How to make money from home

There are more work-from-home opportunities than you might realize.

With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting movement and jeopardizing incomes, making money from home has never been more appealing. The good news is that there are lots of ways to do so, if you know where to look.

Unfortunately, no one has stumbled upon an easy get-rich-quick scheme that you can run from your couch (if they have, they haven’t shared it with us). Still, you can earn a substantial chunk of cash if you’re prepared to put in some time and energy. Just don’t expect a sudden windfall from a few mouse clicks.

We don’t know your personal situation or talents, so we’ve tried to cram as many ideas as possible into this guide—hopefully something will catch your eye. All you’ll need is a computer and an internet connection.

Use job boards to find work you can do from home

The web is awash with job opportunities—as a quick web search will tell you—but only a small selection of those can be done from home. That selection is growing, though, as the internet and video calling brings us all closer together.

One job you can do online from home is tutoring. Portals like VIP Kid and Verbling let you teach English or another language through video chat, though you will need to go through a vetting process. Alternatively, you can set out on your own and advertise your skills locally or through social media. And if things don’t work out the way you’d hoped, understand that teaching is a skill too. Just because you have knowledge doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to pass it on.

If video tutoring seems a bit much, data processing is always in demand and can be done from home. Amazon Mechanical Turk offers a whole host of data input and processing jobs, from helping artificial intelligence recognize images to cleaning up information entered into online forms. Clickworker works in a similar way and allows you to do some jobs from your smartphone.

Working as a personal assistant is something else you can do from home: answering emails, making phone calls, doing research online, and more. As with tutoring, you can either sign up with a virtual assistant agency like Fancy Hands or set up shop on your own and advertise on social media and by word of mouth.

You can also look at job boards that specifically focus on working from home, or at least have a section dedicated to such roles. Take WFH Pad, for example, which specializes in entry-level work that can be done from home: There are vacancies for app testing, content writing, and customer service support, among others.

Remote.co is a remote work consulting company and has a job board of its own. Its offerings cover categories such as accounting and finance, customer service, data entry, graphic design, web development, online editing, project management, marketing, recruitment, teaching, and content moderation.

FlexJobs covers a huge range of vacancies, including full- and part-time and long- and short-term work. The site has more than 50 categories of jobs, from writing to IT support. Not every job can be done completely from home, but it’s easy enough to filter the results.

Massive job marketplace Indeed has plenty of work-from-home jobs as well. At the time of writing, there were opportunities for proofreading, customer service, translation, transcription, sales, and many others.

Meanwhile, freelance marketplaces Upwork and PeoplePerHour are more direct in the way they match people with businesses—everything is handled in-house, from your profile setup to organizing payment. You might find there’s a lot of noise to sort through to find the best opportunities, but perseverance will pay off.

Getting creative: writing, art, and more

a person teaching guitar on YouTube
You can teach everything from guitar to Spanish on YouTube. David Nield

If you’re good at something that can be distributed digitally—like writing, artwork, or photography—you can make money from it online (though photography is likely to be tricky right now with limits on movement and travel).

There are two ways to monetize your creative talents: on commission, or by selling whatever you make on your own time. So if you’re a writer, you could get someone to pay you to write an article on a specific topic or hunker down and produce that novel you’ve been planning—and then sell it as an ebook.

The competition is fierce, but the work is there if you have the talent and commitment. Both Freelance Writing Jobs and Freelance Writing post plenty of new opportunities every day, though some require prior experience. You could also think about entering writing competitions that offer cash prizes, and there are more of these than you might think.

Photography is another highly competitive market, but it’s possible to carve out a niche. Websites still need content, and that content still needs pictures. Stock photo sites like Shutterstock, iStock, and Dreamstime will sell your photos for you and give you a cut, and (as with writing and artwork) you can also sell images directly to the people who need them.

If digital artwork is more your jam, you can use marketplaces such as Fiverr and 99designs to connect with prospective clients, but it’s also vital to get examples of your work up in as many places as possible (sites such as Behance, Working Not Working, or Dribbble can help). Fewer people are looking for freelance artists, so you’ll need to hustle a bit harder to get your artwork seen and find potential clients.

Twitter is fantastic for finding leads in any creative industry. Set up searches for “freelance writer” or “freelance artist” and you’ll see there’s a good deal of opportunity out there (the TweetDeck web client is an excellent way to keep on top of multiple searches at once). You can also use Twitter to reach out to editors and publishers directly, and it’s helpful for getting work in front of a wider audience too (as is Instagram for anything visual).

Then there’s YouTube. Making money from Google’s video platform isn’t easy at all, but it’s free to try, there’s an advertising network built into the platform, and your smartphone will be good enough to use as a video camera. With more and more people staying home right now, the number of eyeballs you can attract is naturally much larger right now.

Think about something you can do at home that other people might be interested in watching, whether that’s physical exercise, yoga, or teaching guitar. Productivity videos do well on YouTube, as does anything to do with DIY: You can show people how to clean rooms, fix cars, or arrange flowers, to name a few. And don’t worry if you’re just making videos on your own—you don’t necessarily need the highest production values to rack up thousands of views.

If you’re good enough at what you do, you can set up a Patreon account and get people to subscribe to your content, whether it’s writing, art, podcasts, or videos. Patreon takes a cut of whatever you earn, so if you don’t make any money from it, you aren’t losing out. Only a few people make a living from Patreon, but plenty of people make extra cash.

David Nield

David Nieldis a tech journalist from the UK who has been writing about gadgets and apps since way before the iPhone and Twitter were invented. When he's not busy doing that, he usually takes breaks from all things tech with long walks in the countryside.