Formulas for Making Working at Home Work
Are you caught in the middle of motherhood and a career? Maybe loving staying home with the kids but needing or wanting to bring in a fairly regular paycheck without going back to work outside of the home? I was in your shoes for several years – staying at home with my four young children by choice and loving it, but knowing that consistent work for me in addition to staying home with the kids – work that comes with a cashable paycheck at the bank – would help so many things. It would mean that as our family expenses grew (seemingly as quickly as the kids’ shoe sizes) that I could contribute to the bank account each and every month, and it would also mean that as the kids grew I would be able to transition my skills and my own future. Let’s face it, as much as we love to share special moments with our kids every day, they really aren’t going to think we’re very cool if we follow them everywhere when they are teens. Trust me. I know. I have 3 teenagers in my house.
Like so many stay-at-home moms turned work-at-home moms, I used to consider myself really only a stay-at-home mom, even though I would occasionally have editing or writing work I managed to fit in between chasing toddlers and saving stuffed animals that went swimming in the toilet. But I never really considered myself a work-at-home mom until I felt like I could count on, with some degree of confidence, regular, paying work. If you have a talent or passion your friends tell you to market, or if you have that occasional work you do, you can take it to the next level and find yourself transitioning to another hat to wear – work-at-home mom.
Your Talent = Saving Their Time
Take your talents and passions and market them to people and businesses who loathe what you love to do. For me – this works as an editor and writer. I can go to people who have to write as part of their job description (filing reports, etc.), and offer my writing or editing skills to take the pressure off of their assignments. Maybe you love to sew, and you can offer your skills to an interior designer who loves to decorate but can’t thread a needle.
Your Job + Their job = Prime Partnership
Give one or more professionals the edge by partnering with you and your skills. You will all benefit from a broader customer base. I occasionally write for a professional photographer who partners with caterers and other wedding planning professionals. The photographer and the wedding planners both benefit from sharing customer bases and professional referrals, and each has a unique skill set so there is no competition between them. You don’t have to share any money or sign any contracts – it is an informal way to cheer each other on and both reap the benefits. Customers like and want one stop shopping – make that your edge your partnership can offer.
Your Product/Services + Cloud Commuting = Future with Freedom
Statistics show that cloud commuting (where most of my business happens) is one of the fastest growing areas of business. Most of my clients I’ve never met in person, a few I’ve seen live on Skype, I speak with many on the phone, and communicate with all of them online or via texting. And somehow in some, strange way I do feel that I am able to build strong business relationships with my clients.
- Look for a way to see how the work you like to do fits into an online market. Maybe you’ve been doing in-home daycare, but now you want to expand to something online. You can’t be an online nanny, but maybe you can contribute to lesson plans for preschoolers or conduct product tests for toddler toys and gadgets.
- Read reviews of broker houses – sites such as Elance, ODesk and Freelancer.com are becoming more popular and safer for users, but you still need to protect yourself by reading the fine print – always.
- Utilize things like escrow accounts to help guarantee payments.
- Build your resume and digital portfolio. What you present online will most likely take the place of your firm handshake and looking your potential employer or client in the eye – and as the saying goes – you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Your Passion + Like-Minded People = Increased Success
When I decided I wanted to get a little more serious about my work-at-home endeavors I knew I needed to connect with more people who think like I do and wanted to reach some of the same types of goals.
- Check with your city’s Chamber of Commerce for a list of industry groups and networking organizations. Even if your business endeavors will be more in the form of cloud commuting, local groups like these can connect you with other professionals who might have valuable resources, such as tax advice and ideas for expansion.
- Use the Better Business Bureau to investigate any groups with which you think you might want to become affiliated.
- Find support groups online and in your community. I joined boards and discussion groups for writers and editors. This is where all of the good dirt gets shoveled about – where you learn which cloud commuting brokerage houses are worth it and how to spot a client that is too good to be true.
There are no easy steps to becoming more self-sufficient as a work-at-home mom, but I do firmly believe that this generation has the best opportunities yet to be able to both stay at home with the kids and work from home for a paycheck. I’m not saying those two are always easy to do (I’ve had my share of exhausted days), but for me the rewards are numerous and I’m able to set and reach goals personally and professionally – a strong lesson for my kids to witness.