Last Updated October 22nd, 2018

5 Common Work At Home Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

5 Common Work At Home Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Most people make some mistakes when they’re working at home. There’s a learning curve, easier for some than for others. A part of the problem has to do with common misconceptions about working at home. Still, if you’re aware of the more common work at home mistakes, you may be able to avoid them.

You can make these work at home mistakes whether you’re self employed or work for someone else. It doesn’t matter who sets the rules or determines what hours you need to work. What matters is how these mistakes impact the productivity of your work at home day.

work at home childcare

1. Too Little Childcare

Most parents who work at home do so specifically because they don’t want to use childcare. They have visions of working at home and being a good parent at the same time.

The problem is that this doesn’t always work. It works better for some than for others, but most people who work at home have times where they really need someone else watching the kids.

That even goes for me. My best work hours are when my husband can watch the kids, or they’re asleep. It’s hard working when they’re awake and needing my attention. It’s not that I use the phone in my work and need quiet – they’re just distracting.

Be realistic about any childcare needs you may have when you work at home. Make sure you schedule calls or meetings at times when the kids won’t be an issue. You don’t necessarily need to hire someone to care for your child, but you do need to make sure you can appear as professional as necessary.

You may not need to get this perfect. There are circumstances when people will be very understanding if you say you’re a work at home mom or dad. Other times this may not be so. Be very aware of the image you present to your managers, supervisors, and/or clients. It can make a huge difference.

What About When The Kids Are Sick?

It can be extra difficult to work at home when the kids are sick. They may actually need you at times that you’re supposed to be working. What then?

How you deal with this depends on your family’s situation. Don’t assume that just because you’re the work at home parent that you’re the only choice to deal with a sick child. You may not be.

Sure, if your child doesn’t need you all that badly but does need to stay at home for the day, you may be able to keep working as normal. It’s one of the advantages of working at home.

But if a day off work is necessary, think about which parent can afford that. It may not always be the work at home parent. Sometimes you’ll be the one who can’t get off work, and the work outside the home spouse will need to care for the sick child.

cat computer work at home

2. You Allow Yourself Too Many Distractions

You’re home, the TV’s there, you’re online, what distractions will you resist? You may believe that you can work while you watch a favorite show, but can you really? How much will it slow you down? And can you resist when the dog is being so cute?

And then there’s the house.

The house just gets to be a mess sometimes, doesn’t it? Especially if you have kids around. It’s way too easy to take some time out to make your house look a little better when you ought to be earning a living.

Moving a bit of laundry quickly probably isn’t so bad, although folding it may take more time than you ought to give during your workday.

The problem comes in when you do too many household chores at the wrong time. If the laundry needs to be done that day, try to work around it without allowing it to take over what should have been your work hours. It’s your balance to strike – only you know if you can stand the extra wrinkles in the clothes if you don’t fold the laundry right away or if you’ll lose less time overall by folding them immediately.

Limit the distractions, and you’ll be much more productive. Pick the times you allow them wisely.

This can be best handled by creating a work at home schedule for yourself. Set aside times for the things that might otherwise be distractions. You can make a block of time where you can play with the cat, walk the dog, or have fun with the kids.

Some Distractions Are Okay

You don’t have to work in perfect silence if your work doesn’t require it. Appropriate distractions can help.

Many people like to listen to music as they work, for example. They may even find that it helps with productivity.

If there’s an emergency in your home, obviously you want to be distracted from work to deal with that as well. Teach your family when it’s okay to distract you from work and when to leave you alone.

work at home too much

3. Working Too Much

While you want to look professional, there is such a thing as working too much. Work hours are work hours, family or personal time are yours. Give yourself enough hours away from work to recover and enjoy your life.

Don’t forget to take breaks too. 15 minutes to refresh yourself every couple hours can give your productivity a boost. Just because your work at home hours are flexible doesn’t mean you have to work them straight through. That’s a bad idea.

The right amount of work depends on the needs of your job or business and the income you need to earn. Don’t treat yourself worse than you’d allow an employer to treat you. There may be times where you have to work a ton of hours, but don’t do that to yourself all the time.

Starting up a business, it’s not that uncommon to hear of people putting in 12-16 hours a day or even more. They want success that bad. It’s rough, but sometimes it’s what has to be done.

But you can overdo that. Some people burn out from working so many hours. That’s not good for your home business, no matter how badly you need to succeed.

Take at least one day off every week, and preferably two. Spend time doing things other than working. Have fun.

A comfortable home office with a door can help with this. When you’re outside of work hours, close that door and do not go back to work until it’s time. That physical separation between home and work can help in many ways.

The Flip Side

The flip side of this is taking too many breaks.

I don’t just mean the kind of breaks where you walk away from your computer. I also mean when you spend a little time on social media in the middle of your day, or play a game for a few minutes.

How quickly do those things add up?

Think about it. And be smart about your breaks.

work at home professional

4. Not Expecting To Be Treated As A Professional

Many work at home parents feel as though other people don’t treat them as serious professionals. Sometimes it’s that other people can have trouble recognizing that working from home is just as serious as working outside of it – it took my mother-in-law years, but she gets it now. Other times it’s that you don’t appear to take your work hours seriously, so why should others do so?

Be a professional. Don’t be the one everyone turns to when their kids are sick unless your work hours really allow you to do that. Do the favors that you would be able to do if you had an outside the home job, not the ones that take away from your work hours and income.

This includes your family. While you want to be there for them, do your best to keep your work and their needs balanced. As mentioned above, this can include paid childcare.

If it helps you to dress professionally to feel professional, then do it! There’s nothing wrong with dressing professionally even if no one is going to see you. On the other hand, if you can be productive in everyday clothes, that’s fine too. Dress in whatever way makes it easier for you to act the professional you are and be productive.

Are Pajamas A Mistake?

Some people will swear that the ability to work in your pajamas is one of the great things about working from home. Others consider it to be one of the worst work at home mistakes you can make. Which is it?

That depends on you.

Can you be productive in your pajamas?

Will you feel like taking a nap because they’re so comfy?

Will your boss or clients see you in them?

Think about all of the things that could go wrong because you wore your pajamas while working at home? Is any of it significant in your case?

If you can be productive while wearing pajamas and no one will see you, go for it! But if wearing PJs while you work at home will cause you problems, dress a little nicer.

work at home technology

5. You Don’t Take Enough Advantage Of Technology

You work at home. You’re online all the time. How much more advantage could you be taking of modern technology in your work?

Possibly plenty!

Upping your tech game doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. Many of the things you can do to make your work at home time better aren’t difficult at all.

For example, if you don’t have a separate phone number for your home business, it’s easy to get one without having a new phone line installed. Sign up with a VOIP provider, and you’ll have a phone number completely separate from your home phone.

I use Google Voice because it’s free and I rarely need to make or receive calls in my business. If you’ll be making a lot of calls, you may need a better service, but Google Voice suits my needs.

You should also have automatic backups set for your data, especially the important stuff. There are lots of cloud backup companies that will help keep your data safe, even if your home is destroyed in a disaster.

I also suggest keeping a local backup. A 1-2 TB external backup drive doesn’t cost a fortune, and gives you a copy of your data in your home for in case your computer dies. It’s nice to know that you won’t have to download all of your data unless things go really, really wrong.

Can You Be Productive Away From Home?

One of the things people tout about working from home is the ability to get away from home and keep working. Coffee shops and coworking spaces are popular options. But are they right for you?

This depends on the work you do and how well you cope with the possible distractions.

Coffee shops and other such places are potential workspaces because technology makes them so. You bring your laptop and connect to their wifi or your data plan, and work just like you would at home.

Or do you?

If you want to work away from home, be sure that you will keep focused on work, not on socializing. Just because technology makes it possible doesn’t mean you should do it. But if it helps, do it!

Don’t Let Work At Home Mistakes Stop You

If you’ve come to realize that you’re making a lot of mistakes while working at home, don’t feel bad. Most of us make mistakes, especially when learning how to deal with working at home.

What matters is how you deal with your mistakes after making them.

It doesn’t matter if you feel as though you’ve gone through the work at home school of hard knocks or if you’ve had a relatively easy time of it. What matters is that you keep going. You haven’t completely failed until you give up, and even then, you can move onto something else and still succeed.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 19th, 2018

How Long Do Your Kids Need You As A Stay At Home Mom?

How Long Do Your Kids Need You As A Stay At Home Mom?

The choice to be a stay at home mom often occurs when your children are very young, or perhaps not even born yet. It’s a time you know that you’re needed by them as a mom. But what about as they get older? Will it then be time to head back into the workforce?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m not one to say all moms should be stay at home moms as long as kids are growing up. I’ll leave that to others. But I will encourage moms to really think about how long they should keep being at home.

There’s much to be said for continuing to be a stay at home mom even through the teen years, as I am. Kids don’t need you in the same way when they’re teens as they did as babies and young children, but they do need you.

Being at home with them means that you have the chance to get to know all their friends. You get to know what they enjoy doing. You get to continue guiding them in their choices.

It’s possible to do all of that as a working mom, of course. It takes more effort, especially if your schedule isn’t cooperating, but it can be done. The stay at home mom simply has the simpler way to manage all of that.

There are a lot of factors to consider. Some people find that they come to regret being a stay at home mom. Many feel isolated. There are ways to minimize some of the problems that may come of being a stay at home mom, but some problems are more difficult to manage than others.

baby play

What Do Studies Say?

Some studies show that having a stay at home parent longer is a benefit to children. Eric Bettinger, associate professor at Stanford Graduate School of Education, found that there were educational benefits to having a parent stay at home even at the high school level.

It’s not all good, unfortunately. Studies also show that stay at home moms suffer from more depression, sadness, and anger. It found that 28% of stay at home moms suffer from depression, for example, in comparison to 17% of working moms.

The study also showed that stay at home moms tend to smile and laugh less.

It’s no surprise at all that these numbers are worse for low income stay at home moms. In some measures, middle and high income stay at home moms evaluate their lives at about the same level of enjoyment as working moms. But when you add in the stress of having a low income, those numbers drop sharply.

Of course, what matters to you is how well you’re doing. Are you thriving at home or is it time for a change?

mom child

How Do You Feel About Staying At Home Longer?

I’ve always said being a stay at home mom isn’t for everyone. Neither is being a long term stay at home mom. It’s a lot of work and despite how some feel, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do other things with your life as well.

A mom who is miserable staying at home may not be as good for her kids as one who is happy working outside the home. You don’t really want to be showing your kids that it’s okay for mom to be miserable in her lifestyle. I feel that you can still make your children a solid priority even if you aren’t a stay at home mom.

My own ideal is to keep doing interesting work while being at home with my kids. That’s why I have my own business, for example. I’m able to fulfill that ambitious part of me without giving up too much time with my family. How could I resist that?

My solution isn’t everyone’s solution, of course.

One of the wonderful things about kids getting older is that you can think about if you really need to be home all the time. When they’re in school, you certainly have the choice to do something other than wait for them to come home. It might be a hobby, it might be a part time job, it might be a business, it might be saying “wow, the house is quiet…” although you’ll probably get over that last one.

family together

How Are The Finances?

Most families make a big financial sacrifice when a parent decides to stay at home. It’s not cheap. As the kids get older it might be time to rethink the finances and decide if the sacrifices are really worth it.

You still have the choices of a stay at home job or a home business, but if you’re doing one or both and not bringing in enough money, you may be considering something outside the home. Or you may be saying “I can finally get enough hours in now that the kids are in school!”

You should be paying attention to your finances even if you aren’t struggling, of course. You don’t need to be bringing in enough money to pay for huge family vacations every year, but you should be doing well enough that you don’t struggle with debt.

What About Your Retirement?

I think about this one a lot, as my income isn’t such that I can readily save for retirement. Being a stay at home mom means you’re probably not contributing significantly to your own retirement plan. Not a problem now, but in the future?

It’s much harder to save for retirement when you’re a stay at home mom. When you have a job, you can have money taken out for retirement before it ever hits your bank account. Saving as a stay at home mom means planning for it.

If you don’t have a way to save for retirement, start thinking about one. It’s never too early to get a start. You may need to talk to a financial professional.

Remember that you’re the one who will be most affected by how much you save for retirement.

mothers love

How Will The Kids Feel About You Returning To Work?

You’ll naturally be concerned about how your kids feel about you returning to work. They’ll often be a little concerned, especially if you’ve always been there for them.

Sometimes you’ll have to return to work even if the kids don’t like the idea. If your family needs the money to get by, that’s the most important part. If you’re going back to work more for your own satisfaction, you can talk to your kids about that. Be honest with them. Kids love having happy parents.

Some children have more need of their parents than others. If there are genuine problems that mean you need to stay home, that’s a big factor to consider. There are times that it is necessary to sacrifice your personal goals. That’s not going to be true for many families, but if there’s more of a need for you to be home, don’t forget about it even as the kids get older.

Don’t be at all surprised if your feelings about whether you should continue on as a stay at home mom become mixed as your kids get older. That’s normal. There’s so much of an expectation that moms will go back to work that it’s hard to go another path. But if continuing to stay at home is right for you and your family, do it and be proud. If going back to work is the right choice, do it and be proud.

Keep doing what’s best for yourself and your family as a whole, and it’s probably going to be the right decision.

Would Working At Home Be The Right Solution?

The main reason I’m still a stay at home mom is that I also work from home. For me, this solves a lot of the problems that come from being a stay at home mom.

Working at home gives me a lot. An income, the satisfaction of working, and a way to avoid boredom. It also allows me to show my kids that moms can do more than raise children if they want.

Working at home adds challenges too. It is NOT always easy. Some days are frustrating. Balancing work and motherhood is difficult some days. It’s easier now that the kids are older, but some days their needs still make working difficult. Perhaps the greatest challenge for many is simply getting started working at home.

Overall, it’s my preferred way to balance motherhood and career. It works for me.

If you want to work at home, be realistic about what you expect from it.

You won’t be able to start a career you wouldn’t qualify for outside the home, for example. And if you start a home business, success may take a long time. Being at home doesn’t magically change these simple facts.

What you can expect from working at home is that it gives you a path to stay home with the kids for longer if you so choose. It helps you avoid the financial hazards of being a stay at home mom for too many years. It can help you avoid a crippling break in your career. And if you’re really lucky and work hard, you may find that you don’t have to return to working outside the home ever, unless you want to.

This can even be a time to improve your education and career training. Take the time to get that certification you need, a more advanced degree, or whatever it takes to bump your career up a notch. Then find that work at home job that gives you the work-life balance you need as a mom.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 17th, 2018

So You Can’t Work From Home Stuffing Envelopes. What Can You Do?

So You Can't Work From Home Stuffing Envelopes. What Can You Do?

What comes to mind first when you think about work at home jobs? Some people still think of the classic envelope stuffing and data entry jobs, even though those are more likely to be scams than not. There are very few companies that legitimately need employees for such jobs. You really can’t work from home stuffing envelopes.

Fortunately, there are lots more work from home jobs you can do, even if you don’t have a lot of experience.

There’s So Much Out There

The first thing you have to do is quit assuming that there are only a few kinds of work from home opportunities out there. It’s just not true.

In fact, not as many people think to look for ways to work from home stuffing envelopes as did back when I started this site. It used to be a common question. I still hear it once in a while, but not like I used to. There’s more awareness of the many possibilities out there. Work from home opportunities aren’t all low level, low paying jobs.

While lots of companies refuse to allow employees to work from home, many do, so long as the job is something that can be done remotely. Once you start looking, you may be amazed by all of the jobs that can be done from home. There are even entry level remote jobs out there.

Better yet, some companies offer benefits to their remote employees, just as they do for those who work in the office. You won’t get benefits if you’re a contract employee, and few give them to part time employees, but if you’re full time, you have good odds of getting benefits.

If you have job experience, just do a search to find out if people are doing the same work remotely. You might be surprised.

If you don’t have experience, take a look at how many possibilities there are. You may have to get some training and/or experience to qualify for some jobs, such as medical coding, medical transcription, software development and so forth, but that’s true if you work outside the home as well.

online job boards

Job Boards

Many job boards have work at home jobs listed, even if they don’t specialize in them. They may allow you to select “remote” as a location in your searches to help you find such jobs.

The challenge when using any job board is avoiding the scams. Scams are incredibly difficult to avoid, although you can catch the signs of a work at home scam if you’re alert. Some are sneaky, and it may be difficult to catch on until the interview, but there are often warning signs of work at home scams.

There is a remote job board here on this site. I do my best to keep it free of scams, but I have no doubt that I’m not perfect at screening them. New work at home job leads are added weekly, and I like to think you’ll find it a useful resource.

Freelance Job Websites

It’s also a good idea to check out freelance job websites such as Upwork,  as well as any of the many other freelance websites out there. They can be competitive, of course, but they also give you access to a lot of leads.

Freelancing doesn’t sound appealing to everyone. You have to keep looking for clients rather than having a single employer, and that may be a pain. But it has advantages too. You may be able to get a small project or so while looking for more steady work. You can use it to build your resume.

It also may not be as different from working from an employer at home as you may think. Many home based jobs are considered contract positions… not always accurately according to the IRS, so be careful. That means you have a lot of freedom as to when and how you get your work done, so long as it gets done. It also means you need to understand your tax position so you get it right when they come due.

Don’t assume that freelance writing is your only option. That’s far from the truth. While there are tons of opportunities out there for freelance writers, there are many other freelance businesses you can start.

Freelancing is not an instant solution for most people. It takes time to build trust with enough clients and to build a solid reputation.

The advantage to freelancing is that you can do it at the same time as you do other work. You don’t have to be otherwise unemployed. Freelancing can be a side gig until you’re successful enough to make it your regular income.

start home business

Start Your Own Business

It’s almost cliche, but not all work at home has to be a job. You can start a business, whether you join a network marketing opportunity, make and sell your own crafts, start a daycare, start a blog or something else altogether. Starting a business of any sort is risky, but it can be worth the risk.

Any business you start is going to require some new skills. It doesn’t matter how well you know the basics of whatever your business is or how much you love it all, you’ll be learning all kinds of new things too. It won’t always be easy or fun, but if you succeed, even the tough times will be worth it.

There is so much that goes into starting any home business. Blogging is popular because it sounds so easy, for example, but it’s not as simple as many think. Neither is network marketing. Both have a lot of people trumpeting how easy they are, and a lot of people struggling to make it happen.

Of the two, I prefer blogging. It’s affordable and you don’t have to press friends and family to buy from you. It takes relatively little effort to start a blog, and from there you can figure out if it’s for you. If not, you don’t have a ton of leftover products to sell or use.

If you want to go into network marketing, make sure you get all the facts you can about any opportunities you consider. Don’t just glance at a quick fact sheet on the opportunity. Find out what you can about the churn rate of distributors. See if they include distributors who aren’t earning any commissions at all. Some studies have shown that 99% of MLM distributors lose money. Are you ready for that risk?

If you decide to start a home business – any home business – remember that they all come with risks. No business is a sure thing. You will need to work hard even when things aren’t going right. That’s just the way it is. But you don’t have to accept an excessive amount of risk if you don’t want to.

 

Turn Your Current Job Remote

This one is a long shot if your current employer doesn’t already have a policy allowing employees to work remotely. If you can make it happen, however, it’s one of the safest ways to work at home.

No worries about scams.

No fears that your own business will fail.

But all that doesn’t mean it’s free from risk.

The big risk is that you will become invisible to your employer. They don’t see you work, so they don’t consider you for promotions. It can mess with your career path if you aren’t good at bringing attention to your accomplishments.

Employers can also suddenly change their minds about allowing employees to telecommute. They can haul you back into the office at any point they want.

If you decide to telecommute from your current job, make sure you know how you will keep in contact with your employers and coworkers. Make sure you understand all the policies you will be working under. Be super productive so they have no doubts that you can keep doing the job no matter where you are.

work remote

Free Yourself From Your Work From Home Assumptions

The notion that stuffing envelopes is a possible work from home opportunity isn’t the only bad assumption people make about working from home. They also make incorrect assumptions about what working from home is like.

If you haven’t worked from home before, prepare for the challenges. It’s both easier and more difficult than you think.

The easier part comes in once you get things going and you know what you’re doing. You’re connected to your employer if necessary, and you know what needs done. No commute. No boss looking over your shoulder. When you need a snack, you can raid your own refrigerator and not worry that a coworker has stolen your lunch. It can be amazing.

It can also be pure torture.

Many of the challenges you’ll face when you work at home depend on your particular situation. If you don’t have kids, for example, you don’t have to worry about distracting them. Too bad there are so many other possible distractions. Just consider these:

  • social media
  • email
  • online chat apps
  • texting
  • the whole $&%# internet!
  • television/streaming
  • household chores
  • pets
  • kids
  • spouse
  • other family members
  • friends
  • the gym
  • naptime
  • neighborhood noises
  • clutter
  • procrastination
  • isolation

You might be surprised by how much some of these can affect you.

Isolation, in particular, can be bad when you work at home. It’s not an easy thing to lock yourself away in your home office to work all day. If you want to be productive, that’s often what it takes, yet feeling isolated can make you less productive.

Be prepared to face the fact that working from home does not work for everyone. Some people are much happier working in an office with coworkers all around.

If that turns out to be the case for you, that’s fine. You tried, and you learned something about yourself. It’s okay to choose to go back to working outside the home.

But if you continue to work at home, make sure you learn to deal with the distractions and the challenges. Many people find working from home to be highly satisfactory. The only way to find out if it works for you is to give it a try.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 15th, 2018

9 Online Marketing Mistakes And The First Steps Toward Fixing Them

9 Online Marketing Mistakes And The First Steps Toward Fixing Them

We all make mistakes with our online marketing. It’s a part of the learning process. Some are pretty easy to fix while others are going to take some time and a good bit of education to improve the situation. Here are 9 online marketing mistakes and how you can start fixing them.

1. You’re trying to do it all for free.

Yes, a few people have managed to build a successful online business using nothing but free hosting and other free resources. They’re the exception. If you want the best chance at succeeding with your online business, you need to spend a bit of money. Just be careful about it.

My first recommendation is to pay for hosting and your own domain name. The trouble with free sites is that someone else owns the space and can delete all your work at will. That’s not going to help your business very much, and it’s not a risk worth taking. A2 Hosting is a great place to host your websites, reliable and very affordable.

It’s also smart to spend money on resources that will help you build your business, but this should be done very carefully. Don’t buy just because the sales letter told you how easy it would be to make money with their system. Do some research and find out what others think of it.

Be picky about the reviews you trust. If the review is an affiliate of the product, you hope they’re honest, but they may not be. The best reviews not only note what’s great about the product, but what isn’t so great. They may even warn you not to buy if the product isn’t good enough.

Some things can be had for free when appropriate. You can use free images on your website if you know how to find safe ones to use, but you can also take photos of your own. Your own images are the safest to use, but sometimes take too much time to create.

know your target audience

2. You don’t know your target audience.

So you decided to start a website on an interest of yours, but you really don’t know how to find people interested in what you have to offer. You know they’re out there, now how do you get them to your site?

The simplest way to do this is to start researching your competition. Figure out who’s selling to your target audience successfully and figure out what they’re doing that you need to do. They don’t have to be exact competition, and may even be somewhat complementary to what you’re doing.

If you’re selling dog training videos, for example, you can look at other websites selling products related to dogs. You should also look at forums about dogs and seeing what kinds of questions people are asking when they’re having trouble training their dogs. Those people are your exact target audience, after all, and you need to know what questions they’re asking if you’re going to attract them.

Don’t ever assume that everyone is a potential customer, no matter how broad the appeal of your product. Even grocery stores consider their target markets, and we all need food! But they know that some people do more of the grocery shopping than others and that they shop in a certain way. Knowing your target audience like that is a huge help.

3. Spelling and grammar mistakes are all over your site.

Maybe you thought at first that spelling and grammar don’t matter online. You look at how your target audience posts on forums and social networking sites, and they don’t seem to care that much about typos.

They do care, actually. Not necessarily for themselves, but they’d rather buy from someone who can maintain a professional appearance online, and that means few to no mistakes in spelling or grammar on your site or in your ads, as well as any other time you’re representing your business online.

There are a lot of great tools to help you catch such mistakes. They aren’t perfect, but they can help.

I like Grammarly and the Hemingway app. The basic versions are free to use. You won’t always agree with corrections they suggest, but they can help you think about what you’ve written. They may even give you suggestions that are completely wrong. But most of what they suggest will be accurate and useful. The basic versions are free to use.

4. You don’t know anything about your conversion rates.

You’ve gotten people to your site and that’s all you know about it. No idea where they’re coming from or how often they’re converting into sales.

While you don’t want to obsess over statistics to the exclusion of all else, you do need to know what’s working for you and make sure that you’re making a profit. That’s especially true with paid advertising, as you want to keep the ads that bring in more than they cost going, and to improve them over time. You can’t do that if you don’t know how they convert.

You should be constantly testing your ad copy to make it convert as well as possible. To do that you need to know what your goals are. It’s not always to make a sale right off. You might want people to get on your newsletter list first, so you can sell other things to them later.

Some kinds of testing are easier than others. You can usually have more than one ad running at a time in your pay per click campaigns, and they’ll be rotated, giving you some solid data on which is generating the most clicks. Just make sure that the clicks translate to income, as you don’t want to pay for extra clicks that aren’t going anywhere. Even changing one word in an ad can make a difference.

Testing website copy is more effort, but it can be worth it. Move things around, change what you’re saying, figure out the best colors and overall design.

work on your marketing

5. You never work on marketing for your website.

The internet is a really big place. Especially when you start out, you need to work on marketing your website so that your target audience can find you.

Backlink building is a good place to start. A well placed backlink isn’t just about search engines; it’s about making your site visible to your target audience.

You can build backlinks with blog comments, guest posting, content syndication and more. A mix is often a good idea. There are lots of ways to promote your online business that don’t take a lot of time.

Social media marketing is a good idea too. It takes time to build a good audience on social media, but it can be well worth the effort.  Some websites get far more traffic from social media than from any other source. Take the time to learn to market on the right social media sites for your target audience.

Paid advertising can go well too, but is by its nature more financially risky. You can buy ads on appropriate websites or do pay per click campaigns through the search engines, but be careful about how you spend your money. Many paid campaigns won’t bring in nearly as much as they cost. Keep tweaking things until you get it right or you decide to try something else. Don’t spend more than you can afford to risk.

6. You don’t understand how online business is different from brick and mortar.

Running an online business is very different from running one anywhere else. Online, your competition is often just a click or two away, and attention spans are usually short. If you don’t do something to catch your visitors’ attention, you’re probably going to lose them.

This leads to competition working rather differently. A person can be in only one brick and mortar store at a time, but they can have multiple tabs open at once online, and compare what you offer directly with your competition. So not only do you have to catch their attention, you have to keep it by being better.

An advantage you have online is that your site operates 24/7/365, which few brick and mortar businesses can handle. If you’re sleeping, your website can still be generating income. When things go right, this can be amazing.

7. You have a lot of traffic, but you aren’t earning much from it.

You’re doing enough right that you’re getting visitors, but they aren’t converting. It’s really frustrating, so what should you do? Traffic that isn’t converting can have a number of causes.

It may be that you aren’t targeting the right audience, and so your visitors have no interest in what you have to offer. In that case, you need to figure out what part of your marketing is bringing in the wrong sort of visitor and fix it, either by tweaking it or by dropping that part of your marketing.

It could also be that your site isn’t doing what it takes to make people buy. Do you have a call to action? Can visitors find it easily on every page of your site? Is there something about your site that’s driving them away?

A lot of traffic coming to your site is nice for your ego, but unless the visitors are doing what you’d like them to do, what’s really the point?

build a list

8. You aren’t building a list.

There’s a saying about how it takes about seven exposures to a product to get people to buy. That is, of course, an average, but it brings up a very good point. You shouldn’t rely just on getting sales from people who happen to come to your site. You should try to get their email addresses so that you can send them more information and give them more chances to buy from you.

You should not email pure ads to your list with no useful information. That’s a great way to train people to not open your emails, make them want to unsubscribe or to even hit the spam button. You want your subscribers to look forward to the information you’re sending them. That way they’ll eventually trust you enough to buy from you.

9. You’re sending all kinds of offers to your list, but no one’s buying.

You built a list because you heard that’s where the money is. But that hasn’t been true for you. Matter of fact, it seems like when you send out an offer, either no one opens your email at all or you get a bunch of unsubscribe requests. You don’t feel as though your list is worth the trouble.

You have to keep things relevant to your list. Keeping with the dog training theme, you should be sending out other offers related to dog care. You should also be sending quality information about training and caring for dogs to keep people interested in opening your emails. Most people don’t like reading constant ads.

Don’t let these mistakes ruin your online business. It’s super easy to make online marketing mistakes. What matters most is how you recover from them and learn from them. You can do better if you give yourself a chance.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated October 12th, 2018

How To Get Out Without The Kids For Cheap

How To Get Out Without The Kids For Cheap

One of the challenges of being parents is getting out of the house without the kids for a date. It just doesn’t happen as often as many parents would like. Even once a month can be a challenge.

And of course, it gets worse when you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Babysitters cost a lot of money, and it can seem like it’s just flat out too expensive to go out without the kids.

Getting out without the kids doesn’t have to break the bank. You have options.

Get Someone To Watch The Kids

The first challenge is finding someone to watch the kids for you. As I said above, babysitters are expensive. But they are not the only option.

Can Family Help?

If you have family in the area, they may be an obvious choice for watching the kids. That’s how my husband and I got out much of the time when our kids were little. We lived close enough that his parents or my mother could watch them.

Other family members can help as well. My sisters and I have been known to do kid trades. Sometimes it’s to balance out the age spread and let the kids have a weekend with cousins in the same age range. Other times it’s to give one set of parents some time off.

One of the things I love about sending the kids off for time with other family members has nothing to do with getting out with my husband. It’s that they get different experiences with different people.

who will watch the baby

Who Else Can Help?

But if you don’t have local family willing to help, it’s time to start asking friends.

Talk to your friends and see if any of them want to watch your kids. This is easiest if the friends have kids as well and you can return the favor. This way everyone gets the chance to get out without the kids. You may even be able to make it a semi-regular thing.

This can be as simple as setting up a playdate for the kids. Make sure the other parents know you won’t be at home, and to call your cell phone if there’s an emergency. So long as you reciprocate, you should be able to find a parent willing to have your kids over.

Someday Your Kids Can Help

All of this gets easier, of course, as your oldest kid becomes old enough to watch the younger. What age this is depends on state law in your area and your own comfort level. One child may be ready for responsibility by age 12, while another needs another year or two.

The first time or two that you have the oldest watch the younger kids, you may want to only be gone for a short time or be within easy phone reach. This allows both you and your kids to become comfortable with them being on their own.

What If No One Can Watch The Kids?

You say you don’t have anyone who can help watch the kids? That’s more difficult, but you aren’t completely out of luck.

You can have something of a date at home if you have no other options. It’s not quite as much fun as going out, but you can make it work.

The best is when you’re sure the kids are asleep so that they don’t interrupt you. This may be difficult if you’re dealing with a baby – those little ones can be unpredictable! But when you think baby will stay asleep long enough, make some time for each other.

Figure Out What To Do

Dates don’t have to cost a lot of money to be memorable or romantic. It’s less what you spend than what you do. Have fun together. Consider these ideas to get out without the kids for cheap.

Some of these dates are easily done at home, as you may not always be able to get out when the kids are little. Don’t feel bad if you can’t get out. It’s not always that simple to get time away from home.

walking date

Relive An Old Date

When you’ve been married a while it can be fun to go back to do something you haven’t done since you were dating. Many couples have all kinds of fun memories from when they were dating that didn’t cost all that much to do.

Go On A Picnic

There are plenty of wonderful places in most cities for a picnic. It could be a beach, a particularly lovely park, or even somewhere you have to hike a while to reach. Pack some favorite foods from home that you can eat cold.

picnic

Go Hiking

Hiking is a wonderfully cheap way to get out and do something together during the day. You can find a fairly local hike or even drive an hour or two to get to someplace a little more special.

Go To A Street Fair

Check your local newspaper for local street or craft fairs and wander around. This one can add up pretty fast if you get too much into shopping or trying the food, but it’s a lot of fun and some are free to enter.

Go Stargazing

Just head out away from city lights (mountains are ideal if they’re in your area), and enjoy the view. This is particularly fun if there’s a meteor shower going on. The fewer lights in the area, the better, and unless you’re wanting to focus on the moon, stargazing when the moon is in a crescent phase or won’t have risen yet will give you the best view.

There are some great apps out there that can help you figure out which constellations you can see. You may also be able to see some interesting things in the night sky with some binoculars if you don’t have access to a telescope.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for meteor showers. These can be impressive sometimes, and make a great excuse to lie out on a blanket outdoors together for hours.

stargazing

Wander The Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Market is a whole lot more fun for adults than for kids, as a general rule. Not only can it make a pleasant date, but you get to explore the whole thing without the kids complaining of boredom.

Visit A Museum

Most museums don’t cost too much and can be very interesting to visit. Pick one that will interest you both.

Attend A Free Concert

Pay attention to when there are free concerts in your area and make plans to attend when possible. Summer is the best time for these in most areas.

Cook A Special Dinner Or Dessert At Home Together

Once the kids are out of the way you can make something special just for the two of you. This idea has the advantage of being something you can do after the kids are in bed if you just can’t find any other way to spend quiet time together without them. Plan a special dinner or even a particularly decadent dessert and make it together.

Plan A Game Night

Game nights can be fun if it’s just the two of you, but they also work if you’re with friends. Play games that you grownups enjoy – it can be a nice break from playing children’s games.

Just make sure the kids really are asleep before you pull out something like Cards Against Humanity.

Watch A Movie At Home

If you don’t want to pay movie theater prices, pick out a movie and watch it at home. You can stream from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or any other service you subscribe to, or buy or rent something. It’s nice taking the time to watch something without worrying about whether the kids will enjoy it.

binge watch

Binge Watch Together

Do you have a mutual favorite show? Time to binge watch as much as you can together. This is especially fun if you’re waiting for the next season to start.

And yes, Netflix, we really are still watching that!

Go On A Winery Tour

Many wineries offer free tours. Many will offer free samples as well.

Drive Somewhere Beautiful

Hop in the car together and go on one of the most scenic drives in your area. Mountains, beach, or farm, it doesn’t really matter – you just have to enjoy the view and the time together.

Check Out Local Garage Sales

So long as the weather is nice, you can probably find a lot of garage sales in your area on weekend mornings. If you don’t need to bring the kids along, this can be a lot of fun. You might even find something you need for an incredible price – just don’t go overboard. Too much garage sale fun can lead to having to hold your own garage sale.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.