To work in customer service, it is important that you have a noise-free environment so that you can listen to customers and respond in the appropriate way. One basic requirement for this type of position is a landline phone – not VOIPs (voice over Internet phone service) or cell phones. Some companies listed will hire you as an independent contractor, so you will be responsible for your own taxes. Businesses that provide home-based customer support opportunities include Arise and LiveOps.
Basically, you pick a profitable niche for your online business, and then you find an affiliate partner who has products available in that niche. Some of the most popular affiliate sites are Clickbank.com, Amazon.com, and CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly Commission Junction). Between them, they offer just about any digital information product (like ebooks, audio files, video files) or physical product you can think of.
What It Is: Students in countries including Japan, Korea, France and Germany are looking for English speakers to practice with. Sessions focus on things like making professional small talk or running a meeting (trainers are provided with specifics on how to teach each topic, and are also trained themselves for two days before starting the job). Lessons take place either over the phone or on a live Internet video service like Skype—sometimes at night, because you're working with students in different time zones. You need to commit to a minimum of 20 hours a week at consistent times, and can work as many as 35 hours.
You offer the products for sale, for example, on your blog or e-commerce website. Each product has a unique link that tracks back to your account with your affiliate partner. A prospect who clicks on the link is taken to your partner’s shopping cart for checkout. Once they buy, that purchase is recorded and you receive a commission. It varies depending on the affiliate partner, but is generally 5 percent to 25 percent, or 50 percent or more with digital information products. As you can see, there’s little risk on your part and virtually no investment needed either.
“I love being a part of [email protected] because of the flexibility of the schedule. There are way more benefits to working from home than most people realize. I save money on transportation and clothing. I save time. I have a tax write-off. And I have less anxiety. The bonus of working with TTEC is that I’ve met some great people and have learned new skills.”

There's an audience for everything, whether it's making dollhouse furniture or creating organic dog food. With a specialty e-commerce store, you can reach those customers who are seeking your specific products. All you need is a web-hosting service with an integrated shopping cart feature or with e-commerce software, and your business will be operational in no time. You can even work with vendors to ship products to customers on your behalf, which means you don't need to own a lot of inventory. [See Related Story: A Small Business Guide to E-Commerce Shipping]
Get-rich-quick schemes and fad weight-loss diets are naturally popular because they satisfy the id while also attending to the super-ego. The ego's job is complete when it sees something like this. The appeal of "fast'' stems from the innate desire for instant gratification, so beware of what seems too good to be true (they often are) when you're looking to make money quickly. Be wary. Listen to the conversation deep within the confines of your mind and do your best to tame the proverbial beasts.

Look, I know it’s not always realistic to pull these off; I personally wouldn’t bother trying. But if you’ve got a ton of stuff lying around — not outright junk, but stuff you don’t need, like the aforementioned DVDs and kid’s clothes — it’s worth a try. Advertise on Craigslist and put up signs in your neighborhood, then come Saturday haul a table out to your driveway (assuming you have a driveway), load it up with stuff for sale, and take whatever you can get.


The vacation rental business is booming. While the mere mention of it might make you think about billion-dollar titans like AirBnB or HomeAway, there are niche businesses like Michael Joseph's InvitedHome and Joe Poulin's Luxury Retreats and many others being carved out across a variety of markets. When it comes to vacation rental homes and vacation rental management, companies are earning anywhere between 10 percent and 40 percent on the gross rental rate depending on the location and the management level.
For a deeper look into this idea, I recommend checking out the case study in Will It Fly? on Noah Kagan, who is really detailed and transparent about starting his business. He validated a beef jerky subscription company (yum!), which proved to be a unique and inspiring example of determining the costs of items before starting a business. He didn’t pay for anything up front; he was just smart about asking: how much does this cost, and how much money do I need to reach my goal? His goal was to validate his idea by making $1,000 profit in twenty-four hours, and that’s exactly what he was able to do.
Facebook continues to expand and grow. Therefore businesses are spending more on Facebook ads. But here’s the problem: a lot of old school businesses don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to Facebook ads. Even newer companies don’t have the time it takes to learn the ins and outs so that they get the most return on their Facebook ads investment.
YouTube is the third largest site in the world, so there’s no surprise that video is becoming one of the main communication mediums for businesses of all types and sizes. If you have video filming or editing knowledge, it won’t take you long to build your clientele. Everything from video production workshops and video editing services to soundtrack libraries and DIY tutorials can appeal to the business world. Producing video might be one of the most attractive online business ideas with lots of creativity and challenges.
Sites like Patreon allow interested patrons to donate either a monthly fee (in exchange for content produced by the artist/entrepreneur) or a fee per creation. To learn more about how you can make this model work for you, read our guide on How to Use Patreon to Start a Business, and check out our favorite Patreon profiles, which should give you some good ideas. If you’re looking to start a side business online, this one might be right up your alley!
The next payment I made for my business was in October 2008 when I had the idea to sell an ebook. To make this happen, I had to spend a little bit of money on a shopping cart service (e-junkie at the time; I later moved to Gumroad, as I describe in my free ebook Ebooks the Smart Way) that allowed me to deliver the ebook to the people who bought it. It was a flat fee of $5 per month. Different companies have different ways of setting up those pricing structures, but whatever the case may be, it doesn’t have to be a huge monthly fee to get going.
In this field, your aim is to help clients identify their goals, assess strengths and weaknesses of their business and create a structured plan where you outline how to achieve the set goals. In practice, that means advising the client on selecting the correct web-based applications to increase their competitiveness in the market or improve communication among employees and with customers.
Nathan Barry on bootstrapping ConvertKit: I’m a huge proponent of ConvertKit (and now an affiliate and compensated advisor). It’s user friendly, powerful, and an all-around great product. But one cherry on top is its origin story, in which Nathan Barry took it upon himself to create ConvertKit without any venture funding or any upfront capital. It’s fascinating and awesome!
If you have an idea worth pursuing, crowdfunding can be a helpful way to find the money you need to get your idea off and running. For example, you can run a Kickstarter campaign. On SPI 223, I covered this with John Lee Dumas who launched a super successful campaign. Besides John, I know a lot of companies who have started on Kickstarter. I’ve been a backer of dozens of different projects, and a lot of those projects were just ideas when the campaign started. There are ways to get paid for your ideas up front. Using Kickstarter, you can validate those ideas and start to build community at the same time, which is a great way to get a boost at the beginning stages of your online business, especially if what you’re creating takes some money to get started.

One of the more challenging jobs in customer service this involves reaching out to clients who have unpaid bills, invoices, loan instalments or any other outstanding payments. Collections agents are responsible for creating lists of debtors and organising them based on how severe the matter is, getting in touch with customers and discussing how the debts may be collected, locate unresponsive customers using credit bureau information, perform background checks, etc.
Affiliate marketing. You know this one already. You include links to products you are promoting as an affiliate, and every time somebody buys the product, you get a commission. With a blog you can integrate advertising with content to make it even more likely you’ll get the sale. For example, you could do a product review — which is useful content — and then include a link to buy the product under an affiliate link.
Copywriters create different types of marketing materials that serve different purposes, eg., promotion of products or services, educating customers, giving expert insight about a certain complex issue. Copywriters’ portfolios typically include sales brochures, web content, sales scripts, sales emails, demonstration scripts, product data sheets and white papers.
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Something else I recommend is taking the free 7-lesson mini-course on general transcription offered by Janet Shaughnessy of Transcribe Anywhere. This will help you to understand if you're a good fit for a transcription career, what you can potentially earn, and also where to get started. Janet also has free legal transcription mini-course if you're more interested in going that route.
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