When the coronavirus pandemic hit, millions of office-based Americans abruptly transitioned to full-time work-from-home arrangements, ostensibly on a temporary basis.
But according to a 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center, more than half of those who began working from home during the pandemic actually prefer remote employment. More than three-quarters have adequate workspaces and at-home business technology, according to Pew, and more than half enjoy flexible scheduling that allows them to stop and start work at their discretion.
Even before the pandemic, employers were offering ever more flexible work arrangements in a bid to attract younger workers who prefer the freedom to perform their duties from just about anywhere. COVID-19 pushed remote employment into the mainstream, hard. But these days, you don’t even have to have a traditional 9-to-5 job to take advantage of the work-from-home trend.
Whether your goal is to build a sustainable passive income stream or simply earn a few extra bucks to complement your part- or full-time income, all you need to work from home is a computer, a quiet space, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to follow these tips for working from home more efficiently.
Pro tip: If you’re planning to start an at-home business, you need to think about how you’ll keep your business and personal funds separate. For that, you’ll need a business checking account. Our pick: the Chase Business Complete Checking, which holds out an enticing $300 sign-up bonus for new account holders who complete the required qualifying activities.
Legitimate Work-From-Home Opportunities (How to Make Money Working from Home)
The following are a variety of legitimate ways to earn extra income, get a second job, launch a full-time solo career, or start your own small business — all from the comfort of your own home.
1. Blogging: Sell Your Insights
Blogs aren’t just venues for bored people to share their thoughts about anything and everything. They can also be a legitimate source of income for aspiring bloggers keen to make money online.
Your blogging journey begins with an idea. This is an early make-or-break decision for your blog — if it’s not entirely unique, your idea must at least be sharper and more compelling than your competitors’.
You should know your blog’s subject matter cold — ideally from personal experience or formal training — and have no trouble writing fluently about it. Over time, you’ll tighten up your writing process and produce great content in less time.
Next come the nuts and bolts: choosing and buying a Web domain, hosting and designing your site, and planning content. While this is a lot of work to put in before publishing your first post, resist the temptation to cut corners. You’re laying the foundation, hopefully, for a long-term endeavor.
Once you’ve created a quality site and built a following, there are plenty of ways to make money from your blog.
Pro tip: Aspiring bloggers can purchase hosting through Bluehost for less than $5 per month and receive a free domain for the first year.
2. Online Surveys and Focus Groups: Sell Your Opinions
Your opinions are more valuable than you might think. Countless companies pay handsome sums to learn more about their target audiences’ motivations and preferences.
You can take online surveys in the comfort of your home whenever you please: during working hours, over lunch or dinner, when you have a free moment in the evening, or in the sleepless wee hours.
Although your answers must be honest and make sense, you don’t need to devote your full attention to online surveys. That’s no doubt music to multitaskers’ ears. And you can invest as much or as little time as you like. Individual surveys can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 20 or 30 minutes to complete, and you can do as many or as few as you want in one sitting.
Online surveys will help you make money online, but they won’t make you rich. If you sign up with multiple survey companies and diligently complete your allotted tasks, you can earn a bit more than minimum wage — perhaps $10 an hour. But that’s nothing to sneeze at, particularly if you’re able to accomplish other tasks while you’re logged into your survey accounts.
Reputable Online Survey Options
The online survey landscape is pretty crowded. These are among the most reputable and potentially lucrative opportunities for U.S.-based consumers:
- Survey Junkie. Survey Junkie is a popular online survey site with lots of survey-taking opportunities. You’ll earn points for each successfully completed survey and can cash out your account balance once it reaches 1,000 points ($10). Learn more about Survey Junkie in our Survey Junkie review.
- American Consumer Opinion. American Consumer Opinion sends users one screening survey per month and roughly one full-length survey per quarter. Screening surveys pay less than full-length surveys — no more than $0.50 apiece. Full-length surveys can pay up to $50 apiece.
- Opinion Outpost. Compared with American Consumer Opinion, there are generally more opportunities on Opinion Outpost. However, the overall earning rate is lower.
- Swagbucks. Swagbucks offers multiple opportunities to earn extra income online, including paid surveys. Narrowly targeted, time-intensive surveys can pay pretty well, but some of the more basic opportunities — which take only a minute or two to complete — pay next to nothing. Learn more about Swagbucks in our Swagbucks review.
Other opportunities abound, but be sure to do your due diligence before signing up. Be wary of companies that require you to pay to join their panels.
Online Focus Groups
Online focus groups are closely related to online surveys, and in some cases, the same companies administer them.
Like in-person focus groups, online focus groups require more time and concentration than online surveys. Configurations vary, but you generally have to join a panel and engage on a certain number of issues per week or month. Online focus groups are often more selective than online surveys — if you don’t meet specific demographic or income criteria, you may not qualify.
The upshot: The pay is much better, as are the opportunities for prizes and free stuff. With effort, you can earn $500 and possibly more per month in cash or in-kind awards.
3. Virtual Tutoring: Sell Your Expertise
Virtual tutoring is a more personal way to earn money by sharing your subject matter expertise. Unlike online courses, which are available to dozens or even hundreds of paying customers at a time, tutoring sessions are usually one-on-one affairs. However, you can have as many students as your schedule allows.
As with online teaching, to maximize your chances of success as an online tutor, stick to subjects you know well. Use a reputable and high-visibility venue, structure your sessions sensibly, price your services in line with the market, follow scheduling best practices, and promote yourself enthusiastically (or choose a platform that does so on your behalf).
The best places to find online tutoring jobs are platforms that focus specifically on tutoring, such as Education First, VIPKid, and Chegg. Both pay set hourly or per-session rates based on tutors’ chosen subjects — for instance, computer science tutors generally earn more than English tutors. Chegg starts tutors at $20 per hour and claims prolific tutors can earn upward of $1,000 per month.
Before you sign up, make sure your computer meets your chosen platform’s system requirements — you’ll need a reasonably fast processor and real-time video-chatting capabilities. In most cases, if you’re teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) online, you’ll also need to earn a TEFL certification; we recommend Premier TEFL.
4. Storage Space Leasing: Turn Your Extra Space Into a Storage Unit
Do you have an underutilized garage, shed, basement, or attic? Are you willing to clean it up? Then you’re a good fit for Neighbor.com, a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform that connects folks who need extra storage space with those who have it in spades and aren’t using it.
Neighbor.com advertises rental rates at 50% of the going rate for self-storage units, although you’ll earn a bit less than that after the platform takes its cut. Still, that’s quite a bit of passive income for doing basically nothing at all.
5. Downsize and Declutter: Sell Your Unwanted Stuff
Before you roll up your sleeves and monetize your personal or professional skills, why not earn some money by cleaning up your space? Selling your unwanted stuff is a great way to downsize and declutter your life while earning some income on the side.
If you’re transitioning to full-time work-at-home status, that income and newfound space could help you create a proper home office or allow you to maintain your lifestyle during lean times.
When it comes to at-home income, selling your unwanted stuff is the definition of low-hanging fruit. Even if you’re intentional in your purchasing habits, you likely have possessions you can do without.
Examples include old kids’ clothing and toys, sporting goods you no longer use, out-of-fashion wardrobe accessories, electronics, watches and jewelry, old furniture, dusty tools and outdoor equipment, and perhaps even big-ticket items like a motorcycle or second car.
There are several ways you can sell your unwanted stuff.
Most prolific sellers rely on digital marketplaces. The most popular online platforms for professional and semi-professional sellers are eBay and Amazon. Both offer an array of tools and capabilities for merchants, though you do have to pay for them — commissions come in at around 10% of the sales price on eBay and between about 6% and 20% of the sales price on Amazon.
If you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, you can always sell whatever you can’t or don’t want to offload online from your driveway instead. Follow these tips for a successful garage sale.
6. Freelance Writing: Sell Your Words
Countless Americans, from high school and college students to retirees, earn extra income from freelance writing. If you have a way with words, writing blog articles and Web copy is an easy and fun way to pad your full-time income.
Getting your foot in the door as a freelance writer is difficult but doable. Freelance writing jobs abound at the lower end of the pay scale, both on general-purpose freelance platforms like Upwork and writing-only portals such as Textbroker.
While the writing opportunities on these platforms are often monotonous (lots of product descriptions, ad copy, and press releases) and doesn’t pay well at all, it’ll help you learn what editors expect from freelance writers and sharpen your writing skills in the process.
As you gain experience (and confidence) in the freelance writing trenches, stretch out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to ratchet up your freelance writing rates, draft freelance contracts to protect yourself from unscrupulous clients, and send queries to the sorts of publications where you’d be proud to see your byline.
Rejection is a fact of the freelance writing game, no matter how talented you are — but if you’re persistent, you’ll hear “yes” more often than you expect.
7. Freelance Editing and Proofreading: Sell Your Grammatical Skills
Freelance editing and proofreading naturally follow from freelance writing. Although not every writer is a born editor or proofreader, the skills often go hand in hand.
Once you’ve worked with a few different editors, you’ll likely get a sense of the skills and duties required for the job. Then, it’s just a matter of finding the right editing gigs.
As a new editor, start small. Look for part-time or project-based copy editing jobs. If possible, leverage existing freelance writing arrangements. For instance, if you know one of your freelance clients uses contract editors to clean up writers’ work, approach them about taking on those responsibilities directly.
Once you’ve outgrown your existing client base, look to online job boards such as Upwork, as well as media-specific platforms such as Mediabistro. Common types of online editing jobs include:
- Copy Editor. Copy editors ensure written copy is polished before their bosses hit “publish” and often serve as the main point of contact with contributing writers. Although it’s not exceptionally well-paid, copy editing is often a springboard to more lucrative editing or production opportunities.
- Assistant Editor. Assistant editors supervise copy editors, photo editors, writers, and other support staff involved in producing digital publications. Larger blogs and online-print hybrids generally have at least one assistant editor on staff. These gigs can be part- or full-time. They’re typically intermediate between copy editing and managing editing jobs.
- Managing Editor. Managing editors supervise and direct editorial teams, including lower-level editors. These jobs are harder to come by and require more of your time, but temporary arrangements look great on your resume. If you lack much formal editing experience, start with smaller blogs and niche publications with modest budgets and limited content needs. Some publications don’t have enough work for a full-time editor, making it feasible to string together a handful of part-time editing gigs or try out a single position to see how it suits you.
- Photo Editor/Web Editor. Photo and Web editors create or edit visuals that appear on websites and other digital media, such as white papers and corporate reports. This line of work is a great way to exercise your visual skills and become more familiar with layout and editing programs such as WordPress and Photoshop. These gigs often require basic to intermediate coding skills, so they’re great for freelancers who want to expand their expertise beyond the written word.
- Manuscript Editor. Looking for a longer-term engagement? The self-publishing boom has created an unprecedented demand for manuscript editors — specialists who help writers organize and sharpen book-length works before publication. Depending on your clients’ budgets, manuscript editing can be lucrative, although it’ll likely take time to build your reputation to the point that you’re working with accomplished writers. Entry-level opportunities abound on reputable freelance platforms and with niche publishing houses.
The prerequisites and best practices that make freelance editors successful are broadly similar to those freelance writers need. A suitable home office is important, as is aggressive networking, a strong work ethic, a clear understanding of your value, and a hunger for self-improvement.
Freelance proofreaders draw on the same skills and competencies as freelance writers and editors, but their career paths are distinct.
The best way for someone new to the freelance proofreading game to get started (even with prior writing or editing experience) is to invest in a proofreading course to establish credibility with potential employers. Proofread Anywhere is a great example. With free introductory modules, there’s no obligation if you decide the gig isn’t for you.
Although the niche is surprisingly varied, proofreading jobs generally fall into two broad categories: general proofreading and technical proofreading. The former covers nontechnical, relatively unspecialized media like blogs and books. The latter covers transcripts and other technical materials; court reporters, for instance, are seasoned technical proofreaders.
Which you choose depends on your innate strengths as a proofreader and what you’re hoping to get out of the job. Technical proofreading is harder to break into but typically pays better; general proofreading is more competitive but easier to launch.
8. Pet Sitting: Start a Doggy Day Care in Your Home
Fun and rewarding as it can be, pet sitting is a business like any other. Successful pet sitters — those operating legit doggy day cares out of their homes — invest in local marketing, commercial insurance, formal accounting, organized recordkeeping, and perhaps even legal services to manage contracts and reduce liability.
You can juggle all these obligations yourself, or you can outsource much of the heavy lifting to a pet sitting platform like Rover. Think of Rover as the Airbnb of pet sitting — a platform that handles a lot of the behind-the-scenes work of running a profitable home-based enterprise without micromanaging your work.
Rover claims its pet sitters earn up to $1,000 per month, although actual earnings vary by client volume and the amount of time you put into the business.
9. Remote Accounting: Launch a Virtual Bookkeeping Business
If you prefer clients who won’t shed all over your house and you have an affinity for spreadsheets, a virtual bookkeeping business could be just what you need to earn a stable income without leaving the house.
Because bookkeeping is a competitive industry that rewards skilled professionals with solid reputations, the surest way to break into the business is to invest in a credentialing course.
For instance, Bookkeepers offers three different tracks (“communities”) for bookkeepers at various stages of learning the trade and building their businesses. Learn the ropes with Bookkeeper Launch, then progress to Bookkeeper Lab and Bookkeeper Elite — if you have what it takes.
10. Retail Arbitrage: Learn How to Buy Low and Sell High
“Buy low, sell high” is an expression more commonly heard in the noisy bullpen of an investment bank or brokerage house than the relative quiet of one’s home office. But there’s one type of arbitrage — the art of selling assets for more than you paid without adding value — that’s perfect for at-home workers.
That would be retail arbitrage, one of the top careers for self-employed introverts.
Practitioners of retail arbitrage buy products for pennies on the dollar at auctions, from online retailers, even at garage and yard sales, and then sell them online at sometimes-substantial markups. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is the most popular platform for U.S. sellers, but other options work too. Learn the FBA ropes with this low-cost Udemy course.
11. E-books and Audiobooks: Take Your Writing (or Acting) Career to the Next Level
Even the most diligent freelance writers get bored and disillusioned after a while. If you’re tired of writing Web content or blog posts on a contract basis, or you simply want to expand your horizons, consider tackling long-form projects that exercise your creative muscles and carry substantial passive income potential.
Although seeing and hearing your name in print is a worthy accomplishment in and of itself, selling audiobooks probably won’t make you rich. In most cases, your royalty-sharing arrangement will amount to just a few dollars per download.
A lot depends on the extent to which you promote your audiobook and how visible it is on platforms such as Audible and iTunes. If you’re lucky, a successful audiobook can generate a five-figure annual income stream. More obscure titles might earn just a few hundred bucks per year.
You can make money with audiobooks in a couple of different ways:
Recording Your Work
If you’ve already written a book, you can leverage an entirely new revenue stream by turning it into an audiobook. It doesn’t have to be your voice on the recording. In fact, unless you have voice acting or radio experience, it’s better to hire a trained voice actor.
Reputable platforms like ACX typically have low production costs and innovative royalty-sharing arrangements that maximize rights-holders’ (writers’) income potential. Check Publishers Weekly for a list of platform options.
Recording Others’ Work
If you’re a trained voice actor or narrator, or you think you have what it takes to break into the niche, you can use ACX and other outlets to find audiobook recording jobs. You’ll need to audition for each role, but once you land a gig, you’ll earn money two ways: at an agreed per-hour rate for the actual job and a shared royalty arrangement with the rights-holder and others involved in the production.
If you’re a union actor (SAG-AFTRA), you’re required to charge a minimum fee (variable, but above $200) per finished hour (roughly two studio hours). On a 10-hour audiobook, that’s a minimum payday of $2,000 before royalties.
12. Political Advocacy: Sell Your Passion for the Issues
Maybe you’re committed to making the world a better place. Maybe you just love a good argument. Either way, you can work as a political organizer and advocate from the comfort of your home.
Advocacy organizations such as DDC Public Affairs recruit and pay outgoing, communications-savvy team members to raise support around political issues championed by their clients — private companies, nonprofits, trade organizations, and lobbying groups. The types of work involved include:
- Coordinating phone and email outreach to constituents
- Organizing letter-writing and call-in campaigns
- Galvanizing responses to public comment periods
- Activating small- and midsized-business constituents
Advocacy organizations generally have full-time core teams that work on-site in state capitals or Washington, D.C. At-home opportunities are typically project-based and may require substantial time commitments — up to and perhaps more than 40 hours per week.
Depending on the nature of the job, the pay can be modest — $10 to $20 per hour. However, if you’re looking to launch a career in political organizing, these gigs can get your foot in the door. Note that they involve advocating for a wide range of causes, so they can potentially put people with deeply held beliefs in awkward positions.
13. Classes and Webinars: Sell Education
Online surveys and focus groups are great for regular folks who want to share their opinions and influence companies’ decision-making processes. But what about folks who have bona fide subject matter expertise — or, at least, above-average skills in a sought-after discipline?
You don’t have to snag an adjunct professorship at your local university to share your knowledge with students and earn some cash in the process. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can cut out the middleman and teach classes directly to lifelong learners without leaving the house.
Here’s what you should keep in mind to begin and maintain a successful at-home teaching enterprise:
Selling your expertise works best when you have some credibility. In many verticals, formal credentials are a near-necessity. Students signing up for a class on online tax preparation want to learn from a CPA. Entrepreneurs looking for the inside track on small-business law want to hear from a lawyer or serial entrepreneur.
When you’re first starting out, choose reputable, high-visibility venues for your classes. Don’t expect students to find their way to your personal or professional website before you’ve built a reputation for yourself.
Udemy is a great option for budding at-home teachers looking to earn real money from their work. YouTube is another viable option, although you can’t directly charge people to watch your YouTube videos. You’ll need to monetize them indirectly.
Topic and Structure
It’s not enough to select a popular vertical. You need a compelling topic and a tight structure for each class. After all, everyone wants to learn how to code, but you can’t teach every popular program language in an hour.
Build your curriculum around interesting, high-demand topics within your niche. Use real-life examples, hands-on exercises, and attractive graphics (whiteboards work well) whenever possible.
Pricing and Deals
As with any professional pursuit, you need to know how much your teaching skills are worth and price them accordingly.
Unfortunately, at-home teaching is a competitive business, so you’re likely to find someone who charges less for similar work. Ways to get around this include multicourse discounts, package deals, and complimentary products or information for early sign-ups.
You don’t need to buy digital ads to promote your classes, but it’s definitely worth your while to drum up support by email — sending out targeted blasts to your professional and personal networks — and social media accounts.
As you gain students, reputable platforms like Udemy will boost your visibility, doing some of the hard promotional work for you. However, you must opt into its extensive course marketing network.
14. Question Marketplaces: Sell Answers to People’s Questions
The Internet is full of questions. If you’re knowledgeable and unbiased, you could earn money by answering them.
Online question marketplaces pay verified experts to answer questions posed by community members. If you’re particularly knowledgeable about a specific subject or discipline, you could earn a respectable side income simply by sharing your factual insights.
One of the most reputable and lucrative online question marketplaces is JustAnswer. JustAnswer’s verticals include health, home improvement, cars, law, business, tech, pets, and homework. For most verticals, you need relevant official credentials, such as a law or accounting degree.
Pay varies by vertical but seems to be pretty generous. JustAnswer says you can earn $2,000 to $7,000 per month, depending on your subject of expertise.
Your work volume depends on the quality of your answers and the volume of questions users are asking, so you may not find as much work as you expect at first. Still, JustAnswer is ripe for multitasking, making it a perfect work-from-home opportunity.
Other options include Wonder, which doesn’t require formal credentials. Wonder is cagey about how much it pays, but client pricing starts at about $40 per completed query, so it’s likely contributors see at least half that figure. However, Wonder appears to have lower question volumes than JustAnswer, limiting your income potential.
15. Paid Search: Sell Your Search Queries
You could earn small but meaningful sums from the same online searches you no doubt conduct every day, thanks to a slew of websites and plug-ins that track your searches and pay you for each completed query.
Paid search queries aren’t nearly as lucrative as expert-answer platforms such as JustAnswer. It’s rare to get more than a few cents for a single search. However, because you can complete hundreds of searches in an hour, the income potential is real. Popular, reputable options include:
- InboxDollars. InboxDollars is one of the Internet’s first legitimate at-home money-making websites. Paid search is just one of the many ways to earn a few extra bucks on the side with this site. And InboxDollars pays hard cash, a major advantage over some competitors. Learn more about InboxDollars by reading our InboxDollars review.
- Swagbucks. Swagbucks is an InboxDollars competitor with a slew of online money-making opportunities, including paid search. Searches earn Swagbucks, an on-site loyalty currency you can redeem for gift cards and other items.
- Qmee. Qmee is a browser plug-in that pays you to search for specific partner brands. You get even more via cash-back rebates when you buy stuff from these brands, but there’s no obligation to spend any money.
16. Paid Social Posts: Get Paid to Tweet, Post, Pin, and Share
You don’t need millions of followers to become a social media influencer. You just need to follow the basic rules of social media etiquette and find a reputable platform that pays you to share sponsored content from its clients or promote affiliate products.
If you’re serious about making real, sustainable money on social media, try either of these strategies:
YouTube Partner Program
The YouTube Partner program empowers YouTube channel operators to monetize certain types of videos.
Finding paying advertisers is hard work, and you need a sizable following before you can find companies willing to pay for direct or indirect promotion. Plus, your videos must meet YouTube’s monetization criteria, which ban explicit or copied content.
Pay potential is directly proportional to the size of your channel following and, to a lesser extent, audience demographics.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your blog or website, but it can also generate income from your social media properties. Many affiliate marketers do both.
ClickBank is a good place to start. Pay is directly proportional to your follower count and audience demographics.
17. Software and Game Reviews: Get Paid to Test Video Games
Getting paid to test new video games and consoles sounds like a dream come true for gamers. But video game testing is a job like any other. It requires significant time and energy commitments. It’s not something you can do with a few spare minutes or with less than your undivided attention.
To get started as a game tester, sign up with a reputable network such as Keywords Studio, whose Global Beta Test Network (GBTN) helps game developers push their products to the limit and ensure they go to market with as few bugs as possible.
GBTN’s tests typically involve dozens to hundreds of testers around the world running simultaneous tests on different aspects of clients’ games. Most tests are time-limited, project-based affairs.
Pay varies but typically ranges from $20 to $50 per hour. Diligent, skilled testers who work part-time can earn $10,000 to $20,000 per year; testers who work at or near full-time can easily exceed $50,000 per year.
Successful game testers have certain capabilities and personality traits in common:
- A Professional-Grade Gaming Setup. If you’re an avid gamer, you probably have this covered. If not, the cost of upgrading your setup in the hopes you’ll be hired as a tester could be prohibitive.
- Unwavering Attention to Detail. Video game testing isn’t like regular gameplay. The whole point is to prod for any bugs and defects that could potentially impact play, no matter how small or unlikely. Your eyes must be peeled for any deviance from expected results.
- Flexible Schedules With Long Blocks of Uninterrupted Time. Simultaneous game tests typically occur at the client’s convenience. If your game’s developer is based overseas, that could mean testing in the middle of the night. For night owls, that’s not a big deal, but 9-to-5 workers may struggle. Also, tests typically take several hours, so this isn’t something you can do for 20 minutes at a time and move on.
18. Website and Product Testing: Sell Your Feedback
Websites and products need testing too. Here’s what to know about each type of gig.
If you’re not much of a gamer, or you can’t spare the long blocks of time and unwavering attention required of professional game testers, consider signing up with UserTesting to try out new websites and mobile apps.
UserTesting’s website testing gigs do require focus and rigor, but they’re far shorter and don’t need to happen simultaneously, making them much easier to fit into your schedule. They don’t pay quite as well as game
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