It’s Monday. Your alarm starts ringing and you drag yourself out of bed, dreading the thought of getting dressed and going to work.
All week, you dream of Saturday so you can wake up whenever you want and enjoy spending time at home. Even if you could wake up a little later or go to work whatever time you wanted, that would be a vast improvement.
Well, this isn’t so far-fetched. Working from home is a reality for thousands of entrepreneurs. And if it’s something you desire, in this article, we will discuss five proven online business ideas used by successful entrepreneurs who earn over five figures a month from the comfort of their homes.
Become a Freelancer
Freelancing is at an all-time high. A report from Freelancers Union and Upwork—the largest freelancing platform in the world—estimates that there are now 56.7 million freelancers in the United States.
Similarly, the McKinsey Global Institute found that between 20% to 30% of the world’s population is engaged in some kind of independent work.
Sadly, many people who decide they want to become freelancers end up realizing the harsh truth of the globalization era—that you’ll have to compete with cheap labor from far off countries.
If you try to compete with these people by undercutting yourself, you’ll lose. If you want to make five or six figures from your freelance work, you need to think strategically, like you’re running a business.
Freelance writer Kat Boogaard explains that in order for her to break the six-figure mark—something she says would have been a laughable proposition years ago—she had to change her approach substantially.
First, she says, she had to drop unproductive and unprofitable clients. By focusing on the clients who were bringing in the most money, she was able to make $22,000 more per year and, at the same time, work much less.
She also had to build a reputation by publishing consistently on different outlets, something that eventually allowed her to charge higher rates.
People aren’t going to give you something unless you ask for it. As I built up more of a reputation, I became more comfortable quoting a higher price for new clients who were interested in working together.
Elizabeth Hanes, a registered nurse who makes over six-figures by creating content for health brands, says that “freelance writing is about 75% marketing and 25% writing.” That means, if you want to succeed as a freelancer, you need to learn how to market yourself.
Freelance marketing requires you to:
- Network with fellow freelancers and potential clients on social media
- Ask your current clients and friends for referrals
- Run ads in Facebook, Google, and other ad networks
- Cold pitch potential clients
- Write guest posts in authoritative and relevant industry blogs
- Speak at events that potential clients attend
Out of all these strategies, getting referrals is the most common one used by freelancers. The reason for its popularity is perfectly summarized by Tim Ross of DesignCuts:
Referrals are easier to attract than new clients, and they’re meeting you with context about who you are. They often come with a glowing recommendation from somebody they trust, so it makes it a lot easier to land the job, price yourself better, and focus more on the actual work.
Building a reputation in your industry may take you some time, so while you do that, you can also leverage the power of freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelancer. The best part of these platforms is that you don’t need to do much marketing on your own. You pitch your services to posted jobs and you get hired.
Unfortunately, these platforms are a good example of the globalized freelance market, as you end up competing with lower-wage freelancers in other countries.
Your strategy must be focused on standing out and focusing on value, something copywriter Ari Zelmanow used to generate over $100k from Upwork.
According to Ari, the key to success in Upwork lies in your proposals. If you can focus on your client’s needs (based on their job listing), build a conversation, and overcome their objections, you can easily work with the highest-paying clients and generate five or six figures through a freelancing platform.
The best part is that, like most successful freelancers, Ari found that:
Freelancing doesn’t even feel like work. Not in the traditional sense anyway. I’m excited to wake up in the morning. Corporate jobs claim they want creativity, but they don’t really encourage it. But as a freelance copywriter I get to use my creativity everyday. In fact, the more I use it, the more money I make.
Launch Your Own Ecommerce Business
Historically, launching a retail business required thousands of dollars to scout for the right location, negotiate with contractors, work with local government, find reliable suppliers, hire employees, and more.
These days, you can easily launch your own retail business from the comfort of your home. All you need is a viable product and an account with a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, and you’re good to go.
Nicole Martins Ferreira explains that out of the seven ecommerce stores that she has launched, the one that eventually succeeded did so because of three reasons:
- Having focus
- Working in the right niche
- Selling the right products
What’s more, she recommends putting all your energies into one store and avoiding launching multiple at the same time.
Building one store is actually a lot of work. It’s more than just adding products to your website, more than creating a Facebook ad, and more than occasionally posting on social media. You need to get obsessed with building your store’s blog to keep your acquisition costs low, post on social several times a day, and experiment with ads, emails, and products. Those three things alone will eat up more than enough of your time. And they’re definitely not the only things you need to do.
She also recommends picking a product that has a lot of search traffic online, something you can easily find out with the help of a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush. These tools allow you to find keywords and optimize your pages for them.
All you need to do is find something that gets hundreds of thousands or millions of searches a month. Then, you need to experiment with different products to find out what your home-run best-seller is. But even after your best-seller has slowed down in popularity, you’ll at least still have a niche that will continue to have other best-sellers. You just need to be willing to always be on the lookout for them.
At Foundr, we often recommend a specific process (which we teach in our course Start & Scale) that dozens of students have used to launch and grow their ecommerce stores from their homes.
Thanks to a mix of social media (most importantly, the use of Instagram marketing), email marketing, and the power of online reviews, she was able to grow her store, Me and the Brave, to hit five figures in revenue.
The best part is that she achieved this result while working from home and taking care of her children.
Consulting is like freelancing—you make money using your skills. The only difference is, as Suzan Bond put it in this popular article on Fast Company:
A freelancer doesn’t signal to others that you’re a know-what-you’re-doing, take-no-crap professional. That bias may be unfair, but it’s a reality. Clients too often see freelance arrangements as low-cost line items rather than strategic partnerships.
In other words, a freelancer is often seen as a short-term fixer of specific problems, while the consultant is someone who’s an expert at a given topic and has a specific philosophy of doing things that distinguishes them from other people.
If you check out most consultants, you will see the majority have their own processes, systems, and methodologies—many of which have been trademarked. This differentiation helps them stand out in the industry and often command higher prices and better contracts for longer periods of time.
That’s not to say that a freelancer isn’t an expert at something or isn’t as good at what they do. Rather, it means the consultant has a more strategic mindset rather than a tactical one.
A freelance writer, for example, may create pieces of content on a standalone basis, whereas a writing consultant may formulate the best type of content to write and how to promote it—a simple but profound difference.
Take the example of Grant Sabatier from Millennial Money. In five years, he went from being broke to generating over $1 million in revenue thanks to his consulting business. He didn’t just offer design services, but a business-focused approach to design, something that allowed him to charge higher fees.
Grant explains that one of the keys that can help you generate high income with consulting is to charge what you’re worth.
That includes choosing the right niche (one that has hungry clients and, if possible, low competition), having proof that your services are worth their price, and some basic sales skills.
Most importantly of all, as Sabri Suby explains, the key to making a million dollars consulting is to find a million-dollar problem.
The only way to earn more money as a consultant is to provide more value. And the only way that you can provide more value is really by solving bigger problems for people, that are more painful, that have bigger impact, and bigger ramifications if you can help somebody go through that transformation and solve that problem.
Sabri Suby is the founder of King Kong, one of Australia’s top digital marketing agencies and instructor of our flagship premium course Consulting Empire. He’s also is the perfect example of a successful consultant who has developed a proven system for growing his skill-based business.
He has developed an entire library of techniques that has allowed him to find potential clients, pitch them, and close them on a consistent basis. And the best part is that he did all that from his bedroom.
Sabri isn’t the only one who has used this system to generate a five-figure consulting business. Dozens of our students have found similar success.
Take a look at Gavin Symes. He was an experienced business management consultant who, despite all his skills, lacked a clear path to achieving success.
Just two weeks after he started the course, he had landed his first client, and three-and-a-half months later, he had closed 10 clients, generating over $50,000 of monthly revenue.
All from the comfort of their own homes.
Build a Software Company
Some of the greatest fortunes of the past half a century have been acquired by entrepreneurs who started their own software companies.
This isn’t a coincidence. Technology—most specifically, software—has been behind some of the world’s largest innovations, reaching the entire world and transforming the way we carry out our everyday lives.
Indeed, most of these riches came from entrepreneurs who took external funding to grow their businesses from the early unprofitable stages and achieve scale as fast as possible.
Obviously, I can’t promise you that you can generate as much money as Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. But you can start a software company from your home and make a livable sum of money.
Take the case of Patrick McKenzie, also known as patio11. He was your run-of-the-mill software engineer who worked for tech companies. Slowly, he started to put his focus on starting his own software company.
He researched simple but important problems people were reporting online. His research eventually led him to start a Bingo card creator for teachers, which he launched after four hours of work. Despite some early setbacks, his new business became almost instantly profitable.
He also launched an appointment reminder for businesses, which helped him diversify his income even further. He’d eventually sell both businesses for hefty sums, all without having to raise a dime in external funding or build a team of people to back him up. And he did it all from the comfort of his home.
Other examples of multimillion-dollar solo software companies share a similar structure. They all are incredibly focused in their approach (yet another social media manager app isn’t a good example), highly automated, and well-organized.
Millions of people share a passion for writing. It allows us to break free from our daily routines and express our thoughts and feelings.
Few people, however, make much money from this interest. But if you can focus your passion for writing toward the problems other people have and the solutions they need, you can make a lot of money.
That’s the power of professional blogging, which allows you to generate a following of loyal fans and make a living at the same time.
Take a look at my friend Ryan Robinson. Over the past few years, his blog has generated tens of thousands of dollars in profit.
After Ryan was able to make over $50,000 in profit per month from his blog and podcast, he quit his job. But by that time, he had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors and a passionate following at his back.
Blogging as a profession comes with a lot of challenges. You will need to do a lot of research and write content that resonates with your audience. You will need to promote your content. You will need to adapt and innovate.
Yet all of these people mentioned are living proof that it is possible to earn five figures per month by blogging right from home.
So there you have it, five proven online business ideas you can start from your home.
Each and every idea requires a lot of work, for sure, and they all take a lot of time to grow. But with enough patience and determination, anyone can start a profitable business from their home.
Let’s hear it from you: Which of these business ideas would you like to start?
Let us know in the comments below!