Who is your mommy, and what does she do…

So, since this blog is intended to be about raising a family while running a business (I had thought of an alternate name, “The Pregnant Entrepreneur”, but changed my mind… I’m not going to be pregnant forever, after all!) I figured it was about time to talk a little bit about what I do, and why I LOVE being a WAHMie.

About 5 years ago, I was working as a sales rep at a cell phone store. I loved my job… The people, the work (I’m a bit of a geek), the 5 minute commute, the awesome pay – it was great. And the free company cell phone didn’t hurt, either. Then, one day I went out to visit the sister, and got in a car accident. A BAD car accident. Some guy hit the front driver’s side of my car (brand new 2007 Ford Fusion, I’d owned for 2 months…) at about 90 KM/hr (highway speed for my American friends – and no, I wasn’t on the highway…)

I was about 2 feet from getting completely t-boned in that accident. That car saved my life, but sadly, couldn’t save its own. It was a complete write off. And so was my pelvis.

After months of rehab, it was becoming obvious that a) my company disability benefits weren’t going to ever pay me a dime and b) I wasn’t going to be able to spend 8 hours on my feet at work any time soon. So I started looking at options.

I’d been dabbling in internet marketing for a couple of years, and had made a few dollars, but never really a living at it. I decided if I was ever going to do anything with all of the knowledge I’d gained, that was the time. It was do or die at that point.

Now, ever since I was a kid, I had dreamed of being a writer. I had even been published once (a poem) when I was in the 4th grade. Sure it wasn’t a great poem, but I was a 4th grader, it was half-decent writing for my age, and it had the cute factor. It was my dream, even while taking English courses in University I wanted to be a writer. And this was my one big chance.

So I sat down on the computer, and put up a post on my favorite internet marketing forum (The Warrior Forum) offering my writing services on the cheap. I needed to build up a portfolio, and I figured a few jobs at a discount price would help me do that while breaking into the market.

That first month, I made $300 from my writing in 10 days – and I never looked back.

Sure, it wasn’t much… Not enough to live on, thats for sure. But it proved to me that I COULD do it – that I could sell my writing talents and make a living from home, and that was enough for me.

Fast forward to today.

I’m sitting here, writing this blog while looking at my to-do list of other writing tasks for the day… Fitness Challenge post on JustMommies PCOS board (where I volunteer as a co-host)? Next on my list. Update my work blog? After that. 2-3 posts on other internet marketing forums to keep my name out there and bring in more new clients? After the work blog.

And maybe an article or two on copywriting (sales letters, catalogs, brochures, websites, etc.) for some healthy link-juice for my work blog, too.

And in between all of this, I get to sit here in my most comfortable chair, in my office (which is actually just our basement with a couple of computers and a sweet-azz corner desk), and take breaks whenever I feel like it.

Don’t get me wrong – working from home takes a LOT of discipline. And not having any real maternity leave to speak of? That sucks. But I want to work on that.

And then it hit me. I know a LOT about running a home business. And I’m about to learn a LOT more about running one with babies in tow. And of course, I know a lot of mommas who would love to stay at home with their kids, but can’t afford to quit their jobs.

I love babies. I love kids. And I love mommas. I want to help other mommies do what I do – stay at home, and enjoy more time with their families. After all, what good is more money when you’re sacrificing time with the ones that you love?

So here is my question to you… After spending 5 years running a successful home based business, I’ve learned a lot. A lot about how to drive traffic, how to choose your products wisely, and how to turn it into a real income without sacrificing ALL of your time.

So – what do YOU want to know? What can I do to help you work at home, spend more time with your family, and build up an income? Whether that is just enough to buy extra groceries and cloth diapers, or enough to replace your old income AND your husband’s so you can all stay at home.

What parts of my knowledge will be helpful to you? What parts of my experience can help you build that lifestyle?

Tell me, readers – how can I help you?

9 Steps to Starting an Online Business – for WAHMs

Like the title says – so, you want to be a work at home mom? Want to spend more time with the fetus(es) and less time commuting to and from that boring office? Or maybe you’re already a stay at home mom, but need more cash to make it work?

It IS possible to be a work at home mom. Despite what your family might say, what your friends might tell you, despite EVERYONE – it is possible.

The chances of it happening with a home party business… Well, unless you treat it like a real business and invest serious money, the chances aren’t good.

But there ARE other options that moms like you and I can pursue.

Take my profession, for example. I’m a freelance writer. I write business marketing materials all day long, and I enjoy it. I get paid darn well when there is work coming in, too. Unfortunately, the down side to the freelance life is that it is largely feast or famine – you either have a lot of money coming in, or none at all.

You could try your hand at making something crafty, and selling it on Etsy. Or surf garage sales and sell your finds on eBay. Train dogs. Plan events. Make jewelry, tutor people/kids, be a virtual assistant, or even just get a work at home job (although those are harder to comeĀ  by these days than a good business idea.)

The best part about most of these business ideas, especially the online ones?

You can start them for oh, I don’t know – about $20. That’s less than most home party kits, and it gets you all set up. Sure, there will be a *bit* more work involved than just opening a box – but your friends and family will be a LOT less annoyed than if you opened up your home party business, and started phoning them all asking to host parties at their houses and sell stuff to all of their friends.

But because I’m all about honesty, I’m going to give you the 100% truth here. These are the steps that you NEED to follow to start up a successful online business – whether that is selling crafts, being a virtual assistant, being a writer like me, or even just starting your own blog and watching it grow.

Step 1 : Find your passion. Not just something you’re interested in, find your PASSION. The thing that gets you so fired up during conversations, it is hard to get you to stop talking. The one subject no one will bring up around you anymore for THAT EXACT REASON. Passionate about cloth diapering? Find someone who drop-ships them (I’ll talk about drop-shippers another time), and start selling them online. Passionate about breastfeeding? Learn everything you can, and become a lactation consultant. Find your true passion, something that you can be 100% absorbed in for 24 hours each day and STILL enjoy, and you’ll find your business.

Step 2 : Figure out how to make that profitable. This isn’t always easy… When you’ve been doing a job for a living for so many years, thinking of selling something to someone – anyone – is kind of scary. You don’t want to seem pushy and rude, and you’ll probably under-price all of your stuff to begin with because you’re afraid that what you’re selling isn’t worth the price. Give up all of those notions right this minute. You need to if you’re going to survive your first year in business.

Step 3 : Setup your office. This can be a laptop on the kitchen table, like many WAHMies I know, or a full room as a dedicated office, like mine. No, it doesn’t have to be a kid-free zone (like any of us have THOSE anymore…) but it should be neat and clean, and a good place to store stuff that you might need to access later – WITHOUT sticky fingers running off with it.

Step 4 : Find a web host. What kind of web host? Well, probably not the cheapest one (I hate to tell you.) And DON’T go with one that offers a free domain name (that is your URL – “www.YourSite.com”) – because if you ever change to another web host in the future, you’re going to lose your domain name. They’ll keep it, even though it is yours. Trust me on this one, I learned it the hard way back when I was first getting started… I’ll write another whole article on this soon, though. So watch for it.

Step 5 : Setup a PayPal account. This is a MUST! Why? Because it lets you take payments from all of your customers, and lets you pay for your hosting account! People don’t send checks in the mail anymore to order things. You HAVE to be able to take credit cards, at the very least. And PayPal is the absolute cheapest way to do that (well, it is the cheapest up front – their ongoing fees are higher, but I’m assuming you don’t have $1000 for a real merchant account right now. Or that if you do, you’d rather spend it on your fetus(es) like me.)

Step 6 : Order your web hosting. Pick the package that will let you host at least two websites (because you’ll probably need at least one more eventually, and switching can be a pain sometimes…) but NOT the biggest package. Those are for people with super-huge amounts of visitors – something you have none of yet. Pick the middle of the road package, and subscribe to it.

Step 7 : This is where it gets tricky… You can start up a WordPress blog (which is easy to install, just check out the instructions…) or you can learn some HTML and design it yourself. Either way, *hopefully* you’ll have a web host that is willing to help you – even if it is for a few bucks. WordPress is probably the easiest option if you’ve got no web experience (and I mean making websites, not surfing them…) plus it is easier to edit later. I know how to build websites from scratch, and I still use wordpress for everything. Because it is just easier. Plus the search engines like WordPress sites more, they’re easier to customize, there are tutorials and plugins EVERYWHERE to make it do what you want… It’s crazy how much you can do with WordPress. (I’ll do another post later about the best plugins to have!)

Step 8 : Add all of your products or services to your website, or start blogging (if that is what you’re doing.) This part should be easy, since you figured out earlier what you’re going to sell. Then add PayPal to your website so people can pay you, and your site is done!

Step 9 : Now you work on getting traffic. Which, unfortunately, I’m going to make a completely separate blog post. There is just WAY too much about getting traffic to your website to share here at the end of this post. Some basic tips for getting traffic? Figure out where your customers are – whether that is on mommy blogs (giveaways aren’t just fun because you win stuff, the people giving things away make lots of cash off of those!), reading online magazines or newsletters, or on certain websites. Find where your customers hang out, and get a link to your website in front of them!

Now obviously, that is wildly simplified. There is more to it in some places than I had room to tell you about here. But why don’t you tell me what your most burning questions about running a home business are, and I’ll answer them in another blog post next week! I promise!