I choked back the tears as I left for work. My daughter wailed, cried and clung then pressed her face against the window with tears streaming down her cheeks. Oh how I wished I had a work at home job so I wouldn't have to leave her. Feelings of guilt, helplessness and hopelessness almost overwhelmed me.
But that was about to change.
I worked 55 hours a week at a competitive, high-stress job for over a decade. After my kids were born, it was gut-wrenching to be away from them so much. On the job, my co-workers resented every family intrusion during working hours. And among my friends advice ran the full spectrum from "You'd be crazy to walk away from such a high-paying job" to "If it's so hard then 'just quit!" I sought compromise, and applied for every part-time or flex time position available; but evidently, those jobs were for people who weren't me -I was denied flextime every time I applied for it.
So why didn't I just quit?
Because I brought in over 70% of our family's income -that's why. Though I hadn't made enough to retire in the ten years I had been on the job, I theoretically made enough for my husband to stay at home -but that wouldn't have solved the problem. I wanted to be home more.
It all came to a head while I was on short term disability due to hypertension, bronchitis and adult onset asthma. In a moment of clarity, I realized that if this killed me, I MIGHT get a moment of silence at the company's next business meeting -but my family would never be the same. Was I really going to let a corporate work schedule drive me to an early grave? The company would get over my loss, my family wouldn't. And the stress was killing me.
I knew I had to change. I couldn't go on another day like that.
What I needed was a legitimate work at home solution -preferably a work at home job with high pay!
By the grace of God, I didn't get sucked into any time and money wasting work-at-home scams. But the get rich quick schemes were everywhere -a dime a dozen. And they seemed tailored to exploit mothers who desperately longed for a better work/life balance.
The first time I looked online, I found a wealth of information, -no real solutions.
Thanks to the Better Business Bureau Alerts and the Federal Trade Commission Website
I knew what to avoid. Envelope stuffing, medical transcription, assembly work etc. But knowing what "not-to-do" still didn't tell me what I was "going-to-do." I thought, prayed and researched. And four years later, I'm sharing what I discovered about various work at home jobs:
Multi-Level-Marketing plans (MLM)
Sometimes pyramid schemes in disguise. Essentially, in a MLM or direct sales system you start out as a distributor, or an independent business owner. The person who recruits you is your "upline" and the people you recruit are your "downline." You get paid a percentage of the sales made by your downline. Likewise, your "upline" gets a percentage of your sales.and so on.and so on.
The difference between an illegal pyramid scheme and a legitimate multi-level-marketing opportunity is the emphasis on recruiting and/or purchasing inventory. In a legitimate MLM, the emphasis will be on sales of the product, a pyramid scheme will stress recruitment and inventory.
Either way, this just wasn't for me. I didn't feel a sense of peace about getting a portion of my income from recruiting friends and family. Furthermore, attending meetings at hotels in the evenings or on the weekends was counterproductive to my goal of being home more.
Nor was I interested in selling makeup -no matter how well known the company was and no matter what kind of special colored car I could earn. The idea of investing in inventory, making space for marketing materials, attending hotel meetings, selling to and/or recruiting my friends and family didn't appeal to me. It was clear that direct sales of makeup wouldn't improve my current work/life balance.
Network marketing or home party based businesses:
No! No! No! I was looking for a way to earn money working from home that didn't rely on the patronization of my friends and family and wouldn't kill me in the process.
- Food storage containers?
- Home decorations?
- Nutritional supplements?
- Noni, goji, acai or mangosteen juice?
|Side note: I don't mean to offend any readers who make their living through network marketing, direct sales or a legitimate MLM. I'm just making the point that it isn't for everyone. (And you can be thankful it isn't, otherwise, there would be no one left to sell to!) I sincerely wish anyone who enjoys success with these types of business models the best.|
So how about taking surveys online?
Not if I wanted real money instead of points, prizes or nickels (at best) for my time. And the survey companies requested a tremendous amount of personal information (Ostentatiously to put me in the correct demographic for market research.) But by far, the worst part was the email.dozens and dozens of survey offers every day, most of which offered me the "chance" to win a prize if I completed the survey. (I guess it can't be called spam if you signed up to receive it; but it sure felt like it) This was not going to be way to support a family.
Not for me. With my particular skills set, I couldn't claim to be a programmer, graphic designer, nor do I posses any technological skill that would put me in demand. I'm hardly even a typist. Even though I'm well spoken and articulate, I couldn't realistically take on a job as a telephone customer service rep because I have young children and a dog creating background noise at any given moment of the day. It would be quite impossible for me even get through a telephone interview, much less land and keep a telephone job.
My Bottom Line
- I wasn't going to post flyers
- I wasn't going to dress up and conduct hotel meetings
- I wasn't going to give one-on-one presentations at coffee houses
- I wasn't going to conduct home parties
- I wasn't going to assemble or sell crafts
- I wasn't going to attend networking luncheons
- I wasn't going to map out anything on a whiteboard
- I wasn't going to mail out product samples
- I wasn't going to make a list of my friends and family
- And I wasn't going to strike up "pitch" conversations with strangers
In other words, I had no intention of doing anything that would make people cringe when they see me coming, or see my number on caller ID.
So how DID I end up working from home?
It's the only work at home opportunity I feel comfortable recommending.
I'm going to explain how to work at home online in laymen's terms. If you already know a thing or two about creating websites and using the internet to make money, please bear with me, you may still learn a thing or two. And if you know nothing about internet marketing and have only heard rumors about fortunes being made online, then keep reading.
I'll start by saying this: Don't quit your day job. Yet. (Unless God Himself speaks to you, plus confirms it in Scripture AND by saints who love both God and you). And don't believe the claims of anyone who says you can make a million dollars overnight in your spare time with little or no effort. This article will outline Seven Steps to working at home by using the internet to generate income.
SIX STEPS TO WORKING AT HOME
Step 1: Your Unique, Inspired Idea. Start by prayerfully considering the things that interest you. Something you already know about such as a hobby, a former profession, or something that fascinates you.
|Heads Up! This is the most important step. Everything else you do will hinge on it. Take your time thinking about your interests, and be honest with yourself. No matter how obscure your interests may seem at first; inventory them!|
I'll use myself as an example. I love to read. I read for business, pleasure, fun, and education. I read fiction, non-fiction, inspirational books, various translations of the Bible, children's books and textbooks. Reading is definitely a habit of mine. I enjoy it so much that I pay good money for books; oh, but wouldn't it be wonderful if somehow I could get paid as a result of my reading? That would combine something I do for pleasure with something I do for a living.
How? I'll get to that, but first, you have to answer one question. What do you like to do? This is a tough question for a lot of women to answer. Other than being on a first date, it may have been years since anyone has asked you that. Or perhaps you are so bogged down with what you "have to do" that the thought of what you "like to do" seems totally irrelevant. (I know, I've been there too.) But take a moment to think about this, you need to start with something you like and know about.
Getting back to my example, in this article, I'll show you exactly how the internet can turn this habit of mine into income. And it's simple, -but not necessarily easy.
Step 2: Know your Target Market. Fortunately, it's as easy as ABC to check out the size of your potential online market. And you ought to know how many people routinely look online for things related to your idea or interest. Type in some phrases related to your interest in a Keyword Research Tool. I use the free one found on:
A) If it turns out that there are very, very few people searching for things related to your subject, don't despair. Assessment B and C are equally important to ascertain whether your idea has the potential for profit. Going back to my "book reading hobby" as an example, type in the term "great books" on the Keyword Research Tool I mentioned above. Did you see that? Over 5,000 people type that into search engines every month. Plus it shows related phrases. With one simple step I can KNOW the size of my potential market as well as several keyword phrases I should aim to have my website show up in.
B) When you type in the same phrase, "great books" on Google it shows:
This means that 703 million websites have something about this subject on their websites, and I'll have plenty of competition. (That's an understatement because it'll take a concentrated effort to beat millions of other websites and get a site to show up on the first page of search results.) It would be wise to utilize Search Engine Optimization or SEO to increase my visibility in searches. Check out what the leading search engine (Google) has to say about creating a "Google-friendly website" and SEO.
C) But even if I somehow got a website to the top of the searches, and even got a whole lot of people looking for great books on my website, how does that turn into money?
Almost everyone has heard of Amazon.com. Amazon pioneered the concept affiliate programs by giving website owners a percentage of the sales that resulted from their links. Experienced internet marketers are usually signed up with many of the leading affiliate programs such as: Google Affiliate Network, Clickbank, Commission Junction, Linkshare, Shareasale, and other affiliate marketing companies. These companies all pay website owners either a percentage of the sales generated by their links or they pay them "per-click." A good example are those little boxes on the left or right margin of websites that say "Ads by Google" This program is called Adsense and it pays website owners a fee when someone clicks on one of the ads.
Commissions vary widely. Anywhere from a few cents per click to over 70% of the sale. The earning potential varies based upon the payment structure of the affiliate account. Keep in mind; products have varying profit margins. (The price it sells for minus the cost to make it) FYI, in my books example, the highest commission I could find for my review website was 10% because books are a relatively low profit margin item.
Now you know where the money comes from when you own a website and set it up to make money. You don't have to carry inventory, attend meetings, recruit friends and family or "hard sell" anything to make money online through affiliate marketing. However, unlike the "Set it and forget it!" mindset, I recommend you set it and continue to tweak it. (Although admittedly, "Set it and continue to tweak it" isn't nearly so catchy a phrase) Another added bonus is that once your website is set up correctly, you don't have stay in front of your computer to make money.
Step 3: Domain Names. Select a good domain name. (This will be the title of your future website address.) I already have workingmom.com and I'll use one of the pages on the site as an example. However keep in mind, a better idea for someone just beginning to work online would be to select a domain name that contains the subject word within the web address. In business circles, this is called "niche marketing" and it is the way to go if you're looking to make money online. So take some time to think up some good domain names that would be relevant to your idea and check to see if they're available.
Check here for available Domain Names
|Mentor's tip: I cannot emphasize enough how wise it is to select a "dot-com" name. I also recommend getting the singular and plural if it's a word or phrase that could be either. (I learned this the hard way.) Even if you build a great website -but it ends in .net, .info, .org etc; most people will confuse your site with the .com. I suggest you register your domains to ward off competitors that will come along to siphon off your web traffic and consequently your potential income.|
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So far, what I've described sounds simple AND easy. Why not put up a website and fill it with ads that pay you whenever someone clicks on something?
People search the web for information or specific products. If your site provides what they're looking for you help them and you end up helping yourself.
- Because people don't like to visit websites filled with ads,
- Search engines rank them near the bottom in most searches.
- Therefore almost no one will find your site,
- And those who do find it may leave by clicking the back button, instead of one of your ads.
Step 4: Content is king. You'll need to put information, articles, reviews or something on your website. It's commonly called content. Good content will make your website and poor content can break it. A website's content is what search engines use to rank or index its placement for certain keyword searches. Getting back to my sabrinasbooks.com example, Good content will make my site more likely to be placed among the top 10 or 20 websites listed for the phrase "great books" instead of coming up on the 700 millionth spot. (Very few web surfers will scroll down THAT far when searching for a great book!)
Added bonus, if you've chosen something you are interested in and know a lot about, creating the content should prove to be both fun and easy for you to do. (I warned you that picking a subject or idea you like would be important.)
Good content will be your ally in generating web traffic, potential customers, and can only help increase your earning power. I turned my reading hobby into something potentially profitable by creating a page about the Amazon Kindle just after the price was reduced. Do you see how I wrote about my own experience purchasing and using a Kindle. And you can see the affiliate links within it which lead to The Amazon site. Whenever anyone reads the article and chooses to make a purchase through the link, I will get a small commission from Amazon for the referral.
|Shortcut: It can take a while for search engines to index your website highly for relevant key words. You may want to consider paid search marketing. These are the small advertisements that say "Sponsored Search" when you're looking for something on Google, Bing or Yahoo. The Google program is called AdWords, the Bing & Yahoo programs are called AdCenter.|
Step 5: Making it happen. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome is a lack of technical ability to create a website in the first place. I know it was for me initially. Because HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the predominant computer language for the creation of web pages, the World Wide Web is primarily composed of HTML documents. They are transmitted from a web server (your hosting provider) to a web browser (Most often Internet Explorer or Firefox) using the HyperText Transfer Protocol (http ://)
So in the past, if you wanted an online presence and weren't fluent in the language of HTML, you'd either hire someone to do it for you, or take the time to learn HTML yourself. That kept a lot of budding entrepreneurs from developing a website. But times have changed according Marianne Curran, Business Manager of Hosting at GoDaddy.com. (GoDaddy.com is the world's largest domain name registrar and flagship company of The Go Daddy Group, Inc.). According to Marianne, GoDaddy has the solution.
TALK WITH THE EXPERTS @ GODADDY.COM
Are there any tools that make it possible for someone with no experience in web design to create a professional looking website -in just a few hours?
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Website Tonight is a Web site builder designed to help take a customer through the steps of building their own Web site even without Web design experience. Website Tonight includes templates, various color sets and images to choose from making the process of building a Web site fast, simple and fun.
Do you offer telephone support for people who need a little extra help walking through the process? Is there a cost associated with using your help center?
We offer 24/7/365 support for all of our products and services including phone and email support. There is no fee associated with providing sales and support customer service to our customers. All of our customer sales and support is in-house in multiple Arizona locations with no outsourcing or off-shoring of any kind.
We also have a Help Center on the site with FAQ's about each product and product walkthroughs.
We strive to provide the best customer support available for our customers by having round the clock support both by phone and email for those on the go.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to people looking to develop an online presence?
For an online presence to grow and be successful, it is important to continually develop your site and take advantage of the tools available to promote yourself or your business. Go Daddy works to offer the many business solutions tools available to help an online presence grow such as ecommerce, email, blogs and search engine tools.
If you choose a product or topic you enjoy to design your site around, you will be glad about the time and effort you spent on creating and developing it.
It is also important to use your domain and/or Web site by making it available using many different resources. Resources such as business cards, letterhead and email addresses can all include your domain name which allows for more people to view the name and have it be remembered. The more you can promote your name in daily activities the more reinforcement is given to support your online presence.
Step 6: Getting Paid: In other words, making it profitable. Still unsure on how to actually generate money from your new website? Start reading the blog on:
(Developed by a WorkingMom.com Guest Columnist Eric Holmlund) and he'll take you step by step through the process of setting goals, developing a vision, creating a website and signing up for affiliate programs, so you can begin to make money online.
Ready, Set, Go!
And those are the Six Steps to Working at Home and using the internet to help you do it. Now more than ever, you have the opportunity to be successful working at home. Thanks to PC's the World Wide Web and cyberspace there are endless legitimate work at home opportunities to help you achieve your desired work/life balance. Just remember to keep your goals in sight and to live each day according to your priorities.
Lastly, let me encourage you. The fact that you've read this far down into an article about How to Work from Home reveals two things in your favor. You've got a genuine desire to educate yourself on being successful, and you've got the ability to stick to something. You've already outdistanced the pack. In parting, I'll give you three pieces of advice to help you soar:
- Don't let fear keep you from starting something new.
- Don't let discouragement keep you from giving your best effort.
- Don't let distractions keep you from finishing what you start.
In His Service,
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