How to Start a Data Entry Business

by Nancy Wagner; Updated September 26, 2017
Woman typing on computer keyboard

Starting a data entry business requires a keen eye for detail and fast, accurate typing speeds. Minimal startup costs make it easy to set up the business in a quiet corner of your home. The key to success is understanding the different types of work available -- including crowdsourcing and soliciting larger data entry projects on your own or through outsourcing -- to find a way to turn this into a profitable enterprise.

Types of Available Work

Contract work from businesses that exclusively hire your company to handle their data entry projects pays the most. You can also seek outsourced projects from reputable data entry firms that hire independent contractors to help them get their projects done. The lowest paying data entry work comes from crowdsourcing, in which larger companies or firms that handle large data entry projects distribute tiny data entry tasks to a bunch of contractors. You must complete lots of these small data entry jobs to make a sustainable income from crowdsourcing.

Equipment and Software Requirements

If you solicit businesses on your own, you need database software, such as Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel or SAP, all of which run on a personal computer. If you specialize in certain types of data entry, such as accounting or bookkeeping projects, you likely need QuickBooks. You also need high-speed Internet service to send and receive project files to your clients. To work on crowdsourcing projects, you need an Internet browser and a fast Internet connection so you can remotely log into a company’s computerized system to complete projects.

Certifications and Licensing

While no certification or special education is required to handle a data entry project, certain types of business may be more wiling to hire you if you have certification or knowledge of the terminology used in that industry. For instance, if you plan to offer medical coding data entry for medical offices, you might want to obtain certification, such as a Medical Coding/Insurance Data Entry Specialist Technical Certificate, available from technical colleges. If you use Microsoft Access or Microsoft Excel extensively, you can get a foot up on competing data entry contractors by obtaining Microsoft Office specialist certification.

Finding Projects

Securing projects through crowdsourcing requires applying or registering with specific companies, such as Axion or Clickworker. These companies pay set rates –– usually just a penny or two. They pay for each tiny task you complete.

If you choose to pursue local data entry projects, place ads in business papers in your area and introduce yourself through a carefully crafted sales letter that explains your skills and special certifications. Determine the going rate in your area, by the hour or per project, by reviewing other data entry company’s websites. Then you’re prepared to competitively bid on any requests that come your way.

Another option is to bid on projects through reputable freelance websites that feature data entry projects. Review all of the bids submitted by other data entry companies to find ways to stand out from this crowd, whether from your pricing, data entry experience or your skill set.

About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.

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