5 Home Businesses You Can Start for Free

Concerned about having alternative revenue streams in case your company folds? Hoping to transition to a work-at-home job, but need a certain amount of base income to make it happen? Here are five home businesses you can start for free, allowing you to save your cash for college funds, family travel or that new kitchen remodel you’ve been dreaming about.

Stock Photography

Sure you can drop big bucks getting started in stock photography if you want to, but it is far from necessary. As long as you have a camera that will produce photo files of a meg or larger and you have the ability to take clear and attractive images, you can begin exploring your earning potential as a stock photographer. Whether you start with travel photography from your family vacations, or food photos from your ethnic cooking projects, the opportunity to earn money from this type of digital content is there.

Prefer to focus on costumed images with an educational or corporate theme? Take advantage of the free models you may have at your disposal in the form of a mild-mannered pet or enthusiastic toddler. This will add a sense of humor to your work which could pay off. Backdrops can be as basic as the parchment paper from your pantry, especially if what you are photographing is small in size. The list of stock photography sites is extensive, but includes such familiar names as iStockphoto and Dreamstime.

This is definitely a numbers game, and anyone making real money at this type of gig has a significant number of images in their portfolio. The perks of having income that’s passive are tough to overstate however, so putting in the time to enjoy easier income earnings later on isn’t exactly the worst idea. More and more people own juiced-up cameras these days so if you’re looking for a cost-free biz you can set up and come back to as your schedule permits, stock photography just might be for you.

E-Book Publishing

There are a variety of ways you can start this type of business, but many require you to pay a certain monthly fee in order to have your content available for resellers. One powerful and free option however, is to use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. It costs nothing to join, and their back-end user interface provides automated file conversion from a basic Word document as well as a free book cover design tool. Your range of topics is wide open, as people are publishing anything from literature study guides and how-to business manuals to romance novels and cookbooks.

Speaking from my own experience, I recently formatted two of my husband’s science fiction short stories and uploaded them for sale. For the cover designs, we used the free tool provided by Amazon in conjunction with some public domain space images. Sales started rolling in within the first month, which has motivated us to get the ball rolling on a variety of other content for which we hold the rights. The program also offers additional payment incentives through the Kindle lending program.  While there are certainly other online sales platforms for e-books, Amazon’s is massive. This makes it a reasonably safe investment of time, in my humble opinion.

Curriculum Development

If you have an education background like I do, and enjoy developing learning materials for teachers to use in the classroom, there’s no need to wait for the textbook publishers to call with an offer. New websites have popped up in recent history which allow talented lesson planners to get in on the publishing game. Two free ones are Teachers Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers. While they both have paid memberships allowing developers to earn a higher royalty percentage or skip certain processing fees for individual sales, each provides a cost-free start up option for new curriculum writers.

I personally opened free accounts with both of these sites (which are linked to above), each containing a little more than 240 of my curriculum products. I see sales revenue deposited into my business account from both stores on a monthly basis with little to no marketing efforts, which definitely speaks to the size of their platforms. As long as you have access to a computer, a basic word processing program and a free pdf converter, this business is yours to develop to whatever extent you want. Those who don’t own a computer can always hit the local library and use Google Docs in order to get started.

Content Writing

Whether you are hiring out your services on a freelance basis or finding ways to have your content earn passive income over the long term, content writing is a free and potentially lucrative business anyone with reasonable language skills can start for free. Collections of internet articles are a decent cash generator for many people.

For example, during the first six years following my husband’s retirement from the military, I found high-traffic web clients who allowed me to earn funds each month based in part on the number of reads my articles generated collectively. In that amount of time, I was able replicate the amount of monthly passive income we received from our military pension which took more than twenty years earn. Not bad.

While those types of clients can be difficult to come by, similar earning opportunities are available on sites like HubPages and Squidoo. Each are free for anyone to join, and can be immediately monetized through free-to-use programs like Google Adsense, Kontera and Ebay’s affiliate program. While certain articles will make you more money than others, it’s important to know that this is definitely a numbers game. The more articles you post, the greater your earning potential.

Affiliate Marketing

One of the most beneficial things about an affiliate marketing business is the fact you are allowed to promote products and earn a portion of every sale without ever having to worry about inventory, shipping or office overhead expenses. If you have a cost-free online blog, a Twitter account or similar platform, you’re free to start marketing products you believe in. Link Share and Share a Sale are popular affiliate networks where you can begin to explore and apply for affiliate status with companies selling anything from name-brand candles to camping equipment and hotel reservations.

Starting your own business doesn’t have to require a huge cash investment. If you are disciplined, creative and self motivated, chances are you can turn your efforts into cold, hard cash sooner than you think.

Photo Credit: iStock