10 Real Ways to Earn Money at Home

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Many people are drawn to home-based job opportunities because of the flexibility and freedom. Being your own boss, spending more time with family, avoiding long commutes, dressing how you please — what could be better? It’s ideal for moms and retirees, and in this tough economy, full-time employees are also finding ways to supplement their income. In good times or bad, there are always those who shun the 9-5 routine, and explore different ways to earn a living. And work-at-home offers abound. There are many scams, promising get-rich-quick schemes, yet others are legitimate. Some pay a pittance, while others pay a living wage. But in rare instances, a “work-from-home” job could make you millions. Here are 10 real ways to earn money at home.


10. Professional Yard and Attic Sales

You don't have to be an antique expert to find great values at your local thrift shop.

Flea market; Wolf Style

Some people have a knack for turning cast-offs into cash. They make frequent visits to local thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales, looking for items they know they can resell for more, often finding quality pieces of furniture, home furnishings and sporting equipment at well-below market value. You don’t need to be an antique expert to find steals, because the Internet has made it possible for even novices to locate great deals. Say you’re in a thrift shop and come across a beautifully crafted, solid wood desk on sale for $49.99. Inside one of the drawers is a brand name, Henry Link. Whipping out your iPhone, you Google Henry Link, and within seconds view photos of the desk in question, and find similar desks selling for many hundreds of dollars.

After buying items, you can hold regular yard sales, or put the items for sale on eBay (see below). Certain neighborhood HOA covenants restrict this type of activity, so always check first before embarking on such a venture. If that isn’t possible in your neighborhood, you may be able to find a nearby flea market and get a reasonable rate to rent a booth, where you can unload your treasures on weekends.


9. Buying and Selling Items on eBay

Many people earn decent income buying and selling items on eBay.

eBay headquarters, San Jose, California;  Cool Caesar

Countless people are already making a living trading on this popular website. The process is user friendly and you don’t need marketing experience. Just create a free account and use some common sense, adding good quality photos along with catchy advertisements. Many buy items at yard sales, thrift stores or even on Craigslist, and resell them on eBay for a profit. If you want to boost your income, eBay also offers a Trading Assistant Program where you can market yourself as an experienced eBay seller and offer your services to others on the site. Likewise, if you know nothing about how eBay operates, you can contact a Trading Assistant to help you.


8. Craftmaker

If you have a skill such as sewing or knitting, you can sell your work online or at craft shows.

Photo credit: Ula Kapala/Dreamstime.com

You can convert any hobby, skill or craft into a small business, if you know there’s a market for the product. If you have a creative talent, such as sewing, crocheting, knitting, or even pottery, you can work on projects at home and sell your work online, or at craft fairs and flea markets. One popular online craft sales outlet is www.etsy.com.


7. Home Child Care

You can earn good money by caring for children in your home, but there are many issues, such as liability, to consider.

Photo credit: Labeled for reuse

Running a home day care can be profitable and rewarding, but it is a sensitive area, subject to all sorts of state, federal and local licensing. Issues such as liability and insurance must also be considered. But according to babycenter.com, the United States has more than 280,000 regulated home day cares — almost three times the number of licensed childcare centers. Many parents now prefer their children be cared for in a smaller, more personalized setting, and so the demand for this type of facility is growing.


6. Direct Marketing and Sales

Direct sales of products such as Amway has gotten a bad rap in recent years, but many people earn part-time income selling such products.

Photo credit: © Lyn Baxter/Dreamstime.com

Companies like Avon, Amway and Cutco, have been around for many years, and recruit representatives to sell their products directly to customers. Some people thrive while others fail. You really have to be dedicated, and be a good salesperson to make it work. Enthusiasm for the product is also essential. This field has come under criticism in recent years, both for overstating the earnings potential of these products, and for making questionable requirements of their marketing people. But many do make decent part-time, or in some cases, full-time incomes. Selling methods include home parties, personal demonstrations and e-mail marketing. According to the website directsellingnews.com, the top 10 direct sales companies worldwide in 2010 were: Avon, Amway, Natura, Vorwerk, Herbalife, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Oraflame, Forever Living Products and NuSkin. Two other prominent names in this field are The Pampered Chef and Thirty One.


5. Virtual Call Center at Home

Operating a home call center will earn you around $10 per hour.

Photo credit: © Marcio Eugenio/Dreamstime.com

Home-based agents are hired to provide customer service for a variety of industries and clientele. Virtual call centers simply route a customer’s incoming call to the home agent’s phone. There is no selling involved. All you need is a professional, pleasant voice, a computer with high-speed Internet connection, and a phone. You’ll also need a quiet environment to work in, so no barking dogs, crying babies, and chain saws buzzing outside your window. These jobs do provide training, and some offer perks such as 401ks, but they are generally low paying, offering around $10 per hour. Workathomemoms.about.com has compiled a list of these job opportunities by state.


4. Home Tutoring

Tutoring someone in academics, music, or other area pays relatively well.

Photo credit: © Noam Armonn/Dreamstime.com

Advertise your talents locally and make a living teaching others what you know and love best. This can apply to music instruction, including piano, guitar and voice lessons; art, such as drawing and painting; crafts such as pottery and woodwork; academic tutoring; and language instruction. You can hold the classes in your own house or travel to the students’ home. Fees should reflect the tutor’s level of expertise and qualifications, and can range anywhere between $15 to $40 an hour, depending on the subject and demand. Even part-time, this could bring in a healthy income, and to sweeten the deal you’re doing something you enjoy.


3. Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists make about $15 per hour.

Photo credit: © Erik Reis/Dreamstime.com

Medical transcriptionists interpret and transcribe dictation by medical professionals, and these positions require specialized skills. Candidates must understand medical terminology, anatomy and physiology for instance, and there are various training courses available. Employers prefer to hire those with experience and training, but certification is not always required. These jobs often appeal to former workers in the health care field, including nurses and medical assistants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a large number of transcriptionists work at home, some doing 40-hour weeks, with a median wage of $15.48 per hour (2008).


2. Freelance Writer and/or Editor

Freelance writing and editing is in great demand, but the pay is very uneven.

Photo credit: © Melinda Nagy/Dreamstime.com

Freelance writing comes in many forms: reporting, copy writing, travel and business writing, resume writing, technical writing, web and SEO writing. Some writers focus primarily on querying and writing articles for newspapers and magazines, while others work for various companies or non-profits. Freelancers are usually paid per word, story or per project. Anyone with professional experience has a clear advantage, but there are opportunities online for new writers, especially if they have expertise in certain topics. Many websites offer a good start for aspiring writers: oDesk, Demand Studios, Suite 101, Examiner, and the Yahoo! Contributor Network (formerly Associated Content). Some of these assignments pay as little as $5 per hour, but some contributors claim they make $30 or more per hour with some of these services. As with any venture, it depends on how much work and effort you put into it. Online publications are growing and opportunities abound, but competition for these jobs is fierce.

For freelance editing assignments, professional experience is usually required, but there are exceptions. Some companies look to cut costs by hiring students to proofread and edit copy. The pay range varies greatly, depending on the project, but experienced freelance editors can expect to earn roughly $15 to $35 per hour.


1. Blogging

Blogging does not pay very well, unless you are very successful, in which case the payoff can be enormous.

Photo credit: Rido/Shutterstock.com

The Internet is saturated with blogs, more than 150 million of them, to be exact. Anybody who’s anybody has a WordPress site, but very few manage to turn blogging into a living. You have to have something to say and say it well to build readership and for a blog to succeed. In other words, you need a market for your ideas, and you need a clear message. Many pro bloggers claim this is not a job but a lifestyle, and success depends on site traffic, which requires constantly churning out new posts. So this is not the casual enterprise many believe it to be. And it’s no surprise that most blogs earn only a few bucks a month. More successful blogs might pull in a few hundred dollars a month, but it takes time and effort. Yet there are success stories. Some people have made millions from blogging. Treehugger.com, which started as an environmentally conscious blog in 2004, was sold to the Discovery Channel for $10 million. Juliette Brindak came up with the idea for MissOandFriends.com (a website for tween girls) at age 10. Now the recent college graduate’s site is worth an estimated $15 million, according to Inc.com. So earning serious money as a blogger is a long shot, but nothing else on this list has more potential to make you millions, and that’s why blogging snags our No. 1 spot.


Written by

Alison Hill is an Emmy-nominated producer, an accomplished journalist, and a regular guest commentator on BBC Radio news shows. She is the founder of Seren Media, and serves as a producer, writer, editor, and workshop leader. Originally from Wales in the UK, Alison now lives in Durham, North Carolina. She is also the creator of the website Ms.Horror.com.