Chapter 5

12 Home Business Ideas You Can Start Today

home business ideas

Hopefully by now, you’re getting pumped thinking about all the home business ideas that are out there. Or maybe you’re still unsure of which one to choose.

Even if you haven’t seen any ideas yet that stand out to you, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of other ways to make money from home. Some ways don’t even involve starting an ecommerce business or an online freelancing business.

For example, you might find that you actually do prefer to put on pants for your workday (gasp!), so you can get some fresh air and meet new people. In this case, you can look into some hands-on home business ideas where you service your clients in person – like being a party planner or dog walker.

Whatever you choose, you’ll likely have some questions like: What are the best platforms and methods to connect with clients? What do I need to prepare in advance? What do these ideas actually involve?

We’ll get you set up with all the basics so you can make your first moves.

In this chapter, we’ll go over 12 different home business ideas that you can start on right away. From your own blog to online teaching to a dog walking business in your neighborhood, we’ll cover home-based, legit business opportunities you can do online as well hands-on business that get you out into your community.

5.1. Online Business from Home

Some people need the thrill of working outside their home and interacting one-on-one with other people. Others hiss when they see the sun, hiding away in their basement until they need to come out for food or do adulting things like go to the bank.

Chances are, you’re somewhere in the middle. But if you’re the type of person who prefers to work from the comfort of home – without having to communicate in-person with your clients – an online gig is the business for you.

Let’s discuss some booming home-based business opportunities and how you can get off the ground.

1. Starting a Blog

The Lowdown

A blog can be great as a stand-alone home-based business idea or as a supplement to your ecommerce store – or virtually any business, really.

It’s predicted that by 2020, there will be more than 31 million bloggers.

That’s a whole lotta blogs.

And a whole lotta helpful, interesting information. (And of course a fair amount of crappy information, but that won’t be yours.)

Statistically, few bloggers make more than $100 a month. But with lots of time, determination, and savvy, you can make thousands per month like the pros!

How You’ll Make Money from Home

Your blog can make you money in a lot of ways, including:

  • Advertising like Google AdSense
  • Charging membership or subscription fees
  • Selling products or services (like anything we’ve discussed in this ebook!)
  • Have others write sponsored posts
  • Affiliate marketing, which we’ll get into shortly

Source

Who’s a Good Fit?

Those with a quirky, interesting, and/or thoughtful perspective, as well as a knack for telling stories and keeping people entertained.

You’ll also need to have stellar writing skills, including spelling and grammar. A tool like Grammarly or ProWritingAid can help with that.

How to Get Started

I recommend a WordPress blog. A site like StudioPress can guide you through making a beautiful blog on WordPress, including clean and stylish themes.

home based business ideas

Other helpful and convenient blog-building sites include:

More Resources

2. Starting a YouTube Channel

The Lowdown

Just like blogging, YouTube can also be a great way to promote your ecommerce store in addition to acting as one of many stand-alone home business ideas.

It’s important to note that YouTube recently made some policy changes in January 2018 that impact how content creators make money on YouTube.

To join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), you’ll need two things:

  • 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months
  • 1,000 subscribers

For this reason, you’ll really need to invest into your channel before you see meaningful income.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

You can make money from YouTube in several ways, including:

Source

Who’s a Good Fit?

You’ll make a great YouTube personality if you’re spunky and entertaining. Or even if your personality is more low-key, you can do well as long as you’re knowledgeable, interesting, and valuable.

Of course, it’s by no means necessary to be in your own videos.

Either way, you’ll need at least a decent camera and the software and skills to edit your videos well.

How to Get Started

Create a YouTube channel by creating a Gmail account or using your existing Gmail account.

home business ideas

Customize, optimize, and you’re ready to go! Once you’ve got some content, get going on monetization options described above.

And check out TubeBuddy for an extra hand with the process.

More Resources

3. Starting a Podcast

The Lowdown

In recent years, podcasts have become a popular way to get news, entertainment, and insights on-the-go. In fact, Edison Research shows that the number of podcast listeners has doubled in four years. That number is only growing.

And like a blog or YouTube channel, starting a podcast could be an awesome stand-alone home business idea as well as an ecommerce marketing tool.

Source

Similarly to blogging and YouTube, learning how to make money with a podcast will require a lot of effort before you see solid profit.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

Here are a few ways a podcast can help you make money from home:

  • Sponsorships and ads
  • Subscription and memberships
  • Selling your products or services
  • Turning content into books or audiobooks
  • Crowdfunding
  • Affiliate marketing (it’s next, I swear!)

Who’s a Good Fit?

People who are great conversationalists, captivating storytellers, or experts on a certain topic that others are interested in.

Bonus points if you have at least a decent quality microphone, some good editing software, and the skills to edit well.

How to Get Started

You’ll need a microphone, some software to record and edit, and a platform to host your podcast on.

Here are a few ideas for each:

For example, uploading onto SoundCloud is simple once you’ve set up an account through Facebook or Gmail.

Soundcloud home business

More Resources

4. Affiliate Marketing

The Lowdown

Finally, we’re here. In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is one of the surefire ways to earn money online, and it can be a hugely profitable home biz idea. It involves an advertiser, publisher, and consumer.

First, you (the publisher) promote the offerings of another party (the advertiser) on your own channels. These usually show up as trackable affiliate links, but can also be done through things like promo codes. Then when other people (consumers) click your links and buy the advertiser’s stuff, you get a piece of that profit.

affiliate marketing

Source

Affiliate marketing can be massively profitable, but you’ll need to build a steady following before other people will want to have you as an affiliate partner.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

The way you receive your commission will vary depending on the partner and the nature of the relationship.

Your earning model can be set up in a few ways, like:

  • Cost per acquisition: Get paid for each sale
  • Cost per click or cost per lead: Get paid based on how many people click your affiliate link or become a lead for the advertiser
  • Fixed cost (aka tenancy payment): Get paid a flat rate for the promotion

Who’s a Good Fit?

Anyone with a strong follower base on virtually any channel or medium where you can include a link or promo code.

This includes:

  • Website or blog
  • YouTube channel
  • Podcast
  • Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
  • Even your email signature

How to Get Started

Check out affiliate networks like:

amazon associates make money

Or start your own affiliate marketing program. For example, these Shopify modules and plugins can help you build your own affiliate tracking system.

More Resources

5. Online Surveys

The Lowdown

Companies are dying for market research so they can make better products and services for their customers. As a result, many of them pay people to take surveys online.

Beware, though: some of these sites aren’t legit. Do your research first. And you should manage your expectations: this will get you a few extra bucks, but likely not a full-time income.

Generally speaking, the price may range from a few cents to a few dollars per survey. But if you’ve got a lot of time, taking surveys could be a low-effort home business idea.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

Browse online survey websites for surveys that you qualify for based on certain demographics, characteristics, or behaviors.

Check closely to see how each website will pay you. Some pay cash value for each survey, while others work on a point system where points are exchanged for rewards and money.

When you do surveys for money, payment can include methods like:

  • Checks via snail mail
  • Payment gateways like PayPal
  • Physical and electronic gift cards
  • Amazon vouchers
  • Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

Who’s a Good Fit?

This is a good start if you’re not sure what niche you’d like to start a business in, or if you don’t have too many home business ideas yet. Filling out surveys for money is good for quick cash if you’re in a pinch.

How to Get Started

If you want to get money for surveys, create an account on websites like:

The signup process will vary for each, including setting up payment by giving a physical address or your PayPal link. When you’re done, browse and apply for the surveys you want to fill out (and qualify for), and get going!

For example, Toluna has a simple 9-step signup.

(It sounds long but it’s super fast… I did the first half in 10 seconds! I’ll even give you my “GIF or it didn’t happen”.)

Once you’re registered, it takes you to the Survey Center where you can see all the surveys you qualify for.

More Resources

6. Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk)

The Lowdown

Amazon MTurk is a way for companies to have quick access to online workers who are willing to perform small computer-based tasks. These tasks are called HITs (human intelligence tasks). As you can tell by the name, they need a human touch because computers and artificial intelligence (AI) can’t do them.

Unfortunately, tasks aren’t usually higher than $1 each (usually less), but again – if you have enough time, this could be a great idea for a home business.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

Choose from a diverse pool of HITs, like:

  • Watch and transcribe videos
  • Find email addresses or contact information
  • Evaluate web pages
  • Share your opinions on websites, videos, etc.
  • Fill out forms

You can transfer your earnings to your Amazon Payments account or into an Amazon gift card. From Amazon Payments, you can transfer cash directly to your bank account.

Note: When you first sign up, Amazon puts a 10-day hold on your account before you can take out any of your earnings. Just to make sure you’re real and stuff.

 

Who’s a Good Fit?

If you have a lot of extra time and feel like you don’t yet have the skills for niche-based home business ideas, this can be a good start.

How to Get Started

Create a Worker (not a Requester) account by creating an Amazon account or logging in with your existing Amazon account.

Fill out the Worker Registration form, then go to the “HITs” section in the top menu to view and accept tasks.

amazon worker registeration

More Resources

7. Clickworker

The Lowdown

Clickworker is similar to Amazon MTurk, where you log in and do short tasks for payment. Many users report that this site is more profitable than Amazon MTurk, though, which means it’s a more profitable business idea than MTurk.

Clickworker reports that users average about $9 USD per hour.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

You’ll need to take a short assessment to see if you qualify for each task.

Tasks include:

  • Writing
  • Researching
  • Translating
  • Data processing

Clickworker pays U.S. workers through PayPal, and international workers can have direct deposits to a Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) bank account.

Who’s a Good Fit?

People who don’t want to start a full business or are still cooking up some good niche-based home business ideas.

This site can earn you more money per project than sites like Amazon MTurk, and it also has more diverse types of tasks. It’s better for people who have more specialized skills or experience.

How to Get Started

Create an account and fill out as may details as you can for your profile.

It will ask for things like:

  • Education and language abilities
  • Writing and translation skillset and experience
  • General interests and skills by category (media, sports, home and garden, tourism, etc.)
  • Samples of previous work and your personal blog (if applicable)

These answers will be how Clickworker qualifies you to do tasks. The more skills you fill in, the more you can make money from home.

More Resources

  • Reddit: How to Get Started and Maximize Efficiency
  • Clickworker: 10 Tips for Generating Leads Online

8. Online Teaching & Tutoring

The Lowdown

There’s a huge need for online teachers and tutors, which makes this a particularly great home business idea. You can teach students of virtually all ages, in-school and beyond – and all across the world.

Subjects include:

  • Core subjects: math, English, science, social studies, foreign languages
  • AP and college-level classes in various studies
  • Test prep (GED, PSAT, SAT, GRE, GMAT)
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
  • ESL (English as a Second Language)

How You’ll Make Money from Home

Most online teaching and tutoring jobs are typically done over video.

You can use programs like:

Payment depends on your method. You can have students pay you directly via PayPal or some other payment processor, or get your work through a company that will handle payments for you.

Some of these gigs, like VIPKid, can earn up to $22 an hour.

Who’s a Good Fit?

This home business is ideal for anyone who’s patient, well-spoken, was a good student, and has and a love for learning (and teaching, of course).

Those with previous teaching education or experience will have an easier time finding jobs, especially ones that pay more. But it’s still very possible to start from scratch. You’ll just need to be patient at first.

How to Get Started

Check out sites like:

Sign up for an account and fill out your profile to the best of your abilities. As usual, the signup with differ for each site. But generally, the screening process is very thorough when you use a specialized service.

For example, TutorMe asks in-depth questions about experience and skills.

And Tutor.com has a 5-step process that includes a mock teaching session and a background check. Better be prepared!

tutor freelance writing

More Resources

9. Creating Online Courses

The Lowdown

Make an online course that uses one of your passions or skills to solve people’s problems, then sit back and earn passive income down the road whenever they buy it.

It will take investment of quite a bit of time – and possibly resources – but it will be worth it in the end if it’s a hit.

The online education market is expected to explode to $275 billion by 2022. Some course publishers report making $5,000 or more per month or more in passive income!

As a result, creating online courses could be a very profitable business idea.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

You can do it all yourself, or build and/or host it on a specialized platform with convenient features like:

  • Drag-and-drop webpage editors
  • Payment integration
  • Built-in marketing and social functionality
  • Training and support
  • Loads of helpful information

Source

Keep in mind that the platform will collect the customer’s money and send it to you, but they’ll usually take commission as either a percentage or a flat fee.

Who’s a Good Fit?

This home business idea is suited to someone who knows a topic really well, and knows it’s profitable. Bonus points if you have technical skills and equipment to build a professional quality course, whether it’s made of in-person videos, screencasts, or text with photos and illustrations.

You’ll also need a lot of time, and a good eye for making content flow. It may help to work with a writer.

How to Get Started

If your course relies on videos of your computer screen, try a screen recorder and editor like Camtasia. If you can swing it, I recommend renting a studio for in-person videos, to ensure top video and audio quality.

Compare the features of different platforms for making and hosting courses, like:

More Resources

  • Foundr: Ultimate Guide on How to Successfully Create an Online Course
  • Forbes: How To Create A Money-Making Online Course
  • Neil Patel: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating, Selling, and Profiting from an Online Course

5.2. Hands-on Home-Based Business Ideas

If you’re more of a people-person, you might be interested in one of the more hands-on home-based business ideas. With these opportunities, you service your clients in person instead of through your computer screen.

It’s worth noting that this type of business will make you location-dependent, because you’ll have to be able to travel to where your clients need you. In the end, you won’t have the physical freedom of a strictly-online business.

That said, let’s look at a few.

Remember: You might need to get certain licenses and/or permits, depending on your business type and where you live. The Small Business Administration has helpful info for making sure you have all your bases covered legally.

 

10. Direct Sales Consultant

The Lowdown

Direct sales, also called network marketing or multi-level marketing (MLM), is booming these days. And the market continues to grow, and this is where you’ll find some of the best home-based business ideas for moms.

Through this model, you sell a company’s products and receive commission for your sales. You can also recruit your own consultants and build a team (who may go on to build their own teams), which earns more money.

It’s been reported that the average MLM consultant makes $2,400 per year, with earnings going up to more than $100,000 per year.

Many companies give awesome bonuses too, like vacations or even a free car when you reach new sales revenue levels between you and your team.

A word of caution: Some companies are disguised as MLM, but they’re really pyramid or Ponzi schemes – which are illegal in the U.S. and many other countries. The one big red flag is that these illegal schemes will typically only pay you to recruit other members, instead of earning money from any real investment or selling real products or services to the public. So beware and do your research before starting a network marketing opportunity!

 

How You’ll Make Money from Home

Compensation plans for teams can be set up a few ways:

  • Unilevel: Your recruits stay in your team. The easiest plan.

  • Stairstep/breakaway: Your recruits can break away from your team and start their own whenever they reach a certain level.
  • Binary: You get paid for only two ‘legs’, or essentially two teams.

  • Matrix: There’s a pre-set amount of your recruits, as well as their recruits. Like 3×3, or three of your own recruits, who can have three of their own.

Who’s a Good Fit?

Frankly, you won’t make big bucks unless you’re social, friendly, motivated, and resourceful. And if you haven’t guessed by the title, it’s crucial to have great sales skills. However, if you have all those characteristics, this could be a viable, profitable home business idea for you.

How to Get Started

There are hundreds to choose from in virtually any industry like health and beauty, fashion, nutrition, home goods, and more.

It’s important to note that you’ll typically need to pay startup costs like buying your own products to sell. This can be around $200 to $500 USD.

Here are some more of the most popular direct sales companies:

More Resources

11. Pet Sitting & Dog Walking

The Lowdown

This can take many forms, like:

  • Having clients drop their pets off to you or you picking them up
  • Sitting pets in your own home, or going to your clients’ homes
  • Having a daily service, or special service for clients who go on vacation
  • Doing other pet care activities, like giving pets medicine or baths
  • Other tasks when clients are away, like watering plants and bringing in the mail

Try scoping out major competitors to see how they work, like Rover or Dog Vacay.

Source

How You’ll Make Money from Home

You can set your own terms, financial structure, and incentives. Ideas include:

  • Charging clients per hour or per service
  • Setting a monthly retainer fee, which can be set up automatically
  • Offering discounts or a commission for referrals

In terms of earnings, say that you charge $15 an hour and work 10 hours a week. That would amount to $150 a week or $7,800 a year. (Of course, you’ll need to calculate taxes in your state.)

Who’s a Good Fit?

Dog lovers. Duh. If you love being around dogs, this home business idea wouldn’t just be profitable – it would be super fun! Bonus points if you have experience in obedience training or an understanding of dogs’ temperament.

If you’re doing pet setting, you’ll need to have a pet-friendly home or space you can do business in. If you live in a tiny apartment in downtown Manhattan, stick with walking or go to your clients’ homes to sit.

How to Get Started

You’ll want to look into some legal considerations:

  • Registering a business, like a sole proprietorship or limited liability company (LLC)
  • Insurance options like Pet Sitters Associates or Pet Sitter Insurance
  • Get familiar with local laws and regulations in your area

In terms of managing pet-related home business ideas, you might benefit from special types of software like Time to Pet. They offer a free 14-day free trial.

home based business opportunities

More Resources

  • The Balance Careers: How to Start a Pet Sitting Business
  • Our blog: How to Register a Business in the USA
  • Nolo: Starting a Dog Walking Business (Legal Considerations)

12. Catering & Meal Prep

The Lowdown

There’s always a market for food, which means food-related home business ideas can be quite profitable. Catering and meal preparation businesses can operate in several ways, including:

  • Cooking large batches of different foods and serving them at parties, ceremonies, and other special events
  • Specializing in one type of pre-made food like wedding cakes or one type of event like cocktail parties
  • Preparing weekly meal orders for individuals or groups, which they can heat up at home for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner

Source

While some businesses can make upwards of thousands per month, it’s important to consider the startup costs. These might include costs like licenses, permits, insurance, cookware, transport vehicles, which can amount to thousands of dollars up-front.

How You’ll Make Money from Home

Caterers and meal preparers usually have a menu with pricing. Depending on your business model, you may also want to charge per person or per platter.

Whatever you do, be sure to include a service charge or otherwise make sure you’re covering operation costs.

Who’s a Good Fit?

People who:

  • Have a strong passion for cooking
  • Have experience feeding big groups (it’s not the same as making dinner for your family!)
  • Are prepared for a lot of work and long hours
  • Have great customer service skills, as you’ll be working closely with your clients

How to Get Started

Depending on where you live, you might need several types of licenses and permits to run legally.

In some states, you may be required to rent out a commercial kitchen instead of cooking in your home. Check your state’s health or occupation licensing department for details.

Research on Google by searching terms like:

  • [your state] + catering business legal requirements
  • [your state] + catering license and permits

More considerations:

  • Choose an event or food niche, like children’s birthdays or vegetarian food
  • Consider renting your equipment and supplies until your business is established
  • For larger events or prep needs, look at temporary and hospitality agencies to hire help

More Resources

Chapter 5 Takeaways

  • If you dream of a career where you can work from wherever you want – be that in a different café or in a different country – you can look into home-based business opportunities like starting a blog, YouTube channel, or podcast.
  • Consider other home business ideas like affiliate marketing, online teaching and tutoring, or creating online courses.
  • If you’re undecided on picking your niche but want some quick income, you can try task-based platforms like Amazon MTurk or Clickworker.
  • If you want to be out and about in your community, you can try your hand at starting a business like direct sales consulting, pet sitting, or catering.
  • With these home business ideas, the ‘home’ part will mostly be promotion and marketing activities.

Go Forth and Prosper… Er, Stay Home and Prosper

So there you have it!

Hopefully, you’re brimming with ideas and motivation to make money from home with one of the dozens of home business ideas we’ve talked about in this ebook.

You have an idea of:

  • The differences between a product-based and service-based business
  • How to choose home-based business ideas that marry your interests and skills
  • An introduction to marketing your business to make sure it stays profitable
  • The basics of ecommerce, dropshipping, and selling other products online
  • The basics of freelancing services like writing, design, and marketing
  • Several home-based business opportunities that you can do online and in-person

Will you need to spend hours doing your research and freshening up your skills?

Yup.

Will things change as you learn, forcing you to shift and remodel your plans?

Likely.

Will you encounter road bumps and challenges that will make you want to quit?

Almost certainly.

Can you find a way to truly (finally) be happy with your career, actually enjoying your work while you earn money from your couch?

You bet your sweet assets.