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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

Being a stay-at-home parent and making money can work hand in hand.
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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Being a parent to a young child often means finding a job that allows you to work from home. Fortunately, companies are increasingly accomodating a cultural shift toward telecommuting jobs and work-from-home flexibility for a 21st century workforce in which both parents need and often want to work. Over the past decade in the U.S., the number of telecommuting workers have rocketed 115 percent -- a jump from 1.8 million to 3.9 million people.

To get you started on your job search to fit your unique parenting situation, interests and skills, here are 18 job ideas and businesses that require little to no startup costs and can done from home.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

1. College application/financial aid consulting business

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College-bound students are often advised to apply to between four to eight schools. So it's no wonder students require guidance managing the fraught process of selecting the right colleges, gathering application materials, writing essays, scheduling interviews and meeting application deadlines. That explains why consulting services for private college applications and financial aid planning are booming. From 2003 to 2013, the number of college applicants who used a “private admissions consultant” or independent educational consultant” tripled.

A college application consultant may have a background in guidance counseling, college admissions or teaching -- there’s no accreditation or degree required except experience and the ability to shape a candidate’s application so that it’s complete, on time and presents candidates to the best of their abilities. Naturally, having an understanding of the college scene and what individual schools can offer and are looking for will help your clients.

However, a financial aid consultancy typically requires accreditation and certification by a financial planning industry group, such as the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards or the CFA Institute. As previously reported on Entrepreneur.com, the “financial aid planner helps parents get the lowest possible price for their child's college education, thus saving them money.” This job requires you to be aware of the financial aid resources available and knowing how to advise parents to fill out the financial aid forms, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Financial aid planning also requires advising parents on tax implications about college savings plans and negotiating the best financial aid package when the offer comes. You can market your services in high schools, libraries, private tutorial centers and universities.

For more information about starting a college planning consultant business, read Start Your Own College Planning Consultant Business by Entrepreneur Press and Eileen Figure Sandlin. Available on Amazon, eBooks.com and Barnes & Noble.

Related: 20 Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Parents

18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

2. Freelance writer/editor

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There’s all kinds of writing and editing, from copy editing to content writing across industries. Not surprisingly, demand is directly related to your experience and areas of expertise. Niche expertise, such as within the aviation industry or blockchain applications in security, can impact your marketability. So define some areas where you already have contacts and knowledge, and make sure you have a website that showcases your best work and features your contact information. (If you don’t have samples of published work, then that’s where you need to start.) The average base pay for a freelance editor is $51,104.

However, if you’re just starting out, there are also freelance writing job boards and marketplaces to advertise your services and look for work, although the competition can be tough, warns Entrepreneur.com contributor John Rampton.

Some places to start looking include the part-time jobs website FlexJobs, which features writing gigs in specific categories, such as gaming, financial or medical writing; Freelanced, a freelancer social network where you can search for jobs and share your portfolio; and FreelanceWritingGigs, which lists freelance writer and editor jobs across a variety of industries.

For a comprehensive list of freelance writing and editing resources, check out “101 Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs,” “The 7 Best Freelance Sites to Find Work” and “The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs.”

Related: How to Screen Freelance Writers

18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

3. Transcriber

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Transcription jobs can be done remotely -- all you need are fast and accurate typing skills, typically 80 words per minute. The average salary for a transcriptionist is $26,882. To get started, you can do a search of “transcription” or “transcriber” on job sites, such as Glassdoor. Or you can register as a freelance transcriber on job marketplace sites, such as TranscribeMe, Go Transcript and UpWork.

You can specialize in a certain area -- medical and legal are two fields where there is always demand. Equipment-wise, you’ll need headphones, a computer and word processing software. Eventually, you may want to invest in a foot pedal, which allows you to stop, rewind and forward the recording quickly.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

4. Tax accountant

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Typically, accountants are seasonally busy, which means a lot of free time during the rest of the year. As an accountant, you prepare tax returns and reports and stay current on tax regulations and reforms. Tax work clearly isn’t for everyone, but good accountants are always in demand. The skills needed for this job are knowledge of accounting procedures, attention to detail, familiarity (or ability to learn) accounting software and, of course, good math skills.

The median annual salary is $53,994, and while you can work as an accountant with a bachelor’s degree, most states require accountants to be licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

5. Grant writer

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Grant writers are the backbone of development and nonprofit work. They generally work as independent contractors and are “the vital link between a funder and a grant seeker,” with a median salary of $45,483 a year. Another bonus: There’s no certification needed for grant writing, although grant-writing classes are available. 

Certain skills are required for this position. Obviously, you need to be a good writer. You’ll be writing what is essentially a proposal for why a funding agency should give money to the organization you’re working for. Also, you need to be good at research and getting answers. Many grant applications require particular information on the organization seeking a grant, and the grant writer’s job is to track down the information and present it within the funding agency’s guidelines. Finally, you need to be deadline driven. 

Check out these websites to get you started: www.fdncenter.org, www.tgci.com and www.fundsnetservices.com.

For more information on becoming a grant writer, read Grant-Writing Business: Step-by-Step Startup Guide by Entrepreneur Press. Available on Amazon, eBooks.com and Barnes & Noble.

Related: Grant Proposals

18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

6. Bookkeeping services

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Good news, you don’t need to be a Certified Public Accountant to work as a freelance bookkeeper, but you do need to be resourceful and good with numbers. “You can sign up for a bookkeeping course at a community college or online,” recommends Entrepreneur.com contributor John Rampton. (For example, there's this free course from the Accounting Coach.) The services that you can offer are providing income statements and creating balance sheets and monthly, quarterly and annual financial reports. What’s more, you can take advantage of free invoicing and online payment tools.

If there’s a particular industry and ideal segment of clientele you’d like to work with, then write down a list of companies and find out if there are contacts you already know in those companies or in the industry who can help you get a foot in the door. The beauty of getting more clients in bookkeeping is that it’s a word-of-mouth and referral dependent field.

You can also do a job search for “part-time bookkeeper” on job sites, such as Glassdoor.com, Monster.com, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

7. Virtual recruiter

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Virtual recruiters find, screen and interview job applicants across a variety of industries -- technology candidates are in high demand -- and recruiting can be done remotely and part time. Glassdoor reports recruiters make approximately $30 to $40 an hour.

To be a recruiter, you definitely need to have solid communication skills and be able to read people in order to closely match them with jobs and the work culture. While you don’t need a bachelor’s degree for this work, you should have at least an associate’s degree or related experience. Go to any job site and type in “virtual recruiter” to find available positions.

Related: 50 Work-From-Home Jobs Paying as Much or a Lot More Than the Average American Salary

18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

8. Virtual tutor

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Tutors don’t require state teaching certification, so if you have extensive knowledge in a specific area, you could earn an average of $26,019 a year by tutoring students either over the phone or Skype. Tutors in STEM subjects are particularly in demand.

One growing opportunity lies in teaching English to students abroad in countries such as China, albeit at odd hours, given the time difference. Some English tutoring companies to check out are VIPKID, Englishunt, Topic-Time, Twosigmas, Lingoda and Funbulous.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

9. Social media marketer

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There’s definitely a demand for social media marketers. Businesses have spent an estimated $36 billion on social media advertising in 2017. If you have a knack for social media and have a good sense of the tools available, you may have a future in social media marketing, a job you can do from anywhere with a computer or smartphone.

The responsibilities of social media marketer includes setting up social media accounts, performing a social media audit (examining client’s social media presence), developing a strategy to executing the daily management of social media accounts.

“Social media marketing isn't as simple as ‘playing around on Facebook all day,’ but its fundamentals don't require special skills or equipment,” writes Jason DeMers, a social media marketing guru and author of The Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing. “You'll need experience to be successful over time, but it's a highly learnable niche.”

To find work, DeMers recommends that you “start out by working for a small business or startup, or build your personal reputation on your own before applying for formal jobs.” Make sure you have a website (posting content that displays your social media expertise is helpful). Also, run your own social media pages like they’re an ongoing portfolios for possible jobs. They will serve as your calling card.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

10. Day-of wedding coordinator and consultant

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If you have a knack for wedding or event planning, but you want to have time with your children, then one compromise is to become a day-of wedding coordinator. This lower cost service is a popular alternative for brides and grooms who don’t want to pay the full-service cost for wedding planning (anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000).

The day-of coordinator can charge anywhere from $600 to $1,000 for an entire day (depending on where you live) and more, depending on how much time and services are required leading up to the big day. The day-of coordinator not only manages the guests, vendors and events the day of the wedding but also steps in and deals with vendors and whatever else needs to be done in the two weeks leading up to the event.

Drumming up wedding planning business is largely a word-of-mouth endeavor, so make sure your childcare schedule allows for you to put the effort and organization required to successfully pull off a big wedding event. The beauty of this type of work is that you are the one in control of how many events you take on.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

11. Graphic design

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Do you have an eye for layout and design? As a graphic designer, you don’t necessarily need a degree or certificate so much as you need a portfolio of work, a computer and graphic design software, such as Adobe Photoshop, Indesign or Illustrator.

The main tasks of graphic designers are to create imagery, concepts and layouts for advertisements, brochures, catalogs, magazines and corporate reports. Graphic designers need to be able to grasp what the client wants. They frequently work with advertising agencies, publishing companies, magazines, corporations, product manufacturers and individuals. The average graphic designer makes $48,256 annually, and you can get a feel for jobs in your area by looking on the usual job sites, Glassdoor.com, Monster.com, CareerBuilder and LinkedIn.

To learn more about starting a graphic design business from home, read Start Your Own Graphic Design Business by Entrepreneur Press and George Sheldon. Available on Amazon, eBooks.com and Barnes & Noble.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Enough Side Money to Eventually Quit Your Job

18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

12. Call service representative

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This hourly position has a relatively low barrier for entry, which is helpful for parents who want to work from home and don’t have the time for too much additional training and education. The job typically allows you to choose shifts and days you can work, and because you’ll be interacting with a lot of people over the phone, a knack for talking and listening and positive interaction skills is a plus.

While the role of call service representative requires a year or two of experience, most people have held jobs that involve dealing with phone calls and assisting people, so highlight that portion of any job you’ve previously held. (Most call service representative jobs offer training.)

Call service representative work is typically taking inbound calls and helping customers. To kick off your search for this type of work, look on job sites for job titles that include “Customer Care Representative,” “Client Service Representative” and “Client Success Specialist.”

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

13. Translator/interpreter

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If you speak English and another language (Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and Arabic are in-demand ones), that’s a skill that can be monetized. You can find a work-from-home job as a translator/interpreter. While some places require a degree in interpretation, most simply require fluency and may require a proficiency test in the language.

There are plenty of job and gig platforms for those looking for this type of work, such as Gengo, Upwork, American Journal Experts, Cyracom, Interpreters and Translators, Inc., Language Line Certified Languages Interpbridge, Andovar and Rev to name some. To see the full list, visit here.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

14. Teacher's aide

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To work in education, first and foremost, you ought to like children and be extremely patient. If you have school age children, the hours working as a teacher’s aid can complement your parenting schedule. As a teacher’s aide, you won’t be creating lesson plans and grading papers, but supporting the teacher in daily tasks, including taking attendance, maintaining student files, setting up the classroom and helping the teacher prepare for lessons.

The requirements working as a paraprofessional in education (including as a library aide) vary, according to the requirement of the position (e.g. if you’re working with students with special needs), school district and whether it receives Title 1 funding. However, some districts only require a high school degree, whereas others require a two-year college degree and passing an assessment exam.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

15. Dietician

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Dieticians can be self-employed and work from home -- good for parents. If you’re interested in nutrition, food servings, diet and health, then this could be a way to work from home and do something you’re already inclined to do. A dietician works with either private clients or organizations, such as schools and hospitals, to provide counsel on nutrition, diet, food preparation and lifestyle in order to achieve certain health goals.

To become a dietician, at minimum you need a bachelor’s degree in a health field, such as dietetics or food and nutrition, in a program approved by the Accreditation Council for Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), the gold-standard for a recognized dietician program. If you wish to advance in the field, it’s highly recommended you pursue a master’s degree.

Often, states require dietitians to be licensed, certified or registered before practicing -- these all have different requirements, so research to see what sort of work, salary level and time fits your life best. The median salary is $59,023.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

16. Child care provider/babysitter

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If you're already watching your child, this job seems like a natural extension. To run a daycare business from your home, you’ll need to make sure you understand your state’s child care regulations and policies. You’ll need the proper licenses and permits, and The National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations can help you figure that out.

However, if you wish to skip the hassle of licensing and regulations, then babysitting one or two kids at a time for a few hours a day is the way to go. You should check with your state to ensure you're not mistakenly running a daycare business. You can offer your childcare services through word of mouth as well as through social media and personal networks. Put up flyers or signs where parents would be, including pre-schools, schools and local businesses that carry child products or specialize in kid activities. Get permission first.

Also, try leveraging online job marketplaces such as Care.com, Urbansitter.com and Sittercity.com, which that connect childcare and babysitting professionals with jobs. Or you can look on Snagajob, a general jobs website for hourly work.

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18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

17. Content and search marketing specialist

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As a content and search marketing specialist, you’re not only creating web content, but specifically web content that generates page views (hence revenue) for the website. The search marketing portion of the position means you’re knowledgeable in how to leverage search engine optimization (SEO), increase the website’s page ranking with Google and attract visitors while establishing a brand’s value through interesting and useful content. First and foremost, familiarize yourself with industry tools such as Google Analytics.

Other similar titles that you can search for on job sites are “Digital Marketing Specialist,” “Email Marketing Specialist” and “Marketing Communication Specialist.” A content marketing specialist makes an average base pay of $50,390 a year.

Related: 18 Ways You Can Make Money Right Now

18 Low-Cost Ways for Parents to Make Money From Home

18. Virtual assistant

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A virtual assistant is a freelance administrative assistant who works across a variety of industries out of the office. Your responsibilities can include booking travel, organizing, taking or transcribing notes, maintaining calendars, formatting blog posts, reading and researching -- and other administrative tasks. The median salary for this position is $15.57 an hour, and like any assistant, virtual ones need to be good on the computer, well organized and an effective communicator (probably more over email and messaging than over the phone).

Kick off your job search by looking for “virtual assistant” on freelance job sites, such as Upwork, Remote.co, ZipRecruiter and Freelancer.com.

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