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How to earn more from home

With many worried about the economy, some are searching for other ways to make extra money by working from home. Here are some tips on how to get started.

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Economic news out last week pointed to a weakening trend in job growth. With tightening credit standards and a stagnant housing market and worries about a recession on the horizon, you may be thinking about padding up that bank account a little. We'll tell you how to make a little extra income at home.

1: Get the right environment

If you're thinking you'd like to try working from home, there are a few things you need in place first.

Most work at home jobs will require a high-speed Internet connection. You will also need a dedicated phone line and a quiet place to work. Working at home may be harder than working in an office since there's no boss hovering around your desk.

You should be the kind of person who can complete projects independently and doesn't get distracted easily.

2: Think customer service

We all know there are tons of call-center jobs that are outsourced to India. But, there's a growing number of call center jobs that are outsourced to third party companies that then hire home-based workers to call or order.

Alpine Access is a company that handles calls for retailers like J. Crew and 1-800-Flowers, using over 7,000 home-based agents. Agents can earn about $15 an hour. For more information, go to alpineaccess.com. Here are some other companies that hire virtual call agents: liveops.com and repsforrent.com.

3: Be a virtual assistant

A lot of small business owners need personal assistants, so they're hiring people from remote locations to do administrative work. As a virtual assistant you'll be responsible for arranging schedules, planning events and coordinating travel and word processing.

Virtual assistants generally make from $20-$55 an hour. Fees are higher for legal research, public relations work, or corporate consulting. To look into opportunities in this field, check out Staffcentrix at www.staffcentrix.com. You can also go to the International Virtual Assistants Association at IVAA.org.

4: Avoid the scams

You'll really want to be careful that you're working with a legitimate company. The Federal Trade Commission warns about classic schemes like "medical billing" or "envelope stuffing."

Legitimate work at-home sponsors should tell you in writing what is involved in the program. Find out if you will be paid a salary or by commission and get the total cost of the work-at-home program, including supplies, equipment and membership fees.

Be wary of exaggerated claims of potential earnings and demands that you pay for something before instructions or products are provided. And always check in with the Better Business bureau in the area the company is located in.  Top of page

Gerri's Mailbox: Got questions about your money? We want to hear them! Send e-mails to toptips@cnn.com or click here - each week, we'll answer questions on CNN, Headline News and CNNMoney.com.

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.