How to Start Working From Home in 5 Simple Steps (When You’re Clueless)

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Last Updated on April 20, 2021 by Rebecca Lake

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Would you like to exchange your 9 to 5 job for a work at home job? Or are you looking for ways to make money from home?

It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 4 Americans will work remotely by 2025 and that number may grow as more people seek out the work at home lifestyle.

But how do you start working from home with no experience? And is it possible to work from home with no investment?

This article walks you through how to start working from home step by step.

Related post: Extra Income Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Earning Extra Money

How to Start Working From Home and Make Money Online

I’ve been working from home and making money online since 2011. But I know that when you’re just starting out, you may have questions like:

  • How do decide what kind of work you want to do?
  • Where do you even look for work at home jobs?
  • Should you start a business or a side hustle instead?
  • How much money can you really make working from home?
  • And what kind of time do you need to put in to make that money?

I had a lot of those same questions when I was starting out.

how to start working from home

So here’s what we’re going to cover in this guide:

  • Finding your ‘why’ for wanting to work from home
  • Setting work at home goals
  • Deciding how to work from home
  • Figuring out what you need to get started
  • Knowing how to spot work at home scams

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Know your why

Before you begin exploring ways to make money online, ask yourself this question: Why do you want to work from home?

This is your ‘why’ and it matters because it’s what’s going to keep you motivated as you pursue your work at home goals.

For example, your why might be:

  • Creating financial security for your family
  • Escaping the 9 to 5 so you can live a digital nomad lifestyle
  • Being able to stay home with your kids
  • Paying off high interest debt
  • Being able to save money toward your big financial goals

Define what your why is first. Once you do that, you can get a better idea of which work at home options might fit you best.

Step 2: Set clear work at home goals

If you’re interested in how to start working from home, ask yourself what you hope to get out of it.

For example:

  • How much money do you hope to make each month or each year working from home?
  • How many hours do you want to work each week?
  • Are you hoping to earn a part-time income or a full-time income?

Setting goals can be really helpful as you figure out how to start working from home. It gives you a clear income target to work toward and a blueprint for getting there.

Say, for example, that your goal is to make $100,000 a year working from home.

It’s a big goal, right?

But if you break it down monthly, you’d need to make $8,333 and some change each month.

Now, that’s still a big goal but it’s a little easier to wrap your mind around. From there, you can come up with a plan for hitting your monthly goal.

Setting goals, then breaking them down can make whatever you want to achieve with your work at home efforts more manageable.

So think about exactly what it is you want to accomplish and what needs to happen for you to do it.

Related post: How Much Is 6 Figures? Your Guide to 6, 7, 8 and 9 Figures Explained

Step 3: Know your options for how to start working from home

Working from home can mean a lot of different things, depending on your perspective.

After working from home for a decade, I’ve figured out that there are basically five ways to make money online:

  • Freelancing
  • Starting a side hustle
  • Starting a blog
  • Running an online business
  • Getting a work at home job

What you have to decide is how you want to work from home. Because there’s a big difference between having a small side hustle, running a business full-time or working as a remote employee for someone else.

If you’re not sure which one to choose, it helps to look at the pros and cons.

Option #1: How to start working from home as a freelancer

When I talk about freelancing on this blog, I’m mostly talking about freelance writing. But there are so many different freelance services you could offer from home.

For example, there’s:

  • Social media management
  • Pinterest management
  • Graphic design services
  • Blog management
  • Proofreading
  • Editing
  • Transcription

The list could go on and on. (And if you’re interested in freelance writing, check out this free course I put together for new writers. It can help you get your freelancing career started off with a bang!)

Here’s what’s great about freelancing:

  • You can choose your own hours, making it super flexible.
  • The earning potential is virtually unlimited.
  • You can offer the services that you’re most skilled at or interested in.
  • It’s up to you to decide who you want to work with (or don’t).

Now, what’s not so great about freelancing?

The biggest thing that I’ve found is that as your freelancing business grows and you become established as an expert, it can get pretty demanding.

Instead of having to pitch people or apply for jobs, clients come to you wanting you to work for them. That’s great because it means more money but it can also be overwhelming if you’re not aces at managing your time.

Option #2: How to start working from home with a side hustle

One in three or about 33% of Americans have at least one side hustle.

Side hustles are a great way to work from home and make money, either on a part-time or full-time basis.

Some side hustles are highly skilled, while others are not. And depending on which hustle you choose, you might not need any special training or education to do it.

Some ideas for easy money-making side hustles include:

In terms of what you can earn, it depends on the hustle and how hard you work it. Some of the most lucrative side hustles you can do from home include tutoring, Facebook ads management and selling online courses.

how to work from home

Option #3: Work from home as a blogger

Starting a blog is another way to work from home and make money online.

There are lots of ways to make money blogging. The most popular methods are:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sponsored posts
  • Ads
  • Selling digital products
  • Offering services

Affiliate marketing, sponsored posts and ads all involve making money by selling or advertising someone else’s products or services. And there are some bloggers, like Michelle of Making Sense of Cents, who is completely killing it with affiliate sales.

Selling digital products is another way to make money. You could sell courses, ebooks, printables–Sarah Titus makes millions selling printables through her Shopify store.

Two keys to successfully selling a product and making money as a blogger are having an audience and offering a product that fills a need for that audience. If you don’t have an idea for a product, you could also sell a service.

For example, you could get paid to write for other blogs or offer Pinterest consulting services if you’re a pinning pro.

There are plenty of possibilities for making money with a blog. And if you want to start a blog now, check out the hosting plans offered by Siteground–they’re seriously the best.

Also, take a peek at this tutorial for how to start a blog with Siteground if you need a little help with the setup.

If you’re interested in how to start working from home as a blogger, there’s one important thing to remember.

Blogging takes a lot of time and patience.

So if you’re interested in blogging as a way to make money, just know that it can involve a lot more work than say, freelancing or starting a side hustle.

Option #4: Start an online business to make money from home

Running a business from home is an excellent way to make money if you’re able to turn your skills into income.

You can make great money and it’s a chance to really focus on what you’re passionate about. And even though you’re a business owner, it can still allow you some flexibility with your lifestyle.

When looking for ideas on how to start working from home with a business, consider:

  • What you’re good at
  • What you’re interested in
  • What could make money

You could start a virtual assistant business, for example, if you’re good at time management and organization. Being a VA basically means doing tasks that help other businesses grow.

Some other ideas for online businesses include:

A lot of the things you could do as a freelancer or as a side hustle could be turned into a full-time business.

For instance, I started out side hustling as a freelancer and now I run a six-figure business.

The difference between having a freelance gig or side hustle and an online business really comes down to how much time and effort you can and want to put in.

You might be able to freelance a few hours a week but a business can be a lot like working a full-time job.

If you’re considering a business as a work at home option, look at the initial time involved first. That can tell you if it’s realistic.

Then, look at the earning potential. An easy way to gauge earning potential is to research what other people running the same kind of business are making.

You can use the time commitment and the money-making potential as guidelines for deciding whether starting a business is the right move and what niche you should focus on.r

Related post: 60 Easy Online Business Ideas You Can Start With No Money

Option #5: Get a remote job to work from home

Remote jobs can either be independent contractor jobs–meaning you’re not an employee–or regular employee jobs.

The main differences between being an employee and a contractor when you’re working remotely are:

  • How much you get paid
  • When you get paid and how
  • Employees may get health insurance or other benefits
  • You may be required to work a set schedule as an employee
  • Being a contractor means you’re responsible for paying your own taxes

Basically, being an independent contractor who works remotely could give you more flexibility with your schedule. But being an employee means you could get the kind of benefits that in-house employees get, like a retirement plan or paid time off.

How to find work at home jobs

There are a ton of job boards you can use to find work at home remote jobs. The boards feature jobs for customer service, marketing, writing, IT services, accounting–you name it.

Here’s a rundown of job boards you can use to find remote work:

One thing to know is that some remote work job boards charge a fee to view jobs; others are free. If you don’t have a lot of money to research work at home jobs, consider using the free sites first.

Then, when you start making some money from home you can invest in a paid membership to one of the premium sites.

Related post: 35 Best Online Proofreading Jobs for Beginners (Make $50/hr)

Step 4: Figure out what you need to start working from home

By this point, you should have an idea of how to start working from home, in terms of what you’ll do to make money. But there may be some tools that are necessary to launch your work from home plans.

Here are some of the basics you’ll need to work at home:

PayPal account

If you’re working from home you’ll need a way to get paid. Setting up a PayPal account is the easiest option.

It’s free to set up a PayPal account. I get paid this way from several of my freelance writing clients.

Most of the time, it doesn’t cost me anything to get paid through PayPal. But I do have one client who takes the fee PayPal charges out of my earnings.

So just watch out for that. And if you have a client who charges you to get paid through PayPal, consider another option, like a free account through

Computer and Internet

I literally started my freelancing business with nothing more than a laptop and internet. And depending on how you plan to work from home, that’s all you might need too.

If you don’t have a good computer, then this might be an investment you need to make to start working from home. (Here’s one I’ve got my eye on for my next laptop upgrade.)

As you decide what to spend on a laptop or desktop, consider how much you can afford to spend. And think about how quickly you’ll be able to earn it back once you start making money.

Business plan

A business plan isn’t just for offline businesses. If you’re starting an online business, having a business plan can give you a roadmap to follow.

At the very least, you should have a written plan for working from home that covers:

  • How you’re going to make money
  • How much you expect to make
  • What your expenses are likely to be
  • Your goals for working from home
  • What you plan to do to grow your work at home efforts over the long term

Other things you may need to start working from home

Certain types of work at home jobs or businesses may require you to have special equipment or training.

For example, if you want to be a freelance proofreader, then you’ll need editing software. A free tool like Grammarly can be a good place to start but you may want to invest in the paid version or a more comprehensive proofreading program.

Or if you’re interested in online transcription jobs then you’ll need some good noise-cancelling headphones.

At the very least, you may need to take a course or two to learn more about what you’re planning to do to make money.

So, consider what other tools you need and how those fit into your work at home budget.

Step 5: Watch out for work at home scams

One thing to know about how to start working from home is that not every opportunity you find is legit.

Work at home scams are plentiful and they’re something to avoid like the plague.

These scams usually promise fast results to help you start making money from home quickly. But in order to find out what the secret sauce is for doing that, you’ll need to pay a fee or buy something.

Only, once you pay the money what you get in return is way underwhelming. Or worse, the scammers take your money and you get nothing at all.

The Federal Trade Commission has some great tips on how to avoid work at home scams, so be sure to check those out.

How to Start Working From Home FAQ

To wrap things up here are a few commonly asked questions about how to work from home:

What kind of work can I do from home?

The answer really depends on what type of money making skills you have, how much time you can put in and what type of upfront investment you’re willing to make.

While I’ve given you five broad options for how to start working from home here, you’re not required to choose just one.

For example, you could make money by:

That’s the great thing about working from home. You can choose which opportunities work best for making money online.

What are the easiest work from home jobs?

For me, the easiest work from home jobs are the ones that pay the most while requiring the least effort.

In terms of low-stress side hustles, my top picks include:

These are all ways to earn money on the side without tying up hours of your time.

What are the highest paying stay at home jobs?

Some stay at home jobs pay better than others. According to a CNBC report, the best-paying work at home jobs include:

  • Copywriting
  • Marketing
  • Sales recruiters
  • Product managers

It’s possible that these types of work at home jobs may not fit your skill set or experience. And that’s okay.

There are plenty of ways to make a six-figure income that don’t require special skills or even a college degree.

how to work from home and make money

Final thoughts on how to get started working from home

Figuring out how to work from home isn’t always easy. But it can be well worth it if you’re able to commit the time and effort.

I wouldn’t trade the work at home lifestyle for anything and this guide sums up everything I’ve learned about making money online. And I hope it answers all of your questions about how to start working from home.

Do you have a great tip or a story to share about working from home?

Head to the comments and tell me about it, then pin and share this post if it helped you.

And be sure to grab your free Work at Home Guide in the resource library!

How to Start Working From Home for Beginners

About Rebecca Lake

Rebecca Lake is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, freelance writer and homeschooling single mom of two. Since 2014, she's paid off nearly $100,000 in debt and grown her net worth to seven figures. Her work has appeared online at top personal finance websites, including Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Investopedia, The Balance, and U.S. News & World Report. Find out more.