Last Updated August 30th, 2017

20 Freelance Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

20 Freelance Businesses You Can Start In Your Spare Time

When you need flexible work, starting a freelance business is a great option. While you still face deadlines to get things done, you usually have a lot of options for when and how the work gets done. But first, you need to find the right idea to get started as a freelancer.

Most freelance businesses don’t require a lot of equipment beyond what you probably already own. You need a good computer setup, with all the accessories required for the work you want to do. These may include a printer, fax machine, drawing tablet and more.

You should focus on skills you can easily demonstrate as a freelancer. It’s very hard to get started if you can’t show potential clients the work you’ve done in that area before. You need a portfolio or work history with clear examples to show them.

Here are some business ideas you can start out with as a freelancer.

1. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants provide a range of services to businesses, such as graphic design, writing, administrative tasks, social media marketing, and more. If you have a range of skill you would like to use as a freelancer, marketing yourself as a virtual assistant may make a lot of sense.

You can specialize in certain types of tasks as a virtual assistant. You can start out on your own or join a virtual assistant service if you’d rather have some help finding clients.

2. Bookkeeper/Accountant

If you’re good with QuickBooks or other accounting software, you can find freelance work. Many home businesses need help with their bookkeeping, both at tax time and year round.

3. Writer

There are many kinds of writing jobs out there that a freelancer can do – blogging, ghost writing, and article writing, to name a few. Depending on the type of writing you do, you may have to pitch your ideas to someone, or they may come to you and ask you to write a specific piece for them.

4. Copywriter

If you’re good at writing copy for marketing purposes, you may do well as a copywriter. You need to create compelling and convincing copy for your clients’ needs.

5. Graphic Designer

A graphic designer creates images for their clients’ needs. This can be a logo, a pamphlet, a layout for a website, and so on. Most graphic designers use software such as Photoshop and Illustrator. The quality of your graphic design can make or break a marketing project.

6. Translator/Interpreter

There are companies that hire freelance/contract employees to do translation and interpretation. You can work on business documents, interpret for doctors and patients, and more. You need to be fluent in both languages you are working in.

7. Music Teacher

Music teachers have been finding their own students pretty much forever. You may need to go to students’ homes as a music teacher, or they may come to you.

8. Pet Sitter

When people go on vacation, their pets still need to be cared for, and many don’t want want to put their pets into a kennel. A pet sitter goes to their clients’ house and cares for their pets while the client is away. This includes making sure the pets have food, water, and have been cleaned up after. Cats and dogs will need playtime. It’s ideal for someone who truly loves animals.

9. Pet Trainer

Another freelance opportunity you can consider if you love animals is that of a pet trainer. This will probably involve dogs most often, but some cat owners need help too.

10. Mobile Notary Public

A mobile notary public goes to clients to witness documents. The pay can be good, but finding work can be challenging – I had a cousin try this a number of years ago.

11. Google Advertising Consultant

Take a courseicon and get Google AdWords Certified, and you can be a consultant to businesses that are advertising on Google AdWords. Many businesses need help getting their ads set up to maximize their return.

12. SEO

Many businesses also need help with their search engine optimization and other digital marketing. If you have learned how to help pages and websites rank well on search engines, many companies will be glad for your help. A good SEO knows how to use the right keyword research tools and keeps up with what works and what doesn’t over time.

13. WordPress Consultant

WordPress is incredibly popular and relatively easy to use, but some small businesses need help getting it setup just a right. Choosing the right plugins, theme and other settings can be overwhelming to someone new to WordPress. As a consultant, you can help businesses configure it properly for their needs.

14. Photographer

Photographers usually don’t work entirely at home, but you can base your freelance business there. You have a lot of possible specializations as a freelance photographer – wedding photography, family portraits, stock photography, real estate photography and more. Specialization is a big help in finding clients, so that they know what to expect from you, and you know what to expect in a job.

15. Tutor

Many students need a little extra help to do well in school. If you’ve taught a particular subject or are very good at it, you may be able to work as a tutor.

Some tutoring companies require that you have a teaching certificate, but you can work on your own as well. Tutoring may be done in person or online. So long as you can do a great job helping students understand the subject, you should be able to find clients.

16. Social Media Marketer

Social media is huge, and many businesses need help with it. If you know how to build a following, post interesting statuses and bring sales to the business, you can do well as a freelance social media marketericon. You need to know which tools are most effective, how to track metrics and keep up with current social media trends.

17. Software Developer

Many companies need software developers for short term freelance projects. You may update previously developed software or start up something new. Software developers can work on traditional software, apps, or advanced websites.

18. Website Designer

A website designer is not always a software developer. You might work more on the appearance of the website than on how it runs in the background. A good designer creates an interface that is easy and attractive for visitors to use.

19. Party Planner

Do you throw a great party? You may be able to plan parties for others as your own business. Take the stress of planning parties off your clients and make their events memorable.

20. Caregiving

Caregiving doesn’t have to mean running a daycare in your home. You can use sites such as to find babysitting jobs, opportunities to care for the elderly and more.

There are quite a few more freelance businesses you can start as a side hustle or as a business intended to become your sole income, but these are a place to start your consideration. Specialization is often a good idea, so that your reputation is built on your best skills.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated December 1st, 2010

Is an Online Business or Job a Good Alternative for the Unemployed?

With Congress failing to pass the next extension for unemployment benefits, many families are wondering how they’re going to get by financially. While I suspect the extension will pass soon, it’s a scary time for families relying on that money to get by.

Is an online business a good way to bring some money in fast when you don’t have anything else?

That depends on how you go about it. For some it’s going to be a great idea, for others a terrible one.

Do a Lot of Reading… But Not Too Much

If you want to succeed with an online business, you’ll need to know a bit about what you’re doing. It’s not rocket science, but earning a living online takes a lot of work, and much of it will be unfamiliar.

There are a lot of great resources online that will help you learn what you need to know to run an online business. There are paid resources too, but if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.

Don’t spend an excessive amount of time reading and learning before taking action either. I’ve been working online for more than eight years now and I’m still learning. Just learn enough to get a good start, and continue to learn as you go. Too much information will make it harder to get started.

Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have

This is something I always tell people who want to start an online business. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. A business of any sort is a risk. If you can’t afford the risk, find another way to make things work.

Fortunately, you can start an online business for free, so long as you have internet access. Don’t expect fast results, but it’s certainly something you can work on while looking for a job.

Start a free blog at Blogger. Write interesting posts about a topic you love and know well. Don’t go too broad in your topic. You cannot appeal to everyone. You’re better off appealing to those who share your interest in your niche.

Learn free marketing methods such as writing articles for distribution with your link in the resource box, press releases to free press release sites, and the legitimate uses of blog commenting and forum participation.

Sign up for AdSense and/or affiliate programs associated with your niche. Insert ads as appropriate, but don’t pound your readers with nothing but ads.

You can do a lot for free. The results won’t be as fast as if you pay, but it may be worth the try.

Offer Your Services

Offering your services is another way to earn money online, but depending on what you do, you may need to pay for a domain name and hosting to look professional.

Virtual assistants can work at home. So can website designers, graphic artists, programmers, social media experts, and more.

Whatever your skill is, price it and start looking for clients. Don’t limit yourself to the internet. There may be businesses right in your community that need help with the online side of their business.

You can take payments through PayPal rather than go through the trouble of taking credit cards yourself.

Sell Your Own Products

Selling products online may not be all that easy, but it’s possible.

If you’re into crafts, sell your work on eBay or Etsy. There’s competition of course, but these are places that people go looking for things to buy.

You can also create an ebook or video to sell. Provide solid information on a topic people want to know about, and people will pay for it. Just think about the wide range of books in bookstores.

You can even sell photographs you’ve taken as stock photos. There are a number of sites that allow you to do this.

These options won’t usually earn significant money right away, but if you can’t find a job, finding other ways to earn money isn’t a bad idea, right? Especially if you’ve been searching for months or more than a year and nothing has come through yet.

Consider Non-Business Options

You don’t have to start what most people think of as a business to earn money online. There are many websites, such as Demand Studios, that pay people to write for them. If writing is one of your skills, it’s a way to bring in some money. Not much, not the best pay, but it’s something.

For better pay but a harder time getting articles accepted, write for magazines and other printed publications. Go to your local library and borrow the most recent copy of Writer’s Market to get an idea as to which publications you should be considering and who to contact.

Work at home jobs are another possibility, but just as with any other kind of work, these jobs are hard to come by. Lots of people want to work at home, and when you find a legitimate opportunity, odds are good that others have too.

Beware of Scams

Don’t think that just because you aren’t spending money you can’t get scammed. You can have your identity stolen if you share personal information such as your Social Security Number. You can participate in a criminal action by cashing fraudulent or stolen checks and forwarding the money.

Really think about what you’re going to do and make sure the opportunity is legitimate before spending money, sharing your personal information or doing just about any kind of work at home. The number of scams out there is scary, and smart people can be taken in.

Beware of Time Wasters

There are some things you can do from home that aren’t exactly scams, but will use up more of your time than they’re probably worth. These include pay to click emails, most surveys and completing offers. In fact, completing offers often costs money, as it’s easy to forget to cancel the free trials you must join to get paid or earn whatever gadget you’re after.

There are legitimate versions of these, but the amount of time you will spend earning that money will result in a pay rate usually well below minimum wage.

You Decide

Whether or not working online is a good choice for you depends on you. If you aren’t going to take consistent action, it’s probably not a good choice. If you’re willing to work, knowing that it may be some time before you see any money or even website visitors come in, it might work out for you.

Take some time and read up on the options that are interesting to you. There are a lot of opportunities out there for those who are willing to go for it.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated February 15th, 2010

What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a Home Business?

There’s a lot to think about when you’re picking a home business. You’re taking a risk with your time and your money. Not a lot of money with most home businesses, at least compared to what a brick and mortar business would cost, but still a risk. It can be a pretty big deal. You need to consider a lot of factors.

1. Cost.

Whether you’re joining a business opportunity or starting something entirely on your own, consider what it’s going to cost you. You don’t want to risk more than you can afford to lose, especially if you are just after a small supplement to your income.

There is of course something to the old saw about it taking money to make money, and that’s why starting out with something that’s completely free is often the slowest way to start your home business. It’s not impossible to start for free, but the disadvantages can outweigh the advantages, especially if you go for free blogs and such. Paying for your own domain name and hosting gives you a lot more freedom.

2. Viability.

You need to do enough research to be sure that you have at least a chance that the market you’re after is viable. Are there buyers or does everyone want it all for free?

Odds are good that you aren’t starting an entirely unique business. If you are, you’ve just cut your odds of viability way down. But if your business has something in common with other home businesses, you can do some research to make your best guess as to whether or not people are buying that kind of product or service.

Check how many people are in the industry, for example. See if many are buying pay per click ads consistently. Find out how long their websites have been running. These details can give you some pretty good hints as to whether or not the industry is viable.

3. Testimonials.

This is really only relevant if you’re buying into a business opportunity. You don’t have to just go by testimonials on the site. You should be able to contact some of the people who gave testimonials to see what they really think now.

Some sites have used fake testimonials in the past and may continue to do so. It can be hard to tell if it’s a real person or not when the testimonial is from someone called “J. Smith” with no city or website listed. Do not put all of your faith in testimonials.

4. Scam research.

Once again, this has to do with business opportunities. You want to find out if the opportunity is, in fact, a scam.

Many people like to start with the BBB, but that’s really not the best of resources. It can tell you sometimes if a business is no good, but it’s not 100% reliable and many newer opportunities simply will not be listed.

A simple search is the business name plus the word scam; however many businesses have caught on and reviews will be posted asking if the business is a scam and concluding it’s not. Makes figuring things out quite a bit trickier.

Check scam busting websites to see what you can find. While people on these sites can get a bit jaded about home business opportunities they can also be excellent at spotting red flags.

5. Proof of earnings.

Yes, another detail for home business opportunities.

If an opportunity makes income claims, they need to be able to prove it. Many will show the high levels. The FTC now expects all opportunities to also clearly show what average earnings will be. I personally think that’s challenging, as many people who buy into a home business opportunity will never do anything at all with it, making the average extremely low.

6. Passion.

Are you going to love your business or are you going to end up dreading working on it, doing it just because you really, really need the money?

Passion for what you do really helps you to succeed. Your enthusiasm for your business can help you to succeed.

7. Time.

Time can mean a lot of things in home business. Will you have enough time to work on the business? How much time will it take to start showing a profit? How much time will it take from your family? Are there particular hours of the day that you will need to be working so that you are available to customers or clients?

You will want to figure out how the time the business needs will fit into your life. If you don’t have the time to work at it, how are you going to succeed?

Then there’s the amount of time that the opportunity has been around, if you’re joining a network marketing or other home business opportunity. New ones fail quite regularly, but older ones may have a lot of competition in your area. You will want to consider the amount of time they’ve been around, as if the company fails, so does your business.

Starting any kind of a home business isn’t something you should do without thought. Taking a little time to really figure out how you’re going to make it all work improves your chances for success.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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