I often hear from people who want to work at home, and that’s as far as they’ve gotten with it. They seem to want me to tell them what to do. Know what? I can’t do that. I don’t know what kind of work at home job or home business is right for a particular person. That’s your problem. You need to think it out, look at your skills and interests, and start researching the possibilities. Once you’re there, I can probably give some better tips. Just get those first ideas for working at home, and you’ve got a start.

With all that said, here are some ideas to perhaps get you going. Maybe one of these ideas for working at home will help you. It’s not a comprehensive list of work at home ideas, but it’s a start. Oh, and yes, there will be affiliate links in the post here, but it’s potential value to readers that gets links in this post, not whether or not I get paid. There will be non-affiliate links too, in other words.

Work at Home Jobs

As always, don’t pay for a work at home job. Sometimes you may legitimately have to pay for a background check, but look into the opportunity before you do so, as that’s always a risky proposition. You can also pay for access to well-done work at home job sites such as Home Job Stop, where they’re more careful about the jobs listed. That’s not paying for the job itself, and that’s the difference you need to keep in mind. Just be aware that not all such sites are worth the membership fee.

Data Entry
This is one of the classics lots of people look at when they want to work at home. It sounds easy, and you can find lots of ads promising you big bucks for filling in simple forms.

The reality of this one isn’t quite so simple. There are indeed true work at home data entry jobs out there, but they don’t pay the big bucks, and they’re on the scarce side. I have some companies listed here on this site, no idea who’s hiring at any point (as with all other work at home job opportunities) so don’t ask me. You may do better with one of the freelance sites, taking on individual, usually short term assignments.

If the “job” is filling out ad forms for affiliate commissions, get better advice. Affiliate marketing is great when it works, but it’s not a job and it’s not that easy to make a living at it for most people. At the very least, there’s a tough learning curve and if you’re doing pay per click ads it can get really, really expensive before you master it.

Customer Service/Telemarketing
This is one of the other hugely popular work at home jobs right now. It doesn’t take a lot of special skills, so many people feel comfortable trying for customer service work at home jobs. You need a completely quiet place to work, a desktop computer compatible with requirements set by potential employers (usually Windows of a reasonably recent sort), a high speed internet connection, a landline telephone, and a good quality, noise cancelling headset telephone that connects directly to the wall outlet (no wireless).

Medical Transcription
This is where I got my start working at home. I still cautiously recommend medical transcription, but it’s getting trickier as times change. Electronic medical records have really changed some parts, and you have to be prepared for that. That said, there are still jobs out there. Just remember that you have to get a good quality medical transcription education first, and make sure it prepares you for the current situation.

Legal or General Transcription
Legal and general transcription may be options as well. Legal transcription may also take special training due to the professional vocabulary required.

Bookkeeper/Accountant
Lots of people need a good bookkeeper or accountant. If you have the skills, you can take it home. You may need to meet with clients in person at times, but much of the work may be done at home.

Computer Programmer/Software Developer
I mention this one because my oldest sister does computer programming from home. I know it’s entirely possible. You have to have the skills already, but if you’re a programmer, you don’t necessarily have to go to the office anymore. You can find a company that lets employees work from home instead.

Teacher
Not all teachers work at school. There are charter virtual schools which hire teachers to work primarily from their homes. Meetings with students and parents may be required, but the bulk of the work can be done from your home. In most programs, you do need a teaching credential for this work.

Online Tutor
If you don’t want to go all the way to being a teacher, there are also companies which hire online tutors. You may still need that teaching credential, however.

Translator
It’s a big world out there, and sometimes a translator is needed to get through it all. Translators can work from home for a particular business or service, or strike out on their own as a freelancer. You will need to be fluent in both languages you deal with as a translator.

Mystery Shopper
Most mystery shoppers don’t earn all that much, but the pay per job can be decent if it’s close enough to your home. It’s a nice way to get out of the house while earning some money. Be aware of the many scams in the mystery shopping arena and make sure you deal with reputable companies.

Health Care
Nurses may be able to work from home answering health related questions on the phone.

Freelance Websites

This is where the plus in the article title comes from. Just about any job you can do at home, you can find through a freelance websites. They’re great for building a portfolio or resume when you’re just getting started, and you can make a living just through freelancing when you’re good at it.

Many freelance websites have you create a profile, then you bid on jobs. Don’t obsess over being the lowest bidder all the time. You don’t want the jobs that don’t pay what you’re worth; they’re reputed to be the most difficult customers because they want so much for less.

Here are a few websites you can check out for freelance job listings. Some are the bidding sort, others are set up other ways. You may need to work at the office at least part of the time for some freelance jobs, but many can be done from home.

Elance
Guru
Craigslist (beware of scams)
oDesk (edit: now Upwork)
Freelance.com
Freelancer.com
Hire My Mom
Home Job Stop
vWorker
iFreelance
Freelance Switch

And many more, just do a search with your favorite search engine.

Home Business Ideas

There are a ton of possibilities when it comes to running a home business. Strictly speaking, freelancing is a home business too, but many people think of them separately, and so I’m treating them separately.

Now, you can combine a few things to make your home business work its best. You can have a blog, do affiliate marketing, and have an email list that you send special offers out to. You can have your own product and do affiliate marketing at the same time. These things aren’t exclusive; just make sure you learn to do each part before you add on another thing. Taking on too much at once with a business makes it easier to fail.

Affiliate Marketing
This is just one form of online business. There are several other models, but affiliate marketing appeals to a lot of people. No worries about taking payments, dealing with inventory or shipping products – it just sounds easy.

As with any other home business, there’s quite a learning curve, and many affiliate marketers make under $100 per month, from what I’ve read. In other words, don’t assume you’ll make a fortune, no matter what the promos say. One way or another, you have to learn to market, whether it’s online, offline, pay per click, buying ads on other websites or creating your own.

On the other hand, you can market just about any product you can think of. Affiliate marketing is great if you want to run a website about your hobby – just refer people to sites that sell the things necessary for the hobby and will give you a commission. Make sure you keep your recommendations honest – there’s no quicker way to lose a reputation than to recommend junk.

I suggest reading either Rosalind Gardner’s Super Affiliate Handbook or the free Affiliate Master’s Course. Both are good resources, and you may well want to read both (good thing one’s free!). These are best if you’re planning on building affiliate websites, which is my preferred method of affiliate marketing.

Blogging
Lots and lots of bloggers out there now. It’s a popular home business model. Affiliate marketing can be a part of it, but you can also sell ad space, get paid directly to promote products or use it to build upon another part of your business.

Most bloggers won’t hit it big. It should be obvious that we can’t all be Heather Armstrong or any other big name blogger, but with all the big dreams people get about their home businesses, I think it bears mentioning. Keep working on your blog, and you may at least get a decent following.

Email Marketing
Nope, email isn’t dead. It’s not even suffering too badly. Just because a lot of people enjoy reading blogs and receive posts through an RSS reader, or keep up with things on Facebook doesn’t mean they don’t use email anymore. It’s still pretty strong.

There are a lot of rules to follow as an email marketer. Don’t buy a list. That’s a great way to get in trouble for spamming. Don’t just send emails from your home computer either. Most ISPs really don’t like that, and may limit how many you send, plus if you get accused of spamming, you can lose your entire internet connection.

It’s much better to go with a service such as Aweber or Get Response. They provide the HTML for your subscription forms, handle spam complaints and unsubscribes, and so forth. The main thing you do is write and send out your emails, and work on attracting people to your list legitimately. Keep it legit, as either company will terminate any account they feel is getting subscribers the wrong way.

Make Videos
Video marketing is usually a portion of your overall business. Unless you get a lot of views, you aren’t going to earn a living from your videos without selling something, whether you do so as an affiliate or sell a product of your own creation. Sufficiently popular videos may also earn an income from ads placed on the video. YouTube is the popular site for posting videos, of course, but you have to watch out for the rules. Google’s pretty strict, and accounts can be deleted.

Information Marketing
This is a lot of what I do. You may have noted that this site has a lot of information, mostly for free. The information is useful to visitors, and can bring in income through ad clicks and affiliate sales. It’s a lot of work to succeed in information marketing, but if you enjoy your topic, plenty of fun too.

Product Creation
The wonderful thing about online marketing is that it’s really easy to make your own product. Ebooks, software and apps can sell very well online, and may not be all that hard to make. You need an idea, then you need to take action to make that product a reality. Then start marketing. As with any other business, it will probably be tough at first, you may fail a few times, but keep at it and you might make it.

Life Coach
Many people enjoy working with a coach to get their career, life or home business running better. If you’ve had some success and enjoy sharing your skills, you may be able to earn a living as a coach.

Daycare Operator
How about going the traditional way? Running a daycare from your home has been around a very long time. The hours are long, the pay may not be great, but you’re with your kids.

Network Marketing

This is another traditional way to earn money from home. From classics such as Mary Kay, Avon and Watkins, to the floods of newer network marketing companies out there, you can have fun selling products to family, friends, referrals and possibly even online.

Sell Crafts
Whether you sell on Etsy, eBay or elsewhere, it’s much easier than it used to be to make crafts and sell them online. There’s lots of competition now, but that means lots of opportunity as well.

Website Developer
Do you enjoy creating websites? Know your HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and so forth? You may be able to set up a business developing websites for other businesses.

This is one option that many people do a lot a their marketing locally. Not all small, local businesses have websites, and may be very interested in having one developed for them. It’s a highly affordable marketing tool, even after the expense of the website.

Graphic Designer
Whether you’re creating a logo for a website or a photo spread for a magazine, graphic designers don’t necessarily have to work from a big office. You can do quite a bit of this on your own for clients.

Alternatively, make great designs and sell them on CafePress or Zazzle.

Virtual Assistant
Good at doing things around the office, like handling emails, appointment setting, data entry, online research and so forth? There’s pretty good demand for virtual assistants who can handle a variety of business tasks.

Photographer
If you love taking photographs, you can make the most of that by becoming a photographer. You’ll need to develop a good portfolio, and it’s often best to specialize. Some prefer being a wedding photographer while others prefer family photos, for example. Certainly you can do a few different types of photography, but it may be easier to build a reputation if there’s one you really specialize in.

You don’t have to just take pictures for sale to a particular client. You can also take photos and put them up for sale on stock photography websites. The income from these may be small per sale, but it can build up if you provide an interesting, useful selection of photographs.

Resume Writer
When you write a resume, are you really convincing? Other people may like to hire you to fix up their resumes too. A resume is a huge part of landing the job, but many people aren’t great at making theirs shine.

Copywriter
Ever look at the copy on a sales page and pick apart just how they convince visitors to buy? Are you a convincing writer yourself? You may do well running your own website selling products or you can do copywriting for others. A great copywriter can earn very good money.

Social Media Marketer

Just how much of a chatterbox are you on Twitter, Facebook and other social websites? Are you always finding the great links to share? You may do well marketing other people’s businesses on social media for them.

Store Owner

You can run your own store selling physical products. You’ll need appropriate licensing for your area, a wholesale source for products, a way to take online payments (Paypal works, but you may want to consider other credit card processors as well), and a website to display your products.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to have the products in your home. Some people prefer to use dropshippers, so as to simplify the shipping process and the inventory. Getting stuck with a bunch of something that didn’t sell is a pain, after all. You’ll still have to deal with customer service issues, store promotion and so forth.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What types of work at home do you think are worth it?