14 Reliable Ways to Make Money from Home

More and more people are looking for ways to work from home to avoid commuting to an office, having to pay for daycare or having to relocate to find a better employment climate. With the job market and economy still struggling to rebound, people are more inclined to hold less traditional positions. This has resulted in more people getting business savvy and making a decent living to boot. These are just a small sampling of the things you can do to make money from the comfort and convenience of your own home.

  1. Open an Online Boutique – If you’re the creative type, take those skills online. You can purchase a domain and start your own online boutique, or you can take advantage of artisan sites like Etsy to sell your handmade products.
  2. Hold a Virtual Garage Sale – Instead of waiting until garage sale season, try posting your items on an online classifieds site. You may receive more for your items than you would have had you placed them on your lawn with a “for sale” sign, and you’ll avoid the stressors of trying to organize everything for a two day event.
  3. Become a Babysitter – Daycare costs can be outrageous, especially in metropolitan and suburban areas. Be sure to check with your city’s regulations and that you adhere to all of the relevant tax laws, but you could work out a deal with a neighbor or a best friend looking for a cheaper, more trustworthy daycare option if you have proven childcare experience.
  4. Run a Doggy Daycare – It seems that more people are looking into daycare options for their pets. Consider starting a doggy daycare for friends or neighbors if you are home during the day and have pooch-safe living quarters. If you have small children, consider their safety before agreeing to take on an aggressive breed of dog.
  5. E-Tutor – If you have teaching experience, signing up as an online tutor may suit your at-home lifestyle and utilize your existing skill set. You will need to set up an online profile with a tutoring website, which will include details of your experience, the subjects you are able to tutor, your time availability and your expected rates.
  6. Become an Expert Witness – If you possess a level of expertise in a particular field, becoming an expert witness for lawsuits may be an option for you to make money from home. Expert witnesses may review documents or appear in court for hourly fees. Submit your resume or CV to online expert directory services.
  7. Work as a Virtual Call Center Agent – Some business opt for home-based virtual call center agents. Virtual call center agents provide support and assistance to the business’ customers via the telephone. These kinds of agents are typically paid an hourly wage. They may be independent contractors or be hired on as actual corporate staff. If hired as a direct employee, they will be required to follow all company policies. Regardless of whether you are a member of the staff or an independent contractor, high-speed Internet and a land-line dedicated to the service are required.
  8. Become a Freelance Writer – Online freelance writing entails creating articles for a variety of websites. A freelance writer will research a particular subject or use their own expertise to generate enticing articles for a wide range of readers. Freelance writers are typically paid on a per-article basis.
  9. Edit Copy from Home – Media websites that utilize online freelance writers may also hire freelance copy editors. Editors proofread and edit articles prior to publishing. Freelance editors are also generally paid on a per-article basis. Typically, sites that use online freelance editors look for copy editors with several years of experience.
  10. Self-Publish Books – There are a number of electronic tablets on the market that allow you to read paperless books. If you love to write fiction, looking into the self-publishing options for eBooks can help you generate both buzz and income.
  11. Make and Sell Apps – The appeal of smartphones and tablets lies largely in the wide range of apps available to increase their functionality. If you have time on your hands and the gusto to learn about developing apps online, you can spend your days building the new “it” app.
  12. Peddle Your Tailoring Skills – If you’ve got a thimble for a thumb, do at home alterations. Advertise your services on social media websites and by word of mouth. Set your appointment hours and have your clients come to you.
  13. Sell Your Old Books! – Believe it or not, there are people out there that make a full-time living off of selling old and used books. You can peruse estate sales, tossed library books or your own book shelves for books to sell online. You can even start a book drop-off at your home for locals to drop off unwanted leisure, self-help or textbooks.
  14. Train as a Medical Transcriptionist – Put your listening and typing skills to work. Most doctors use an auto-dictation system to record their notes on a specific patient. These audio notes need to be transcribed for the patient’s medical records. To become a medical transcriptionist you will need to take a short-term course to learn the proper equipment and medical terminology. Courses range from 9 – 18 months and financial aid may help you pay for tuition. If you have previously worked in the medical field, you will have a leg up on others just breaking into the field.

The possibilities for starting an at-home business are almost endless. Whatever endeavor you choose, be sure to research the company or proposed line of business to avoid falling victim to scams. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never give out personal information without a secure site and make sure you’re watching your own back by understanding rules and regulations of your county, city or state. Also be sure to consult with an accountant on the proper ways to handle your taxes for your work-from-home business enterprise.

10 Reality Shows That Aren’t So Real

There’s something about the idea of peeking into someone else’s daily life that appeals to the average American, as evidenced by the astounding number of reality television shows that proliferate the airwaves. Even networks like The History Channel and The Learning Channel have shifted their focus from legitimate, educational programming in favor of cheaply produced reality shows with mass appeal. While there is speculation about the level of scripting and prompting on most reality shows, these 10 have faced real allegations of being fabricated on some level, much to the dismay of their devoted viewers.

  1. Storage Wars – A&E’s Storage Wars features groups of people attempting to outbid one another for the right to open a sealed storage locker in hopes of discovering items of serious value. A lawsuit against the show’s creators and staff brought by former star Dave Hester alleges that the units are salted before taping to up the drama factor, leaving plenty of viewers with a bad taste in their mouth.
  2. Breaking Amish – Ostensibly following the lives of young Amish and Mennonite adults as they explore the world outside of their insular communities for the first time, TLC’s Breaking Amish garnered major praise and a strong fan base. Before the finale of the first season, however, several reports came to light alleging that the stars were lying about their backgrounds, casting doubt on the entire show.
  3. Real Husbands of Hollywood – Unlike the other shows on this list, BET’s Real Husbands of Hollywood is a deliberately scripted send-up of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise and VH1′s Basketball Wives.
  4. House Hunters – One of the cornerstones of the do-it-yourself enthusiasts’ network, HGTV’s programming House Hunters follows families as they attempt to find and purchase a new home. Despite the absence of marital tensions, catfights and backstabbing in the House Hunters model, producers are still accused of releasing a fabricated show by former participants.
  5. The Hills – A spin-off of MTV’s wildly popular Laguna Beach, The Hills featured a group of pretty young things as they made their way in Los Angeles after graduating from high school. Though the gutsy last scene alluded to the idea that everything in the show had been planned, announcements by cast members that most of the drama was manufactured confirmed the lack of “reality” on set.
  6. Cash Cab – The premise of Cash Cab features a group of unsuspecting taxi customers who are picked up in the Cash Cab and promised the chance to make big bucks by answering trivia questions. While the results of the game show are not fixed, the set up and selection process is far less random than the show itself depicts.
  7. The X Factor – Among reality shows, talent competitions still reign as king. That’s why it came as a bit of a shock to devoted viewers when a 2011 episode of the Simon Cowell-helmed The X Factor featured a prominent flub pointing to lip-synching. A statement released by a representative did admit that all ensemble performance vocals are canned, leaving many viewers suspicious about the competition itself.
  8. Property Brothers – Hosted by a charismatic Canadian brother duo, Property Brothers has faced a barrage of allegations. From their background as actors to the predictability of each episode and the fact that Drew Scott may not even be a licensed realtor, even fans of the show tend to be skeptical about its level of “reality.”
  9. Extreme Couponing – Coupon bloggers have been openly discussing their reservations about the way that couponing is depicted on TLC’s show Extreme Couponing, noting the frequent misuse and even outright fraud committed by some participants. Statements from some retailers featured on the show admitting their participation in scripted taping should have put the final nail in the show’s proverbial coffin, but it’s still going strong.
  10. Toddlers & Tiaras – The antics of moms and the pint-sized stars on TLC’s runaway hit Toddlers & Tiaras have generated quite a buzz for the show. Maxine Tinnel, a woman who claimed to have staged a handful of pageants for the show, revealed that the formula for taping is to “find the crazy families first, then find a pageant near them.” The staged tapings are closed to spectators aside from family, friends and invited guests, and Tinnel insists that there’s far less drama in real pageants than depicted on the show.

In the world of reality television, viewers are forced to either suspend their disbelief for the duration of the show or accept that what they’re watching may very well be scripted. The low cost of producing a reality show versus a fully-scripted feature series leaves television execs springing for the reality fare over higher-quality programming, which means that viewers’ choices are fairly limited.

How to Get on a Reality Show

If you’ve always dreamed of being a celebrity, but aren’t angling for a career on the silver screen, the overwhelming surge in popularity of reality programming may seem like your golden opportunity. In order to properly capitalize on your dreams of reality stardom, however, you’ll have to master the casting process. While there are no sure-fire tips that will land you a sweet reality gig if you don’t have what the producers and casting professionals are looking for, there are some ways that you can dramatically boost your chances of getting their attention.

Know Your Show

In order to have any chance of progressing through the casting process, you’ll need to make the effort to be as informed as possible about the show you’re auditioning for. While this can be a challenge for brand new shows, you can brush up on your trivia for established shows. During the actual interview process, casting directors will want to see that you have a genuine interest in working on their show, not a general desperation for reality stardom on any show. Make sure that you approach each step of the audition process armed with all possible knowledge at your disposal, and that you’re exhibiting characteristics that will work well within the concept.

Dress for Success

At a massive casting call, opting for something outlandish to grab the attention of producers and set yourself apart from the rest of the group is an understandable mistake. Save your Lady Gaga costumes for Halloween and aim for a look that’s well put together and reflects your personality instead. A few quirky accessories or an original style is one thing; shamelessly ripping off the more outrageous choices of celebrities or deliberately dressing strangely may actually hurt your chances.

Play Up Your Flaws and Quirks

During the casting process, producers and casting directors will usually have a few set personality types that they’re looking for in order to ensure the best cast chemistry. This is where being yourself and honestly portraying your personality quirks can be the most effective strategy you can employ. Rather than attempting to play a role, which seasoned casting directors will be able to see right through, make sure you’re not trying to disguise your natural personality.

Tell the Truth

No producer wants a scandal on their hands, unless it’s one that will boost ratings. If you’re auditioning for a role on a reality show and you’re asked direct questions about your background, you should never lie. Background checks, fact checking and research on all contestants or participants are almost always par for the casting course, and you will be found out. Don’t attempt to obscure a checkered past or invent an entirely new persona for the casting people. You’ll have plenty of time to work on the character you hope to project after you land a role.

Be Available

If you can’t drop everything to hop on a plane for additional meetings, you could very easily miss out on the opportunity of a reality television lifetime. When you audition for a show, clear your schedule as much as possible, or at least avoid making concrete plans. You’ll need to be able to head to a distant location at a moment’s notice if you get the call. On the subject of getting the call, keep the particulars of your cell phone plan in mind. If your phone won’t allow you to accept blocked or private calls, you could very easily miss out on the announcement that you’ve progressed to the next round of casting. Make sure that your phone has no such blocks before you send in your audition tape or show up at an open call to prevent the possibility of losing a chance at stardom due to a technical difficulty.

Before you pursue your 15 minutes of fame, you should consider the far-reaching implications of becoming a public figure. The past can and often does come back to haunt those who find their fame on the small screen, so be sure that you don’t have any life-ruining skeletons lurking in your closet. It’s also wise to prepare yourself for creative editing that could portray your on-air personality in a less-than-favorable light, a fate bemoaned by more than one reality show antagonist. Keep in mind that ratings and high-stakes drama are the name of the game, regardless of how “real” the show purports itself to be.

15 Things Men Refuse to Ask for Help With

While it’s partially an unfair gender stereotype to claim that all men are leery about asking for help in certain areas, it does hold true that each of these topics are sensitive for some men. Whether they feel that asking for help is admitting defeat, showing signs of weakness or an indication that they’re not capable of handling something themselves, these are 15 of the subjects of which most men find it difficult to swallow their pride and seek assistance.

  1. Home Repairs – The man who refuses to call a plumber or carpenter for home repairs that are beyond his actual skill level is an oft-used trope in sitcoms and romantic comedies. It’s also a common enough occurrence in real life that home improvement gurus feel the need to warn homeowners about the potential dangers and increased expense of tackling a home repair that’s too difficult.
  2. Directions – Most men don’t like to ask for directions. It’s such a commonly accepted statement that it’s become ingrained in the cultural consciousness. Whether the reluctance to ask for direction stems from a distaste for admitting a fallible sense of direction or simply from the fact that boys are raised with the idea that men don’t ask for directions, it’s one stereotype that’s based in a bit of truth.
  3. Auto Repairs – Some men are mechanically inclined, while others just aren’t. That doesn’t always stop the latter group from crawling under their hood in a vain attempt to make a repair that they know nothing about.
  4. Electronics – The masculine fondness for gadgets of the electronic variety makes it difficult for men to admit when they’ve stumbled across something that they can’t properly operate or install.
  5. Lawn Work – While many men like to complain about the necessity of caring for the lawn, when it comes down to it, most don’t want anyone helping either because they have very specific ideas about how each task should be handled. Kids are the exception to this rule in the male mind, as they offer free labor.
  6. Exercise – Men who are fixated on sculpting a Mister Universe-worthy physique can be completely fixated on that goal, sometimes to the exclusion of all else. Regardless of how invested they are in reaching a goal, however, many are hesitant to ask a gym buddy for workout advice.
  7. Depression – Because the word “depression” is inextricably linked with the concept of emotional weakness in so many men’s minds, it can be very difficult to convince a man that he should seek help for his depression.
  8. Parenting – Many men dislike the idea of someone telling them how and when to discipline their children on principle alone. As a result, those men aren’t likely to ever ask for parenting advice.
  9. Substance Abuse – Admitting to a substance abuse problem is tantamount to admitting weakness and dependency, two things that many men would be horrified to reveal to the world around them. Rather than seeking help, some men will continue to abuse the substance of their choice until it costs them everything.
  10. Marital Problems – Marriage counseling is a lucrative business, but it might not be quite so popular if women were as opposed to counseling as many of their male counterparts. When marital problems strike, most men would be more than happy to hash them out privately rather than asking for help from a counselor.
  11. Dating – Single men might vent to their buddies about their misadventures in the dating scene, but they aren’t as likely to ask for advice on how to properly navigate the search for love.
  12. Insecurities – Everyone has their own set of individual insecurities, but men are more likely to hide them than women. Where females will often readily admit the things that worry them or make them feel insecure, men tend to be less forthcoming on the subject.
  13. Financial Stress – Men who adhere to traditional gender roles see themselves as the financial provider for the family, a role they take very seriously. When financial problems rear their ugly heads, most men will take a hit before they ask for a loan.
  14. Anxiety Problems – Some people struggle with an anxiety so great that it’s difficult to function normally in society, but macho men will do everything they can to keep those anxieties hidden while they’re in public.
  15. Parts Assembly – Whether it’s a kids’ toy or a new bookshelf, the first thing that gets tossed to the wayside when a man is assembling something is the sheet of paper printed with the directions. When the situation gets out of hand because the directions weren’t followed, this same man will probably not admit that the failed project is his fault, blaming it instead on shoddy manufacturing.