I have the utmost respect for our former About.com Entrepreneurs Guide Scott Allen. But his idea of what it takes to start a desktop publishing business doesn't quite cut it with me. Several years ago Scott put together a nice list of Business Ideas on a Budget that describes 10 business opportunities that could be started with as little as $20. Number 7 on the list, Desktop Publishing:
"If you've got a good design sense, are extremely familiar with your word processor, and already have a laser or high-quality inkjet printer, you can get into desktop publishing. Create a really great-looking portfolio for yourself and go door-to-door. Spend the $20 on: Some high-quality paper to create your samples on."
I don't want to dash your dreams or discourage you from making a little extra spending money but it's going to take a lot more than $20 (even adjusted for inflation, etc.) worth of paper and some design sense to really make a go of this. First off, a word processor? Oh please no! I'm not saying you can't get started on a fairly tight budget, but $20 is really pushing it if you haven't already invested a fair amount in your hardware. You could save a lot on software by going with free desktop publishing software. You'll need to invest quite a bit of time as well -- just developing a decent portfolio is going to use up a lot of time and good chunk of that $20 worth of paper. I won't even touch the door-to-door bit. Maybe that could work for some people but it's not a method I'd recommend unless you really do have a lot of time and shoe leather to spare.
You could do an abbreviated version of these 10 steps to starting a desktop publishing business but even a part-time biz is going to take quite a bit of time and more than a few bucks to get the ball rolling. To be fair, Scott does say, "It's unlikely any of these will make you a living in the first few months, but they all have the potential to grow into full-time businesses." That is true.
In your opinion, what's the bare minimum it would take to get a part-time desktop publishing business up and running? Have you done it? Are you doing it?