A lot of people start looking for a way to earn money from home because they’re desperate. Maybe they got laid off. Maybe their credit card bills are out of hand. Maybe they’re suddenly going to be a single parent due to a divorce. Whatever the reason, they just desperately want to earn money from home and will do just about anything to accomplish that.

It’s probably the worst frame of mind for finding a legitimate opportunity, even though it’s one of the most motivating frames of mind for getting work done for some people.

What do you do?

1. Rethink whether earning money from home is really the right solution.

If you need money right now, get a job. Any job that you can do. Don’t be proud. If it means flipping burgers, go flip burgers and do a good job of it.

If childcare is an issue, yes, this can be tough. You may be able to work out a solution with family members helping you out or by trading care with a friend. If you need it, find a way to make it happen.

This doesn’t mean giving up on earning money from home, just that you need to be sensible about earning the money you need to live on first.

2. Be realistic about your skills and interests.

If you need to know that you will earn money for the work you do, a work at home job is your best bet early on. You’ll generally know what you get paid for completing a particular kind of work. But this doesn’t mean apply for any and all work at home jobs. If you can’t do that kind of work or have no experience, you’re probably wasting your time

Being realistic means that you can focus on getting the jobs you have a chance of landing. It won’t guarantee you get one, as the competition for work at home jobs as a rule is pretty fierce. But at least you won’t be wasting time on things you have no chance of getting.

3. Learn about the common scams.

There are many signs of a work at home scam you should be aware of. Simple signs such as excessive claims of easy money should warn you away from many a supposed opportunity.

If you can learn to dig through the hype, follow the money and figure out where the money from a particular opportunity is supposed to come from, you’re ahead of the game on spotting scams. It won’t guarantee that you never fall for a scam, but it will help you avoid more of them.

4. Consider quick writing jobs.

This can be particularly helpful if you’re considering starting an online business. Go to sites such as Associated Content, and Demand Studios that pay you by the article accepted. Start writing for them on the topics you understand. You’ll get some pay and some good practice at writing content, something you’ll need for many types of online business.

5. Try freelancing.

What are the skills you’ve used when working outside of the home? Can you make use of them as a freelancer?

The life of a freelancer can vary between too little and too much work, but it’s a place to get started earning from home. There are websites such as Guru and eLance that allow you to bid on jobs.

6. Look at other kinds of home businesses.

There are tons of possibilities out there for running an online home business. You can blog. You can be an affiliate marketer. You can set up your own online store.

Whatever business you choose, be passionate about it. Love what you do. Work hard at it. Passion won’t guarantee your success, but it’s a great motivator.

Use your desperation also. If you need to earn money, make it happen. Push your limits. You don’t know if something will work if you don’t try.

Do your best to not let your business worsen your financial situation. Don’t invest what you can’t afford to lose. Most businesses of any type fail. They are a risk. But if you succeed you’ll have a fair chance of making more than you would at a job. Keep things sane and it’s not a bad gamble at all.