18 Real Ways to Make Money from Home
1. CUSTOMER-SERVICE REP
Many companies, such as J. Crew, Express Jet, 1-800-flowers, and even the IRS, outsource customer-service operations to third-party companies who then hire home-based workers or “agents” to take calls and orders. When you call 1-800-flowers, you may be speaking with Rebecca Dooley, a retired police officer and employee of Alpine Access, a major call-center service. When you dialed the number, your call was automatically routed to Rebecca’s spare bedroom in Colorado.
Alpine Access currently employs more than 7,500 work-at-home customer-service agents who take in-bound calls (there’s no outbound or cold calling) for dozens of companies. “This works perfectly for me because I can set up my hours around my family’s busy lifestyle,” says Rebecca, who usually works 20 to 32 hours a week, depending on her schedule.
While the typical hourly rate is about $9, Alpine Access agents who work more than 20 hours a week are eligible for benefits plus a 401k program when they have worked for over 1,000 hours. (Some companies consider their staff independent contractors, so they don’t provide benefits.) Other companies that hire virtual call agents:
To do this job, you need a pleasant voice and personality, and really thick skin—you’re bound to encounter some hostility. Still, it’s a good way to earn income. Many large companies now outsource their cold-calling campaigns to third parties who hire home-based workers to place the calls. Telemarketers are typically paid by the hour, and they may earn incentives and commission based on performance.
Companies hiring home-based workers include Telereach.com and Intrep.com. Apply on their websites. Keep in mind that a legitimate company will typically not require you to pay a fee to get information or leads, and will explain how to apply, exactly what is required and what to expect.
3. ONLINE JUROR
Companies will pay you to sit on mock juries to give attorneys and other jury consultants feedback on cases they are currently handling. Think of these as focus groups. The cases are real, but your verdict will do little more than give those involved a prediction of how things might go. You can earn fees ranging from $5 to $60. Be sure to read all the disclaimers and details. Go to:
4. SURVEY TAKING
If you’ve ruled out survey taking as a legitimate way to earn money from home, listen to Bonnie Alcala. She and her daughter Andrea Spain, an elementary-school substitute teacher, take surveys online for fun and a little profit. They are careful to avoid any scams by refusing to pay an upfront fee or other charge. Bonnie and Andrea pocket around $100 a month for spending two hours a week taking surveys, which gives each of them extra pin money. In addition, they collect all kinds of gift cards and other prizes.
If you’ve got a little spare time and want to save up a stash of cash for holiday shopping or even a family vacation, here are Bonnie and Andrea’s favorite survey sites:
Also, InboxDollars pays participants cash to fill out surveys, watch ads, play online games and redeem coupons, with one caveat: you must earn $30 before you can cash out (you earn $0.50 per survey).
5. WRITER, BLOGGER, EDITOR, OR PROOFREADER
Everyone says you’re a fantastic writer, so isn’t it about time you got paid? Good writing is still in demand says Durst, especially for online content. For the best sites try JournalismJobs.com, About.com seeks “Guides” in a broad area of topics, and MediaBistro.com. For blogging jobs, try problogger.net. If you have experience as a freelance copy editor, writer or proofreader, go to editfast.com. Rates vary between $15 and $25 an hour.
6. CYBER CRAFTER
If you’re a crafter in search of customers, the internet is your showcase, and not only at auction sites like eBay. DeWitt Young of ObviousFront.etsy.com Has had success turning her crafts into cash in cyberspace. She has a booth at Etsy.com‘s Craft Mall, an amazing place where more than 10,000 artisans and crafters offer their goods for sale.
DeWitt turns salvaged parts from old TVs and VCRs into artsy necklaces, earrings and figures. Colleen Jordan uses 3D printing to create her necklaces called wearable planters. Don’t be discouraged, Shapeways 3D printing company can get you started with their simple apps so you can easily customize your own designs with a click of a mouse, anything from a wedding band in rose gold, a vase in ceramic or your own bobble head printed in full color. All for the purpose of generating sales.
7. ONLINE GUIDE OR EXPERT
Do your friends look to you for advice on things you’re passionate about, such as which car to buy, how to repair appliances or how to make a killer cheesecake? Whatever your area of expertise, if you are also a seasoned writer with an infectious enthusiasm for a particular topic, consider becoming an online expert guide. Guides are freelancers with an ability to communicate well and good grammar and spelling skills.
For example, About.com guides write articles or reviews in their area of expertise. They earn no less than $725 a month, but some make more than $100,000 a year depending on year-over-year, page-view growth. Go to beaguide.about.com, where you’ll find which areas of expertise are still open. (There are many!)
Also try Chacha.com, a new search engine similar to Google and Yahoo, and click on “Become a Guide” for more information. At JustAnswer.com, users agree to pay for the answers to their questions. Guides are paid a percentage of the pre-negotiated price per answer and the number of accepted answers received. Go to Just Answer to find out how.
8. VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
Many small-business owners and mid- to executive-level professionals need personal assistants, but can’t afford a permanent position on the payroll. The solution? Hire people from remote locations to do their administrative work.
Virtual assistants handle all kinds of administrative projects, including travel arrangements, event planning, correspondence and other support services that can be done remotely via e-mail and phone.
Lynne Norris, who works out of her home in Pennsylvania (NorrisBusinessSolutions.com), says that rates for VAs run about $25 to $75 or more an hour, based on the types of services you provide. The startup costs are about $500 to $1,000, assuming you have an up-to-date computer and printer. Lynne loves the flexibility. “My children are happy that I don’t miss the important things in their lives.” Check out the International Virtual Assistants Association, or virtualassistantjobs.com and teamdoubleclick.com for more.
9. ONLINE TUTOR OR ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE INSTRUCTOR
If you have a college degree and the skills to tutor students online in math, science, English or social studies, this job may fit you perfectly. Go to Tutor.com—tutors who work for the company and have passed their probationary period earn $10 to $14 an hour. According to Durst, “Skype and other web interface tools are bringing English language instructors face-to-face with students from around the world.” Try ispeakuspeak.com, openenglish.com to get started.
10. ACCEPTING PACKAGES
If your normal 9-to-5 involves working from home, this is one of the easiest ways to earn some extra dough. Sign up with eNeighbr to accept and hold shipments for your neighbors when they aren’t home, so they don’t get stolen. Earning potential: $3.50 per package
Sites like CookApp, Cookening, EatWith and MealSharing are to restaurants what Airbnb is to hotels. Sign up as a host to earn dough by cooking and serving a meal to guests in your home. It’s up to you what you want to cook and how many people you can accommodate. Cooks are paid directly through the site, so no cash ever changes hands. Earning potential: $50-$100 per meal
12. ENTERING DATA
Sign up with sites like Clickworker and the Smart Crowd to complete virtual jobs like data research, data entry, translation and testing. Earning potential: $5-$6 per hour
13. MYSTERY SHOPPING
You’ll have to leave your house for this one, but hospitality consulting firms like Coyle rely on secret shoppers to evaluate their clients’ services. Sign up to be an evaluator and you could get paid to receive spa treatments, dine at restaurants or stay at a hotel. There are lots of opportunities in other fields, too, ranging from entertainment (hello, amusement parks!) to automobiles. However, watch out for scams; check the MSPA for a list of legitimate mystery shopping companies. Earning potential: About $10 per hour
DogVacay and Rover match dog sitters with people who need someone to watch their fur babies while they’re out of town. Sitters set their own rates and hours, and can choose to watch the pups in their own home or at the owner’s place. Earning potential: $1,000 per month.
15. PROVIDING CREATIVE SERVICES
Practically any marketable skill, no matter how small or obscure, can be sold for $5 at creative marketplace Fiverrr, where members offer everything from cover letter writing services to psychic readings. Earning potential: $5 per hour and up
16. RENTING OUT YOUR RIDE
Getaround and Turo are the sharing economy’s answer to rental agencies.With Getaround, for example, you can rent out your car on an hourly or daily basis. You set the price, depending on the your vehicle’s market value, and the company takes a 40 percent cut to cover 24/7 roadside assistance and driver insurance. Earning potential: From $300 to $10,000 a year
17. SPYING ON STORES
Apps like Gigwalk and FieldAgent pay users to visit local retailers to do independent price checks, business location verification or product reviews. For example, you might take a photo of a product display and answer a few questions about the store. Earning potential: $3-$12 per task