Working from home is an incredible privilege. Generally speaking you can schedule your own hours, pick your clients and pick your projects.
It can be an amazing gift.
Owning and running a business from home has given me the opportunity to be there for my family when they have needed extra help. I was even able to move on short notice and still keep my business running with my laptop. These type of opportunities would never have happened in a cubicle working in a corporate job.
It hasn’t all been fun or stress free, in fact it is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything either.
As in any career or business, your desk can become a prison. It becomes a place you can’t leave because of the huge to-do list sitting next to you. In my business as a web developer I have 2 monitors at my main work station, and while I can work from my laptop and do so often, my main work area is not what I would call portable. So as a result I do find myself sitting at my desk for long periods of time.
3 Self-Care Routines For Your Home Office
Self-care needs to be part of your daily routine, it is an essential part of living a healthy life and creating a healthy business.
You also need to make sure that these routines are simple – so you will actually do them!
1) Essential Oil Diffuser
Diffusing essential oils is a great way to start the day. My diffuser has a permanent spot on my desk. Nina has recommended this one several times, the Greenair Spa Vapor Mist diffuser. It has been a workhorse for me.
You can use different blends to help boost creativity, be calm and focused and to help you wake up. For me the latter is usually the issue :). Here is my favorite blend using doTerra essential oils.
- 2 drops Lemon
- 1 drop Citrus Bliss
- 2 drops Wild Orange
- 1 drop Peppermint
- 1 drop Balance
- 1 drop Frankincense
That blend helps me wake up, feel refreshed and ready to go. The citrus and peppermint help me wake up, the deep notes of Balance and Frankincense helps me feel calm and ready to get to work.
They say that music can tame the savage beast… and some days that I’m the savage beast! Or at least I feel so restless that I am up and out of my chair every 15-20 minutes and wander around. My ability to focus goes out the window.
With the diffuser going strong, I add music to the mix on the days I need extra help.
In my iTunes library I have a 2 playlists that I play, a lot. The 1st is called “Omm Writer” and the 2nd is “Time to Relax”.
The first is from a distraction free writing software called, “Omm Writer”. When I stopped using it I missed the soft ambient music that played while I wrote. So I was excited to find “Typewritten, Vol 1” by David Ummmo in iTunes. It was the music from the software. I bought it immediately. It has become my writing music. I have it on my earphones right now actually!
The other playlist is a collection of my favorite instrumental music. It too gets played on a regular basis.
Both of these playlists are considered essential tools. They help reduce distractions and get me into focus mode. Music like this helps my brain slow down. I feel more relaxed and less stressed out.
I have tried other forms of music and when I need a change I will go to my classical music collection or a Pandora station called “Film Scores Radio”. Both are great alternatives.
3) Step Away From the Desk
And get outside if you can. Seriously! Going outside for just 5 minutes can be an incredible stress buster.
One of the reasons I wanted a dog was their need to get outside. On the days I am rushing like crazy or intensely focused on a big project, knowing that my Bailey Boy needs to get outside for a break and needs to go for a walk in the morning is just what I need.
You can listen to 10 different experts and they will all say that you need to take regular breaks. What they don’t always agree on is how often. After playing with different schedules I have found that in the morning I need a few minutes break about every 30-45 minutes. But in the afternoon when I am more in the groove, I can go 60-90 minutes before needing one. You do have to experiment and find what works for you.
Regular breaks are good for:
- Giving your eyes a rest
- Stretching tight muscles
- Getting outside for some fresh air (and a much-needed potty break for the dog!)
- Taking deep cleansing breaths.
- Changing your perspective
This list could be a lot longer, but the 3 I listed above have been key for me.
What self-care routines do you have for your home office?
Photo Credit: blupics
It wasn’t long ago that you’d often find me with my journal, brainstorming ways to make extra money for our family. I wanted to start a business that centered on my passion for healthy, natural living. I just didn’t know what that would look like.
So, like I had when I discovered natural living, I began researching. Only this time, I was devouring everything I could about business. Yet I just wasn’t sure what to do.
I opened an online cloth diaper shop. It failed miserably. Though, I did get a lot of diapers for my own kids at wholesale.
Since I was a trained doula, I decided to hang out my shingle for my birth services. Turns out, if you’ve got a bunch of kids and no reliable childcare, this might not be the avenue to try when y0ur husband also works on call.
I hired coaches, took courses, enrolled in academies, and still, nothing. I just wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
So I kept writing on my blog that I’d started shortly after the diaper shop failed. Every day, I’d tinker on it and after a while, I made a few dollars on an affiliate sale for a book. I’ve never been so excited to make $4 in my life.
I kept writing and recommended books and products that I loved to my readers. Eventually, I wrote my own ebook (that’s huge for this procrastinator) and sold a few copies. I became a doTERRA Wellness Advocate and since it was such a natural fit with my blog, I started selling oils and building a tribe. One day, I decided to open an Etsy shop, selling my homemade remedies. Then I wrote another book.
And then it dawned on me. I’d built a business centered on my healthy living passion.
While I was searching and searching for that perfect business model, I’d created a good source of income for my family doing something that allows me to be home with my kids and help people around the world.
(I just have to stop for a minute and give my heartfelt thanks to God because I am still so amazed at this.)
I was expecting to do all this research and implement all these ideas and that one day, I’d have this perfect idea, this business. I thought that everything had to be just so before I could declare my business ownership.
But that just wasn’t the case.
I’ve stumbled and failed my way to a good business. I experimented so much I felt like my own personal guinea pig. I wasted time, money and energy trying to figure out the “one thing” that would change it all. I’ve felt angry, frustrated and hopeless.
There were so many instances when I just wanted to give up. But I couldn’t because I knew I could do it and that one day, all of the stubborn effort would pay off.
Guess what? I’ve done the exact same with healthy living.
I did so much research, tried out SO many ideas and expected to one day just have a healthy life – once I finally got it all just right.
Healthy living is a journey, friends.
There is constant learning and implementing and tweaking. After a while, you start seeing results. You have more energy. You don’t get sick as often. You know intuitively which essential oils to use instead of having to run to a book.
And then it dawns on you. You’ve created a healthy lifestyle.
There’s no perfect path, no “one thing” that will change it all. Just the commitment to make it happen and the stubborn determination to make it through.
Oh, and essential oils, of course. 😉
Just. Keep. Going.
p.s. Would you like to build a business centered on your passion for healthy living? I’m now accepting applications for a few leaders who will get exclusive access to me, my healthy living knowledge and all that business training I soaked up in the process. Click here to apply.
Today’s post comes from Melissa at Launch Your Creative Life.
A failed business, a mountain of credit card debt and a career path that went south is hardly the way I thought I would figure out my journey.
However it was in my failures I discovered the necessity of creating a business that really reflected who I am becoming.
I stayed in a career that is noble, but didn’t align with who I was. Many of us know what it is like to be the square peg trying to fit in the round hole. Different job and lateral changes within the field left me frustrated.
Several years and some wise counselors helped me to see that I wasn’t working out of who I was. I was fighting the grain of who I was. By acknowledging my real strengths and taking off the masks of trying to be who I thought others wanted me to be, I began to walk more authentically.
Aligning work and business so it comes out of who we are is a step to living authentically, being true to ourselves and truly serving others.
But authenticity in our personhood and our work isn’t the only thing needed to move towards creating consistent income and building a business and a life. Awareness is only part of the journey. If we don’t act on that awareness, our circumstances will stay the same.
What do we need?
A big dose of courage.
Growing up with my grandfather as a full time artist, I watched the struggles of artists: the pull between the desire to create and the need to sell. Between the struggles of the economy and the onset of the digital age, the traditional foundation for selling primarily at shows and galleries began to shift and shake.
I saw artists who knew how to create beautiful oils, watercolors, pastels, sculptures, jewelry, etches and other art but didn’t know how to market their work beyond the traditional show venues.
No matter what your art is, there is more opportunity to share and sell than ever before yet there are also new obstacles.
If you want to move closer to sharing your art with more people but something is holding you back, you may need a dose of courage. To have courage is to have guts, nerve, to be brave and daring.
And it is hard to be courageous.
What Do We Need Courage For?
1. The courage to learn new skills.
It takes guts to learn something new. Admitting to being a beginner isn’t for wimps. Studies show many people stop intentionally learning new things after college. Few people pick up a book to learn a new skill after traditional learning. It’s more comfortable to stay where we are then take the risk of doing something new.
If we want to thrive and run a business, we don’t have the liberty of stopping our education. We will be constantly learning if we want to thrive and create income. Learning to make public presentations, manage a website, write an effective email: all these are skills that take a bit of courage to learn.
2. The courage to approach new people.
The fear of rejection, failure or embarrassment in front of others is a powerful reason not to approach anyone new with our products and services.
Doing new things requires us to practice courage. Just like repeating squats and lunges will increase the muscles of our legs and burn fat over time, repeating activities will increase our courage and decrease fear.
It takes courage to begin. The good news is that with each presentation, we get better.
3. The courage to believe in yourself and the value of your work.
Believing in yourself is not easy. It takes some guts to say, “I created this product or service and I believe it to be valuable. I believe in the value so much I want to ask for your hard-earned money.”
Aligning Courage and Authenticity to Create a Business
Knowing who we are and living according to our values is the spine of our business.
The courage to learn new skills, approach new people and believing in yourself and the value of your work are the muscles. The spine holds the body up. The muscles make the body work and move efficiently.
Authenticity and courage go hand-in-hand to building a business and a life. When we incorporate these characteristics into our lives- both personal and vocational- things go smoother.
You can read more about how I pivoted in my journey and began to chew on authenticity here. How about you?
What internal battles have you faced when starting your own creative business or following after a desire of your heart?
Melissa AuClair is a writer, author and artist. Her life goal is to help creatives become “artpreneurs,” blending art with business to create an income and live a life true to who they are. She can be found at Launch Your Creative Life.
A few years ago, I started making herbal remedies for my family. Soon after, I began sharing them with friends. I nodded when people said I should sell them, but didn’t do much about it. And then people kept saying I should open an Etsy shop.
So I did.
I opened Dragonfly Remedies, where I offer herbal remedies to help you nurture your family. Before I opened it, though, I had a lot of questions.
Naturally, I went a-Googling and found most of what I needed to know. Thankfully, I also got some helpful advice from a friend with an Etsy shop. Today, I’m passing on the tips that helped me the most.
Keep these in mind when opening your Etsy shop:
First, you need a product to sell. Of course, right? But for some of us, figuring out which product (or products) to sell is a bit of a challenge because our interests are so varied. So, will your shop feature all of your hand-knit goodies or upcycled fashion items?
Choose a focus and make products that fit in with it. If you really want to sell your other stuff, you can open another shop.
Once you have that product line figured out, you’ll need to get some other stuff together:
Packaging: How do you want the finished product to look? If you’re unsure, look at similar Etsy shops and stores for ideas. Then take into consideration the cost and time it will take to make it look that way. I’m a huge fan of simple and inexpensive.
Labeling: Some products will require more in-depth labeling to let people know ingredients and what-not. I just searched for “herbal product labeling requirements” and found everything I needed.
Prices: A very important part of the process, no doubt. First, you’ll need to account for the cost of putting your product together. Supplies, packaging, labeling, shipping, etc. Add it all up and divide it by the number of products you get so you know the cost for making each one.
Next, look at Etsy and see what similar items go for. It’s tempting to under-price at first, but don’t. Etsy shops have a reputation for creating quality goods, which people are willing to pay more for. If your pricing is way over, is your product way better and deserving of that price? Do you need to find cheaper supplies?
Descriptions: Create fun descriptions for your items. Let people know what it does, why it’s special and why it’s a good fit for them. Also include pertinent details like size, volume, etc.
Photos: Great photos are a must on Etsy! Take them yourself in natural light against a solid backdrop (search a few Etsy shops to see what you like best). Then edit them in Pic Monkey so they’re ready to go. If you can, I strongly suggest getting a pro to take them for you. Maybe you could barter?
Shipping supplies: Don’t forget shipping supplies. Choose something lightweight that will protect your product. You could wrap it in tissue paper or bubble wrap to keep it safe during shipment.
Also, think of how it’s going to look when the package gets opened. Treat it like a gift that you’re giving to a loved one. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but are there any finishing touches you can put on to make them say, “Wow!”?
Opening an Etsy account is super easy and you can do it in just a few minutes. Once you do that, though, it’s time to get your shop in order:
Name: What’s your shop’s name? It took me a while to figure mine out, but I knew I wanted it to have to do with dragonflies. Take some time on this – it’s important. Then Google it and search Etsy to see if the name is being used by someone else.
Header: Every shop has the option to add a header. Make one easily with pic monkey. Upload a photo of your stuff and put some text over it. Etsy gives you the proper dimensions to use.
Policies: Take some time and fill out all of these boxes. Let people know what they can expect from your shop. It makes you appear more professional. If you need help, take a look at my policy page. Also take the time to fill out the welcome note and announcement boxes, too.
About page: I don’t know about you, but I’m more inclined to buy from someone that I’m familiar with, even if it’s just through a picture and a bio. This is a great place to let people know what makes your shop so special.
Payment method: Etsy has a great Direct Checkout option that allows people to pay with credit/debit cards or paypal. It’s easy to sign up for. You just need a checking account and debit card.
Separate bank account: Consider setting up a separate bank account that’s soley for your Etsy shop. This will help you with tax and accounting stuff in the future.
After so many customer service jobs, I am adamant about delivering excellent customer service. It’s not very hard to do.
Discounts: Offer discounts to loyal customers. Right now, my customers receive a personalized thank you note and a discount code for their next purchase. You can make it for a dollar amount, a certain percentage off or free shipping.
Communication: It’s so important to communicate with your customers! Let them know when an item ships. Ask them to contact you with questions. Respond to inquiries quickly. Send a follow-up note after a few weeks and ask for feedback. Be memorable.
Bonus items/samples: Consider adding in bonus items or samples of other products when you ship to customers. One shop I ordered from added a small sliver of one of their other soaps. I loved it and bought a bar. Could you do something similar?
Deliver on your promises (and then some): Tell people that you’ll notify them when an item ships. Then do it and include a short thank you note. Then throw another thank you note in your package. Make yourself memorable (in a good way).
Spread the Word
The crucial question is, how do you get people to actually go to your shop? Here are a few tips that will help:
Own your domain: If you can buy the domain for your shop, do it. Then forward it to your Etsy shop or create a simple wordpress blog that links to your Etsy shop (if this makes no sense to you, Google can help). It’s much easier for me to say, “head to dragonflyremedies dot com” than “go to etsy dot com, slash shop, slash dragonflyremedies.” It looks better on labels, too.
Facebook page: This is fast and easy. Create a page for your shop and let people know about it. Use it to share helpful information related to your product, product highlights and offer facebook-only discount codes. It’s a great community-builder.
Blog: Creating a blog for your site is a great way to get more people to your shop. Share tips relevant to what you make. Tell people how you would use what you make. Teach them how to make something. And don’t forget to add an email optin box for people who are interested in hearing more about your shop.
Tell your friends: Let everyone you know in on the fact that you’ve opened an Etsy shop. But do it in a non-spammy kind of way. Send a short e-mail (and a facebook message) with details and a link to the store. You could even add a discount code.
Ask your friends to tell their friends: End the message by asking them to share it with their friends. Doing so greatly increases your reach. It’s amazing how quickly something can grow just by asking your friends to mention something to their friends.
Treausuries: When you go to Etsy, you see a handpicked collection of 12 beautiful pictures featuring different products for sale. Those are called treasuries. Making treasuries does a few things for you. One, it helps you promote other shops. Two, it lets you feature your own work. And three, it can get more traffic to your shop, especially if it’s chosen by Etsy to be on the front page.
Consider giveaways on popular blogs: Do you have a favorite blog? More than one? Would the readers of that blog benefit from what you make? If so, consider approaching the owner of the blog about doing a giveaway of your item. If the blog has a lot of readers, it’s a great way to get more traffic to your shop. Make sure to tell all of your friends about the giveaway, too.
Whoo! That’s a lot to think about, but putting in the thought and effort at the beginning will help ensure the success of your shop.
Do you have an Etsy shop? What tips helped you the most?
I was first introduced to business by a Mary Kay consultant. She presented the opportunity to me and I jumped on it. I loved teaching skin care classes and hanging out with other women.
After a couple of years, though, I became more interested in natural living and left that business.
But I had been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and wanted to have another business, one that I was passionate about and made a positive difference. And as I’ve talked to other moms, I’ve found that I’m not alone.
Lots of moms want to make money from home, whether it’s to help with bills, have a little fun money or have a creative outlet that brings in some income.
Thankfully, there are lots of creative ways to make money at home. Here’s a look at how I make money from home as well as some important questions you need to answer before getting started.
One great way to make money at home is by freelancing. You can do this with writing skills, graphic design and even administrative skills.
I’ve done freelance writing for some of my favorite websites. I did so by starting this blog and building relationships with other bloggers (because I wanted to be friends with them, not just because I wanted something from them). Starting your own blog is a great way to showcase your talents. And remember, relationships are so important in business.
You can also check out Elance or oDesk. These are websites where people come and post job descriptions. You can peruse jobs and submit proposals on ones that interest you. (Here’s a good how-to for submitting proposals).
My only concern with these sites is you have to search a bit to find jobs that pay well. Many postings are simple, lower-paying jobs. These jobs can add up quickly, though, boost your confidence and portfolio and increase the chance of referrals.
Do you love creating beautiful, useful gifts for people? You could start a craft business. Lots of crafty mamas bring in extra income by selling their creations.
Juanita at The Nature Walk does just that. She makes creative water colors and journals and sells them on her online Etsy shop. (She even got the attention of Martha Stewart magazine last year!)
Etsy isn’t the only place to sell your crafted items. I’ve moved my own online shop to Shopify because I like being able to customize the look even more.
Local places like bazaars, Saturday markets, or local shops are also great places to show the world what you have to offer.
You don’t have to stop at selling one item at a time, either. Finding wholesale opportunities – where you sell larger quantities of items to merchants at a discount – increases your earning potential.
Chances are, if you enjoy sharing what you learn with others, you have something you can teach people.
And don’t think you have to be the world’s leading expert on the subject either. You’ve learned plenty of teachable information through reading and personal experience.
So if you can teach busy moms how to save time in the kitchen or cut their grocery budget in half, do it! Not only will you get some lovely adult interaction, you’ll be helping others improve their lives.
Now where do you teach people your awesome skills? If you want to teach them in person, you can do it at your house or a friend’s house. Or you can find a business that has space and ask if you can use it. Lots of businesses will jump at the chance of getting more traffic in their doors.
You can also teach online via a teleseminar. It’s simple and there are many free services like Free Conference Calling. Sign up and they’ll give you a personal conference phone number and access code to share with people.
You’ll just need to set a date, create and send out a Facebook event or use Eventbrite and let attendees know the access info. You can even record it for later.
In this situation, I consider franchising signing up for another company’s business opportunity.
Product sales are one way to make money, but the most income potential comes from building a team of people who also love the product. For instance, I made a good amount of money from selling Mary Kay products.
But when I started building a team (mostly from friends who loved the products and wanted some tax breaks), I started making more. I received a commission on sales my team members made. And it came directly from the company, not from them.
The same is true with many other direct marketing companies.
If this is something you’re interested in, do some research. What products do you use on a normal basis? Do those companies offer an “opportunity?” Is there a similar company that does? Is it in line with your values?
For example, I’m currently building my own tribe with doTERRA (this is where most of my income comes from now). I chose this company because:
- Sharing the products involves teaching others how to use natural methods to take care of themselves and their families.
- They make the best essential oils I’ve ever used and I get a good discount.
- Their mission of natural wellness resonates with what I believe in.
- Their Healing Hands Foundation helps people in developing countries break free of poverty by helping them start small businesses, something I strongly believe in.
This isn’t a ploy to persuade you to join my tribe, but a reminder to find a company that’s in line with your values. Don’t be swayed by promises of 5 figures a month – it’ll be difficult to sell anything if you don’t believe in the company.
If you have amazing photography skills, can make a house sparkle using “green” cleaning supplies or enjoy helping others simplify and organize, you could have a service-based business.
Photo by Terence S. Jones
The beauty of this is you get to set the hours when you work and you decide who you’re going to work with.
Another service-based business that’s gaining popularity is coaching. It’s similar to teaching, but involves a personalized plan to help clients meet their goals. This can be done one-on-one or in a group setting.
Coaching is something to consider if people continually seek you out for your advice and you enjoy helping people reach their potential. Coaches work in all sorts of arenas – nutrition, fitness, business, financial, life, etc.
How do you choose?
The first thing to think about is what you love to do. What excites you? What could you do for hours? What are you good at? Choose something that incorporates all of those components.
If you don’t know what you’re good at, think about this: what do people ask you about all the time? I get asked a lot about nutrition and herbs, which is why I’ve begun teaching classes about them.
Do people always ask about how you make something or comment on how beautifully decorated your home is? Go with that. People ask because they want to learn more.
Sometimes, the hardest part is deciding what to do. If you’re anything like me, you suffer from analysis paralysis – over-thinking yourself into inaction. Just remember that you don’t have to do this forever.
If you try something and don’t enjoy it, learn from it and choose something else.
How much does it take to start?
This is a major obstacle that holds people back. Thankfully, many small businesses can be started for less than $100. Thank you internet.
The costs depend on what you choose to do. But you usually need the following:
- Supplies – for crafting, the office, etc.
- Website – hosting, domain name, etsy fees
- Resources – courses, coaching
So if you want to do some “green” housekeeping, you’ll need supplies and possibly money for flyers and a website. Incidentally, starting a website for your biz is super simple thanks to WordPress. (Pat Flynn has even created a great video to get you online in 4 minutes).
When do you work?
As the mom of four small kids, I know that carving out time can be a bit of a challenge. But it’s possible. If creating some income from home is something you’re serious about, you must allocate time each week to working on it.
Photo by Paul Jacobson
Wake up early, work after the kids are in bed, institute a “quiet time” or get away to work on your business. When Ian’s home, he hangs out with the kids while I work in our office or head to a coffee shop.
Otherwise I work in spurts while the kids are coloring or playing outside.
The key is to focus and do the work instead of reading every single update status on Facebook. You can create income from home in far less time by resisting those distractions.
What’s the greater purpose?
I know businesses are supposed to make money, but making money for money’s sake isn’t enough. If there’s a mission behind your endeavor, you’re less likely to give up or make excuses about why you didn’t try hard.
Having a reason bigger than yourself, whether it’s ending poverty or being able to create amazing experiences for your kids, provides great motivation.
If making money at home is something you’re interested in, my advice is to decide what it is you want to do and get started. It’s so easy to say “someday,” but usually someday never comes.
What’s your business idea?
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Help me win this please!
I just wanted to take a quick moment and tell you about a little contest I’m in.
My friend Justin Lukasavige is giving away a video camera to one of his Need a Topic members. I entered the contest by sending him a list of blogs that I’ve written after being inspired by Need a Topic. Interestingly enough, these were some of my most popular posts.
Here’s the list that I sent to Justin:
This is a great contest because it’s not just a random drawing – YOU get to choose who wins. I’m already in second place and so grateful for the family and friends who have voted for me. I still have quite a few votes to go to put me in first place, though, and the voting ends today!
If you have a minute, could you head over to Justin’s site and vote for me? I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
P.S. If you’re a blogger who would like a little blogging inspiration, check out Need a Topic. The first week is free and it’s only $7 a month after that.