Do you ever find yourself at home with some downtime, wondering if there was a way this time could be better spent? Or perhaps you’ve always hated going into an office for work, and you dream of finding ways to work from home profitably?
If so, you’re not alone.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that 22% of employed Americans in 2016 worked from home some or all of the time. This number continues to grow every year as technological advances have made it easier than ever to connect industries and employees around the world.
The great thing about finding work-from-home opportunities is that you can pursue your passions while also balancing your personal and professional life. However, because you are often not dealing with people face-to-face, it is also important to stay aware of scams and fraudulent offers – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Whether you want to work one hour a week or sixty, finding legitimate ways to make money from home is easier than you may think. These seven opportunities can be used to generate an income from the comfort of your home.
1. Run A Blog
You’ll need to invest time in building an audience, but developing a blog on a topic of expertise or interest can set the foundation for long-term income. What to write about when starting a blog? Find your niche: if you like to garden, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat out established bloggers when it comes to traffic, but if you focus on growing vegetables in a small backyard or cultivation techniques for specific flowers, you can narrow down outreach into a target audience. Once you have a following, on-site advertising and affiliate marketing can earn you passive income, and you’ll open up the door to even more significant opportunities.
2. Sell Stock Photos
With the incredible camera technology now standard in many smartphones, you no longer need to be a professional photographer to create and sell images. Because everyone from bloggers to journalists to corporations accesses stock photos, no matter what your content is, there’s probably someone searching for it. Start by taking crisp, clear photos of general interest items, and be sure to avoid any brand names and collect releases from anyone prominently featured. Reputable sites that will allow you to upload your images for sale include Shutterstock, Dreamstime, and Bigstock.
3. Sell Old – And New – Items
How to make money fast from the comfort of your home? A tried-and-true technique for getting some extra cash while also cleaning out your unused stuff is to sell it online. Use eBay to sell collectibles and bigger-ticket items, try Craigslist for local items, and specialized sites like Poshmark for clothing.
However, if you have a particular skill or are simply creative, you can design a niche item to sell from your home. Do you make your own candles and candleholders? Start selling on Etsy and you may find you’ve laid the groundwork for a small business.
4. Go Freelance
You can freelance in your spare time or make it a goal for full-time work, and chances are, someone out there needs a skill that you can offer. If you have a way with words, look for blogs and other writing sites that encourage – and pay – contributors, and start building a portfolio. If you know your way around digital design, try selling your services for simple gigs through Fiverr or Upwork, and start building a client base. When you freelance, you’ll need to keep track of your income and expenses, and you’ll need to protect yourself from unscrupulous clients. Never hand over a product until you’ve received payment, and avoid agreeing to “test jobs” or auditions for free.
5. Be A Virtual Assistant
If you’re organized and personable, there are individuals and companies all over the world that could use you as a virtual assistant. Tasks related to these gigs range from answering emails to fielding calls to general administrative work, all of which can be done from a home office or workspace. A virtual assistant may work a few hours a week or work on a full-time basis, and depending on your experience and level of industry knowledge, can pay as well as an on-site assistant position would.
6. Share Your Knowledge
If you are an expert in something, whether it’s vector drawing, tightrope walking, or the symbolism in Moby Dick, you can design a course using simple tools, such as PowerPoint, to be distributed on a network like Udemy.
7. Take Surveys
You won’t make big bucks completing online surveys, but, they are a great way to earn some extra change when you’re doing something else. Fill them out while watching TV or when you need to give your brain a break from a different task, and you can start building up small rewards here and there. However, the problem with online surveys is that the industry is saturated with scam sites, so you want to verify that the company you are working with is tied to a larger marketing research firm. For example, Ipsos i-Say is the consumer survey platform of Ipsos, one of the world’s largest market research companies in the world. You can also sign up directly with Nielsen to share your voice on panels and surveys related to consumer experiences.
Tips To Protect Yourself From Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has identified a growing number of scams making false promises to those who are looking for a little side income from work-at-home opportunities. Avoid any of these red flags that typically signal trouble ahead:
Never Pay For Anything Upfront
If you are required to pay for a training or purchase a starter kit, you are compromising your personal financial information. Any legitimate opportunity is paying you, not the other way around.
Never Work On Spec
Don’t do any work without a clear payment structure, and make sure a contract or agreement has been signed. Your time is worth money, and when you are working as your own representative, you have to protect your best interests.
Never Believe That No Experience Is Necessary
If you’re promised thousands a month and told that your lack of experience isn’t a problem, then it’s probably a scam. Often, these companies “offer” required training that you have to pay for, followed by more training, and more, until you’ve spent more than you are going to earn.
To better protect yourself with every opportunity, utilize FTC resources designed to crack down on work-from-home scams. When you’re offered an opportunity that may require a purchase on your end, the FTC guidelines require references, the disclosure of legal actions, a refund policy, and an Earnings Claim that backs up the promises made with actual data. Chances are, scammers will be chased off just by a request for the form.
Making extra money from home can be a reality if you do your research and identify the right fit for your skills.