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5 Great Home-Based Businesses

Whether you're looking for income or just a way to follow your passion, these paths can get you started

1. Crafts

The nitty-gritty: It sounds divine. You carve out a workshop at home, and inspired by your inner creativity, you churn out high-quality, handcrafted items and make some money at the same time. More people are peddling their homemade wares online, at craft shows and flea markets. But to really build a business beyond pocket change, you need to push out of your comfort zone and peddle to the online marketplace. You can set up your own shop on the six-year-old website Etsy.com, which boasts over 11 million handcrafted items for sale, or you could set up your own e-commerce site. Etsy charges 20 cents to list an item and lops off 3.5 percent of your sale. FreeCraftFair is another online option. The downside: Managing your time so you don't fall prey to burning the midnight oil.

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Median hourly pay: Varies widely. It's possible to net a few hundred dollars a month in profit after you pay for your materials and figure your hourly wages. You can certainly boost that with a great product, super sales and lots of elbow grease. You're probably not going to get rich, but it's a fine way to earn money and love your job at the same time.

Qualifications: It's hard to set the bar here. In general, a sense of design and artistic bent will get you noticed. But the intangible skills of self-motivation and discipline, combined with a unique product and some sales chutzpah is what will help you succeed. You should have a handle on bookkeeping, or hire someone part time to help with record keeping. The IRS will want to know what you're up to, especially if you are selling online via credit cards.

Are you a self-starter with top-level expertise? >>

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