How to become a virtual assistant and Make $40K a Year

If you are organized, personable and creative, becoming a virtual assistant could be a viable next step in your career.

As a virtual assistant, you get to work from home, often set your own schedule, and focus on clients that pique your interest. Plus, lists the average virtual assistant yearly salary as about $40K, but some report making $40 per hour (or $83K annually) or more.

Of course the amount you make has much to do with how many hours you work. Full-time work is going to bring in more.

This post will help you learn how to become a virtual assistant. In it, we cover:

What Does a Virtual Assistant Actually Do?

A virtual assistant does much more than managing someone’s schedule and taking phone calls. In fact, there are many ways you can serve as a virtual assistant across many skills and disciplines.

Virtual assistants are generally brought on to help a client achieve specific goals like improving social media engagement, bettering a website, or aiding a part of the business in becoming more efficient with their time management.

These online secretaries of sort function like any other remote worker, having an agreed-upon set of hours where they’re logged on and reporting up to usually a manager-level-or-higher boss.

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What Kinds of Skills Do Virtual Assistants Need?

There are eight skills that tend to be the highest in-demand when it comes to serving as a virtual assistant. It’s unlikely that one virtual assistant will have them all and it may be better to specialize, becoming an expert in several of them such as typing and proofreading or social media content creation and management.

1. Typing

Although it may seem like everyone is a typing whiz in this day and age, those with exceptionally high words per minute — aim for more than 50 words per minute to be considered above average — offer a special skill set that is highly sought after.

Typing is the foundation of many of the other skills listed below like drafting emails, editing blogs, and providing customer support.

If you’re looking to improve your typing abilities, there are many free online resources to help you do so such as ,, and Typing.Academy.

Just a few hours a week of practice can yield results that make you a more marketable and desired applicant when it comes to virtual assistant positions.

2. Proofreading

Many companies these days have blogs or another type of interactive digital publication. These types of publications boost a company’s SEO presence and they are a way for interested customers to learn more about the brand and its mission. Helping to get this content into good shape makes a virtual assistant invaluable.

Many organizations have staff who are able to write initial blog drafts, but they may not have time to see the blog through the entire editing and publishing process. This is where a trained virtual assistant comes in.

Having a strong grasp of grammar, voice, and writing mechanics can net you $15-25 per hour. If you are drafting the blog yourself, be sure to ask for even more.

Do you want to embark on a career as a freelance writer? Check out our tips for setting freelance rates in that highly competitive field. 

3. Formatting Pages in WordPress

WordPress is a common content management platform used by any number of industries. WordPress powers the back end of many websites and blogs, and it is here that organizations need someone to manage the formatting and creation of the actual website pages that the public will visit.

Being able to list yourself as proficient in WordPress on your resume will undoubtedly catch more than a few eyes and potentially rake in anywhere from $20-40 per hour from a potential client.

But if you’re reading this and have never worked in WordPress before, don’t fear. Udemy and WordPress 101 offer courses to get you up to speed.

4. Managing an Editorial Calendar

All great virtual assistants have stellar time management and this is a critical part of the job.

While you may be in charge of someone’s day-to-day meetings and engagements calendar, a huge part of being a successful virtual assistant is being capable of managing an editorial calendar as well.

An editorial calendar is a plan and schedule of all upcoming blog posts and website updates a site will publish. Maintaining a chronological plan as well as ideas to help boost a brand’s SEO rankings is a skill not all can offer, and can net you $30-50 per hour.

A man laughs as he looks at his phone.

5. Social Media Management

One of the duties of a virtual assistant may be posting to social media on behalf of the brand. This can involve creating social media content, scheduling social media posts on various platforms and managing engagements. You may be the one who will respond to customer comments.

Confidence in your knowledge of the most popular social media platforms including LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and Facebook is a must-have skill. Companies will continue to rely on their online presence to attract clients and customers and keeping up with new, hot platforms will add to your cache.

Sites like Hootsuite and Buffer have excellent resources if this is an area where you need to buff. And it’s worth it to do so as this ability can cash out anywhere from $15-40 per hour.

6. Creating Landing Pages

If this immediately struck fear into your heart — no worries, you don’t need to be an expert coder to nail this capability.

Landing pages are website locations that have a specific call to action or topic. For example, a website page encouraging users to submit their contact information in exchange for a free demo would be considered a landing page.

Many landing pages are built on platforms like WordPress and are easy to edit with some help from user-friendly tools like Unbounce and Leadpages.

Becoming knowledgeable in this space is one of the best skills you can offer as a virtual assistant as you can charge between $30-60 per hour for this ability.

7. Email Strategy

Based on how many emails you get a day from organizations it shouldn’t surprise you that email formatting and strategy is a critical part of any business communication plan.

Email strategy refers to whom, when, and why you send an email. Email formatting refers to the actual layout and creation of the email look and feel.

Email strategy is easy to pick up on after a few conversations with those at the organization. You’ll want to have an understanding of the target customers and the goals of any email (i.e. to sign up for something, to purchase something, etc.) before scheduling a note to be sent.

Email formatting is also a dream to learn. Many brands use platforms like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, or GetResponse, and all three have excellent preloaded templates that make sending out emails stress-free, and help you bring in $25-40 per hour.

You can ask for more money if you can, and are hired, to provide the content for the email too.

Thinking of starting your own business? Experts explain how creating an LLC Is the smartest first move.

8. Customer Support

Every industry needs to be sure they have happy clients and customers. But having the right temperament and skills to keep everyone content can be hard to come by.

As a virtual assistant you may be asked to serve as a point of contact for the support line. Some examples of customer support include responding to inquiries via email or chat and answering questions that may come in via blog or social media comments.

If you can keep a cool head and offer detail-oriented responses to clients, you can net $15-30 per hour with this ability.

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A woman looks out a window while using her laptop and sipping coffee.

Where Do I Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?

Virtual assistant jobs are like any others — they often require a job application and an interview in order to secure the client.

Freelance virtual assistants can also be short-term jobs, just a few months, or longer, like a year or even without an ending date. You can select jobs to apply for based on your interest, their contract length, and of course, how much they pay.

It’s important to be wary of bidding sites like Elance and oDesk. On these sites, organizations post about the type of work they need done and freelancers bid their rates for the job.

The danger is that in order to win a job, you often have to offer a below-market rate, which only undermines your abilities and worth — there are better paying jobs out there, rest assured.

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7 Sites to Find Virtual Assistant Work

Focus on legitimate job openings that respect virtual assistants and freelancers as well as leveraging your professional network. We’ve rounded up these seven.

1. TaskRabbit

While in the past TaskRabbit has been more a local in-person contract work provider, it has expanded to virtual roles including online secretaries. You must be over 21 to use TaskRabbit and live in one of the cities listed in the TaskRabbit directory.

2. Craigslist

Craigslist may come to mind as a place to try to sell used goods and renting places to live, but it also has a vibrant job market section, too, which includes many virtual assistant jobs.

While you need to exercise caution when perusing Craigslist jobs as there is no security against scams, it can be a lucrative place to connect with those outside your local radius for contract work.

3. was founded by a virtual assistant (VA) for other virtual assistants. The site features VA services like online secretary jobs, freelance opportunities, and virtual assistant training for becoming a successful small business owner.


Although WAHM stands for Work At Home Moms, shares remote work opportunities for anyone, regardless of their gender identity or whether or not they are caregivers to children.

5. PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour is one of the top sites for freelancers, virtual assistants, and remote contract workers. You create a profile, set your rate, share your skillset, and wait for customers to come to you. Or, you can search for jobs and submit a proposal.

6. Zirtual

The youngest site on this list, Zirtual used to be “invitation only” for both clients and VAs, but as of January, they’ve opened their virtual doors to the public.

Zirtual works as an agency for VAs, assigning them to clients. They pay a minimum of $10 an hour for part-time work; however, they only accept applications from United States residents.

7., ZipRecruiter, etc.

As the need for virtual assistants has grown due to remote work becoming increasingly popular, standard job sites such as and ZipRecruiter now have entire sections where you can filter by virtual assistant or online secretary roles across the country.

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A woman works from home.

How Do I Get My Virtual Assistant Business Off the Ground?

Now you know what a virtual assistant is, what skills are needed to be successful, and where to find remote work. The last step is to get your virtual assistant business off the ground and secure your first few clients.

The best way to do this is to simply begin applying to jobs. Take time to curate your resume in a way that’s geared toward virtual assistant work and leverage your professional network, like on LinkedIn, to make personal connections with potential clients.

Only take on as many clients as you can handle. It’s best to start out with a manageable number of clients, like one or two, and then grow from there. Always be up-front and honest with potential clients about your bandwidth and rates.

Colorado-based writer Kristin Jenny focuses on lifestyle and wellness, and making money topics. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

49 Best Home Business Ideas for 2021

You fantasize about ditching the daily commute and starting a business from the comfort of home.

The only problem with your entrepreneurial daydream? You don’t have any idea what kind of business to start, much less how to make it profitable.

No worries, we’re here to help.

You’re not alone in wanting to go it alone. Of the 31.7 million small businesses operating in the U.S., about 81% were run by individuals with no employees, according to the most recent government numbers.

Whether you’re looking for a little side-hustle income or you dream of quitting your current job and the daily commute for good, here’s your guide to home-based business ideas.

The 49 Best Home Business Ideas

Choosing your business can start with something as simple as picking an activity you enjoy and figuring out how to monetize it.

However, if you don’t already have a passion you want to profit from — or you’d rather keep your hobbies and work separate — you can still start a successful home-based business on your own as a sole proprietor, or one-person business.

Pro Tip

A sole proprietorship doesn’t need to register with the state (unlike corporations, partnerships and LLCs). However, you still must comply with registration, license, tax and permit laws.

Local social media groups like Nextdoor can be a source of ideas. There you’ll find everyday services that are in demand, although it may not be the most glamorous work.

Mundane chores make for good business because they’re tasks that many people are willing to pay someone else to do, whether it’s mowing lawns as a groundskeeper or setting up bounce houses as a kids’ party planner.

We’ve come up with a list of the best business ideas that have relatively low barriers to entry and startup costs but offer real income potential.

Ready to start your journey toward self-employment in the comfort of your own home? Let’s get to work.

Businesses That Don’t Require You to Leave Your Home

Running an online business lets you make money with little need to leave the house. You may need a personal website where potential customers can find you, although you can also find work for your specific skills through sites like Upwork and Fiverr.

1. Freelance Writing

Use your wordsmithing skills to start a freelance writing business. We have advice for how to pitch a story if you’re looking for your first byline.

To make freelance writing your full-time business, you’ll benefit from expanding your repertoire to incorporate multiple types of writing (editing skills also increase your value). Here are a few options:

  • Creative writing. Share your literary talents by submitting to these seven literary magazines that pay for short stories and poetry.
  • Technical writing. Who doesn’t love a well-written instruction manual? Although technical writing might not offer as many creative options, the median pay as of 2020 was $35.89 an hour.
  • Resume writing. Use your writing prowess to help other people get jobs. Charmaine Pocek told The Penny Hoarder she earned $30 to $800 per assignment on Fiverr as a freelance writer creating resumes and cover letters as well as optimizing clients’ LinkedIn profiles. Pocek set a record for being the first U.S. — and the first female — Fiverr seller to break $1 million in earnings.
  • SEO writing: Help websites show up at the top of Google searches with content that focuses on search engine optimization.

2. Virtual Assistant

Administrative assistants typically answer to a boss, but start your own business, and you’ll be calling the shots.

A virtual assistant performs similar tasks to in-person assistants, but you can offer your services to one or multiple companies. You might be doing data entry one day and proofing articles on WordPress another, so be prepared for a variety of tasks.

3. Travel Planner

Arrange for others to travel the world without having to leave your couch.

A remote travel planner is a great home-based business idea for someone who is well organized, detail oriented and has stellar customer service skills. It helps if you have travel experience and understand trends in the travel and tourism industry.

Although the job market for a travel agent is currently on the decline, you might be able to niche down by marketing to a targeted audience, like single parents with young children or retirees with limited income. The median pay for a travel agent is $20.36 an hour.

A man writes down something in his notebook. He is supposed to be a bookkeeper.

4. Bookkeeper

Life makes more sense in spreadsheets. If this statement sounds like something you’d say, a bookkeeping business could be in your future.

Rather than targeting a big business account, start by focusing on smaller businesses that need help managing their finances. You don’t need to be a CPA to start, but strong computer and customer service skills help.

5. Tax Preparer

Another home business option for someone skilled in accounting is to become a tax preparer.

While you don’t need formal training to become a tax professional, it can help. You’ll need a Preparer Tax Identification Number and an Electronic Filing Identification Number from the IRS to start, and you may have to register with your state.

While tax preparers generally work on a seasonal basis, you may be able to earn enough during tax season to stretch through the remainder of the year.

6. Tutor

Enjoy all the fun of teaching without leaving home.

An online tutoring business lets you offer your expertise, whether it’s teaching math and English to elementary kids or prepping high school students for the SAT.

These 10 online tutoring companies are a good place to start. Promote your expertise in a subject or grade level in your bio — teaching certifications will also add to your credibility (and bottom line).

Pro Tip

Most tutoring platforms require instructors to either have or be working toward a bachelor’s degree, and previous teaching experience is preferred. Check the requirements before you apply.

If you’re thinking of starting a tutoring business, you can learn a thing or two from this former Scripps National Spelling Bee participant who earned $100 an hour tutoring kids who want to compete.

7. Teach Online Classes

Turn a topic you know a lot about or a talent you have into an online course as a way to make money from home.

This is one of the best home-business ideas because it allows you to capitalize on what you already know with very little investment. Online classes are also a great way to earn passive income. You can record your online classes once and get paid for months or years to come as people sign up for your courses.

A man looks at an oversized book with a ladder leading up to it.

8. Write an Ebook

Writing an ebook (or several) is another option to earn passive income from home. Your ebook could be fiction or nonfiction, and you can decide to write about whatever topic you like — as long as there’s an audience for it.

Self-publishing your book removes the barriers to entry built into the traditional publishing business model. You don’t have to have a literary agent and hope it gets seen by the big publishing houses. However, after publishing your ebook, it’s up to you to funnel potential readers to your masterpiece.

9. Affiliate Marketer

If you have your own website or your own blog that already gets traffic, affiliate marketing should be part of your business plan.

The basic concept: You can make money by including affiliate links to products you recommend on your site. When your readers click on the link and buy the product, you receive a commission.

Check out affiliate marketplaces to connect with brands that will pay you to promote their products and services. Among the many marketplaces is ClickBank, which says on its website that you can earn commissions as high as 90%.

10. Social Media Consultant

Got a knack for words and a knowledge of the latest trends in social media? Consider becoming a social media consultant.

Most small businesses don’t have the budget for full-time social media management, but they want a presence on social media to attract and engage customers. That translates to plenty of opportunities for you to pitch your services. Sell your social savvy — and expertise with publishing software — to local businesses by writing blog posts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps social media consultants into the general category of public relations, listing a median pay rate of $30.20 an hour.

Focusing your business on one area, at least early on, can help build your expertise. Research the local online business landscape to discover where the need is, whether it’s helping establish social media accounts for local businesses, contracting for a specific number of posts per week or setting your sights on a specific industry (restaurants, for instance).

11. Start a YouTube Channel

Share your life, interests or skill set with the internet via YouTube, and bank some cash. YouTube is a home business idea that can help you earn residual income. The videos you create now can bring in income months or even years down the road.

One YouTuber told The Penny Hoarder that she started earning revenue on her YouTube channel within six months, despite having no technical experience or equipment beyond a laptop and a smartphone. Check out her advice on how to make money on YouTube.

Some of the platform’s top earners bring in tens of millions of dollars, however you can aim to make this home-based business idea into a modest side hustle with low startup costs.

Two people dance while someone records them on a phone.

12. Become a TikTok Influencer

TikTok is much more than just trendy dances. It’s also a legitimate way to earn money from home if you have a nice-sized following.

You likely won’t make a bunch of money overnight, but if you create quality content consistently, focus on a niche and follow the trends, you might find success. Depending on how many eyeballs check out your videos, you could earn from $200 to $20,000 for a branded video. You can also make money selling products online or offering consulting services.

13. Start a Podcast

Launching a podcast is another way to capitalize on your knowledge base or interests.

For example, one journalist told The Penny Hoarder that she quit her TV station job in 2017 to become a full-time podcaster and focus on the news she wanted to share.

You can make money with a podcast through advertising, sponsorships, subscriptions, paid content and donations.

14. Be a Voiceover Artist

Put your talents from high school drama class to good use earning money as a voiceover artist. Voiceover artists record audio for video games, audiobooks, TV commercials, radio spots, cartoon programs and more.

It’s a fairly flexible job that you can do during nontraditional work hours, making it a perfect home business for someone with a 9-to-5 job or a stay-at-home parent, like this woman.

15. Web Developer

If you can balance aesthetically pleasing and user friendly, your next business could be as a web developer.

Technically, there are differences between web designers and developers, with designers tending toward the visual aspect while developers focusing on the coding. The BLS, which doesn’t differentiate between the two, states the median pay is $37.12 an hour.

Even if businesses in your area don’t have a big budget for complicated websites, they may need a simple landing page. If you have the web design and coding skills, you can start small and expand your business based on referrals and your portfolio.

A woman draws on her computer.

16. Graphic Design

Unleash your creativity — and use your art degree — to create a graphic design business.

Whether it’s designing logos or layouts, you’ll need to invest in the proper equipment and programs to give your designs a professional look. But you’ll at least be able to find colleagues to consult — in 2019, about 1 in 5 graphic designers were self-employed, according to the BLS.

Prospective clients will want to see past design work to determine if you’re a good fit, so a portfolio is essential. You can find free places to post your work at sites like Coroflot and Carbonmade.

If you’re just getting started as a graphic designer, add to your portfolio by volunteering to create brochures and programs for nonprofits like your church or kids’ school.

Once you’re established, you’ll be able to set hourly or per-project rates. You could earn between $65 and $150 per hour. These tips will get you started.

Pro Tip

Make your business stand out by including your personal story. Share how you got started and why you love what you do to connect with customers looking for a reason to choose you over the competition.

17. Become a Life Coach or Career Coach

If you’ve got excellent motivational skills and you’re passionate about seeing others succeed, you might want to start a business as a life coach or career coach.

You can make money in this line of work through one-on-one sessions with clients, creating webinars or workshops or creating a blog or podcast. The amount of money you can generate with this home business idea will vary based upon your method of monetization and the size of your own audience.

18. Be an Online Dating Consultant

Helping someone craft an online dating profile sounds like something you’d do for a friend over drinks, not a home business idea that generates income.

However, you can legitimately start a business as an online dating consultant, helping people craft their online profiles and connect with potential dates.

Other ways to earn money from providing online dating services include shooting photos for a dating profile and investigating dating fraudsters.

Work at Home… and Beyond

Sure, you enjoy working from home, but sometimes you miss human interaction. No worries — there are plenty of home-based business ideas that let you run your business from your couch but also allow you to escape the confines of home.

A man gives a tour guide on bikes.

19. Local Tour Guide

Do you love showing off your city? Make it your business by becoming a local tour guide.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to museums and monuments — although that’s an option, too.

One man told The Penny Hoarder he makes $10,000 a year with his side gig leading craft coffee tours around St. Petersburg, Florida, while another earns income leading bike tours to check out the many murals around the city.

If you already have a passion for arts, food or other amenities that make your town special, you can start by offering free tours to friends, then expand your reach by promoting your tours on social media and through your local tourism office.

20. Cleaning

Cleaning other people’s places may not be everyone’s dream job, but that’s what increases its potential as a profitable business.

Housekeeping is one option, but if you’re willing to get your hands a little (or a lot) dirty, your services can be invaluable to clients who want you to clean out decades of accumulated trash in their basements, attics and barns.

21. Professional Organizer

Channel Marie Kondo or Clea and Joanna of The Home Edit and start a home-based business as a professional organizer.

This profession differs from a typical house cleaner. It involves organizing people’s belongings into beautiful systems that discourage clutter. This job requires an eye for detail, good judgment, discretion when dealing with clients’ personal things and, of course, stellar organization skills.

Being that you’re doing work that many people avoid, you can pocket some sweet income with this home business idea.

22. Personal Chef

Your dinner parties are always a hit, and people form a line for your bake sale contributions.

Bank on your culinary prowess with a personal chef or catering business.

You don’t need a culinary degree to start plating, but a few referrals could help fire up your business.

Offer to cook for the school fundraiser or church picnic, and be sure to display your business cards at the serving stations.

Posting professional-looking photos of your mouth-watering dishes on your website is another way to attract customers. A personal chef who charges up to $65 per plate hosting dinner parties shared more tips.

23. Photography

Use your photography skills to take a shot at starting a business.

Besides taking photos of babies, parties and weddings, people make money with photography businesses by selling their work to stock photo sites like Shutterstock or iStock.

24. Real Estate Agent

As a real estate agent, you’ll spend a good amount of time away from your home meeting with clients, touring properties and hosting open houses. But you’ll also spend time in your home office compiling comparable properties, pouring over listings, researching the market and drawing up contracts.

To become a real estate agent, you’ll need to complete coursework and pass an exam to earn your real estate license. You’ll also need to find a brokerage to work with.

As a real estate agent, you earn a percentage of the sales you see through. The median pay for real estate agents in 2020 was just over $51,000.

Kristy Anderson, of Dwell Home Staging, organizes a home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

25. Home Staging

Live out your HGTV dream.

Homeowners hoping to get the highest price need to make their humble abode look its best. And that’s where you, the home stager, come in to rearrange the furniture, hide the million toys in a storage unit and replace all those framed cat photos with tasteful art.

Think you have what it takes?

One woman who started her home staging business with a $3,000 investment built her client base by doing the following:

  • Using Google Adwords for online advertising.
  • Asking for word-of-mouth referrals.
  • Creating a social media presence.
  • Networking with local homebuilders and Realtors.

26. Babysitter

Love kids? Love having kids running around your home?

If your home is prepared for the rough-and-tumble world of children, babysitting in your home is a good way to get around the whole “nanny tax” thing (that’s where the parents have to pay you as a domestic employee because you’re working in their home).

Each state has its own regulations about what age and how many kids you can watch at one time before becoming a daycare, so check out your state’s rules before you start. Learning a few basics — like CPR and first aid — can also help you demand a higher rate.

How much you can make varies based on how many kids and your location, among other factors. The calculator suggests the rate for babysitting one child in New York City is $17.25 per hour.

A rapper records in his studio.

27. Musician

Let’s start with the assumption that you aren’t a rock star musician prepared to tour the world.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be in the music business. In fact, we have 13 ways to make money off your music here.

28. Personal Trainer

Turn your love of fitness into cash by becoming a personal trainer working from your own home studio or travelling to clients’ houses. Increase your credibility (and pay) by getting certified by a nationally accredited organization like the American Council on Exercise (ACE) or National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

Expect the business of personal training to be more of a marathon than a sprint. Accreditation training can take weeks and cost hundreds of dollars, along with liability insurance, and you’ll have to maintain your certification with continuing education.

The BLS says the median pay for fitness trainers and instructors is $19.48 per hour, but pay can vary widely depending on your location and specialization — IDEA Health and Fitness Association notes the average rate for personal trainers in New York City is $32 an hour.

29. Yoga Instructor

A yoga instructor is another fitness-related, home-based business idea. Getting trained as a Certified Yoga Teacher (CYT) can help you establish yourself as a professional qualified to lead others in their yoga practice.

Working as a yoga instructor allows you to have flexibility (pun intended) about where you work. You can take your home-based business online by recording videos or doing virtual classes. You could also lead yoga instruction at a community center, a park or your client’s home.

30. Massage Therapist

Work with your hands… and arms… and elbows… as you massage clients’ muscles.

Starting a massage therapy business requires more than one of those cool tables and a towel — although you should definitely expect to do a lot of laundry (all the sheets, you know).

Before flexing those fingers, you’ll need schooling and licensure — check here for your state’s massage therapy licensing requirements.

According to the latest numbers from the BLS, employment in massage therapy is projected to grow 21% from 2019 to 2029, with a median pay rate of $20.97 per hour.

31. Notary Public

There are many occasions that call for a person needing a document notarized — from buying a house or signing a will to filling out school forms or entering into a business contract.

A notary public is the individual who witnesses the signing of legal documents and ensures that the people signing the documents are who they say they are.

Depending on the state you live in, you may have to take a course and pass an exam in order to become a notary public. In many cases, you’re required to purchase a surety bond. You’ll also need to purchase a notary seal or stamp.

Your pay may be regulated by the state, but you can make decent earnings as a notary public.

A man fixes a leaky pipe underneath a person's sink.

32. Handy Person

If you have a knack for fixing things around the house, a good home business idea for you might be to become a handy person.

There’s a lot of variety in this line of work. You might spend one day fixing a leaky pipe and another day patching a hole in someone’s drywall.

Being that you can set your own hours, you might be able to charge a premium for working nights and weekends when other companies are closed.

Home Business Ideas for Selling Stuff

No, these aren’t the dreaded cold-calling telephone sales jobs — instead you’re selling your own stuff or other people’s stuff through your own local or online business or a third-party site.

33. Amazon Seller

Considering it seems like you can buy nearly anything on Amazon, it makes sense that you should be able to sell almost anything on Amazon, right? Here are three great options to create and run your own online store on Amazon:

  • Private-label products: Generic products you sell online with your own packaging and logo.
  • Retail arbitrage: Items you purchased elsewhere — like clearance items or Craigslist freebies — that you sell on Amazon for a higher price.
  • Fulfillment by Amazon: Items you purchase for resale are shipped directly to Amazon, which stores the inventory in its warehouse.

34. eBay Seller

Use your eye for fashion to resell thrift store finds at a profit as an eBay seller.

To get started, check out eBay’s listings for similar items to determine the demand for your product and a pricing strategy. How you price your item affects how it shows up in a search — the lower the price, the more eyes, but setting a higher minimum guarantees a greater return on investment if the item sells.

Pro Tip

Good reviews are essential for any online seller. Invest in thank-you cards to include with each order to remind your customers to add their feedback to your site.

Attract more buyers (and higher prices) by using good lighting and a professional presentation in photos of your product.

A person makes jewerly.

35. Etsy Marketer

Crafting a business from your love of, well, crafting, doesn’t mean you need to drag your wares to a table at the farmer’s market every Saturday. Setting up shop with the online marketplace Etsy allows you to sell handmade products like custom jewelry, refinished furniture and custom gift baskets without leaving your home.

As experienced sellers will tell you, a big part of being able to sell online via Etsy is re-creating the experience for a buyer who is used to handling handmade products in person when deciding to make a purchase.

Instead of discovering your handmade jewelry or macrame plant holders through a tactile experience, buyers are looking at your photos and descriptions of your handmade products on your Etsy store to decide whether to buy. High-quality photos and in-depth descriptions are essential for attracting customers, as is sharing your personal story.

36. Print-On-Demand Business

If you have a pulse on what’s trendy, you could develop your own line of graphic T-shirts with a print-on-demand business.

To gain success with this home business idea, it helps to have graphic design skills. However, you could always contract out the design work.

With a print-on-demand business, you don’t have to worry about managing inventory, shipping, returns or customer service. You run your own online store and the rest is handled by the third-party company you work with. Some popular options are Merch by Amazon, Printify and Spreadshirt.

It’s also important to note that your print-on-demand business doesn’t have to revolve around selling T-shirts. You could choose to sell products like tote bags, coffee mugs or wall art — customized with your own design or text.

37. Start a Dropshipping Business

A dropshipping business is a type of e-commerce business where you sell products featured on your online store, but you rely on a third-party business to fulfill the order and ship it to the customer. You pocket a percentage of the sale by getting the products at wholesale prices from your supplier.

You can choose from a variety of products for your dropshipping business. Your dropshipping business could be an online store selling clothing. Or perhaps you want to focus on selling home decor.

Your dropshipping business could play a part in a larger home business operation, like this woman who started a dropshipping business in conjunction with her existing ecommerce business.

38. Vending Machine Owner

Being a vending machine owner gives you the ability to sell products without renting commercial real estate or needing to meet with customers in person. You just have to find the right location for your vending machine and get permission from the local business owners there.

You can sell anything from soda and candy to toys and tech accessories. Startup costs can be around $2,000 but this home business idea is one that can generate passive income with little work required.

39. Subscription Box Business

Another home based business idea where you’d sell products is a subscription box business. According to the ecommerce platform Bluehost, projections show that subscription box businesses will bring in more than $15 billion in sales in 2021.

Subscription box businesses can span many different industries. You could sell clothes, makeup, food, books, pet toys and more.

Depending on what type of products you choose to sell with your online business, you may need a significant amount of capital (and storage space) to start this home business. However, you have the potential to gain customers and sales on a repeat basis with a subscription box business.

A woman sews in her home.

40. Sewing

Sew you want to start a business (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Turning your threads into a profitable business can start with adjusting hems and making alterations for family and friends, but there are plenty of other ways to use your needle and thread to follow your passion.

41. Home Baker

If your friends and family members can’t stop raving about your chocolate chip cookies or apple pie, perhaps baking is a great business idea for you.

You could create desserts for birthday parties, weddings, business events and more as a sweet source of income. If your treats are easy to ship, you can set up an online store and sell online in addition to fulfilling local orders.

42. Furniture Flipper

Successful online furniture flippers say to follow tips such as:

  • Painting furniture in neutral colors
  • Keeping rehab efforts to a minimum
  • Instead, make small changes like adding drawer liners in dressers or putting on interesting hardware.

43. Airbnb Host

If you ever dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast, but never quite got your hands on that country estate, you can still channel your inner hostess by transforming a guest room (or your home) into Airbnb accommodations.

Instead of selling physical merchandise, you’ll be selling your space, but you’ll still need those same marketing skills to make your Airbnb attractive to potential guests. Think: inviting photos and a well-organized space that will garner great reviews from previous guests.

Figure your potential earnings with this Airbnb calculator.

(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)

Home-Based Businesses That Let You Work Outdoors

There’s no need to limit your home business to the confines of your house. Here are some home business ideas that’ll let you spend time outdoors enjoying some fresh air.

44. Pet Sitting

Prefer your clients to be the four-legged variety? You could start a pet sitting business and cuddle with cats and dogs while their owners are gone all day.

There are more business ideas that can branch off of a pet sitting business, like starting a dog walking business. Connect with fur babies and their parents through apps like Rover or Wag to build up a client base. There, you can add your profile and let owners see your experience.

A farmer feeds his chickens.

45. Small-Scale Farming

Got a backyard with some room to breed?

If a full-size farm is a bit beyond your reach, you could go the (much) smaller animal route and install a beehive. Turn it into a successful business by selling honey at the local farmer’s market.

Yes, there are setup costs and licensing required after you buy the bees to factor in. But considering the high price local honey can demand, one beekeeper nearly broke even his first season raising bees by selling the sweet stuff.

If you have more space, take notes from this couple who started raising four chickens in the backyard of their home and went on to raise 900 chickens and 400 Grimaud Pekin ducks on their six-acre farm.

Pro Tip

Regulations vary for raising livestock, which is considered any domesticated animal that’s raised to produce labor and/or commodities. Visit your state’s Department of Agriculture website for details.

46. Seasonal Operator

Maybe you’re more of a fair-weather businessperson.

Seasonal businesses offer you the chance to operate when you prefer to be outdoors — think shoveling snow during the winter or hauling beach gear during the summer.

And if the holiday season offers more free time for a business venture, think Christmas lights.

Light installers make the majority of their money hanging those twinkling lights during the holiday season.

47. Garden Consultant

You’ve probably heard of business consultants, who bring their decades of knowledge to advise a company on whatever their issue is. You might not be a CEO, but if you’ve had years of growing gardens, you could turn your planting know-how into a garden consulting business.

Although people may dream of growing their food, most backyard gardens end up a little on the sad side, if alive at all. Your knowledge of soil acidity, fertilizer composition and sunlight needs — plus a willingness to dig around in the dirt — could pay off as a garden consultant.

Two people work on a person's yard by mowing it and trimming bush hedges.

48. Landscaping

If you enjoy being out in your yard and are already skilled at maintaining your own lawn, a landscaping business might be a good home business idea to pursue.

Depending on where you live, your business may be at the mercy of the changing seasons, but this business is one where you can easily snag repeat customers year after year.

Local social media groups — like NextDoor or a neighborhood group on Facebook — could be a good way to drum up business. Providing great results is also an excellent way to attract new customers and prompt existing customers to refer you to their friends.

49. Car Detailing

Cleaning a car inside and out is a chore many people would pay someone else to do. It’s also among the home business ideas you can start with little experience, no education requirements and low startup costs.

You can choose to have clients come to your home to get their cars detailed or charge a premium as a mobile car detailer who’ll meet busy clients where they are.

In addition to this being a good home business idea for those who enjoy the outdoors, this line of work is fitted for people who are detail oriented and enjoy physical labor. You can get a nice workout by cleaning cars all day!

Next Steps After Choosing a Great Home-Based Business Idea

Consider these home business ideas a jumping off point or the spark for a related idea that isn’t on this list.

Just know that starting a business requires more than just a good idea, so you’ll first want to check out our step-by-step guide to starting a business.

You’ll need to research the marketplace, create a business plan, gather funding, consider how to legally structure your business, come up with a memorable name and potentially register with the state.

The business world might be tough, but isn’t it easier weathering the ups and downs in the comfort of your own home?

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Home Business Ideas

If you’re still figuring out which of these best home business ideas would be right for you, the answers to these frequently asked questions may help provide clarity.

What Are the Most Successful Home Businesses?

You can find success with any of the home-based business ideas featured on this list, provided you target an audience who could benefit from your product or service and you put in the work to consistently deliver.

That being said, there are some home-based businesses that seem to be more profitable than others. Web developers, graphic designers, tax preparers, bookkeepers and real estate agents can develop a lucrative business from home and end up earning more than the median wage for U.S. workers.

What Is a Good Home Business Idea?

What you’ll consider to be good home-based business ideas will depend on what you’re looking for in a new business opportunity. Many profitable home businesses start as a hobby or interest you already have.

If you’re looking for home business ideas where you can be flexible with your hours, consider business ideas like working as a graphic designer, a voiceover artist, a home baker, a furniture flipper or an Amazon seller.

If you crave some social interaction while you work, business ideas like a personal chef, a babysitter, a personal trainer, a real estate agent or a local tour guide might be the best business ideas for you.

Great home business ideas you can start if you’re good at making sales include running an online store on Amazon, operating an online store on eBay, having a vending machine business or starting a subscription box company.

If you enjoy spending time outdoors, some home-based business ideas you should consider are working as a garden consultant, starting a landscaping business or detailing cars.

What Is the Easiest Business to Start?

The easiest home-based business ideas to develop are those with low barriers to entry and minor startup costs.

Think about your existing skill set, qualifications and expertise. If you used to teach fourth grade, for example, it would likely be easy for you to start a business tutoring elementary school students. Or if you’re a skilled crafter who always makes custom stuffed animals for your friends’ kids, you could easily create an online store on Etsy and sell your handmade products from your online store.

If you have to take courses and earn a certification before you can launch your own business, that may not be the easiest path to pursue.

Having low startup costs is a big factor in deciding whether your home business ideas will be easy to follow through with. However, what you consider to be low costs for your home-based business is subjective. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to get your business up and running without depending on a loan or blowing through all your savings.

Pro Tip

Before you start a business, make sure you have a solid emergency fund aside from the savings you plan to use for business expenses.

Some home business ideas you can start for less than $100 include freelance writing, working as a virtual assistant, tutoring, starting a YouTube channel, being a professional organizer, starting a dropshipping business, starting a print-on-demand business, working as a pet sitter or detailing cars.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

How to Start an Airbnb to Make Maximum Profit

Starting an Airbnb is a popular side hustle. While most hosts make a modest amount of extra income to supplement their day-job paychecks, some Airbnb hosts turn their short-term rental property into a full-time business, earning a handsome income every year.

While you can make extra money by renting out a room in your home, you’re likely to be more profitable by turning entire houses, apartments or other living spaces into an Airbnb.

If you’re serious about turning this into a real business, these tips will get you started as an Airbnb entrepreneur.

This guide will cover:

Finding the Right Airbnb Property for You

Before you can start an Airbnb, you’ll need property. You can buy or rent property. You can run your Airbnb locally or from a city far, far away.

The decisions you make will impact your profit and the lives of those who live close to your property, so consider each one carefully.

Identify a Good Real Estate Market

An ideal real estate market will have one of two features:

  • Tourism. Economies that rely on tourists are ideal for vacation home rentals. That’s because you’ll have a predictable flow of people coming into town.
  • Business hubs. Business hubs also attract frequent travelers who are in need of short-term rentals. To compete with hotels, you’ll want to ensure your rental has adequate accommodations for business travelers — like fast Wi-Fi and easy access to public transit. Business hubs can also attract remote workers who are often looking to stay for a month or more.

Once you’ve found good locations, you’ll want to narrow your options by the stability of the real estate market. For example, business hubs in Rust Belt cities are likely to be far more affordable than real estate markets in California.

Consider the Ethics of Your Airbnb Business

You’ll want to consider the ethics of your Airbnb business — especially when you’re shopping in a real estate market that isn’t local to you.

In many cities across the country, there is a homelessness crisis. This crisis may become worse as more corporate landlords replace mom-and-pop landlords who had to sell their properties due to the hardships of the past year.

In your quest for a “great deal,” you may want to consider the effect your business will have on the local community. Is your profit worth pushing local residents out of potential housing opportunities? Especially when you’re not personally invested in the local community?

Some Airbnb hosts will turn to alternative platforms that try to accommodate these concerns in their business structure. One example is Fairbnb, though you can only use this platform if you are local to your Fairbnb rental property.

The exterior of an Airbnb in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Research Local Laws and Regulations for Airbnb Hosts

Even if you don’t have any ethical concerns about Airbnb hosting, you’ll want to research local laws and regulations. Many cities have taken the ethical concerns on themselves, codifying them into law.

For example, in San Francisco you must live in your Airbnb rental. You can book it for 90 cumulative days per year while you’re away, or host guests in your home throughout the year while you’re present.

Cities and municipalities across the country have started instituting similar rules. Be sure to do your research beforehand to make sure this is something you’re actually allowed to do.

Identify Potential Investment Properties

Now that you’ve narrowed down where you’d like to start your Airbnb business, you need to pick a specific unit. The most traditional way to do this is by purchasing an investment property.

As you compare potential Airbnb properties, think about what amenities you’d like access to while traveling. Wi-Fi is likely a must. In many markets, air conditioning will be a mandatory requirement for some guests. Parking, access to public transit and the size of the unit are also good criteria to consider.

As you search for a great deal, bear in mind that real estate markets around the country are a little out of control right now. Many potential buyers are making concessions like skipping inspections or appraisals in order to put in a competitive bid.

You should not do this. You want to make sure the property is up to code, and that there are no major surprise repairs to pay for in the first few years of ownership. Unknown variables have the potential to turn your rental space into a money pit, which is not a smart investment for a side hustle.

Become an Airbnb Host Without Owning Any Property

Depending on rules set by landlords and cities, you don’t actually have to own property to be an Airbnb host. Technically, you can rent a unit and then sublet it as a short-term rental on Airbnb. This can be a great workaround if you don’t want to take on the risks of homeownership, or if first and last month’s rent are a way more achievable savings goal than a 20% downpayment.

You will want to be up front and honest with the landlord about why you’re interested in renting. If a landlord or HOA isn’t on board, it can all get shut down in an instant, leaving you holding the bag on the rent for the remainder of the lease.

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Making Your Airbnb Business Legitimate

There are many reasons to turn your Airbnb business into an LLC or other legal business entity. LLCs do provide some limited liability protection to you as a business owner.

Some experts say establishing an LLC should be your first move when you start a business. Read more about what an LLC is and why you might need one.

But if you’re turning a rented property into an Airbnb, the LLC designation serves another purpose. It shows potential landlords that you’re a serious business owner. It gives them more confidence that you’ll pay rent on time, regardless whether you’re fully booked during any given month. With this designation, landlords may be more likely to take you on as a “tenant.”

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Calculating Your Return on Investment

Before you sign on any dotted lines or commit to any Airbnb properties, you’ll want to figure out your return on investment. If it’s large enough, you may have a successful business on your hands.

Here are some of the calculations you’ll need to get there.

Figure Out Your Airbnb Costs

Your Airbnb business isn’t going to be 100% profit. And the actual real estate won’t be your only investment. You’ll need to figure out the costs you’ll incur along the way before you can assume this will put money in your pocket. Some common operating expenses to consider include:

Airbnb Hosting Fees

To find your hosting fee, add the price of your listing, cleaning fees and additional guest fees. Then multiply by 0.03. This is the chunk of revenue Airbnb will take as a hosting fee in most situations. If you’re running an Airbnb in Italy, use a Super Strict cancellation policy or are an Airbnb Plus host, your hosting fee could be higher.

A woman washes the dishes inside an Airbnb apartment.

Cleaning Fees

You get to pick the cleaning fees charged to potential guests. This amount should cover any costs you incur when you hire cleaning services. If you’re deep-scrubbing the place yourself, this fee will compensate you for your time and the cost of cleaning products.

Some hosts will use the cleaning fees not only to cover their cleaning service, but also to get higher effective nightly rates on their Airbnb rental. For example, if you wanted to charge $75/night, but similar listings in your area were only going for $65, you might bake that extra $10 into your cleaning fees.

This may get more people to click on your listing. Some may even decide to book after undergoing the time-consuming process of hemming and hawing over which property to book.

But there’s a downside. When they see the cleaning fee knocks the price up $10/night right before they book, you’re already starting their customer experience off on the wrong foot. Even if they book with you, their initial experience is a disappointment, which may not bode well for your reviews.

Property Maintenance Expenses

Unless you luck into an absolutely perfect property, you’re likely going to spend at least a little money cleaning your place up before listing it. Maybe a fresh coat of paint. Updated lighting fixtures. Some new blinds.

On top of the initial fixes, your property will need to be maintained. If a pipe bursts and you own the property, you’ll need money set aside to fix the problem. If the property has a yard, you’ll either need to dedicate time to it or pay a third-party landscaping service to maintain it for you.

Home Furnishings

You’ll also need home furnishings like couches, a bed, and pots and pans. Providing toiletries and towels is good practice. As is including a coffee station and maybe even some snacks.

Professional Photography

You don’t technically need a professional photographer as an Airbnb owner. But first impressions are important. The prettier your place looks in the listing, the more likely it is to book. Investing in high-quality photos can be worth the expense.

Legal and Professional Expenses

If you decide to set up an LLC, it’s generally a smart idea to enlist the help of both a lawyer and a CPA. In addition to needing their services when you set up your Airbnb business, you may need to call on them annually around tax time or whenever your state requires you to renew your business license.

Because local laws are constantly changing for short-term rentals, a lawyer is a good person to have in your corner whether you set up an LLC or not. They can help you ensure you’re up to code on the latest statutes and advise you whether continuing in your business or selling out is the better move given the current legal climate in your locale.

A man does work inside a home by the water.


Whether you set up an LLC or not, you will need to pay taxes as an Airbnb owner. First, you’ll need to pay property taxes according to your locality.

Many states or localities will also charge lodging tax, which often range from 7% to 18% of your income depending on where you’re located. These taxes are also referred to as Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOTs) in some regions.

You’ll also need to pay taxes on your profit. This is another reason it can be helpful to have an accountant on speed dial. They can advise you on the best ways to optimize your tax situation given your individual expenses, ownership status and local laws.

Business Bank Account

As a legit legal entity, you’ll want to keep your personal and business finances separate. This means you’ll need to open a business bank account. Shop around for the account that best meets your needs, taking note of any fees.


Airbnb does cover hosts with a significant amount of no-cost liability and property insurance for periods when you have guests.

Under the Airbnb Host Guarantee, hosts have free coverage up to $1M, covering damage to your Airbnb unit and belongings caused by a guest. It also covers any damages caused by a guest’s assistance animal.

Airbnb’s Host Protection Insurance is a liability policy that also covers you up to $1M. This free-to-hosts policy covers you for accidental bodily injury to your Airbnb guests or others while they are in your rental. It also provides liability protection for guest’s or other’s property while they’re staying in your Airbnb, and any liability for damages your guests may cause to common areas in your Airbnb’s building or neighborhood.

This insurance is extensive, but you may want to talk to your lawyer about any other additional insurance policies that they think are a good idea given state and local laws. Examples might include business insurance, renter’s insurance or homeowners insurance.

Examine Your Time Budget

Becoming an Airbnb host is a super popular side hustle. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

On top of the costs of your initial investment, property maintenance and taxes, you’ll also have to invest some time. If you’re not available to respond to guest inquiries within 24 hours or to help guests with any problems that may arise during their stay, it’s probably not the best idea to start an Airbnb.

However, if you pay someone in the area who could take care of guest services and day-to-day management of the property, you could delegate these responsibilities and free up more of your time.

Professional Airbnb property management contractors and even entire Airbnb property management companies exist if you want to hire out help. But if you have a friend or family member in the area, having someone you already trust looking out for your guests can be ideal. They may even be less expensive.

Research Comparable Airbnb Listings in Your Area

The next step is to look up competitive pricing for Airbnb listings in the area. For example, a 2-bedroom Airbnb in Philly averaged about $180/night in the summer of 2021. A similar-sized rental in Los Angeles averaged about $331/night.

Don’t just look at averages, though. Look at properties in similar neighborhoods in similar condition. Also be sure to consider any amenities. The more a property stands out as exceptional, the higher you can raise your price.

You’ll also want to be sure to check the numbers throughout the year. For example, if summer is peak tourist season in your Airbnb locale, that’s when the rates will be highest. If you use that rate to project out for the entire year, you’re likely to be sorely disappointed — and possibly in debt — come winter.

When demand is lower, there could be months when you’re pulling in $0. You need to be financially prepared for that possibility.

NOTE: Airbnb does provide a calculator that guesstimates your potential monthly earnings. The number it gives you is based on a 50% occupancy rate given your Airbnb’s size and location. It’s a decent blunt tool, but you’ll want to take a deeper dive into your own market research before you invest any serious money.

Calculate the ROI of Your Airbnb Business

You’ve figured out all your costs. Gotten a ballpark figure on how much you should charge. Now it’s time to actually calculate your potential return on investment (ROI).

To do so, you’re going to use a formula that looks something like this:

What you expect to make over the course of a year on your Airbnb listing  The costs of running your business throughout the year = Total annual revenue from your Airbnb business.

Then, you have to ask yourself, “Is this amount of profit worth the amount of time I’d have to invest into my Airbnb side hustle?”

The answer to that question is going to be different for everyone. As will the math.

A man poses for a portrait in front of a mirror.

How Much Money Do Airbnb Hosts Make?

Some Airbnb hosts run six-figure businesses. A lot will depend on your investment property, though. To get to the six-figure level, you’ll likely need multiple properties. The locality will affect your listing, too, both through market demand and through any local laws or regulations surrounding Airbnb rentals.

If you’re just starting out with one property, don’t quit your day job just yet.

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Listing Your Airbnb Property the Right Way to Attract Guests

Now that you have a property and have determined that starting your own Airbnb business is worth it to you, it’s time to list your Airbnb.

Prepare Your Airbnb Rental Properties for Listing

First, you’ll want to prepare your Airbnb property for listing. This is where the fresh coat of paint, furnishings and any property maintenance come in.

Once you’ve got the place looking nice, you’ll call in your photographer. You’ll then be able to use their images to list and promote your property on Airbnb.

Take Advantage of Airbnb’s New-Listing Promotion

Airbnb has always advantaged new listings in its algorithm. This gives new hosts an opportunity to build a reputation. When the listing is no longer “new,” generally after about 30 to 90 days, you’ll lose this advantage and fewer people will see your listing. This makes the first 30 to 90 days a vital period for building positive reviews and a good reputation.

Last year, Airbnb added a new feature called the “new listing promotion.” This feature can get even more eyes on your property when it’s brand new. As long as you’re not using the “Smart Pricing” feature and have “Instant Booking” enabled, you can claim this feature during the onboarding process.

When you agree to participate in this promotion, you’re agreeing to offer your property’s first guests a 20% discount on their booking. Airbnb will promote your new listing to potential guests, getting it in front of more eyes. This discount and promotion will last for the first three bookings or the first 90 days — whichever comes first.

The faster you can book guests at your Airbnb, the faster you can build a positive reputation. That reputation will be key for ranking higher in the algorithm after your Airbnb listing loses its “new” status.

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Taking Extra Good Care of Your First Airbnb Guests

A host welcomes their visitor.

Because your first few guests will decide the initial reputation of your Airbnb property, you’ll want to give them an absolutely great customer service experience.

Make sure you’re attentive to all their needs. That you’ll be 100% available to them during their stay. Provide local maps, public transit schedules and any information on fun or useful local attractions. Offer to pick them up from the airport or train station. Ensure that the check-in and check-out process are more than fairly easy. Make sure coffee and snacks are readily available, and that your place is sparkling clean.

In other words, do everything you can to prove you’re a great host.

If you can deliver an experience that exceeds their expectations, they are likely to leave you a great review. Preferably a five-star review. The more five-star reviews you can rack up while your property is new, the more likely it is that you’ll have a successful Airbnb business.

Pro Tip

Delivering customer satisfaction does not mean hovering. Allow your guests to take the lead on the amount of interaction you provide.

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Improving Your Host Rating

If you’re not getting as high of a rating as you’d like, look to make improvements to these important factors, which are common areas of complaint:

  • Cleanliness
  • Amenities
  • Communication
  • Smooth check-in/check-out process

It’s also important to be honest and accurate in your listing description. If you’re offering a budget place to stay, your guest won’t necessarily expect top-of-the-line amenities. Not having them doesn’t mean they won’t give you a five-star rating — unless you give them the impression that you’re offering top-of-the-line amenities, full-well knowing you’re not.

A good rule to follow is underpromise and overdeliver.

NOTE: Avoid canceling reservations if at all possible. If you cancel the reservation as the host, you may have to pay a fee of $50-$100. You’re also likely to get a negative review from the guest you canceled on, and you may make yourself ineligible for Superhost status. If you cancel more than three times in a year, Airbnb can remove your listing altogether.

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Accommodating Remote Workers

The pandemic had a huge impact on the travel industry. Airbnb noticed a trend and decided to capitalize on it.

That trend was that more people were booking longer stays. In the first quarter of 2021, nearly a quarter of bookings were for 28 days or more.

There are a few driving factors behind this trend. The first is that more access to remote work options have made people more mobile than ever. If they want to travel for a month or more, they can do as they please as long as there’s a good Wi-Fi connection.

Many Americans have also seriously considered permanent relocation since the beginning of the pandemic. With remote work allowing them to go anywhere, some have been using this time to make long visits to potential new hometowns. They’re allowing themselves to experience a place before settling down.

Will these longer-term rental trends continue into the future? Honestly, we don’t have a crystal ball.

But Airbnb is banking on it.

It has added the “I’m Flexible” and “Flexible Destination” features to help these guests find long-term rentals when their schedule or itinerary is flexible, as is the case with many remote workers who are booking longer stays.

If you’re hosting longer stays, you’ll have less anxiety about vacancies and incur lower costs over a longer period of time. That’s because you won’t necessarily be cleaning your Airbnb rental every weekend when you have one consistent guest staying for a month or more.

You can make the most of this by ensuring your rental is in a city that allows longer-term stays, and making sure you have broad availability on your booking calendar. It also helps to know that properties that offer weekly or monthly booking discounts get more bookings.

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Making Sure You’re COVID Compliant

During the pandemic, Airbnb has enhanced rules for cleaning. These rules mean you’ll want to be extra sure you take care of things like ventilation and sanitizing your Airbnb properties after you clean but before your guest arrives.

In addition to enhanced cleaning rules, there are also pandemic rules about host interactions with guests. Airbnb is encouraging contactless check-ins during this time. If you must meet with guests, you must wear a mask and maintain a six-foot distance.

Generally speaking, if you have COVID-19 or a recent exposure, you’re not allowed to travel or host on Airbnb. There are special cancellation policies in place right now to accommodate this circumstance, and there are some cases where you’ll be allowed to rent out your Airbnb  for quarantine and isolation stays.

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Is Starting an Airbnb Business Worth It?

If you’re investing in or renting property, you’re taking on significant financial risk by starting an Airbnb business. That being said, being an Airbnb host is a side hustle that has plenty of room for significant profit.

It could even turn into a full-time job. If you can handle the financial risks and are looking to accumulate more properties than just the one, this can be a good side hustle or even full-fledged, successful Airbnb business.

But if you’re not in a position to float months where your business turns zero profit, or would be in financial ruin if local laws surrounding short-term rentals became suddenly more restrictive, you may want to consider keeping things low-key by just renting an extra room in your home for some additional income.

You could also start a different business altogether. Ideally one with lower startup costs.

Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder. Some content from former staff writer Carson Kohler is included in this report.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

What Does LLC Mean and Why Your Business Needs One

If you’ve ever considered starting your own business, then the thought has probably crossed your mind: What’s an LLC, and do I need one?

LLC, which stands for limited liability company, is a great option for small business owners looking for a way to get legally established.

Not only does this business structure make your company sound more official, but it also comes with certain legal benefits (like liability protection) as well as tax benefits for business owners.

We talked with six experts — from lawyers to financial coaches — to help us understand the ins and outs of an LLC. Their (free!) advice will help you decide if an LLC is right for you.

What does LLC mean?

A limited liability company is a way of organizing your business that also comes with a few extra perks. Tony Grenier, CEO of Instrumental Global, an online music instruction stie, breaks it down for us.

“A limited liability company (LLC) combines the best of a sole proprietorship, c corporations, and partnerships,” says Grenier. “It basically offers flexibility in management, division of profits and losses, as well as taxation benefits.”

Unlike other business structures, limited liability companies are also relatively easy to get started, especially for solo business owners

“An LLC is a type of business in which only one member or employee is required, and that individual can participate in the business’s daily operations,” says financial coach Annette Harris of Harris Financial Coaching.

Another unique aspect of LLCs is that the applicant doesn’t necessarily need a lawyer to start one. Depending on the state where you live, you may be able to register your LLC online. Once you get your business entity started, you also won’t have quite as many restrictions on how you operate your company as you would with a corporation.

“With Corporations, it’s easy to drown in mandatory red tape, meetings, and admin” says Adam Garcia, founder of The Stock Dork, an education investment site. “LLC’s have less of that and as mentioned before are easier to set up and run.”

What Can an LLC Do for My Business?

One of the main reasons to get an LLC is that it provides quite a bit of protection for you as a business owner.

“An LLC allows business owners to limit their personal asset liability exposure for the financial obligations of the business,” says business attorney Kimberly M. Hanlon of Lucere Legal.

Since all businesses assume some level of legal risk, LLCs are one way to protect your net worth from being dragged into any type of legal battle as a result of your business. But LLCs aren’t just for protection, they also offer great tax benefits for business entities as well.

“Taxwise, LLCs are attractive as there isn’t any double tax at play,” says Garcia of The Stock Dork. “This is different from corporations, where you get corporate taxes as well as owners being taxed on their dividends.”

As a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, LLC owners are also entitled to a new tax deduction called the Qualified Business Income (QBI) deduction.

Tips to Form an LLC

If you’re serious about forming an LLC, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Here are some high-level tips for successfully registering and owning a limited liability company.

Only Use a Lawyer if You Really Need One

Working with a law firm can be incredibly expensive, and while there are cases where you may want a lawyer, you don’t need one to form your LLC.

There are instructions online on reputable law blogs like Nolo or on the department of corporations website for your state,” says Mark Chen, founder and CEO of BillSmart.

You may need legal assistance if your state requires you to have an operating agreement (which outlines the agreement between LLC members), if you’re applying for a copyright or trademark, or if you’re applying for certain state or federal business certifications.

Keep Your Finances Organized

Starting a new business venture is a lot of work, and it can be all too easy to get lazy when it comes to how you organize and record your finances. But this is definitely one aspect of your business you won’t want to cut corners on, as explained by financial planner Logan Murray of Pocket Project.

“Ideally, once an LLC is created, it’s advisable to keep income and expenses flowing only through that entity by setting up LLC bank accounts, getting debit or credit cards in the name of the LLC, etc,” says Murray. “This is helpful for legal purposes and also for tax purposes, as it keeps personal and business expenses separate, which makes your life a lot easier come tax time.”

Register at the Right Time

Creating an LLC comes with a whole new set of responsibilities, and you’ll want to be sure you’re starting it at the right time — and not before.

“Choosing a business structure will be one of the first major decisions you make as a business owner, so give yourself the grace to move forward when it’s right for you and no sooner,” says Terra Gross, founder of Attuned Legal, LLC, which specializes in providing services to micro businesses. “Look closely at startup timing in light of how expensive it is to register and maintain an LLC wherever you plan to set it up, as well as whether you’re personally ready to spend hours keeping up with, or outsourcing, the bookkeeping.

Even though there are perks, Gross says, you should stay on top of reporting and tax requirements. If you’re in a regulated profession, you should also double-check whether there are restrictions on adopting an LLC as your business structure.

Be Prepared for Annual Costs

In addition to the time investment of registering and maintaining your LLC, you’ll also want to be prepared for the monetary expense of getting your LLC up and running, and renewing its annual registration.

“LLC costs depend on the state,” says business attorney Hanlon. “There are registered agent fees and the annual fee that you’ll need to pay to the chamber of commerce in your state. Registered agent fees are about $50 a year. State LLCs range from $100 to $700.”

Another thing to keep in mind is that you may end up paying two different state fees if your LLC is registered in one state, but you live in another. Before you begin the process of forming an LLC, be sure to calculate exactly how much it will cost you and start saving up. That way, you won’t encounter any surprises down the road.

Start Simple

One of the best pieces of advice we’ve heard with regards to creating an LLC is to keep things simple, and if you’re not sure whether to form an LLC or a C corporation, consider starting with an LLC.

“Review the different types of legal structures: sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation and S corp and see what structure works for your needs,” says Chen of BillSmart. “Keep in mind that it’s easier to go from an LLC to a corporation than a corporation to an LLC. Start simple, and then go deeper if you need to.”

Looking for more advice on starting your own business? Check out our 10-step guide.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Does Having an LLC Mean?

An LLC, or limited liability company, is a type of business structure that gives business owners certain legal protections (like limited liability) and tax benefits. It’s also a relatively simple business entity to start, and only requires one owner.

What is an LLC Used For?

An LLC is a legal entity used by small business owners who want a more formal business structure than a sole proprietorship or partnership. It offers certain legal protections and tax benefits as well.

Is LLC Good or Gad?

LLC’s can be a great option for small business owners, depending on the goals and needs of their company. For larger companies, or those wishing to raise venture capital funding, forming a c corporation might make more sense.

As Always, Think About the Money

Starting any new business venture is a big deal, and forming an LLC is no exception. Before you get started, take some time to outline your company goals and decide if this type of business entity is the best model for your company.

You should also consider setting aside some cash for registration and other startup costs. If you have business partners, be sure to get them involved in the conversation, and consider drafting an operational agreement to designate various responsibilities. The more planning you can do in advance, the better your transition into a limited liability company will be.

Contributor Larissa Runkle specializes in finance, real estate and lifestyle topics. She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.  

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

5 Being a ‘Failure’ Could Push You Toward Your Full Potential

It’s inevitable. Everyone fails at something. But thankfully, most of those failures won’t show up on your permanent record. We fail at things so often and so grandly that many of us routinely label big-picture victories as losses, by mistake.

Wringing ringless fingers? Expecting to be expectant? Working hard to finally work for yourself?

Your failure to reach some of life’s most heralded milestones, or even basic self-sufficiency, may leave you feeling as if you just can’t keep pace with the pack. Chin up — you’re probably doing better than you think. Find out if any of these seven “failures” could actually put you on the inside track to getting ahead in life and reaching your full potential.

‘Failure’ No. 1: Not Having a Picture-Perfect Wedding

Trust us — you’re not a failure if you lack the resources to pour into pulling off a picture-perfect wedding.

The most important thing is that you’ve found someone to spend the rest of your life with. You can make up for a lack of funds with a little creativity and technology.

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that just about any event can be conducted completely online. Adding a virtual component to your wedding festivities could help you afford to include everyone on your guest list, if you just don’t have the budget for a blockbuster wedding.

About 43% of newlyweds added a virtual option to their wedding last year, according to the 2021 WeddingWire Newlywed Report.

Along with scaling back the ceremony and accommodating virtual guests, you could also earn a little extra cash on the side to help offset costs. If you don’t have the time or energy for another job, we found a more effortless way to earn some extra cash.

A research company called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.

It’s possible to earn up to $225 a month without having to get another job.

Unlike other sites, InboxDollars pays you in cash — no points or gift cards. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately get a $5 bonus to get you started.

‘Failure’ No. 2: Not Buying a Brand New Car

If you want to feel like you’re on top of the world, finance as nice of a car as you can afford. And if you want to feel the weight of the world, watch how fast it depreciates.

Yes, driving a brand new car is one of those conventional signs of success, but the average person can’t tell the difference between model years, if the cars are part of the same generation. The average car generation contains about five to seven model years.

Buying a “like new” instead of “brand new” can help keep your budget intact and goals in sight. And you could spend even less on your new car by reviewing your credit scores before you buy.

If you have an error on your credit report (one out of five reports do), you could end up paying more for a car than you should.

Thankfully, a website called Credit Sesame will help you detect any errors — for free. It’ll even help you dispute them.

Salome Buitureria, a working mom in Louisiana, found a major error on her report this way. Using Credit Sesame, she was able to fix the mistake and take additional steps to raise her credit score from 524 to nearly 700.

Now she and her husband feel like they’re in a better position for their biggest goal — purchasing a house.

It only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.

‘Failure’ No. 3. Not Buying a House Before a Certain Age 

Is it ever worth it to be “house poor” — that is, you dump so much money into your house (downpayment, mortgage, closing costs, moving expenses) that you have little to no cash on hand?

It might be a safer, less stressful venture to get more aggressive in saving to bolster your retirement accounts to their full potential. But if you’re hellbent on investing in real estate, there are more attainable avenues you can venture down.

If you don’t have the time or money to buy a house yet, you may want to look into real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are funds pooled together from thousands of investors to invest in one property, like a mutual fund.

There are several ways you can invest in REITs, but perhaps the easiest is through an app called Stash. You might have heard of it. It helps folks invest and save small amounts of change. It also helps us invest small amounts into real estate.

If you don’t already use Stash, sign up here.

When you invest your first $5, you’ll get another $5 bonus to invest.* Now, you’ll have access to all of Stash’s tools, including its real estate investments. The app costs $1 a month.

‘Failure’ No. 4: Not  Being Out of Debt Yet 

Debt isn’t always a bad thing, especially when there’s not a lot of interest attached to it and it gives you the flexibility to address other financial issues. Yet, you might feel like you’re failing if you can’t seem to make any meaningful dents in your debt.

Imagine waking up with no credit card debt. Whether you’re stressed about being in debt forever or you’re just sick of the extra monthly bill, this would be a huge relief.

Impossible, right? But with help from a free website called AmOne, you could wipe out all of your credit card debt by the end of the week.

It will match you with a low-interest loan to pay off all your credit cards at once. Its interest rates start at 3.49% — way lower than the 20% or more you’re probably paying your credit card company. That could save you thousands in the long run.

Plus, you’ll be debt-free that much faster.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online.

‘Failure’ No. 5: Not Getting That Big Promotion 

You might feel like you’re failing or falling short of your full potential if you just can’t ever get a hold of that promotion your job has been dangling on a stick in front of you.

While you might not ever get that particular title you’ve been grooming yourself to earn, you can give yourself a promotion and even get a new title: bookkeeper.

You don’t have to be an accountant or good at math to start your own bookkeeping business. As long as you’re motivated, a company called will teach you everything you need to know. It’s one of the leading training courses in the field, and it’ll even give you the first three classes for free.

It’s helped thousands of people launch their own businesses, including Daniel Honan, a military veteran in his 30s. He never considered starting his own company, but he signed up for, and now he’s making around $50,000 a year keeping track of business expenses for his 10 clients.

It only took him three months to get started, taking one class a week. Oh, and he makes his own schedule and is able to spend more time with his wife than ever.

If you’re just a little curious, you just have to submit your email address here to take the first free classes. If you stick with it, you could be running your own business in just a few months.

Quinten Plummer is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

*Offer is subject to Promotion Terms and Conditions. To be eligible to participate in this Promotion and receive the bonus, you must successfully open an individual brokerage account in good standing, link a funding account to your Invest account AND deposit $5.00 into your Invest account.

The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. 

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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