Home-Based Business idea in 2020

The 26 Best Home-Based Business Ideas

Choosing your business can start with something as simple as picking an activity you enjoy.

If your passion is travel, for instance, you could follow the path of stay-at-home mom Cheryl Cavalli, who told us how she started a home-based travel agent business.

However, if you don’t already have a passion you want to profit from — or you’d rather keep your hobbies and work separate — you can still start a successful home-based business on your own as a sole proprietor, or one-person business.

Local social media groups like Nextdoor can be a source of ideas. There you’ll find everyday services that are in demand, although it may not be the most glamorous work.

Mundane chores make for good business because they’re tasks that many people are willing to pay someone else to do, whether it’s mowing lawns as a groundskeeper or setting up bounce houses as a kids’ party planner.

We’ve come up with a list of ideas that have relatively low barriers to entry and startup costs but offer real income potential.

Ready to start your journey toward self-employment in the comfort of your own home? Let’s get to work.

Businesses That Don’t Require You to Leave Your Home

Online businesses let you make money with little need to leave the house. You may need a personal website where potential customers can find you, although you can also find work for your specific skills through sites like Upwork and Fiverr.

1. Freelance Writing

Use your wordsmithing skills to quit your day job and start a freelance writing business. We have advice for how to pitch a story if you’re looking for your first byline.

To make writing your full-time business, you’ll benefit from expanding your repertoire to incorporate multiple types of writing (adding editing skills also increases your value). Here are just a few options:

  • Creative writing. Share your literary talents by submitting to these seven literary magazines that pay for short stories and poetry.
  • Technical writing. Who doesn’t love a well-written instruction manual? Although technical writing might not offer as many creative options, the median pay as of 2017 was $34.10 an hour.
  • Resume writing. Use your writing prowess to help other people get jobs. Charmaine Pocek told The Penny Hoarder she earned $30 to $800 on Fiverr as a freelance writer creating resumes and cover letters as well as optimizing clients’ LinkedIn profiles. Pocek has made $2.4 million from work she’s found on the site over the past six years, according to Abby Forman, a Fiverr spokeswoman.

2. Virtual Assistant

Administrative assistants typically answer to a boss, but start your own business, and you’ll be calling the shots.

Virtual assistants perform similar tasks to in-person assistants, but you can offer your services to one or multiple companies. You might be doing data entry one day and proofing articles on WordPress another, so be prepared for a variety of tasks.

Danielle Greason wrote in this post that she made up to $60 per hour as a virtual assistant after she and her husband moved to Costa Rica.

3. Bookkeeper

Life makes more sense in spreadsheets. If this statement sounds like something you’d say, a bookkeeping business could be in your future.

Rather than targeting a big business account, start by focusing on small businesses that need help managing their finances. You don’t need to be a CPA to start, but decent computer and customer service skills help.

Ben Robinson, who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers, told The Penny Hoarder that you can earn up to $60 an hour as bookkeeper.

4. Tutor

Enjoy all the fun of teaching without leaving home.

An online tutoring business lets you offer your expertise, whether it’s teaching math and English to elementary kids or prepping high school students for the SAT.

These 10 online tutoring companies are a good place to start. Promote your expertise in a subject or grade level in your bio — teaching certifications will also add to your credibility (and bottom line).

Spelling ace Cole Shafer-Ray went the solo route and started his own online business by creating a website where he posted tips for competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee (he was the 2015 runner-up). The then-17-year-old told us he earned $100 an hour tutoring kids who want to compete.

5. Affiliate Marketer

If you have a website or blog that already gets traffic, affiliate marketing should be part of your business plan.

The basic concept: You can make money by including affiliate links to products you recommend on your site. When your readers click on the link and buy the product, you receive a commission from the company.

The Penny Hoarder’s Branded Content Editor Dana Sitar suggests checking out affiliate marketplaces to connect with brands who’ll pay you to promote their products and services. Among the many marketplaces is ClickBank, which says on its website that commissions range from 1% to 75%.  

6. Social Media Consultant

Got a knack for words and a knowledge of the latest trends in social media? Consider becoming a social media consultant. Only three out of five small businesses reported they use social media marketing to reach customers, which translates to plenty of opportunities for you to pitch your services to local businesses.

Most small businesses don’t have the budget for a full-time media consultant, but they want a presence on social media to attract and engage customers. Sell your social savvy — and expertise with publishing software — to local businesses by writing blog posts. You can grow your portfolio and your business.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps social media consultants into the general category of public relations, listing a median pay rate of $28.85 an hour.

Focusing your business on one area, at least early on, can help build your expertise. Research the local online business landscape to discover where the need is, whether it’s helping establish social media accounts for local businesses, contracting for a specific number of posts per week or setting your sights on a specific industry (restaurants, for instance).

7. Web Developer

If you can balance aesthetically pleasing and user friendly, your next business could be as a web developer.

Technically, there are differences between web designers and developers, with designers tending toward the visual aspect while developers focusing on the coding. The BLS, which doesn’t differentiate between the two, states the median pay is $33.38 an hour.

Even if businesses in your area don’t have a big budget for complicated web sites, they may need a simple landing page. If you have the basic web design and coding skills, you can start small and expand your business based on referrals and your portfolio.

Kelly Vaughn taught herself to code as a kid and ended up quitting her job to become a full-time web developer — she earned $137,000 in her first year.

8. Graphic Design

Unleash your creativity — and use your art degree — to create a graphic design business.

Whether it’s designing logos or layouts, you’ll need to invest in the proper equipment and programs to give your designs a professional look. But you’ll at least be able to find colleagues to consult — in 2016, about 1 in 5 graphic designers were self-employed, according to the BLS.

Prospective clients will want to see past design work to determine if you’re a good fit, so a portfolio is essential. You can find free places to post your work at sites like Coroflot and Carbonmade.

If you’re just getting started, add to your portfolio by volunteering to create brochures and programs for nonprofits like your church or kids’ school.  

Once you’re established, you’ll be able to set hourly or per-project rates. Graphic designer Miranda Marquit told us that a common hourly rate for freelance graphic design work is $75 to $150.

Work at Home… and Beyond

Sure, you enjoy working from home, but sometimes you miss human interaction. No worries — there are plenty of options that let you run your business from your couch but also allow you to escape the confines of home.

9. Local Tour Guide

Do you love showing off your city? Make it your business by becoming a local tour guide.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to museums and monuments — although that’s an option, too.

Brendan Smith told us he makes $10,000 a year with his side gig leading craft coffee tours around St. Petersburg, Florida, while Greg Stanek leads bike tours to check out the many murals around the city.  

If you already have a passion for arts, food or other features that make your town special, you can start by offering free tours to friends, as Smith did, then expand your reach by promoting your tours on social media and through your local tourism office.

10. Cleaning

Cleaning other people’s places may not be everyone’s dream job, but that’s what increases its potential as a profitable business.

Housekeeping is one option, but if you’re willing to get your hands a little (or a lot) dirty, your services can be invaluable to clients who want you to clean out decades of accumulated trash in their basements, attics and barns.

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