(Parenting.com) -- Maria Thompson, mom of three, ages 9, 6, and 1, Irvine, California:
Two years ago when I got pregnant with my third child, I left my job as a paralegal to get ready to be with her. I looked into doing word processing from home. When I started researching opportunities, I found that I could offer more services as a "virtual assistant."
So I taught myself web design and desktop publishing and started Advantage Business Services. I've done work for local real estate agents (designing brochures, doing bulk mailings) and other work-at-home moms (helping them set up their own websites). I charge $25 to $75 per hour, depending on the work.
Start-up costs: $200 for supplies, a business license, and permits. (I already owned a PC.)
Skills needed: Computer skills, the ability to work well with people, and organization
Salary potential: Up to $60,000, full-time
How I spread the word: I joined several associations for virtual assistants, which list my business in their online directories. I also swap ad space with other work-at-home moms' sites.
Home-biz perk: I can take breaks during the day just to play with my baby girl! E-mail to a friend
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This story first appeared in Parenting magazine in November 2003