“I can’t go back to work,” my best friend lamented to me half way into her maternity leave. “I’m tired of working for somebody else; and I don’t want to leave him” – indicating her six week old son – “for eight and a half hours a day.” She looked at me pleadingly, the raw emotion clearly visible in her eyes. “How did you do it?”
By ‘it,’ my friend meant leaving my full-time job and embarking on a new professional path as my own boss. No more 8am conference calls with an unsympathetic manager; no more weekend calls to work overtime; no more office politics.
The fact is, just about anyone can use their skill set to make money outside of the traditional workplace. Whether you’re a journalist, like me, who wants to branch out on her own, or an independently-minded businessman looking to take advantage of the dozens of franchise opportunities available right now, if you look hard enough, you’ll uncover many creative new ways to expand your income.
Many people find passion by working from home.
Become A Mortgage Broker
With mortgage rates at all-time lows, there’s never been a better time to become a mortgage broker. You’ve got two options when it comes to pursuing this career path. The first is the more conventional of the two – signing on to work as a broker with an established office or company. The second gives you more freedom and control – and more responsibility as well: taking advantage of mortgage broker franchise opportunities.
To get an idea of the mortgage broker franchise model, think about the world’s biggest franchise: McDonald’s. While most people associate this chain with Ray Kroc, the first McDonald’s was actually opened in 1940 by two brothers, named – what else? – Richard and Maurice McDonald. It wasn’t until Kroc signed on as a franchise agent in 1955 that the chain took off. Under the McDonald’s model, qualified franchisees pay an upfront fee to open a location under the parent company’s name. They follow the parent company’s rules, usually offering the same products or services with minimal variation. While the franchisee ultimately reports to the parent company, they enjoy the benefits of owning and operating their own office or storefront.
Multiple parent companies offer would-be mortgage brokers a chance to get in the game. To start with, you’ll need to get your license in mortgage broking; requirements vary by state. The parent company will also look at your assets to gauge your net worth; they’re looking for individuals who have enough liquid cash available to successfully start and maintain the franchise. Franchising fees can range from just a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to that fee, you’ll also be required to pay your parent company royalty fees on every transaction. In exchange for those expenses, you’ll be able to take advantage of the company’s advertising and training programs. Some companies will ask you to attend an on-site training session, where you’ll learn to become a mortgage broker, while other organizations train you online.
How do you get paid? Every time you broker a loan for a customer, the company that provides the financing pays you. New federal laws that took effect in April 2011 made it illegal for mortgage brokers to double dip – receiving payments from both the lender and the borrower – in an effort to prevent brokers from steering customers toward bad loans.
Other Franchise Opportunities
Once you understand the concept of franchising in a business like mortgage broking, it’s easy to see how the model applies to virtually any industry you can imagine. The janitorial services sector brings in about $20 billion annually in the U.S.; perhaps that’s why there are literally dozens of home and business cleaning franchise opportunities. What about fitness or exercise franchises? You’ve probably heard of Curves, one of the biggest fitness chains for women – and guess what? It’s a franchise. Restaurants, retail, healthcare, entertainment: they all have franchise opportunities for individuals or groups who have the start-up capital and desire to succeed.
If taking advantage of the thousands of franchise opportunities – like becoming a mortgage broker or a restaurant owner – isn’t right for you, you’re by no means out of luck. My path to becoming a freelance writer started when I began looking for a way to supplement my current income as a TV news producer. Journalists are notoriously underpaid; five years into my career, I was making less than $35,000, and that was with a master’s degree. I started writing for an online content mill, receiving $10 an article. It wasn’t glamorous, but it gave me the chance to earn as much as I wanted whenever I wanted.
As my knowledge of the freelance writing industry expanded, so did my opportunities and income (similar experience observed by other contributors to our inspiring stories section – you can read it here and here). I quit the world of content mills – which don’t give you any rights to your work once you submit it – and began writing for smaller publications. Within just weeks of accepting my first staff writing position with a mid-sized financial blog, the site’s owner referred me to one of her friends… who referred me to one of his friends… and so on, and so on.
It doesn’t matter whether your passion is personal finance, like mine, or something less technical, like parenting advice. You don’t even have to be a professional writer. If you have a good grasp of the English language and can weave a bit of personality into your articles, there’s a place for you on the web as a freelance writer.
But what about my friend – the one who was insistent she couldn’t return to her job as a biology teacher after having kids? Turns out, there are income-supplementing opportunities out there for educators as well.
My friend’s first brainstorm involved the community college network. While most four-year colleges and universities are looking for an individual with a doctorate, the majority of community colleges only require a master’s degree. With her master’s in biology in hand, my friend applied to three different community colleges in our area.
What if you don’t have an advanced degree? Try an online high school. North Carolina operates a virtual public high school. This online school is “attended” by students who can’t make it to class due to illness, location, or discipline problems; some school districts also use it to supplement their in-house teachers with specialized curriculum. The best part? You don’t have to have a master’s degree to teach at an online secondary school – just a bachelor’s degree and your teacher’s license for that state. Because it’s online, many of these teachers still work full-time jobs as well, using their virtual public school income to supplement.
The Final Word
Can you find success with these out-of-the-box money making ideas? My friend sure did. Within days of applying for those community college teaching jobs, she received two offers – one to teach two classes a week (at $36/hour) on campus, and the other to teach online courses (at $32/hour). She accepted the online opportunity and hasn’t worked in a physical school since.
And as for me… well, I’m writing this article, aren’t I?