Looking for some ideas on how to make money from home? In the last 5 years, I’ve tried my hand at several different work-from-home positions, and these articles are a collection of my experiences! Then, once you find that perfect job, I’ve written articles on how to really make your home business work for you.
Home Business Ideas
Staying at home and still being able to make some money is a dream for a lot of stay-at-home wives and moms out there. When I started out, there weren’t many jobs out there that could make you a good income while staying at home. Nowadays, you can easily find work-from-home gigs and even full-time jobs on the Internet. I’m sharing a few of my “tried and tested” work-from-home jobs and home business ideas based on my personal experience, as well as my pro tips on how to start a blog and make money from it. I hope this helps you find easy ways to make extra money in the comfort of your own home.
Let’s talk about Mystery Shopping! I know there is a rumor out there that mystery shopping is a scam. That’s just not true. It’s also not true that you will get to shop for free all the time; however, you will get free things here and there.
I signed up to start mystery shopping a while back, and I enjoyed it because it’s not difficult, doesn’t take very much time, and is something that you can do in your spare time.
How to Become a Mystery Shopper
Two good job boards to find mystery shopping jobs are Volition and JobSlinger. You can search for jobs in your area, and if you aren’t signed up for the companies the jobs are with, they will provide things to sign up with them.
A few good companies that I worked for that always seemed to have a good number of jobs are, Bestmark and Corporate Research International. Both companies pay decently and are very reputable. There are also many, many mystery shopping companies that use the Sassie system, and you can find most of those through the Job Slinger link above.
Once you get signed up with companies (and I recommend getting a different email address and signing up with a lot of companies), they will send you jobs when they become available.
What does a mystery shopper do?
Mystery Shopping jobs can be anything from checking out a convenience store at a gas station to getting paid to stay at a hotel. And yes, those jobs really are available. I’ve gotten paid to buy clothing, paid to stay at hotels, paid for gas, and more. Some companies not only have mystery shopping type jobs but they also have auditing jobs. I worked as an auditor for several years through a company, and even though the job was only every other month, the extra pay was great, and it was only a few hours for a day or two.
Altogether, I probably made a few hundred dollars each month with mystery shopping. It’s not going to make you rich, and it’s not going to pay for everything, but it’s a nice little extra. Something to remember is that mystery shopping is a 2-part job; you will have to do the “shopping part” of the job (the fun part!) and then come home to do some data entry about the job. So it does take a little time, but it’s an easy way to get a little extra here and there in your spare time!
Do you have a special talent for creating something? Maybe you are great at candlemaking or cardmaking. Well, you can “sell those talents” in online stores to make a little extra! I love these kinds of businesses because people are making and doing what they love as their home business. It’s the best of both worlds!
3 Easy Ways to Sell Your Homemade Items Online
- Etsy. Is anyone else as addicted to this as I am? I’m not a huge shopper, but I love looking through all the unique items they have for sale! Every seller has a unique product they are selling, and each of their personality shines through. Etsy does charge a percentage for you to sell on their site, but I think it’s a great professional place to have a little store, so the fee would be worth it.
- Create Your Own Site. If you want to have a professional site and brand it as your own, you can do that by simply creating your own site. You can use Blogger as a free platform and then search for professional templates. Most templates are free, and there are hundreds of thousands of templates to pick from! We currently use Blogger as the platform for our M&D Photography site (although we are switching that one to WordPress), and I use the free Store Envy platform for my Treasures From the Prairie site.
- eBay. eBay isn’t the best place to showcase your talents, but it is a place. And it’s inexpensive and easy to run an eBay business. You need to have all your goods created ahead of time so you can showcase them and take pictures. The bonus for eBay is that everyone knows about it, and traffic will be high.
Tips for Selling Online
- Create incentives to boost your new sales and encourage customers to try new things. For example, with every first order on Treasures From the Prairie, the customer will get a free Lotion Bar or Taco Seasoning Packet. It’s simple for us just to add that to the order as a “sample,” and hopefully, the buyer will like the sample so much they will return to buy more.
- Have sales and offer special discounts. Who doesn’t love a good sale? This will encourage buyers to buy more and buy more often.
- Take great pictures of your items for sale. You don’t need a great camera; just be sure that you have proper, natural lighting for the pictures and that the item is in focus. Think about huge online stores and selling platforms (Amazon, Walmart, Etsy). Most people are more inclined to buy products from sellers and stores with decent product photos.
- Take advantage of Farmer’s Markets, flea markets, and craft fairs. These are great ways to sell to people who are already interested in buying handmade goods. You may have to pay a small fee for a table or booth, but it should be worth it.
Think of it as babysitting, but instead of watching the neighbor’s kids, you watch their house! Me and my hubby have been housesitting in our spare time here and there. It’s a pretty simple idea, really; you just keep an eye on someone else’s house while they are gone. Most of the time, this means sleeping at their house. However, I know that’s not always the case.
How to Find Housesitting Jobs
To find house-sitting jobs, it’s always good to have a few references in your back pocket before you market your services to everyone. Do a few house-sitting jobs for friends or family, and instead of getting paid, just ask for a good reference if someone calls. After the first couple of times, once you’ve established a good house-sitting reputation, go ahead and offer your services in the local newspaper, any local classified ads, or on social media. You can have a set price per night or work out a price based on what they want you to do and how long they will be gone.
Most of the time, you will be house-sitting homes with animals because pet owners want to know their pets will be well taken care of while they are gone, and having someone stay at the house puts less stress on the animals while they are gone. Keep this in mind and think about how many animals you’re comfortable with watching. It’s a big advantage to be comfortable and knowledgeable about taking care of many different animals. People who own different animals know how hard it is to find someone who will take care of all of them while they are gone.
Best Housesitting Tips
- When you visit a potential home, pay attention to detail. Make sure you are listening to what they want you to do. If it’s a lot, ask them to leave a detailed list before they head out so you make sure not to miss anything.
- Ask where simple things are (towels, bedding, pet food, etc.) so you don’t snoop around their house.
- If they have any animals with special needs, make sure you find out what these are, and if they need any medications, ask how to administer them and when.
- Make sure they leave a number for their vet in case you need it. Get their numbers as well, just in case you need to contact them about something. However, only use those numbers if it’s absolutely necessary. Nobody likes to be pestered while on vacation.
- While the family is gone, keep the house clean. You want to make sure you leave the home in good shape (or better than how it was).
- Make sure you wash, dry, and put away any dishes you use. Something we always do is to make sure we wash the bedsheets, dry them, and make the bed before we leave.
- If the family lets you eat from their pantry, do not consider that an invitation for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Replace anything that may need to be replaced.
House sitting can be a great little side job and works particularly well if you don’t have kids. It can almost be a mini vacation for you too! Plus, if you do a great job, the family will surely ask you back again to housesit for their future vacations.
After I got out of doing a lot of mystery shopping since we didn’t live in town, I started doing something called merchandising. There are many different forms of this, and I will tell you about them in this article. Merchandising takes more time than Mystery Shopping, but you are also compensated better, and you have more opportunities to keep working with the company by them contacting you for jobs when they are available, rather than you trying to find jobs on your own.
How does merchandising work?
When I worked for a merchandising company, I had a fairly important job. Since I had a lot of experience working in retail and mystery shopping, I was hired as a Territory Manager, which means I also supervised other workers in South Dakota and North Dakota. The company paid for many business trips to North Dakota during the time I worked for them.
For my job, I had a mini laptop, and I would go to a few different stores around town a few times a week to scan certain items, record numbers and inventory, and report my findings to the headquarters in Chicago. I liked this job because I could do it on my own time. I had a certain day I had to work, but there was no specific time, so I usually ended up working late at night when I could make the time. (I only had to quit because of how busy this site got! 🙂)
Anyway, it was a good job with a good company. I could work on my own time and at my own pace. It worked out well for me to work independently.
Different Types of Merchandising Jobs
- Demonstrations. This is pretty self-explanatory. A company will hire you to go into a retail, grocery, or discount store to set up a table and demonstrate how to use a product. You might also be giving away samples. For jobs like this, the company will send you all the things you need for the demonstration, or they will send them to the store. Most jobs like this pay by the hour.
- Assembly. For these jobs, you will have to set up something in the store, usually some kind of display for a certain brand or something similar. These jobs usually pay by the job.
- General Merchandising: The job that I described above would fall into this category. General merchandising involves working with products, taking inventory, etc. These can be a wide range of different jobs; they either pay by the job, by the hour or a combo of both. The job I had paid by the hour AND also depended on how many items I scanned.
There are a few more odds-and-ends jobs that merchandisers can get also, but those are the 3 main categories.
How to Start a Merchandising Job
If you are looking to get started in merchandising, a background in retail really helps, and it may even be required in many jobs.
The companies and brands want to know that you know stores and how to handle goods. Merchandising is a more in-depth job than mystery shopping, so for most of the jobs, you will have to fill out an application and apply for the position, maybe even have interviews if it’s an ongoing job. They also might want to hire you as part of a team instead of as an individual rep. If you want to work on your own, make sure you check what the job will be about first so you don’t end up working with others if you don’t want to. Sometimes it’s fun to work with others, but depending on the job, if you want to work on your own time, you will have to work alone.
The best place to search for merchandising jobs is the National Association for Retail Marketing Services (NARMS) website. Almost all of the professional merchandising companies and brands looking for merchandisers will use that website. You also might have a huge advantage if you live in a small town as they are often looking for people that live in smaller towns to work in smaller stores, or if you live near a small town and can take the job. Most companies are more than willing to pay you for mileage to get the job done.
Merchandising can be a full or part-time job, but the advantage of it over working a regular job is that most of the time, you can work on your own hours and you can only accept jobs that you have the time to do instead of working regularly scheduled hours.
Working From Home Tips
Head back to the Little House Living homepage.