The COVID-19 pandemic has created a rapid shift in where and how many Australians work. According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the number of people working from home during the pandemic increased significantly (from 12% in March 2020 to 31% in September 2020).
Six years ago, Aussie mum Karen Lee began her at-home business while on maternity leave with her son. She started by selling handmade gifts, which soon turned into handmade party styling. While Karen loved making party buntings, cake toppers and other party accessories, she told Canstar the process was extremely labour-intensive and unprofitable, so she changed her focus to the world of planner stickers.
“I was using planners to help me stay organised – to keep track of my business, as well as my personal life – and then I saw how people would buy stickers each week to put in their planners to make them pretty,” she said.
“I sold my stickers under my party shop brand until a year ago, when I decided it was time to rebrand to Pretty Planner Studio.”
Karen now designs planner stickers that feature her own hand-drawn ‘kawaii’ art, as well as the illustrations of other local artists who she likes to support. ‘Kawaii’ art includes oversized eyes, rounded shapes, and simple features, and relates to an aesthetic of the ‘cuteness’ trend originating in Japan.
“I have my own art on accessories too like notebooks, albums, tote bags and acrylic pins, and I also have a kids’ stationery subscription box with a new theme each month,” she told Canstar.
Karen sells her planner stickers and other accessories through her own Pretty Planner Studio website and also through e-commerce website Etsy, which she said enables future customers to discover her business easily.
When it comes to earnings from her creative side hustle, Karen said it varies according to how much time she can invest in her business, as she also works full time.
“During a strong month, I can make $3,500 in sales and that’s working on my shop part-time,” she said.
“Sometimes my available hours for my business are limited to making and processing orders, with little time left for strategic planning, marketing and designing new products. But when I have more time to spend on my business, my sales grow accordingly.”
Karen said she plans on creating digital products soon and hopes she can one day make her side hustle her full-time job.
→ Related article: 20 quirky side hustle ideas to help you make money
“It’s my passion and my creative outlet, and it brings me so much joy,” she told Canstar.
For those looking to start their own business from home, Karen said planning is the key.
“Jot down all your ideas, create a vision board and work out the steps you need to develop your business.
“Do your research… [You might] join Facebook business groups so you can learn and ask questions. And when you’ve set up your digital shop, turn the volume up so you can hear the sweet ‘ka-ching’ sound when you get the first of many sales.”
10 ways to make money from home
If you are similarly looking to make some extra cash, here are 10 ways you could do so without leaving your home.
Let’s start with some ideas that involve using the assets or items you already own.
1. Sell unwanted items online
Do you have any unused clothing, jewellery or sports equipment gathering dust in your drawer or cupboard? Or a piece of furniture or kitchen appliance you no longer use? There are now a number of sites, platforms and apps available to sell these unwanted items online, such as eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. When it comes to pricing your items, make sure to check the price of similar products on the platform you choose and to take into account the original value of the item and its current condition. You may be surprised with how much people are willing to pay for your forgotten belongings.
→ Related article: The top 10 in-demand items on Gumtree
2. Freelance your skills
Another way you may be able to earn money from the comfort of your own home is by offering the use of your skills to complete different tasks or projects online. For example, if you are a writer, graphic designer or developer, you could market these skills and find clients or companies online who are willing to pay you for them.
There are a host of platforms (often referred to as digital or crowdsourcing marketplaces) now available to help you market your services to individuals and businesses online, such as Airtasker, Freelancer and Fiverr.
When signing up for these platforms you will often have to first create a profile listing your skills and experience, and then you can usually go about browsing and bidding for particular jobs. If you are successful with your bid, you will then complete the work and be paid the agreed amount. These platforms may take a service or project fee from the amount you earn, so it’s important to be aware of these fees or charges before signing up. If you choose to use Freelancer, the company recommends to be competitive with your bids on certain tasks, particularly in the early stages when you have yet to establish a reputation, but not to undersell yourself if you believe your work is truly above average.
→ Related article: The top jobs on Airtasker and Fiverr and what they’re paying
3. Make and sell handmade items
If you have a flair for arts and crafts, there could be money to be made in making and selling handmade goods online, such as jewellery and fashion accessories, clothing and homewares. There are a number of online platforms where you may be able to sell these items, such as Etsy, Shopify and Amazon.
Before you go about turning your crafts into extra income, it may be a good idea to calculate roughly whether you can generate enough revenue from the sale of your items to cover the costs that go into making the inventory needed (e.g. materials, labels, packaging) and any other incidental expenses (e.g. fees for listing products on a platform).
4. Complete online surveys
If you have some spare time on your hands, an option is to complete online surveys for extra change. Some market research companies offer cash and others offer vouchers, with the total amount varying depending on the platform. You may also be able to earn additional money by referring friends to also complete the surveys. Some platforms include Octopus Group, Swagbucks, Triaba and Prize Rebel. Do your research on the platform before signing up to check its reward system works for you.
5. Start a blog
Blogging has become a more common method to make money online, but setting up and monetising your own blog can take a lot of work and the competition from other bloggers can be fierce. You can start a blog using a variety of platforms, such as WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Tumblr, Wix and SquareSpace. From there you will need to start posting and build traffic to your blog and consider spreading awareness using other platforms such as social media. The more traffic your blog has, the easier it will likely be for you to then make partnerships to monetise your blog.
Some ways you may be able to make money through your blog include selling advertising space, doing sponsored posts (e.g. writing paid promotional content), providing product reviews, or selling your content to other news or digital media sites. How much money you could make through your blog will depend on several factors, such as the quality of your content, how competitive your topic is, the engagement and retention of your audience, and how you can then generate traffic off that audience engagement.
6. Tutor online
If you have a teaching or tutoring background, or expertise in certain areas, you could look into becoming an online tutor. You can find online tutoring jobs on websites such as Cluey, Tutors Field, Tutify and The Tutoring Company or you can search for online tutoring gigs on crowdsourcing platforms such as Freelancer, Fiverr or Airtasker. You may also be able to teach a language, such as English, online, particularly if you are bilingual with some teaching or tutoring experience, though this may not always be a requirement.
If you are looking to dip your toe into the share market, it’s important to first understand the basics of investing in shares and what risks are involved. To buy shares in a company, you typically need to go through an intermediary known as a broker, such as an online share trading platform. You can also choose to invest in the share market indirectly through a fund, such as a managed fund or an exchange traded fund (ETF).
There are a growing number of investment apps appearing on the market that can help new and experienced investors trade in the stock market from the comfort of their home. Some of these include Raiz, StockLight, Sharesight and SelfWealth. Make sure you understand the fees involved in investing with these apps and read the terms and conditions.
Before starting your investment journey it’s important to consider whether investing in shares is suitable for you, based on your situation. While share investing can be a way to potentially grow money over the long term, it is generally a riskier approach to take than putting your money in a savings account, and there is the potential that you will lose money. Keep in mind, too, that past performance should not be relied on as an indicator of future performance.
If you’re comparing online share trading companies, the comparison table below displays some of the companies available on Canstar’s database with links to providers’ websites. The information displayed is based on an average of six trades per month. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by provider name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s Online Share Trading comparison selector to view a wider range of online share trading companies.
8. Become a translator
If you are fluent in two or more languages, you may be able to make money by doing online translation work. Some tasks may include translating telephone, video or website conversations or content, certifying and proofreading documents, providing subtitling or voice-over work, and creating multilingual designs or copy. Crowdsourcing platforms like Upwork and Freelancer have translator work you can bid for, or you can apply to offer your services through specific translation websites, such as Aussie Translations or ONCALL Interpreters and Translators.
9. Create online courses
If you are an expert or have years of experience on a certain subject or subjects, you may be able to monetise your knowledge by creating online courses for the public. For example, if you are a journalist, you may look to create a course on how to write a news lead or how to interview talent. You can create and sell your online course through your own website (if you have one) or through an existing eLearning platform, such as Udemy, Khan Academy, Udacity and Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda.com).
10. Become a virtual assistant
Another way to make money from home is to complete tasks as a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant can work remotely and on a contract basis to help businesses with tasks such as managing and responding to phone and email enquiries, moderating forums, creating presentations or other online content, completing research, invoicing customers and completing data entry or bookkeeping tasks. Qualifications or experience in administration, project management, social media or communications may be an asset when it comes to securing a virtual assistant role.
You can find virtual assistant jobs through online crowdsourcing platforms such as Airtasker, Freelancer, Upwork and Fiverr. According to job listing website Indeed, the average base salary for a virtual assistant in Australia is approximately $25.88 per hour.
Considerations when earning money from home
While working from home may bring greater flexibility to your working hours, and enable you to earn money to complete tasks or projects you enjoy, there are some financial considerations to think about before you make the leap.
When you complete your tax return, you will need to declare the income earned from any paid employment, as well as any income you have earned through the work you do at home, according to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Your tax will then be worked out based on your total income. At the time of writing, the tax-free threshold means that the first $18,200 that you earn is tax free. You will only pay tax if you earn above this amount.
If you are a paid employee, your employer will automatically deduct tax from your pay packet. However, if you start your own business from home or complete jobs through the gig economy at home you will need to proactively manage your cash flow to set money aside for future tax bills.
The ATO says that you can potentially claim deductions for expenses you incur from working from home. For example, if you are a freelance writer working from your home office, you may be able to claim deductions on a proportion of your home-office expenses (e.g. internet fees, computer or software expenses and office furniture). However, it is important to keep records of all your expenses, so you can use it as evidence when claiming a deduction.
If your home is your primary place of business, such as through renting out a room on Airbnb, there may also be capital gains tax (CGT) implications.
As there are a number of tax implications to consider when working from home, it may be a good idea to speak to a registered tax accountant to discuss exactly what tax you may need to pay and what deductions you may be able to claim.
→ Related: How a second income can affect your taxes
When you work for yourself or start your own business, you are generally classed as a self-employed freelancer or contractor, and may not be entitled to super guarantee contributions. If you are not eligible to be paid super, you can still opt to make voluntary superannuation contributions to your existing super account instead.
→ Related: Superannuation for the self-employed
If the work you do from home involves using a third party platform to advertise your services or bid for jobs, it’s also important to understand the terms and conditions, and fees and protections – including any insurance and privacy policies – that may apply for the platform. Digital platforms are not regulated in the same way as other forms of employment. Platform terms and conditions can often be amended, for example, at any time without notice, according to a major study, Digital Platform Work in Australia, which suggests “digital labour platforms appear to be highly problematic in relation to rights and protections for individual Australian workers”.
To protect you financially from certain risks, you may like to consider some types of insurance that may be suitable including home insurance, public liability insurance and income protection. It could be worth checking what insurance, if any, is available through the platforms you use. Be sure to read the product disclosure statement and exclusions of any policy before you choose to take it out to ensure it provides the cover you require.
While there are a multitude of opportunities available to make money from home, it’s important to be aware that it can take time and a lot of hard work to earn a decent income from some ventures. It may also cost you a bit of money along the way to get yourself set up in your new side hustle, so take the time to research your money-making options carefully and evaluate whether they will suit your lifestyle and budget, as well as to consider if it might help to do a business plan.
Updated with additional reporting by Shay Waraker. Original article published on 16 March 2021.
Cover image source: Ekkamai Chaikanta/Shutterstock.com