Most of those “work from home” opportunities that you see on TV, in the newspaper, or online are scams or pay you so little for the time you’ve invested that it’s not worth your while.  In my quest to figure out a way to ditch the 9 to 5 job so that I could work from the comfort of my own home, I have come across many different opportunities.  Whether you want to work from home so that you have more time with your kids or because you’d rather wear your jammies instead of a suit, the following are some great ideas on how to earn your living by working from home.  I can’t promise you’ll get rich overnight or quickly earn enough to replace your salary, or that it will even be easy, but if you stick with it and keep trying you’ll eventually have achieved your goal.

Start your own website.

There are two kinds of websites – the ones that sell products and the ones that provide information.

If you can think of a good idea for a webstore and invest enough time and energy into marketing it, you might do well.  But keep in mind, you will have to constantly keep at it.  There will be orders to fill and plenty of accounting and inventory work to keep you busy,  provided you have a good product, there’s demand, and you’ve marketed yourself well.  The “If you build it they will come” slogan does not apply to websites.  If no one knows you’re out there, the chances of them accidentally stumbling upon it are virtually nil.  It can also be expensive if you don’t know how to create or operate your website, or how to market it.  You may very likely need to enlist the help of paid professionals.

If the idea of running an online store does not appeal to you, perhaps you’d like to create a website that offers information, rather than products.  It could be that you make brilliant cartoons and think that would get a following, or perhaps you’d like to start up a news blog or maybe even a site for dog owners.  There’s no limit as to what topics you have to choose from, but my advice is to choose something that you love.

My experience:

I started up a news website along with my husband in 2006.  We are both news junkies who love to write.  I always wanted to be a journalist,  but I knew where that career field was heading and I didn’t really want to be an intern or do time as the obituary writer.  So we took our passion for news and for writing and our love for our hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, and we started up a news site.

I can’t say that we’ve gotten rich off of it,  but it helps pay the bills.  It’s daily traffic rivals and surpasses that of established news media outlets in our market, and we’ve brought on board some award-winning journalists in recent years.  It’s also gotten us other opportunities over the years, such as press passes to concerts and sporting events, chances to test out new products or listen to unreleased CDs, and so on.

We’ve stuck with it for so long because it is something that we enjoy.  I can’t stress this enough – if you start a website about something that you are not passionate about, chances are you will burn out pretty quickly.  It takes a lot of work to build up a successful website, and you have to be willing to put in the time yourself until it is big enough that you need to bring in some extra help.

We’ve saved a lot of costs because I know how to build websites and have a background in graphic design and a bit of SEO know-how. If you don’t have these skills, or a friend who might be willing to lend some of their talent, it will end up costing you more.

Answer questions, do surveys, and conduct searches.

This tactic to making money online will most definitely not make you rich, but can help you earn enough to pay for the little things you’d be buying anyways, or give you some extra spending money to treat yourself every once in awhile.

There are plenty of opportunities to take surveys for money.  This has never appealed to me, so I can’t honestly direct you to a legit one.  They’re out there, but do your research first.  Otherwise you might just find yourself added to another spam distribution list.

If you’re good at searching for information online and have an interest in a wide variety of topics, becoming a ChaCha.com guide might be up your alley.  People ask questions, you find them the answers, and then you get paid.  The more time you spend working, the more you will make.

If you use the internet, you probably use a search engine regularly.  Well what if all those searches you conducted could earn you money?  With SwagBucks.com, you can earn money for your searches.  It pays you to do what you’d already be doing on Google, Yahoo, Bing or whatever your favorite search engine is. You again won’t get rich by doing this, but you can build up enough points to score gift cards to Amazon.com and other places.

My experience:

I did a few surveys for AOL way back in the day that they paid me for, but these kind of things haven’t interested me all that much because they don’t pay out all that well and I’m more interested in making a living online than earning some extra spending money.  But I know people who have done these and are pleased with it.

Find a work from home job.

They are out there, but they’re hard to find and pretty darn competitive.  These jobs can range from a medical transcriptionist to a search engine optimization specialist.  Or, perhaps, you could find a position as a social media consultant.

My experience:

I’ve seen these from time to time posted on Craigslist, but I’ve never actually gotten one yet.  My advice to finding them is to scour the job postings on not only your local city, but some big cities like New York as well.  Often times there will be work from home jobs posted on only the NYC Craigslist because that’s where the company is based out of, that’s their local Craigslist, and they don’t want to go to the bother of posting it on all of the cities.   You’d apply for these jobs the same way you’d do any other job, and your interview will likely be over the phone, unless you happen to be near where the company is based.

Write about what you know.

Do you have a degree in nutrition?  I know Livestrong.com is hiring writers for their site through Demand Media Studios.  DMS also hiring writers and editors for every other topic under the sun to be published on eHow.com and their numerous other web properties.  You can make about $15 or more per article, and a few dollars for each article that you edit.  You can work as much or as little as you want.  Once you “claim” an assignment, of which there are tens of thousands, you have 7 days to complete it.

Yahoo bought up Associated Content and have amassed their own army of writers to create articles on numerous topics.  They also utilize their writers to do local feature stories for Yahoo Local cities.  They work similarly to Demand Media Studios, in that you can “claim” assignments.  I signed up to see how it worked, and it seems as though most of the payment for them is “performance based”.  In other words, you get paid based on the number of hits your article gets.

Scour the blogger job postings on ProBlogger.net.  There are lots of people hiring everyday for people to write blogs for them on numerous topics.

My experience:

I signed up with Demand Media Studios and was accepted, but I haven’t done much since. The number of assignments available and is somewhat overwhelming, but I could easily earn the equivalent of a 9 to 5 salary by writing articles every day.  I’ve written for many, many blogs and websites over the years about everything from lawncare to nursing school and mobile phones.  There are topics, such as new technology, that I consider myself to be well-versed in and there are others that I am not that familiar with, so I do a lot of research to write well about them.

Turn your talent into cash.

Most people have at least one talent.  Figure out what yours is, and come up with a plan to capitalize on it. This is what finding a work from home job is all about.  If you love to knit, why not sell your goods on Etsy?  Are you an awesome coder?  There’s more work out there than you’ll know what to do with.  Are you an expert gardener?  Start a blog and share your tips, or maybe even make some expert how-to videos for eHow.com.

You don’t have to quit your job and start working from home overnight.  It will likely take you some time to progress to a full work from home job, so start out small and work your way up.  If what you do is something that you love you’ll be more successful.  You need to be dedicated and motivated, and not easily distracted by the freedoms that working from home offers.  Successfully earning a living by working at home CAN be done, but it will most certainly take a lot of hard work.

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