Do you want to work at home, but you’re not sure what to do? Here are some ideas about things that let you earn an income while staying at home.
If You Want to Work at Home, Be Creative!
by Jill Cooper
(If you want to work at home blogging, check out Mike’s post, How To Start A Blog Fast.)
You want to stay home with your children but due to circumstances beyond your control you are their sole support. What jobs can you do and still be at home for the kids? There are many magazines out there that have lists of stay at home jobs but they don’t seem to work out for a lot of individuals. I don’t think they work for two reasons:
First, many people haven’t really made up their minds that their children’s emotional and spiritual needs are greater than their children’s material wants. Being present in your children’s lives is more important than buying them things. When I made up my mind that the most important and best thing for my children was for me to be there for them, that became my main goal. Then when a job came along, I didn’t consider the best job the one that paid the most, but the one that gave me the most time with my kids.
The second reason moms have trouble finding things that allow them to stay home is that each individual’s circumstances, gifts or talents and needs vary so greatly. It is difficult for anyone to suggest a handful of solutions that will work for everyone.
For example, at one point I was working at a very well paying receptionist job. When my daughter had a long term knee injury, I had to leave that job for a job that paid less because it left me free to pick her up at all different times of day. Another time when both my children were seriously ill and I couldn’t leave them at all, I stayed home and ironed clothes for other people.
I became like any Olympic skater or swimmer, trying to achieve my goal. I got up early and worked long, hard days. I sacrificed much to obtain my goal. I overcame my natural shyness and told everyone I met that I ironed, baked cookies, or whatever they needed. I even built piano parts. Before we divorced, my husband and I manufactured player pianos. Afterward, I took over the business. I did that in order to find the work that I needed to obtain my goal, which was to be there for my kids.
If you are stumped at what kinds of jobs or things you can do to stay at home and earn money here are a few suggestions:
Think about things that are a little out of the ordinary. Don’t do crafts!! You usually spend more time, money and energy than you will ever earn. That’s why they call them “starving” artists.
Try to think of needs that people need fulfilled. I did ironing and found out that I made more money doing that than I did as a receptionist. To set the price, I just called the local cleaners and asked what they charged. I just charged slightly less. Then I told everyone that I was doing ironing and it was a smoke-free home. Yes, even the cashiers at the grocery store!
At one point I had a women who brought me her groceries, disposable pans and her favorite recipes. I cooked 15-20 of her favorite meals and she would store them in her freezer for the month. If you have excessive garden produce, sell it to the restaurants in your area. You can grow herbs very easily and restaurants love fresh herbs.
Don’t limit yourself to working “at home” if you can do something that fits your need to be “at home”. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you would love to work in the school cafeteria because the work has the same hours that your children are in school, don’t be afraid to ask if there is an opening. If you can sew, inquire at decorating shops. A lot of times they need seamstresses who can do basic sewing to work flexible part time hours. A lot of businesses need someone to run errands and you can often adapt their hours to your needs.
If you’re thinking, “but I have a degree,” consider that if your degree is not providing you with a job that allows you to be at home with your kids, you should throw it out the window and stop using it as an excuse for not finding the right job. Remember: Your education, high standard of living and material things are not what are important here — raising your children is the important thing.
One great way to make money at home, if you’re inclined toward teaching or writing is by blogging. It’s possible to make some extra money, or even a full time living as a blogger. Of course, a blog will only make money if you actually spend some time working on it, but it’s possible to make money blogging if you treat is like a job and keep working at it. If you’d like to consider blogging, but you’re worried about how to start a blog, check out our post, How To Start A Blog Fast.
you are so right! i had this conversation yesterday with my boyfriend and two friends of us. I tried to convince them about what you are saying in this article, which is exactly what i believe too, but I couldn’t make it.
I feel that it’s more important for me and my children (when I one day become a mom) to have their mother at home. All three of them think that it’s impossible for a family to live with one paycheck. I also feel that when I want to have a family and raise kids, it would be more appropriate for them to leave the city and go live somewhere on the suburbs (where we would also have lower cost of life). All three of them think that they couldn’t live away from friends and parents.
Tell your friends I have nine children (seven are still at home) and we are living on one income. I am certain it makes a difference. We are not big on material things, but I don’t think my children feel they do without much either. Most of our family (his side) lives close by, but mine is about 300 miles away. We still are able to see them often. You just have to decide what your priorities are.
Don’t dismiss crafts that fast. Crafts can be a source of a small income if you pick what’s right for you, but don’t go overboard either. If you sew, knit, or crochet, try making purses and handbags. Now I’m not saying make a hundred of them but try 5 or 10 and try to sell them in a garage sale or something like that. Also you can create your own patterns for projects and try to get them published in magazines. Magazines are always looking for new project patterns. Let people know what crafting skills you have and maybe someone will pay you to make something for them. If people know that you knit or crochet they may ask you to make them a sweater or afghan. Even painting can make you money. Try buying glassware at dollar stores and painting a nice decoration on them. These can also be sold at garage sales. I’m not saying that crafts should be your only source of income but they can bring a few extra dollars here and there. And a few extra dollars can really make a difference sometimes.
Jamie our point wasn’t meant to dismiss doing crafts as an income but to make sure you are really making an income with them for the amount of time you are putting in and how much you are making for supplies.
This goes to for any type of work – crafts or anything. It is ridiculous to spend all of this time and money doing something and you make $.50 an hour and I have even known cases where the people were losing money and didn’t know it. This happens often with women working away from home at low paying jobs. You don’t know how often we get e mails after we have told gals to put pen to paper and figure out are you really earning money by the time you pay for a second car, insurance, clothes, gas, child care, going out to eat more because you are tired , higher tax bracket etc. and they say they have been losing money without realizing it.
You really need to think and do lots of figuring on these things. I once had a chance at a job making minimum wage but I only would work 2 hours a day and the job was way on the other side of town. I could say at least it was something but I wasted almost as much time driving as working and by the time I figured gas, taxes and other things I was making almost nothing.
Tawra just last week talked to some women who were all excited about starting a business doing kids birthday parties. Two of them would make $150 a party and they thought this was great because they would make about $37 an hour on a 2 hour party. They didn’t factor in the 2-3 hours or more they would have to spend buying and making supplies, setting up and cleaning up after the party, driving to and from parties, paying taxes, web site (you have to pay for web sites and someone to update and design them) and office expenses etc. By the time Tawra was done with them they weren’t making any money at all. They still didn’t want to believe it but that is why many people aren’t getting ahead when they start a small business and most of the time even fail getting into lots of debt.
Here is a suggestion for a business from home doing crafts or a hobby.
My husband is an amateur photographer. Jill I sent you some and people think he is really good at it.
A friend suggested that he start going to Karate, skating, curling functions and take pictures of the participants and trophy time to take pictures for the parents and for the clubs themselves.
We have a photographer in town who does this but he charges way too much for most parents.
Don has all the equipment he needs. cameras printers paper. All he needs to get is a business license and a black sheet for the portraits.
A picture to be printed on good paper costs about $2. that includes the paper and the ink and his time. We have decided that $25. a picture is a good price and if you want more than one or different sizes they will be prices accordingly.
He already does this for the rod and gun clubs kid’s fish derby where he takes random shots and if the parent sees him taking pictures and asks for a copy he sends them one for free.
One man said he went for family portraits at Sears and 10 pictures cost him $450.
He wants Don to go to the house and take pictures of the family dog since his wife wants a christmas picture of the dog.
He would charge $150. because of the hour drive to get there.
So if you don’t have to buy a lot of things to get started using crafts and hobbies to make money is a great idea.
But if you have to borrow money before you can start make sure you do your homework.
Yes Grandma his pictures were really good. That is really the secret to starting your own business. Start off trying to invest as little as possible and know your market.
Thank you for the ideas about working to help out my family. I need to get on the ball, and PRAY about what God would have me do.
I praise the LORD that my husband has worked so diligently so I could be home with our children since before our 17yo was born! Yes, finances are tight, but so are the relationships within our family. And that is WAY more important!!
Blessings to you for helping so many people,
Grandma, this is exactly why I was saying to start small. Don’t invest alot of time and money in something that may not sell. If you can take an order from someone and make only that 1 item, not 50 of that item, then that is just fine. You don’t want to get stuck with 49 items that no one wants. I like the garage sale idea because it allows for low cost or even no cost advertising of your skills. If someone buys a knitted or crocheted hat let them know you made it yourself and maybe they will ask you to make something else for them. You get the idea, advertise your skills and then let people make orders.
You can also teach others to learn your craft. Let people see you making the project and then offer to teach them to knit, crochet, sew, etc. You could make it a home party similar to selling tupperware but instead you are selling your skill. Get a group together and charge a fee to teach them all to knit, crochet, sew, or whatever other skill you may have. You may find that people are more likely to want to learn if their friend is also learning with them. I also think people would like this idea as a fresh alternative to the traditional “tupperware”-like party where their guests are pressured into buying something.
How much did you charge the lady you cooked the meals for?
Pricilla it has been awhile since I did it but at the time I think figured I was making about minimum wage or just a tad more for that time. I’m not positive but I think it averaged out to be about $3-4 a meal. She bought all of the groceries and pans to me so all I did was just cook. She picked them up too. The more I did it the faster I got. Since I had a set price that meant the faster I got the more money I made.
What I would do if you are trying to figure out what to charge is to time yourself making a basic meal like lasagna, don’t forget clean up too. Let’s say it took you 30 mins. if you need $10 an hour then you could charge $5 per meal. Some meals might take longer some less but usually even with a set price it averages out fine. Be careful and don’t set your prices too high. See if I had to buy the ingredients and pay $5 a meal it might almost be as cheap for me to go to a fast foods place. It all depends of course on where you live and what people earn and are willing to pay for a meal in your area. You have to take all of that into consideration.
You make such good points here. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what sort of services I might be able to offer my neighbors for extra money. I already do light food prep for a woman I clean for. It didn’t dawn on me to offer this same service to others. One of the biggest problems I have is trying to figure out how much to charge, but your reasoning on how to price makes sense. I need to take a look at the other articles available on this site regarding this topic. Thanks!
For any type of service you want to do, do a trial run at home – figure out how long it took you to do it – how much you want an hour. Very simple. For ex. I was doing some hand sewing that I know people will pay for so out of curiosity I timed myself and knew exactly how much I needed to charge if I was to do it. Also don’t forget to add in things like cleaners if you are using your own (if it is cleaning services) and a small amount on wear and tear if you use things like your own vacuum.
I stumbled upon this post and it was very timely. I am a divorced mom to 4 year old twin boys. Yesterday I turned down a $90K / year job because it would keep me too far away from my boys. Reading this post just confirmed that I made the right decision; my boys need me, not more “things”. While I am still franticly searching for a work from home job (I am in the IT industry.. why is it so hard? Grrrr!) I am at least only 2 minutes away from my boys M-F while they are with grandma. I felt such relief reading this post. Thank you!
We feel your pain. My son is looking for a job in that same area and it is hard.
I’m in Overland Park, KS. Where is your son? I grew up in Abilene, KS :-) I currently have a job, but it took me 7 months to find it! Eek!
He in Wichita.
I really-really love your website-thank you!
I am a SAHW-who was working for HSN but my comcast connection leaves me stranded at times- it’s hard to place orders online when your going from fast speed to dial up within seconds at anytime of day/night. We’re very limited here??
Only one phone provider and one ISP-carrier- go figure In this day and age we should still be so very limited??
Sad, I’m thinking about going backwards to save $30 a month by cancelling comcast and going to dial up with verizon. Boy thats a tough call. After having HS/DSL.
I cannot get any other dial up-or fast speed in my area! Verizon has landline restrictions-What’s one to do??
… since I like to sew, I’m deeply concidering following my heart-Is do what you love the money will follow True??
Yrs ago-I used to have a booth at a local flea market-I constructed unusual gift baskets with candles/holders, potpourri, I made aprons, placemats, doileys, napkins and potpourri- Sold for $15
Since I need to make grocery money and cover some bills-
I am also thinking the what if scenerio?? He lost his job…I really need to make more then we need.
To try and cover more…to make up some of the $$ difference I’m going back to strict frugal living: recycle, reuse, couponing, we really only eat out-maybe once a month on special occasions. I already do these things but since I was working FT too, I’ve gotten away from who I am and what I’ve learned…about being frugal!
Saving and living to save a buck for tomorrow.
When my kids were growing up I stayed home was frugal-liked homesteading -was a great way to raise the kids. We always had a garden-and raised most of our own food meat/veggies. When my children were in school I went to work- joined the working ranks. I worked in retail sales and later in clerical/office work-which I preferred.
I was very fortunate to find my WAH-job but now find myself lost and in dismay??
Thank god, I’ve been coupon the last few months to stock pile a few things…now I can focus my efforts and move forward unto better things. Any suggestions-will be appreciated-thank you!
Anyway, today, I’m working on lowering our bills-even more by ridding us of those little extra charges we never use-much like an extended warranties-the seller makes money on. Cancelling the Dishnet prog on 2nd tv we don’t watch $6 x 12 months= $72.00 yr -go back to listening to the radio. Verizon-Phone replacement fee $6 month another $72 yr…wow it really pays to track your money! Already saving $144.00 now whats sad…I’ve paid these for three yrs now = $ 432.00 LOST=wasted money for the last three years! wow!!! I’m already feeling my worth! Ty and god bless Robby
i wanted to say i really enjoy reading this website and have gotten valuable advice from it. i’ve been wanting to start a home business for years now making gift baskets. my problem is i just don’t know where or how to start. any advice on this?
One of the best ways to start which most people don’t want to do or can’t but if you are serious is to work part time for a short time at a place which is doing the same thing you want to do.
This way you can find out what is involved, how much it really takes, what it is like dealing with customers and their demands (what to do when a basket gets smashed on its way to being delivered), where to get supplies, how many hours you need to spend to make it work etc.
If you can’t do that then you need to start with putting pen to paper and figure out how much your supplies will cost, how much time it will take to make them and if it will really make you money. You have to be serious and add in all of the money and time you spend. For example does it take an hour for you to drive and get supplies then don’t forget to add that and the gas it takes. Also will people be willing to pay the price you need to get. Is there a demand.
I always advice to start small. Make do with as few supplies and over head as you can. For example when ordering supplies if you can save $10 by ordering $2000 worth of supplies over ordering $1000 be careful because if you can pay cash for the $1000 but have to charge the $2000 it really won’t save you in the long run. There is also the problem of if your business fails you will be out only $1000 and not $2000.
Spread the word to friends and families. Some of the most successful businesses have gotten that way just by word of mouth. If you have a good product and good customer service word will spread. Make sure you have both.
Thank you Jill for responding. I was considering making up a few small baskets and seeing how much it was to rent a space at the Flea Market (a flea market for those who aren’t familiar is like a huge yard/garage sale with several different people) and see if I could sell them up there. Maybe make up some ‘business cards’ to put with the baskets and spread the word that way.
Alisha that would be a great way to start. Usually Flea market booths aren’t too expensive and it helps people to see what you have, your prices etc.
when my daughter and i moved to ft lauderdale (she was 6 yrs old) and well i couldnt find a decent paying job (my job skills were not up to date) .. i “re-invented” myself .. meaning; i put flyers out and also word of mouth too .. i did housecleaning, ironing, mending, childcare, typing and i even had several waitress jobs too .. anything to make a dollar ..
and when i moved up more north (central fl to be exact, between daytona and orlando; right in the middle) .. this small town wasnt even a city yet .. so again, no job opportunities .. me and hubby we delivered newspapers, worked in the local denny’s restaurants, flea marketed and well childcare, housecleaning and typing became our source of income .. we did what we had to do in order NOT to send our children to daycare and NOT to have to drive all the way to orlando to get a job (too far) and plus we wanted more time for family .. that was our priority ..
i must admit it wasnt easy .. and yes with lots of prayer and well we did the best we could ..
we built up our paper routes by me doing small crafts and giving them away as free gifts in order to get customers for the newspaper on our routes .. i was able to make little door wreaths for like 75 cents to $1/each .. and when we made sales, we got paid $5 for each paid subscription .. soooo… every evening i would go out and wouldnt come home until i had 5 sales for the nite .. no less than 4 tho .. but if i only made 3 bc well after a certain hr i would stop and then go home .. i was still happy bc i still made money for the day/nite .. and the rest of the money was used to buy groceries/clothes and the fun times we wanted to do ..
i can still remember the time we made enuff money that we could get basic cable .. hehee .. well back then it was cheaper than today (it was like $20 with taxes) but we thought we were rich! .. hehehee :D .. (now we do not have cable and well dont miss it either!.. altho i did tell hubby i would love to get netflix soon and that is still cheaper than cable!) ..
so yes if u want or need to make a living while working at home but doing unconventional jobs, it can be done .. its hard but its also rewarding too …
(also, just to remind others, i have known people that in the winter time they shovel the snow using their vehicles and in the warmer weather they do yard work.. its hard work but there is a need for those kinds of services too) ..
thanks for posting this .. :D
I’d like to resell a hard to find item in our small town, but not sure if it’s OK to buy the item and then resell it here. It’s a particular kind of soap. I’m just considering selling it our local flea market on the weekends and then add other types of items later.
Crafts interest many people who want to work from home but on average you sre lucky to net 50 cents an hour.
To mske a significant income it is necessary to turn youself into a factory operation.I know a potter who digs his own clay on his property and sets up a production line for one item for example enough mugs to fill his kiln for one fireing, while those are drying he deals with the previous batch. It is very hard work and tedious because he simply does not have the time to use his creativity.
Equipment is also very expensive both for pottery, woodworking weaving and other possibilities
Medical transcription sounds good as long as you are a fast and accurate typist with a knowledge of medical terminology.
Personally I am a retired RN and while not fit enough for hospital work could manage a Drs office or home care where it is possible to earn $100 a night giving basic care and sitting at the bedside.
Realistically all the jobs Jill did offer the best options for a stay at home mom. There is no reason a Mom can’t do yard work if she owns the equipment or not, someone has to weed the flower beds. A young baby will be quite happy attached to Mom in a sling and when it’s time to nurse they can do it comfortably under a shady tree.
How about dog walking?
Careing for developmentally disabled adults in your home?
Caretaking vacant properties while the owners are on vacation.
Housesitting is also a possibility and would provide shelter for a single Mom for weeks or months.
Persistance, creativity and the will to suceed will get you through.
At the age of 58 I needed to get back into the workforce and my skills were those of a registered nurse but I was trained in the UK and those certifications are not accepted in the US. I had to provide proof of my education – graduated in 1961. Once these were accepted i was required to take NCLEX in NYS. to my surprise I passed and was able to secure a position with our local Hospice which I held for ten years.
Never give up and trust in the Lord
You don’t want to do fostering for a job. There are kids with too many issues out there for you to consider it as just a job. You don’t get paid much, either. You must be really commited to it. You must go in there to consider it as a higher calling and/or with a goal to get a kid. I know. I did it.
I have been selling my crafts for 30 years. Stayed home for 11 of those years…before the internet. One of the best ways to test the saleability of your crafts is to try eBay – just a few things to get your feet wet. Etsy is another selling venue which has gained popularity and the fees are substantially lower. Once an item begins to sell, be sure to photograph each version you make. If you have easy access to the supplies, a particular fabric, list it. (Unless you want to, you don’t have to have it made to list it, you can wait for an order. That being said, this should be something that you can make and ship in the timeframe you promise.) If you take this route, you can “share” your listings on Facebook and get more exposure. You can even create a business Facebook page.There are also several free website creating/hosting companies out there if you want to do your own website. Keeping with the economic way of marketing – always include a business card or a flyer with contact information. I try to add a personal note as well and sometimes an extra little gift. Always offer mail order, even if you are showing at a craft show. Just research to cost of mailing so you don’t get stuck with extra shipping than you quoted your customer. Many of my items include free shipping which is a real sales plus. The trick is to come up with a price that works and covers the postage. I cannot do this on my largest item and best selling item – Grandma Broom Vacuum Cover because, to me, the price becomes too much. You can get business cards from several on line companies for a song. I have ordered mine from Vistaprint for years and everytime they have a special, I stock up on more. I recently ordered car magnets for under $20 so I am a rolling advertisement everywhere I go. Last year, I bit the bullet and paid for an ad in Country Sampler Magazine…a big step for a money conscious person, but it took me 30 years of contemplation before doing it! Fortunately, it is working. The last piece of advice I would offer is no matter what you decide to do from home – be nice, be honest and give more than your customers expect. It does come back to you.
I started selling on EBAY over 2 years ago… There is no start up fee and you can sell just about ANYTHING! For example, someone recently had 2 boxes of old sanitary pads (1970’s Kotex) and had 2 bids going at over $10!! Like I said…anything!!!
The post office will bring PRIORITY MAIL boxes to your home for free, and pick up the packages for FREE as well… Clean out the attic/basement/garage, and if you’re a garage sale junkie, there is a PERFECT place to pick up more stock if needed…It takes time, but works around your schedule (you can work while your toddler is up at 2 a.m.)… Ebay runs specials every month giving you FREE listings (you get 50 FREE each month, and like right now is running a special for 200,00 FREE listings)… My husband gets paid once a month, so my ebay sales help us get through the end of the month…It’s worth a try and at least you’ll clean out the clutter in your house (baby clothes, tools, nic nacs, jewelry etc…)
I sell on ebay too, anything I can find for free, coupons, items that I get free or almost free with coupons and they are lightweight, like OTC meds and makeup. On my best month, my sales were 2K with over 11 hundred in profit, but usually I make only a couple of hundreds, depends what kind of stuff I can find. There is no pressure, if you have stuff, you sell it, if you don’t, you don’t have any expences for it either. Right now I am very interested in producing my own food for my family with gardening, chickens, bees etc. I have chickens, and have some little chicks too, but I am planning to make my own chicks from eggs for my backyard and some for sale.
A few possiblities include:
Working as a teacher’s assistant in special education classes offered by your local school district. It is rewarding work and the hours coincide with normal school hours. Try substituting to see if you enjoy it. Special Education programs seem to need people every school year. I believe all you need to have is a 2 year degree minimum.
Part-time work as a bank teller sometimes is available and the hours can be worked out with the bank….working specifically in the evenings part-time for a large retailer works if your husband is home in time to babysit. Often stores are willing to accommodate those kind of hours since their full-time people enjoy their evenings off.
Working as a store demonstrator is something to consider, especially in the grocery stores.
Taking in one or two children during the day to assist working moms is also an idea since you are home anyway with your kids. Any more than that might involve licensing and more rules you might not want to deal with…check with your state.
This was just the right inspiration I needed in order to get my head straight about my decision to work from home. You’re right that meeting our kids emotional needs is far more important than having a job that allows you to buy things just to keep up. It hasn’t always been easy and I’m committed for at least another two years until my youngest heads to high school; but at least I’m here to help when it’s needed and not worry if my kids are safe.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
You can start a Facebook page just for selling things, I have friends who make a living doing just that. No set up cost and a great way to promote your page is Facebook.