Ever since the publication of my book, "Will Work From Home: Earn the Cash Without the Commute," which became a New York Times bestseller, I've researched and tested hundreds of opportunities to make money from home.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, most turn out to be scams. That's why I'm always thrilled when I find legitimate opportunities that work. (For a comprehensive list of some of the ways to make money at home -- from a few bucks here and there to a fulltime income, visit my Web site WomenForHire.com.)
The sites that follow offer qualified users the chance to get paid to create content, tweet ads, and test Web sites. Don't count on them to pay your mortgage -- at least not at first -- but if you're what they're looking for, the money may cover your phone bill or a night out. Perhaps best of all: None of these sites will ask for a penny from you up front.
Create quality content. If you're an experienced writer, photographer or videographer, Seed.com, which is owned by AOL, may be a high-profile home for your work. AOL operates 80 Web sites on every imaginable topic: movies, pets, golf, style, parenting and more, producing an extraordinary amount of content that attracts more than 74 million visitors a month.
Here's how it works: Seed enables AOL site editors to post writing, photography -- and soon video -- assignments that are open to anyone, which allows them to draw from a vast pipeline of talent throughout the country. Recent assignments range from a photograph of a toddler in a high chair to an article on the latest lipsticks for spring. It's a very diverse mix.
Register on the site to access the complete listings. When you see an assignment that's right up your alley, submit your work. If it's approved, you'll get paid.
AOL says payment averages $25 to $75 per assignment -- some assignments pay even more -- and only the best content is accepted. In its first month, AOL editors posted 2,000 assignments and it's expected to grow steadily from there.
Other sites to explore that also pay widely varying rates for content: DemandStudios.com, Examiner.com, Helium.com and AssociatedContent.com.
For anyone who's active on Twitter, you can turn those tweets into cash. You probably won't make tens of thousands of dollars like reality star celebrities, but you might as well give it a shot.
SponsoredTweets.com, which facilitates deals between advertisers and Twitter users, says it has 2,500 advertisers, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to mom and pop businesses that want to promote something to the Twitter audience.
Here's how it works: As a Twitter user, you can sign up for a free account to be paid for messages that advertisers want delivered to your audience. Advertisers will select you based on three factors: the number of followers you have (at least 200), the topic(s) you generally tweet about, and, most importantly, how engaged you are with your audience.
For just a few hundred followers, you may make $1 or $2 per tweet, and receive a few offers a month. If you have 1,000 followers and you're actively engaging with them, you could hit $50 or $75 a month in total payments. The more followers and the greater engagement, the more cash you can expect.