There may be no place like home, but a number of things have changed since Dorothy tapped her ruby slippers back in 1939. Most Americans since quit farming and embraced a daily commute to-and-from their workplace.
But thanks in part to the power of the internet, the chance to run a small business out of your home is more realistic than it was 10 or even 5 years ago.
Those of you who don't want to leave the "farm in Kansas" now have more opportunities than ever to break out of the 9-to-5 grind and find alternative ways to earn money.
If you are a stay-at-home parent, are temporarily unemployed or have a difficult time coping with a regular job due to age or physical disabilities, there is no reason to limit yourself to boredom or low income.
There are hundreds of ways to get ahold of a few more of the $1.38 trillion cash dollars out there (Federal Reserve August 13, 2015 estimate), and if you are willing to learn new skills and make good use of the ones you already possess, the possibilities are almost unlimited.
You will need to get a business license and register your business for tax purposes, and the exact details will depend on the state you live in and what business you run. But the process is pretty simple, and can be more than worth the trouble.
Just to get you started, we've put together list of home-based activities with potential to turn into cash cows:
1. Sell Stuff Online
You may have come across fantastic claims by people who say they've made millions by selling stuff on eBay. But before you write off those claims as marketing rhetoric or wishful thinking, why not give the online junk-shop industry a chance?
With the internet, the world is your customer-base, and there's a good chance that at least one of the 7.3 billion people out there will want what you have. A good place to start looking for stuff to sell is in your own garage. Once you get a feel for the business, you'll be able to spot value in overlooked items at garage sales and the clearance bins of local stores.
Don't limit yourself to big retail portals like eBay and Amazon.com (though you will want to use those as well), as there are hundreds of auction and ad posting sites, and you can use many of these to sell your wares free of charge.
2. Make Something Awesome
A good portion of our lives is spent looking at things that other people make and wishing we could have them. You might not have the knowledge and skill it takes to build a supercar or design a smartphone single-handedly, but you can make something.
Recreating his grandmother's jam recipe at home, 14 year old Fraser Doherty turned a fun hobby into a million dollar business in the form of SuperJam. It's worth noting that the business began with jam sales to neighbors and friends at church before news spread and the sugar-free jam products found their way onto supermarket shelves the world over.
If you love knitting or carpentry, why not sell your creations on Etsy and other artisan marketplaces. Alicia Shaffer, a Livermore, CA-based mother of three, used Pinterest and Etsy to promote her hand-knitted clothing and grew the business into ThreeBirdNest, which is now worth almost $1 million in annual revenues.
3. Start Your Own TV Channel
Getting onto TV was once the privilege of a select few, but those days are over. Thanks to online video streaming sites like Youtube, Vimeo and many more, starting your own show and building an audience is within reach for anyone with enough drive (and ideally some charisma).
Being a lousy entertainer is not a good excuse to miss out on this potential income stream. Many of the most sought after shows on the web include little more than a host commenting on products (computer games, outdoor gear, soft drinks) or presenting a tutorial. Pretty much anything you can offer will build some kind of audience (there are bored people out there) but if you want to turn a profit relatively soon, stick to trending topics and give your videos simple titles and keywords to make sure they are found.
Cooking tutorials, outdoor product reviews and other themes that appeal to a niche market can also be lucrative if you manage to snag a good sponsorship offer after building a large audience. If ZayZay and Jojo could attract millions of viewers and make a bundle before leaving primary school, what's to stop you from gathering a couple thousand fans?
4. Find Freelance Employment
Many companies can't afford to hire a full-time accountant, writer, legal assistant, graphic designer, web designer, software engineer, chemist, language teacher, engineer or human resource manager. Thanks to portals like Upwork, Elance and College Recruiter, getting in contact with the people who need the skills you offer has become really easy.
If you find that you have more time than money on your hands, why not promote your skills on as many freelance platforms as you possibly can. If you are temporarily unemployed, doing freelance work will help you keep up with developments in your field and keep your mind sharp. If you take advantage of the many cheap or free tools available to promote yourself right, you might very well end up with more job offers than you have time for.
5. Awaken Your Inner Entertainer
You won't likely get rich this way, but if you love to steal the show then a part-time career as an entertainer may be just your thing. From dressing like a clown and twisting balloons at kids' parties to performing a comedy routine or magic show at a social gathering, good entertainment is always well-received, and generally well-paid. Musicians and DJ's will face more competition, but if you love playing an instrument or twirling vinyl then put yourself out there and advertise.
6. Custom Carpentry And Building
When billionaire Michael Bloomberg suggested that a lot of people could make more money as qualified plumbers than college degree holders, he shed some light on the opportunities presented by American society's general shift away from manual labor.
The fact is that in this age of smartphones and the internet of things, many people have become a lot less hands-on. But people still want to live in nice houses, and many are no longer content to fill their homes and gardens with the one-size-fits-all looks offered by big retailers. That's where a handyman with that extra bit of knowledge and skill can make money.
Sure, there may be millions of people out there who can lift sacks or push wheelbarrows. But if you can build custom furniture, restore an antique, fit a complicated irrigation system or landscape a homeowner's dream garden, you can make a decent part-time income off time-strapped office dwellers who like their home their way, but don't have the skills (or time) required to make their dreams happen.
7. Make A Business Of Home Cooking
Work is as big a part of our lives as ever, and many people don't have the time to prepare their own meals. While some may be content to eat something out of a plastic microwave container or a fast food wrapper, there is a growing number of health-conscious consumers who think about what they eat.
If you enjoy cooking (and are good at it) you can capitalize on this market by preparing and delivering quality meals designed to suit customer's tastes and health needs. There's no need to settle for meals on order though. Catering for events like weddings and cocktail parties is a great way to showcase your culinary prowess and make extra money. Just note that you will have to get your kitchen certified and obtain a catering license in most states before you prepare food for delivery or events in exchange for payment.
8. Cake Decorating
Amazing cakes are a great American tradition and a must-have at birthday parties and even corporate events. If you have a knack for baking delicious cakes, all you are missing is a course in cake decorating and you could be on your way to earning extra money while indulging your passion. Although you might not be as lucky as the creator of the $20,000 wedding cake for Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries, a relatively simple centerpiece cake can fetch upwards of $100. Be ready to advertise in local media and online.
Babysitting usually conjures up images of teenagers watching TV and chewing gum while turning a blind eye to the children in their care. But stereotypes aside, babysitting can be a fulfilling and fun way to make money without leaving your house.
If you are already a stay-at-home parent, caring for 1 or 2 more kids is pretty realistic and might actually make your life easier by providing your children with playmates. With the annual cost of center-based child care averaging $16,549.00 in parts of the US according to a report by Child Care Aware® of America, many working parents are looking for more affordable child care solutions.
If caring for your child doesn't leave room for many other income-generating activities, taking on a few of the neighbors' kids could be a good stop-gap solution to bring in those extra bucks. Before you take the plunge and become a bona fide caretaker, make sure you actually like hanging out with kids, are responsible, and have in-home child care insurance.
10. Start A Yoga Class
If you've managed to stay in good shape by using exercise routines or yoga, you can capitalize on your experience to make money while staying fit. The popular job search engine Indeed.com lists the average yoga instructor salary at $21,000, so this isn't a business that will make you rich (unless you make it big with wealthy clients or become the new Deepak Chopra), but it is rewarding helping people literally unwind after a day in front of computer screens - and running a yoga class at home is very doable.
If you have the drive to work through the ACE program or another widely recognized personal trainer course, you could consider becoming a personal trainer and whipping people into shape. While reaching Indeed.com's stated $51,000 average salary for fitness trainers by working from home won't necessarily happen, this is a great job for anyone who loves keeping fit, coaching other people into shape and making money in the process.