How to find a legitimate work-from-home job

US News & World Report
Geoff Williams
Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
Universal Television | Getty Images

There are many reasons you might be looking to work from home. Maybe you have young kids, and you want to work while keeping an eye on them. Maybe you've always dreamed of running your own company and starting an online business at home is the way to get there. Maybe you have a spouse who is your household's primary breadwinner and you just need a little extra cash. Or maybe you need a lot of extra cash to kill off some debt with a side gig.

Whatever your reasons to search for work-from-home jobs, they're out there. But there are plenty of work-from-home ads out there that will just lead to your losing a lot of money. So a good rule of thumb is to not any service that promises you work; they're supposed to pay you. You also will want to heavily research any company you aren't familiar with before you start working with them. If a business looks suspect, at least run it by some friends and family first.

More from U.S. News & World Report:
6 ways to make money online
5 mistakes to avoid when buying a house
How to make money faster than fast

Here are some tried and true ways to find legitimate work-from-home jobs.

If you just want some quick money

There's always eBay. Sure, it probably won't be permanent, unless you set up a business on eBay, but while you're looking for work-from-home jobs, you could be money by selling the junk (er, nice stuff that you have) around your home that you no longer want. Chances are, you have gently worn clothing or perhaps gifts that you didn't want and never got around to regifting or antiques that you've stored in the basement. You could put them up for sale on eBay.

Sarah Davis, a Carlsbad, California resident who owns Fashionphile.com, which sells pre-owned luxury handbags, says that she has sold odds and ends around the home whenever she needs extra money.

"In our family, we call eBay our rich aunt," Davis says. "Some families have someone, where if money gets tight, they can just pick up the phone or send a text and get a few bucks when needed. We don't have that. So what we have done since the late '90s is dig around the house and find something to list."

Davis says that she did this a lot when she was making ends meet in law school, and the experience she gained selling things on eBay ultimately helped her launch her own business.

Jay Leno
NBC | Getty Images

If you want some extra money, every month

Become a dog-sitter. Sure, it sounds kind of out there, but if you love animals, this could be a fun way to earn some extra, occasional or regular money. People in your community can find you through a site like the Rover.com, where you put up a profile and go through Rover's screening process, which includes a background check. According to the Rover website, you could earn as much as $1,000, and possibly , every month.

Become a virtual assistant. This can be a closely related career since many virtual assistants transcribe meetings and phone conversations, but you also might be setting up appointments, doing internet research, data entry or any number of administrative tasks. If you're interested in exploring this further, VAnetworking.com is a free resource for virtual assistants, and according to the website, a VA can expect to make $25 to $100 an hour. How much you make, of course, will largely depend on your experience, what the market will accept and the services you're offering.

Don't forget to look at job sites that specialize in work-from-home jobs. If you don't know what you want to do and only know that you want to find some decent, legitimate work-from-home job , you might want to check out VirtualVocations.com, a website that specializes in telecommuting jobs around the country. In other words, that's their specialty — work-from-home jobs. Other websites to check out, where you may find work-from-home jobs include FlexJobs.com and PeoplePerHour.com.

Of course, you may also want to check out the well-known career sites, Monster.com, Indeed.com and CareerBuilder.com.

If you want to aim high and potentially earn a lot of money, every month

You could start your own business, either as a full-time career or a side job. Jeff Neal started an online business that he runs in his spare time.

Neal is a resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is a project manager for a commercial painting company. He and his wife, a stay-at-home mom, have three kids, and like just about everyone, their household can always use some extra money.

So a couple years ago, he started an online business selling crickets. The website is called TheCritterDepot.com.

If you're thinking of starting an online business, you don't have to sell crickets, of course, and since that would mean more competition, Neal would probably prefer that you don't. But if you can find a niche product to sell, it can bring in a tidy sum. Neal says that every month, his cricket side business earns him about $700 profit a month, on $2,500 in sales. Who buys crickets? Anyone with a pet, like a lizard or iguana, that eats crickets.

Neal says that he was helped by the that his first job out of college was working with an e-commerce company.

"I learned a lot about shipping options, customer service, SEO, website maintenance and drop shipping," he says, adding that he left after four years when he felt he had outgrown his position.

So it certainly helps to have experience with the internet, if you're going to start an online business, but it may cheer you up to know that Neal knew nothing about crickets. He was simply looking for a niche product to sell.

That can take a lot of time, Neal says. He recommends using Google Trends and Google keyword research, to see what types of niche products you should offer.

As for the crickets, Neal found a breeder to supply him, although later he began breeding his own, converting an outdoor shed into a cricket incubator.

"For financial gain," he says. "And because my kids think crickets are neat."

And there's another lesson there. If you do try to earn extra money, whether it's running your own business or hosting dogs, you want to make sure your work-from-home job doesn't bug your family. Of course, in Neal's case, bugging your family may be exactly the way to go.

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.

Don't miss: 6 ways to make money without much effort

This article originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report.

How to make extra money — without much effort