Full disclosure: I work from home full time, and I love it. I get the world’s shortest commute and can work in my yoga pants whenever I want to. I can schedule doctor’s appointments first thing in the morning so I don’t have to wait, and I can juggle my calendar to accommodate an impromptu beach day whenever the weather is nice.
Whether you want to quit your day job to be your own boss or just pick up some extra work to increase your cash flow, working from home is not just doable — it’s actually more popular than ever. Thanks to the internet and new cultural attitudes toward the gig economy, there are more work-from-home opportunities than ever before.
Ready to get started? Try these opportunities on for size.
Advertisers need to know who they’re selling to, and they’re willing to pay for this valuable information. That’s where you, Mr. or Ms. Regular Person, come in. You can take surveys about new products, commercials you’ve seen on TV, or just about any other topic to let market researchers know what you think. Individual surveys pay a few dollars a pop, but you can do them in front of the TV. Eventually they can add up to a wad of extra cash — or gift certificates, if you prefer. iPoll and e-Rewards are great places to get started.
If you’re willing and able to leave your house once in a while, you can also sign up to be part of product research panels. Some may be via Skype, but more often you’ll meet at some centralized conference location to answer in-person questions about your preferences. You may even test-drive a new product. Being a secret shopper is another way to earn money for buying stuff you already like and is fun for people who like the mall.
Upgrading and Reselling Items
If you’re a DIYer with an eye for turning trash to treasure, you can capitalize on your skills by sprucing up old items and reselling them as great new finds. Just hit the thrift store or local yard sales for great deals on stuff that’s still usable and in decent condition but could use a facelift — then work your magic to make it awesome and sell it on eBay, Etsy or Craigslist for a profit.
For example, let’s say you have a pile of children’s clothing with worn out knees. Cut them off and re-hem to make shorts, and you can resell them for the summer. The old record player cabinet at the yard sale down the street? Turn a $10 investment into something worth 10 times that by refinishing the wood and recovering the speakers. You can reupholster furniture you find on a corner and sell it to grad students, make jewelry out of discarded baubles — or any other upgrade your imagination suggests.
As you begin your quest to work from home, remember that there are still thousands of people out there in your neighborhood who will keep their day jobs. These people have dogs, cats, kids and even elderly parents who need some TLC during the day — and they’ll pay for that service. If you like animals, pet sitting or dog walking can be a great way to earn some money for something you’d like to do anyway. You can also work as a companion for shut-ins to keep them company or help with errands.
If you’d really rather not leave your house, open your doors to become your own daycare center. This is especially convenient if you’re already a stay-at-home parent, since you can make some serious money by adding another tot or two to your day. Likewise, you can be a destination doggie daycare for your neighbors if you like. It’s easy to start working for friends and relatives, and you can build a clientele from there with their great references. Just be sure to check any regulations for caregiving in your area before getting started.
Renting Your Stuff
The sharing economy is here, it’s real, and you can make money off of it. There are plenty of people out there who need the stuff that you have, so let them rent it! The internet is full of website designed to connect you to the people who want what you’ve got. Airbnb is perhaps the most famous, and it’s a great way to get more out of your home if you can vacate it once in a while, but there are other options. Try RentNotBuy to list clothes, sports equipment, electronics and anything else you’re willing to lend out for a fee. If you want to rent out your car or truck, try Getaround to list your vehicle for your neighbors to use.
Everybody’s good at something, and you can share your skills with others who want to learn. Lots of parents are on the lookout for subject-specific tutoring for their kids, and you don’t have to be a whiz to be qualified — especially in the younger grades. Think outside the box to offer proofreading, math practice and more to the kids in your neighborhood who could use some extra practice.
You might also be a pro at something that lots of adults would like to learn. Do you know how to plant a vegetable garden or start a beehive? Maybe you could show someone how to do minor plumbing repairs. You can advertise your services on community webpages or reach a larger audience by designing an online course at Teachable or Udemy.
These are just a few of the ways you can dip your toes into the great big pool of work-from-home opportunities. No matter what your skill set or slate of interests, there’s bound to be a side job out there that lets you earn some extra cash without even leaving the house. Which one will you try first?