Back before the Internet connected us at all times, it was mostly reclusive novelists and temperamental artists who were able to truly work from home.
Anyone who had the dream of being able to work in their pajamas was either stuck dreaming about it, or they fell victim to some sort of envelope-stuffing scam which cost money and never materialized with a paycheck.
These days, there are a number of perfectly legitimate ways to make money from home. Technology has created new opportunities for work from home jobs which weren’t possible previously, many without having to spend a ton (if anything) to get started.
Here are 19 of the best, legitimate work from home jobs with no startup fee that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Table of Contents
Freelancing is an excellent work from home job that requires very little start up cost. You also get to use skills you already have.
1. Freelance Writing/Editing/Proofreading
Freelance writing, editing, and proofreading can be very lucrative (and I should know!).
The trick to becoming a successful freelancer is to find jobs and/or clients who are a good match for your specific skills and interests.
In addition, mastering your time management is essential, since you will make more money the more you write.
While there are an abundance of freelance opportunities out there, the big challenge is finding them and negotiating the right price.
Freelancers can get paid:
- by project
- by page
- per post
- per word
You could make anywhere from $25 per post to $1,000 per post or more, depending on length, research, and company budget.
There are plenty of freelance writers who make over six figures, while others make a couple hundred dollars a month. Honing your craft and leveraging your experience for higher payments is the way to join the 6-figure freelancers.
There are virtually no barriers to entry for this job—you just have to be very organized and ambitious if you want to make this a career.
Having experience in communication or writing is a plus, but not required. The more work you do, the more exposure you will receive, which will help you to continually find new clients.
If there are specific sites you would like to write for, the best way to do so is to contact them using their media contact information. Early on, you may not hear back right away (or at all).
The key is to be persistent and professional.
In order to be a great freelancer, you must continue to impress your clients and seek out new opportunities on a regular basis.
You have to put in the work and hustle.
Also, if you plan to make over $600 a year as a freelancer (which I’m sure you do), you’ll want to consider registering with your state for a Limited Liability Company. An LLC will provide protection and a business structure for your freelance career.
2. Virtual Assistant
Virtual assistants are increasing in popularity, which means highly organized and enterprising individuals can make a good living from home with this career.
Entrepreneurs and companies alike are seeking out virtual assistants to help them with their daily tasks. All you need is an Internet-connected computer, and you can be a virtual assistant from anywhere.
To start working as a VA, identify what it is you can and want to do for a client.
Start by listing all of the skills you know how to do, then list all those you can easily learn.
Skills might include:
- email management
- social media management
- posting blogs
- scheduling appointments
- event planning
- organizing files
- booking travel
- email and calendar organization
- word or video editing
- and much more
You don’t need any training, although you can take various courses to help sharpen your skills.
Click here to learn more about Kayla Sloan’s $10K VA course!
Next, identify the type of person you want to work for.
For instance, would you like to help bloggers, coaches, small business owners (such as chiropractors, restaurateurs, plumbers), fitness professionals, caterers, etc.?
If you have any background or expertise in a particular field, this can help you get a leg up with entrepreneurs or companies in the field.
Then, start pitching.
All. The. Time.
You can make this as specific as you want. The more comfortable you feel with pitching to clients, the easier it will be to highlight your skills.
Now, in order to make your transition easier to a VA, you should consider investing in an invoicing and contracting system. Depending on your niche you can find free software to help you organize your clients.
Similar to a freelancer, you should always operate yourself under an LLC. This can easily be set up by googling your state requirements and application process.
Also, always have a contract agreement to protect yourself and the other party.
Your income as a VA can range—though, it’s recommended business owners should pay their VA’s no less than $20/hour, which means you can probably expect to receive $20-$35 per hour.
3. Online Tutoring
Is there an academic subject you know back to front?
Maybe you were an English major (like me), or you used and honed your math skills every day in a previous job, or you are currently enrolled in college. If this describes you, then online tutoring might be an excellent way for you to make a living at home.
Here’s how it works: you will need to get set up with a site which pairs tutors with students looking for help with their school work.
There are a number of online tutoring sites out there, including:
Online tutors can often choose their own hours, which can allow for a great deal of flexibility.
In general, you can expect to make around $8 to $12 per hour.
Working 20 hours a week as a tutor can bring in as much as $1,000 per month. This may not completely replace the income you might make with a traditional job (or even a traditional part-time job), but is certainly a nice chunk of money for part-time work.
Increasing your tutoring hours, or combining online tutoring with another option on this list could help you create a full-time salary from home.
4. Social Media Manager
Social media is a crucial part of a company’s brand presence and voice.
Companies will often have a marketing budget to spend but have no idea how to spend it. This is where a social media manager comes in.
A social media manager can help with content marketing, public relations, social media strategy, and communications.
In order to be a great social media manager, you should have impeccable grammar and communication skills. It also requires a lot of research, so this should be a strength of yours.
Just like becoming a VA or a freelancer, you have to network and market yourself to potential clients. You need to understand their niche and how you can accelerate their online presence.
Social media management can take trial and error – therefore, it’s critical you work with a company who lets you experiment at least a little to find what creatives their audience responds to.
When you first begin, reach out to clients whose industry you understand. These could be the companies you personally use or an industry you have worked in. Let your potential clients know how you can help boost their social media reach.
From there, you will gain experience and feel more confident reaching out to additional clients if you have the time.
Social media managers could work as a full-time employees, part-time employees, or as contractors. Plenty of companies hire remote employees for this type of job, and you may become a part of their team.
The average hourly rate for a social media manager is between $15 – $16 an hour. Depending on your location and experience level you could make a lot more.
5. Web Developer or Designer
If you have any background in creating websites, becoming a freelance web developer can be a great way to work from home.
In some ways, this job is like freelance writing where the skills and background you bring to the table will determine how much you are paid and what kind of projects you can expect to land.
Newbies in this field should spend some time learning the necessary programming languages, building their own sites, and offering to do some pro bono work in order to create a professional portfolio to attract paying clients.
To be successful in this field, you will also need to invest in a fast computer and high-speed Internet.
Once you are up and running, however, working as an at-home web developer can be quite lucrative.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
“The median salary for web developers in 2020 was just under $77,200 per year.”
One thing to be careful of, however, is burnout.
Web development can require long hours in front of a computer screen, and many who work from home find themselves working odd hours to meet client demands and getting overwhelmed.
Many online publications and companies need individuals who can help them research various topics.
If you are Internet-savvy and know how to distinguish what makes for reputable sources, this work from home job could be a good fit for you.
This type of position can be even more lucrative if you have research skills geared toward the legal sector or tech fields. If you are knowledgeable about software and computers , it can be even more of a plus.
If you think this opportunity may be a good fit for you, you can start by posting a profile on sites such as:
These sites will help you connect with clients and expand your portfolio.
You can start at any level, but once you gain some experience and credibility you can look for higher-paying jobs.
Like with a lot of online jobs, you can decide to be a contractor or an employee for a company or publication.
If you go the contractor route, it’s recommended to open an LLC. However, if your clients’ would like you to be employed you will not need to register with your state.
A researcher can make anywhere from $10-$20 an hour depending on the skill level and expertise.
If you are multi-lingual, the field of work from home translations jobs is growing by leaps and bounds.
There are two primary paths to take as a translator from home.
- become an interpreter and translate over the phone for businesses and organizations who deal with international customers or colleagues
- translate written work from one language to another
You can expect to have to take some sort of test to prove your high-level fluency in your second (or third) language so this is not a good idea if you haven’t spoken Spanish since you took it in high school.
The amount of money you can earn depends partially on what you are translating. The more specialized the lingo (think engineering or medical information), the higher the pay.
According to Gengo:
“The average monthly payment for translating written works into English is $417. However, the more you hustle with this job, the more you can earn.”
Like data entry, transcription work from home is a field where you have to be careful about the job offers you encounter.
There are some work from home scam companies who claim to have legitimate transcription jobs, but when you apply, you are turned down and encouraged to sign up for a transcription certification course, at a cost of a couple of hundred dollars.
However, there are plenty of legitimate work from home transcription opportunities out there, and this can be a great way for good typists to earn money at home.
Transcriptionists have to listen to audio files and type what they hear.
While this sounds easy, sometimes the audio files are poor quality or the speakers have accents, making it difficult to determine what is being said. Expect to have to rewind and re-listen to some portions of the audio multiple times before you can accurately transcribe it.
As with translation, transcribing more specialized information can be more lucrative.
Specifically, legal and medical transcription can offer the best income, and there are classes you can take to become trained in those fields. Check out a list of those classes here.
Transcription is paid by the audio hour.
For instance, if you are offered $50 per audio hour, you will receive $50 for each hour of audio you transcribe, but it may take you anywhere from two to five hours to transcribe a single hour of audio.
Experienced transcriptionists do not accept less than $45 to 50 per audio hour, although newbies may want to take lower-paying jobs as they earn experience.
9. Customer Service or Tech Support Representative
Many companies are now hiring U.S.-based remote customer service or tech support representatives to answer inbound customer calls.
To do this sort of work, you will need a pleasant voice, customer service or tech support experience, a computer with high-speed Internet, a landline, and a quiet place to take calls.
Patience is likely a strong attribute, as well.
You can generally expect to make between $8 and $15 per hour.
Do be cautious when applying for customer service jobs, as this is another place where scammers may try to prey on job-seekers.
There are several legitimate sites which allow you to search for at-home customer service jobs.
Inc. put together this list of the 10 best companies offering work from home tech support positions.
Local Service Businesses
10. Pet Sitting
If you love animals, pet sitting can be a great way to earn cash–although it may stretch the definition of working from home.
According to Crystal Stemberger, proprietor of Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting:
“Pet parents know their furry little ones are happier at home and are willing to pay a little extra for pet sitters to come to them.”
This means you are more likely to have a successful pet-sitting business if you’re willing to stay over while pet owners are away.
Stemberger reports her busiest times are during vacation seasons:
- March (spring break)
- May-September (summer vacation)
- Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you’re a nomad or couch-surfer by nature, then you can turn your love of animals into a profession which also gives you a place to stay.
However, there is definitely a market for drop-in pet care (i.e., dog-walking) and in-home pet-sitting if you’d prefer to keep your animal care business home-based.
One of the easiest ways to start is to use a site like Rover.com (although Stemberger has gotten the majority of her business through Craigslist and word of mouth).
A site like Rover not only helps market you to your community but it helps protect you in case something were to go wrong.
It covers the pet owner as well as the pet sitter (through liability insurance).
Just like other side gigs, you may want to register for an LLC in your state, and Stemberger also recommends getting pet-sitting insurance. Not only does it cover you in case of a problem, but it also allows you to advertise you are bonded and insured.
The amount pet-sitters make varies, but you can expect $15-$30 for drop-in visits and $50-$90 per night for overnight care.
11. ESL Assistance & Tutoring
There are a number of sites online which are looking for native-English speakers to tutor ESL (English as a Second Language) students.
In many cases, the primary requirement is being a native English speaker since many of the students are simply looking for a way to practice their conversational skills. These sorts of opportunities will generally pay less than the sites looking for tutors with ESL or teaching experience or with a degree in English or education.
Like online tutoring, most ESL tutoring will allow you to make your own schedule. You will generally need to have a solid Internet connection and a webcam since you will often be video chatting with your student.
Some sites are geared toward tutoring children, but the majority of ESL students will be adults who live all over the world who need or want to improve their English.
Depending on your experience, you can earn anywhere from $10 to $45 per hour as an online ESL tutor.
12. Child Care
If you love being around children or are already staying home with your kids, you may want to consider starting an in-home daycare service.
It’s important to note, however, you will have to become a licensed family childcare provider.
This process can vary by state. Your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R) and licensing office will be the best resource for verifying what you need in order to get started.
You may have to apply, have a fire safety check of your home, and complete certain training hours before you can care for children in your own home.
Other important things to consider are:
- your hours of operation
- what type of business model will work best for your community
- the needs of the children in your community
- where you will provide the service in your home
- a budget for entertainment and food
Keep in mind, many professionals need this service and need someone they trust to watching their children while they work.
Good childcare can be hard to come by so it’s important your business model is well thought out in advance.
According to Care.com, the average weekly rate for a child at daycare was $211.
13. Personal Chef
Many busy families and individuals would prefer to eat home-cooked meals, but they simply do not have the time to cook themselves.
That’s where personal chefs come in.
As a personal chef, you could help families who are running low on time or have very special dietary needs and need some assistance. A personal chef can also cater parties and corporate events.
Wherever there is a kitchen and utensils you can create a workspace.
If you love to cook, this could be the perfect work from home job. While professional culinary training or previous professional cooking is helpful, it is not necessary; although, you may want to take cooking classes to make sure your skills are up-to-date.
You will need a business license and insurance to cover an incident if someone were to become ill from your food or you had any sort of accident in the kitchen.
There is a wide array of cuisines you could provide; however, it’s recommended you select a specific type of food or cuisine you feel comfortable with so your business can have a target market.
For instance, you could bill yourself as the go-to vegetarian, healthy eating personal chef, which can help you target a specific demographic and receive more business. This also will make the food preparation easier and the costs lower since you are sticking to a specific food niche.
As anyone who has worked in a restaurant can tell you, people are very picky about their food. So, occasionally some clients may be hard to please.
Just like with other contracting and freelancing jobs you will want to continue to seek out additional clients. Building your book of business will ensure you always have work.
Personal chefs make between $35-$50 per hour. This could vary depending on the type of service your offer.
14. Personal Training or Coaching
Is working out an important component of your life?
If so, then you may have what it takes to be a home-based personal trainer.
There is a huge market for personal trainers since many people need someone to act as a teacher, coach, cheerleader, and motivator to stay physically fit.
It is unlikely you’ll be able to have your clients come to your home, in part because it may not be covered by your liability insurance, and in part, because it may go against the zoning regulations in your area.
However, you can become a trainer who makes house calls to your clients, using the equipment they already have and bringing some minimal supplies of your own with you. This kind of training will allow you to make your own hours and run the management side of your business from your home.
You will want to carry fitness business liability insurance to make certain you are covered in case any of your clients are injured while exercising.
While you do not need to have a degree to become a trainer, you will need to become certified.
There are a number of organizations, including:
They usually offer certification programs for personal training which will cover anatomy, kinesiology, training techniques, and more.
Since stay-at-home provisions have occurred, even more opportunities have sprung up, from local gyms and yoga studios offering at-home classes, to larger companies like Peloton encouraging working out with a personalized trainer or online class.
Fitness workers’ median income is $19.48 per hour, but freelance personal trainers could potentially charge much more, particularly if they make house calls.
Of course, to help someone improve their health, you don’t need to be there in person showing them how to do push-ups. Most people just need accountability. That’s why accountability coaches are one of the fastest growing careers in fitness. Learn more by reading our article on becoming an accountability coach.
15. eBay Sales
There are two ways to really make a good living as an eBay seller.
The first method is to become a reseller.
This is where you scour local flea markets, yard sales, auctions, and the like to find valuable items being sold for less than they are worth. You place these items for sale on eBay and keep the profits.
The second eBay sales option is to handle the sales for individuals who wish to declutter their homes but don’t want to do the work of posting the sales and shipping the items.
You can charge a commission of between 15-25% of the sale price to handle this work for other people.
Whether you decide to dedicate your eBay sales to reselling found items or selling for other people (or a mixture of both), there are a couple of important steps to take to make sure your eBay store is a success and consistently makes you a good profit.
Decide on a Niche
First, you may want to decide on a niche of items you will focus on in your store.
This is helpful because it is much easier for you to become knowledgeable about a single item or family of items than it is for you to try to become an expert in everything.
If you know a great deal about sports memorabilia already, for example, then it doesn’t make sense to try to learn about fine china just because you find some in a local store.
In addition, having an eBay store which follows a theme means you are more likely to get repeat customers who browse through your live auctions.
Second, the more research you do, the better you will be able to identify items which will sell well and determine what is most profitable.
You can start by browsing current listings on eBay, although it’s also a good idea to check completed listings to see how much different items ultimately sold for. You’ll want to look through the most recent and compare them to older auctions to spot trends, too.
In addition, it’s important to put some effort into writing and posting your listings.
Using multiple, excellent photographs will garner more interest from browsers, and keeping your listings free of errors shows you are professional and the buyer can trust you.
Finally, making sure you ship the items promptly after the sales end and provide prompt feedback on the site will keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more from you.
The amount of money you make as an eBay seller can vary a great deal, with some sellers making well into 6 figures of profit.
However, it requires a great deal of dedication and finding the right eBay niche.
16. Tee-shirt Design
Becoming a tee-shirt entrepreneur has become something that virtually anyone can do.
Without having to invest in equipment, keep inventory, or even handle mailings, you can utilize print-on-demand websites like:
And many others.
You don’t even have to have a background in design to create a successful business.
Sandy Smith, who blogs at Yes I Am Cheap, had no design experience before she started making custom tee-shirts and mugs. She recommends:
“Those who are interested in creating such a business start by trying the free templates and design tools many of these print-on-demand websites offer. It’s an easy way to get your feet wet and learn what works for you.”
In addition, she suggests you remember who you are designing for.
“It’s important to keep in mind you are not designing products for yourself, but for your customer. You may love something but is it too niche? Is it salable? Would anyone else buy it?”
That being said, she also recommends you “find your niche and run with it.”
She creates political tee-shirts and mugs since there is a great deal of interest in political gear, especially around election times. It also gives her regular inspiration for new products as the news cycle changes which can lead to repeat customers, too.
An investment in this kind of business can be completely free if you make your own designs and/or use the templates provided by the print-on-demand websites, or you can spend thousands of dollars on everything from designs created by professionals to equipment for printing your own shirts.
How much you make depends on a number of factors, including:
- how hands-on you are in the creation process (the less work you do personally, the smaller your profit margin)
- how much you spend on promotion (this can scale if you’re using Facebook ads, for example)
- whether or not you pass the mailing costs and other incidentals along to your customers
Smith has automated most of her business and works on it part-time, and her profits can vary from a couple of hundred dollars in some months to over $10,000 around Christmas!
17. Travel Agent
Believe it or not, travel agents did not disappear around the same time people were treating Beanie Babies as an investment.
These days, travel agents are more likely to work from home than have a storefront, but it’s a job opportunity open to anyone who is enthusiastic about travel, organization, and planning (and who likes working with people).
There are a number of companies and industries who need work from home travel agents, including:
- several cruise-booking websites
- American Express, which offers travel counseling as part of its concierge service
- Disney-oriented organizations like Travel With Magic
While having experience as a travel agent is helpful, it’s not necessary for most opportunities, although some do require it.
Depending on what kind of job you take, you may either be a salaried employee who works regular hours from home, or you may be commission-based, which generally means you can create your work schedule but earn as you place arrangements.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home-based travel agents make about $46,650 per year.
Use Your Skills or Time
There are many examples of using skills you already have or your time to earn a side income. These are just two to get your ideas flowing.
18. Voiceover Actor
Did you know you can use your voice to make money?
It’s called voiceover work. Voiceover actors use their voice to narrate or read, like in radio commercials or audiobooks.
It takes a lot of work to become a great voiceover actor, but voiceover jobs are a great way to earn extra money. You don’t have to be a famous actor to become a voiceover actor either.
Much of the work involves being able to:
- read and interpret a script
- conveying emotions through your voice
- and articulation
Voiceover work can be done remotely, giving people freedom to work at anytime and from anywhere.
Another perk is being able to work as much or as little as you want.
With today’s technology, it’s relatively simple to create a home studio for recording voiceover work. Sound quality is of the utmost importance, so research equipment recommendations before making any purchases.
Some voiceover work is done at a recording studio with the help of a sound engineer, but if you can record and send files, this can be minimized.
Voiceover actors can sign up as a narrator for ACX. This allows auditioning for acting gigs and audiobooks that will be published on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Find out more about becoming an ACX narrator here.
Voiceover actors normally make up to $40 an hour.
19. Instacart Shopper
If you are a grocery shopping aficionado, then being an Instacart shopper might be for you.
With the opportunity to set your own availability, you can easily fit grocery shopping for others into your schedule.
As an independent contractor, you can earn money by shopping at local stores who Instacart is partnered with, and then delivering those groceries to customers.
If you decide to become a part-time employee, you are an in store shopper only and not required to deliver. But you are limited to 29 hours per week.
Orders come in for both types of employees through their shopper app, about 30 minutes before your available time slots. You will need to promptly accept or decline the offer, or it will go to someone else.
Payment is hourly if you are part-time, or by commission as an independent contractor. Commission tends to be higher during peak times, like the weekend, and based on order size.
Both types of workers have the ability to cash out weekly, and money is direct deposited into your bank account.
Sign up is fairly straightforward.
You do need:
- to be at least 18 years old
- be able to lift 40 lbs. with or without accommodation
- have a smartphone
- pass a background check
- and if you will be delivering groceries, pass a DMV check
Once the initial sign-up and paperwork are completed, making money is as easy as accepting gigs. Set your availability and wait for the orders to roll in.
Final Thoughts on No Startup Cost Work From Home Jobs
After the COVID pandemic many more options have bcome available for those looking to work from home without fronting all the cost.
If you are with an employer who wants mostly in-person employees, start looking for other employers in the same field or another job that uses the experience you already have.
The options are out there, so go get it!