By Holly Reisem Hanna
Recently, I received an email from an individual who was desperately seeking a legit, online, work from home business opportunity. This person had currently moved to a very rural area of town and was unable to commute to work. Another obstacle that this individual faced was the issue of needing money ASAP to pay for bills and daily living expenses, but they still wanted the flexibility and perks of being their own boss.
While this might sound like a hopeless case, it’s not. There are actually quite a few options for individuals who want to run their own business with little or no startup fees.
Here are six home businesses you can start with no money.
Digital Earning Opportunities:
If the Internet were around when I was younger, I would have spent so much time on this next way to make money. Digital earning revolves around completing Internet offers, sharing offers with friends, testing websites, watching videos, using smartphone apps, completing surveys, and clipping and using coupons.
While you’re probably not going to get rich completing digital offers, it is an excellent way to get some cash coming in and to supplement your other money making efforts. While I could write a post just on digital earning opportunities, here are just a few to check out.
- CashCrate is an online platform where you can start earning money by completing offers, taking surveys, watching videos, and shopping online using their site. Tasks pay out anywhere from a few cents to $30.00 or more. You’ll also receive $1 for just signing up for an account. Payments are made via check or PayPal.
- FusionCash is an online platform that allows you to make money from taking surveys, watching videos, shopping online, completing short tasks and lots more. Sign up and immediately earn $5.00 for joining. Most offers pay between .25 to $30 per offer, and payments are made via PayPal, check, or direct deposit once your account reaches a $25 threshold. Some offers do require a credit card number, so if you don’t feel comfortable giving out that information, just stick to the offers which display the No CC icon. Fusion Cash is a member of the Better Business Bureau.
- InboxDollars allows you can earn cash for surveys, reading emails, playing games, redeeming coupons, searching the web and shopping online. Membership is free, and you’ll receive $5.00 for signing up. Payments are made via check.
- Swagbucks is an online platform where you can earn points called SB, which can be redeemed for gift cards and coupons. You can easily earn SB points by watching videos, playing games, answering questions, shopping online, and even surfing the web using their toolbar. Refer your friends, and you’ll earn even more SB points. Your SB points can be traded in for gift cards from Amazon, Target, Starbucks, PayPal, and Walmart. Swagbucks also gives you a $5 bonus for signing up!
Obviously, I’m a huge advocate for starting your own monetized blog. However, it does become a bit tricky when you’re trying to do it for free. First, you have two options for getting started – you can either use the free WordPress option or Blogger which is a commercial free platform. Both have similar features regarding functionality and design, and both can be monetized, but only through their respective ad networks.
What this means is that you’re able to monetize your blog, but only by using WordAds or Blogger’s Adsense ads. WordPress does allow affiliate marketing on their free platform — as long as you're in compliance with their terms. Using a free platform limits your earning potential, but it gives you the initial foundation for building an audience. Once you have a little bit of money rolling in, you can easily transfer your blog over to the paid version of WordPress where you will be able to fully monetize your blog and start making money.
And when you do, make sure to check out these posts on monetization:
- 44 Ways to Make Money Blogging
- How to Get Your First Blog Advertiser
- How Bloggers Can Money With Affiliate Marketing
As a teen, babysitting was my bread and butter. I would babysit my father’s co-worker’s children, the neighborhood kids, my siblings, as well as children from the church we attended. It was an easy way to make some money, and obviously, I didn’t spend any money on advertising my services. While most of my clients were from word of mouth referrals, I was also able to offer my child care services on the local bulletin board at our church, and I told everyone I wanted to work.
You too can make good money by offering your services as a nanny, babysitter, or elderly caretaker. Gather up some positive referrals from friends and family members and then spread the word that you’re open for business. Places like Facebook, Craigslist, and local bulletin boards are great places to promote your business (plus, they're free)! Always remember to personally connect with neighbors, friends, and family and let them know about your services. You can also check out third-party platforms like Care.com, SitterCity, and Task Rabbit where they connect caretakers with caregivers. If you are connected with a job on one of these platforms they'll take a small percentage of the total transaction fee. In fact, the on-demand economy has made it easier than ever to make money on demand — to find out more check out this post.
Once you get some money rolling in, you may want to consider offering daycare services, if so, check out FabJob’s Manual for Becoming a Daycare Owner.
You don’t need to be an English major to be a freelance writer, in fact, this is a good way to make a living if you enjoy writing – and the more you write, the better you get.
While I’m not an advocate of selling yourself short or devaluing your worth, there is a time and a place for freelance job sites. These sites are job boards for freelancers and businesses; it is a place to connect, shop around, and most importantly get some money into your pocket. While many of these sites may offer smaller payouts, they are a great place to gain experience and build up your portfolio.
- People Per Hour
- Profinder by LinkedIn
After you’ve been freelancing for a few months, you should have some good samples, testimonials, and experience that will give you the leverage to start going after bigger and better-paying freelance opportunities. Remember to set up your digital footprint from the beginning, the majority of social media sites are free to join, as well as a basic blog from WordPress or Blogger. For more information on setting up your freelance business,
For more information on setting up your freelance business, see Gina Horkey's, 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success.
Want to know where to find the writing gigs? Here are 75+ places to get you started!
FREE Online Business Opportunities:
While most direct sales and business-in-a-box companies have a small startup fee, there are a few that do not. Each company allows you to set up shop online for FREE. Then for each item that is sold through your shop, you'll earn a specified commission.
- Do You Bake? – Food
- fibi & clo – Sandals
- Kaeser & Blair – Promotional products (free trial kit)
- Linen World – Home products
- Mayvenn – Hair care products
- Nu Skin – Health and beauty
- She Anna Bella – Jewelry, handbags, and scarves (Canadian)
- Teespring – Graphic t-shirts, bags, pillows, and mugs
Do these products not excite you?
Many direct sales companies offer a FREE starter kit if you meet certain milestones during your first 30 – 60 days. In fact, Angie Nelson has a great list of companies that have an earn your kit option. Need even more ideas? Here are some fashion companies that allow you to set up shop for FREE!
From outgrown children’s clothing to old books, CDs, DVDs, games, toys, and adult fashion it can all be sold virtually at reasonable prices.
- Gazelle allows you to sell your old electronics and make some easy cash. Simply find your gadget on their website, answer a few questions, and ship it off for free with their pre-paid envelopes. Payments are made via check, Amazon gift card, or PayPal. Gazelle has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
- Cash 4 Books is an online portal where you can sell new and used books. Grab your books and head to the website; here you’ll be able to enter each book’s ISBN, which is a 10 or 13 digit number that can be found on the back cover or inside the front cover of almost all books. Once you have entered each code, you’ll receive a quote for each book. Next, send your books in with a pre-paid shipping label. Once they receive your books, you’ll be paid either via check or PayPal.
- Listia you can trade in your old unwanted stuff for credits and buy new stuff for free. Earn 1,000 free credits for signing up. Listia has been featured on Mashable, ABC, and the Washington Post.
- thredUP is a way you can sell your old clothing, shoes, and handbags. Simply sign up for or a clean out pack online. Once you receive your clean-up-pack, fill it full of clothing, and send it back to thredUp with the pre-paid label and packing slip. Upon receiving your package, thredUp will appraise your clothing and issue a credit which can be withdrawn via PayPal or store credit. Any unsold clothing will be donated with a donation receipt will be issued.
- Decluttr is an online platform where you can sell CDs, DVDs, and video games. Just enter the item's barcode on the site to get a quote. Decide which items you’d like to sell (must be between 10 – 500) and send them in using a pre-paid shipping label. Once items are received, Music Magpie will send you a check.
While selling items doesn’t seem like an actual home-based business, some individuals turn it into a business by buying clothing, books, and various items at garage sales and thrift stores — then they turn around and sell it for a higher price on sites like Craigslist, eBay, Amazon, or Etsy. In fact, Tracy Smith is making $1,200 a month by reselling items on Amazon — you can check out her story here.
Looking for more things to sell — check out this article.
Remember, whatever business you decide to start you must have a passion for what you are doing. Without enthusiasm and excitement, you’ll become bored and unmotivated, and ultimately it will fail. Don’t just follow the money, remember to follow your heart.
Do you know of a free business opportunity? We'd love to know about it!
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Originally published September 5, 2013. Content updated May 29, 2017.
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