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With the unemployment rate still above 8% and likely to remain elevated for years, many Americans would jump at the chance to find an occupation that pays them a decent salary and doesn’t depend on the (more often than not) indignity of applying for a thousand and one jobs and receiving a thousand and one formulaic email rejections in response (if there even is a response).
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While the economy remains in flux, many people have seized the opportunity to develop their own dream job, often by starting a small business. Initial investment may be a lot less than you think for a career that offers good pay with relatively low stress.
Here are seven strategies for those interested in ditching the cover letter and being your own boss:
1. Freelance Writing
The 2011 Freelance Industry Report shows that only a small percent of freelancers would quit their freelance careers to go back to work for a boss in exchange for a higher salary. This level of satisfaction combines with plenty of business out there for freelance writers.
According to a CNET.com report, since 2006 one new blog emerged every half second, and in 2010 alone, 21.4 million websites and 152 million blogs were created. Most of these sites need content to improve positioning in search engines.
If you have a way with words, but have no plans to be the next J.K. Rowling or James Joyce, freelance writing may be the way to utilize your existing skills and earn some dough. With minimal start-up costs and an increasing demand, freelance writing offers the opportunity to earn up to $100,000 a year while working out of a home office.
The key to success in this business is to specialize based on your area of expertise. To enter this competitive market, you may have to write a few free clips. It won’t be enough to contact monthly magazines which tend to offer the most lucrative opportunities to get your foot in the door, but that’s worth a shot too if you have a compelling angle on a popular subject – a subject where you have a demonstrated history as an expert.
Michael Germanovsky, a freelance writer and a credit card expert for Credit-Land.com, says: “You lose stress when you do what you love. It’s important to choose an industry and become an expert so that you are comfortable in meeting deadlines. Your success depends on being timely, relevant, and offering great presentation of your material. It may take years before you develop great relationships with editors, but if you love to write, it’s a dream job.”
• Startup cost: minimal (laptop, phone, internet)
• Average potential annual earnings: Up to $115,000, according to careerinfonet.org
• Typical fees: $10 - $300 per article or higher.
• Qualifications: reading and writing, communication and marketing, light computer skills
• Equipment needed: computer with word processing software and internet, phone
• Work from home potential: Yes
• Staff required: none
Germanovsky goes on to point that the job does come with expenses – “Aside from my laptop, my cellular phone is a recurring expense, which does cost me a lot, since I am always on my phone with editors, emailing article idea proposals, or tethering my WiFi from my phone to power wireless internet on my laptop.”
A good way to cut down on the cost of a cell phone used for business is to use Skype or any of the offerings in the voice over internet protocol class of technology. Skype, for example, offers voicemail, a landline number at which people can call your “office”, unlimited calling in North America, a call forwarding service to your cell phone for when you are in transit, and all for an annual fee that may be less than a one-month bill for a cell phone. And that land line number offered with Skype subscriptions means that a source for a story can call you back while you are on the beach with your laptop in Bali, and have no idea that they aren’t reaching you at a desk in New York.
2. Outdoor Sports Equipment Rentals
Opening up a sports equipment rental business can provide you with a good source of income, up to $50,000 a year, while you get to spend some quality time outdoors. Justin Hernandez a spokesperson for BoatsToGo.com says, “Outdoor equipment rental, a kayak rental for example, does not carry any more stress than any other customer service job, but the benefit is that you are outdoors. If you have set up the business like a clock, you should have no worries, and it’s as simple as getting to know where you can rent, get equipment, and start renting.”
According to an American Community Survey from the Census Bureau conducted in 2009, just about 57 million people, representing 27.3% of the population from the age of 16 and up, got on a bike during the summer of 2002. Biking is one of America’s favorite sports and forms of family recreation. In fact, bicycle rental shops and stands in outdoor spaces are popping up in many U.S. cities, renting bikes for $12-$15 an hour. If you love being outdoors, and engaging with people, this may well be a good match for you.
• Start-up cost: $2,000 - $5,000 (depending on inventory)
• Average potential annual earnings: $20,000 - $50,000
• Typical fees:$12 - $15 per day
• Advertising: flyers/brochures (give some to the local Chamber of Commerce or travel agencies), internet
• Qualifications: none
• Equipment needed: fleet of bicycles and bike-repair kits
• Staff required: No
Ordering equipment for your rental business will require spending a sizeable amount upfront, and as a result, it’s a good time to consider whether a small business credit card with an attractive cash back promotion makes sense as a way to get something back for the investment and also begin to build business credit.
3. Online Auction Sales
According to study conducted by AC Nielsen in 2006, 1.3 million people were making a full-time or part-time living doing sales on eBay. Although you may get a bit stressed out at the very end of the auction, this is one of the simplest and stress free jobs you can find. All you need is to obtain a source for low cost items and sell them at a higher price, the proverbial buy low and sell high.
You can rely on drop shipping companies, like Doba.com, who will provide you access to their inventory and will even ship the item for you. Since they often do not offer the most competitive prices, you can scout local stores or wholesale clubs, like Costco, for discounted items sold in bulk. The goal is to find a product whose costs, auction fees, and payment clearing fees do not eat up your profits. Shipping cost can have an effect too. Free shipping can be used to attract customers, but shipping fees can be paid by the customers independently, as well.
• Start-up cost: Varies, but up to $5,000 depending on the complexity of a website.
• Average potential annual earnings: variable, depending on item pricing
• Advertising: internet, social network
• Equipment needed: basic photo editing and HTML writing software
• Potential home business: Yes
• Staff required: depending on volume of sales
At times it can be difficult to find items at a discount to resell. It makes a huge difference how you pay for the items you buy. This is especially important if your profit stems from the price you pay for your inventory.
For 7 more jobs where you can be your own boss, continue reading at MainStreet.