with people who profess to be computer experts Kate. They call themselves different things, and they charge varyin rates, but it all boils down to one thing - they offer to fix computer problems in the home, or in the office, or in their own homes.
The problems are many, but you've identified the main one - anyone who is truly professional will have difficulties making it work as a business model. That's why so many of these computer fixers are really enthusiastic amateurs. Nothing wrong with that of course - there are hundreds of thousands of satisfied customers who have had their problem solved by one of these people - but in the main such people tend to do the work partly (if not mainly) for the satisfaction they derive from saying they are computer experts.
The problems arise when things go badly wrong, and customers discover that their computer expert has ruined a machine, or it's been stolen from his/her car on the way back to base, or their machine comes back with a pirate copy of Windows installed, or there are missing data files. I've heard hundreds of such stories, plus those that give you the creeps - such as the client who called me to his office to fix what one 'expert' had done. I discovered hundreds of downloaded porn images on a computer that had gone away 'for reconfiguration', and detected that the expert had been reading (and possibly copying) all the clients' business documents.
I've been in the business for many years, and although I admit that I make a pretty reasonable living these days, it was a long, hard struggle. In itially I worked very long hours by day, and then worked again at night to gain paper qualifications so clients would feel I knew what I was doing. I learnt about networking, HTML, and desktop publishing so I could be a one-stop-shop - mainly because there wasn't enough money in specialising then. Gradually the business grew, and I took on staff, but it has never been easy. Competition is fierce in the commercial IT world, and unless you are good at what you do you will not survive.
Quite apart from anything else, becoming self-employed when you are used to working in the corporate world is a massive shock to the system - I know, I worked for a very large multi-national company for a quite a while before I started out on my own.
My advice,for what it's worth,is that unless you fancy dabbling just for the fun of it, working for friends and their friends - to pay for your wine or a holiday - you might be better off sticking to journalism. There are too many unqualified people calling themselves computer experts or professionals nowadays, and they often doing it as a hobby. They'll charge no VAT, produce no proper invoices, and have no proper qualifications, and innocent customers will employ them because they have no way of knowing better.