For the last several years, I’ve been working from home. Or, as my husband likes to tell people, making money on the Internet. Yeah …
When I first started blogging, I didn’t think I’d be able to make money online. Sure, I’d seen other people do it and, funny enough, it was my boss at the job I hated who inadvertently inspired me to give it a shot. I was just lacking in belief that I would be able to figure it out.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
It’s been almost nine years since I started this blog (holy crap) and in that time I’ve tried lots of different methods for earning online income. I’ve blogged, written ebooks, worked with advertisers, sold essential oils, started an etsy shop, taught online classes, designed websites, worked as a marketing assistant.
It’s all worked, in some way or another, and most still contribute to my many varied streams of income, for which I am so grateful.
But there have been challenges. Many of those are common business challenges, like figuring out marketing when you have no idea where to start, but I’ve had a few specific to being a mom that I’ve had to overcome.
And while I’ve found no shortage of amazing business advice over the years, I’ve found that much of it is geared toward the single and/or childless crowd. Which, as the mom of four kids living on a budget, is super frustrating.
So I wanted to share a few of the challenges I’ve faced as a work from home mom and how I’ve overcome them without going crazy:
1. No time
Needless to say, when you have four kids in five years, it’s hard to find the time to do, well, anything. Yet, I was determined to turn my hobby blog into something that made money.
I wanted to contribute to our income but mostly I was tired of my husband complaining about me spending so much time on it …
So I made time by:
- Massive decluttering. Getting rid of all that stuff enabled me to still have the clean house I love without cleaning all day. That freed up a huge chunk of time.
- Writing while the baby nursed.
- Listening to business podcasts while folding laundry and doing dishes.
- Writing late at night when the kids were asleep – I’m a night owl. Had I been a morning person, I would have gotten up earlier.
- Ditching the TV and put the desk in its place. This allowed me to work while the kids played in the same room.
- Getting more organized at planning meals and chores … and following through (not my favorite)
- Teaching the kids how to help with things around the house, especially since they make most of the mess, as challenging as it was. This summer we took some big leaps there and now they all do their own laundry and dishes, clean up their rooms each night and each Thursday a different child makes dinner by themselves. Hallelujah, the persistence pays off!
As the kids got older, this got easier. Now, they know that if I’m working they’re supposed to find something else to do, like read or listen to an audio book or play outside.
They’ve gotten quite good about respecting my work time, especially since we explained to them that while Daddy leaves the house to go to work, Mama works from home.
Telling them specifically what my income covers, helped, too.
I did a really good job at making time to work on my business. What I failed to do, though, was take good care of myself. What does that have to do with burnout? Everything.
Because when you’re a mom running a business, there’s a lot that you’re responsible for. Not only do you have all the business-related tasks, but you also have the housework. Plus the kids. And maybe even a spouse you don’t want to alienate.
That’s a lot vying for your energy and attention and it’s so easy to let yourself get sucked dry if you’re not intentional about nurturing yourself.
See, it wasn’t until several years into my business that I realized how crucial self-care is, especially when you’re a mom running a business. Once I finally grasped its importance, though, I made self-care a priority.
- Taking more walks instead of just powering through the afternoon lull.
- Observing a 4 pm tea time so I’d sit down and rest.
- Making baths a weekly staple.
- Getting more active and eventually started doing CrossFit each weekday.
What I found was that once I started taking better care of myself, I was able to be more present with my family and take better care of them (hmmmm, I feel like I’ve heard that before … a lot).
Being more present helped with the massive amounts of mommy guilt I felt over making so much time for my business. It also helped keep down the stress that causes burnout.
Because I found that nobody is going to die if a blog post doesn’t get published or an email doesn’t get sent or a task doesn’t get checked off. It’s a lesson I’m still learning, but I’m getting better.
To say that I bootstrapped my business would be an understatement. I had barely enough extra money to cover my website hosting each month because we were on a mission to get out of debt and every spare cent went to those efforts (and it’s not like there were many of those).
So I absorbed as much free business and personal development information as I could.
I saved money by:
- Listening to pertinent podcasts – I learned SO much this way and it helped me stay positive and determined to have a steady stream of encouraging information drowning out my own self-doubt.
- Learning how to design and develop my own website – and now I get to design websites for other people.
- Learning about graphic design so I could do my images – I also get paid to do this now. Not having a ton of money to do your business may require you to learn new skills that you can later charge for.
- Subscribing to blogs – not just business, but any that taught me more about what I wanted to know.
- Not automatically buying every product/service I saw, tempting as it was.
- Taking advantage of discounts whenever possible.
- Connecting with people – it’s really encouraging to have community and it’s been through my connections that I’ve had some great offers come my way, like free ebooks, ecourses, etc.
But. If I found a resource I knew would save tons of time and help me further my business (because I only had so much time to learn new skills), I figured out a way to get it. If I had to save a little longer or become an affiliate and sell some copies or do an odd job to get it, I would.
It’s really a matter of determination and having a reason big enough to keep you going when you just want to throw in the towel.