This article is part of a larger series on Starting a Business.
Home business ideas are on the minds of many people trying to start a full-time or side business during COVID-19. Fortunately, with new technology and software, the opportunities to create a low-cost at home business has never been easier. Online platforms such as Fiverr, Rover, and Airbnb help connect people looking for products and services with those who can provide it.
Here are 28 home-based business ideas for 2021 in no particular order:
We’ve seen the number of people interested in podcasting rise drastically over the past decade. While it may seem that there are a lot of podcasts available, it is small compared to the number of blogs: 1 million to 600 million. However, we anticipate that the growth of podcasts will increase as Google and artificial intelligence (AI) incorporate them into search results.
A benefit for podcasters is the growing ad spend in the industry. Podcasting has seen an influx of advertising dollars over the past few years, and in 2021 it’s expected to surpass $1 billion.
Unless your podcast is an instant hit or you already have an audience, it will likely take several years to grow your listener base. In terms of sponsorships, popular podcasts charge advertisers between $10 to $50 for every 1,000 listeners.
2. YouTube Channel
Similar to podcasting, a YouTube channel is another low-cost home-based business idea. If you have a smartphone, you can start a channel. The content may not be high-quality, but you can grow a following if the content is interesting or informative.
One benefit of creating a business on YouTube is the increased revenue opportunities built into the platform. Companies are turning to YouTube to advertise. The platform is expected to bring in net advertising revenues of 5.21 billion in 2021—a 52% increase from 2019.
To make money from a YouTube channel, you need at least 1,000 subscribers. That’s a YouTube rule. However, even before you reach that threshold, you can use your newfound video creation skills as a freelancer marketer for small businesses. 62% of businesses use YouTube as a channel to post video content. It’s the second most popular channel for businesses to share their video content—Facebook is first.
3. Ecommerce Store
As an entrepreneur, how can you take advantage of the ecommerce trend? If you have a product currently, consider selling it online. Or, if you don’t have a product, consider dropshipping—which is selling someone else’s product on your website and social media such as Instagram.
In the United States, ecommerce has been growing steadily and is expected to surpass $740 billion by 2023 according to Statista.
Take advantage of trending ecommerce businesses during COVID-19. Online pet supplies and food have grown by 28.5% in 2020. Online vitamin and supplement sales have increased by 15% in 2020.
Tip: The challenge with a drop shipping business is getting people to visit your website. In addition to making the website, you’ll also need marketing skills such as social media, video marketing, search engine optimization, or online paid ads.
4. Sell Handmade Products
Why use these platforms to sell your products instead of your own ecommerce website? Because you’re gaining access to their website’s visitors.
On Etsy or Amazon Handmade, you can sell items such as:
- Pet toys
- Bath bombs
- Face masks
- Knitted products
- Personalized planners
When using a third-party platform, you will create your own store on their website. It will take time to build up your store’s credibility. For example, on Etsy, your number of sales, product reviews, and number of times your shop has been favorited displays at the top. The potential trust customers have in your products and store will increase as you build satisfied customers.
5. Web Development & Digital Marketing
Websites have been around for decades, but people still need quality sites. As a web developer, you have many options to create a website.
You can learn to code, which will enable you to create custom websites. You can learn how to use WordPress, which creates a semi-custom website. Or you can learn to create a website on a builder platform such as Wix. A semi-custom website will earn you about $2,500. However, custom websites built by code can earn you up to $15,000 or more.
Digital marketing is an umbrella term for any online strategies to get a business more customers. This includes strategies such as online ads, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and Google My Business. The goal of digital marketing is to help a business make money. If you can do that, you can create a business as a freelancer or marketing agency.
6. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing can have several meanings, but typically it is when you sell someone else’s product for a fee. We suggested the opportunity with affiliate marketing because the amount of advertising dollars companies have spent on it has been steadily growing.
Companies are becoming increasingly open to affiliate marketing because they typically only pay a referral fee when a sale occurs.
This is how affiliate marketing could work for you: You recommend a product, service, or software on your website. For every person that clicks on your unique link and purchases a product, you earn a commission. If you earn $30 per sale, and there are 100 sales during a month, you earn $3,000 for that month.
The challenge is how to find people to sell affiliate products to? You will need to build an audience through education, entertainment, or both. This audience could be on a website, email list, social media channel, or video platform. Once you have the audience, then you can recommend products or services for them.
Businesses Inexpensive to Start
7. Pet Sitting Business
If you love pets and have experience taking care of them, consider becoming a pet sitter. While you can do your own local marketing to find customers, you can also use a website such as Rover.com to connect with those looking for dog boarding, walking, and day care.
Regarding pricing, a simple hourlong walk in the local neighborhood may cost $15 to $20. An hour-long trip to a dog park requiring more intense work and supervision may cost $20 to $30.
Day-sitting costs an average of $37 per day, with a range of $25-$50. Overnight boarding may cost between $50 and $75 per night.
To increase your pet walking and sitting fees, consider offering additional services, such as mobile grooming or dog training certification.
8. Car Washing and Detailing
The auto detailing industry has seen a 4% annual growth rate over the last five years. This is a low-skill, easy business to enter. You can try out any products or car detailing methods on your own vehicles before using them on customer vehicles.
The challenge here is to find a location to work out of. Consider contacting the owners of business parks, local gas stations, or large strip malls to see if you can work out of their parking lot for a fee.
Tip: One way to separate your car detailing brand from competitors is to focus on an eco-friendly car wash. 35% of consumers said they are willing to pay more for eco-friendly services.
9. Car Rental
A less labor-intensive car-related business is renting out your car on Turo.com—the world’s largest car-sharing marketplace. The idea is similar to Airbnb, but for cars.
The amount you can make per day depends on a few factors. One is the price you set for the care. The other item you need to establish is the level of insurance and protection for the car. Choose from several plans, including a risk-averse plan where you only earn 60% on each car rental but pay no deductible on damage. Or for the less risk-averse, earn 80% with a $1,625 deductible.
10. Online Dating Consultant
If you enjoy matching your friends for dates, an online dating consultant may be the right home-based business for you.
The online dating market has been growing steadily and is expected to increase substantially in the future. In 2017 the market was valued at $6.4 billion, and it’s expected to reach $9.2 billion by 2025. All segments across the dating industry are expected to grow.
How can you take advantage of this current and growing industry? Consider specializing in helping others put their best selves forward online as an online dating consultant. It’s difficult for people to describe their likes, dislikes, and interests in an appealing way. You can also coach them on what to say online to help them get that first date.
11. Personal Trainer
While COVID-19 has made it a challenge to be an employed personal trainer, there is still a market for freelancer personal training. This training can be done in your own home, a client’s home, or a public place such as a park, beach, or parking lot.
The overall fitness training market is expected to have a 10% growth through 2026.
To succeed as a personal trainer, it’s helpful to have documented results from clients. If you’re just starting your first business, consider taking on a couple of dedicated clients at a reduced fee and document their results. To attract clients, display their success on your website, social media, and physical marketing materials.
Depending on your experience, and overall client demand, you can generally expect your personal trainer rate to be between $11 to $52 an hour, with yearly earnings of $23,000 to over $100,000.
A bookkeeping business manages the income and expenses of a business. A bookkeeper may also process payroll and prepare tax returns for clients. This is a flexible business to start because it can be done virtually—you can get clients from all over the US.
To attract your first clients, it’s helpful to earn a bookkeeping certification. Consider earning a certificate from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB), which costs $574 and includes a four-part exam. Or consider the National Certification of Public Bookkeepers (NACPB), which costs $600 and requires 4,000 hours of work experience if you don’t have the necessary educational experience.
13. Yoga Instructor
The popularity of yoga has exploded in the past decade:
Similar to personal training, yoga instruction has taken a hit with COVID-19. However, people still want to practice yoga. The freelance yoga instructor can take advantage of the demand by hosting classes outside.
Or, if you’d like to teach classes virtually, consider a software to assist such as Namastream. This software provides the tools needed to have a successful virtual yoga business. With the software, create multiple membership options, set up autopay, and integrate email marketing.
Working With Hands Business
14. Massage Therapy
When choosing a business to start, consider following the trending businesses. Massage therapy is one of the fastest-growing businesses in 2020, with a 23.6% growth. Recent technology and software have made it easier to have an at-home massage therapist business.
One challenge of having your own mobile massage business is not having a storefront that is a natural marketing asset. As you build up your brand and client-base, consider using websites such as Soothe to connect with clients. Soothe allows clients to connect with mobile massage therapists and book appointments in the comfort of their own homes.
15. Tailor and Seamstress Alteration
Similar to massage therapy, a tailor and seamstress can have a mobile business as well. Visit a client’s home to take measurements and pick up the garments. At home, make the adjustments needed.
The pay for a tailor or seamstress depends on the type of work. A simple hem may only cost $10 to $15. Or, you could charge up to $300 to alter a wedding dress.
16. Antique Refurbishing
If you like discovering older items at garage sales and auctions and working with your hands to refurbish them, consider the business idea of re-selling antiques. This is commonly done with older furniture.
How much you can make refurbishing antiques and older furniture depends on the quality and type of product. Also, you need to be able to get your product in front of the right buyer. To price out a piece of furniture, you can charge a little less than a similar item at full price. If you develop a brand name for yourself, you may find that clients come to you to refurb their furniture.
17. Herbal Farm Stand
Herbs sales are expected to grow at a steady rate of around 2.1% in 2021. Now, technology has opened new opportunities to grow herbs in the comfort of your backyard. If you’re interested in growing food, herbs may be more appealing to you because of the smaller footprint.
Regarding cost, at a minimum, you will likely need to spend $300 for a mini-greenhouse and raised bed. However, you could purchase a premium, and more automated grow system from ZipGrow. The total cost for a 20′ by 48′ ZipGrow Vertical Greenhouse is around $27,670:
18. Personal Chef & Meal Prep
If you enjoy cooking, then consider starting a personal chef and meal prep business. This business prepares food for busy individuals and families.
Meal delivery service popularity such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, has increased steadily over the past several years. However, not everyone wants to cook their own meals. Consider creating a business where you cook meals in your own home or the home of your customers.
Skilled & Knowledge Businesses
19. Graphic Designer
What makes a graphic designer a great business to start from home are the specialization opportunities. To get started, choose a specific need on a social media platform. For example, you could specialize in Instagram Story design or YouTube channel banners and thumbnails. Create a few examples of your specialization for your portfolio.
Next, consider creating a profile on Fiverr.com to attract your new clients. While you may think it’s best to list graphic design expertise in several areas, a focused profile on Fiverr will attract clients looking for a specific service. Once you grow your reviews, then you can experiment with offering other design services.
20. Solar Energy Installation
You can see that as the cost of solar power drops, installations have increased:
What makes this type of business great to start is how easy it is to market and sell. Potential customers quickly understand how they can save money with solar. As a consultant, you can show them the financials behind the upfront investment and how long they will save money on solar versus their current energy set up.
To get started in this business, you’ll need to become familiar with solar power installations. Your state may require licenses to install and sell solar, so be sure to do your research. Start with your own home. Then move to family and friends. During this time, source suppliers, and learn the ins-and-outs of installation. As you grow your customer base, hire additional employees to install the solar panels.
21. Voice-Over Artist
If you are a singer or have a rich voice, consider becoming a voice-over artist. With the rise of e-learning and e-books the demand for voice-over artists is high. E-learning, whether for corporations, or simple explainer videos is a great opportunity. Additionally, the diversity of voice quality has increased with people looking for unique accents and dialects.
Work in public relations is expected to grow by 7% by 2029, which is faster than most industries. The opportunity here is to be a freelance publicist for several companies, including small-to-medium sized businesses.
Smaller businesses may not be able to afford a full-time public relations specialist, but they can afford a part-time freelancer to present their image and brand online. A publicist also meshes well with digital marketing. If you understand the latest platforms and features such as TikTok and LinkedIn Stories, you can provide guidance and direction on how a company can best present its business on these new opportunities.
23. College & Education Consultant
If you enjoy helping people get into the best educational opportunities for their desired lifestyle, then consider becoming a college and education consultant. This position helps high school students and adults get into college.
Additionally, this position can help people find opportunities outside of college. Alternatives to college, such as Lamda School (coding school) and Profession Certificate Training Programs with Google, provide people with in-demand skills and connections with employers. Many people don’t know about these career opportunities—you can help them.
This employment field is projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. As educational opportunities develop, we will need experts to help people prepare and navigate the application processes.
24. Home Day Care
If you enjoy taking care of children, or have a child to watch during the day and believe you can watch a few more, consider starting a home day care. In the United States there are over 280,000 regulated home day cares.
To open your home day care, you may need a license from the state so check your state or county requirements. To give potential clients (parents) confidence and peace of mind in your child care abilities, you may also want to obtain a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. The CDA provides self-directed learning and online learning programs.
25. Airbnb Host
Airbnb rentals have seen a surge since the first lockdowns of COVID-19. People are looking for a socially-distance safe way to escape home. If you believe your home would be an excellent place to rent out to travelers and vacationers, consider renting a room or the entire house out to Airbnb renters.
Additionally, with your Airbnb rental, you can earn more income by creating an experience for guests. The ideas for experiences can be endless. You can teach guests how to do something, such as dancing, surfing, or painting. You can also put on a show or a tour. Consider these add-ons to make a unique experience for your guests.
When starting your business as a photographer, it’s best to specialize in a particular type of photography. All of your marketing and advertising needs to center around that specialty. Specializations include weddings, headshots, products, fashion, and real estate.
Photography equipment can get expensive. The camera, lenses, lighting, and editing software can add up to thousands of dollars, even for a beginner. To start this business on a budget, consider purchasing used equipment on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Test any items for quality before making the purchase.
27. Online Tutoring
Finding clients interested in home tutoring services has become a lot more accessible over the past several years. As an online tutor, you don’t have to find your own clients. Websites such as Wyzant.com, Tutor.com, and HomeTutorSite.com help tutors connect with students.
Online tutoring doesn’t have to be for school curriculum. If you have skills and a background in music, sports, finance, or economics, you can connect with those looking to learn from your expertise. Earn anywhere from $30 to over $200 for your expertise.
28. Cleaning Business
Starting a cleaning business is appealing to many at-home workers because of its low-cost and availability of clients. Especially because of COVID-19, companies are looking for deep cleans of their locations to limit infection spread.
You can start a basic cleaning business for under $1,000. Or, you can choose to work with a franchise such as Stratus Building Solutions for around $4,000. This franchise fee includes guaranteed customer accounts, training, and marketing support.
One of the best ways to start a home-based business is to practice the service or sell the product for family and friends. In exchange for a free or discounted rate, get testimonials from all your first customers. Once you have results and quality experiences to share, market those results to your potential customers.