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Ah, working from home. It’s the dream, isn’t it? We all might have different reasons for wanting to work from home like wanting to be our own boss and escape the 9 to 5. Or wanting to stay home with our kids. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is as long as we figure out a way to make it happen. But sometimes it can be hard to know what kind of work you want to do. Some of us are still trying to figure out what we want to be when we grow up! 😊 Luckily, there are a HUGE number of small business ideas out there that will allow you to work from home. I’m going to introduce you to just 17 of them!
This is my personal favorite, so I’ll kick off the list with this one! I’ve been proofreading and copyediting full-time for over a year now, and I can highly recommend it as a small business. You can proofread from anywhere if you have access to a laptop and the internet, so it can be a very flexible way of earning money.
If you love reading and have a knack for grammar and punctuation, then proofreading or editing might be for you. Proofreading is the final step in the editing process—the final quality check. Traditionally, proofreaders work on documents that have already been typeset. Although this is changing due to the rise of self-publishing. Proofreaders will check for any errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation missed by the copyeditor, check for correct word usage, flag formatting issues, and check for cross-reference errors and broken links.
How much you can earn depends on the type of project you’re working on, the word count, and what level of editing you’re providing.
If you’re interested in pursuing proofreading as a career or just as a side hustle, then read my ultimate guide to setting up a proofreading business where I show you the steps you need to take.
Course recommendation: General Proofreading: Theory and Practice by Proofread Anywhere
2. Copy Editor
Copyediting is similar to proofreading but has some differences. It’s more involved than proofreading. A copyeditor edits for correctness, accuracy, consistency, and completeness. They check for correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, correct word usage, fix or flag confusing phrases, and do light fact-checking.
Like proofreading, the amount you charge depends on the type of content, the word count, and the level of copy editing you’re providing. Check out what editing societies suggest as recommended rates here and here.
3. Virtual Assistant (VA)
Virtual assisting is another of my favorites. I fell into this one by accident, but I found that I really love it. A VA works remotely to help other business owners run their businesses by assisting them with routine or more specialized tasks that the business owner doesn’t have the time or skills to do. The list of tasks VAs can do is almost endless. They can help out with email management, writing, blog management, social media, etc. VAs can earn anywhere from $15 to $100 per hour depending on how specialized the tasks are. The more specialized your services, the more you can earn! Check out this in-depth guide to pricing VA services.
Want to know what it’s like to be a virtual assistant? Check out my interview with Paula Hickey, who makes money from home as a virtual assistant.
4. Freelance Writer/Ghostwriter
Yet another service I fell into by accident but found I love! Once you begin offering one service and start getting to know your clients, they may ask you to start taking on other tasks for them. Your business will grow and change organically.
A freelance writer writes blog posts, articles, web content, SEO content, e-books, etc. for other businesses to publish on their websites. Your name may be attached to the work you do, or you may write on behalf of someone else. In that case, you would be called a ghostwriter.
The pay for freelance writing varies widely! You can get work from freelancer websites like Upwork or Fiverr where you might be paid very little, or you might get paid very, very well like Elna Cain, who can command $1,200 for one blog post!
5. Pinterest VA
If you want to work as a VA, you might find it easier to niche down and choose one core service that you provide. Niching down will make it easier for you to target your ideal clients.
Pinterest can drive huge amounts of traffic to your business/blog, but it’s certainly a time suck! And while it might look easy to use Pinterest to grow your business, you need to have a pinning strategy in place to make it work for you.
A Pinterest VA can help business owners set up their Pinterest business account properly, create attractive pins that will go viral, write SEO friendly pin descriptions, and automate pinning using a scheduling app like Tailwind.
The rate you can charge can depend on your experience level as well as what services you’re offering. Typical rates can range from $15-20 per hour for a complete beginner to $70-100 per hour for someone with more experience who offers a wide range of Pinterest services. Rather than charging per hour or per pin, you can also create packages.
6. Graphic Designer
Graphic designers create images like posters, logos, letterheads, stationery, wedding invitations, social media images, etc. They may also design beautiful websites for their clients. Some graphic designers have degrees in their field, but others are self-taught using resources like YouTube or Skillshare. Whichever route you choose, you will need to create a portfolio of work samples to show potential clients. While you can use free tools like Canva, you will also need to invest in paid tools like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. As well as working for clients, you can also sell your designs on websites like Etsy. A freelance graphic designer can earn anywhere from $26,000 to $97,500, according to ZipRecruiter.
Remember the TV show Mad Men? Don Draper and Peggy Olson were big-time copywriters. You don’t need to work from Madison Avenue to be a successful copywriter though. You can do it from the comfort of your own home!
Copywriting is the art of selling something through writing. Copywriters write the text in advertisements, sales emails, landing pages, websites, and more. The aim of this text is to get someone to sign up for your email list or buy something. Copywriting can be very lucrative, with some copywriters earning up to $20,000 a month!! The average freelance copywriter earns around $51,797 a year in the US, with annual salaries ranging from $11,000 to $82,500 nationally.
8. Travel Agent
Did you think travel agents were a dying breed? Think again! Yes, most travel is booked online these days, but not everybody wants to do it themselves. Some older people aren’t comfortable booking things online. Business travelers outsource this task to save time. Also, people booking special trips like honeymoons or round-the-world adventures can benefit from a professional’s assistance with coordinating all the different aspects of the trip. Virtual travel agents book anything from accommodation, flights, and cruises to tours, shows, and car rentals.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a virtual travel agent across the US is $46,936 a year, but it can range from $15,500 to $125,500 nationally. You earn a commission from the companies your clients book with. You have the option of working as an employee for companies like American Express or Disney or you can be your own boss. One GIANT perk of this home-based business is that you can get discounted or free travel! If you’re a detail-oriented person who loves to travel, consider becoming an online travel agent.
9. Transcript Proofreader
Back to the realm of proofreading. I wanted to mention this separately because it’s such a specific niche. Proofreading transcripts for court reporters is a totally different kettle of fish than proofreading books. Court reporters attend various legal proceedings like trials, depositions, hearings, etc., and create verbatim records of what was said by all parties present. As a transcript proofreader, you would be proofreading spoken word, so you have to be OK with ignoring grammar rules. People don’t always speak in the most grammatically correct manner! Punctuation is much more important in this niche. If you have any interest in legal proceedings, transcript proofreading could be for you!
Transcript proofreaders usually charge per page. You can earn around $43,000 per year working part-time once you have some experience!
Related to transcript proofreading is scoping. Scoping is editing for transcripts. It’s the step before proofreading. Court reporters create transcripts using steno. Scopists then edit the steno using CAT (computer-aided transcription) software, so you will need to include the cost of the software in your start-up costs.
Scoping is more involved than proofreading, so scopists can charge a higher rate, but it’s also more time-consuming. On average, a scopist can earn between $30,000 and $50,000 per year as their speed and experience grow.
Transcriptionists turn audio or video material into written word. There’s a mistaken belief that the need for transcriptionists is decreasing, but it’s actually increasing! The explosion of video content on the internet means that more people are trying to get their content found on Google. Google and other search engines can’t understand what a video is about unless there’s a written transcript to go with it. You will have some start-up costs as you’ll need a headset and some software. If you’re a fast typist, with good hearing and above average spelling and punctuation skills, transcription could be right up your alley.
A general transcriptionist can earn around $45,000 a year, while a legal transcriptionist can earn up to $60,000.
Did you dream of being a writer when you were little? I’m sure you probably thought that was something you’d never be able to achieve. Only so many people can get publishing contracts, right? Well, thanks to the rise of self-publishing, anyone can be an author! If you have a story to tell, you don’t need to wait for a publishing company to see your potential, you can get your book out there yourself by publishing it on Amazon or on your own website.
In order to sell copies of your book though, you’ll need to build a community of loyal fans who want to buy your book. You’ll need to create a website/blog, email your subscribers regularly, and engage with your fans on social media. If you can master that, it’s possible to make a good income self-publishing your books.
13. Social Media Manager
Do you love social media? If so, getting paid to look after other entrepreneurs’ social media presences might be a great option for you. As a social media manager, you would be responsible for creating and curating content on a daily basis for your clients. You would develop their social media strategy, help create brand awareness, and engage with their community by responding to comments on posts.
How much you can earn really depends on what level of service you will provide. Typical hourly rates can range anywhere from $15 to $120+, but you could also charge by package or by monthly retainer instead.
14. Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate marketing is where you earn money for promoting other people’s products on your blog or social media posts. When someone buys a product through your referral link, you earn a commission ranging anywhere from 1–50% of the product price. The sky is the limit with how much you can earn through affiliate marketing. Michelle from Making Sense of Cents makes over $50,000 a month!
Now this one really is the dream. But it’s not as unattainable as you might think. Bloggers make money through affiliate marketing, writing sponsored posts, ad revenue, and selling products. Successful bloggers understand their readers’ pain points and write content that presents a solution to these pain points. If you love to write and be active on social media, then give blogging a go!
Course recommendation: Blog by Number by Suzi Whitford
Parlez-vous français? Hablas Español? If you’re fluent in another language, you could become a translator. To be a great translator, you will need to be familiar with colloquialisms and slang. As a freelance translator, you can choose to work with translation agencies or work for yourself. Most companies hire freelancers rather than in-house staff as they may not have a need for a translator on a daily basis. In order to get jobs with most translation agencies, you’ll probably need to take fluency tests to prove your abilities. The median annual salary for a translator was $47,190 in 2017, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As well as translating, you could use your language skills to become an interpreter or for online teaching.
17. Etsy Shop Owner
If you’re a creative person, you could open an online store and sell your creations. I love to take photos, and I take a LOT of them. But I used to never really do anything with them. So when I came across Etsy, I was really excited to see what it was all about. It’s super easy to open an Etsy shop. Their interface is very intuitive, so you can have your shop set up in minutes. You don’t need any technical knowledge whatsoever to do it (suits me!). My shop is currently closed as I’m traveling, but I’m looking forward to opening it back up again next year and uploading all my travel snaps!
You don’t have to be a photographer to have an Etsy shop. You could make jewelry, knit hats, sell patterns and other digital downloads, paint, make ceramics, etc. Be aware that there is a fee to list items on Etsy. And they take a small percentage when you sell an item.
I hope this list of small business ideas has gotten the wheels in your brain to start turning. It’s possible to earn a good living from home—all you need are skills and the willingness to succeed!
Do you earn money from home through any business that’s not on this list? Let me know in the comments!
Related Content: 8 Online Courses That Teach You How to Earn Money from Home
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