Are you looking for home-based business opportunities with no startup costs? Then keep reading! I will show you how to start your own business with no money!
If you’ve ever worked a job you didn’t enjoy, you’ve likely thought about entrepreneurship. When I worked as a nurse, I often dreamed of being my own boss and working from home. But back then, I had the mindset that you needed a lot of money to start a business and that it was complicated to begin.
Luckily, with technological advances, it is easier and more affordable than ever to start a business from home. And in many cases, you start with zero money upfront.
In today’s post, I’m covering 15 home businesses you can start with no money!
1. Be a Short Task Provider
If the web had been around when I was younger, I would have spent so much time testing different side gigs and short-task websites.
With short tasks, you can take surveys, test websites, transcribe audio files, answer questions, and complete administrative tasks; the possibilities are endless!
While you’re not going to get rich completing micro-tasks, it’s an excellent way to start making money on your own terms. It also gives you experience, and it’s totally free to get started!
Here are some of my favorite online side jobs to check out:
When you sign up with Appen, you can work on long-term and short-term projects, microtasks, and data and survey collection. Each task has a payout amount associated with it, and you can choose which tasks to work on. You’ll often need to take a test to prove your proficiency for the projects, but once you do, you have access to higher-paying gigs. With Appen, you’re working as an independent contractor, making you a small business owner. There are no startup fees to start with Appen; all you need is a computer and an internet connection.
Fiverr is an online platform where you can sell one-off freelance services like designing a logo, writing an advertisement, editing a photo or video, image creating, voice-overs, and so much more. With Fiverr, You can price your gigs anywhere between $5.00-$10,000. With Fiverr, there are no startup costs. Just create your profile and list and price your services. Once you make a sale, Fiverr takes a 20% cut, and you keep the other 80%. When Fiverr first started, all gigs were priced at $5, hence the name. But today, it’s evolved into a major freelance marketplace where many freelancers earn six figures a year!
If you’re interested in Fiverr, check out this book, The Fiverr Master Class: The Fiverr Secrets Of Six Power Sellers.
Respondent recruits individuals worldwide to participate in focus group studies, one-on-one interviews, website testing gigs, and unmoderated surveys. According to their website, the average study takes 30-90 minutes, and the payout is around $60-$140 per study. When writing this post, there was one remote diary study that paid $450 for 150 minutes. Payments are issued via PayPal.
Survey Junkie recruits individuals for attitudinal research studies such as paid surveys, product testing, focus groups, and behavioral research studies, which include opting to share your online browsing activity and behaviors. You can redeem the points you earn for gift cards from major retailers and cash via PayPal. Survey Junkie accepts users from the US, Canada, and Australia.
Swagbucks is an online platform where you can earn points called SB, which can be redeemed for gift cards from Amazon, Target, Starbucks, PayPal, and Walmart. 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. Swagbucks also gives you a $10 bonus for signing up!
User Interviews recruits individuals from around the globe to participate in surveys, focus groups, and website testing gigs. Most studies take between 30-120 minutes and pay between $40-$200 per study.
While digital side gigs may not seem like a lot of money initially, every little bit adds up! One entrepreneur I know, Lori Cheek, has been able to use side gigs to fund her dating app business.
The key to being successful with this online business idea is you’ll need to sign up with multiple sites so that you always have a steady stream of opportunities. You should also create a separate email account for these because you will receive a lot of emails once you sign up. Last, remember to track your income and expenses, as you need to figure out which ones are the best use of your time.
2. Start a Blog for Free
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, a commercial-free platform from Google. Both have similar features regarding functionality and design, and both can be monetized, but only through their respective ad networks.
This means that you’re able to monetize your blog, but only by using WordAds or Blogger’s Adsense ads. WordPress and Blogger allow affiliate marketing on their free platforms as long as you comply with their terms. You can also sell products like courses, printables, and services.
Using a free platform may limit your earning potential, but it gives you the initial foundation for writing blog posts and building an audience. Once you have some money rolling in, you can purchase your own domain and hosting and transfer your blog over to the paid version of WordPress, where you will be able to monetize your blog any way you want.
Another reason to purchase your own domain name and hosting is you don’t own the free version of your site; either company could shut down your site anytime for any reason.
You will need some tools to get started, but here is a list of my favorite free blogging tools for beginners:
- Canva – Free online graphic design tool
- Grammarly – Free editing tool
- ConvertKit – Free email marketing service (1,000 subscribers)
- The Work at Home Woman – Free 28-page blogging e-book
- RankMath – Free SEO plugin to help optimize your blog posts
If you’re unsure what to write about or how to choose your blogging niche, check out this post for ideas.
3. Provide Child Care Services
As a teen, babysitting was my bread and butter. I’d babysit for my dad’s co-workers, neighborhood kids, my siblings, and children from the church we attended. It was an easy way to make extra 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 services on the local bulletin board at our church.
You, too, can make good money by offering your services as a nanny, babysitter, or elderly caretaker. Gather up positive referrals from friends and family members, and then spread the word that you’re open for business. Places like Facebook, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and local bulletin boards are great places to post flyers and promote your business!
You can also check out on-demand platforms that connect caretakers with caregivers. If you choose to use these platforms, they’ll take a small percentage of the total transaction fee.
If you want to take your business to the next level, consider becoming a full-time daycare provider. More details can be found here.
4. Start a Cleaning Business
Of course, you can use the above business model to start almost any service-based business for free. In fact, when I was younger, I would clean my neighbor’s house and iron her work clothes on Saturday mornings for extra cash.
Choose the services you want to offer: house cleaning, laundry, yard work, maintenance, repair, food prep, or cooking, and let people know you’re available for hire.
If you’re having trouble finding enough clients, you can use an on-demand app to connect you with potential customers. These apps take a percentage of your earnings, but you’re introduced to a broader network of clients, and they’re free to get started.
5. Become a Dog Walker or Pet Sitter
Like the above service-based business ideas, pet sitting is an easy way to make money on your own terms. Decide which kinds of pets you’d like to watch and what types of services you’d like to offer. According to Indeed, the average pet sitter in the US earns $14.38 per hour. Walk multiple dogs at once, or add in extra services like feeding, waste pick up, or bathing, and increase this number even further.
A while back, I interviewed a professional pet sitter, Patti Moran, and she shared some great tips for starting your own pet-sitting business. Again, if you’re having trouble securing enough clients, you can also use money-making apps to connect with pet owners.
6. Provide Freelance Writing Services
You don’t need to be an English major to be a freelance writer; this is an excellent way to make a living if you enjoy writing – and the more you write, the better you get.
While I don’t advocate 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; where you can connect, shop around, and, most importantly, get some money into your pocket. While some of these sites may offer smaller payouts, they are a great place to gain experience and build up your portfolio.
Freelance Job Boards:
After freelancing for a few months, you should have some good samples, testimonials, and experience that will give you the leverage to start going after higher-paying clients. Remember to set up your digital footprint from the beginning; social media sites are free to join and are great for building your customer base.
Other Freelance Services to Offer
Not a writer? No problem! Most of these freelance sites have gigs for proofreaders, bookkeepers, graphic designers, translators, editors, transcribers, virtual assistants, and so much more! If you have a professional skill that you can offer to the public, use this free business model to start your own freelance business.
7. FREE Business Opportunities
While most direct sales and internet business opportunities 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.
Here are a few businesses you can start with no money:
- Avon – Makeup, skincare, and beauty products
- Country Scents – Candles, melts, and home decor
- Kaeser & Blair – Promotional products
- She Anna Bella – Jewelry, handbags, and scarves (Canadian)
- Spreadshirt – Graphic t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and more
- Teespring – Apparel, home decor, and accessories
Are you looking for something different? Many direct sales companies offer a FREE starter kit if you meet certain milestones during your first 30-60 days. You can check out this master list for direct sales opportunities.
8. Sell Stuff For Money
You can pretty much sell anything online nowadays, from old clothing and books to CDs, DVDs, games, toys, printables, art, crafts, cars, etc. Look around your house to see what you’re no longer using, use the platforms below to sell your unwanted belongings, and cash in!
Sell Stuff Online:
Meet In-Person to Sell Stuff:
Design and Sell Things Online:
- Absolute Arts – Art
- Creative Market – Stock photos, printables, templates, and fonts
- Society 6 – Everything
While selling items might not seem like a business, some individuals turn it into one by reselling. Often called retail arbitrage, this is where individuals buy something for cheap and then sell it at a higher price for a profit.
I’ve interviewed two ladies who do this full-time:
Tracy Smith earns $1,200 a month by reselling items on Amazon — you can check out her story here.
Melissa Stephenson and her husband earn six figures a year flipping flea market finds on eBay — you can read their story here.
9. Become a Content Creator
If you know how to harness the power of social media, you can become a social media influencer to make money from home. Choose which platforms you want to use Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, or any combination of these, and start creating content.
It’s helpful to choose a specific topic so that your audience knows what kind of content to expect from you.
Once you start building your following and engagement, you can build relationships with brands and affiliates to make money with sponsorships. Or you can apply for one of the many creator funds which reward creators for creating content. Each platform has different criteria, but you can check them out below:
- Facebook Monetisation Tools
- Instagram Bonuses and Subscriptions
- Pinterest Creator Fund
- Snapchat Spotlight 101
- TikTok Creator Fund
- Twitter Monetization Tools
- YouTube Creators
With this no-cost business idea, all you need is a smartphone to take photos or record videos, a free editing tool, an internet connection, and your creativity and time. Some influencers are making millions!
10. Start a Photography Business with No Money
For many people, photography starts as a hobby. Then when people see their work, they ask, can you take photos for me? If you have a good eye for lighting and composition, starting a home-based photography business is free (if you already own a camera). You don’t need a website to get started, either. Post some of your photos online, and tell people you’re scheduling sessions. Once you have a few clients, tell them that you’ll offer a discount on their next session if they send you a referral.
If you’re more of an introvert, you can start a stock photography business, selling stock photos online to sites like Deposit Photos, Adobe Stock, and BigStock. As your new business grows, you can invest your money into better photography equipment, props, and education you’ll need to create more stunning images for your clients.
11. Start a Tutoring Business
Are you knowledgeable in a particular subject matter, such as math, English, or biology? Then use your expertise to start a tutoring business from home. Use marketing methods like word-of-mouth, posters, or digital marketing on sites Facebook to talk about your services. Maybe you’re talented in another area, like music or fitness. Your skills in these areas can be used to give music lessons or one-on-one personal training sessions online. The great thing about being an online tutor or instructor is you can work full or part-time hours.
My friend recently used a personal trainer who gave all of her instructions via email and text and used Venmo to collect payments; it doesn’t have to be complicated to start a business. There are also tons of platforms where you can connect with potential customers. Most of these sites are free to sign up for, and they only take a fee once you make a sale. If you’re looking for a list of platforms where you can sell your expertise online, we have you covered.
12. Start a Membership Business with Patreon
If you have a hobby that you want to monetize, starting a subscription business with Patreon is an excellent way to start a business for free.
Patreon has three different levels that you can sign up for, Lite, Pro, and Premium. Each tier is free to join but offers different features and processing fees. And that’s where Patreon makes its money from processing fees. When someone signs up for your paid membership, Patreon takes a 5-12% fee from your final price.
So what can you monetize through Patreon? Almost anything!
Here is a list of ideas to get you started:
With Patreon, you set up your payment tiers and then deliver your new content on that day. The great thing about Patreon is you can do everything in one place, and it’s an excellent source of recurring income. To learn more about getting started on Patreon, see this detailed tutorial.
13. Social Media Manager
Whether you have a marketing degree or experience in building your own social media platforms, social media management is an excellent no-cost business to start.
To start offering social media services from home, decide which platforms and services you’ll offer. There is everything from setting up new accounts to content creation, moderation, curation, paid ads, and more. Once you’ve decided on the services and platforms, you’ll work with, create accounts on those platforms and create some content to showcase what you can do in terms of photo and video creation, writing skills, engagement, and growth.
After you have some good content, start looking for companies that either haven’t updated their social media accounts in a long time or search for companies that don’t yet have a social media presence. Then email them a pitch on how you can help them reach more customers by utilizing a specific platform or platforms.
If you choose to do content creation, this can become a recurring source of income. And as more social media platforms come onto the scene, the more you can expand your offerings. Check out this article for more details on running your own social media business from home.
14. UGC Creator
If you’ve tried to create a YouTube channel, you know how difficult it can be to reach their monetization threshold of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time. However, if you enjoy creating videos and snapping photos and want to make money from creating content, there is a solution, and it doesn’t require huge followings on social media.
UGC stands for user-generated content, and it’s where companies and brands pay people to create content for their social media channels. For example, if a brand is coming out with a new flavor of tea, they may hire some UCG creators to review the tea and record their experience. Then they use this content on their social media platforms to promote the new flavor.
To get started as a UGC creator, you will need to have social media accounts set up on popular platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. You should create content that reflects your video style and passions. This gives brands an idea of what you’re capable of and what products and brands you’d likely like to partner with in the long run. Once you have some content on your accounts, you can sign up with companies like Mavrck, Find Your Influence, and Join Brands to connect with brands that are seeking UGC collaborations.
How much can you earn as a UGC creator? It depends.
I found one UGC creator who made $540 in her first month creating content for brands. Another UGC creator earned $3,200 in her first month, and she shares what steps she took to get there, and another made $0 but was waiting on four packages to be shipped to her.
15. Consulting Business
Another no-cost business idea is turning your area of expertise into a consulting business. The first step is to decide which area of expertise to offer potential customers. If you worked as a nurse, perhaps you’d like to help new startups become compliant with OSHA regulations. Or maybe you’ve worked in marketing, and you want to assist companies with getting setting up their marketing budgets or strategies.
Once you know what expertise you’re going to offer companies, start by sending them a short and thoughtful pitch on how you can help them achieve their goals. Remember, your pitch is not about you; it’s about them and how you can solve their problems and challenges.
All you need is one client to get the ball rolling.
What kind of expertise can you share with clients? Really, the list is endless, but here are some high-paying consulting specialties:
With this business idea, you’re only investing your time and expertise. Of course, later down the road, you can invest in a website and professional scheduling tools. For more detailed steps for getting started as a consultant, check out this article which contains a sample pitch template.
Conclusion: Businesses You Can Start with No Money
There are lots of home business ideas you can start with no money! But no matter which business you plan on launching, you need to write a business plan to help guide your way.
Having a business plan will help you navigate the twisty road of entrepreneurship so that you don’t leave out any crucial details, like setting money aside for self-employment taxes.
Don’t worry; I have a free business plan template to help you craft a simple business plan that will cover all your bases and set you up for entrepreneurial success!
And if you need tools to help run your business, I have a huge list of free business tools and resources.
Do you know of a free business opportunity? Drop us a note below; we’d love to know about it!
Originally published September 5, 2013. Content updated April 2023.