8 Free Work from Home Jobs (No Startup Cost) & How to Begin

Working from home can be a great and rewarding experience — no commute, no need to dress for the office, and you can usually set your own hours. And — good news — you don’t need to invest money to start working from home. There are plenty of free work-from-home opportunities you can start quickly. Some of these jobs require certain skills or experience, while others simply require that you be motivated and willing to work. We include more information about these types of jobs below, including what you need to know about working from home.

Work From Home: Is It a Scam?

Free, legitimate work from home jobs are quite prevalent. However, there are some work-from-home jobs out there that sound great on the surface but actually pay little to nothing, and you could end up losing money. When looking for a work-from-home job, it’s important to be able to distinguish the genuine opportunities from the scams.

As a general rule, if the work-from-home opportunity asks you for money upfront, it’s might be a scam. You should never have to pay an entry fee, application fee, screening fee, or any payment that’s described as a way to separate serious applicants from those who aren’t interested.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. One is starting your own business from scratch, which will typically require startup funds. Another is multi-level marketing (MLM), which involves purchasing products from an established brand for resale, usually online or through home parties. Companies like LuLaRoe and Mary Kay Cosmetics are well-known examples of MLM businesses that employ independent consultants and require a startup investment.

Keep in mind that not all MLM companies are legitimate. If you’re interested in becoming an MLM consultant, you should do your research before making your initial investment. You can talk to current consultants to find out whether they enjoy the work and if they’re making a profit, and learn everything you can about what’s involved with the role before you decide to invest any money.

Typical Work-From-Home Scams to Avoid

Aside from opportunities that require suspicious fees, there are certain types of work-from-home jobs that are scams and should be avoided. These include:

  • Envelope stuffing: This scam asks you to mail a small fee in order to get started with “easy” work stuffing and mass mailing letters. However, rather than actual work, you receive instructions on how to get other people to mail you the same small fee you just paid for the instructions.
  • Starting your own internet business: In this scam, you’re informed that you can make easy money selling products from your own website, which will be set up for you. But once you sign up, you’re informed that you need to buy expensive upgrades such as coaching services and customized marketing packages in order to succeed — the personal website never actually materializes.
  • Home product assembly: Here, you’re told that once you purchase materials to assemble plastic signs, baby shoes, jewelry, or holiday products at home and mail in the completed products, the company will buy them from you. However, the assembled products are never accepted because they aren’t “up to standards” — the company sells the products anyway, and you never get paid.
  • Rebate processing: This scam is commonly framed as a low investment in training, registration, and certification for high returns in an easy, high-volume market. Unfortunately, there is no demand for at-home rebate processing and you’ll be out the costs of “training” with nothing to show for it.
  • Medical billing/coding: This scam is particularly effective because medical billing is a legitimate career where some people actually do work from home. Unfortunately, companies that promise to train you for a medical billing career (and charge thousands of dollars for course material and equipment) don’t have legitimate leads for medical facilities that want your services — and finding actual work will prove almost impossible. Medical billing and coding are highly competitive fields, and most professionals start out working in a doctor’s office or hospital before transitioning to working from home.

The List of Free Work-From-Home Jobs

So how can you actually make money from home? Below, we list legitimate work-from-home jobs that you can start for free, with no investment or startup fees.

1. Blogging

This work-from-home job is first on our list because it’s what many people think of when they hear “work from home.” A blog is a specific type of website with regularly updated entries that may be text-based or mixed media (i.e., text, images, videos, links). Blogs are usually focused on a particular subject and may be written to inform, entertain, connect, explore, or provide any combination of these purposes.

Monetizing a blog is not a straightforward job process. Rather than being hired and paid by a company, running a blog for profit is basically starting your own business, which makes it harder to get started making money. Still, it’s possible to make a decent income as a blogger. In fact, a few of the most popular and highly successful blogs earn six figures or more per month, as detailed in the Forbes article “10 Wildly-Successful Blogs That Earn Outlandish Incomes.”

In general, bloggers make money with one or more of these methods:

  • Ad placements: Many blogs use CPC (cost per click), PPC (pay per click) or CPM (cost per mille, or one thousand impressions) to generate revenue. You may be familiar with these if you’ve noticed sidebar or in-feed ads on Facebook or Google search results labeled “Ad” beneath the hyperlink. You’re paid a small amount every time someone clicks on one of these CPC and PPC ads or for every thousand people who view the CPM ad. Google AdSense is the most popular program bloggers use to generate this type of income.
  • Private ad sales: Popular blogs with a lot of traffic and unique daily visitors often sell ad space on their sites directly to companies whose products and services are a good fit for their audience. For example, a blog about automotive repair might sell ad space to local or chain auto parts stores.
  • Affiliate links: Similar to private ads, bloggers often use affiliate links to advertise products or services related to the blog’s subject. With affiliate links, bloggers receive a small commission (a percentage of the total sale) each time a visitor clicks through the link on their blog and makes a purchase. The most popular program for affiliate sales is the Amazon Affiliate Program.
  • Memberships/exclusive content: Another way bloggers can make money is through membership subscriptions. This involves creating exclusive, value-added bonus content that blog readers can access or subscribe to for a fee. For example, a blog about career-related topics might create a private, subscription-based job board with exclusive job opportunities.

If these profit methods sound like something you can work with, you can start your own blog for free. There are many free blogging platforms available that will let you easily set up a website with an integrated blog at no cost. The major blog sites provide hundreds of customizable templates to choose from, so you don’t need any special computer skills or programming knowledge to set up a free blog.

Here are a few of the most popular blogging platforms where you can get started with a free blog:

2. Freelance Writing

One of the most popular and widely available types of work-from-home jobs is freelance writing. This field encompasses a huge range of opportunities, but every freelance writing job involves content creation of some sort — whether it’s articles, blog posts, web page copy, long-form content, or more specialized writing.

If you have strong spelling and grammar skills and the ability to communicate ideas and concepts effectively in writing, you’re a good candidate for freelance writing. You don’t always need experience to get started. Although some companies are looking to hire experienced or specialized writers, many will simply consider the quality of your writing over your resume.

When it comes to earning potential, there’s a wide range in freelance writing. You can find everything from high-volume content generation companies that pay a few cents per word, to specialized magazines and online publications paying several hundred dollars per article. Beginning freelance writers typically start on the low end of the pay scale and work up to earning more as they gain experience and their writing skills improve.

Here are some freelance writing opportunities that are free to get started with and suitable even if you’re new to writing content:

BlogMutt

  • What you’ll do: Write original, quality content for blogs and websites
  • How it works: Clients provide lists of blog posts they’d like created, and you choose which blog posts you’d like to write. The clients can choose whether to accept and pay for your work, but according to BlogMutt, around 90% of submitted content is purchased.
  • Requirements: Must be 18 or older with a valid Social Security number. No experience necessary.
  • What it pays: Rates vary according to the assignment, but Glassdoor reviews for BlogMutt list salaries as around $8 an hour.
  • Find out more or fill out the online application

Textbroker

  • What you’ll do: Write articles on a wide variety of subjects and topics
  • How it works: Once you’re accepted as a Textbroker writer, log in any time and select the articles you want to write from the available pool. Textbroker typically has constant work available.
  • Requirements: Must be a U.S. citizen with a valid Social Security number. No experience necessary.
  • What it pays: Textbroker pays per word, and the rate varies according to the order quality of a particular assignment (rated on a scale of two to five stars). Writers can work on any assignment at or below the star rating they’re assigned when they apply, and your writing quality is periodically evaluated to increase your star rating. Most writers are initially accepted at the four-star level.
    • Two-star orders: $0.007 per word
    • Three-star orders: $0.01 per word
    • Four-star orders: $0.014 per word
    • Five-star orders: $0.05 per word
  • Find out more or create an account to get started. You will be asked to write a short, original writing sample, which will be used to assign your initial star rating.

Upwork

  • What you’ll do: Upwork is a freelance job board that provides a wide variety of writing, editing, proofreading, data entry, and other types of jobs you can do from home. There are both one-time and ongoing jobs posted on Upwork.
  • How it works: Submit bids for the assignments you want to work on and complete jobs when your bids are accepted.
  • Requirements: Anyone can sign up. No experience necessary.
  • What it pays: Varies depending on the project and complexity. Available jobs range from a few dollars for short content to several hundred dollars for longer projects.
  • Find out more or create an account to get started

WriterAccess

  • What you’ll do: Write high-quality articles, blog posts, web content, and more
  • How it works: Once you’re accepted as a writer, you can sign in any time and choose the jobs you want to complete from the job pool
  • Requirements: Must be a U.S. resident with a PayPal account. No experience necessary.
  • What it pays: Uses a star-based, per-word payment scale similar to Textbroker, with higher pay rates for higher star ratings:
    • Two-star: $0.014 per word
    • Three-star: $0.028 per word
    • Four-star: $0.042 per word
    • Five-star: $0.056 per word
    • Six-star: $0.07 per word
  • Find out more or fill out the online application to get started. Once accepted, you will be asked to fill out a detailed portfolio listing your skills and writing samples, and your star rating will be evaluated based on your portfolio.

3. Graphic Design (Design Ads, Logos, Book Covers, etc)

You can refer to our dedicated article for more information about being a graphic designer, including details about setting rates.

4. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants provide a variety of services that are typically performed in an office setting. Instead of working for one business, they provide small tasks for a number of companies from a virtual setting (in other words, their home office).

Some of the tasks involved in virtual assistant jobs include entering data, making phone calls, setting up appointments, making travel arrangements, researching, and more. You’ll typically need a solid home office computer with a high-speed internet connection and a headset with a microphone to start, though there may be other requirements. Here are some legitimate companies that hire virtual assistants:

Fancy Hands

  • What you’ll do: Various administrative tasks such as making phone calls, scheduling appointments, online research, and data entry
  • How it works: Fancy Hands assigns you tasks to complete for various clients based on your availability and interest level
  • Requirements: Strong communication skills and a computer with reliable internet connection
  • What it pays: Around $3 to $7 per task to start, with performance-based pay increases
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

Time Etc.

  • What you’ll do: Tasks such as general administration, travel arrangements, schedule management, phone calls, typing and formatting documents, arranging meeting and appointments, and more
  • How it works: Time Etc. will assign you tasks from various clients to complete in a timely manner.
  • Requirements: Two to three years professional experience in a related field; PC or Mac with internet connection and Microsoft Office installed; Skype; and the ability to work during the working week (Monday through Friday)
  • What it pays: $11 per hour to start
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

Vicky Virtual

  • What you’ll do: Answer phone calls and perform basic receptionist duties for multiple business clients
  • How it works: Choose the schedule you’re available to work and log into the system to start taking calls.
  • Requirements: Must be a U.S. resident with a fast, reliable computer and stable internet connection; type 50 WPM or better; and be able to use or quickly learn various types of software, email, and live chat applications. Administrative experience is a plus but not required.
  • What it pays: $10 per hour
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

You may also be interested in starting your own business as a virtual assistant. For more information on becoming a virtual assistant, finding your own clients, and running a virtual assistant business, check out the website for the Global Alliance of Virtual Assistants.

5. Reading Emails

For more information, you can see our dedicated research about getting paid to read emails.

6. Remote Call Center Agent

If you have a computer with a broadband internet connection and a headset with a microphone, you can work from home as a call center agent. Remote call center jobs are typically either for customer service or inbound sales. With inbound sales, people are calling a company for information on a product they’re already interested in, rather than the company calling people to pitch a product.

If you enjoy talking on the phone and helping people, here are a few companies that hire remote call center agents:

Accolade Support

  • What you’ll do: Answer phone calls for customer service, sales, and/or technical support for various companies who outsource through Accolade Support
  • How it works: When you’re available to work, log into the system and begin taking calls
  • Requirements: U.S.-based writing skills and speaking voice with U.S.-based accent; strong customer service and communication skills; PC with Windows 7 or better and cable, DSL or broadband internet; telephone headset; a quiet working environment
  • What it pays: Starting at $7.25 to $9 base hourly pay, plus bonuses and/or commissions where applicable
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

SYKES Home

  • What you’ll do: Answer inbound customer service and sales calls for a variety of industries
  • How it works: Set your own schedule and log into the system from home to begin taking calls
  • Requirements: Must live in the U.S. or Canada; have a PC with speakers, anti-virus software, and high-speed internet; have both a USB headset and telephone headset; have a landline phone (traditional, cable, or fiber-optic)
  • What it pays: Starting at $9 to $10 per hour with paid training, medical, dental, and vision plans. 401(k) retirement plan available after one year of employment.
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

TeleTech

  • What you’ll do: Various work-from-home positions available in customer service, consulting, and sales support
  • How it works: Once you’ve been accepted, TeleTech will assign you a recruiter who will help determine the most appropriate project for you, based on your experience, skills, and when you’re available to work.
  • Requirements: Must be at least 17 with a high school diploma or GED; have a quiet work environment with a PC meeting the minimum requirements for TeleTech; have a USB/VoIP headset
  • What it pays: Varies for each position, but most entry-level projects start at $8.50 per hour
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

7. Search Engine Evaluation

If you know your way around a search engine, there are a few companies that will pay you to perform basic online searches and evaluate the results. Check out these companies that hire work-from-home search engine evaluators:

Appen

  • What you’ll do: Search engine evaluation, social media evaluation, and language consultancy work
  • How it works: Appen sends you assignments to complete, typically around four hours of work per day
  • Requirements: Must have a reliable computer with fast internet connection. No experience necessary.
  • What it pays: Salaries are not specified, but Appen salaries listed on Glassdoor range from around $11 to $14 per hour
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

Lionbridge

  • What you’ll do: Analyze and evaluate online ads, text, web pages, images, and more
  • How it works: Choose the hours you work and the tasks you want to complete
  • Requirements: Computer with high-speed internet access; no experience necessary
  • What it pays: Salaries are not specified, but Lionbridge salaries listed on Glassdoor range from around $10 to $14 per hour
  • Find out more or fill out an online application

8. Online Surveys

Taking online surveys doesn’t pay very well, but it does pay — and the work is not only easy, but there are a lot of opportunities to get paid for things you already do. If you shop, watch videos, or listen to music online, you can sign up for online survey companies that will pay you for doing these things and more. It’s a good low-effort supplemental income stream.

Many survey companies will pay you in gift cards or other non-cash items. To help you narrow things down, we’ve compiled the list of companies that specifically pay cash, and we left out those that only pay in gift cards or other compensation.

Swagbucks

  • What you’ll do: Take online surveys, shop online, watch videos, use search engines, redeem special offers, play games, use your phone, and more
  • How it works: There are several ways to earn points that can be exchanged for money with Swagbucks. In addition to surveys, videos, and other direct opportunities, you can also install various Swagbucks apps in your browser or on your phone and be alerted about special offers and opportunities to earn more points while you’re using the internet as you normally do.
  • Requirements: Must be 18 and have a computer with an internet connection
  • What it pays: Roughly $1 per 100 points
  • Find out more or create an account to get started

Inbox Dollars

  • What you’ll do: Earn money for taking surveys, watching TV, and shopping online
  • How it works: Sign up for Inbox Dollars and complete any offered task you choose. Offers up to four short surveys daily, as well as additional opportunities.
  • Requirements: 18 or older; computer with internet access
  • What it pays: Varies according to the task. Most tasks pay $0.50 to $10, and you’ll earn a $5 bonus for signing up.
  • Find out more or create an account to get started

MyPoints Surveys

  • What you’ll do: Take surveys, watch videos, redeem store coupons, play games, and/or read emails
  • How it works: Earn points that can be exchanged for cash, gift cards, or travel miles
  • Requirements: Must be 18 or older and have a computer with internet connection
  • What it pays: $3.50 per 500 points
  • Find out more or create an account to get started

Ipsos iSay

  • What you’ll do: Take online surveys on various subjects
  • How it works: Create an account and complete surveys any time to earn points that can be turned in for money, gift cards, or merchandise
  • Requirements: 18 or older; computer with internet connection
  • What it pays: $15 per 1,500 points, or use points toward gift cards or merchandise. Ipsos iSay also holds frequent contests for rewards, extra points, or cash prizes.
  • Find out more or create an account to get started

Nielsen Panel

  • What you’ll do: Install an app on your desktop computer and other devices that tracks your internet usage
  • How it works: The app runs in the background and collects data for use in Nielsen consumer reports
  • Requirements: Must be 18 or older and have a computer with internet connection
  • What it pays: Up to $50 per year for using your computer and devices as you normally would, plus opportunities for sweepstakes drawings and additional rewards
  • Find out more or fill out an application to get started

Survey Junkie

  • What you’ll do: Take online surveys
  • How it works: Log in any time to complete surveys that have been matched to your interests and demographics, and earn points that can be exchanged for cash or gift cards
  • Requirements: Must be 18 or older and have a computer with internet connection
  • What it pays: $10 per 1,000 points
  • Find out more or create an account to get started

In Summary

There are quite a few benefits to working from home, as long as you focus on opportunities that aren’t scams and that actually give you the potential to earn money. When looking for a work from home job, avoid companies that require entry fees or suspicious upfront costs — and make sure to research any company thoroughly before signing up.

With a bit of legwork and planning, you can find plenty of legitimate work from home opportunities that will help you make extra money, or even allow you to work from home as a career. It may take some time to build your income, but the investment is worth the reward.

2 comments

  • Be warned, if you write for BlogMutt, there’s a good chance they’ll close your account without warning and withhold all unsold articles. Countless writers have lost thousands of dollars because of their incompetent and arrogant staff. You should only write for BlogMutt if you are looking to pass the time and not to make money.

    Good luck freelancers!

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Thanks for your comments, Joshua! Helpful feedback is always appreciated 🙂