour yourself into a slew of other opportunities: making custom curtains and draperies, repairing heirloom bedclothes and tapestries, assembling and repairing durable fabrics such as canvas bags and totes, or producing large-scale items such as boat covers.
Before you launch an at-home alteration or custom sewing business, consider the following:
- Your Skills. This is a detail-oriented pursuit that requires patience and skill. You need to have above-average sewing skills, and confidence in those skills, to make your mark. Experience is strongly preferred as well.
- Advertising and Promotion. You won’t have a huge budget to promote your at-home business, so use cost-effective outreach targeted to your most likely customers, such as fliers in local craft and clothing stores, a basic website (preferably with booking and payment portals), a referral network, and friends and family willing to sing your praises. Also, consider joining the American Sewing Guild for $50 per year. It’s a great way to meet other enthusiasts and get your name out there.
- Equipment Costs and Space. At a minimum, you’ll need a work table, a sewing machine, a rack, and storage space for raw materials. You can find a cheap but sturdy table for less than $20, and maybe for free if you’re fortunate. Used sewing machines start at under $50, but that won’t cut it for a real at-home custom sewing business. You’ll need a heavy-duty piece of equipment, preferably new. Expect to pay $2,000 or more for this. Consider financing with a low-APR credit card if your creditworthiness allows.
- Legalities. Confirm with local authorities that your neighborhood is zoned to allow at-home businesses. If it’s not, look into applying for a variance or otherwise coming into compliance. Even if this costs something upfront, it’s better than risking a fine or a cease-and-desist order down the road.
26. Medical Transcription: Sell Your Attention to Detail
If you’re a fast, accurate typist, you can earn significant sums as a medical transcriptionist by transcribing physicians’ spoken notes into legible, accurate text.
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.
To boost your attractiveness to employers, consider working as an on-site scribe at your local hospital or clinic. Though they pay less, most such jobs require less prior experience than full-fledged transcription jobs.
The upshot: Like reputable tech support jobs, legitimate medical transcription gigs usually don’t require much upfront investment, save for high-speed Internet and a cell or landline phone. Legitimate employers provide any software necessary to complete your duties, and some may even provide or finance the purchase of a business laptop or desktop.
27. Freelance Consulting: Sell Your Professional Acumen
At-home consulting is a great way for new parents who’ve scaled back their hours or sidelined their careers to keep their skills sharp and their names out there. It’s also a great side gig for professionals who’ve grown stifled in their current roles but don’t yet have the confidence or client base to quit their 9-to-5s and strike out on their own. With time, a consulting side business can easily turn into a full-time job, with all the freedom that entails.
Launching an at-home consulting business means getting comfortable with the idea of marketing yourself. Start by modifying your LinkedIn profile to emphasize your consulting services and relevant professional experience. Set up a website that describes your consulting work in more detail and features testimonials from former colleagues and clients. And create a blog that plays up your expertise.
28. P2P Lending: Put Your Excess Capital to Work (Part 1)
The sharing economy has created new opportunities for regular people to put their excess capital to work. Person-to-person (P2P) lending platforms such as LendingClub and Prosper are reputable outlets for nonaccredited individuals seeking above-average returns on investment – anywhere from 4% to more than 10% annually, after accounting for nonperforming loans and the platforms’ service charges.
A word of warning: Unlike high-yield savings accounts and CDs, P2P loans are not FDIC-insured or SIPC-protected. That means they present the very real risk of loss of principal. Don’t lend any funds you can’t afford to lose, and thoroughly read platforms’ prospectuses and disclaimers before participating.
29. Investing: Put Your Excess Capital to Work (Part 2)
Certain types of securities accounts are SIPC-protected, though investing in stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs isn’t without risk. While you should never invest money that you can’t afford to lose, putting your excess capital to work in the market is a great way to beat persistently low savings account interest rates.
30. Storage Space Leasing: Turn Your Extra Space Into a Storage Unit
Do you have an under-utilized garage, shed, basement, or attic? Are you willing to clean it up? Then you’re a good fit for Neighbor.com, a P2P platform that connects folks who need extra storage space with those who have it in spades (and aren’t using it themselves).
Neighbor.com advertises rental rates at 50% of the going rate for self-storage units, though you’ll earn a bit less than that after the platform takes its cut. Still, that’s quite a bit of passive income for doing basically nothing at all.
31. Website Flipping: Buy, Fix, & Sell Undervalued Websites & Domains
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.
Every website flip carries its own unique caveats and considerations. For starters, there are two main types of website flips:
- Buying an unbuilt domain and creating your own website from scratch
- Buying an existing website and increasing its revenue potential
In roughly chronological order, the typical website flip involves these steps:
- Find Your Niche and Set Goals. Start by choosing a strong niche for your website. It should be a subject with which you’re personally familiar. Identify and research potential competitors’ content strategies, traffic figures, and monetization efforts. Next, set basic goals and parameters for your flip, including length, traffic target, revenue target, and target sale price.
- Buy and Host Your Domain. Your domain name should be catchy and relevant to your niche. It should also roll off the tongue and sound as similar as possible to your site’s actual name. If the domain isn’t yet registered, you can probably find it on GoDaddy or a comparable domain warehouse for less than $15 per year. Already-registered domains can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the quality of the name. Already-built sites can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on traffic, revenue, and other factors. High-performing domains are out of reach for low-budget flippers.
- Select a Template and Begin Creating Content. Deploy an agile WordPress template – which shouldn’t cost more than $99 per year – and begin populating your site with written, visual, and video content. To cut costs, you can produce some or all of this content yourself at first. But that’s likely to get too time-consuming as your attention shifts to monetizing, marketing, and selling your site. Look for high-quality, low-cost freelancers on platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, and 99designs. If your budget is higher, you can hire or contract with staff writers, editors, and multimedia producers directly.
- Start Monetizing. Once your content pipeline is turned up, start monetizing. Get a Google AdSense account to populate your site with revenue-producing ads cost-effectively. Explore affiliate relationships with merchants in your niche. Team up with other publishers, marketers, and brands to run sponsored (paid) content on your site.
- Drive Traffic. The more traffic your site receives, the more revenue it produces and the more valuable it becomes to prospective buyers. Your traffic-driving strategy will depend on a host of factors, including your budget and target audience. But it’s likely to involve some combination of organic SEO, paid search ads, content partnerships, pay per click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing.
- Begin the Sales Process. As you approach your traffic and revenue targets, start planning your exit. The Internet chock-full of website brokers, from flipper-oriented platforms like Flippa to higher-end agencies like FE International.
- Finalize the Sale and Repeat. The website-selling process all too often serves as a rude awakening for site owners who think their domains are worth far more than what the market will bear. If you’re not getting any acceptable offers, head back to the drawing board and figure out what you need to do to make your site more attractive to prospective buyers. Once you get offers that meet or exceed your target selling price, it’s just a matter of accepting the best one, transferring the domain, and funneling the profits into your next flip.
Keep in mind that this is a very rough guide. Every flip is different, and your experience depends to a great degree on factors like your site’s niche and your goals. Plus, it takes a lot of hard work – not to mention a substantial amount of time – to pull off a successful flip.
32. Lodging: Rent Out Space in Your Home
Are you maximizing your home’s income potential? If you have an empty spare bedroom, mother-in-law suite, or duplex unit on the premises, the answer is likely no.
You don’t have to find a long-term tenant to earn income from your home’s unused square footage. Apps like Airbnb, Vrbo, and HomeAway let you rent out your home to business and leisure travelers on a nightly or weekly basis. Depending on prevailing rents in your local market and your space’s size, amenities, and privacy, you could earn anywhere from $40 or $50 to $500 or more per night.
Short-term rental platforms handle most of the thorny logistical considerations that keep regular homeowners from becoming landlords, including payment processing and security deposits. And after a string of highly public mishaps in their first few years, they’re increasingly safety-conscious, so the likelihood is high you’ll be able to verify the identity of every person who crashes at your place.
Not every home is rental-ready, of course. Before listing your place on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, consider:
- Stranger Danger. Most importantly, you need to determine whether you and your family members are comfortable with welcoming strangers into your home. If you have a second unit with a separate entrance, this is less of a sticking point, but it still begs careful consideration.
- Local Regulations. Municipal governments are increasingly amenable to short-term rentals, but holdouts remain. Surprisingly, tourist towns are sometimes the most vehemently opposed. Keep abreast of regulations in your area. And if your city does allow short-term rentals, make sure you pay all applicable local and state hospitality taxes.
- Pets. Dogs and cats complicate short-term rental arrangements. It’s hard to give a visitor free reign over your place when you’re worried about them inadvertently letting Fido or Fluffy out when they come home in the middle of the night. At a minimum, you should disclose the fact that you have pets, lest an allergic tenant leaves a toxic review on your otherwise pristine online listing.
- Cleaning and Damage. Online rental platforms let you charge cleaning fees so that you aren’t financially on the hook for the full cost of a post-tenant professional cleaning. Most cover the cost of renter-caused damage too, provided you properly document and report it. But financial redress only goes so far. You still have to deal with the inevitable investment of time and energy to fix the damage or clean up the mess.
- Hands-On Hosting. While you don’t have to serve as your visitors’ personal tour guide, you do have to be reachable and willing to help if a problem arises. If you’re not willing to drop what you’re doing – or at least pick up your phone – to help a tenant in need, short-term rental hosting might not be your best bet for at-home income.
33. Car Rentals: Rent Out Your Car
Don’t have a spare bedroom or second unit to rent out on a nightly basis? If you have a personal vehicle, you can rent it out to travelers and people who don’t own their own cars – without getting behind the wheel or even leaving your house.
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.
34. Parking Spot Rentals: Rent Out Your Driveway or Street Slot
Another vehicle-related passive income opportunity is your home’s parking space. In crowded cities like Chicago and Boston, parking spaces are valuable commodities. If you’re fortunate enough to own or have guaranteed access to an on- or off-street parking space, you can earn money by renting it out to folks visiting or passing through your neighborhood.
Check out SPOT, an increasingly popular app that connects drivers and parking spot owners in the same way Airbnb connects travelers and homeowners. SPOT won’t make you rich overnight, but it could help you earn a few hundred bucks per month on an in-demand parking spot. Neighbor.com has a parking space rental feature too.
35. Meal Sharing: Sell Your Cooking Skills
Not anymore. Today, you can run a small-scale eatery – and earn a tidy profit in the process – without leaving your home. The secret: a rapidly multiplying cohort of meal-sharing startups that connect budding chefs with hungry diners willing to shell out money for authentic, restaurant-quality home cooking.
But first, a caveat: Meal sharing platforms operate in a legal gray area. The food service industry is heavily regulated, and many jurisdictions make it all but impossible for home cooks to profit from their passions. At a minimum, you need to make sure you comply with all local health department directives and obtain all applicable licenses before you begin inviting diners into your home.
It’s also worth noting that meal sharing involves hosting strangers for dinner, which can be an even more intimate prospect than allowing them to sleep in your home while you’re away. Every app takes pains to protect host and diner safety, but if you’re reticent to invite people you’ve never met into your home, you may want to think twice.
If you’re comfortable having strangers in your home and confident you’re on the right side of the law, check out these popular meal sharing options. Depending on your platform choice, guest capacity, and local market, you can expect to rake in anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars per meal after accounting for expenses. Hosting opportunities are more plentiful in major cities.
- Meal Sharing. The appropriately named Meal Sharing operates in over 150 countries. There are very few restrictions on what you can cook, and you’re free to set your own prices to ensure a full table – though you’ll want to charge enough to cover your costs and have something left over for yourself.
- ChefsFeed. ChefsFeed is geared toward aspiring and semi-established chefs. Many cooks use it to supplement income earned at real restaurants or food trucks or to break into extremely competitive culinary scenes in places like New York City and San Francisco.
- Eatwith. Eatwith, a European startup, stresses the communal aspect of meal sharing. The vetting process for new chefs is pretty rigorous, but there’s plenty of room for talented cooks to break in.
- Plate Culture. Plate Culture is a low-cost app that plays up the “secret social” aspect of meal sharing (think old-timey speakeasies).
36. Tech Work: Invest in Your Future
Contrary to popular belief, not all high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree are dangerous or grueling. Some can be done from the comfort of your home office, with nothing more than a fast Internet connection and a high-end laptop.
And the right skills, of course. Increase your earning potential in fields like UI/UX and data analytics – where full-time salaries for entry-level jobs easily exceed $50,000 per year – with a bootcamp from Springboard, a leading course provider for tech certifications.
Though Springboard isn’t free, it does offer a fallback: If you don’t land a job after actively searching for six months following your graduation, Springboard will refund your course fees. That’s not a bad deal for an investment that could literally alter the course of your career.
Codecademy’s money-back guarantee isn’t as generous, but its course database is far more expansive than Springboard’s. If you’re not sure where to start, take the quiz to learn how your existing skills fit into the wide (and often confusing) world of programming.
Many of these work-at-home opportunities involve either passive income or spare-time endeavors that aren’t likely to turn into full-time pursuits. But some, such as freelance writing and editing, are readily scalable.
If you’re willing to pound the pavement in search of paying clients and can follow productivity tips for home workers, there’s nothing stopping you from turning your at-home passion project into a full-fledged career.
What’s your favorite way to make money from home? What do you like most about it?