This year marked 9 years of blogging for me. I’m not sure where those years have gone but it’s certainly gone quickly. And I always envisaged that I’d be a stay at home mum in the traditional sense of the word and not bring in any money. But that didn’t last long because everything costs money and being able to buy our first house and do a few nice things in those early days like baby swim lessons and craft cost money. So I did a bit here and there ranging from Avon to Tupperware to setting up my online fabric store. The extra money let me have some play money. Over those years our family has grown to 8 and the costs have gone up and up and up. Weekly speech therapy, speech for another little one, specialist appointments, preschool and school fees, activities (and we don’t do that many), clothes, shoes, housing costs, babysitting and on and on and on some more.
So having some money coming in has always been a welcome relief. But it does require work and making sure that my priorities are always right. And my golden rule if you’re going to work from home is always putting the kids and family life first. It keeps everyone happy.
Here are some tips and tricks and how I manage to work from home and how I’ve done so over the years. I’m hoping you might add some tips in the comments to help out my readers. I often receive emails from lovely mums out there who desperately want to stay home but the rising cost of living (well the crazy cost of living at the moment especially if you need to live in a major city for work) put so much pressure on mums to return to work to pay the mortgage or rent or just the bills. I hope this helps you.
Find something that you will love and enjoy
the only way I’ve managed to do this for so long is because I’ve loved it. The blog has changed over the years and I’ve learnt new things like wordpress and how to fix simple things on my blog. But it’s always been fun. Brainstorm ideas if you are starting out – I do think that selling a product online is a great way to start. Create a simple website or have it done for you with a simple template from etsy or the internet, keep your hosting costs low and sell something you’ve made/bought or a service. You will find this a faster way to bring in some money than hoping that blogging will be your money earner. Once you’ve been online a while then you can look at earning money through a website.
Keep some sort of business hours
Everyone wants everything done yesterday. If people are emailing you on weekends it is perfectly acceptable to reply during the week. Do you think your favourite store answers your questions outside of business hours? Have a little part of your website or in your FAQ that says when you will answer questions or when you are available if it starts to become a problem. Turn your phone off at night or keep it in another room (I like to charge mine up in my bedroom so I don’t have it after dinner).
Use your phone
Thursday and Fridays I have all the little kids with me so I find it very hard to turn on my computer. So I don’t. I use my phone to check and reply to any emails and keep the facebook ticking along. It means I’m with my little ones and don’t have to use the computer or spend time away from them on those days.
Set aside time each week when you work and get things done
Preschool or daycare days or time when you can have a few hours on the computer are a great time to write a few posts, update your website, do orders, tidy things up, take more photos, get your tax and paperwork done and tick a few things off your to do list. You’ll be motivated because you have peace and quiet and you can focus. Also when everyone has gone to bed (assuming I haven’t fallen asleep with them) can be a good time to get things done.
So many times (I’ve lost count) I’ve just wanted to give up and walk away. Just leave things ticking along and take a break. You can always take a break and come back to it. Everyone understands. It’s better to take a break than do a big dramatic ‘I’m leaving’ and then have to come back later. Then when you really want to quit you’ve taken a few breaks and know that it’s the right time to move on.
Have a FAQ page
If you’re getting asked the same questions over and over then create a FAQ page and put them all there. When people email you or ask a question then send them to that page
You don’t have to reply to or go to everything
Once you start getting inundated with PR requests and emails it’s important to note that you don’t have to reply to everything. It’s not going to make you a bad person. I have to delete so many emails just to stay on top of emails. I don’t do events unless they paid or a brand that I really want to work with. Most other events are a bit of fluff and I can get the information elsewhere. Plus the cost of travel, babysitting and time away from home plus who is going to do the school run. Just be polite and ask to be kept up to date.
Get help at home when you need it
If you’re bringing in some money then it might be the time to get someone to help clean the house or a bit of babysitting so you can do some work. Another option is having someone come in and package up order, do your mail, manage your emails (like a virtual assistant), do your newsletters to free up your time.
Make times for phone calls
When the phone rings everyone needs me, the baby wants to be fed, someone wants something opened and all hell breaks loose. It’s crazy town most times of the day here and even worse when I get on the phone. Set a time when it’s good to talk and just let the person know or you’ll call them back. I make it after lunch when the house is ‘usually’ quiet and pop on a dvd and hope for the best. Keep it brief and I stick to email and messages as much as I can. Have a toy tub or something for the kids just in case they see you on the phone and decide now is the time to ask you for everything.
It’s OK to change direction
Perhaps you thought you’d be a blogger but it hasn’t panned out. You’ve got the skills and know your way around social media. Why not mentor other bloggers or do the social media for a small business (or big business) in your area or through someone you know. Bringing in some money and using your expertise and working from home. Win win.
Join closed Facebook groups
There are some great blogging groups on Facebook where you can ask newbie questions and help other people out too. No question is too silly and you’ll get support and advice.
Have a buddy
Have a friend, another blogger/business owner in your field and help each other out. You share their work and they share yours. Leverage off each other. It will also be a great support and friendship.
Keep up the activities
Keep doing your usual outside the house – whether it’s running (not me, but maybe you!), playgroup, mothers group and so on. Keep them up. You can easily throw yourself into online life but for the kids and your own sanity keep getting out and about. We loved playgroup (me especially) until my twins started preschool. I started going when I had my first baby so I could get out of the house and it saved my life. As my family grew faster than anyone at mothers group I found my friendships and sanity at playgroup. Church playgroups are always my favourite as you get mums and grandmas and a warm welcome.
Remember that opportunities will always be there
Thanks to my friend Jennie of Posie Patchwork who gave me that advice when I had 4 little ones. She’s so right. Opportunities will always be there. Whether you have a newborn or are planning a new baby or are going through a difficult patch at home. Everything will still be there. Step off for a little while or perhaps keep dreaming of your business. There will always be opportunities for mums to work from home and it might not be your time yet. Do some online courses, read some books, make lists, do craft (my personal favourite) or your favourite hobby and relax. The only thing that is growing is your family and children.
Don’t forget your husband
Goes without saying doesn’t it. Just as you don’t like to be forgotten after a hard day looking after the kids don’t forget about your dear husband. I show love through food (yes, a nicely cooked dinner) and a clean as I can get it house. Obviously there are going to be crazy days – if you have a baby then forget what I just said because life is hard enough so don’t worry about the beautiful dinner and clean house, focus on the baby – but overall remember why you are home and look after everyone in your house.
Just keep doing it! I think that’s my motto. After 9 years I still get exciting new projects to work on and still love that I can work from home, raise my larger than average family, bring in money which has allowed us to do weekly speech and move to acreage and made a real difference.