My wife is a stay-at-home mom who takes care of our two boys. She works a couple hours each day and is able to earn a substantial amount of money for our family each month. She’s amazing!
Unfortunately, many moms feel powerless because they can’t find legitimate work-from-home opportunities and sometimes fall victim to Tupperware, handbag, cosmetics or other “parties” that usually charge you a lot of money up front to start selling and rarely result in the success you want. Or, businesses that want you to pay thousands of dollars to get a “certificate in medical billing,” or “secret shopper” scams. Certainly these can be completely legitimate, but all too often it ends up costing the person more money than they ever earn.
I want to share with you a few things I personally have experience with. I’m not a mom (don’t have the legs for it, really 🙂 but I am able to work from home in a spare bedroom and earn a full-time income. I’ve personally done these things to earn money, and each has proven to be successful–some more than others.
#1: Start a Free Amazon Associates Account
This is probably my favorite opportunity on this list because it’s really easy to get started and easy to make your first dollar. Amazon has an affiliate program that allows anyone to sign up for an account and then earn a commission if someone buys something from Amazon using the special link they give you. Usually, you’ll earn 8% of the cost of the item on Amazon but that depends on the category the item is in.
I got started with Amazon Associates in 2011. I signed up for an account (which takes less than 5 minutes) and earned my first commission my first week. I also started a blog about a hobby of mine, and posted my Amazon affiliate links on the blog. I earned a very small income the first month, but I’ve stuck with it and now earn about $6,000 per month by placing Amazon Associates links on my websites.
To get started, log in to your Amazon.com account and then look for the tiny link in the bottom for Amazon Associates. Sign up there. When you’re done, it will give you a special link. For example, mine is improvphotog-20. Take that and add it to any normal Amazon link. So you might find a particular baby teething ring you like and go to that page on Amazon. Now copy the link. It’ll be really long, but let’s pretend it’s http://amazon.com/baby-teething-ring Now just write your code on the end like this: http://amazon.com/baby-teething-ring/improvphotog-20 Now all you have to do is post that link all over the place!
You can start by going to your personal Facebook page and posting about the teething ring you like and telling your friends about it. Then include your Amazon Associates link to the product. If one of your friends buys the teething ring after clicking on your link, you get a percentage of the sale. Your friend doesn’t pay any extra, and you make money. Win-Win. Oh, and if your friend clicks your link to the baby teething ring and gets distracted and ends up buying a new vacuum–you still get your commission even though that’s not what you linked to! Awesome!
Posting on Facebook can be a good start, but you’ll likely only earn a few dollars. But if you start a small blog about the products you want to write about, you could start earning serious money over time. If you need help getting your blog started, check out incomeschool.com/start. You may even be interested in a niche site idea review with Jim and Ricky.
Don’t want to start your own blog? Just write free guest posts for other people’s blogs on the condition that they let you use your Amazon links in the article. Win-Win.
How much you can earn: I personally earn about $17,000 per month with Amazon Associates, but it took me a long time to build up a website and get readers. If you start really small and just post on Facebook, you could probably earn $200 per month in five or six months.
Startup cost: $0
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: You could very likely earn your first commission today and a check in 30 days, but you probably wouldn’t break the $100 per month mark in the first five months. It’s a slow build up and then you’ll suddenly start seeing much higher numbers.
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Very high. If you post enough you’re unlikely to fail.
#2: Freelance Writing for Blogs
Bloggers like me are always looking for new content. It’s tough to write something new every day, so I invite guest bloggers to write content for my site and pay them for their efforts.
Most bloggers pay between $25 and $45 per article of 2,000 words. The good thing is you don’t have to be an expert to do this. Often the blog author will assign you a headline so you can research it online and put together an article. As long as you can write decently well and can find the answers online, you’re perfect for this opportunity.
In fact, if this idea interests you, click here to learn more about how to get started as a freelance writer. You can click here to learn how you can write for Income School. Or, if you’re an experienced photographer, hit me up on Twitter @improvephoto if you’d like to get paid to write for my photo blog.
How much you can earn: I personally pay about $30 per article when people write on one of my blogs. Each site is different.
Startup cost: $0
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: You could very likely earn your first dollar this week
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Very high as long as you successfully find a blog to write for
#3: Put Money in an Index Fund
One of the easiest ways you can earn an income from home is by simply making better use of the money you already have. Most people delay investing simply because they aren’t sure how to get started, but if you do, you’re very very likely to end up wealthy.
Let’s suppose you are able to watch your budget just a little better, use coupons, hold a garage sale, and scrap together just $170 out of your budget to put in an index fund each month. If you put the money in a safe, reliable index fund at 10% interest, you’ll have $1,022,389.02 in 40 years. You’re a millionaire on just $170 per month.
There are so many investments that it’s tough to know what a safe and reliable on is. Personally, I recommend index funds for this. An index fund invests in many of the largest 500 companies in America. Over the last 100 years, and the last 20 years, and the last 10 years, you’re very likely to see a return of about 9 or 10% after fees. These are much safer investments than buying stock in an individual company.
You can find index funds through most banks (just make sure they charge less than 1% fees), or through online sites like Vanguard.com. Pick an index fund or ETF with a long track record and set it up to automatically take $170 per month from your bank account. Just let it sit and do not touch it for any reason! You’re guaranteed to see the money fluctuate up and down but do not touch it! If you just leave it alone for years and keep adding to it each month, you’re pretty likely to end up with substantial wealth.
If you want a convenient little calculator to see how much money your investment will earn depending on how much you put in each month, use Dave Ramsey’s Free Online Calculator for Investing.
You have no excuse not to be a millionaire at retirement. If you aren’t investing every single month, you are wasting your resources. It can be done with just a very small investment each month that pays off huge in the long run!
How much you can earn: There is no guarantee with any investment, but historically you’ll get a decent percentage in an index fund
Startup cost: About $100
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: Don’t use an index fund for money you’ll need now. This is for long-term rewards at least 4 years into the future. I use mine for retirement so it won’t be touched for 30 years.
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Very high as long as you don’t get scared when your investment fluctuates temporarily. This is a long-term investment. Put the money in monthly and don’t touch it for any reason.
#4: Sell Crafts on Etsy
This is the only item on this list that I haven’t personally tried, but I personally know several people who do this to earn money each month.
Many Etsy sellers list their items and rarely get any sales. If that happens, it’s probably because you haven’t done a very good job getting the word out. One of the easiest ways to do that is to simply make a few free samples of your items and mail them to bloggers who write about the type of thing you make. They can keep the item for free if they’ll write about it in a blog post. If you get a few blogs to mention you who have traffic, you could make tons of sales!
One stay-at-home mom told me recently that when I linked over to a crocheted hat that she makes on Etsy, she started to get dozens of sales per month.
How much you can earn: It’s not too difficult for most people to earn enough to pay their cell phone bill. Some earn a full-time income off Etsy sales.
Startup cost: Depends on what you want to sell. Usually very low.
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: A month or so.
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Moderately high. Depends on if you do a good job of getting the word out.
#5: Start a Blog
I started my little photography blog 5 years ago while I was a law student. I could never have dreamed it would become a full-time job (yes, I did become a lawyer but I started earning far more from my blog than I could have as an attorney, so I don’t practice law anymore). I recorded a 35-minute audio podcast with my wife about how exactly we got started that you can listen to here. I’ve gotten tons of emails from readers who have told me they really appreciated that episode.
Starting a blog requires a lot of hard work but the payoff is also probably the largest on this list. Starting a blog gives me traffic that I can use to implement all of the other strategies on this list.
If you’re interested in starting a blog, then I wrote an easy step-by-step tutorial on how to get started blogging here. Also, read this blog post from last year where I showed exactly how I earned my income.
How much you can earn: I personally earned over $650,000 last year from my blogs, but I do this full-time and have put in 5 years of work to build it up to that. If I remember right (it’s been a while!), I earned $35,000 my first full year.
Startup cost: $10 for a domain name (.com website address), and $100 for hosting.
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: I’d expect to wait at least 10 months before you make money. Some do it faster, and others slower. It’s not a “get rich quick” scheme–it takes effort over time, but if you build it up now, a year from now you could have a legitimate business.
Likelihood of earning at least some money: If you are diligent and don’t give up easily, you have a good chance of success. But most people quit writing new articles each day after a few months, so they fail.
#6: Be a Virtual Assistant
I have hired a few virtual assistants in the past, and it’s a great work-from-home opportunity for busy moms. I have them do tasks like reading through my email inbox and responding to people, doing customer service via email, scheduling my travel plans, posting articles on my site, etc.
The nice thing about being a virtual assistant is that most of the time you can do the work whenever you wish. I don’t tell my virtual assistant when to do the work, but just ask that one hour of work is done each day. Nap time superhero virtual assistant to the rescue!
You can always ask small business owners you know if they are looking for an assistant, but a more likely spot to find a job is by listing your services on freelance sites like Odesk, and Freelancer.com. I’ve used both in the past to find assistants.
How much you can earn: Anywhere from $8 to $20 per hour
Startup cost: Zip!
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: About a month
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Extremely high if you can find a gig
I started out earning a side income with photography. All I did was build up a portfolio taking pictures of models (usually good-looking friends and family members who modeled for me) and then I started a cheap website on Squarespace to list my photography services. The phone didn’t ring often, but I got a few gigs each year ranging from $100 to $2,000 to shoot weddings, engagement photos, senior pictures, corporate events, etc.
It will take a long time to build up your photography skills when you start, but it can be a great job for stay-at-home moms if you choose your genre carefully. For example, if you shoot weddings you’ll have to work every weekend, which means goodbye family time. You wouldn’t have chosen to by a stay-at-home mom if you were willing to not be with your family. But there are other genres that work great for moms, like doing real estate pictures for Realtors, doing baby photography, senior pictures, etc. I wrote more about the myths of being a professional photographer here.
How much you can earn: Anywhere from $100 to $2,000 per gig depending on your experience and marketing prowess
Startup cost: Equipment and training in photography
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: Depends on your skill level. If you’re starting just brand new, about a year to get your first small gig.
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Extremely high if you can get someone to hire you
#8: Arbitrage for Amazon FBA
This one is really cool for mom’s who love to shop, or who are the type to watch the price of items carefully at stores. Amazon.com is the world’s largest online retailer. Put something up there and it sells fast!
One way that people have been earning money online recently is going to your local stores and hitting the clearance section. Buy up a shopping cart full of stuff and then mail it to Amazon FBA (fulfilled by Amazon). Amazon then sells the items and mails them for you, and pays you your cut. There is even a really cool app for your phone that you can use in the store to scan the barcode and see how much money you could make selling it on Amazon, even including your shipping costs.
I know of a couple moms who do this one day a week and buy up a few shopping carts of stuff, put it in one giant box and ship it to Amazon, and make crazy amounts of money doing it. It’s pretty cool. I haven’t personally done a lot of this just because I’m busy with my blogging businesses, but I have sold quite a few things on Amazon and had success.
If you’re interested in this, then start on this great blog for Amazon Arbitrage sellers.
How much you can earn: Some people earn $100,000 per month who go bananas on this strategy, but you could put in a couple hours a week and easily earn enough to make a cell phone payment.
Startup cost: About $100 or so to buy your first lot of product.
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: About a month
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Moderately high
#9: Write a Non-Fiction eBook
Writing eBooks is an excellent strategy for people who are skilled writers and feel like they could do enough research to learn what is necessary to write a book on some topic. I wrote my first eBook about photography. I wasn’t a pro, but I really liked photography and thought I could at least share what I’d learned so far. It did so well that it is what motivated me to start a blog and work online.
To get started, just write your book of about 50,000 words in a word document. Then head over to Smashwords.com which can help you to format your doc for putting it on the Kindle and iPad and other eBook readers.
I recorded a podcast with my wife where we talked about how we got started online and how I wrote my first eBook on the first episode of the Income School Podcast. Listen to that here for free.
How much you can earn: I earned up to $65,000 per year with eBooks when I put more time into it. My first eBook earned $1,700 in three months as I recall and I did not have an established audience of readers at the time.
Startup cost: Your time. Maybe $100 for graphics and photos to include in the book.
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: Three months
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Moderately high
#10: Flip on Craigslist
In college I earned a good amount of money by flipping our car. I took the old beat up piece of junk car we already owned and listed it on Craigslist for about $800 more than I thought it was worth. It took a while to sell at the higher price, but it eventually did! Then I bought another car with the additional $800. I flipped my car about 4 times per year (my state only allows 5 sales per year before you have to be a dealer) and each time rolled the earnings into a new car. Eventually we had a much better car and it hadn’t cost us a dime.
You can do the same thing with strollers, kids toys, etc. One EXCELLENT item to flip is iPhones! There are SOOO many scammers on Craigslist from other cities who list $200 new iPhones. They are fake ads that want people to call them and then the “seller” will scam the buyer. Anyway, enough scammers list $200 iPhones that the legitimate people in your city selling iPhones see the low prices on Craigslist and think that’s the going rate! I bought an iPhone last week here in Boise for over $200 less than the LOWEST used price on Amazon or eBay. I could flip that phone for a nice profit, and there were several other iPhones in Boise priced similarly that I could do it with.
Be extremely cautious about doing deals on Craigslist. Don’t get your family mixed up with a psychopath scammer! When you meet someone to do a Craigslist sale, I highly recommend asking to meet with them in the parking lot of a police station. That’s the safest place to do a Craigslist sale and then they don’t know where you live.
If you want a little more detail on how to make money flipping on Craisglist, check out this article.
How much you can earn: Depends on what you’re selling, but only a moderate amount
Startup cost: Your old crap 🙂
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: A few days
Likelihood of earning at least some money: You wouldn’t sell if it wasn’t a good deal right? So you’re pretty well guaranteed to earn something!
#11: Graphic Design Contests
When I want a logo designed for a website or business I’m starting, I use sites like 99designs or 48HoursLogo. I pay about $120 and then the website lists info about the logo I want to designers around the world. The designers make a logo and then I pick a winner who gets the money that I put up.
I have purchased many logos from these sites and my talented stay-at-home wife has used her graphic design skills to win several of these contests. It only takes about 30 minutes to draw the logo on the computer if you’ve learned a little graphic design, and if you’re good you can win the contests pretty regularly.
This isn’t a good option for everyone, but if you have a little experience in graphic design, this is a quick and easy way to get started earning some money.
How much you can earn: About $100 per logo
Startup cost: Software to make a logo. I use Adobe Illustrator.
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: About a week
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Completely depends on how skilled you are with graphic design
Bonus: Sign up for Survey Sites
A lot of these ideas for earning money from home involve some kind of skill-set or have some startup cost. So what if you just have a bit of spare time every day and want to earn a little extra on the side without having to spend anything. There is an option that’s working for a lot of people, and it is surveys.
In today’s world, everyone is looking for data. Companies are spending a fortune to learn what things matter to consumers and what things don’t. The benefits of this “big data” enlightenment are numerous. Companies can now design products that meet your needs better than ever before. Hotel chains are designing hotels with your preferences in mind so you don’t have to pay for features you don’t care about. One big benefit for you is that research companies are dying to know what you think, and they’re wiling to pay you to find out.
There are tons of survey sites on the internet today where you just sign up, take surveys, and get paid. The trick is knowing which of these sites are worth your time, and which ones are going to call you 5 times a day with phone surveys and fill your inbox with spam email.
Here are three of my favorite survey sites.
To help you weed through all the sites out there, we’ve actually written an article all about survey sites to teach you the ins and outs and give you several sites to get started with. We’ve actually vetted these sites and know that they’re the good ones. So if that’s something that interests you, I encourage you to read this article and get started making some extra cash today with no startup cost.
How much you can earn: About $100 per month depending on how many sites you join and how many surveys you fill out
Startup cost: Absolutely nothing – if a survey site asks for you to pay anything, then turn around and run away
How long it takes to earn your first dollar: 10 minutes
Likelihood of earning at least some money: Guaranteed! Some of these sites will even give you $5 immediately just for signing up
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