Recent figures from the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that total private employment dropped by 15 percent once COVID-19 was declared an emergency on March 13, 2020, yet employment at small businesses saw a higher rate of decline at 17 percent. The unemployment rate keeps fluctuating as the pandemic runs its course, but it’s likely the job market will be slow for a while.
The truth is you don’t necessarily have to find a “real job” to move on with your life. There are a lot more ways to earn a living from home than people think, which you can do for yourself and entirely on your own terms.
This guide covers some of the best home-based business ideas, which range from one-off side gigs to actual businesses you can grow over time. Not all of them will work for everyone, but every single person can use one idea from this list to earn some cash without ever having to “clock in.” Some of the home-based business ideas are easy to implement, while others require a certain level of skill.
The amount of money you can earn will also vary depending on the path you choose. For example, you may be able to earn a few hundred dollars per week delivering food with DoorDash or GrubHub. This gig is one that does not produce passive income, so you’ll only get paid for the time you work.
With a digital media business or blog, on the other hand, you could build your business over time until it is earning millions of dollars. How do I know? Because I did it.
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47 Home-Based Business Ideas to Start Today
Whether you are looking to quit the daily grind or trying to make extra cash as a way to get out of debt, starting a home business or a side hustle can be the ideal way to meet your goals. Fortunately, there are countless home-based business opportunities just waiting for you to begin.
Skip ahead to read about any one of the awesome home-based business ideas we highlight below:
Online Home-Based Business Ideas
Some of the best home-based business ideas are ones that can operate entirely online. This lets you keep your overhead expenses at a minimum, but having an online business also means you can work from anywhere. Here are the best online business ideas you can try this year.
#1: Build Passive Income with a Blog
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, you can make money blogging and 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.
With a hosting platform like Bluehost, you could have your site up and running in no time.
Want to start a blog for super cheap? Check out how my wife and I make money blogging and learn how you can make 1K Blogging.
#2: Become a Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants take on a variety of tasks for their clients, which can include answering emails, creating documents, designing basic graphics, and more. Some virtual assistants also write and edit content, and they may even help their clients schedule content for publishing on various mediums.
While many virtual assistants charge $50 per hour or more, even beginner virtual assistants can easily charge $20 per hour.
#3: Become an Online Freelance Writer
Everything you read online was written by someone, and there’s a good chance the writer was paid handsomely for their talent and skill. Freelance writers can easily earn a few hundred dollars for each article they write, but it’s possible to earn a lot more than that if you learn how to master longer and more complicated content.
The hardest part of getting paid to write is finding those first few gigs, although you can usually get started using a website like Upwork. Still, you should check out this post on How to Become a Freelance Writer, which is written by Holly Johnson. Johnson has been earning multiple six figures as an online freelance writer for years, and she has a free webinar and a course you can buy. If you need help getting started, you can read more at EarnMoreWriting.com.
#4: Start an 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.
My good buddy Steve Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com has created an online course that walks people step-by-step through building their own online store. His wife was able to quit her job, and together their online business produces six figures in income each year.
#5: Piece Together Some Micro Jobs
With the advent of Fiverr, we saw a brand new way to assign and accept work. While many beginner jobs on Fiverr only pay $5, it’s possible to earn considerably more with this platform if you are able to secure more advanced gigs or pick up some regular clients.
The best part is, you can set up work through all of these platforms online and from the comfort of your home.
#6: Write and Publish an E-Book
Now that anyone can have their work published online, 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 fast from home.
#7: Surveys During Your Spare Time
Did you know that you can earn money from surveys?
While there are a ton of survey companies out there, my favorite is Survey Junkie. Depending on your demographics, you can earn anywhere from $2.00 per hour to $5.00 per hour completing surveys on Survey Junkie.
However, filling out surveys is not the only way to earn money on Survey Junkie! You’ll also become a candidate for focus groups, invited to watch videos and review, and even earn money by playing games!
In addition to Survey Junkie, check out these other survey companies that will pay you to answer questions in your spare time:
- Complete surveys and earn reward points.
- Watch videos, answer surveys, shop, and more. $5 Sign-up Bonus
- Watch videos, answer surveys, play games, and more. $5 Sign-up Bonus
#8: Get Paid to Shop
Online stores compete for your attention and are willing to pay for it. If you shop a lot online, this could be a viable way to make money from home.
I’m talking about cash-back sites. One such site is Rakuten.com.
This is how it works: Let’s say Rakuten partners with Target. When you buy something from Target on Rakuten.com, Rakuten receives a commission. Because Rakuten wants you to return to their site, they offer you cashback. For example, if you bought a lamp for $60, Rakuten might offer you 3% cashback ($1.80).
$1.80 doesn’t seem like much, but if you commit to always buying from cashback sites, the money will add up.
Check out all the cash-back sites below and remember to shop on the ones you like!
Side Gig Ideas You Can Do From Home
Some home-based businesses require you to do “gig work” for other companies. These business ideas tend to be extremely flexible, meaning you can work whenever you want. You can also earn a base rate of pay and tips in some cases.
#9: Join a Food Delivery Service
When restaurants receive an “order for delivery,” they are responsible for delivering the food. If you’re a pizza joint or a restaurant that gets a lot of delivery orders, you hire employees to deliver your goods.
But what about restaurants that get takeout orders, but not enough to justify hiring a full-time employee to deliver the food?
Leave it to technology to solve this problem. And perhaps your next business idea.
Uber drivers take passengers from one place to another. Uber Eats drivers, however, take food orders from restaurants to customers. Exact same concept. Instead of the app pinging you that a passenger needs a ride, the app pings you that a restaurant needs food delivered somewhere.
There’s a ton of these services popping up and drivers are making a full-time living from them:
#10: 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.
#11: Start a Catering Business
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 your way up to bigger gigs — and profits.
#12: 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, yet you can learn some skills for this type of work by finding a part-time gig with a landscaping company. From there, you can start building your own client base of people who want their landscapes to look wonderful without having to do the work.
#13: Become a 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.
While it’s possible to create a website that advertises the tours you offer, you can also create “experiences” and market them on Airbnb.com. This will help you reach a wider audience when you’re first getting started, and it can also create some brand awareness about your tours.
#14: Start a Daycare In Your Home
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, so 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.
#15: Care for Elders in Your Community
In most cases, work-from-home elder care professionals make daily house calls to their patients to help with anything from meal preparation to minor home repairs.
If you have a heart for serving the elderly, you could build a lucrative career out of it. You can market your services by word of mouth, social media, and through listing sites like Care.com.
While the hourly rate for eldercare tends to be on the low end, you can typically work any hours or days you want with the right combination of gigs.
#16: Drive for Uber or Lyft
Driving for Uber or Lyft requires you to leave home for the day, and you’ll also need to have a newer, reliable car. However, we love the fact that rideshare work is so incredibly flexible. You can typically work any hours or days you want, and you can even drive for both apps (Uber and Lyft) at once.
While pay can be somewhat unreliable, both Uber and Lyft pay a specific rate per mile you drive. You can also earn tips from generous drivers, and these tips can add up fast.
#17: Become a Dog Walker or Pet Sitter
Websites like Rover.com can help you become a professional dog walker or dog sitter. You can use this platform to line up enough pet-related work to fill a regular workweek, but you can also use it to find short-term gigs to supplement your income.
Many people charge $29 per night or more to watch dogs or cats in their home and pay for dog walking varies. Either way, this is fairly easy work that you can set up from home and in your spare time if you want.
Since most pet owners don’t quite have the stomach or the time to clip nails, bathe, or give haircuts to their animals, you could also find gigs as a pet groomer. With a couple of small tweaks to a bathroom, basement, or laundry room, you could even have a full-service doggy salon in your home.
#18: Become a Travel Planner
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.
While this work has typically been done by travel agents, newer “travel concierge” services are popping up all over the place. With that in mind, you could get started in this business with a simple website and some basic marketing tools.
#19: Start a House Cleaning Business
With very low overhead and a skill set that is very easy to learn, house cleaning is one of the easiest businesses to start.
Depending on how much you want to grow, the income potential is pretty limitless. Most people who clean houses can easily earn $25 per hour, but it’s possible to earn $50 per hour or more if you’re able to clean quickly and efficiently.
Reach out to people you know in your area to find clients, or post on your neighborhood Facebook page. Once you have a few clients lined up, it will be considerably easier to find more houses to clean via word of mouth and referrals.
Home-Based Business Ideas that Highlight Specific Skills
Some home-based business ideas require you to have a specific skill or years of experience. If you once worked in a specific industry and you have years of expertise under your belt, consider these home-based business ideas.
#20: Start a Voiceover Business
We’ve all seen YouTube videos or Netflix shows where a narrator is describing the scene or event, but is never seen. This person is called a voiceover actor. And business is booming.
Want to get in on the action? There are several ways to dip your toe into the entertainment industry, consider these sites below:
- Back Stage: The largest listing of entertainment jobs in the country (actors, singers, dancers, etc.)
- Kidscasting.com: Have a cute kid? Kidscasting.com lists jobs daily for jobs around the country requiring kids.
- Mandy.com: Mandy.com lists voiceover work, film and TV crew jobs, musicians, and more.
#21: Teach English to Overseas Students
I recently met an English teacher and asked him where he taught. His response?
“Oh no, I work from home and teach students on the other side of the world in China.”
Teaching English used to be a job folks would take as an excuse to travel. Not anymore! Nowadays, if you have kids and a home to maintain, why not take advantage of technology and teach students online?
VIPKid is is an online teaching and educational company based in China. Chinese parents specifically want their kids to learn English from native speakers, preferably from America.
Work your own hours. Earn up to $22/hour. No need to leave the house.
#22: Start a Home Inspection Business
This is one business idea you may not have considered, but it’s a vital role that new homeowners everywhere depend upon.
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.
The median salary for home inspectors worked out to $60,710 in 2019, per figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
#23: Start a Massage Therapy Business
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.
While it’s possible to work for a spa or medical clinic, massage therapists can either work out of their own home or make house calls with a portable massage table. This makes massage therapy yet another field that works well for individuals who want to build a business from home.
#24: Prepare Taxes for People
No one likes dealing with their taxes, yet 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 idea than it is a year-round endeavor, but it can be a great way to earn some extra income each winter/spring.
#25: Become a 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.
#26: Become a Hairstylist
If you have experience cutting hair and giving manicures, opening up a 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. However, having your own at-home salon can be fruitful since you won’t have to pay to rent an office space, and since you’ll receive the full amount of money your clients pay for services.
#27: Leverage Your Graphic Design Skills
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.
If you have the type of graphic design skills businesses need and you have the resources to buy the software you need to get started, this might be the home-based business idea for you.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers have a median salary of $52,110.
#28: Start a Bookkeeping Business
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. To work in this gig it’s only 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 full-time bookkeeper, making it possible for you to have full-time work through several smaller clients.
#29: Start a Copywriting Business
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 an excellent writer can do a great job copywriting.
While you can work as a copywriter for someone else, the fact that the bulk of this work can be done online makes it perfect for someone who wants to work at home. The hardest part of starting a copywriting business is getting the first few clients lined up. After that, you should be able to get more work through referrals and networking.
#30: Use Your Language Skills to Translate
If you know a second (or third) language, you can make a living at home translating documents. Also, note that many translators work on a freelance basis, so it’s possible you could create a translation business then complete one-off work for a variety of clients.
Starting a translation business could be as easy as creating a basic website to advertise your services. You could also reach out to businesses in your area that might require translation from one language to another, or try networking in fields of business you believe may benefit from your services in the future.
#31: Become a Grant Writer
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.
#32: Do Medical Transcriptions from Home
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.
You may be able to pick up your own medical transcription clients if you reach out to medical professionals in your area, but it’s also possible to be connected with medical transcription jobs if you sign up for a platform like FlexJobs.com.
#33: Collect Debt for a Living
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. Generally speaking, you will need to earn a debt specialist certification to find work in this field.
#34: Create Homemade Goods for Etsy.com
Everyone loves handmade pieces of furniture. If you’re already spending time in your workshop, why not sell your wares? The same is true whether you are able to make other crafts like candles, home decor, or quilts.
Etsy is an excellent place to start selling without having to have a physical storefront. All you have to do is create an account, take photos of your items, and set a price. The only time you have to leave your home is when you have to the post office to ship your items to their new owners.
#35: Start a Home-Based Organization Business
If you’re someone who reorganizes closets for fun, offer up your services to harried and disorganized individuals and businesses. You don’t need a degree to start an organization business, and it may not be overly difficult to get clients, either. All you have to do is create a simple website or Facebook group to advertise your services. You could also post ads on local social media pages, or on craiglist.org.
#36: 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 herb farming 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.
#37: Fix Broken Electronics
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.
#38: Become a Tutor
A background in education is helpful for tutoring, but not necessary. All you really need is mad skills in one or more areas of study. With a ton of knowledge in a specific topic like math or science, you can help local students do better in their classes.
It should be easy to find work as a tutor. You can advertise your services in your local neighborhood, or even reach out to local schools.
#39: Become a Personal Trainer
If you have a penchant for fitness and you love helping others reach their goals, becoming a personal trainer should come natural to you. You could visit clients in their own homes, or you could meet them at a local gym.
Either way, it’s common for individuals who want help and guidance to pay more than $50 per session for a personal trainer. If you can get a few clients set up on a weekly basis, you can earn real income with this home-based business idea.
#40: Teach Music Lessons
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.
While you can teach music lessons in-person, quite a few websites also let you market your services or even teach music lessons online. Some of the best options include Live Music Tutor and Take Lessons.
Miscellaneous Home-Based Business Ideas
Here are even more home-based business ideas you can try, although not all of them will work for everyone.
#41: Rent Out a Room in Your House
Airbnb, VRBO.com, and Vacasa are all examples of an online marketplace that arranges lodging options between a visitor and a host.
Let’s say you have a guest house or spare bedroom. Why not list the space on Vrbo and make that your business?
What you can charge per night depends on the area. The more touristy the city and nice your home, the more you can charge.
- Simple, secure way to host your home
- Estimate how much you could earn!
- Let Vacasa care for your home & guests
#42: Rent Out Your Car
It used to seem weird to rent out a spare room to a stranger, or to stay in a stranger’s home when you go on vacation. Thanks to the likes of Airbnb and others, these sharing economy services have shown us it’s not so scary!
So let me ask – how do you feel about renting out your car?
Think about it. Rental car agencies (Enterprise, Avis, Budget, etc.) are awful to deal with and too expensive.
A company called Turo has disrupted the industry. People across the country are earning money from lending their cars out to strangers.
If you aren’t using your car for a couple of days, or if you have a spare one, simply join Turo’s free platform, list the car, and charge whatever you want for the day.
#43: Invest In Real Estate
Real estate investing may seem more like a “side business,” than a true at-home business. Over time, however, making money as a landlord from the comfort of your home is a great place to start on your road to self-employment.
Want to get in on the action but don’t have the experience or time? I recommend real estate crowdfunding.
Real estate crowdfunding is when investors pool their money together to buy investment properties. Each crowdfunding platform is different. Some focus on commercial real estate, some focus on flipping homes, and others buy with the intent of collecting rent over the long term.
My guide on how to invest in real estate can help you get started.
#44: Sell Your Stuff
This business idea sounds vague, but that’s only because it’s widely open to interpretation. The root of the idea is related to the one above: People shop online a lot these days.
Why not be the one to sell them stuff? Below are places that facilitate online selling. Keep in mind, however, to make it a viable business, you need to be consistently selling. So think big.
Maybe you could shop at local thrift or antique stores and resell items online? This idea requires creativity.
- Gazelle: Sell used electronics
- Worthy: Sell engagement rings and old navy
- Declutter: Similar to Gazelle, a marketplace for electronics
- Poshmark: Sell jewelry, clothes, handbags, etc.
- LetGo: Furniture, cars, books, computers, etc.
- eBay: Create a store profile and sell anything!
- Amazon: Make money selling stuff already listed on Amazon.
#45: Invest in Stocks
Similar to real estate, investing has long served as a way to earn a living without the boss or office required.
That said, investing is a risky business (literally) so I recommend only those who are experienced and have a strategy to consider this idea.
Fortunately, many of the top brokerage firms don’t even charge commissions these days. This makes it incredibly more affordable to get started and to keep your long-term trading fees at a minimum.
#46: Start a Child Proofing Business
Keeping our kids safe is so important, but the details of how to do so can be confusing.
A professional childproofing 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.
#47: 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.
If you have watched Hoarders before, then you know how essential junk removal is. By starting your own business in this field, you can get a piece of the action and some of the profits.
Tips for Running a Business Out of Your Home
Running a home-based business is a lot different than heading into an office for a 9 to 5 job. You’ll have to deal with considerably more distractions for starters, but you’ll also need to have a certain level of discipline to make it work. After all, you won’t have a boss looking over your shoulder anymore.
In addition to making sure you’re dedicated to your home-based business idea and ready to put in the hard work, here are some additional tips that can help:
- Have a dedicated space to work. If your home-based business idea is one that actually runs out of your home, make sure you have some separate space to work. This could be an area of your dining room where you’re able to set up a desk, or perhaps you have a basement where you could set up a dedicated office space. Whatever you have to work with, make sure you have a work area where you can go to focus on the work ahead.
- Set a schedule. When you don’t have a regular job, it’s easy to keep putting off your work to the point it never gets done. With that in mind, it’s smart to set strict working hours like you would have if you worked for someone else. You don’t have to work 9 to 5, but you should have set working hours that never change.
- Protect your work time from family and friends. Don’t let family and friends sabotage your home-based business since they know you’re home. Make sure you tell everyone that you are actually working from home, so you cannot chat on the phone, run errands for them, or keep an eye on their kids.
- Keep your business financials separate. Once your business is up and running, we recommend taking steps to separate your business finances. This typically involves setting up a business checking account, signing up for a business credit card, and creating folders for receipts and other paperwork you’ll need to keep track of for business and tax purposes.
- Learn how to outsource effectively. This tip is for intermediate home-based businesses, but it is still important. As you grow your operation, you’ll want to figure out what you should outsource so you can spend more time on your business. This may mean paying a bookkeeper to keep track of your expenses, or perhaps even outsourcing cleaning and errands at your home so you have more time to work.
The Bottom Line
If daily commutes, coworkers, and cubicles don’t suit your fancy, why not try one of the home business ideas on the list?
When you work from home, you can call the shots, you set the standards, and you get the chance to pursue your professional passions at your own speed.
If you’re tired of waiting for an employer to create the job you want, then maybe it’s time for you to take control. With a home-based business, you can create the life you want on your own terms.