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Starting a home business doesn’t have to cost you all your savings—there are plenty of ways to earn an income using hobbies and skills you already have. Here, we’ll showcase 17 home business ideas you can launch with little to no money. Whether you’re looking for something active or passive, clearly defined or creative, there’s something in this list for everyone.
Let’s dive in!
17 Home Business Ideas
Ready to start your own business? Check out these 17 ideas:
Is there something you’re so passionate about that you could talk about it for hours on end? No matter how niche it may seem, there’s probably a community of people who’d love to read about it.
If you enjoy writing, consider starting a blog. There are plenty of online classes and tools that will help you create a website, make sure it’s SEO (search engine optimization) friendly, and promote it to potential readers. Once your blog gets going and you start seeing traffic, you can make money through affiliate links, placed ads, or sponsored blog posts.
2. Stock Photographer
If you dabble in photography and have access to a decent camera and lenses, you can sell stock photos to make money. Great quality stock photos are in high demand by marketers and graphic designers, so you can help by selling them a license to use your photos.
There are many different stock photography websites you can register with—Shutterstock, Getty Images, and iStock are just a few of the most popular ones. Before you get started, look through them to see what kinds of photographs have the most downloads, so you can make sure your uploads meet the demand.
If you have experience with graphic design, you could offer your services to companies on a freelance basis. Many small businesses don’t have an in-house graphic designer and rely on freelancers to create marketing materials like blog post illustrations, posters, infographics, templates, and e-books.
All you need to get started is a software subscription and a portfolio of your past work. It might even be possible to land a retainer contract with a few established clients, so you always have steady income coming in.
4. Social Media Manager
Social media has a massive influence on how we spend our time, money, and attention. It’s no wonder, then, that companies put so much effort into growing their online presence for the purpose of attracting and retaining customers. Small businesses, however, don’t always have a dedicated staff member to manage their social media, so they outsource the job to freelancers.
As a freelance social media manager, you can work with several clients at the same time. The extent of your responsibilities will depend on your clients’ unique needs—some may just need you to create and publish content in line with their strategy, while others will need help developing that strategy in the first place.
If the thought of growing a brand on social media excites you, this is definitely the perfect business idea for you.
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If you’re looking for a way to earn passive income, affiliate marketing can be a great option. As an affiliate marketer, you’ll help connect companies with potential customers. When the customer does ultimately make a purchase, you would get a small commission for helping make that sale happen.
Affiliate marketing works well if you have an established audience on social media or on your blog. All you have to do is endorse or review a product, direct people to where they can buy it, and collect your commission. In that sense, it does require some upfront work to build your community, but once you do, you can truly make money while you sleep.
Most CEOs, executives, and business owners are much too busy to effectively handle everything that their job asks of them. That’s why many choose to hire a personal assistant.
The duties of a personal assistant vary greatly depending on the needs of the employer. You may be in charge of administrative tasks like managing correspondence, scheduling appointments, and filing documents. Some employers may ask you to plan events or run miscellaneous job-related errands. Others may need you to pick up their kids from school and stop by the mall to buy their friend’s birthday present.
The great thing about being a personal assistant is that no two days on the job are the same. Most importantly, you get to work closely with and learn from people who are the best at what they do.
7. Virtual Assistant
The role of a virtual assistant is similar to that of a personal assistant, with a few key differences.
For one, virtual assistants, as the name implies, are 100% virtual. You could do the job without ever leaving your house or even meeting your employer in-person. Many employers hire virtual assistants that don’t even live in the same country.
Virtual assistants also tend to be a bit more specialized. While personal assistants will take on whatever needs to get done, virtual assistants usually have an interest or experience in a particular area, such as social media management, graphic design, bookkeeping, or digital marketing. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for employers to hire multiple virtual assistants, each responsible for a different aspect of the business. Similarly, virtual assistants can work for multiple employers at once.
Do you love to shop? Believe it or not, you can turn shopping into a profitable business.
As a personal shopper, you would help your clients shop for clothes, accessories, home decor, necessities, or even groceries. Some people hire personal shoppers because they’re too busy, so they would need you to do the shopping on their behalf. Others may have the time but ask you to come along to help advise and guide their purchases.
If you have a great sense of style and have a knack for finding great bargains, your skills could be put to good use as a personal shopper.
9. Dog Walker
Dog walkers take their clients’ dogs out for daily walks, either individually or as part of a small group. They’re also usually responsible for checking that the dogs have enough food and water, disposing of droppings during walks, and taking the dogs to the vet in case of an emergency.
This is the perfect setup for home business ideas for someone who loves animals and doesn’t mind spending most of the day on their feet. Earning money while getting exercise, fresh air, and the company of a few furry friends—what could be better? (Note that there’s some level of liability involved in taking care of pets, so you may want to consider setting up an LLC.)
10. Pet Sitter
Another great business idea for an animal lover is to be a pet sitter. Pet sitters take care of their clients’ pets while they’re away for overnight trips or vacations. They typically stay in the clients’ homes and may be required to work overnight and on weekends.
Pet sitters are responsible for feeding the pets, giving medications, cleaning litter boxes, taking dogs on walks, grooming pets, or taking them to the vet if needed.
The best part about working as a pet sitter is that you’re bound to have some down time on the job, which you can use to do other work or even run a whole other business.
11. House Sitter
Even people who don’t have any pets prefer to have someone in the house when they’re on vacation or away for an extended period of time. Not only does this offer them peace of mind, but it also means they can come back to a house that’s been well taken care of.
The responsibilities of a house sitter vary greatly and depend on what you and the homeowner would agree on. Generally, house sitters take care of things like collecting and sorting the mail, putting out the garbage, watering plants, maintaining the lawn or garden, and doing a bit of light cleaning.
Just like pet sitting, house sitting is perfect for people who work from home or run their own online business because they’re free to do both at the same time.
12. Data Entry Clerk
Nearly every organization relies on clean, accurate, and up-to-date data to function smoothly. Unfortunately, this can’t always be automated, so someone has to enter data manually.
As a data entry clerk, your main responsibilities would be to enter new and updated information into the database, resolve any deficiencies or mistakes, perform backups, and potentially provide information to other team members as requested.
Data entry clerks tend to be fast typers, proficient computer users, and have impeccable attention to detail.
Because there’s typically not enough work for a full-time employee, data entry clerks often work on a freelance basis, so you can choose which companies you work for and in what capacity.
13. Freelance Writer
If you have strong verbal and written communication skills, you can work as a freelance writer. Organizations across all industries are always looking for people who can write website copy, blog posts, emails, grant applications, proposals, reports, press releases, newsletters, and other communication materials.
As a freelance writer, your responsibilities would be to research and write content within a provided framework and word count. Typically, writers look for clients in an industry they’re already familiar with, so that they have at least some familiarity with what they’re researching and writing about.
14. Freelance Editor
Your strong written communication skills can also be put towards a job as a freelance editor. Editors don’t do much of the writing themselves, but instead edit the work of other writers and prepare it for publication.
As a freelance editor, your job would be to review pieces of writing for overall structure and flow, make sure it follows an official style guide, and fix any grammatical errors or typos. You would also review things like sentence structure and word choice to make sure the writing style aligns with the voice and brand of the publication.
Freelance editors are typically avid readers and strong writers themselves. They often work with companies that publish a blog, online media outlets, and even published authors.
15. Etsy Store Owner
Do you have a creative hobby like drawing, painting, knitting, making jewelry, or restoring furniture? No matter what you love to create, there are probably people out there looking to buy it on Etsy.
Etsy is an online marketplace for handcrafted, vintage, and unique products. People who browse Etsy are specifically looking for one-of-a-kind creations and are ready to pay a fair price for them.
The steps to open an Etsy store are relatively simple. To set yourself up for success, make sure to optimize your account, take high-quality photos, and promote your products on social media and Pinterest.
16. Online Tutor
Are you an expert in a particular subject like math, science, or a language? You could use your knowledge to help students succeed in school or post-secondary education.
Online tutors meet with students one-on-one or in a group setting via video chat to help explain concepts they’re struggling with, answer questions, and complete assignments.
Effective tutors have a knack for explaining difficult concepts in an easy-to-understand manner, are patient, and have excellent communication skills. A background in teaching is certainly an asset but isn’t necessary to be a great tutor.
As an online tutor, you can work with a company that will provide you with clients or set out on your own and look for clients within your existing network.
17. Music Teacher
If you’re a skilled musician, you could offer online music lessons to people wanting to learn how to play an instrument, produce music, or sing.
As an online music teacher, you’d be responsible for creating a curriculum, adapting it to each individual student’s skill level and learning style, providing instruction through a video call, and leaving students with take-home practice material.
There are countless platforms where you can sign up as a music teacher to find clients, or you could teach music privately by finding clients on your own (for example, by promoting your services on your website and social media).
Ready to Be Your Own Boss?
Starting your own business is incredibly exciting. Whatever you choose to do, remember that it’s okay to start slow, change directions, and try out a few different things before something sticks.
Hopefully, this article has given you lots of home business ideas. Beyond this list, try to think about skills and hobbies you already have, things you’re already good at and enjoy doing. When you start from this place, your business will be a source of joy, rather than simply a way to make money.
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