Having a work-from-home business in 2021 is a very attractive option for many people wanting to make a living without the hustle and bustle of going to an office job every day.
For you to get started on working and succeeding in your dream of launching a work-from-home small business, you need to pick the right idea first.
In writing this article, I’ve spent hours of research to curate the below list of what I think are the best work from home business ideas for a beginner to start with.
I also include links throughout to help you go find more information on your favorite idea.
In the bottom section, I’ve also included a shortlist of business ideas I don’t recommend.
Work From Home Online Business Ideas I Recommend
Being a Self-Published Author
As a self-published author, you’ll get to work from home, do all of your sales online, and not have to deal with people constantly calling you all day. It’s never been easier to get started either. All you need is a laptop, a word processor program like MS Word or Google Docs, and a platform to promote yourself such as a blog and social media.
Many self-published authors will also join the Kindle Direct Publishing Program by Amazon. You can also sell physical copies of your book with a print-on-demand model. To learn more about becoming a self-published author, I recommend you check out The Book Designer.
Being a Blogger
Being a blogger is great and can lead to many online business opportunities and prospects. As you gain traction, traffic, and you build a readership, you’ll be in a great position to offer a product, service, or even resell someone else’s products for a commission. If you get a lot of traffic you can even make money with online ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing.
Many beginners think that blogging is an easy business model. The truth is: IT’S NOT. You’ll have to like writing and promoting your blog through social media and search engines like Google. You’ll also have to enjoy getting feedback and criticism from your audience.
With enough time and determination, you can make a blog into a great online business to make money with.
Selling Print On Demand Products with an Online Store
Print on demand is a great way of creating products to resell such as T-Shirts, Printed Books, Printed Photographs, Mugs, Bags, Hats, Pens, and pretty much any type of physical product you can stamp a graphic design onto.
One of the best services I’ve seen that can help you with this is one called Printify.
The one big downside to a print-on-demand model is that it does not scale very well for keeping your production costs low. Because your only doing one print at a time vs. a thousand or even ten thousand. So like every business model out there, be sure you do a ton of research on what you’re going to produce and have a solid plan for how it scales out.
If you want to find a specific print-on-demand provider for a certain product or industry, I recommend you just do a Google search such as “print on demand t-shirt” (just swap out the term “T-Shirt” with the product you need.)
Selling Handmade or Vintage Items Online
If you are crafty or creative with handmade goods and vintage items, there are online marketplaces specifically set up for you to easily open up a store online.
Some of the marketplaces include:
- Etsy: The ETSY marketplace has been around since 2005 and is the most well-known site for selling handmade and vintage goods on.
- Amazon Handmade: The Amazon Handmade marketplace started in 2015 to compete with Etsy. It’s a good alternative and worth checking out.
- Cratejoy: The CrateJoy marketplace takes your handmade creative business product and curates it with other products into a gift box for the end customer.
- Folksy: The Folsky marketplace is huge in the UK and is known as the biggest craft fair in the United Kingdom, so if you are in Europe, this site is going to be a great asset for you to check out.
- IndieCart: The IndieCart marketplace specializes in handmade goods for you and your family. Browsing the site I saw hats, socks, bags, and all kinds of special handmade items.
The possible categories for handmade goods are endless: Accessories that solve a problem, Artwork, Personal Care, Baby Items, Beauty Supplies, Handmade Clothing, Shoes, Handbags, Home Decor, Outdoor Furniture, Custom Jewelry, Watches, Kitchen Accessories, Dining, Pet Supplies, Sporting Goods, Stationery, Party Supplies, Board Games, and Toys.
The list of categories is endless. I recommend just searching for your idea on the various platforms as a starting point to see what others are doing first. Then you are the judge to decide how to proceed forward with your business plan.
Freelance Graphics Design
If you are thinking of becoming a graphics designer in the freelance world you’ll have to be prepared to market yourself and build out a portfolio of clients.
You most likely already know what kinds of graphics you can draw or design, so your first step is to find out what kind of a market there is for it. Most likely you’ll find the most profitable work in logos, web design, and doing artwork for Social Media.
I recommend you start by setting up your own blog and website. Then, get some business cards and start networking with people in your local city and industry. Be sure you show off your best creations on Pinterest and Instagram too.
You can also give LinkedIn a try to build some connections.
Don’t forget about putting up an ad on Craigslist! With enough time and effort, you’ll little graphics design freelance business will grow into something full-time in no time.
Be a Photographer Who Resell’s Photographs Online
If you have an interest in photography or you already are a professional photographer you are in a great position to start an online business from home.
Traditionally, you’d have to see people onsite in-person to shoot at events or do portraits for people.
Did you know that you could take your own photos and sell them online to other creators and online marketers to use?
Online Teaching / Tutorials
There are so many ways you can get into teaching others online. One popular way is to start a blog and write your teachings for others to consume. If you’re comfortable being in a video you can even start a YouTube channel. If you’re camera shy and just want to speak to your audience then consider launching a PodCast instead.
When you want to monetize your content you could do one-to-one calls with people and teach them remotely over a Zoom call.
You could sell a self-published how-to book via Amazon. Another option is making a video course on the platform Teachable. The possibilities are endless.
Some people even host classes or go to live speaking events.
Get paid to read someone else’s writing. To launch a successful proofreading business you’ll need to network with other writers or editors. Be sure to pass out business cards in your local area and join a networking group.
Another idea is to post an ad on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace advertising your services.
For this type of online business, I always recommend you work directly with clients if you can. The margin on how much you can charge per hour is not going to be very high. Especially, when a middle marketplace is taking a 15 – 20% cut.
Freelance Data Entry
Data entry is something every company needs. It requires skills like being able to type fast, a good eye for accuracy, and basic problem-solving skills for software programs like Excel.
It’s best to network with some business owners directly and tell them about your services. Hand out some business cards, advertise on Craigslist or your Social Media. Create a word of mouth buzz for your service and you’ll have more work than you can handle.
You can use a marketplace such as UpWork or Fiverr as well. Just be aware of the 15-20% cut they will make on your rates.
Flipping Collectible Items on eBay
If you enjoy the thrill of the hunt and finding collectibles and other hidden treasures at flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales; you will enjoy being an eBay Reseller.
The best way to get started is by looking at your own collectibles and household items that might be worth selling. Simply look up the brand or model in the search box on the eBay app or website and see how many listings there are.
Check the listing price but always be sure you select the “sold” option under eBay’s search filter to show you the true price that it’s worth.
Before you can do anything you’ll need an account so here’s a direct link to eBay’s help section on how you can register an account to get you started: Register an eBay account
Also, one of the best ways to learn the flipping and reselling business for eBay is to watch others do it. Recently, I wrote an article that covers the top eBay resellers I like to watch who enjoy sharing information for what they buy and what they sold.
Freelance Product Designing
Many CEOs, CTO’s, Visionaries, Entrepreneurs, and Start-Up Project Managers need help when it comes to augmenting a new product concept.
That’s where you come in as a Product Designer. If you are skilled in things like Digital Strategy, UX Design, UI Design, Wire Framing, Prototyping, and you are a creative thinker/problem solver, you’ll have a great chance of doing this kind of online business service.
Check out sites like Linkedin or TopTal to find projects to work on. Also, have your resume, skills, and knowledge up to date so you can pass a screening interview.
It would also help if you created a website or blog to show off your skills, knowledge, and portfolio of projects as well!
Being a YouTuber
YouTube is a dream everyone seems to have right now. I think being a full-time YouTuber is one of the hardest online business ideas you can try and start.
It’s a great side project to start at any time but I would not make it a primary business idea unless you have an exceptional talent for what you’re doing. You’ll be able to measure that talent based on how well people engage with your videos as compared to other creators doing the same thing.
The algorithm of YouTube remains a bit of a mystery when it comes to recommending your channel and videos for skyrocketing your growth. It’s important to be aware of this because to make any real money you have to bring in the views and engagement. In other words, you might be at the mercy of the mighty mysterious algorithm which is not a very good business plan for making a living in my opinion.
Social Media Influencer
If you have an authentic interest in doing this you’ll want to be active on the social media platform a lot!
First, it’s important that you learn the culture and psychology of the platform as recommended by Gary Vee.
Also, it’s best to start following other influencer’s who are in a similar industry that interests you for what you want to do.
Then, start creating valuable entertaining content on the platform and see how things go. You might grow quickly, or a bit slowly. At some point, you’ll know just the perfect content mix to engage a loyal following who will buy from you when you have something to sell or offer.
Loyalty is a big deal because if you have a lot of fake followers, you will not get any of the results that will make it a real business in the end.
Computer programming will always make a great freelance gig or full-time career. If you’ve been working in the field for a while then you most likely have a lot of technical skills already. For you to make this an online business you’ll have to set up a website, a blog, and a social media account to help promote your services.
I would recommend you research a certain industry or business category to go after which requires a software solution written in a language you can work in, like Python, PHP, C++, and dotNET.
Another avenue is helping small businesses with outdated business models which need a bit of innovation or automation for better workflow. These are real problems that exist and need to be solved.
Programming to fix problems is where the real money will be made for you. Not to mention, you will not be competing with lower-priced programmers for basic web design projects.
Online Marketing Expert
If you have an interest in helping small business owners with their online and digital marketing you can make a decent living online from home.
You’ll need to learn about Blogging, Social Media, Video, and doing Paid Per Click Marketing.
The best sources for you to start learning about the basics of marketing, sales, and branding will be to follow legitimate thought leaders and content authorities in the industry.
Here are some resources to get you started:
- Gary Vee: Gary focuses on the importance of building a good content marketing strategy through social media and video. Gary’s YouTube Channel is also very popular and he also has a blog. His best advice to the viewers is “Watch what I do more than what I say.”
- Social Media Examiner: To learn and stay up to date on everything going on in the Social Media Industry you’ll want to follow Social Media Examiner. I love their reports and articles which contain lots of research on the latest facts and trends in the industry.
- Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal: If you are interested in anything with Google and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) these two sites will educate and keep you informed of everything in the Search Engine Marketing industry. It will also help you if you want to learn more about Search Engine Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing.
I also have an online marketing blog where I teach small business owners about content and blog marketing.
Reselling eCommerce Business [or Building a Niche Online Store]
If you like flipping or reselling things online through marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or even you’re own Shopify store then starting a reselling online business will be right for you.
This type of business does not focus on collectibles as much as doing everyday goods like household items, tools, electronics, jewelry, watches, clothing, and the like.
There are many people that do retail arbitrage, drop shipping, source from wholesale sites, or even buy close-out liquidations.
This is a very hard business for a beginner to get into and if selling online is new to you then I recommend you try my previous idea which is flipping items on eBay first.
To really learn about the reselling business online go check out the My Wife Quit Her Job blog and start reading all the articles written by Steve Chou.
Remote Tech and IT Support Business
IT Services is a huge every changing industry that has shifted to more of a remote business model in the last 10 years or so. In fact, it’s even more remote now with everyone wanting to work from home.
To get started on your own Information Technology Support business I highly recommend you have a little bit of experience doing IT support for another company first either as a 1099 contractor or employee.
Then, once you find your technical skillset whether it be Systems Support, Security, a Specific Software, or General User Support – You’ll be ready to niche down and cater your services to a business model that will solve problems and provide value to a small business.
Trust is a big factor in this business so I’d start a blog, do some videos, and try and get referrals for your services by networking with as many people in your local area as possible. 90% of an IT Business will be done online remotely but you may have to meet some business owners in person from time to time for onsite support etc.
The best site I know of at this moment to learn more about the business is TechNibble. It has a forum, articles, and anything else you’d want to know about setting up an IT Support Business.
If you have a valuable skill set that can help others then you’re in a perfect position to coach others remotely over the phone or through your computer using Zoom or Skype.
Some possible categories for coaching are: Business leaders, Executives, Human Resources, Life and Work, Motivation, Business Strategy, Health and Fitness, Finance, and even some Medical Doctors can offer advice and coach their clients remotely.
If this something you are interested in getting started you’ll need to prove you are qualified in your field to be coaching others. You can do this by being certified, having a degree, or showing the necessary work experience.
It would also help to showcase your knowledge in a Blog, YouTube Channel, or on Social Media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and FaceBook.
There’s a site called Solelife which is a platform built specifically for matching up coaches with prospective clients. I highly recommend you check it out.
Resume and Cover Letter Writer
If you have a background in helping people find jobs or you use to be a hiring manager who enjoys writing, becoming a Resume and Cover Letter writer might be for you.
It’s easy to get started, just start a blog and website that showcases your talent and qualifications. Then advertise it and network with others in your community. Linkedin would also be a big help for promoting your services.
Sites like UpWork and Fiverr can also help you get started however I think directly working with clients is more profitable and valuable in the long run.
If you are well organized and like helping busy business owners out then you might just make the perfect virtual assistant to someone.
As a virtual assistant, you can match up your skills with handling customer service calls, dealing with vendors, to helping prepare business contracts. The tasks are endless.
Another popular task is helping business owners out with their social media marketing for sites like Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
The best way to start is to look over existing listings on Gig sites like Odesk or Elance and see what people are requesting. As you build up your reputation you might decide to start your own website and have your clients directly come to you.
These Online Business Ideas You Should Avoid!
Unless you truly have an advantage over the mainstream competition.
- Becoming a day-trader with no financial background.
- Trying to build an App without lots of research.
- Trying to sell and build a brand without years of hard work behind it.
- Buying and Selling Domains with no experience.
- Being a FOREX and Crypto Trader with no financial experience!
Also, Please avoid doing too many side hustles or business ideas at once. It’s OK to experiment and find what you’re good at, then double down on one or two things only. PLEASE don’t burn yourself out either.
If you made it through the whole list thanks for reading it! Working from home online for yourself is no easy task. This long list of ideas will give you a starting point for figuring out the best options for you.
Over time I will be expanding this list and also writing in more detail about each option on the list. Thanks for reading and please comment below and share this out with your friends and colleagues!