Although the U.S. economy has supposedly been in recovery for years, you wouldn’t know by the millions of people who are seeking employment. There’s a good chance that you’ve found yourself suddenly unemployed with nowhere to turn for cashflow. You may need to think outside the box to keep money coming in.

If you have a financial cushion to draw from while you get your entrepreneurial venture up and running, great! But if you’re like most people, you’ll need some of the suggestions listed below to help you start making money tomorrow.

1. Get Hustling On Craigslist and Etsy

Ebay Selling

This one isn’t easy, and only those who really work at it do well, but it becoming a successful seller on Craigslist or Ebay is possible. Do people love getting your crochet or knit projects as gifts? Do you have an amazing comic book collection? Perhaps you have an eye for priceless antiques disguised as flea market junk. If you have reliable access to tangible items that people are willing to buy, you have the foundation for a work-from-home business that has the potential to generate full-time income. The advantage of using platforms like eBay, Etsy or Craigslist is that you have little or no upfront costs. By sticking to selling items that you’re knowledgeable about, you spare yourself from having to deal with a learning curve that requires valuable time that you may not have.

2. Freelance Writers Make Bank

Job Scams

While you may need considerable lead time to generate some of the best-paying gigs (think business-to-business or top-tier magazine assignments), you do NOT have to resign yourself to writing for pennies-per-word content mills to start making money right away as a freelance writer. Instead, seek out your local or regional newspaper, chamber of commerce or reputable online content providers for potential clients.

Other sources for leads include blogs like ProBlogger and Freelance Switch, and a subscription to is definitely a worthwhile investment. You’ll need at least a few published writing samples (online samples are fine) and you must be willing to promote pitches to editors and other potential clients.

While earning a full time income by writing is totally possible, be on the look out for these work at home job scams.

3. Personal / Virtual Assistant

Personal Assistant
Photo: Marissa Brassfield

Establishing yourself as a professional virtual assistant requires a fair amount of lead time, but you can get started right away by offering your services for scheduling appointments and booking travel arrangements to your overworked friends or professional colleagues. Don’t have those kind of friends? The same freelance websites (think Elance and oDesk) that can link you up with writing opportunities are teeming with virtual assistant jobs. You’ll likely only need an internet connection and a reliable phone line.

4. Computer/Tech Troubleshooting

Computer Repair
Photo: PCTechNotes

If everyone always calls on you to rid their computers of viruses or coax sound out of silent stereo speakers, you may be able to sell your services for good money. While you may not want to charge Grandma for setting up her mobile phone, there’s nothing wrong with letting casual acquaintances know that you’re setting up shop as a paid troubleshooter. Advertising your services via online ads or via social media can also help kick-start your client base.

5. Snow Plowing/Yardwork/Maintenance

Snow Plowing

In most areas of the country, the winter of 2013-2014 was one for the books. Along with bitter-cold temps and biting winds there was snow, snow and more snow. Anyone offering the services of their snow plows or chain saws to clean up debris undoubtedly raked in major cash. The Farmers Almanac predicts that the summer of 2014 will be similarly adventuresome, with sticky-hot conditions and precipitous precipitation. With a truck, toolbox, yard tools, and word-of-mouth, you should be swimming in work.

If You’re Collecting Unemployment Insurance

If you’re collecting unemployment insurance, you will also need to check out the regulations in your state on part-time work and self-employment before proceeding to avoid jeopardizing your benefits. Depending on where you live, you may be able to collect benefits while establishing yourself as a self-employed worker through the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP). If you qualify, you will be excused from the requirement to look for paid wage jobs while retaining your unemployment benefits.

While several of the above suggestions will allow you to begin earning money fairly quickly, none represent get-rich quick schemes. You must be prepared to promote your services and of course, to perform the work for which you are being paid. Even with these caveats, you may discover that you are perfectly suited for self employment. After all, it is often cheaper to work from home and ditch the traditional job altogether.

Books for the Work At Home Crowd

When you’re going it on your own, it helps to have a little advice from others. So why not pick up some words of wisdom from those who have been there, done that and lived to tell the tale? We’re talking about books of course!

Here are 10 staple books for the work at home newbie or full timer. They’re are packed with mind-blowing inspiration and might just give you some business super powers.

1. The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss

4 Hour Work Week
Although Ferriss’ revolutionary book has been around since 2007, it’s a very relevant text that still applies as the trend of the portable career continues to grow and people are attempting to better their work-life balance. You’ve no doubt seen it in every well-stocked bookstore–pick up a copy!

2. Linchpin: Are you indispensable? by Seth Godin

Books for the Work at home
Well-renowned author and speaker Godin gets right to the point with this passionate book that sends a clear and powerful message: you can make your service/product matter if you choose to—and you should.

3. The Art of the Start, by Guy Kawasaki

Books for the Work at homeA helpful read for any budding entrepreneur, Kawasaki offers his years of experience as an innovative strategist who emphasizes a take-action mentality.


4. The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries

Books for the Work at homeRies explains his break-through concept in this excellent guide to creating a go-with-the-flow startup—and often on a shoestring budget.

5. For Better or for Work, by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg

Books for the Work at homeJust as the title describes, this book takes a good hard look at the emotional and mental journey of the industrious entrepreneur and how it affects his or her family life.

6. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Persig

Books for the Work at homeMany big-name entrepreneurs have praised this novel for its in-depth examination of quality and genuine pursuit of creativity and truth in oneself—a vital skill for anyone serious about growing their business.

7. In the Plex, by Steven Levy

Books for the Work at homeTake an exclusive peek into the mysterious and uber successful world of Google and see what values and lessons you can incorporate to achieve solopreneur success.

8. Losing my Virginity, by Richard Branson

Books for the Work at homeA fun but extremely insightful read from an endlessly innovative and wildly successful entrepreneur.

9. The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott

Books for the Work at homeThis is more of a workshop than a book of principles and theories, so take notes and get hands-on to take your marketing efforts to a whole new plane.

10. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen

Books for the Work at home
It’s all in the title—if you’re seeking to create a more peaceful workday routine, you’ll benefit from the time management methods explained in this book by one of the top experts in personal and organizational productivity. Anyone trying to improve their productivity, do better work, and manage their time without stress should have this book.

Think you don’t have time to read a whole book? Get the audiobook and be one of those people who listen to inspirational messages while driving to the store, or out jogging. It can never hurt to have a listen to what the experts have to say—you might be in for a career-changing surprise.


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Job Scams

Stay at home. Make $60,000 a year. Be your own boss. No training required.

If you’ve ever been tempted by an offer like the above, you’re not alone. Who doesn’t want to work from home and make big money? Alas, you know the old saying. If it sounds too good to be true…

While there are definitely legitimate side hustle opportunities out there, you can easily fall into a trap if you don’t know what to look out for.

Here are the top ten work at home scams that we uncovered.

1. Be a freelance writer

Job Scams

How it works: A posting on Craigslist asks for aspiring writers to put their talents to use writing for various companies, usually writing blogs or submitting free reviews.

The scam: Most of the time the site you’re directed to will that you “register” as a freelance writer. Big red flag. This is nothing more than a phishing scam, one that hopes to collect your personal information, sometimes even a social security number (so they can pay you, of course). Your new potential employer might also be hoping to see some free “samples” of your work, you know, so they can steal it from you and claim it as their own.

2. Make money posting links on the Internet.

How it works: The advertisement says you can make money by posting links on Google, Yahoo, etc.

The scam: In order to qualify for this wonderful opportunity, potential employees must pay for a kit that details step-by-step instructions on how to sign up for their wonderful program. Yeah, right. You’ll never seen any kind of kit and the people running the scam will have your money.

3. Medical coding/claims processor/transcriptionist

Job Scams

How it works: The ad claims you can work from home billing insurance carriers, processing claims or transcribing claims.

The scam: Most people replying to these ads don’t know a thing about medical billing, and if they do, they won’t get a reply. Why? Because they’re looking for people with no actual medical billing experience. Again, why?  So they can entice them into signing up for one of their “classes” or to purchase their “code book” or whatever else they can think of to bill you out of your hard-earned dollars. Sometimes, they’ll claim you need their software which they’ll gladly sell you for a price. Bottom line, if you’re asked to pay for something before being offered a job, run!

4. Be a customer service agent

How it works: Take calls from the comfort of your own home. Be paid on a per-call basis.

The scam: Yet another phishing scam. The bad guys are hoping for your social security number. Failing that, they want your personal information for credit fraud or stealing your identity.

5. Be a mystery shopper

Job Scams

How it works: You’re told you’ll get paid to shop. All you have to do is visit a store and evaluate their services. What could be more fun?

The scam: One of the first places you’re asked to evaluate will be – surprise, surprise – Western Union. You can guess where this is going. That’s right. You’ll be told to send your own money as part of the evaluation, but everyone knows you’ll never get that money back. At least… we hope you know.

6. Sell products and services from home

How it works: Your new employer will furnish you with a list of leads, you make the calls. You’ll make big money if you close the sale.

The scam: You get the privilege of paying for their list of leads. Enough said.

7. Do data entry (no education required)

job Scams

How it works: Are you self-motivated? Driven? Able to work from home? If so you can earn $19 an hour.

The scam: Guess what? You’ll need to pay for a “kit” to get started.

8. Become an Independent Distributor

How it works: Become part of a winning team selling the latest weight loss/herbal wonder/magic tonic.

The scam: Most of these are nothing more than your basic pyramid scheme. They might call it something different, like structured payments, but don’t be fooled. It’s all about the money you’ll make for the guy on top.

9. Sell insurance from home


How it works: You can make $100,000. No license required. No training.

The scam: This is a combination scam. They’ll give you the leads, but not for free. And then they’ll tell you if you want to make the big bucks, you’ll actually need that license. Never fear – they can provide you with the necessary training for an extra $X. Please remember that a legitimate insurance company should require a license. In fact, most states require one.

10. Get paid to generate internet traffic

How it works: All you’ll have to do is click on some links. The more links you click, the more money you earn.

The scam: Sometimes that click will lead you to a form geared toward stealing your identity. Sometimes you’ll really be asked to click on ads. Don’t. Your new employer is banking on your clicks – literally. Web sites get paid based on the number of times a consumer clicks on an ad. The more times they get someone, anyone, to do that clicking, the more money they make. What do you get? Nada.

One would think some job scams would disappear – like the envelope stuffing scam. Nope. A quick Google scan revealed it’s still out there.

Some jobs are legitimate. Believe it or not, there really is such a thing as a secret shopper, and a well-paid freelance writer. You just need to be careful.

Here are some simple steps to avoid job scams:

  1. Make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate company. If all you see is a generic e-mail, or worse, one of those “reply here” buttons, chances are it’s not real.
  2. If at all possible, deal locally. Ask for a face-to-face meeting with someone who actually works for the company.
  3. Google the job listing – see if it shows up in another state or city, and look for them on LinkedIn.
  4. If the job requires that you sign up for something, or buy something, run.
  5. Send an email to a potential employer ask if the job is real. If you never hear back, you’ll have your answer. If you do, you should still be careful as it could be an automatically generated email.
  6. If the job offers a ridiculous salary for little to no work.
  7. If the job touts that telecommuting is okay or that you can work from home. While there are many jobs that allow this, it’s rarely something a legitimate employer will lead with.
  8. The potential employer uses pour gramer.
  9. The ad uses a lot of *asterisks* or !!exclamation!! points or weird ##@!@symbols##@$$.
  10. The job states that no experience is necessary.

Remember, there’s no such thing as easy money. The goal when finding a job is to make money, not get deeper into debt during your search. Here’s a great website that will help potential job seekers sniff out potential phishers: Phishbucket. Another great resource is this

Photos: Flickr, Monster, SEO Mastering, Wikipedia, Your Money Drawer