Being your own boss, setting your own hours and having the freedom to work the way you want to — it might sound like a dream, but for self-employed people, it's an everyday reality. So, you've decided to join the millions of self-employed Americans and work for yourself.
There's just one problem: You're not sure what your self-employed business will, well, do. Don't sweat it — we've created a giant list of self-employment ideas so you can get one giant step closer to achieving your entrepreneurial goals.
25 Awesome Self-Employment Ideas
Ready to meet your new boss? With these killer self-employment ideas, all you'll need to do is look in the mirror.
Self-Employment Ideas for Moms or Dads
If you have children, these ideas can give you the flexibility and freedom you need.
If you like to write about your life, share ideas and take photos, why not start a blog? Parenting blogs can certainly be successful (the mom blog craze is proof), but you can also blog about fashion, crafts, lifestyle, cooking or any other topic that interests you.
And once your blog is getting a decent amount of traffic, you can monetize it by running ads and even working with sponsors.
How to get started: Come up with a catchy name, choose a blogging platform, pick a hosting provider, set up your site and write your first post.
How much you can earn: One survey of 600 respondents found that nearly 50 percent of bloggers earn more than $200 in profits each month.
2. Writing and Editing
For busy parents, freelance writing and editing can be a fantastic way to earn money on your own terms.
Why? You can write or edit in the car during a soccer game, in the nursery during nap time or at home while the kids are at school — it's all up to you.
How to get started: Take a writing or editing course, create some sample pieces and start looking for work on job sites like Indeed (or offer your services on a marketplace like Fiverr).
How much you can earn: On average, freelance writers in the U.S. earn about $22 per hour.
3. Filling Out Surveys
Did you know there are sites and apps that pay you for taking surveys? It's true, and it doesn't get much more flexible than this.
All you need to do is take a survey whenever you have a few minutes to spare, and you'll be compensated for your time and opinions.
How to get started: Create an account on reputable platforms like Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, OneOpinion and InboxDollars. Next, just start taking surveys to start earning money and rewards.
How much you can earn: Varies based on the amount of time you can dedicate to taking surveys. Swagbucks, for example, claims that "most members can earn an extra $50 to $200 a month" with "fairly minimal effort."
4. Becoming a Direct Sales Consultant
If you have a large social circle (either online or in-person) and have good people skills, then you might want to consider earning money by becoming a direct sales consultant.
You'll be able to work when and how you want, and you can put in as much or as little time as you please. And with direct sales companies selling everything from vitamins to essential oils to kitchen tools, you're sure to find one that aligns with your interests.
How to get started: Research direct sales companies, choose the ones that appeal most to you and apply to become a consultant.
How much you can earn: In the U.S., most direct sales representatives earn about $30,000 per year, with the average annual salary being about $54,500.
5. Providing Childcare
Love taking care of your own kids, but need to make more money? Become your own boss by providing childcare services for other people's kids, too.
You can keep things low-key by working as a babysitter on an as-needed basis, or you can go all-out by starting your own daycare center — it's your call.
How to get started: Research childcare provider laws in your state, county and city. Then use sites like Care.com and Sittercity to find jobs ASAP, or begin the process of starting your own daycare business.
How much you can earn: Most childcare providers earn about $19,500 per year, and the average annual salary is nearly $24,000.
6. Doing Laundry
As a parent, you probably have plenty of experience doing laundry and getting out tough stains. With companies like Sudshare, you can put those skills to good use and get paid to do other people's laundry.
Once you accept a job, you'll simply pick up the customer's laundry, take it home to wash it and deliver it back to the customer the next day.
How to get started: Create a Sudshare account and watch their introductory videos.
How much you can earn: Up to $20 per hour.
Self-Employment Ideas for Nurses
Registered nurses have a unique set of skills that makes a whole slew of self-employed jobs possible.
7. Providing In-Home Care
Instead of working with dozens of rotating patients, develop a deeper connection with just a few by providing in-home nursing care.
How to get started: Research home health nurse requirements in your state, county and city. Then, start looking for work on general job sites like Indeed, as well as specialized ones like Nurse.com.
How much you can earn: The average hourly pay for home health nurses is $35 per hour, with most earning about $25 per hour.
8. Working as a Nurse Consultant
If you want to use your nursing expertise to help improve other businesses and healthcare facilities, you might want to become a nurse consultant.
How to get started: Search for nurse consultant positions on job sites like Indeed or Nurse.com.
How much you can earn: The median wage for nurse consultants is $43 per hour.
9. Creating Products for Nurses
As a nurse, you know better than anyone what types of products can appeal to nurses and make their lives easier. So, why not make money selling those products online?
How to get started: Decide whether you want to sell handmade items on a platform like Etsy or Amazon Handmade or dropship via Amazon or another site. Then, work on creating your first products.
How much you can earn: Etsy sellers earn an average salary of over $44,000 per year.
As a nurse, you know a lot about human health. You might even have a special area of expertise, such as nutrition, chronic conditions or post-surgery recovery.
If you become a self-employed nurse coach, you can use that knowledge to help clients be the healthiest versions of themselves.
How to get started: Research nurse coach certification programs and determine which ones you may want or need. Then, work toward finding your first client via job sites or your personal network.
How much you can earn: The average salary for nurse coaches is $65,870 per year.
11. Becoming a Travel Nurse
The concept of travel nursing first emerged in the 1970s, and it's only grown since then.
If you want to see the country, explore new places, make lots of new friends and enjoy generous benefits, you might want to become a travel nurse.
How to get started: Start researching travel nursing agencies and find the one that's best suited to your needs. Next, simply let the agency find potential jobs for you.
How much you can earn: Travel nurses earn an average wage of approximately $2,450 per week.
Self-Employment Ideas for Couples
Want to go into business with your other half? Use these couple-friendly self-employment ideas to get started.
12. Flipping Real Estate
Want to be the next Chip and Joana Gaines? Then it's time to think about flipping real estate as a couple.
From single-family houses to manufactured homes to multi-unit buildings, there's a variety of property types you can flip.
How to get started: Research real estate side hustles to find the path that's right for you (there are tons to choose from!).
How much you can earn: The average house flipper salary is $117,372 per year. However, that amount can vary greatly depending on your location and the type of property you're flipping.
13. Landscaping and Gardening
If one or more of your dynamic duo has a green thumb, you can use that to launch a joint career in landscaping and gardening.
How to get started: Research which business licenses and permits you may need. Then, choose a business name and start looking for your first clients.
How much you can earn: Gardeners earn an average salary of about $17 per hour.
14. Opening a Coffee Shop or Restaurant
For couples who love to work in a fast-paced environment and interact with the public, opening a coffee shop or restaurant can be an exciting and profitable move.
How to get started: Learn about the steps and resources needed to start a restaurant business (or open a coffee shop). If you and your significant other are up to the challenge, start writing your business plan.
How much you can earn: Coffee shop owners make between $60,000 and $160,000 per year, while restaurant owners make an average of about $75,000 per year.
15. Starting a Laundromat
Want to run a business that's not only fun but also as hands-on (or hands-off) as you want it to be? You and your other half might want to start a laundromat.
You don't need any prior experience in the industry to be successful, and your laundromat can be completely self-service if you'd like.
How to get started: Evaluate whether a laundromat could turn a profit in your area. If you think it could, begin looking for existing laundromats to purchase (or empty retail space where you can start one from scratch).
How much you can earn: Laundromat managers make an average salary of approximately $65,300 per year.
16. Launching a Clothing Business
If you and your significant other have an eye for style, you could become the self-employed owners of your own clothing business.
Whether you sell your fashionable wares online or in a brick-and-mortar store, there's a great deal of potential in the clothing industry.
How to get started: Decide whether you want to work in ecommerce or in-person retail. Then, choose which website to sell on or look for retail space, depending on your decision.
How much you can earn: The average salary for clothing boutique owners is around $80,000 per year, although the majority make closer to $31,500 per year.
Self-Employment Ideas for Retirees
Use these ideas to make your retirement more fun and more profitable.
17. Giving Private Lessons
Are you skilled in music, art, dance or something else? Then you can share your knowledge and earn some money in the process by giving private lessons.
You can only accept students in a certain age range or offer your services to anyone and everyone — the choice is yours.
How to get started: Decide what subject you want to give private lessons in. Then, advertise your services on social media platforms like Nextdoor and Facebook, tack up flyers at local bulletin boards and spread the word in your social circle.
How much you can earn: Private music teachers have an average annual salary of about $70,500 per year, but most earn around $52,000 per year.
18. Providing Tax or Bookkeeping Services
Interested in opening a business with low startup costs? If you have solid math skills and tax or bookkeeping know-how, you might want to work as a self-employed tax preparer or bookkeeper.
Best of all, you don't need a degree to pursue either path.
How to get started: If you want to prepare taxes for compensation, you'll need to first get a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) from the IRS. But if you want to be a bookkeeper, you can start looking for gigs on job sites right away.
How much you can earn: Tax preparers earn a median pay of $22 per hour, and bookkeepers earn an average of $20 per hour.
19. Being an Online Juror
No, you can't fulfill your jury duty requirements by becoming an online juror, but you can get a front-row seat to interesting legal cases and earn some extra money by doing so.
That's because online jurors participate in online mock trials rather than real trials in a courthouse, and they're paid by law firms to offer their honest opinions on legal cases.
How to get started: Create an account on reputable mock trial sites like OnlineVerdict and eJury. As long as you meet their requirements (which are generally that you're above a certain age and aren't employed in the legal field), you're ready to join your first mock jury.
How much you can earn: Varies by site. On eJury, for example, jurors are paid $5-$10 for each verdict rendered.
As a retiree, you likely already have the experience of a long and storied career under your belt.
If you want to make money from that experience even in your retirement, why not get into consulting?
How to get started: Use the network you built during your previous career to find your first potential clients. Also research any industry-specific certifications you may benefit from, and brush up on your social media skills for even more networking potential.
How much you can earn: Consultants make an average wage of about $28 per hour, but your pay could vary depending on your field and level of expertise.
Self-Employment Ideas for Introverts
Not a fan of interacting with lots of people? With these introvert-oriented self-employment ideas, it's no problem.
21. Flipping Items
If you like shopping for good deals, then you already have what it takes to flip items for profit.
Some of the best items to flip include apparel, cameras, smartphones, sneakers, vintage jewelry and power tools, but you can flip just about anything people are willing to pay for.
Best of all, you can sell your finds entirely online if you'd like to.
How to get started: Decide what type of items you'd like to flip, choose a platform to sell on (eBay and Etsy are always solid choices) and start shopping.
How much you can earn: Anywhere from $100 to $5,000 per month, depending on the items you sell and the time you put in.
22. Dog Walking and Pet Sitting
Prefer interacting with animals over other humans? Dog walking and pet sitting might be the perfect self-employed job for you.
And as an added bonus, you can get lots of extra exercise to boot.
How to get started: Advertise your services on local social networks, or sign up for an app like Rover or Wag to let it find clients for you.
How much you can earn: You can earn up to $1,000 per month with Rover and about $12 per dog walk with Wag. However, this amount could vary depending on your rates, time commitment and the app you use (if any).
23. Providing Cleaning Services
From cleaning houses to detailing cars to pressure washing driveways, there are plenty of ways you can get paid to take things from grimy to sparkling.
How to get started: Decide which type of cleaning services you'd like to provide. Then advertise your services on local social networks, or sign up for an app like TIDY or TaskRabbit.
How much you can earn: House cleaners earn a median wage of about $13.50 per hour. More specialized cleaning services can get you higher pay, and it's reportedly not uncommon for pressure washers to earn $40 to $60 per hour.
24. Selling Handmade Items
Would you rather spend your time crafting than working in an office? Then selling handmade items might be the perfect side hustle (or main career) for you.
From carving wood to knitting accessories to painting unique art, the possibilities are endless.
How to get started: Choose what types of handmade items you want to sell, then plan where you'll sell them (Etsy and local craft fairs are both great options).
How much you can earn: Etsy crafters earn more than $44,000 per year on average.
25. Car Sharing
Have a car you're willing to rent out for cash? Use it to earn money by participating in a car sharing service.
How to get started: Research car sharing services like Turo and Getaround to find one that works for you and your car, then create an account.
How much you can earn: People who host one car on Turo earn an average income of about $10,500 per year.
Why Self-Employment Rocks
About 16 million Americans are self-employed and for good reason. Self-employment offers:
- Financial independence: You get paid directly by your clients, not by a boss.
- Flexibility: You decide not only when you work but also how you work.
- Freedom of choice: You can choose what to specialize in, as well as which jobs to take (and not take).
- Optional coworkers: Whether or not you hire employees is up to. And if you do, you'll get to handpick them.
- Room to grow: If you want to, you'll be able to expand your skills and knowledge at any point.
Those benefits are true for all types of self-employment. But what are the three types of self-employment, anyway?
Since self-employment goes by many different names, this is a question without a cut-and-dried answer. But in general, independent contractors, sole proprietorships and partnerships are the most common types, although self-employed people are all unique in their own way (that's part of what makes self-employment great).
At this point, people considering self-employment might find themselves with one remaining question: "Can I work for myself without starting a business?"
The answer is a resounding "yes" — in fact, you don't have to file any special paperwork to set up a sole proprietorship. Just keep in mind that sole proprietorships don't offer the same legal protections as an LLC, so that's something to consider if you want to keep your personal assets safe.
Spark Your Entrepreneurial Journey with Self-Employment
Whether you're a parent, a retiree, a nurse or someone else entirely, you can use the self-employment ideas described above to jump-start your own entrepreneurial journey.
And when you're ready to get your business started, Incfile can help. Download our free guide to starting your business.