There are loads of job listings for freelancers on major job boards, and you can always advertise your services (and look for work) on craigslist or LinkedIn. Once the jobs start rolling in, don’t be afraid to go to previous clients and ask for more work. Steady work is the best work for freelancers. If all else fails at first, just write. Start a blog. Build clips. Get writing!

First off, I’m a blogger so it seems wrong not to mention it, but more importantly, it’s a legitimate way to make money. It’s quite possibly the least straight-forward way on this list, but it’s very doable and it’s also quite possibly the funnest way on this list. I love blogging and I know hundreds of bloggers who feel the same. So let’s talk about making money blogging and what it really means.


Businesses always need graphic designers to help them convey information visually, through logos, advertisements, posters, websites, and the like. While it is possible to be an entirely self-taught graphic designer, most have either a certification or a degree. Other than the cost of design software, this business has very little overhead and can be done anywhere with a dedicated computer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, graphic designers have a median salary of $45,000.*
Sure, there are a lot of graphic designers out there, but there are far more Websites, companies and organizations in need of design work than there are designers. That’s the good news. The more difficult news is that graphic design does require a certain level of expertise and possibly some pricey software, although designers can often get by without necessarily having the most expensive applications on the market.
Though certainly not for everyone, recycling the containers from products left strewn around on the ground can become a surprisingly decent side business idea if you put in the time. Attending events like street fairs and outdoor concerts can be a great starting place. Put on a clean shirt, jeans, apply your sunscreen, grab a cheap pick-up tool like this one, sturdy plastic bags, and you can sell them for upwards of $4.00/pound on eBay.
Publishing is dead; long live the e-reader! Now that anyone can have their work e-published, it is possible for anyone to make a fortune off their writing. The biggest recent example is the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, but there are many authors taking advantage of the ease of e-publishing. If you love to write and are willing to do your own promotion (and having a blog can really help in that case), writing an e-book is an excellent way to make money at home.

Becoming a massage therapist requires proper training and licensing, but if you're looking for a great career to pursue that you can also turn into a home-based business, massage therapy might be the right choice for you. And with a massage therapy business, you have options: You can either invite clients into your home for appointments, or make house calls for massages.
Publishing is dead; long live the e-reader! Now that anyone can have their work e-published, it is possible for anyone to make a fortune off their writing. The biggest recent example is the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, but there are many authors taking advantage of the ease of e-publishing. If you love to write and are willing to do your own promotion (and having a blog can really help in that case), writing an e-book is an excellent way to make money at home.
I love referral and affiliate marketing. It’s where the vast majority of my income comes from these days. Even if you aren’t a blogger, you can get in on the action as well. You can get paid to refer your friends to a wide variety of legitimate services. While there are many companies like StitchFix that will give you store credit for referrals, we are focusing on those that offer cold, hard cash today. Keep in mind, you will need to be signed up for the program yourself to take advantage of the program. But, you shouldn’t be referring people to things you don’t use anyway.
Set up an account on Rover.com. Enjoy furry company once in a while? These days, many professional pet-sitters set up an account on Rover.com. With Rover.com, you can reach people in your area who are actively looking for someone to watch their dogs, cats, hamsters, or turtles, either in their home or your own. You can set your own rules and schedule and come up with your own pricing through the Rover.com pet-sitting platform.

I love referral and affiliate marketing. It’s where the vast majority of my income comes from these days. Even if you aren’t a blogger, you can get in on the action as well. You can get paid to refer your friends to a wide variety of legitimate services. While there are many companies like StitchFix that will give you store credit for referrals, we are focusing on those that offer cold, hard cash today. Keep in mind, you will need to be signed up for the program yourself to take advantage of the program. But, you shouldn’t be referring people to things you don’t use anyway.
LiveOps.com: Virtual call center offering home-based agents in the United States contract opportunities in sales, insurance sales, insurance claims, customer service, healthcare and roadside service. Most client companies require applicants to undergo a comprehensive background and credit check that typically costs $65. Independent agents will also need to meet technical requirements including the installation and maintenance of a dedicated landline telephone only to be used for LiveOps work.
Incidentally, helping others grow their wealth is also a good way to grow your own financial worth as a side business idea. If you have stock market and finance credentials, then you can earn freelance commissions or consulting fees, advising clients on how to get the best returns for their investments as a lucrative side business idea if you can get results for those clients—otherwise this business idea can be the fast-track to alienating friends and family, so be careful.
And freelance coder is an especially great one, since it’s already such a commonplace gig. Whether you want the flexibility of being your own boss, enjoy taking on a wide diversity of projects rather than working with a single company, or prefer to travel instead of staying in one place, you’ve got many reasons to pursue freelance software development—even though technology companies and startups offer their own perks as well.

There are a lot of items that can be purchased very inexpensively at garage sales or thrift stores and sold for higher prices elsewhere. A few years ago I discovered that I could purchase good hardcover books at my local thrift shop for $1 or less. I realized that some of them could be sold on Amazon.com for $15-$20, which turns out to be a pretty decent profit.

We don’t manufacture as much in America as we used to, but the phrase “American made” still means a lot to some people. Artisanal items are also popular, making now a great time to start a furniture-making business. This might not be the easiest idea to start from scratch, but if you already own the equipment you need, you can start producing pieces to sell at fairs and online on sites such as Etsy.
Fiverr is a great place for first-time freelancers who might not have tons of experience and want to build up a portfolio of their work. You'll be able to complete simple tasks ranging from logo design, to creating animations, or even drawing a company logo on your forehead. While this side business idea likely won't be growing into a million dollar startup for you, it can still be a platform for funding your next big business idea. Want to learn more about Fiverr's history and how to get the most out of selling on the platform? Listen to my interview with Fiverr CEO Micha Kaufman.
Another idea someone could do from home is to start a service or write a software program that scours local ad listings (like craigslist) for a particular used item a person wants to buy. They have services like this for new items, but not used. I know others like me who are keeping their eye out for something used (like a canopy king bed!) but don’t have the time or inclination to search for it every day.
If you offer freelance services or have a physical services business, then creating a blog is a must. On your blog, you can write about the services you offer and how they will benefit your clients. Importantly you can add a ‘Services’ page, outlining the services you provide, what they include, and any other important information potential clients may need. This is an effective way to promote your services, generate leads, and increase your revenue.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the website Making Sense of Sense has become the expert on all things affiliate marketing. Michelle earns more than $100,000 per month from her blog and the bulk of her income comes from affiliate sales. Michelle has had so much success with affiliate marketing that she even has her own course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
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