I have been working from home since November 2007 when I had to find a way out of the office politics for my own mental and physical health, and I also wanted something more flexible to accommodate my husband’s ever-changing work schedule.
It was a lonely and scary little venture back then.
I didn’t personally know anyone working virtually, and it wasn’t a topic well received in those days as many assumed I had just signed up with some scammy MLM I would eventually try to get them to join.
Today, things have changed!
Even in my rural neck of the woods, I know several people freelancing on their own terms and as time allows.
But, starting a home business can still be intimidating. You might imagine that you must have capital, special training, and an advertising or marketing budget to succeed.
The truth is, you don't need any of that. There are many home businesses you can develop right this minute, with minimal investment, time and education.
Selling on eBay
Most people know how to use eBay, but if you don't, it's simple to learn.
The cost of listing items is low; the trick is figuring out what would be a product that people might like to buy, putting up a lot of said products, and providing great customer service.
Deciding what to sell is tricky. Books that aren't rare, for example, may be a poor choice to sell because they are far too common and others are selling them at a low cost. A good rule to follow is to sell a product you are familiar with and that you also know other people value. Sarah Titus, a single mom earning a full-time income on eBay, found success in selling everything from parts from a broken vacuum to children’s clothing lots to popular toys. Sarah advises start with what you have lying around and grow from there.
Commitment is important with online selling. It may take quite a bit of time for some items to be purchased. You have to mail the item promptly when they do, have a decent return or refund policy, answer customer questions as they arise, and be honest with buyers about shipping costs and times.
Related: If you are wanting to leave your current job to pursue something else, I have the book for you. I highly recommend the book How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye. It includes 150 pages of information on how to negotiate a severance from a job you no longer like, profiles of people from different demographics and income levels who've successfully engineered their layoffs, and how they did it, and more.
I found my own work-at-home freedom as a virtual assistant. My first job came as a referral from another home business owner who had learned of my new venture. I also spent a lot of time networking through sites like VANetworking.com and in Facebook Groups.
There is a big demand for social marketing and blogging assistants currently. These are skills that can be learned and honed online and as you go if you can find someone willing to take you under their wing as a subcontractor or a home business owner or blogger looking to teach their assistant from the ground up.
Similar to Facebook Groups, forums are also a great place to find potential virtual assistant clients. Seek out forums your ideal client would frequent. Answer questions and showcase your expertise. Don’t spam. Only advertise your services in the appropriate folders and when requested.
HireMyMom and VANetworking.com’s VAInsider are also great places to find Requests for Proposal (RFPs). These do come with an annual fee. But, you can quickly earn that investment back if you are responding to relevant requests with custom replies.
Related article: How To Become a Virtual Assistant
Do you have an advanced degree or specialized knowledge in a subject? If so, you might want to consider tutoring. Tutoring also offers a lot of flexibility.
Vernetta Freeney of Women are Gamechangers teaches English as a Second Language to local corporate employees. She often finds she learns just as much from her students as they learn from her. Tutoring can be an extremely rewarding business!
Place ads in your local paper advertising your services, or put up flyers in colleges, supermarkets, and libraries. Online options exist for marketing your services as well.
Check out sites like InstaEDU, Tutor.com and ISUS. Tutoring can pay slightly more than many work at home options, as much as $100+ an hour if you are an exceptional tutor with specialized knowledge.
Related article: 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money
You don't need a special degree to get started as a freelance writer. If you enjoy expressing yourself, are good at checking facts, and have basic grammar and spelling skills, you're already on your way. Gina Horkey was able to go from zero to $4,000 per month in just six months as a new freelance writer.
Start looking for gigs on online job boards like Problogger and JournalismJobs. Send interesting leads a cover letter and pitch them with a story idea. You won't get paid a lot to start, but you will begin to create a portfolio, which is the most important thing a writer has. The more articles you write, the more they let you write (and for more money).
It's especially valuable to build up a specialty. Getting known as a parenting writer or health blogger can go a long way toward increasing your bottom line. Eventually, you can expand to writing press releases, doing copy writing or getting into technical writing.
Related article: How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost
Errand Runner/Odd Jobs Person
Many people are too busy to run simple daily errands. That's where you come in — sell yourself as a person who will handle things that others don't have the time or inclination to do. Offer to go food shopping, do pet sitting, or pick up an item from the post office. Maria Salazar is a mom and grandma who enjoys freelance flexibility as a DoorDash Delivery Driver. She earns a flat fee plus tips for delivering takeout orders on a schedule she chooses.
You can advertise locally or take advantage of one of the many online services that employ task runners such as TaskRabbit, Rover.com or DoorDash. You may also get started by working as a part-time personal assistant for someone. Market yourself to busy professionals. Libraries, corporate offices and community centers are great places to advertise yourself as well.
While all of these are solid business ideas, keep in mind that you may not find instant success at any of them. Businesses often take a while to do well, and you need to keep working on them to keep increasing your income. Work your new business at night or on the weekends until you feel confident enough to quit your day job. That is something you should consider only when you begin making close to as much money as you are making at your day job.
Angie Nelson has been a virtual assistant and serial blogger since 2007 when she took her future into her own hands and found a way to escape the corporate cubicle farm. Today she balances several successful online ventures and still manages to share her passion for making – and saving – money with others on her blog The Work at Home Wife.
Are you interested in having a home business? Why or why not?
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