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BOOK REVIEW: "Making Money With Your Computer At Home" by Paul and Sarah Edwards

List Price $15.95 (Available through Amazon.com)
Paperback: 391 pages
Publisher: Putnam Pub Group (Paper); 2nd edition (October 1997)
ISBN: 0874778980

Reviewed by Elizabeth H. Cottrell - Staff Writer of the IAHBE

The main reason I have chosen to review the book—in spite of its being very dated—is the reputation of the authors, Paul and Sarah Edwards. These remarkable home-based business gurus have been studying the industry, writing about it, and talking about it for years. They are truly experts in the field, and their books—including Getting Business to Come to You, Working From Home, The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century, and Making It On Your Own—are all relevant, practical, and helpful to anyone who is self-employed, particularly from a home-based office.

I don't usually start with the negative, but I should repeat that there's no question this book is out of date. Published in 1997, the book covers topics regarding Internet and computer usage that have traveled so far and so fast since then, there are portions conspicuously behind the eight ball. Having said that, however, there is much of value here for some people, particularly in just giving you ideas and stimulating your own brainstorming.

For those who want more information about any book, Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com) has a wonderful feature that allows you to preview the table of contents and a sample chapter of many of their books. Often this, alone, can provide you with sufficient information to determine whether the book might be of value to you. For Making Money with Your Computer At Home, you can see both covers, the table of contents, an excerpt (Chapter 1), and the index.

Making Money with Your Computer At Home contains profiles of 100 computer-focused home-based businesses. Each gives an overview of that business, the pros and cons, the income range for part or full time, and a section of resources for getting more information. Newsgroups for each are listed, too, but many are out of date. The authors intended for readers to skim the list and read the details about specific businesses that caught their eye. Once you've identified a business that appeals to you, use the resources to get more information. A few of the businesses profiled include Answering Service, Billing, Payroll, Bookkeeping, Computer Repair, Desktop Publishing, Digital Photography or Recording, Internet Research, Legal or Medical Transcription, Writing, Editing, and Proofreading Services, Proposal and Grant Writing Service, Website Design, Video Animator, and 82 more!

Chapter 2 of this book includes 47 questions that are useful in helping you determine how you might want to focus your thinking and make a good decision in choosing a computer-based business. It is, in some ways, a self-evaluation. The questions guide you into thinking about potential customers, potential competition, personal aptitude, financial considerations, and other things that would affect the likelihood of your success. It is an extremely worthwhile exercise if you are just thinking about starting a business or feeling the need to shift gears in your current business.

Part II of Making Money with Your Computer At Home, with four additional chapters, is called "Using Your Computer in Business." It covers managing your money, computerizing your records and contacts, marketing your business, and gathering information online. The former three topics are mostly still relevant, though specific software and Websites may not be. There is an especially good section on "Determining What You Need to Charge and How Much Business You Need to Generate" and another on "Analyzing Your Profitability." It has been my experience that more home-based businesses fail because of a lack of understanding of the importance of cash flow than any other single reason. The chapter on marketing is also very practical and universal, presenting principles that do not go out of date, even if the specific technology to accomplish them changes regularly.

The chapter about using your computer to go online—and the appendices entitled "Getting Online" and "Additional Helpful Web Sites"—are woefully out of date and not very useful for current readers.

Frankly, I would advise you to buy an inexpensive used copy of Making Money with Your Computer At Home, rather than pay full price for a new one. There is certainly sufficient helpful information to justify an investment of a few dollars. If Paul and Sarah Edwards ever come out with a revised, updated version, it will undoubtedly be as terrific as all their other books.

© 2004 by Elizabeth H. Cottrell. All rights reserved worldwide.

Elizabeth H. Cottrell is a home-based entrepreneur, freelance technical writer, and owner of Riverwood Technologies, a desktop publishing company in Maurertown, Virginia. She is currently a staff writer and editor for IAHBE.

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