Ah, working from home. If you’re used to long commutes to a boring office where you’re stuck 9–5, Monday through Friday, it sounds like a distant paradise. But the reality is, working from home is more feasible than you might think — and I’ve got 50 examples to prove it. If your dream is to work from home, and you don’t know where to get started, this list has something for you. I guarantee it.
Why working from home is so appealing
While some traditional bosses think that working from home is an excuse to goof off and do nothing, most people have better motivations for doing so. They want to work without distractions and interruptions from coworkers, skip the time-wasting commute through rush hour, wear comfy pajamas, be closer with family, and generally have more control. Plus, it’s shown that people who work from home end up being more productive.
That being said, working from home isn’t a perfect solution — you’ll still have to work hard, no matter what you choose, and you’ll navigate a number of unique challenges, so it’s vitally important to choose the correct path forward.
The rising trend
A recent Gallup poll demonstrates that working from home — or telecommuting — is on the rise, with more than a third of Americans telecommuting at least some of the time in 2015. And it makes sense why — we’re in an era where resources, information, and communication are boundless and portable, and these systems are only growing more sophisticated.
So how can the average worker make an actual living without leaving the home?
1. Transition your current job. Your first option is probably the simplest; instead of looking for a new job, try to transform your current job. Most white collar jobs these days can be done from home. For example, do you spend most of your day in front of a computer using software that’s available on the cloud? There’s no reason you can tackle those responsibilities from home. Even if you’re in a more traditional or conservative industry, the right pitch can convince your boss to transition your position to a remote one — according to Global Workplace Analytics, even government and non-profit sectors are gearing more toward work-from-home opportunities.
2. Opt for a hybrid model. Maybe your boss needs you in the office for a weekly meeting, or maybe you’re needed as an additional face for client meetings. Consider the prospect of opting for a hybrid model, in which you work from home two or three days per week, but go into the office for the remaining days. This may not be your ideal setup, but it’s better than a full week of office commutes — plus, if you do a good enough job in those few work-from-home days, you’ll have evidence that a fully remote model could work.
3. Write content for others. We’re in the midst of the golden age of content marketing, and that means the world is hungry for more content. If you’re good with your words, you might as well capitalize on this trend. Content marketing puts original written material in high demand, so it’s not hard to find companies that need articles written regularly — sometimes daily. Reach out to content marketing firms, who employ many writers and are always looking for more talent. Find writing jobs on Craigslist, or on Freelancewritinggigs.com. You could also sign up to work for a content mill, which is designed to churn out high volumes of content on a regular basis (but don’t expect a massive salary).
4. Edit, audit, or review. Depending on your skills or experience, you could also make a living by reviewing the work of others. For example, you could become an editor who reads and improves articles — rather than writing them yourself — or you could oversee the work of newbies in your industry, such as reviewing photos or audio submissions. So long as what you’re reviewing is available in a digital format, it’s a perfect work-from-home opportunity (provided you have enough volume to keep you busy).
5. Play video games. You read that right. It’s entirely possible to make a work-from-home career out of playing video games — that is, if you’re good enough or interesting enough. Brands like Twitch and Youtube Gaming offer gamers the opportunity to live stream their video gaming experiences, and believe it or not, thousands of people sign on to watch those videos and streams. If you’re a highly skilled gamer, or if you can find alternative, unique ways to draw a crowd, you could build a brand and an audience and earn revenue from the sites based on those contributions. Monetize via ad revenue, tips from your audience, or Patreon. What’s Good Games and Greg Miller are both excellent examples of people and brands who have built a name in the video game industry and are monetizing them via these methods.
6. Create a blog. One of the best ways to build and maintain a stream of revenue is to create and manage a blog. This could be about almost anything — maybe you want to review new music, or maybe you want to show off your homemade cosplays — all that matters is your ability to build an audience over time. If you can attract a few thousand monthly visitors, you can turn that audience into a cash generating machine in a number of different ways, including getting paid to advertise, using affiliate links, or setting up a Patreon account to encourage your audience to support your content creation efforts and gain access to premium content. Tim Urban of WaitButWhy.com has followed this route and makes nearly $13,000/mo at the time of writing from Patreon pledges.
7. Write eBooks. If you like the idea of writing your own content, but blogging eludes you (for one reason or another), consider writing eBooks on the topic of your choice. eBooks are basically longer versions of articles, usually spanning several thousand words with illustrated examples and practical tips on how to accomplish something. Provided you have an interested audience available, you can charge a few dollars per download and make a substantial recurring profit.
8. Review things. Everybody has an opinion and everyone’s a critic. If you like to share your opinions, and are able to do so articulately and in a way that benefits your audience, it’s a viable way to work from home (for the most part). The sky’s the limit here — if you’re into media and pop culture, you could review movies and music albums. If you like board games and video games, you could review new ones that emerge. You could even review local businesses, or almost any product you can think of — again, you just have to build an audience first.
9. Be a social media marketer. Logging into social media and making a post doesn’t require any kind of physical presence, making it nearly perfect as a work-anywhere job. Social media marketing isn’t as simple as “playing around on Facebook all day,” but its fundamentals don’t require special skills or equipment. You’ll need experience to be successful over time, but it’s a highly learnable niche. If you don’t have any current experience, it’s a good idea to start for a small business or startup — or build your personal reputation on your own before applying for formal jobs.
10. Become an SEO Consultant. Like social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing strategy that takes place entirely in the digital world, and it’s fairly approachable, even for newcomers. You won’t be able to do any advanced troubleshooting or pull cutthroat competitive tactics in your first few months, but all the information you need to be successful is available to you. Just be prepared to subcontract to specialists if you find yourself stuck, or want someone more experienced to help you out.
11. Become a PPC Consultant. Next up, you could run pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns. Clients will pay for ad placement costs, and give you a management fee on top of that to research, plan, organize, and track the results of each ad campaign. You can specialize in one platform or learn multiple platforms to appeal to a wider audience. Some platforms, like Google, offer certification programs you can use to prove your credentials. There’s a bit of a learning curve here, but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.
12. Design graphics. If you have design skills, you can produce graphics for individuals and businesses to use in advertising, on websites, or for other purposes. There are many ways to do this — you could become a full-time graphic designer, become an independent contractor with multiple different clients, or use a matchmaking site like 99 Designs to get work on a piece-by-piece basis. It’s hard to pick up design skills naturally, so if this is the route you want to go and you don’t already have the skills, you’ll need to invest in your education first.
13. Take pictures or make videos for others. Freelance photographers can make significant income, depending on their skill and experience level. Of course, to take photos, you’ll have to occasionally leave the house. If you’re interested in learning the basics of photography, there are many sites to help you get started. In a related application, you could create videos for businesses as well; this may include creating an “explainer” video to pitch the brand, making an advertisement, or just turning a piece of written content into an interactive visual experience.
14. Start a video series. Speaking of videos, they aren’t just for other people. In the same way you can start a blog and make money from it, you can create your own channel on YouTube and earn money from it. The key here is to find a niche that isn’t currently occupied, then either inform or entertain a specific target audience (preferably both). That will require market research, creativity, hard work, and a lot of luck, but if you’re consistent, it’s possible to generate an audience in the hundreds of thousands — maybe more — which can earn you significant recurring revenue. An excellent example of this is Vsauce.
15. Become a virtual assistant. It’s not the most glorious job on this list, but it is one of the most in-demand opportunities for work-from-home employees. Depending on who you work for, your responsibilities as a virtual assistant could include booking hotel accommodations, organizing or taking notes, maintaining schedules, compiling (digital) paperwork, or even reading and researching on your employer’s behalf. These opportunities are available in a number of different niches, so look for them on job boards and network to find promising open positions.
16. Fill in with Fiverr. Fiverr is a site that originated with a diversity of different freelancers offering services starting at $5. Today, most services are still $5, but more intensive services cost a little more. Because competition is high on this platform and rates, accordingly, are low, it’s hard to make a career out of freelancing on Fiverr alone (unless you’ve mastered your niche and have a thriving target audience, or reside in an area of the world with an extremely low cost of living). Still, it’s a helpful site to round out your earnings, or to make initial attempts at a newly developed skill before you start advertising your services on your own.
17. Sell crafts. Do you like to cross stitch? Or do you make your own pillows? Do you work with clay or knit? All those crafts can be sold for a profit, and in some cases — a pretty steep one. Different crafts offer different available profit margins, depending on the skill level involved, how much competition there is, and audience factors. However, almost any craft can be sold reliably if you know how to market yourself. You can use a site like Etsy to get started here, or try to build a site and online presence on your own.
18. Sell art. In the same way, you may be able to sell your art on the web. For the most part, it’s better if you develop a personal brand for your artwork, networking actively on social media and showing off your latest work. This will help you establish a reputation, plus people will be more likely to buy from you if they can see your face and personality on display. Of course, the subjectivity of art also makes it a hard business to break into.
19. Get creative for businesses. If you have a creative mindset and like the idea of advertising, you could make a decent living coming up with new ideas for businesses. There are a handful of different options here; you could write company names and taglines for new and emerging businesses, or even write jingles for new ads or marketing campaigns. If you’re new to the game, you’ll have to submit to contests and similar opportunities, but once you develop a reputation and a portfolio, you can shop around to higher-paying clients.
20. Bake. Do you enjoy being in the kitchen? Do people go crazy for your red velvet cupcakes? There’s a way to turn that into a business, and you don’t need to open a bakery. You can sell your baked goods online, offering pickup as an option (if you’re comfortable with it), or charging for special delivery. Just be sure to check your local regulations for the sale of food products to ensure you comply with any legal restrictions. Otherwise, there’s enormous potential for profitability here, as the cost of baking ingredients is usually low.
21. Create and popularize a website. If you’re not much of a blogger, you could still create and popularize your own site — you’ll just need to find a different angle to strike a chord with your audience. For example, you might post comic strips on a regular basis, or accept user submissions of embarrassing photographs. You might even offer a unique service, like a custom calculator. Any way you can build an audience is good — once you have it, you can start displaying advertising, or selling other goods and services. For inspiration, look at the empire I Can Has Cheez Burger built just by posting funny cat pictures.
22. Consult. This is an especially valuable option for anyone walking away from a long-term career in favor of a work-from-home opportunity. You still have your years of experience and skills to use, so make them work for you. Consultants, depending on their experience, can charge hundreds of dollars an hour for one-on-one workshopping, and it can usually take place over the phone or through video chatting. Here, you’ll need to have a strong personal brand and a reliable list of references if you want to secure any deals, so prioritize your reputation first.
23. Coach. Coaching is a kind of informal consulting, usually targeted toward consumers rather than businesses. There are an infinite number of paths here, so use your creativity; if you have experience or an interest in physical fitness, consider becoming a weight loss or athletic coach. If you have a wealth of personal experience, you could become a “life coach,” and help people through hard personal decisions or life events — again, over the phone or through chatting. Like with consulting, you’ll need a strong reputation first, so that should be your first priority.
24. Flip websites. If you’re savvy at online marketing, you can buy websites that aren’t reaching their potential, fix them up, market them, monetize them, and then sell them for a huge profit. You can use a site like Flippa.com to find, buy, and list websites for sale.
25. Lend. If you have significant savings to play with, you could consider turning yourself into a scaled-down version of a bank. This process is known as peer-to-peer lending, and has become quite common thanks to technology that makes it easier to accomplish. Depending on what platform you sign up for, you’ll have various options, such as making one-on-one loans, or pooling your assets with others for loans, and you’ll choose different “grades” of clients that offer different levels of risk and reward.
26. Do data entry. This is another job that isn’t especially glamorous, but it needs to be done (and will continue to be needed for the indeterminate future). If you don’t have deep or niche skills, this is a perfect way to get started with a work-from-home job. You could be filling numbers into a spreadsheet, entering invoices into a database, or fulfilling any number of other tasks. It’s a bit mindless, but for some, that’s less stressful than most jobs.
27. Program. Next up, you could learn to program. There are dozens of different programming languages available, for applications that range from creating custom websites to making your own video games. This is one of the most versatile options on this list because programming is in such high demand and is valuable for so many things — if you’re skilled in a worthwhile language, your potential is virtually limitless. The problem is usually getting started. Thankfully, sites like Codecademy are available to teach you everything you need to know — completely for free.
28. Make apps. Once you learn a programming language, you’ll gain experience quickly by knocking out odd jobs for various employers or by working full-time for one with a specific niche. But eventually, you might turn to more creative work. If you create your own app (much like creating your own website), you could potentially create a stream of recurring revenue that lasts indefinitely — especially if you charge for downloads, offer in-app purchases, or double down on advertising.
29. Focus on real estate. If you have the spare capital, consider investing in a rental property (or two). If you take your time and choose good tenants, you should be able to earn more in rental income than you’ll spend in mortgage payments and maintenance. This alone may not provide you a full salary, but it’s a nice extra chunk of income that you won’t have to leave the house for. Just keep in mind that landlords do have many responsibilities, including ensuring proper maintenance of the property and handling tenant turnover.
30. Open your home. If you feel comfortable with having other people in your own home, you can open it up temporarily to new guests in a handful of different ways. You could rent out a room or rent the entire place to travelers with an app like Airbnb. Or, if you’re feeling even more entrepreneurial, you could convert your home into a full-on bed and breakfast. Either way, you can take care of almost all your responsibilities from the comfort of your home.
31. Tutor and teach. Chances are, you have something you can teach. Were you a rock star accountant at your last job? Perhaps you can teach people to do their own taxes. Do you remember being a whiz in Calculus in college? Consider going to a college campus and offering your tutoring services. Do you know how to play an instrument? Post a classified ad for one-on-one lessons. Most things can be taught in your own home, and once you build a reputation for yourself, new students will constantly trickle in.
32. Sell. Most businesses rely on a sales team to secure incoming revenue, and those salespeople typically rely on phone calls and emails to make new contacts — so why not step into that role yourself? You can try for a full-time sales position you can do from home, or you can work out a deal to earn a commission for each sale or referral you make to a given company. If you have sales experience, this can be a lucrative opportunity for you.
33. Prospect. If you’re less about closing deals and more about finding the best fits for an organization, you can prospect instead of selling. As a sales prospector, you’ll be leveraging your network of contacts, pools of potential contacts given to you by an organization, and tapping other sources to find interested candidates to pass onto other sales staff. Prospecting jobs are usually less stressful than full-on sales roles, but they don’t have the same income potential.
34. Underwrite. You don’t need any special training or education to be an underwriter, but you will need to become familiar with the underwriting processes of the company you apply for. Underwriting is the process of analyzing risk and value, usually in the financial and insurance industries. There’s often a straightforward process to follow, which includes collecting information, entering data, doing calculations, and making a judgment based on what you know, meaning it can be done entirely from home in most cases.
35. Take surveys and participate in focus groups. Companies are more than willing to pay people for their opinions, often in the forms of surveys and focus groups. The amount of money you make here can vary wildly; you might make only $1 for a survey that takes you 20 minutes, or you might get $150 for watching a pilot of a TV show and giving a few statements about what you think. If you enjoy this evaluative work, it can be worth pursuing — but don’t expect a massive paycheck here. There are many sites dedicated to helping you get started.
36. Flip garage sale finds. This option is cheating slightly, because you’ll have to leave the house at some point. Many people have made a living by going to garage sales, thrift stores, or even junkyards to find inexpensive yet valuable goods to “flip” on the internet, selling them for more than what they originally paid. Depending on your profit margin, there’s really no ceiling to your earning potential here.
37. Manage projects. Thanks to the prominence of online project management software, you can be a project manager from the comfort of your home. Help businesses complete development projects, writing assignments, design jobs, or anything else you can think of. If your skills lie in organization, communication, and coordination, this is the job for you.
38. QA test. People build new websites, apps, and games all the time, but before they roll out to the public, it’s important they be tested for quality. Quality Assurance testing (QA testing for short) is a gig that lets you try out these products while they’re still in beta. It helps if you have experience in programming or UI/UX design, but that’s not necessary in most cases.
39. Research. You could also offer research as a service to companies, in a number of different ways. If you’re assisting a busy entrepreneur, you could help them by reading new books and summarizing them. If you’re working for a marketing agency, you could conduct surveys and other forms of market research. People are willing to pay for information, so if you can get it easily, you can land a steady gig.
40. Plan events. Event planners have the potential to make big money, depending on their experience and the nature of the event. You could go the professional route, working with nonprofits to throw major fundraisers, or the personal route, planning things like weddings and birthday parties. Either way, your ability to organize, coordinate, and entertain people will come in handy.
41. Translate. Do you know a second language? If so, you can probably find easy work as a translator. Common language translations, like Spanish to English or vice versa, will offer plentiful opportunities for a relatively low rate, while rarer languages, like Farsi, will provide fewer, but more lucrative opportunities. Consider expanding your knowledge with a third, or even a fourth language to maximize your opportunities — you can even do it for free.
42. Analyze data. We live in the information age, and companies are desperate to gather and interpret as much data as possible — whether that’s information about their customers, data points for their marketing campaigns, or financial information. You can fill a need by creating reports from these data points and drawing conclusions and/or making recommendations from them. The only problem is that you’ll probably need some experience in data analysis to do it. Beyond that, there’s no need to go to a physical office to work, since data is accessible anywhere.
43. Hire and scout. Human resources is always going to be an important industry, and you can help fill the gaps for companies in almost any sector. Most companies don’t have any issues attracting applicants for entry-level jobs, but when it comes to top-talent positions, they rely on active scouting to find the best candidates. Build your social media presence up as a recruiter, and you’ll be able to scour the social web for the perfect candidates for your client’s job openings (and make decent money in the process).
44. Transcript. As you might imagine, transcription is not a labor-intensive or skill-intensive job, and accordingly, pay is minimal. Still, typing out subtitles for movies, TV shows, and other forms of video and audio can be a source of extra income. If you’re interested in building a more stable job from this opportunity, there’s one solid-paying area to try: the medical industry. Writing out dictated voice memos from physicians pays more and demands more, but is still approachable enough for almost anyone to learn.
45. Make websites for others. Thousands of people want to make new websites every day. The problem is that most of them don’t know how to do it — and they’ll gladly pay someone who can walk them through the steps. If you’re a web designer or developer, you can build custom projects, but even if you’re not, you can use platforms like Wordpress, Wix, or Squarespace to build sites on your customers’ behalves.
46. Take calls. Even though we’re transitioning to an age of emails, texts, and social media, many people still prefer phone calls when they need customer service. That means companies need people to answer those calls. While working in a call center may not be your idea of a great career, it’s much more pleasant when you’re using a headset in the privacy of your own home. This is an especially valuable option if you don’t have a wide skill set or if you’re interested in minimal responsibilities.
47. Make calls. On the flip side, you could find a job that has you making calls as well. I’ve already included general sales positions on this list, but there are many other opportunities to make calls for businesses. You may find yourself prospecting for other members of the sales staff, or following up with customers to capture their opinions about a recent purchase. You’ll have to dig for these opportunities (rather than making them yourself), but they’re out there.
48. Provide IT support. Almost every business needs some degree of technical support available, whether it’s for their employees or for their customers. And even if you don’t have a degree in computer science, you likely have the technical prowess necessary to fill that role. If you use a remote desktop app, you’ll be able to access other people’s devices without having to be in proximity; and for most other issues, you’ll be able to talk or chat people through the process.
49. Open shop in or around your home. If you have a skill that requires some level of human contact, you can always open up your business in or around your home — that way, you can get the best of both worlds. For example, if you’re an auto mechanic, you could open a small car repair business in your driveway and using your garage (if it’s big enough), or if you’re an accountant, you can set up a home office to help people with their tax returns.
50. Buy a franchise. Buying a franchise is only an option if you have free capital to invest, but it can be advantageous. When you first start, you’ll need to be hands-on with the business, and you’ll still need to make in-person visits from time to time, but eventually your operation should stabilize and provide you a stream of revenue that doesn’t require much work beyond occasional remote communication.
Where to look
All these options sound nice, but where can you actually find jobs like these?
· Ask and network. Your first option is to simply ask. Talk to your bosses and supervisors about the possibility of transitioning to a remote position. If that doesn’t work, go out and network; try and meet people with new opportunities for you to take.
· Get new education and training. If you don’t currently have the skill set for a position of interest in the list above, you can go back to college or go into training to develop it. When you do, talk to your teachers about future opportunities — they likely have connections.
· Use job application sites. You can also go a more conventional route by scouting job application boards, like Monster or Craigslist. Be smart here; not every “work from home” opportunity is legitimate, so do some research before applying.
· Start from scratch. Finally, and most importantly, you can build everything yourself from scratch. Become an entrepreneur, launch a website, and make your own rules.
How to get started
Beyond that, when you get started working from home, there are a few things you’ll need to do (or at least keep in mind):
· Remember that remote work isn’t a paradise. As exciting and perfect as working from home seems on the surface, it isn’t always a good thing. It can get lonely, motivation is a challenge, and you might just go stir crazy if you don’t take care of yourself.
· Develop yourself. No matter what you do, try to develop your skills and abilities along the way. It will come in handy in the future.
· Create a dedicated workspace. Don’t just sit on the couch with a laptop. Make a home office to earn the psychological benefits of “going to work.” Doing so also has tax write-off benefits.
· Hedge your bets. If you’re becoming an independent contractor, consider learning two new sets of skills or pursuing two types of jobs. It never hurts to hedge your bets.
· Set goals for applications (and be relentless). If you’re looking for work-from-home opportunities, set goals for yourself, and don’t give up until you reach them.
· Under-promise and over-deliver. If you want to keep your job, you’ll need to under-promise and over-deliver on everything — competition is fierce and relationships are less personal, so your performance matters a great deal.
By this point in the guide, you should have some solid “next steps” for building your work-from-home career. Whether you’re following a lifelong passion (be careful here) or merely seizing a notable opportunity, this is your chance to earn a significant salary without ever leaving the comfort of your home (unless by choice). The world of working from home is far less intimidating and less fantastical than it seems — all you have to do is work for it.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!