Odds are if you’ve looked into online jobs from home you’ve come across many things that will claim to make you millions while never getting out of your pajamas. For this I’d suggest applying the old rule of “if it sounds too good to be true…”
Say it with me…
“It probably is!”
Why would someone pay you top dollar to stuff envelopes, do data entry, send emails, or other repetitive tasks that generally wouldn’t pay too well in the real world? The answer is that they wouldn’t. Of course that isn’t to suggest that there aren’t online jobs from home that will pay you to do these things, but you do need to be realistic about your earning potential. There are plenty of people who work from home and make great money, but generally this isn’t by doing a non-specialized task like stuffing envelopes.
Legit Online Jobs From Home
Here are some jobs where opportunities are available and you can make a decent wage while working from home.
1. Tutoring From Home
If you are a college graduate, you can most certainly find opportunities to tutor younger students from home. One site to get you started is Tutor.com where you can sign up and find jobs as a tutor. There is an application process, and you need to be strong in Math, English, or Social Studies with the ability to pass an assessment in order to tutor. Once you’ve done that, you can get matched up with people who need tutoring and start getting paid.
Online tutoring is something you have to commit to for at least 5 hours a week, but certainly you can take on more. The good news is, as the name would suggest, is that your classes are conducted online so this is a real work from home opportunity. Besides the money, if you are looking to be a teacher or work in a training role, this type of experience would look great on a resume.
If you don’t want to go the route of a big site like Tutor.com, you can also work your connections with teachers and friends who may know of students in need of a tutor. You could also take out a posting on Craigslist for free, but be prepared to have personal references for people to call to vouch for you.
2. Sell Unique Gifts and Homemade Items
Perhaps you are a crafty person who makes bags, ornaments, or a variety of other unique homemade items. If that is the case, the good news is that these days you can make money at home by selling things online.
Don’t know where to start?
There are several online marketplaces where you can start selling your items right away. Etsy is one of the more popular sites where everything is sold by independent retailers, and many items are things they personally create. If you take a look through some of their popular stores, you’ll get a better idea about the great variety of things that are sold on Etsy.
The big advantage of starting with a site like this as opposed to starting your own website is that millions of people visit Etsy already. For anybody just starting out as an online retailer, the biggest hurdle is often getting people to find you. By selling on a site like Etsy, this challenge is largely eliminated. Another positive is that the start-up fees are relatively low. You can list things for about 20 cents per item and then pay a 3.5% commission on things that sell.
It is possible to sell craft supplies, homemade items, and vintage items that are at least 20 years old. So if something is coming to mind, you may be wondering where to start. Well, you definitely want to spend a few bucks and get a professional looking banner image to go across the top of your store page. Here is an example from someone who sells handmade flasks:
The great news is, you don’t have to know anything about how to create an image like this or spend a fortune getting one made. Enter one of my secret weapons, Fiverr. This is a website full of random services that people will do for only $5. That’s right, everything costs $5. I’ve found one great example of someone who will do a top notch banner image for you for this price. Check it out here. If you don’t like this guy (or if the gig is no longer offered) just do a search on the site and find someone else who has high ratings. For $5 you will now have an Etsy shop that looks professional and sleek. If you don’t have access to vintage items, or nothing is striking you as something you could feasibly make yourself to sell, then here is another option.
3. Sell Items On Amazon From Home
Perhaps you aren’t really crafty or creative, but you do know good value. Then it is possible that selling things on Amazon may make for a great alternative. Odds are that you’ve not only heard of Amazon, but you’ve probably bought something from them before. What you may not know is that many of the things you buy on Amazon are actually sold by 3rd party sellers. The concept I am going to discuss is how you can make money from home selling items fulfilled by Amazon (FBA).
The concept is fairly simple. You find items that are already sold on Amazon and send them in to Amazon’s warehouse. Amazon will take it from there. You set the price and when it sells you get an email that an item has shipped from your inventory. There are a number of fees for doing this, but there are a number of benefits that make it well worth it.
One key benefit is that you can typically charge a premium for the product, because it will be eligible for the same benefits as if it was sold directly by Amazon. For instance, your items will be eligible for free 2 day shipping for Amazon Prime members. Another benefit is that you are able to sell more than you would if you were trying to sell items out of your own house. This is true simply because you can box everything up and have it stored at Amazon’s warehouse, instead of having a garage full of random stuff. The final benefit I’ll mention is that you save time and money because you don’t have to take a trip to the post office every time and item sells. Amazon handles that for you. In most cases you save money simply because you can combine shipping and send a couple of boxes to Amazon with a dozen or so items. If you sold them yourself, you’d end up paying shipping on all 12 items individually. That can certainly add up and be a hassle.
I’ve really just scratched the surface on the concepts of why this works. I’d suggest checking out a book called Arbitrage which explains it all very well.
To answer the questions about “what could I sell?” and “how much can I sell it for?” the answer is that you can almost anything. Amazon is kind of like Walmart, so you can sell food, toys, beverages, home goods, and the list goes on. You’ll get into a groove where you find some items to sell, and be off and running.
Typically you want to work off of the 1/3 rule. This means if you find an item for $10, you need to be able to sell it for $30 to make it worth your while. So $10 for the cost, $10 in Amazon fees, and $10 in profit. This is rough estimate, but gives you a good idea. If selling FBA is a new concept to you, this probably all sounds unrealistic and far-fetched. Do yourself a favor and check out the Arbitrage book mentioned above.
In short, you are basically looking to exploit inefficiencies in the market. What does that mean? Well lets say you are shopping at Target in your neighborhood and you come across some specialty food item that is on clearance for 70%. That doesn’t mean there is no market for the item, that simply means at your local Target it isn’t selling as well as they thought it would. Many times there are people in other places across the country (heck, maybe even in the next town over that don’t shop your Target) who would happily pay full price for the item. If you can get it for 70% off and then sell it at retail price on Amazon, you’ve made a nice little profit. You can also sell things that aren’t available everywhere, like some specialty foods or products that are only sold near you. If they are sold on Amazon, odds are that people are paying a premium for this item and you can cash in on it.
There really is a lot more to this, but the final things I’ll say is that it is much easier to know what things are selling for if you have a smartphone. There is an app called profit bandit where you can scan a barcode and find out everything you need to know, including exactly what your profit would be if you sold this item for what it is currently listed for on Amazon. Warning – if you get started with selling FBA you will likely become addicted!
4. Freelance Your Specialty
If you’ve been frustrated by trying to find a job in your field, odds are that you can find online jobs from home in your specialty. How? you may ask… Check out a site called Elance where individuals and companies from around the world are looking to hire freelancers for contract work. This is great if you are a graphic designer, web developer, or have skills with certain computer programs.
If you don’t have any particularly specialized skills, you can still find freelancing opportunities. The term “virtual assistant” has become more and more common and basically means that you can be someone’s remote assistant to carry out day to day tasks for their personal life or even for their business. If you can do data entry, set appointments, manage basic communications, you may find a virtual assistant job that would let you work from home.
While there are some paid options, you can get started as a contractor for free. In fact, you can bid on up to 40 jobs per month at no cost. Then, if you get hired and get paid, Elance will take a commission of about 9%. All in all, that seems reasonable for the service they provide which is connecting you to jobs around the world that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Once you sign up for an account, you can start searching for keywords or all the job openings in a particular category. You’ll need to upload your resume and put a job history, so people know more about you. Then, when you find a job that interests you, put a bid in on it. In the beginning, you’ll probably have to take a little less money than you’d like. Reputation is key, so people will prefer to work with someone who has positive reviews from other Elance jobs. As a new guy, you’ll probably have to win on price so you can build up that reputation and eventually charge a more fitting price.
5. Customer Service Jobs From Home
If you have experience in customer service, then you’ll be happy to know that many companies are now hiring customer service reps to work online jobs from home. With advances in technology, you often have the phone and computer/internet access you need right where you live to get the job done.
Some of the big time companies like 1-800 Flowers and even Amazon on a limited basis are looking for remote customer service employees. You’ll generally have better luck with a company that is a “website” or at least a web-based business. These companies tend to be more forward thinking and the influx of telecommuting is certainly a more modern idea. Here is some more information about companies that will hire customer service reps from home.
Best of luck in your search! Feel free to comment below if you have anything to add to the online jobs from home discussion.