Tory Johnson's Work-From-Home Tips

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Whether you're looking to contribute to your family's finances or earn some cash to cover special or unexpected expenses, many people want more ways to make money at home.

From freelance to full-time gigs, we have a range of fields and resources below to help guide you in discovering the options that exist. Only you can decide if an opportunity is right for you.

Don't limit yourself solely to responding to advertised openings. Sometimes the best way to land a home-based job is by calling someone you'd like to work for and offering your services.

Virtual Customer-service Agent

A growing work-from-home opportunity is to answer the inbound customer calls for companies like J. Crew, 1-800-flowers, Virgin Atlanta or Walgreens. These major players and many others like them outsource their customer-service calls to companies that hire U.S.-based virtual agents.

Set your own hours and pick an account that's ideally suited to your knowledge and interests. In addition to having a pleasant voice and strong customer-service skills, you must have high-speed Internet access, a computer, a landline, and a quiet place to work -- all of which you pay for on your own.

Expect to make an average of between $8 and $15 an hour depending on your experience, call volume and accounts. Be prepared to work a minimum of 20 hours per week, although some agents work 40 hours to 60 hours when their schedule permits.

Among the companies that hire inbound and outbound agents to explore:

Alpine Access hires virtual agents as employees. Other companies, including LiveOps, West and Arise, Working Solutions, Accolade Support, Customer Loyalty Concepts, Sci@Home, Reps for Rent, Overflow, ACD Direct.

Each company has different needs based on location, hours, clients, payment schedules, skills, knowledge, etc., so be sure to check with a few of them to determine the best match for you. Some pay hourly wages, while others require that you incorporate in order to work for them.

Create Your Own Product Line

Ever dream of seeing your slogans and artwork on T-shirts, mugs or hats? You can turn that dream into reality -- and into cash -- without investing even a penny in expensive start-up costs like equipment and stock.

Submit your original ideas and art online to Web sites like zazzle.com, cafepress.com and others, and you'll receive commission on all sales generated with your designs.

Do this for T-shirts, mugs, kids' accessories, housewares, posters, stickers and so much more. In addition to securing orders from strangers who visit those sites, you can also make money by doing some proactive promotion of your own. Encourage your friends and family to place orders, and get them to e-mail all of their friends, too, by forwarding links to your products.

Channel Your Inner Judge Judy

Instead of spending time watching the courtroom programs on TV, make money while determining verdicts as an online juror. Lawyers deciding whether or not to accept a case or looking for preliminary feedback on cases they're currently handling use various Web sites as a cost-effective tool for research and focus groups before heading into a real courtroom.

Sites including eJury.com, OnlineVerdict.com, and TrialPractice.com pay nominal fees to home-based e-jurors, ranging from $10 to $60, depending on the length of the e-trial. Research all of the sites and read the requirements before signing on to serve.

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