judging books by covers
I read a brilliant little essay which rang a bell with me. I (Kae) have no formal education, never even finishing secondary school, and so when I was first joining the work-force, I had to fight hard to get through the door. In Kyle'scase, he says his problem was that he looked too young. In my case, it was the lack of certificates on my CV.
Anyone that has spent 30 minutes with me knows that I know my work. As a teenager, I was obsessive about computers, and learned programming and web design through trial and error. Lots of errors, in fact, which hammered good habits into me. I've written two well-received books, and have produced open source projects that are very popular in their target audiences.
Without knowing these things, though, it's hard for people to get past one basic fact: I work from home. People seem to think that means that I treat my work like a hobby.
Of course, for my international clients, and clients that I've gotten through word-of-mouth, this is not an issue. The international clients don't care where I work from, and the word-of-mouth clients come to me knowing already what I can do.
I guess my points here are that you cannot judge a book by its cover, and word-of-mouth is very important.
When looking for a service, don't look for a shop front and automatically assume that because the business has a shop, it is somehow more "professional". Instead, ask your friends for recommendations. They may know of an awesome artist, photographer, baker, whatever, that works from home and is /amazing/ at their work.