18 Legit Work-From-Home Jobs with No Startup Fee

Now THIS is a great list of legitimate work from home jobs requiring no startup fees. Get started making money from your home today with one of these amazing ideas!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 that cost money and never materialized with a paycheck.

Thankfully, these days there are a number of perfectly legitimate ways to make money from home, even if you are not fortunate enough to work for a company that allows you to telecommute. Here are 18 of the best, legitimate work-from-home jobs with no startup fee that you can do from the comfort of your own home. (Pajamas are optional).

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 that 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 is an abundance of freelance opportunities out there, the big challenge is finding them and negotiating the right price. Freelancers can get paid hourly or per post. You could make anywhere from $25 per post to $1,000 per post, depending on length, research, and company budget. There are plenty of freelance writers who make over 6 figures, while others make a couple hundred of 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. In addition, you can use sites such as Upwork or Contently to find 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. If you plan to make over $600 a year as a freelancer, you will want to consider registering with your state for an LLC. A Limited Liability Company registration will provide protection and a business structure for your freelance career.

Resource: Want to get paid to write for blogs like this one? Check out Catherine Alford's Get Paid to Freelance Course.

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. You don’t need any training, although you can take various courses to help sharpen your skills, such as Kayla Sloan's $10K VA course.

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 that you know how to do, then list all those you can easily learn. Skills can include email management, bookkeeping, social media management, posting blogs, scheduling appointments, transcription, event planning, organizing files, booking travel, and email and calendar organization–and much more.

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, restauranteurs, 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 that 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.

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. Fees differ by state. Also, always have a contract agreement to protect both parties.

Your income as a VA can range. It’s recommended that business owners should pay no less than $20/hour, which means you can probably expect to receive $20-$35 per hour.

3. eBay Sales

There are two ways to make a living as a professional 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% to 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. First, you may want to decide on a niche of items that 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, 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 that follows a theme means you are more likely to get repeat customers.

Second, the more research you do, the better you will be able to identify items that will sell well and determine how to make a profit. 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.

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, including typos, shows that you are professional.

Finally, making sure that 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, that requires a great deal of dedication and finding the right eBay niche.

4. 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 that their furry little ones are happier at home and are willing to pay a little extra for pet sitters to come to them.”

That 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 that her busiest times are during vacation seasons: March (spring break), May-September (summer vacation), and Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you're a nomad or couch-surfer by nature, then you can turn your love of animals into a profession that 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.com 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 (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 that you are bonded and insured.

The amount that pet-sitters can make varies, but you can expect $15-$30 for drop-in visits and $50-$90 per night for overnight care.

Rover: Earn Money Pet Sitting Create your own profile and become a Rover sitter, or get specialized help every step of the way with RoverGO.

5. Online Tutoring

Is there an academic subject that 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 that 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 that pairs tutors with students looking for help with their school work. There are a number of online tutoring sites out there, including Tutor.com, Chegg, Elevate K-12, and StudyPool.

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–which 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.

6. Tee-shirt Design

With the advent of print-on-demand websites like Teespring, Redbubble, CafePress and Zazzle (among many others), 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 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 that those who are interested in creating such a business start by trying the free templates and design tools that 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 that you remember who you are designing for: “It's important to keep in mind that you are not designing products for yourself, but for your customer. You may love something but is it too niche? Is it saleable? Would anyone else buy it?”

That being said, she also recommends you “find your niche and run with it.” Smith creates political tee-shirts and mugs since there is a great deal of interest in political gear right now. It also gives her regular inspiration for new products as the news cycle changes–and that can lead to repeat customers.

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, and 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.

7. Data Entry

There are plenty of ways you can enter data and work from home, although this is one work-from-home job where you need to be careful with job offers. Data entry work is a common scam for people looking for work-from-home opportunities that require no training.

That being said, there are companies out there that need data entry for things like captcha entry, basic typing, medical transcription, formatting, medical coding, payroll data entry, and more. Some data entry jobs don’t require any certification or special training. If you have a basic understanding of how to use a computer and enter data, you can accomplish most jobs. However, there are a few data entry jobs that require a certification such as a medical coder.

If you want to pursue medical coding or billing there are various organizations such as AHIMA, AAPC, NHA, and NCCT that offer certifications. One direction you can choose to go in is to first understand basic autonomy and medical terminology. Then you will need to get familiar with CPT®, HCPCS Level II, and ICD-10-CM and their coding systems. Once you have gained some experience you may want to consider the acquisition of a CPC® designation. This designation costs $380 for the test plus one retake.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this industry will increase about 15% from 2014-2024. With the increase in demand, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts an increase in salary to $19-$29 per hour in the next 5-7 years. If you are just looking for a basic data entry job you can expect between $13.47-$20 an hour. Some companies may want to hire you as an employee and some may hire you as a contractor. If you decide to become a contractor you may want to open an LLC.

8. Translation

If you are multi-lingual, the field of work-from-home translations jobs is growing by leaps and bounds. There are two different paths to take as a translator from home. You can either become an interpreter, and translate over the phone for businesses and organizations that deal with international customers or colleagues, or you could translate written work from one language to another. There are a number of websites available to match potential translators with their customers, such as Gengo.

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 payment. 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.

9. ESL Assistance

There are a number of sites online that are looking for native-English speakers to tutor ESL (English as a Second Language) students. In many cases, the primary requirement is that you are a native English speaker since many of the students are simply looking for a way to practice their conversational skills. Those 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.

10. Transcription

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 that 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. You can 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.

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 that 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.

11. 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, that you will have to become a licensed family child care 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 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 and 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 child care can be hard to come by, so it’s important your business model is well thought out in advance.

In 2016 the average weekly rate for a child at daycare was $211.

12. 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. That 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 have to have impeccable grammar skills and communication skills. It also requires a lot of research. If you are not familiar with the company’s industry, you will need to fully understand its ins and outs.

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 and a lot of research.

There are various courses that you can take in order to sharpen your skills, such as How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business. 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. I

Social media managers could work as a full-time or part-time employees or as contractors. Plenty of companies hire remote employees for this type of job. The average hourly rate for a social media manager is about $23. Depending on your location and experience level you could make a lot more.

13. Travel Agent

Believe it or not, travel agents did not disappear around the same time that people were treating Beanie Babies like an investment. These days, travel agents are more likely to work from home than have a storefront, but it's a job opportunity that's 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 that need work-from-home travel agents, including several cruise-booking websites, American Express, which offers travel counseling as part of its concierge service, and 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. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home-based travel agents make about $37,700 per year.

14. Web Developer

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, in that 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 that will attract paying clients. To be successful in this field, you will also need to invest in a good 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 2017 was just under $68,000 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.

15. Customer Service Representative 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. (That means stay-at-home parents may not be able to do this work while their kids are in the crying and/or always-interrupting-Mom-and-Dad-on-the-phone stages).

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 that allow you to search for at-home customer service jobs, and Inc. put together this list of the 10 best companies offering work-from-home tech support positions.

16. Researcher

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 technical field. If you are knowledgeable about software and computers that 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 AskWonder, FlexJobs, or Upwork. These sites will help you connect with clients and expand your portfolio. You can start at any level. 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, you will need to open an LLC. However, if your clients' would like you to be employed you will not need to register with the state.

A researcher can make anywhere from $10 an hour to $20 an hour depending on the skill level and expertise.

17. 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 that are running low on time or that 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 such as an LLC and insurance to cover an incident if someone were to become ill from your food.

There is a wide array of cuisines you could provide. Select a specific niche and 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.

18. Personal Training

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 teacher, coach, cheerleader, and motivator to stay physically fit.

It is unlikely that 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 still 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 the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise that offer certification programs for personal training that will cover anatomy, kinesiology, training techniques, and more.

Fitness workers' median income is $18.45 per hour, but freelance personal trainers could potentially charge much more, particularly if they make house calls.

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Last Edited: May 28, 2018 @ 10:15 pm
About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher and respected personal finance blogger. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her engineer husband and two high-energy little boys. She has written four books: The Five Years Before You Retire, Choose Your Retirement, Making Social Security Work For You, and End Financial Stress Now. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.

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  1. Excellent list! I just started transcribing, but man the pay is so low for the amount of time you have to put in! I’m hoping it starts picking up soon as I get better at it.

    • Thanks for checking out the full list. Some questions to ask as you grow your transcription service efforts: how could you improve the efficiency of your process?; how could you scale your efforts (hire subcontractors?)?; how could you offer your same clients additional, higher-margin services?; how could you specialize/niche your service and demand higher rates?; could you teach what you learn via a digital product you charge a premium for?

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