Best Home Based Business Ideas: How To Make A Little More

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2010-09-2825

Working from home can be a great way to generate some extra cash, and the truth is, everyone and their brother wants to try it out. Imagine a way to pay for your childcare expenses so you can have a little bit of time to keep up with the housework and other assorted stuff. Or maybe you just want to supplement your current income. But what’s even better is that it can also be a stepping stone for bigger and better things.

But, how do you know if the work at home opportunity is legitimate? Will the company actually pay you for the work you do or are you just being scammed? The truth is that there are plenty of both out there — legitimate paying jobs for those people who want to work hard and be rewarded for their efforts, as well as outfits that end up scamming you out of the work you’ve done and the money you’ve rightfully earned. So, if you’re in the market for something to do with your spare time, here are a few ideas that may get you started in the right direction.

Best Home Based Business Ideas: How To Make A Little More

1. Blogging


You may have heard that you can actually make some money blogging. Well, it’s true. This blog is actually a testament to the success of that work from home model. I work from home by running my blogs and doing a bit of freelancing here and there (more on that later). After 4 years, I already employ several people and run my blogs as a business. Depending on how you want to proceed with this, you can aim to blog full time or just decide to earn extra money this way, but just like any other project, you’ll want to devote some time to making it happen. But do remember that it’s a competitive arena and there are many people just as gung ho as you are who want to carve out a living this way. Blogging is an attractive means to make a living as it’s pretty cheap to get started. Just start off with a or account and test the waters. If you’re ready to host your own domain (which you should do if you’re going to be a bit more serious about this), then you can check out a cheap hosting service like BlueHost or HostMonster (which I’ve been pretty satisfied with). Some tips to get going? Go with a topic you enjoy so you never get bored; stay consistent and then learn how to monetize. If you do, you can develop an income stream over time!

2. Freelancing

Freelance Work

Freelancing gives you the ultimate freedom when it comes to working from home. You ultimately control the hours and amount of work to be completed. Many people juggle their full time jobs with freelancing on the side. In fact, I’ve hired several freelancers to help me run my home business ventures! Many have started out by experimenting with this kind of work, and have ultimately found success and gratification. If you’re creative, then you’ve got a shot at doing this sort of thing since many freelancing jobs are in the creative field. Most people I know in this field are either writers, web designers and graphic artists. As I can personally attest, there’s a lot of work out there, and you just have to be willing to try it out. The pay may not be spectacular at first, but you can potentially grow your service over time. Give it a bit of time (say a year or two) and you may just be pleasantly surprised about how much you can make. You may even earn enough to quit your day job! Of course, this is not a given, but it’s a good possibility.

Now, don’t think for one second that freelancing is confined to writing, designing or illustrating. For instance, I know some people who make a great paycheck as freelance photographers. Two friends actually got started by taking pictures for their kids’ ball teams by selling the pictures to the parents. If you have a camera and can take your files to Wal-Mart for professional developing, you can become a freelance photographer. You can also find online gigs on sites like (an AOL company). I actually know a few folks who make a decent second income by engaging in mystery shopping. And finally, even my own spouse freelances full time: he’s a software architect who develops online games and runs his own camera site, among other things. The key to freelancing is to get into what you enjoy doing then turn this into a paying gig.

3. Consulting


While many people use freelancing and consulting interchangeably, the truth is that there’s a difference, although there can be some overlap as well. The cool thing about consulting is that you are being paid for your knowledge. Look at it like this: a police officer usually has a full time job as a law enforcement officer during the day. This person could potentially start a business in providing freelance security. Now, if this individual didn’t want to commit to making time available as a freelance security guard, he could make money by becoming a security consultant. Instead of putting himself on the front line as a security guard or body guard, he could simply help the client design a security system based on his or her working knowledge of what criminals are thinking and how they take advantage of vulnerabilities. There are virtually no start up costs in becoming a consultant, with the exception of registering your business with your city/county of operation.

4. At Home Customer Service

Customer Service

Sounds too good to be true? Well, it’s not. It seems as though more and more companies are hiring stay at home moms, disabled folks, and currently unemployed people to staff their virtual call centers all over the globe. Ever wanted to earn an hourly rate while working in your pink fuzzy bunny slippers? This is your chance. But here’s the downside to this one. Because this opportunity has been explored by several media outlets like Good Morning America, CNN and such, and the job situation has not yet fully recovered, the demand for this type of work has outstripped supply. But try to get on the waiting list and be patient. Having call center experience will definitely help your chances. A few legitimate businesses that hire at home customer service reps include LiveOps and Alpine Access. You need to have a quiet place (no TV, barking dogs, or screaming kids in the background), a landline phone and high speed internet access to be considered. Also, understand that you are being hired as a contractor. This means that you are responsible for all your taxes and you won’t have access to benefits like health insurance. You’ll have to get your own low cost health insurance plan.

5. Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing

If you are a high energy, highly motivated person who loves to interact with people and have what it takes to sell in a tight economy, then AVON, Tupperware, Mary Kay or HerbaLife might be the place you want to go. I personally know two individuals who were able to give up their full time employment in order to sell Mary Kay products full time. As a matter of fact, they really didn’t have a choice — their Mary Kay business was doing so well, that they both had trouble keeping up with it. But, for every one success story I could tell you, there are probably five that don’t do that well. This is a business opportunity, not a job, and therefore, there’s a level of risk involved. You need to be prepared to put in a lot of sweat equity, pounding the ground and rustling up business in order to be successful here. Take note as well that there’s been some talk on this blog before about the multi level marketing field (or minefield!) and the issues they have, so be aware of what type of product you’re selling before jumping in. Make sure you’re comfortable with the business you’re participating in.

6. Online Stores, ECommerce & Other Sales

Online Stores

Other people have found loads of success in selling things online. You can sell just about anything your heart desires. One of the easiest ways to break into sales is to do this in conjunction with direct marketing efforts. As mentioned, you can get involved with direct sellers like Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, or Mary Kay. These are already well-recognized brands, which give you an edge over selling something from scratch. You can choose to sell online which would virtually eliminate your start up costs, except for website design, though there are several options for doing this for free as well. Selling online requires some knowledge of web marketing strategies, good social media skills and a go getter attitude. None of this stuff will sell itself. But, for those who are willing to put forth the effort, there is a lot that can be gained from this form of business.

My advice here is to check out what each company has to offer and decide which products you would be most suited to selling. The key to successful selling is to believe in what you say and what you sell. If you believe, so will your customers. If you are offering a service instead of a product, you might want to add your profile to listings such as Angie’s List in order to gain some attention. In fact, you can try to sell through classifieds and help wanted listings that showcase products and services. Some other things you can sell are crafts that you create or that you source from somewhere, which you can then show off in an Etsy store. You can also do a lot of selling on auction sites such as eBay. This kind of thing is sky’s the limit!

Parting Thoughts

Making money from the comfort of your own home while being your own boss sounds like a dream…and it can be done as long as you understand that you’re only going to get out of it what you put into it. Never sacrifice a good paying full time job for a dream until you have shown that you can make things work out, and you’re confident about sustaining your lifestyle this way. Never — under any circumstances — pay anyone any money to give you a job. Scams do abound, so be wary of paying up front for anything (unless you need to spend on those essentials that are required to start your business). Be smart. Protect your information and do your homework before engaging in any work from home opportunity. There ARE legitimate companies out there, but you just have to find them! Good Luck and happy hunting!
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

kosmo @ The Casual Observer September 29, 2010 at 11:55 am

I’d definitely recommend that more people give blogging a try. I was completely unfamiliar with the medium a few years ago. Even if you don’t make money (I don’t currently make a profit, but I’m very patient and thus not worried about it), it’s not terribly expensive to get started, and you’ll actually learn a lot by writing.

My own site is broad-based (I refer to it as a web magazine rather than a blog), with writers writing on a wide variety of topics. It’s fun to read what the others are writing, and enjoyable to sit down an write my own articles – especially articles about baseball 🙂

Silicon Valley Blogger September 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I think blogging is an awesome medium and can be so useful for many things. Even if you can’t make money from it directly, you can use it as a platform for your thoughts, ideas, and creative musings. It can be just as good as a LinkedIn profile or Facebook page. On the personal front, you can maintain an electronic diary, leave a legacy for your family, show off your stuff, maintain a hobby. On the professional front, you can aim to make it a business — it can be the main business itself, or you can use it as the means to market whatever it is you want (even yourself!). I’ve met many many incredible people through this blog, and have made great contacts in the professional space as well.

As I’ve mentioned to some folks, I feel much more connected through this form of work than I ever was by working a 9 to 5 job anywhere. The scary thing about any type of business is the uncertainty you feel when you start out and the unpredictability of a new life as an entrepreneur. But you end up getting the feel for it after a while, and it truly can be so much better than you first envisioned!

I love this work! 🙂

Christine | Money Funk September 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm

I do love that blogging was a free way to start my solo biz (decided to make blogging my biz in Nov 09). And it’s doing great. The doors totally open for other money making opportunities like freelancing. But, I do notice that I am not able to put in the quality time needed for each project. It is just about time to hire someone to help out with the little, but meaning full tasks. Is there any easy way to make the leap/transition to hiring someone to help? How do you find a good person? Is there a virtual assistance company you prefer? Would love any tips you have. 🙂

Silicon Valley Blogger September 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm

There are some great places to find freelancers. You can find them at Elance and at ODesk. Both freelancers and employers can go visit these networks to get connected!

Actually, I like your inquiry. I’ll see if I can modify this post to add more resources for people interested in these ideas.

Sam Wilson | Building Credit for Students September 29, 2010 at 9:01 pm

I’ve been blogging for the last couple years, but the income that may come from my blog is only secondary to the help I give to my blog readers. I do write on these topics because “I’ve been there and done that”, and I think many bloggers do write for the same purpose.

Well anyway, I do blogging more as a hobby, because I have my hands full with my full time job.

This is a great post by the way.

youngandthrifty September 29, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I have really enjoyed blogging so far, but am definitely no where near being able to do it full time.. it does add a nice little (very little) side income though.

Doing mystery or secret shopping would be really fun (gets the shopping bug out while not having to spend money). Hard to get in, though, no?

Julia Derby September 30, 2010 at 12:29 am

This is a great article. Don’t forget other work from home options such as tutoring, pet sitting, home party plans and all those hobbies that you can turn into money making craft businesses.

Joel October 1, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I love #6 just because of the potential (if structured properly) to not have to deal with customers or do any customer service!

mary b October 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

Just to clarify something from #4 above…with Alpine Access you are actually an employee, not an independent contractor as shown on their website:

Employee Benefits: As an Alpine Access customer care professional, you are an employee—not an independent contractor.

Silicon Valley Blogger October 2, 2010 at 8:20 am

@Mary B,
Thanks for the clarification. If you’re an employee, then you’d be telecommuting from home if you work at home, not freelancing 🙂 .

Daniel @ Gold Trading October 3, 2010 at 8:19 am

Hey SVB,

Came across your blog today and I agree that The Digerati Life sounds cool to me 🙂
I’m really wowed by the topics and content you have here…I think would really benefit lots of people.

Those home based business ideas you posted above are great. Blogging, consulting and direct marketing are very close to me. Blogging is a good way for me to get my ideas across and also hope to share some useful information and tips to people who visits my blog.

Talking about Mary Kay, I have a friend who does that full time too. She did really well to become a director within 3 months I think and she has a child and lots of debts. What I’m saying here is that anything is possible as long as the mindset is right and you don’t give up.

Actually home based businesses can be turned into multiple streams of passive income if hard work is involved in the beginning. But the truth is, many people gave up easily before they could even see the real successful results. Just keep on going and you could see results very soon. Keep on going guys!

Anyway, look forward to your future posts…thanks SVB…


ebusinessmom October 3, 2010 at 4:16 pm

There are lots of ways to make money and one of the most effective ways is by working online! There are many jobs available online. 🙂

Yeebaa October 4, 2010 at 8:47 am

There are many ways to make money online, but the best way to go about it is to find something you love doing and write about it – it isn’t work then! Good luck!

makemoneytoday October 4, 2010 at 9:20 am

Yes blogging is the best and fun way to make money online. The key is to write something someone would want to read about. Provide value and then you will be on your way to profit. This is a great blog with plenty of helpful info!

Robert October 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm

I like to call what you posted “Diversification of Income”. I’m a huge believer in getting as much income as you can from as many sources as you can. Right now, I work, invest, blog, run a small business, do freelancing and consulting. It may seem like a lot, but I don’t do them all at once! You work everyday. You assess your investments once a month. I spend about 30 minutes a day updating my blog. I use oDesk and Elance for freelancing and consulting, and I am getting about 2 jobs a month, which I do weeknights. And finally, I run a small business reselling estate sale items on the weekend!

Thanks for the great post!

Natan January 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I’ve always loved the blogging and consulting combination. If you can manage to use your blog to leverage a consulting gig, that’s pretty ideal. Of course, that usually requires taking the blog thing to a whole new level by building a brand, establishing credibility and dedicating yourself to the readers. It’ll always be about the reader and the hardest thing for a marketer to accomplish is learning how to leverage themselves to benefit and serve others, not the other way around. I’ve created an online resource for the entrepreneur looking to start or grow their online business. Thanks for the read.

Silicon Valley Blogger January 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Thanks for all your comments! My favorite topics to cover are on the “how to make more money” variety. So I intend to write more about this in the future. I enjoy learning about people’s forays into the online business world!

Scott Millard March 6, 2011 at 10:06 pm

I am new to blogging, I have written only 1. I started writing to try and help with my new product, MajikPocket (see I am finding great advice through blogs like this one. Thanks for the post.

Nick March 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Blogging is a great way to educate your potential client, earn revenue and brand yourself or your company. When most people start a blog that don’t strategize or have a long term plan. I never write about what I like. I blog about topics that I think will make money. I outsource most of my content and treat each blog like a little business.
Consulting is what I enjoy most. I like communicating with people and helping them achieve their goals. Currently, I am helping a company promote their employee benefits program website. The site is in need of a facelift.

Danielle from Work At Home Info April 4, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I have been making money online and working from home for a few years now and it has been going great. I agree that blogging is a great way to make money online. Affiliate Marketing and Google Adsense are two examples of ways to make money with your blog. There are also sites like Pay Per Post, that pay you to blog. I have also been doing Freelance work for over a year now and I absolutely love it! oDesk is AMAZING and has worked wonders for me. I have had so many job opportunities on oDesk and I continue to receive many invitations to interview. I may never have to work outside my home again 🙂

David Singhiser April 19, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Blogging takes discipline, but if you are consistent and monetize you’re site right, it’s a nice income stream.

Another wonderful aspect is that I can do it anywhere, not just home, but while I travel. I have much more flexibility on when and where I go. Those articles continue to work for me, even when I’m not.

Greg Miliates August 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm

As the article mentioned, there are lots of work-from-home scams to be wary of. However, with patience, persistence, and hard work, you can definitely earn some extra cash by creating a side business, and potentially growing it into your full-time gig.

Personally, I’m biased toward consulting, since that’s how I earn the majority of my income. I started my own consulting business 4 years ago while working full-time and with 2 kids. Since then, I’ve QUADRUPLED my salary, work less, and have a lot more flexibility.

I like consulting as a business on the side or as something you can try to develop into full time work. Here’s why:
— flexible schedule
— minimal start-up costs
— high pay (per hour)
— you already know what you’re doing and are an expert.

It’s not a stretch to say that starting my own business has changed my life. As a business owner, I have more economic security and control over my income, and my worldview has changed from that of dependent employee to self-sufficient business owner. It’s wonderful to be able to teach my kids about entrepreneurship.

AVON Representative November 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I have been working from home as an AVON Representative/Team Leader for over 8 years and I love it 🙂

Michelle x

Homebased business June 16, 2012 at 6:41 am

The key to successful selling is to believe in what you say and what you sell. I agree 100% with what you’ve written here. Also, whatever you sell, your first satisfied client must be yourself!

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