Many people who want to work from home are just about desperate for a way to do so. This is a big part of why so many scams thrive. People look for quick and easy and forget about keeping it realistic. They throw their money at anything that promises to be easy and cheap.

But surely there are some real ways to earn money from home that don’t cost a fortune to get started. Right?

Of course there are. You just can’t count on earning anything very quickly.

1. Work at home jobs.

These had better be free to start. Well, you might need a bit of your own equipment, such as a good noise canceling headset if you want to do customer service, but the employer shouldn’t be charging you.

Finding the legitimate work at home jobs is possible, but challenging.

Take data entry, for example. Many people look for data entry jobs to do from home, but most of what you will find will be people claiming that pay per click affiliate marketing and other opportunities are data entry, when in fact they are not. These people may be flat out scamming you or they may be “merely” pretending that a home business opportunity is a job.

Real jobs aren’t going to sell you an ebook telling you all about how to get started. You apply just as you would for any other job. The competition will probably be stiff, and it’s common to search for a number of months before you land a good, regular job. But if you have the qualifications and you’re persistent, working at home in a job is entirely possible.

2. Blogging.

This one’s hot right now, and yes you can start for either free or cheap. I’m talking under $20 for the first month cheap. Somewhere in the vicinity of $10 for the first year of a domain name, and $10 or thereabouts for each month of hosting. WordPress, a popular blogging platform is free and easy to install.

If you’re going cheap, the startup time may well drive you up the wall. There’s a lot of competition out there. Getting your name out is tough. But if you comment a lot on relevant blogs with quality, relevant comments, you can start building your traffic for free.

Same for posting on forums. Or using Twitter. Or other kinds of social networking. Doing nothing but talking about your business makes people lose interest in anything you have to say very quickly.

You just can’t expect instant results. They’re incredibly unlikely.

My suggestion for this is to keep plugging away and to read the successful blogs in your niche. You do not want to copy them as such, but see what they’re doing that people like. Keep your own spin on things and don’t be just another blogger in your niche.

Also look at how money can be earned. Google’s AdSense program is incredibly easy to use, but you can earn more if you get good with affiliate programs. It’s more stuff to learn and you can shorten the learning curve if you are willing to pay for a good resource on making a living from blogging.

Blogs such as Sparkplugging can also be wonderful resources.

3. Freelancing.

Have a skill that you can do from home already? There’s a reason why freelancing is so popular. It’s a way to keep up your skills in your industry while being self employed.

There are a variety of sites to help you find jobs. Guru and eLance are two of the big names. You can also post on Craigslist to offer your services.

As a freelancer these days, you almost definitely need your own website. This is a chance for you to show off your skills and to get some attention. You can blog if you like, but a plain website may serve better if you don’t want to take the time to update regularly. A blog can be very distracting from your paid work, or it can bring more paid work in. It depends on what works for you.

There are many more ways you can earn a living from home and not spend a ton of money. Just be prepared to work at it and understand that if you choose a home business things will very probably go faster if you can invest more in it. But there are ways to go more slowly and spend less money if that’s how your budget is going. That’s a reality for many.

But if you can reinvest in your business you will probably grow it much faster. Once you have your cheap start, consider investing in educational products that will help you to grow your business as well as in advertising. You can make the expenses pay off quite nicely if you know what you’re doing and are willing to take a chance.