30 Things to Sell From Home

Updated on December 30, 2016
ChristinS profile image

Christin has been successfully self-employed for over 17 years. Her passion is helping others hone their skills and find good opportunities.

Creative Ways to Make Extra Money

Have you ever wondered how to supplement your income or make it through lean times on your own? In the digital age, it has become easier than ever to earn money from home.

Recent years have brought lower-paying jobs, reduced hours and more competition in the job market. Self-sufficiency is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for people in hard-hit regions. For many, this has led to finding creative ways to make extra money.

Fortunately, the internet, smartphone apps, and social media have made self-sufficiency more doable than ever before. The opportunities lie in the sheer number of people you can reach and the free/inexpensive ways you can market your products. Nearly everyone has a marketable skill or talent that can be developed.

What follows is a list of products and services that can be sold from your home office. Resources for marketing and promoting your sales are also provided.

As of 2015, 33% of the US workforce did some type of independent work. By 2020 it is projected that up to 50% of the workforce will be comprised of freelancers and independent workers. Also interesting to note, currently 1 in 12 US homes rely on independent work for more than half of their income.

Source: Small Business Trends

Products to Sell From Home

  • Sewn items: My great aunt made a small fortune creating custom clothes for Barbie dolls back in the 60's and 70's. Her clothes were special, she sold them at a great price and word of mouth had her so busy she could barely keep up with demand. Create sewn items that people will love - aprons, doll clothes, wherever your imagination takes you.
  • Fashion: Use your sewing machine and create beautiful items, or "remake" thrift store finds into new fashions. Sell your products to local boutique stores or consign them. You can also photograph your items and sell at various online markets.
  • Homemade soaps and toiletries: I make a good sideline income selling handmade soaps and other body products. You can create a specific type of soap and market it to people with specific needs. An example might be a very mild, deeply moisturizing soap for those with sensitive skin. Sell by advertising locally, word of mouth and even setting up at craft fairs.
  • Custom Scrapbook Pages/Books: I've seen many ladies who create the most beautiful memory books and pages. These can be customized and sold. Focus on events or holidays, or even general designs.
  • Recipes: Do you love to cook and create new dishes? Break out a camera, document your steps and sell the recipes to your culinary masterpieces. A few publications that pay for recipes are Cooking Light magazine, Eating Well and Bon Appetit. It is very difficult to break into writing for these kinds of publications, but the money is good if you do. You could also consider creating a niche food blog.
  • Books: It's hard to make decent money selling books these days, but not impossible. If you have old books laying around you can try selling them for a few bucks locally at used book stores or online. BookScouter is a completely free service that allows you to search your book and find where you can sell it for the highest amount.
  • Music: Have some old records, CD's or even tapes collecting dust? Sell them online or at vintage shops.
  • Electronics: Upgrading that device or game console? Sell your older models. You can often sell items like old games and game systems at stores like Slackers. You can also sell online on Amazon. Look up your item and then click on "Have one to sell?".
  • Old Jewelry: Many artists and crafters love to use pieces of old jewelry in their new creations. Also, higher end jewelry can often be sold for its gold or silver content.
  • Retail Products: Create a niche blog or website around a subject you are an expert in. Eventually, you will be able to market items, sell ad space or even sell your own products or services related to that topic. For example, I've been a craft fair vendor for years. I run a website/blog for other vendors and make commissions selling certain necessary items like tables, canopies, display racks etc.
  • Direct Sales: You've likely heard of many of these companies: Mary Kay, Stella and Dot, Pampered Chef, the list goes on. While many women do make money at these businesses, keep in mind that it can be an expensive proposition to start and that you may annoy those around you by having "parties" etc. I know I personally don't want to buy a lot of these over-priced items and I often feel guilty when i have to tell my friends I'm sorry, but no. That being said, if it's a product you really like and you can sell it well because you love it (and aren't just in it for the buck) then you can probably make it work.
  • Flipped items. Are you handy and creative? Find old or damaged items at thrift stores (or even on big trash days) and restore or reimagine them and then sell the new creation. This can be time-consuming, but if it's a hobby you love, it's a great way to sell tangible, unique items to people.
  • Build reproductions: Do you know how to recreate or build items that are new but look vintage? There are huge markets for people who love to buy reproductions. Think those who live in old Victorian homes or who just love certain eras. Create something unique that speaks to these people. Perhaps you can make vintage looking lamps or small furniture.
  • Custom Cake Prints: If you have the equipment (the printer to do this is a few hundred) you can create custom cake sheets from people's pictures or even designs you make yourself. These special printers feature edible inks and special wafer papers that allow you to create really cute designs.
  • Gift and Novelty Items: Are you good at design? You can place your art on a variety of products using sites like Zazzle or CafePress.

Services to Sell from Home

  • Lessons/Tutoring: There are several websites available where you can offer tutoring on various subjects. If you have a skill others need help with, this can be a lucrative sideline business. Some sites to consider are tutor.com or skooli.com if you have an advanced degree and/or teaching certification.
  • Virtual Music Lessons: Are you a virtuoso at singing or playing an instrument? Modern technology has made it possible to teach music lessons in real time via webcam/computer. You can also opt for the traditional route and teach local kids. Livemusictutor.com and Lessonface.com are good choices if you want to teach music online.
  • Research: Many businesses hire freelancers to do periodic research and information gathering. You can often find tasks like this on Mechanical Turk, but the pay is pitiful. If you are great at market research you may want to seek out clients and grow your business through a strong website and word of mouth. Many companies prefer to work with local freelancers.
  • Computer Repair / Custom Builds: Teach people to build their own computers or repair computers for others locally. It's easy to build word of mouth business if your prices are reasonable and you have great skills.
  • Handyman/General Repair: Are you good at fixing things? Advertise your services and fix things like vacuums, lawn mowers and other items people often don't know how to repair for themselves. Do odd jobs and small repairs around the home in your local area or have people bring their items to you.
  • Transcription: There are a variety of websites that offer transcription services. Some don't pay very much and you'll also need equipment like a foot pedal and sometimes specific software. Transcription can be very lucrative if you specialize and partner with local businesses. Medical and Legal transcription pay the best, but you need to have good skills - accuracy and speed are both a must.
  • Photoshop: Are you a Photoshop whiz? Do photo alterations or restorations of old photos for others for a fee. You can even do novelty type images like putting people into different backgrounds etc.
  • Handwriting: Beautiful cursive writing and calligraphy are becoming a lost art. If you have beautiful handwriting sell your services hand addressing wedding invitations or other items.
  • Virtual Assistant: If you have administrative skills you can find work doing basic tasks for others as a virtual assistant. Answer emails, take calls, post to social media or schedule appointments from your home office. You can take on direct local clients, or sign up as a VA through various websites.
  • Web Design/Development: Do you have great design skills or are you a coding genius? Consider developing websites from home. You can build Wordpress sites that your clients can manage for themselves, develop custom themes, or even build a unique site completely from scratch. Many designers and developers work on a freelance basis.
  • Develop Apps: Many people make a great sideline income developing apps - anything from games to apps with practical everyday purpose. If you can envision and build it from scratch it can be a good sideline. It's very competitive and not for those without technical skills.
  • Personal Trainer: This requires varying degrees of certification by state so you'll need to research, but if you are passionate about health and fitness and want to help people change their lives - this is a great field for freelancing. You can couple personal training sessions locally perhaps with writing for magazines, blogging etc. to round out your income potential.
  • Niche Blogger: Are you an amazing cook, fitness guru or expert in your field and you also love to write and/or do videos? Niche blogging/websites may be a good fit for you. This is especially true if you have skills in something popular but not overly saturated, and a LOT of patience and persistence. There are roughly 5 billion mommy bloggers with general blogs (Ok, probably not quite that many, but the competition is fierce) Think more specific. Perhaps you are an expert organizer, or great at restoring furniture or cooking amazing meals on a shoestring. Find your niche and really go after it. Niche blogs make money through advertising, guest posting, product placement, and other venues.
  • Writing (for others): While there are a lot of "content mills" that routinely shaft "writers" and pay pennies, there are also many legitimate opportunities for writers with various skill sets. Pick a niche and really master it. Product descriptions, marketing materials, and even ghostwriting books are all very lucrative writing venues. Word of mouth and a good portfolio are the keys to freelance writing success.
  • Editing/Proofreading: Do you have excellent command of language and grammar? If so, editing and proofreading are in demand. You can find many websites where you can sign up to do this. Many don't pay that well, however, if you have excellent skills you can likely find clients on your own.
  • Format & Convert Files: If you have the software and know-how, you can earn money converting different document types. Transform word documents to .pdf files or take someone's Word document and format it as a Kindle eBook etc. If you're good with file formatting, this type of gig may be a good fit for you.

Are you an independent worker?

Do you currently freelance or engage in other types of independent work?

See results

Resources

There are several websites you can use when selling products and services. Fiverr is a great place to sell some quick services. Want to sell tangible goods? Facebook offers a lot of local groups (yard sale groups, virtual swap meets etc.) Use the search function to look for Facebook sales groups in your location.

Also, always be on the lookout for local community bulletin boards. Use these to place fliers and/or business cards. Small, local papers often offer inexpensive advertising. Other ideas include church bulletin boards, selling products on consignment in local shops and more.

Be creative and don't be afraid to seek out opportunities. As time goes on, the independent workforce will also become more competitive, so be proactive and work with others in your area in the spirit of cooperation. I like to tell people to "think outside the big box" and support local freelancers, artists and craftspeople.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Christin Sander

    Comments

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      • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

        Christin Sander 

        7 weeks ago from Midwest

        You're very welcome Larry - thanks for the read and comment :)

      • Larry Fish profile image

        Larry W Fish 

        8 weeks ago from Raleigh

        A very impressive list of things to sell from home. All one thing that a person has to do is sit back and see what will best suit them and will best serve the population they are targeting. Thanks for sharing, Christin.

      • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

        Christin Sander 

        18 months ago from Midwest

        Indeed Cyndi, I ran a cleaning business for a long time. Thanks for the read and comment.

      • Cyndi10 profile image

        Cynthia B Turner 

        18 months ago from Georgia

        Good article. The Concierge type of service that FlourishAnyway mentioned is not only good for serving the elderly, but many busy individuals have the same needs for someone to run those small errands like picking up/delivering cleaning, or the grocery shopping. Even developing a cleaning service is very popular today.

        Excellent tips. Take care.

      • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

        Christin Sander 

        18 months ago from Midwest

        Another great service idea Flourish and what a great one too, especially for the elderly who perhaps don't need in-home medical type care yet, just a helping hand now and then. Thanks for sharing.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        18 months ago from USA

        Lots of ideas here. I know a woman who does very well checking in on elderly people, delivering small meals and groceries and running simple errands for them. Many times their children work full time or are not local so she adds an oversight and personal touch to their care.

      • ChristinS profile imageAUTHOR

        Christin Sander 

        18 months ago from Midwest

        Hi Louise, I'm not Canadian so I really haven't looked into that. I believe Zazzle is international (for selling designs on objects). Also, Amazon handmade has been rolled out in several countries which I would assume includes Canada. Fiverr should also be able to be used in Canada to sell services. If you come across more do feel free to comment and add those resources as well. :)

      • louise-barraco profile image

        Louise Barraco 

        18 months ago from Ontario

        Do you know Any Canadian sites to sell things?

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