There’s something alluring about chilling in your comfy pants while in the confines of your own home and getting paid at the same time.
No annoying co-worker to interrupt your day with the company gossip that you could give a rip about.
Just you, your computer, and the freedom to get stuff done.
Before you get excited about starting your home based business idea, you first have to make sure you have the right tools in place. The main tool is a speedy Internet connection. Most home based businesses will require some sort of Internet connection. With a good Internet connection, you can also take care of a phone and fax. Isn’t technology great?
On top of the right tools, you should also have a dedicated office or work space that’s free from distractions. No TV’s! When’s it’s time to work you only want to be doing one thing: working.
Now that you have the right tools and workspace, let’s look at some of the top 65 home based business ideas you can start today.
Home Businesses Ideas That Require Training
All of these ideas require some background in the area, but they are an ideal way to use your already-acquired skills in a work-from home business. And even if you do not already have the necessary training, there is nothing keeping you from getting certified in order to start your home-based business.
1. Graphic Design. Businesses always need graphic designers to help them convey information visually, through logos, advertisements, posters, websites, and the like. While it is possible to be an entirely self-taught graphic designer, most have either a certification or a degree. Other than the cost of design software, this business has very little overhead and can be done anywhere with a dedicated computer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers have a median salary of $45,000.*
*All median salaries listed are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted.
2. Bookkeeping. This is a perfect business idea for trained accountants who would like to work from home, although it is not necessary to be a Certified Public Accountant in order to become a freelance bookkeeper—it’s just necessary to have the background knowledge that bookkeeping courses at any community college can offer. This kind of freelance work is especially helpful for small businesses that do not need or cannot afford a fulltime bookkeeper, making it possible for you to have full time work through several smaller clients. Median salary: $34,000.
3. Home Inspection. An important part of the home buying process is having a professional home inspector go through the house to determine the condition of the building and point out any potential problems. A home inspector needs to meet the state regulations for the profession, which varies from state to state, although anyone who has worked in the construction or housing industry will have a leg up. Median salary: $52,000.
4. Massage Therapist. While licensing requirements for massage therapy can vary from state to state, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork can help any budding masseuse fulfill their local requirements. Massage therapists can either work out of their own home or make house calls with a portable massage table. Median salary: $34,900.
5. Tax Preparation. No one likes doing taxes, and they need to be paid whether the economy is booming or tanking. This is why at-home tax preparation can be a great business for anyone with a tax background, or anyone willing to take training courses. Since there are annual changes to the tax code, you will need to refresh your training each year, and you will also need to register with the IRS as a tax preparer. This is more of a seasonal business than a year-round endeavor, but it can be a great way to earn some extra income each winter/spring. Median salary: $30,900.
6. Doula. A doula is a labor coach that can help a birthing mother in any labor environment, from a hospital to a midwife clinic to home. Doulas are non-medical professionals who offer information, emotional support, and physical assistance in the process of giving birth. While licensing for doulas is not required by most states, getting certified by DONA International, the only certifying body for this profession, is a good idea. Doulas do have to deal with unpredictable schedules, but they easily can do this work from home. Doulas generally charge between $500 and $1000 per birth.
7. Hairstylist. If you have experience cutting hair and giving manicures, opening up shop from your home is an excellent way to start your own salon. Make sure that you follow all of your state’s requirements for doing salon care in a home, as they can be stringent. Median salary: $22,500.
8. Interior Designer. While you do not need a degree or certification in order to set out an interior designer shingle, it is really necessary in order to make sure you can meet the needs of many clients. An education in the history and theory of design will allow you to understand trends that you may not like, but your clients do. Median salary: $46,280.
Meeting the Remote Needs of Companies
Many small businesses have gaps in what their employees can take care of. Hiring a full time employee to fill in those gaps isn’t necessarily feasible, which is where your work-at-home business comes into play. Here are some work-at-home ideas that every business needs:
9. Copywriting. These writers put together promotional materials for businesses, including ads, websites, newsletters, commercials, direct mailings, and many others. Copywriters generally have a degree in advertising, marketing, English, or communication, but any excellent writer can do a great job copywriting. Median salary: $55,000.
10. Virtual Assistant. This is a worker who handles any number of small tasks for a business or individual. Tasks include answering emails, data entry, scheduling, managing blogs, and even shopping. Anyone can become a virtual assistant. According to Indeed.com, the average salary for virtual assistants is $42,000.
11. Courier Service. If you live in a bustling area, chances are local businesses could use a local courier service. Unlike the big name services, you can offer more flexible pick-up and drop off times, which can be a godsend to many small businesses. According to About.com, half of couriers earn in the $17,000 to $27,000 range.
12. Marketing Consultant. Whether you are helping a business with traditional marketing materials or instructing them on the fine art of blogging (ahem) and social media, this is a business that has almost unlimited potential for freelancers. Median salary: $108,000 (!).
13. Editing. Like copywriting, this is a freelancing gig where it’s helpful to have a background in English or communications—but any eagle-eyed writer could do great job. Median salary: $51,470.
14. Web Design. Helping clients design the best website for their needs is a great way to make a living from home. About.com lists the median salary as of 2008 at $65,270.
15. Translation. If you know a second (or third) language, you can make a living at home translating documents. It’s a global marketplace, and even the best translation software can’t understand linguistic nuance. Median salary: $43,300.
16. Video Production. Everyone wants a piece of YouTube, so talented freelancers can make a great living producing videos for companies and organizations. Rates vary by area, equipment, and background.
17. Internet Security Consulting. If you’re tech savvy and understand the ins and outs of internet security, consider becoming a consultant for small businesses. Unlike the big boys, these companies can’t afford the huge security budgets, but they still want to be able to protect their internet customers.
18. Green Consulting. Many smaller companies would like to find ways to make their processes greener without spending more green. You can help them to figure out ways to improve their carbon footprint without sacrificing the bottom line.
19. Grant Writing. Non-profits, universities, hospitals and other community organizations all have a great need for grant money to supplement their budgets, but grants are notoriously tricky to write for the first time. If you have experience writing grants, or are willing to learn how to do it by practicing your skills without pay for a few non-profits, you can start a lucrative freelance grant writing business. According to eHow, grant writers can make anywhere from $40, 300 to $67,000.
20. Medical Transcription. You hear about these opportunities, and they often sound like scams. But the truth is that the medical industry has a great need for individuals to transcribe audio dictations into coherent reports. Transcriptionists do need education—generally a two-year degree—to make sure they are clear on the arcane medical terminology. Median salary: $32,900.
21. Debt Collection. It takes a very thick skin to go into this business, but debt collectors only need a telephone and a computer to work, making it a great work-at-home business. It’s also a recession-proof (or even recession-loving) business. Licensing requirements vary from state to state, so make sure you do your homework before setting up shop. Median salary: $31,300.
22. Call Center Representative. Believe it or not, it is possible to actually reach a woman named Peggy (and not a man with a Russian accent) when you call customer service. That’s because of the homeshore movement, which is trying to hire more independent contractors to work from home on customer service issues. If you’ve got a phone line and an internet connection, you can work from home as a call center rep. Median salary: $30,460.
Make Your Hobbies Pay
Anything you love to do for fun could also become a great at-home gig.
23. Blogging. It takes some time to grow an audience and find ways to monetize your blog, but if you love to share your point of view with the world, this can be a good way to work from home. Niche blogs are a particular area of growth in this ever-growing profession. Pay can vary widely, but the income potential is nearly limitless.
24. E-book author. Publishing is dead; long live the e-reader! Now that anyone can have their work e-published, it is possible for anyone to make a fortune off their writing. The biggest recent example is the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, but there are many authors taking advantage of the ease of e-publishing. If you love to write and are willing to do your own promotion (and having a blog can really help in that case), writing an e-book is an excellent way to make money at home.
25. Building furniture. Everyone loves a well-built and handmade piece of furniture. If you’re already spending time in your workshop, why not sell your wares? Etsy is an excellent place to start selling without having to have a physical storefront.
26. Sewing. Whether you’re making onesies and quilts for sale online or at local markets or doing repairs and alterations for locals with ill-fitting clothes, your sewing machine could be your ticket to a work-from-home business.
27. Personal Organizer. If you’re someone who reorganizes closets for fun, offer up your services to harried and disorganized individuals and businesses.
28. Home Staging. If rearranging furniture is your idea of fun, home staging is a great home-based business. You will help sellers get their homes looking beautiful so they sell as quickly as possible.
29. Herb Farming. Gardening can be very relaxing, and potentially very lucrative. With both the increased interest in alternative therapies and the demand for locally grown and organic foods, an herb farmer can find plenty of customers, particularly if you’re in an urban area. While this does require some space for growing, herbs are fairly small and nearly any home can be slightly modified to allow for an extensive herb garden.
30. Electronic Repairs. If you’re the sort who takes apart the computer for fun, operating an electronics repair shop out of your home is a natural decision. In particular, repairing iPads and other tablets would provide you with a great deal of business, as many tablet users are looking for a less expensive way to fix smashed screens and other damages that can be costly through the manufacturer. Median salary: $49,170.
31. Baking. Beautifully decorated cakes and cookies, artisan bread, and artful pastries have become all the rage, partially thanks to shows like Ace of Cakes. Median salary for bakers: $23,450.
32. Personal Chef. As a personal chef, you would spend your time whipping up delicious meals for those who don’t have time to cook but do have money to burn. The best way to make a name for yourself as a personal chef is to offer meals that fit stringent dietary or allergy requirements.
33. Mystery Shopping. For many people, the idea of getting paid to shop is a dream come true. There are many mystery shopping scams to beware of, however. Never accept a gig that requires an upfront fee—that’s a good sign it’s not legit. According to the website Scambusters, legitimate mystery shopping can pay anywhere from $8 per job up to $50 to $100 per job.
34. Bargain Hunting. If you love a bargain and know how to make coupons, specials, and unadvertised deals your penny-pinching bitch, then you could help others learn how to save money—and turn a profit. The Grocery Game’s Teri Gault is the most famous at-home bargain hunter turned millionaire, but you could be next.
35. Personal Stylist. You have an eye for clothes and know what styles look best on what body types. So turn your passion for fashion into a business by becoming a personal stylist/shopper. You’ll feel good about making others look great.
36. Catering. If you love to cook on a grand scale, why not start a catering business out of your home? How much you make depends on the scale of the assignments you take, and your ability to correctly decide how much your materials will cost. But this is also an industry where you can start small and work you way up to bigger gigs—and profits.
37. App Designer. Creating a profitable app for smart phones isn’t necessarily about having the best or most innovative idea: it’s about creating the best user experience for that idea. That’s how app designers are able to make their work-from-home a full time job—and then just live off the passive income.
38. Furniture Refinishing and Repair. You might have made a hobby of refinishing and repairing garage sale finds. Now, make your skills profitable by offering to make old furniture as good as new. After all, retro is definitely in.
39. Landscape Design. If you’re never happier than when you are landscaping your yard, landscape design might be the home-based business for you. This is a relatively new field, so you can get some background knowledge through a degree, although schools that offer these degrees are somewhat rare, or you can intern with another landscape designer.
40. Tour Guide. You may love exploring all the fun corners of your hometown, but it might not occur to you to make that hobby a business. This is an especially good idea if you can offer themed tours or other niche tours. Median salary: $23,620.
Everyone needs a hand sometimes. Here are ways you can lend one and make a living.
41. At-Home Daycare. This is an especially good idea for stay-at-home-parents who need to bring in some money. You’re already staying home with your kids: why not invite a few others to the party? Licensing for in-home daycare varies from state to state, but you will want to make sure you comply with your local regulations. Median salary: $19,300.
42. Off-Hours Daycare. Though this is basically the same as above, it does deserve its own description. Finding someone to regularly watch children during off-hours, like second shift, weekends, or very early mornings, can be extremely difficult for parents. Offering care during off-peak hours means that you can command a higher fee.
43. Elder Care. In most cases, work-from-home elder care workers will make daily house calls to their patients to help with anything from meal preparation to self-care to minor home repairs. Median pay: $20,170.
44. Lawn Care. While once the province of teenagers, lawn mowing, gardening, raking, and snow removal can be a legitimately grown up home-based business.
45. Dog Walker. This job isn’t just for New Yorkers anymore. Any large community can use dog walkers to help the area Fidos and Rovers make it through the master’s long workday.
46. Pet Sitter. If you can find pet owners who are willing to bring their dogs and cats to you, this is truly a home-based business. Otherwise, you’ll need to be willing to live at other houses (or at least visit 3-4 times a day) while you’re working.
47. Pet Grooming. Most pet owners don’t quite have the stomach or the time to clip nails, bathe, or give haircuts to their animals. With a couple of small tweaks to a bathroom, basement, or laundry room, you could have a full service doggy salon in your home. Again, it’s important to double-check your local requirements for this.
48. Travel Planning. While anyone can check an aggregator site for the best price to fly to Saint Louis, planning a more elaborate trip might be too much for some travelers. This is where a travel planner comes in, using his skills to find the best trip—including flight, accommodation, rental car, and tours—for the budget.
49. Meal Planning. One of the best ways to keep a grocery budget—and a waistline—in check is to do meal planning. But for some, this kind of planning is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. A meal planner could put together a list of a week’s recipes, along with a grocery list, for a harried but budget-conscious shopper.
50. Resume Writing. If you have a knack for making a resume shine, you could offer your services to job seekers.
51. Party Planning. From weddings to birthday parties to corporate events to conferences, the details of putting on a huge bash can be beyond the average party-giver. That’s why they’ll turn all the planning over to you. Median salary: $45,260.
52. Child Proofing. Keeping our kids safe is so important, but the details of how to do so can be confusing. A professional child proofing business is inexpensive to start up, but there may be state regulations to follow. It’s also a good idea to apprentice with a child proofer in order to learn the business.
53. Digital Media Conversion. It’s time consuming to convert old school media like CDs into digital files. If you have excellent tech skills, this is a service you can offer to the tech-phobic and time-crunched alike.
54. Tutoring. A background in education is helpful for tutoring, but not necessary. All you really need are mad skillz in one or more academic area, and you can help local students do better in their classes.
55. Patient Advocacy. With the byzantine complexity of modern medical billing practices, there is a definite need for patient advocates. These individuals take the time to track down hospital billing paperwork and potentially argue with insurance companies. Considering the fact that many of those who need to hire advocates are either ailing or grieving, this is a very necessary service.
56. Personal Trainer. You love to work out and you know the ins and outs of nutrition and exercise. Share your passion with novice exercisers, either out of your home or through a local gym. Median salary: $31,090.
57. Junk Removal. Anyone who has ever had the unenviable task of cleaning up a house for sale after the death of the owner knows just how important this job is. Junk removal can be as simple as hauling away unwanted stuff to the dump, or it can be as complicated as separating out the trash from the treasures and handling the actual sale of the goods.
58. Appraiser. We all love the moment in Antiques Roadshow when the owner learns how much their heirloom is worth. Becoming an antiques appraiser will allow you to live that moment every day. This does require a background education in the subject and access to an excellent reference library.
59. Music Teacher. Teaching piano (or guitar or violin or singing) lessons out of your house is a well-established way for stay-at-home spouses to make a little extra cash. If Lois Griffin can do it, so can any musically minded entrepreneur.
60. House cleaner. With very low overhead and a skill set that is very easy to learn, housecleaning is one of the easiest businesses to start. Depending on how much you want to grow, the income potential is pretty limitless.
Opportunities That Didn’t Exist 15 Years Ago
As technology develops, so do entrepreneurial opportunities. Here are some work-at-home jobs that our parents would never have anticipated:
61. Online Store. It used to be that if you had a product to sell, you also had to have a storefront and all the costs associated with it. These days, you can sell anything to anyone anywhere in the world. Whether you’re marketing the organic honey from your backyard apiary, or selling personalized linens that you embroider yourself, you can find a market for your products online.
62. eBay Sales. The other option for online sales is to simply become the eBay middleman. Millions of vendors sell their wares on the online auction house. If you can find an inexpensive source for (legally!) saleable merchandise, you can get into business.
63. Micro Jobs. With the advent of Fiverr, we saw a brand new way to assign and accept work: little jobs for small payouts. But it’s no party trick. Apps like Gigwalk and sites like Mechanical Turk make it possible to cobble together a living with lots of little assignment each day.
64. Internet Marketing Affiliate. If you already have your own website or blog, you can earn money by becoming an affiliate. You can either sell products directly and earn money that way, or you can sign up others as affiliates, much like multi-level marketing.
65. Get Paid for Social Media. Some Twitter users are able to leverage their huge following into a paid gig for advertisers. Prolific bloggers have been known to get paid for commenting on other blogs. If you are a social media expert, you can use that expertise to earn money. People want to reach your audience and are willing to pay you for it.
The Bottom Line on Working From Home
There’s no need to work for The Man. Home business opportunities are plentiful, as will be your opportunities to work in your pajamas.