Many of us think of our family home as a place of refuge from the outside world. It’s where people retreat to at the end of a long and stressful work day, or a hectic day of errands and crowds and road rage and lines and waiting rooms. It’s where we recharge our batteries and regroup. Home is about kicking back, relaxing, and enjoying time with family.
But the desire for more flexible workplace existences, a shortage of quality child care in many parts of the U.S., and a desire to earn extra income have many people rethinking the traditional boundaries between “home” and “work.” Transforming at least part of your home into a money-making zone is becoming more and more common with each passing year.
If you’ve considered making money from home — or with your home — here are a few tips and suggestions to get you started.
Want To Make Money From Home? Here Are 7 Tips for Success:
1. Become a homeowner
I remember how shocked I was in my 20s, while a struggling student being priced out of the local rental market, to learn that buying a condo would actually SAVE ME MONEY over what I was paying in rent. That process started me down the path that later provided a big chunk of the down payment on our current family home.
Whether you’re already shopping for your first home, or just wondering if it’s even feasible, start by asking friends if they have a mortgage broker they’ve worked with, or look into home financing options at your local bank or credit union. Mortgage brokers can help you find the best mortgage deal to meet your financial circumstances. Think that home ownership is beyond your reach? See if any mortgage brokers near you are holding free seminars for first-time homeowners. (That’s how I started on the path to homeownership.)
Another possibility to consider is buying a home that includes an apartment (or even just an extra bedroom) you can rent out. I halved my housing expenses when I bought my condo by renting out the extra bedroom to a fellow student. I know many cities in Canada where housing costs are so high, and supply is so low, that it’s routine for people to rent out their basement or attic, or even a bedroom.
And becoming a landlord isn’t the only way you can use home ownership to make money. With your own home, you can do just about anything required by a particular business plan or vision of yours. You can knock down walls, create an expanded office or “warehouse,” or convert half the building to a consulting practice. On the other hand, running a home-based business out of a residential property is generally against the law and/or your lease.
2. Start a side hustle before quitting your day job
Think you’ve got what it takes to start a home-based business? Here’s a big hint: DON’T quit your day job quite yet.
Generally, it’s a better idea by far to start exploring your business plan as a side hustle, before quitting your day job. For starters, a side-hustle be something that you can fit in the free hours you have surrounding your main job, without having to sacrifice your income. Furthermore, you’ll be able to test out different ideas for businesses and business plans, and give them the time they need to mature, before they become your sole source of income.
What’s more, by beginning your dream business as a side-hustle, you’ll be starting out on a scale that is doable from home. It may evolve into the kind of business that needs its own separate premises down the road. But by starting from home, you’ll save yourself tons of overhead on your new venture.
On the other hand, by quitting your day job and going all-out on a brand new startup, you’re likely to burn through your savings in a hurry. And then you’ll crash your business before it’s mature enough to bear fruit.
When your side-hustle starts showing promise, and actually makes you some money, THEN you can think seriously about quitting your day job in order to pursue your side-hustle full time.
3. Find a way to telecommute, or work in a field made for home-based employment
You don’t HAVE to start a home-based business, or rent out part of your dwelling, to make money from home. High-speed internet and other modern technologies have made it possible to work from home at a wide variety of jobs.
Some people enjoy telecommuting either because of the flexible scheduling. Others like saving on commuting time and expenses. Still others like the dress code, or the fact that working from home is more compatible with child-rearing and family responsibilities. (As I work on this post, I’m snuggled under my purple blanket and wearing my favorite fuzzy slippers. And when my children get home from school in a few hours, I’ll be here waiting for them.)
If making money from home is a primary interest of yours, you could start by asking your current employer if they’d be open to a remote-working arrangement. Even one or two days a week can make a huge difference. Both my brother Evan and my dear friend Keisha telecommute one or more days a week in their jobs for the federal government, and my dear friend Raiah works exclusively from her home-based office. They all LOVE the family flexibility that these arrangements afford them.
But there are plenty of other ways to work from home using the skills you already have, other than starting a full-fledged business. My friend Jessi used the skills she learned blogging at The Coffee Mom to become a social media specialist. She manages social media promotion for several businesses through the company that employs her, all from the comfort of her home office. Freelance writing, affiliate marketing, and web development are other options for earning money without ever leaving your house.
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4. Leverage your hobbies and crafty skills into income
The website Etsy is focused specifically around selling craft and antique goods, and it has become a haven for all kinds of creative people who are interested in selling their own creations. And with Amazon’s new handmade marketplace, the options for DIY crafters to get their wares out there are greater than ever before.
If you have any kind of creative hobbies, you can at very least make a little extra income by monetizing your hobby with an online marketplace. Under the right circumstances, you might be able to make this into a full-time business over time. At the very least, though, you’d have the ability to offer your personal crafts to others, and potentially make enough to keep you in supplies as a result. This is what my friend Mary does with her beautiful beaded necklaces; selling them online and in local shops keeps her in supplies and gives her some extra income besides.
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This could also be a good incentive to dig deeper into whatever arts or crafts hobbies or skill sets have been interesting you for a while, but which you haven’t yet found the time or motivation to pursue. For example, I was frustrated at how much it used to cost me to get my photographs professionally matted and framed. So for about $100, I invested in the tools and books I needed to DIY. Although I haven’t monetized this, I now have the skills to do professionally what I used to pay others to do for me.
5. Cash in by decluttering
Another way to generate income from home is by is selling things you no longer need. I used to do this with my old student textbooks and other books I no longer needed. The site I used is no longer in existence, but I used to make over $1000/year by selling books online.
Many people do this with their outgrown wardrobe pieces on such sites as Ebay or ThredUp. Still others consign no-longer-needed items in stores or at pop-up resale events. If you regularly update your wardrobe and prefer name-brand or designer pieces, this is a great way to offload pieces you no longer wear.
With how quickly kids outgrow toys and clothing, resale is also a great way to get rid of kids’ outgrown things AND make money. If you want to test the waters here, start with listing items on your local Craigslist or a neighborhood online forum. If you’re ready to scale up, do an online search (or ask other mamas) for their favorite consignment shops near you. To scale up again, research whether there are any pop-up resale events in your area (look at consignmentmommies.com to get started). I know plenty of mamas who make $3000-$6000 or more per year by selling at children’s resale events.
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Think you’re ready to get started? I just crunched the numbers the other day; my participation in children’s resale events this year has brought in just shy of $10,000 extra cash to our family’s bottom line!
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6. Identify and implement successful habits
Various people — perhaps most famously Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comics — have in recent years promoted the idea of being “system-focused” rather than “goal-focused”. In short: Goals are unpredictable and may or may not be attainable. Systems are the daily habits you engage in that increase the odds that you’ll meet with success sooner or later.Systems are the daily habits you engage in that increase the odds that you’ll meet with success sooner or later. Click To Tweet
James Clear, habit expert, has noted in his recent book Atomic Habits that implementing habits based on “who you want to be” is key. As is starting small when implementing these habits and working your way up.
So if you want to run a home-based business, figure out what successful home-based entrepreneurs in your chosen area do. Find some good books. Look online for relevant blog posts and e-books. Once you’ve got a good sense of the “best practices” that set aside successful entrepreneurs in your field from the rest, begin implementing those “success habits” in your own life. Start small and manageable. Work your way up to the bigger, harder habits and changes over time, rather than starting by jumping off the deep end.
For example, perhaps home-based freelancers in your chosen area regularly send out lots of “letters of introduction” for marketing purposes. Ideally, you might want to get up to sending several dozen letters per day. But it’s consistency that’s the real key. So begin by committing to sending one every day.
7. Master time management and eliminate procrastination
In the world of conventional work, various systems exist in order to keep your attention focused, and to help you avoid regular procrastination. As any teacher will tell you, you can’t waste time on social media when you’ve got a classroom of students to manage and teach. In other workplaces, you have your supervisors and boss who will hold you accountable.
When trying to make money from home, on the other hand, you’re on your own. But the need to be organized and productive is that much greater. And the burden rests squarely on your shoulders.
To radically improve your odds of success, focus on coming up with effective strategies to eliminate procrastination, and on becoming a master of time-management. This could mean getting more sleep and keeping a tight schedule. Or it could mean using tools such as the Cold Turkey website blocker. Maybe you’ll benefit from time-management techniques such as the Pomodoro technique and other time-blocking systems (see this guest post I wrote on productivity as a home-based working mama).
Or maybe you have no problem buckling down and getting to work; it’s the larger meta-level planning that leaves you flailing. If so, there’s no time like the new year to try a new system for organizing and managing your life. My personal favorite – and the only one that’s worked for me since becoming a parent – is bullet journaling. WHAT you choose, though, isn’t important; all that matters is that it works for you, and you use it to move forward with your efforts to make a living from the comfort of your home.
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Do you make money from home? Is this one of your goals in the New Year? What tips did I miss? Let us know in the comments!
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