Category Archives: Work At Home Mommy Info

Are You Playing Hide and Seek With Your Blog?

Peek-a-boo!  I see you!

It’s a cute game to play with our sweet little babies.  You hide, you come out, you hide, you come out.  Oh, the laughter and fun!

It’s not a cute game when you’re talking about your blog – especially when you are trying to generate another stream of income with all your hard work and effort that you put into it.

My husband and I recently started helping businesses in our local area to create a more effective online marketing strategy.  Here are five of the best things you can do to make sure your site is being found by readers …

Number One – Get your OWN blog!!!  If you don’t own your domain name and your own space, then you don’t own the content either.  They can pull the plug on you at any time – because it’s really theirs.  Buy a domain name – it’s only $10 annually.  Get it hosted – it’s only $10 per month.  Now, you know that you own everything you do.

Number Two – Search for yourself.  What do you want to be found for online?  Search for those terms and see where you rank.  An easy way to find your blog (if it’s not on the first page of the search results) is to use a tool called Rank Checker.  You can install it for free and run many different keyword phrases against your domain name to see where you land.

Number Three – Keep participating in carnivals and posting comments on blogs (especially blogs that have CommentLuv or something like that enabled).  This will provide backlinks to your blog and search engines will consider you to be more important.  You can search for blogs that have CommentLuv enabled by searching for “your keyword here” “CommentLuv enabled” in the search bar.  Just make sure to post something meaningful, not a “great post!” spam comment!

Number Four – Check out your analytics.  Google Analytics is free and gives you a wealth of information about your blog traffic.  FeedJit is another one.  How are people already finding you the most?  Create more articles about that subject and you’ll be found even more often.  If there is something you aren’t being found for, start creating a series of articles about that subject.

Number Five – Use the power of video.  It doesn’t even have to be a GOOD video.  For example. Certainly not my finest hour, but it gets the point across and I’ve had almost 800 views (update: that’s now up to almost 3,000 views!) and many of them have converted to buyers of which we get a percentage in commission.  You don’t have to be in front of the video yourself – you can pull together a slideshow of pictures, add in some text, and voila! you have a video.  Now, just make sure to add in your website link to the description along with those keywords you want to be found for.

Keep up the great work on your blogs!  If you ever need any help, feel free to contact me at “jennifer” @ “homegrownmommy.com”  (The email address is disguised so that web scrapers can’t harvest and sell my email address.)

When Home And Work Converge – How To Become A Successful WAHM

I’m finding that there is a quite a paradox in working from home.

When I worked outside the home, there were nice, neat little segments in my life.

There was the little area of my life where I worked.  My desk stayed (fairly) neat.  My cubicle walls were decorated.  There was quiet when I needed quiet.  There were friends and fun, too.

In a completely separate and distinctly different area of my life there was home.  That’s when I played with my child (I only had one at that time!), relaxed, and cleaned.  That’s where I entertained guests, relaxed, did laundry, did grocery shopping, and cleaned (some more).

Suddenly, I am finding the two areas are converging, the lines are blurring, and it is hard to keep things neat and tidy like I did before!

Especially in these early days of getting our web design business off the ground, I am finding that I wake up most mornings with tons of business ideas and lots of energy to put into the work area of my life.  But, the laundry is left mostly untended or the dishes probably needed to be done first or there are small messes from kids playing in almost every corner.

It’s easy to put all my focus on one area at a time.  And, now that there are no distinct lines between work and home, it’s hard to know what I should be doing and when I should be doing it.  There are work priorities and there are home priorities – but, how do I determine which priority comes first?

Maybe you’ve felt this way, too.  You work hard at both parts of your life but, somedays, it seems like you’re behind on BOTH areas!

But, I love working at home!  I did not want to settle for any part of those areas falling apart.  So, here’s what I did to fix it.

1. Schedule!

This one is huge!

You have to have a starting point.  The painter has the image of the final painting in his head before it hits the canvas.  The sculptor knows what the clay will look like while it’s still in a lump.  The work at home momma should have an idea of how the day should progress when she opens her eyes in the morning.

Start writing down all the stuff you want to get done each day, each week, each month.  Prioritize each one and then put the number ones on your schedule and follow with the rest of the numbers in order as they fit.  Some things will happen everyday and some things will only happen once a month but at least you know it’s written down and you won’t forget it.

I did a series on how to build a schedule, maybe it would help you to get started.

2. Delegate.

Get the rest of the family to help you.

Older kids (at least six years old and up) should have chores that they can be depended on to do without much supervision.  Little ones can be right beside you during chore times, learning how to be those dependable older kids!

We have two time slots on the schedule that we do *chore time* and it helps keep the house ready for clients or friends and Mommy sane!  *well, mostly sane*

3.Relax.

Reframe in your mind how things need to progress throughout the day.  If the day varies a little bit from your schedule, its really okay.  If it keeps veering off everyday, then just tweak the schedule a little bit.

I used to feel that every room and every corner had to be picture perfect before I could progress to anything else in my life.  I like order.  But, with five children, it’s a little more difficult to achieve – not impossible, as many would have you believe.

At this point in my life, I’m okay with the house looking “lived in”.  I don’t expect absolute perfection.  Obviously, I’m always on the move – when I go to the kitchen for some water, I pick up whatever toys I see along the way and put them back or I neaten up this shelf or that desk.  It’s never just a trip to the bathroom – the mirror gets washed, too, or the sink gets wiped down or the towels get changed out.  But, I also make a mental list (or an actual list on paper that I’ll lose) of things that I just couldn’t get to and I feel better knowing that I have my two chore-slots in the schedule when we’ll get to some of those things.

4.  Don’t get frustrated.

Yep.  That’s a real easy one to follow.

or.

not.

If you do find yourself getting frustrated, follow these two little rules.  Change your focus.  Change your physical state.

In the area of focus, are you getting to a point where you are only focused on the negative things that are happening?  I had a day like this just today.  The morning sped by before I even knew it while I was cleaning up after a busy Sunday.  I finally get into the home office to start making calls and I can’t get a good call list together, I was frustrated with my script so I was trying to find a new one.  In four hours, I made maybe … MAYBE … 10 phone calls.  I felt like I should have just stayed in bed.  I was mad at people who make it sound so easy.  I was mad at all the distractions.  I was mad at myself for not being able to get the job done.

See what I was focused on?

I was focused on being mad.  Not on positives.  Not on being thankful for the opportunity to work from home.  Not on the blessings in my life.

I had to pull myself out of my bad attitude and start naming off things I was thankful for – even if it was for the next breath and the next heartbeat, I HAD to start somewhere!  Gratitude is the best place to start.

While you are in a great mood, write an extensive list of things that you are thankful for.  Keep a thankfulness journal and jot down new things daily or at night before you go to bed.

Then, move around to change your physical state.  Get up, shake it off, remind yourself of past successes, take a walk around the block, do ten jumping jacks.  How do you move your body when you are happy and excited – do THAT!  Jump up and down like your child just won the little league soccer championships!!  It works!

I really hope this will help you as you juggle all the responsibilities in your life!

What did I forget?  Something you do that I didn’t mention?

Leave a comment and let me know!

How To Become A Successful WAHM – Going Offline With Online Services

Our newest endeavor!!

Selling online services to offline businesses – services like creating websites, promoting websites, and helping businesses with their internet marketing needs.

I’m the sales lady and my husband is the techie guy!  He gets the work done and I find the people who want it.  We’re an awesome team if I do say so myself.

Our first step in starting this new adventure includes cold calling businesses to see if they are in need of a website.  I’ve been taking the good old phone book and starting in a specific niche.  Take a few moments to search for each business online to see if they have a site – not only does this tell you who has one and who doesn’t, but then you get to see what is the industry standard in your area for sites.  Then, I call and briefly (very very briefly) introduce myself and tell them what I do and ask if they are interested.

I DO NOT shove websites down their throat.  If they say no, I DO NOT try to convince them that they absolutely must have one right now.  Every no brings me closer to a yes.  Every time I meet with someone, it’s more experience I’m gaining toward the *big sale*.  Just that one rule takes so much pressure off me – I don’t have to think of the perfect sales pitch or the right combination of words that will magically win them over.  I’m going for the “lowing hanging fruit”, the ones who know they need a website and are ready to get one right now.

We’ve been doing this a few weeks now and there are a few lessons I’ve learned already:

Have a dedicated space.

We flipped around our living room and our homeschool room.  That way, our living room now doubles as a home office and who ever is working on the business can go in there and shut the door for some peace and quiet.

Put together a terms of service and a price point package.

We’ve sort of developed the price point packages along the way but it would have been easier to talk with people and have prices to hand them.  Sometimes, people do the site work on a quote basis, but you can at least put a *starting at* number in there.  The Terms of Service would have avoided some hard-to-work-with people, although not avoid them altogether.  Look at other web designers sites to see how they are wording their terms and modify to fit your needs.

Develop a consistent schedule.

When you work at home, it’s so easy to just decide to do some of the other things that need to get done to keep a household running.  It’s tempting to run errands like getting the car fixed and grocery shopping during the day when everyone else is at work.  But, this IS your work right now.  Be dedicated and you will see results sooner.

Take very good notes while you are on the phone.

My goal is to make 200 calls per day.  WOW!!  That’s a TON of calls!  I can’t tell you how many times I have talked with someone and they tell me to call back in such-and-such minutes and I talk to the next person and they say to call on such-and-such day – 10 calls later I’ve forgotten who said what and I didn’t think I needed to write it down because I would remember!  Yikes!

Follow Up.

Adhering to your schedule will really help with this – but if you tell someone you’ll call back, make sure you DO!  If you tell someone you will send them something, make sure you DO!  If someone says to call next week or next month, you have to have a system in place that will remind you to do that and help you to make it happen.

One of the ways we started to get business was to approach friends and offer our services for free.  They get a nice website for free and we get to start developing a portfolio to show other people.  We just ask that they get their site hosted with us at an extremely low monthly rate.  Once they are happy with their site, they will inevitably start recommending us with that ultra-powerful ever-coveted Word-Of-Mouth recommendation to their friends, colleagues, clients, etc.

There is definitely lots of money to be made on the internet, of that I have no doubt.  But, doing business in the offline world is still multiple times more lucrative than the internet has been up to this point.

How To Become A Successful WAHM – Top 5 Lessons Learned

I posted our history of trying to earn extra income … the story of how we got into the internet marketing world.  But, what’s a story if there is no lesson to be learned.  So what if you jumped through all kinds of hoops if you aren’t better equipped to do it more successfully next time.

This time, I’d like to share what we have learned over the years.  What I would do differently or what I wouldn’t do at all.

Ahem.

Yes, yes, alright already!  I know what you’re thinking.  Like, I wouldn’t give out my bank info again.  Ever.  (You’ll have to read the article to know what that’s about!)

1. Do. Not. Quit.

Just don’t do it!  You have to give it all you got and then take it a little further.  It’s kind of like someone saying, “I’m going to train for a marathon,” and then they only train for one or two days and say, “Well, that didn’t work!”  You have to put in 110%.  Cliche? Yes!  Absolutely right? Yes!  Like I always tell my kids, anything worth doing is going to be hard to do.  You’ve already discovered that there are no get-rich-quick plans that actually work.  You are going to have to work your fingers to the bone to make this thing work.  You’re an entrepreneur.  It takes dedication, commitment, sacrifice mixed with some blood, sweat and tears.  That’s the stuff an entrepreneur is made of!

2. Be a team.

I would have stopped trying many many moons ago if it weren’t for my husband.  We are a fabulous team.  Not everyday is picture-perfect but we lean on each other.  When one of us is down, the other is the encourager and vice versa.  Your family is going to be your best support system, your favorite co-workers, your strongest network.  Communicate with them about your dream, your vision for what you are doing.  Talk to your husband.  If he’s saying ‘no’ maybe it’s because of some underlying fear that you’ll be chained to the computer forever and completely neglect him.  Let your kids take part – let them bring ideas for articles to the table, write an article about their funniest quotes and read it with them.

3. Invest in some training.

No matter what you choose to do, be it blogging or trading penny stocks, learn from the experts who are doing it well.  There are amazing packages from millionaires who will charge you and arm and a leg for the intensely powerful information on how they made their millions.  There are free youtube videos and books at the library to glean from.  Just learn something each and every week.  Commit to taking in something new on a regular basis and you’ll be amazed at how much you know at the end of the year.  One of the best things we ever did upon deciding to “go for it” with this blogging thing was to buy a training package from Yaro Starak.  I think what we learned there propelled us light years ahead of what we ever could have learned on our own.

4. Schedule.

Oh, how I wish I could shout this one from the rooftops!  Someday, I might get brave enough or frustrated enough to actually do it!  Do you have any idea how much more you can accomplish by being on schedule?  Get up at the same (decent) time everyday, get dressed (do NOT work in your pajamas!), and so on.  Having a schedule allows you to make attainable goals.  Having a schedule allows you to actually get something done with your day.  Having a schedule allows you to keep the house clean, the kids entertained, the husband happy, and the blog updated!  (All the instances of “schedule” that you see linked to an article on my blog are linked to different articles!  I talk about schedule a ton!)

(4a.  Follow your schedule.  You can spend every day for the next year creating the absolute most perfect schedule any blogger ever had.  But, it really doesn’t matter if you don’t FOLLOW IT!!!  Don’t make excuses.  Don’t ditch the schedule after one day.  Don’t wait until you’ve created the perfect schedule.  Start tomorrow!  Start right now!)

5. Network with others.

Join the local Mommy group that does play dates.  Get on board with your Chamber of Commerce.  Comment on other blogs and develop a relationship with the writer. Put yourself out there and you just never know what might happen.  I contacted a local radio station to see what their prices were for advertising.  We aren’t even close to being able to afford a radio spot, but I wanted to have something to aim for in the budget and because if I didn’t do it while I was thinking about it, I would forget.  The station manager contacted me and said that they need help with their site and maybe we could trade services!!!  You just never know!!

Surely you’ve learned a WAHM lesson that I haven’t gotten to yet!  Please share it here.

What would you say is the best/worst lesson you’ve learned?

What would you share with a new WAHM just starting out?

How To Become A Successful WAHM – Our History

Ahhhh … where did it all begin?  I feel like I’ve been trying to work at home successfully my whole life!

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I knew right then that I wanted to stay at home with him.  But, how could I as a single mom?  (Read my personal story here.)  So, a great friend of mine proposed starting an in-home daycare.  Perfect!

We started the paperwork, researched the how-tos, found an apartment rental that didn’t mind if we operated there, and even found a toy store that was going out of business.  All of it hinged on getting a small business loan from the bank.  We were denied and our months of excited planning just went down the drain.  If we had been persistent and not let that stop us, I’m sure we could have made it work but we felt so defeated that we walked away at that point.

My ideas of working from home were put on hold but I never stopped thinking about it.  Every time I had to leave my little boy crying at the daycare window, I would dream on the way to work.  Every time friends of mine talked about their day with their kids, I would research another idea.

Shortly before my son turned five, I met an amazing man and we fell in love.  After we were married, we started talking about homeschooling!  My dream would finally become a reality!  Our first daughter together came very shortly afterward and I’ve been home ever since.

Of course, going from two incomes down to one really made a difference in our budget.  So once again, that drive to work at home was awakened.  I borrowed books from the library, I spent hours researching online.

I don’t remember each and every avenue I tried but there were many.

Like the time I tried to become a freelance writer for greeting card companies.  I enjoy writing and thought it would be a perfect match.  It didn’t happen quickly enough for me, so I moved on to the next get-rich-quick idea.

Grants.  You know … free money that you never have to pay back?  Wouldn’t that be nice … if it were true?!  Oh My!!  Did THAT end up to be a horrible situation!

To make a long story as short as I possibly can, I looked up grants online and signed up on a couple of websites.  A few days later, my phone rang and it was a company that had something to do with grants – I don’t remember all the details.  He began trying to prove that he was legitimate and that I should give him my bank account information.  He gave me the routing numbers on my check as “proof”.

I hung up quickly thinking that would be the end of it.  Then, my phone rang again!  He was mad and mean and I ended up giving out the number but had to go through a verification process before they could use it and I hung up during that.  Then, my husband got home and he picked up the phone as it rang again.  He told them what he thought of their operation, we rushed the kids to the neighbor (we had three at that time) and drove to the bank to stop whatever damage I had done.  It all turned out fine, but it was scary there for a little bit.

We also tried to invest in penny stocks.  My husband actually really enjoyed doing this and was quite successful at it.  We made a cross country move about five months after we began with the penny stocks and didn’t ever get the chance to pick those back up.

Since the move, it stopped being about making *extra* money, but about making any money at all!  My husband is a (fantastic, top-notch, very good) carpenter and with the housing market the way it is and just the economy in general, he hasn’t had much work.  He is not the type to just sit there and let life happen to him.

We had many many midnight brain-storming sessions trying to figure out what the best avenue was.

At that point, all of our efforts turned toward the web.  We were reading about so many people making at least a part time income, we just had to try it.  After some research, more brain storming, some training and more research, HomeGrownMommy was born!

We have learned so much from building this site and the few others that we have … like NaturalHealthTutoring (with a Coconut Oil subdomain and a very popular Breech Baby page), DSBStudents, FalconDesignStudio and a bunch more that are definitely not ready for advertising.  We have now turned our attention to creating sites for others with FalconDesignStudio.  My husband’s name is Falko which means falcon in German, hence the business name of Falcon.  Having a website for your business is so vitally important in this day and age, we want to help those hesitant small business owners to finally take the plunge.

I do the selling, he does the building – we’re an awesome team!  I manage kids while he works, he manages kids while I work.  I love working with my husband.

Right now, we’re doing mostly cold calling and word-of-mouth to friends and family.  I am constantly trying to learn better ways to earn business and build relationships with customers.  He is constantly learning how to build a better site.

We’ve made two sales so far and have several prospects.

Okay!  I’m done talking about me … what about you?  What ideas for making money have you tried?  Celebrate your successes, admit your failures – let’s learn together about the best way to *get ‘er done*!!!  Please leave your comments below.

Helping People Is What It’s All About!

HelpingHi there!  I got home late from dinner at a friend’s home and did not have time to finish up the very informative “garlic” article that I’ve started, but being with my friend tonight helped me re-focus and remember what this blog is really all about.  Helping Others!!

My friend has a baby just a few weeks older than my baby #4 and she was very interested in how I wear my baby.  So, I helped her wrap it around and tie it on and put him into it.  Just seeing the happy look on her face when we got it all tied up was so wonderful!  Then, we were able to sit down together and look at the ACE curriculum that my oldest son uses for homeschooling.

Blogging doesn’t always feel like taking someone by the hand in their own living room and helping them out with something.  But, in many ways, it is exactly like that.  You come to me for help and advice on certain issues  by sitting down at your computer and going to my website.  I write articles from my heart about what I know and what I’ve gone through in the hopes of helping you make good decisions or incorporate things into your life that will help you.

In blogging, I can’t always see that satisfied smile when I’ve taught you something useful or shown you something unique.  At times, it can get discouraging, wondering whether anyone is being helped or whether anyone is learning anything.  That’s were the comments come in!  A happy “thank you” or a kind “I agree” really gives me the encouragement and fire to go on writing more useful and informative articles.  If I can really HELP someone, if I can really make someone’s life easier by sharing my knowledge, then it’s worth all the late nights and the hard work. 

Isn’t what life really boils down to anyway?  Whether it’s our kids or our spouse, the elderly lady in the church or the teenager working at the grocery store, life is easier to live when we know we’ve helped someone.

So, if this blog is helping you, would you drop a quick comment?  If a particular article comes to you at just the right time, let me know!

We had a fabulous time with our friends this evening, talking and laughing – it was a great evening of friendship.  Now, if I could just remember that green beans recipe, I’d be all set!  YUM!!

An Interview With Joe at “I’ve Tried That” – How To Avoid Getting Scammed On the Internet

I was honored recently to do an email interview with someone who has played a large part in the creation of HomeGrownMommy.com even though I have never personally met him!

In my quest to bring another stream of income to our budget, I did hours of internet research about different work-at-home “opportunities”.  Many of them were scams that wanted to take my money and leave me with nothing to show for it.  I just knew there had to be something I could do to help out with our finances but I did not want to waste money along the way.

In the process of that research, I came across another blog called “I’ve Tried That“.  Co-Owners Joe and Steve are dedicated to trying out different opportunities to make money online and testing out the reality of the promises that are made.  Then, they report back to you through their website and, as their tagline puts it so well, “We Lose Money So You Don’t Have To!”  I have been a subscriber to “I’ve Tried That” for some time now and have learned so much about what will make money and what will not.  Based on their advice as to what was the best way to make money online, I started this blog.

I think many single income families can benefit from the wisdom that Joe shares in this interview.  As day-to-day necessities get more and more expensive, haven’t we all tried to look for that extra dollar here, that extra dime there?  I’ll let the advice Joe gives speak for itself …

The Email Interview

Thank you so much for being willing to do this interview with me!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it!  I write my blog for homeschooling families primarily.  If any of them are like me regarding income, many of them have probably tried to make money from home and gotten themselves into a scam or two.  I’d like them to see that there is someone out there who is testing these work-at-home-opportunites so they don’t have to.  So, here come the questions.

1.  Since I write my blog for families, I was wondering if you would first introduce us to your family.

My wife and I have five children, ages 17 to 3. We had the 17-yr-old first so she could babysit the 3 and 5 year olds. At least, that’s what she accuses of doing. Only the 3-year-old eats normal food. (The others are pickier than a monkey at a lice convention.)  The 5-yr-old recently told his mom, “I wish daddy didn’t have to work all the time.” That’s my biggest challenge–balancing what’s good for them against what’s good for me. The two don’t always overlap.

2.  Tell my readers a little bit about your website.

It’s a blog about working at home and avoiding online scams. We sign up for programs and then tell people what is behind the advertising. It’s modestly successful, racking up 2,000-3,000 unique visits per day, 4-5,000 page loads, 2,000+ subscribers. Its readership is growing steadily but slowly. I and a co-partner/owner run it together.

3.  Can you tell us why you started the website and about how long ago?

It’s two years old this month. We started it for two reasons: (1) we were sick of seeing all the scammy sales pages that promised a job, but were really just trying to sell you stuff. (2) We thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if someone was signing up for these programs and then would tell us what they’re really about?” We couldn’t find a site that was doing that, so we decided to build it.

4.  What is your best piece of advice for single income families that would like to bring in a little extra income without a large startup cost?

Hmm…there are a few essential “rules:”
Never pay for a “job.” If you’re being asked to pay, it’s not a job.
Earning an income online is very possible, but it takes time. If you need money now, go get a job.
If you’re willing and able to invest in education to build a long-term income, check out Wealthy Affiliate University or Blog Mastermind.

5.  What is the best at-home money making opportunity you have seen since starting your site?

The two I mentioned in #4 and also Niche Blitzkrieg (Check out my insider review of Niche Blitzkrieg.)

6.  What is the worst scam you have seen?

It’s a toss up: rebate processing or fake check scams. Google Treasure Chest is quickly gaining ground, though.

7.  About how many different work-at-home opportunities have you reviewed to this point?

About three. Let me explain. While we have more than 300 posts, around half of which are reviews of “opportunities”, all the “opportunities” are cut from the same basic cloth. Opportunity A promises thousands of $$ per day for little work, but turns out to be a shoddy e-book telling you about affiliate marketing or Google Adwords/Adsense.

8.  With ever-changing technology and the wide-spread use of social networking like facebook and twitter combined with the worries about the economy, what kind of trends do you see for the future of work-at-home opportunites?  Do you see any large changes in opportunities or do you think things will remain as they are for a while?

I think the wave of how social networking affects the work-at-home industry is yet to arrive. Internet marketers use it effectively, but they’re not typical at-home workers. These newest technologies have little or no impact on the average at-home worker, IMO.  The trend I see is a gradually increasing tendency for traditional employers to allow telecommuting. The sheer ubiquity of technologies that are less sexy than Twitter and Facebook make telecommuting workers possible and even favorable for some employers. When manufacturing jobs go away, we’ll have to retool our economy and create a bunch of information jobs. Those information workers will increasingly work from home. That’s a clear trend already. What is not clear is how quickly the numbers will increase. They would increase faster if employees would learn to ask for it from their employers.

Thank you so much, Joe, for the great information!

I really like how Joe cut down all the noise out there down to just a few very important pieces of advice. There are so many promises and guarantees online, it is sometimes very hard to distinguish the truth from fiction. Armed with the information in this article and on the website I’ve Tried That, you can rest assured that you will not waste your hard-earned money on a scam!

I am so glad to have been able to pick Joe’s brain a little bit and I hope you have learned something along the way.

Until next time, keep on growing!