There is no such thing as a successful get-rich-quick scheme. And, as busy mothers and wives, you may find that you need to delegate some of your household chores and forego some of your favorite pastimes (such as watching TV), which may bring you joy but do not move you closer to your goal of freedom and independence.

Many women are able to make it work, and if you are willing to make some sacrifices, the following 5 ideas may work for you.

1. An eBay Business

When the online revolution occurred over ten years ago, eBay was one of the pioneers of the home-based business field, and they are still going strong. It is true that some categories are more difficult to enter, but there are still plenty of categories in which you can make some extra money. If you know how to do it, eBay businesses often only require a few hours per week to post, respond to inquiries, and fulfill. This is especially true if you are not the one who is doing the shipping.

eBay is not a sure thing, and you must be cautious about the products you sell. Some categories make no sense to enter, such as:

  • Any small, inexpensive, non-unique item
  • Electronics, and other high-volume commodities

The reason neither of these categories make sense is that you are not going to be able to make much money off of them. There are vendors on eBay (mostly from China) that are able to sell items for 99 cents including free shipping for rings and other jewelry. They must make less than 10 cents off of every order when product cost, handling cost, eBay fees, and Paypal fees are calculated in. You can’t afford to be making only 10 cents per order, so don’t compete in that space.

Also, you might think that electronics such as iPads, iPhones, and LCD TV’s would make a great product to sell as well. The issue with this is that there are so many vendors selling these very popular products, that the margin on the item will be only a few dollars. Again, selling a $600 item to make $5 does not make a lot of sense when you think of all the costs you incur from eBay and Paypal fees alone, plus all the risks of fraud and returns added on top.

The products that sell well are both unique and more than $10. If you are buying them from a vendor, you need to get them at a significant discount to the retail price to have any chance. Or if you have to pay close to retail, it has to be a unique item that is not really available in a lot of other places in the world. In the end, it might require a lot of trial and error to find the right product for you to sell, and you might lose money in the beginning until you understand the business better.

 2. Etsy

Etsy is a great marketplace for home-made craft sellers. If you can create interesting and unique items, both practical and artistic, Etsy is a great place for you.

The advantage to creating your own items is of course you are adding significant value to the base cost of them. The yarn might only cost you $2, but the baby clothes you knit with it might sell for $19. The paper and paint costs $4, but the painting $50. You are not just taking someone else’s product and re-selling it, you are making something original that no other vendor in the world has.

Realize with any online business, the customers do not just magically come to you. You have to do some work in order to get them to know you exist. But this is all part of business, online and offline. It may make sense here to test the market, and see if buyers are really interested in the products you are selling before investing too much time and money on this.

3. Writing

The internet is just a series of web pages, and web pages are words to be read. Someone has to create these words, and often this person gets paid. That person could be you!

There are thousands or tens of thousands of web sites that need content, and these owners post their job listings online at sites like oDesk and eLance. Be forewarned that the amount of money they are willing to pay might not match your expectations, but there are lots of people looking for quality writers out there. Take a look at a sample of the job postings on oDesk right now to see:

Notice one of the jobs (I’ve circled) is offering $2 for a 500 word article. Assuming it takes you 30 minutes to do, that’s $4 an hour.

And over time, you get better and faster, and the money is easier to make. Or you discover web sites that want reliable writers that they know, and are willing to pay more for that.

Like almost anywhere, you start at the bottom. You might spend an hour creating your first article to make $5. But it’s a great start to a career as a writer. And when you have kids to care for, you can write almost any time of the day or night, and often just need a few minutes to make progress working on it a little at a time.

Like almost any career, there are so many different variations on writing. You can be working from home online, writing short 500-1000 word posts, or you could be writing for a big blog or magazine, and who knows… write your own e-books and sell them online?

4. Sell Others Stuff

Every week on the A&E TV show Storage Wars, we see what happens when people don’t pay their storage units. But the storage locker business is a multi-billion dollar business in America, and millions of people are storing stuff they don’t need. What if you could convince your friends, neighbors, and other people in your town to let you sell their stuff online for a decent cut of the revenue? You could have an almost unlimited supply of products for free, and make a decent 30-35% of the net proceeds for the work of getting it, posting it online, and dealing with the transaction of the sale.

This has not been properly done in my mind. About a decade ago, there were consignment-type businesses that let people sell their used VCRs, DVD players and others on sites such as eBay for a hefty fee, but those have basically disappeared. But if you are doing this for friends, spending your time selling their furniture and other high-value items they no longer need, everyone wins. They get money that otherwise is sitting in their basement wasted, and you are working hard for your community helping people.

5. Bookkeeping

Most of the ideas so far have been around selling items online. But services are a great way to make extra income too. If you have any computer skills, you could set up a small local bookkeeping service and help your friends and neighbors with their accounting. Now to be a bookkeeper you do not have to know everything about accounting or be certified, but you do have to be organized.

A bookkeeper takes the invoices and receipts from a business, and enters them into a computer spreadsheet. The client might have their own software such as QuickBooks that they use, or they might be OK with just an Excel spreadsheet. But once a week, you go to the client office and pick up the papers, and drop off the ones from last week. If you can get 4 or 5 local businesses as clients, you can make a pretty decent income every week. And since bookkeeping is almost never critical, you can do it whenever you have free time and not at a specific time of the day or week.

Susan Ranford

My name is Susan Ranford. I am an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. I often write about issues related to employment and business.