Last Updated May 22nd, 2018

30+ Ideas For Working at Home

30+ Ideas For Working at Home

I often hear from people who want to work at home, and that’s as far as they’ve gotten with it. They seem to want me to tell them what to do. Know what? I can’t do that. I don’t know what kind of work at home job or home business is right for a particular person. That’s your problem. You need to think it out, look at your skills and interests, and start researching the possibilities. Once you’re there, I can probably give some better tips. Just get those first ideas for working at home, and you’ve got a start.

With all that said, here are some ideas to perhaps get you going. Maybe one of these ideas for working at home will help you. It’s not a comprehensive list of work at home ideas, but it’s a start. Oh, and yes, there will be affiliate links in the post here, but it’s potential value to readers that gets links in this post, not whether or not I get paid. There will be non-affiliate links too, in other words.

Work at Home Jobs

As always, don’t pay for a work at home job. Sometimes you may legitimately have to pay for a background check, but look into the opportunity before you do so, as that’s always a risky proposition.

You may need to get training on your own for some of these jobs as well. The training isn’t done with the employer – you have to attend classes at a school or find a good online course. You have a lot of options now to gain the skills you need for the job you want.

Data Entry

Data entry is one of the classics lots of people look at when they want to work at home. It sounds easy, and you can find lots of ads promising you big bucks for filling in simple forms.

The reality of this one isn’t quite so simple. There are indeed true work at home data entry jobs out there, but they don’t pay the big bucks, and they’re on the scarce side. I have some companies listed here on this site, but no idea who’s hiring at any point (as with all other work at home job opportunities) so don’t ask me. You may do better with one of the freelance sites, taking on an individual, usually short term assignment.

If the “job” is filling out ad forms for affiliate commissions, get better advice. Affiliate marketing is great when it works, but it’s not a job and it’s not that easy to make a living at it for most people. At the very least, there’s a tough learning curve and if you’re doing pay per click ads it can get really, really expensive before you master it.

There are better alternatives out there if you think data entry is the one work at home skill you have. You can do more than you think if you give yourself the chance. You need to look at more ideas for working at home.

Customer Service/Telemarketing

Customer service is one of the other hugely popular work at home jobs right now. It doesn’t take a lot of special skills, so many people feel comfortable trying for customer service work at home jobs. You need a completely quiet place to work, a desktop computer compatible with requirements set by potential employers (usually Windows of a reasonably recent sort), a high speed internet connection, a landline telephone, and a good quality, noise cancelling headset telephone that connects directly to the wall outlet (no wireless).

The need for quiet makes customer service a challenging job to do at home with children. Kids aren’t always quiet when you need them to be. Neither are pets. Sometimes even your spouse can be difficult, not to mention the folks mowing their lawn across the street. That’s why you must have a headset telephone that cancels out most background noises.

Medical Coding

If you want to do medical coding from home, you will need training and experience. That’s an absolute. I have yet to see any employers that will train you on the job from home. Once you have that, however, there are some excellent work at home medical coding opportunities out there.

Medical Transcription

Medical transcription is where I got my start working at home. I still cautiously recommend medical transcription, but it’s getting trickier as times change. Electronic medical records have really changed some parts, and you have to be prepared for that. That said, there are still jobs out there. Just remember that you have to get a good quality medical transcription education first, and make sure it prepares you for the current situation.

Legal or General Transcription

Legal and general transcription may be options as well for those who type well. While it is possible to get into general transcription without training if you’re sufficiently determined, I strongly suggest you take the free course from Transcribe Anywhere to get a feeling for what’s required.

You will almost certainly want training for legal transcription. Transcribe Anywhere has a course for legal transcription, including a free mini course so you can decide if that’s what you want to do before spending any money on it.

Transcription is a great alternative for working at home. I think it’s a much better choice than data entry, and there are far more jobs in transcription at home than data entry in my experience.

Bookkeeper/Accountant

Lots of people and companies need a good bookkeeper or accountant. If you have the skills, you can take it home. You may need to meet with clients in person at times, but much of the work may be done at home.

Tax season is a very busy time for bookkeepers and accountants, of course. You’ll need to consider how many clients you can handle even when they all need help around the same time.

Computer Programmer/Software Developer

My oldest sister used to do computer programming from home. I know it’s entirely possible, even though she eventually decided it wasn’t for her. You have to have the skills already, but if you’re a programmer, you don’t necessarily have to go to the office anymore. You can find a company that lets employees work from home instead.

Teacher

Not all teachers work at school. There are charter virtual schools which hire teachers to work primarily from their homes. Meetings with students and parents may be required, but the bulk of the work can be done from your home. In most programs, you do need a teaching credential for this work.

Online Tutor

If you don’t want to go all the way to being a teacher, there are also companies which hire online tutors. You may still need that teaching credential, however. There are a number of companies, however, that do not require a teaching credential for their tutors. Read the job description and requirements carefully so that you only apply for jobs that you’re qualified for. You’re only wasting time if you apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for.

Translator Or Interpreter

It’s a big world out there, and sometimes a translator or interpreter is needed to get through it all. Translators can work from home for a particular business or service, or strike out on their own as a freelancer. You will need to be fluent in both languages you deal with as a translator.

Many interpreters work from home over the phone. You’ll want a good setup so that you can hear clearly and be heard clearly. You might be interpreting between a patient and doctor, for example, and it’s very important to get things right.

Mystery Shopper

Most mystery shoppers don’t earn all that much, but the pay per job can be decent if it’s close enough to your home. It’s a nice way to get out of the house while earning some money. Be aware of the many scams in the mystery shopping arena and make sure you deal with reputable companies. Some people do fairly well, but it takes time to get to where you earn good money.

Health Care

Nurses may be able to work from home answering health related questions on the phone. Nurses can also do case management from home. Most positions require that you be a registered nurse in the state you reside in.

Technical Support

Technical support can be like a customer service position in some ways, except you’re dealing with much more technical information. The pay can be better. Some technical support jobs require a college degree or certification.

Be prepared to deal with problems ranging from the simple to the complex. People call tech support for many reasons, and some of them will have very little understanding of what you need them to do to help solve the problem.

Website Developer

Do you enjoy creating websites? Know your HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and so forth? You may be able to set up a business developing websites for other businesses or find a work at home job as a website developer.

This is one option that many people do a lot of their marketing locally. Not all small, local businesses have websites and may be very interested in having one developed for them. It’s a highly affordable marketing tool, even after the expense of the website.

Graphic Designer

Whether you’re creating a logo for a website or a photo spread for a magazine, graphic designers don’t necessarily have to work from a big office. You can do quite a bit of this on your own for clients or be a work at home graphic designer for a company.

Alternatively, make great designs and sell them on TeepublicCafePressZazzle, or many other websites.

Virtual Assistant

Good at doing things around the office, like handling emails, appointment setting, data entry, online research and so forth? There’s pretty good demand for virtual assistants who can handle a variety of business tasks. Take this course if you want to learn how to be a successful virtual assistant quickly.

Photographer

If you love taking photographs, you can make the most of that by becoming a photographer. You’ll need to develop a good portfolio, and it’s often best to specialize. Some prefer being a wedding photographer while others prefer family photos, for example. Certainly, you can do a few different types of photography, but it may be easier to build a reputation if there’s one you really specialize in.

You don’t have to just take pictures for sale to a particular client. You can also take photos and put them up for sale on stock photography websites. The income from these may be small per sale, but it can build up if you provide an interesting, useful selection of photographs.

Writer

There are lots of opportunities out there for writers, whether you want to be a freelance writer or work for a single employer. There’s also a lot of competition because so many people want to work as writers. You have to find a way to stand out.

It’s a good idea to specialize as a writer. Consider your experience to figure out what areas are best for you to specialize in. You can write articles, ebooks, reports, resumes, and much more. You may want to consider this course, 30 Days To Freelance Writing Success, to get things moving.

Marketing

Ever look at the copy on a sales page and pick apart just how they convince visitors to buy? Are you a convincing writer yourself? You may do well running your own website selling products or you can do marketing for others. A great copywriter can earn very good money.

Social Media Marketer

Just how much of a chatterbox are you on Twitter, Facebook, and other social websites? Are you always finding the great links to share? You may do well marketing other people’s businesses on social media for them. You can be a social media marketer as a regular job, freelance and help several companies with their social media marketing, or use it as a strategy to promote your own online business.

Drive

Driving isn’t working at home as such, but if you don’t need to do everything at home, you can work for Lyft or Uber as a driver. These work if flexibility is your goal and you don’t have to be at home all of the time.

Freelance Websites

This is where the plus in the article title comes from. Just about any job you can do at home, you can find through a freelance website. They’re great for building a portfolio or resume when you’re just getting started, and you can make a living just through freelancing when you’re good at it.

Many freelance websites have you create a profile, then you bid on jobs. Don’t obsess over being the lowest bidder all the time. You don’t want the jobs that don’t pay what you’re worth; they’re reputed to be the most difficult customers because they want so much for less.

Here are a few websites you can check out for freelance job listings. Some are the bidding sort, others are set up other ways. You may need to work at the office at least part of the time for some freelance jobs, but many can be done entirely from home.

Guru
Craigslist (beware of scams)
Upwork
People Per Hour
Freelancer.com
Hire My Mom
Home Job Stop
iFreelance
Toptal
Freelance Writing Jobs

And many more, just do a search with your favorite search engine.

If all you put down for your skills are common things such as writing skills, you’ll have a lot of trouble finding jobs. Some freelance sites won’t accept you with skills that are too common, as they have too many people bidding on those jobs already. Give some real thought to how you apply to freelance sites as well as your portfolio. It’s a good idea to have an online portfolio outside of the freelance sites so more potential clients can find you and review your work. Starting a blog can help you put your skills on display.

Home Business Ideas

There are a ton of possibilities when it comes to running a home business. Strictly speaking, freelancing is a home business too, but many people think of them separately, and so I’m treating them separately.

Now, you can combine a few things to make your home business work its best. You can have a blog, do affiliate marketing, and have an email list that you send special offers out to. You can have your own product and do affiliate marketing at the same time. These things aren’t exclusive; just make sure you learn to do each part before you add on another thing. Taking on too much at once with a business makes it easier to fail.

Affiliate Marketing

This is just one form of online business. There are several other models, but affiliate marketing appeals to a lot of people. No worries about taking payments, dealing with inventory or shipping products – it just sounds easy.

As with any other home business, there’s quite a learning curve, and many affiliate marketers make under $100 per month, from what I’ve read. In other words, don’t assume you’ll make a fortune, no matter what the promos say. One way or another, you have to learn to market, whether it’s online, offline, social media, pay per click, buying ads on other websites or creating your own.

On the other hand, you can market just about any product you can think of. Affiliate marketing is great if you want to run a website about your hobby – just refer people to sites that sell the things necessary for the hobby and will give you a commission. Make sure you keep your recommendations honest – there’s no quicker way to lose a reputation than to recommend junk.

I suggest taking an online affiliate marketing course to get going. It’s not quite as simple as throwing a few links on a page or into your social media stream, believe me! You’ll earn more as an affiliate if you know what you’re doing.

Blogging

There are lots and lots of bloggers out there now. It’s a popular home business model. Affiliate marketing can be a part of it, but you can also sell ad space, get paid directly to promote products or use it to build upon another part of your business.

Most bloggers won’t hit it big. It should be obvious that we can’t all be big name bloggers, but with all the dreams people have about their home businesses, I think it bears mentioning. Keep working on your blog, and you get a decent following and earn a good living, if not the spectacular money some bloggers earn. It doesn’t cost a lot to start a blog, making it worth the effort.

Email Marketing

Nope, email isn’t dead. It’s not even suffering too badly. Just because a lot of people enjoy reading blogs and receive posts through an RSS reader, or keep up with things on Facebook doesn’t mean they don’t use email anymore. It’s still pretty strong.

There are a lot of rules to follow as an email marketer. Don’t buy a list. That’s a great way to get in trouble for spamming. Don’t just send emails from your home computer either. Most ISPs really don’t like that, and may limit how many you send, plus if you get accused of spamming, you can lose your entire internet connection.

It’s much better to go with a service such as Aweber or Get Response. They provide the HTML for your subscription forms, handle spam complaints and unsubscribes, and so forth. The main thing you do is write and send out your emails, and work on attracting people to your list legitimately. Keep it legit, as either company will terminate any account they feel is getting subscribers the wrong way.

Make Videos

Video marketing is usually a portion of your overall business. Unless you get a lot of views, you aren’t going to earn a living from your videos without selling something, whether you do so as an affiliate or sell a product of your own creation. Sufficiently popular videos may also earn an income from ads placed on the video. YouTube is the popular site for posting videos, of course, but you have to watch out for the rules. Google’s pretty strict, and accounts can be deleted.

Take a little time to learn YouTube marketing to improve your chances of success with YouTube and similar sites. Learning from someone who knows how to get things moving can help you avoid a lot of the mistakes others will make.

Product Creation

The wonderful thing about online marketing is that it’s really easy to make your own product. Ebooks, software and apps can sell very well online, and may not be all that hard to make. You need an idea, then you need to take action to make that product a reality. Then start marketing. As with any other business, it will probably be tough at first, you may fail a few times, but keep at it and you might make it.

Life Coach

Many people enjoy working with a coach to get their career, life or home business running better. If you’ve had some success and enjoy sharing your skills, you may be able to earn a living as a coach. You can take a course to learn how to be a life coach and get your business going.

Daycare Operator

How about going the traditional way? Running a daycare from your home has been around a very long time. The hours are long, the pay may not be great, but you’re with your kids.

Network Marketing

This is another traditional way to earn money from home. From classics such as Mary Kay, Avon and Watkins, to the floods of newer network marketing companies out there, you can have fun selling products to family, friends, referrals and possibly even online.

Sell Crafts

Whether you sell on Etsy, eBay or elsewhere, it’s much easier than it used to be to make crafts and sell them online. There’s lots of competition now, but that means lots of opportunities as well.

Store Owner

You can run your own store selling physical products. You’ll need appropriate licensing for your area, a wholesale source for products, a way to take online payments (Paypal works, but you may want to consider other credit card processors as well), and a website to display your products.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to have the products in your home. Some people prefer to use dropshippers, so as to simplify the shipping process and the inventory. Getting stuck with a bunch of something that didn’t sell is a pain, after all. You’ll still have to deal with customer service issues, store promotion and so forth.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. What types of work at home do you think are worth it?

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 May 9th, 2018

Do You Need To Prepare Your Blog For The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

Do You Need To Prepare Your Blog For The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

There’s an important regulation coming into effect on May 25, 2018, for anyone collecting data from users in the European Union. It’s called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and you may need to be aware of it, even if you aren’t in Europe.  At the very least, you must be aware of its existence and decide you need to do.

First things first. I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. It’s an alert for you to find out what’s relevant to your situation. If you want legal advice on this, it would not be a bad idea at all to consult a lawyer. It may take time, however, for lawyers to know how GDPR will impact website owners in non-European countries.

What Is The GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation sets down rules on how companies are to handle people’s personal information. This includes information such as IP address, cookies, location data, name, and email address, but may include more information, depending on what you collect. Information collected must be voluntary – that is, visitors must be clearly informed of the data you collect and agree to it. The request must be in clear language.

You also have to allow users to request that their data be deleted.

It also includes some pretty stiff fines for companies that don’t comply up to 4% of their global annual turnover, or €20M, whichever is greater.

In other words, they mean for this regulation to have some teeth. These fines are meant to be painful even for huge companies that have billions of euros in income each year.

Compliance can mean more than just taking someone off your list when they unsubscribe from your email list. If they want all of their information deleted, you must delete all of it. If they want to know what information you have on them, you have to share that information with them.

You also have to let users know why you want the data and how to opt out of data collection. Collection of data on people under age 16 requires parental consent.

If you want more detailed information, there are a number of sites with good writeups about GDPR, beyond the GDPR website, which may give you more details than you can handle. Try WTF Is GDPRStop whining, GDPR is actually good for your business, and Hubspot’s The GDPR Last-Minute Kit.

What Data Do You Probably Have As A Blogger?

As a blogger, you may have more data on your visitors than you think. Much of it will be quite generic – your statistics program that comes with your website hosting may tell you what IP address your visitors come from, and what pages they visited.

But you probably have more than that. It may be shared with third parties as well.

Do you use Google Analytics? Who runs your mailing list? What affiliate networks or ad networks are you a part of? These need to be revealed and included as a part of the consent you request.

Think about the comment section on your website. It probably asks for a name and email address at the very least, with an option to include a website link. That’s personal information right there. Of course, if you use Disqus or Facebook comments, you’ll have whatever rules they expect you to follow.

Should You Do Anything To Comply With The GDPR?

Many people outside the European Union are unsure if they need to do anything to comply with the GDPR, especially if they don’t get a lot of traffic there. The whole thing looks difficult to handle at this point.

Regardless of your need to comply, you should consider how you’re treating visitors’ data. Are you keeping it safe and using it only in the ways they expect you to?

I’m taking guidance from the various services I use. If Google needs me to put up a notice to continue using their services such as Analytics on my site, obviously I’m going to do it. Same for whatever is expected by the various affiliate networks and my email list provider. They’re far more exposed to risk than I am, so I expect them to know what is necessary. I also don’t want to lose these services. If they want me to comply, I will. I expect most of them to have requirements.

AdSense, for example, has already put out a request for publishers to link to Google’s Privacy & Terms page.  It says, in part, “You are not required to seek consent for a user’s activity on Google’s sites (we obtain that ourselves when users visit our sites). We are asking only that you seek consent for your uses of our ads products on your properties.”

Google is also providing “a range of optional tools to help you with gathering user consent across your websites and apps.”

If you are targeting European users, you absolutely need to comply. If they’re an incidental part of your audience, you should have much less to worry about, although you may still need to keep an eye on how things go.

The challenge with compliance will be minimizing the number of popups about privacy. You know how much they annoy visitors. As things progress, I expect to see a lot of advice out there on how to get consent without annoying your visitors.

Can You Just Block European Users?

Some people have just considered blocking European users. It sounds easier for small businesses and blogs that very little traffic from Europe. Why go through all the trouble?

The big reason I can think of to take the GDPR into consideration and act on it is that other countries may follow. Think about how outraged people have been over the use of their data with the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal. People will want to have more control over how their personal data is used.

This means more countries may pass laws similar to the GDPR. It’s better to deal with it now. This may simplify things later.

Also, the GDPR is supposed to protect European citizens no matter where they are. If they’re traveling in another country and go online, their data is to be as protected as if they were at home.

Much of this falls into good business practice anyhow. You have to get explicit permission to subscribe someone to your newsletter, for example. You should be doing that anyhow. It is a good idea to have your website served over https rather than http, which is a recommendation from Google in general now, regardless of anything else.

What Tools Can Help?

Many of the big companies you may work with are coming out with tools to help businesses deal with the GDPR. It impacts them too, after all, and they’re bigger targets than you are. They want it done right.

If you use Google products such as Analytics or AdSense, they’re working on tools for you. Some affiliate networks, such as Commission Junction, are working on tools as well.

There are WordPress plugins that can help you with GDPR compliance. Here are a few. No doubt more are coming, and it will take time to determine which are the best. Note that these may not guarantee that you are fully compliant with GDPR. They should help, however.

GDPR – Helps with consent management, privacy preferences, rights to erasure and deletion of website data, data processor settings, data breach notification logs with batch email notifications to data subjects, and more.

WP GDPR Compliance – This plugin helps make Contact Form 7 (>= 4.6), Gravity Forms (>= 1.9), WooCommerce (>= 2.5.0) and WordPress Comments GDPR compliant.

Shariff Wrapper – Many social sharing buttons transmit visitor data as soon as they visit your website. Shariff Wrapper doesn’t. I would hope that soon all share buttons stop doing this, as social media sites are decidedly impacted by GDPR, but if you’re concerned, this is an immediate solution.

GDPR Personal Data Reports – Gives visitors an automated process to request and retrieve their personal data from your site. It also allows them to request data removal and anonymizes and deletes data as appropriate.

Surbma – GDPR Proof Google Analytics –   every visitor to accept or decline Google Analytics tracking.

EU Cookie Law – This plugin is reviewing their GDPR compliance as of this writing, but I included it because it looks like a good start. It even gives an option to lock scripts before visitors accept your cookie policy, which is required by Italian law.

Delete Me – Allows users to delete their own accounts on your WordPress blog.

What Am I Doing?

I’m still figuring things out myself. My process has been delayed be a MAJOR family emergency that is taking tons of time. I plan to do something, but figuring out exactly what tools I will use will take some time. I’m watching for the tools developed by companies that I work with so that I keep up with their requirements. It may become good business practice in general anyhow.

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 May 1st, 2018

20 Quick Ways to Promote Your Online Business

20 Quick Ways to Promote Your Online Business

Promotion is one of those things I’m not as good about as I should be. It’s too easy to think of it as something that takes a lot of time, but it doesn’t have to. Some promotional efforts take only a few minutes a day. It’s vital to promote your online business regularly.

1. Use Pinterest

Many bloggers and website owners have found that Pinterest can drive great traffic if used consistently. Take the time to make pinnable images for every post. Pinterest suggests images be 600×900 pixels, or a 2:3 size ratio, up to 600×1260 pixels or a 1:2.1 size ratio. They also say square images are acceptable, although everyone I’ve seen post about it finds that they don’t get great results from square images, and prefer longer ones.

Pinterest also encourages you to have multiple pinnable images for each post.This gives you several chances to attract people’s attention. Spread these images out – don’t pin them all to the same board at the same time. There are a lot of places to find great free images if you don’t want to make your own, as well as free image editing tools so that you can customize them.

Use Tailwind to schedule your pins across all of your appropriate boards. This will save you a ton of time.

2. Post on Your Facebook Page

Facebook is another easy choice. I suggest doing more than just adding the link to your post – have something to say, at least the title of the post. Some people find that the get better results without the preview of your post showing beneath it, while others say it’s better to post something and then put the link in the comment. The second one is harder on people using mobile platforms, who don’t see the link right away, however.

Facebook is always changing how much exposure your posts to your page will get, making them something of a pain to use.

3. Share on Twitter

A few words on what it’s about, a link, and you have a tweet ready to go. Make it interesting – you know how fast things move on Twitter. Remember to use appropriate hashtags. You can use Hootsuite to schedule your tweets to make this easier.

Twitter has recently become picky about sharing the same post over again on their platform, even across multiple accounts that you own. If you share your posts more than once, make sure that you change up what you say about it.

4. Have A Contest

People love contests. Figure out what you can offer as a prize, and you can have a contest on your site. Most websites do some sort of sweepstakes, where people subscribe to a newsletter or follow the site on social media to get entries.

Make sure you know the laws about contests in your area. This will vary from place to place. You don’t want to get into legal trouble when you’re just trying to promote your online business.

5. Promote Old Posts

Promote some of your older posts on your preferred social networks. You don’t have to stick to your most recent work, after all. Make sure you change what you say about it, try new images, and generally test things to see what gets you the best results. Once again, use Hootsuite so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time promoting old posts – you can automate a lot of it with tools like Hootsuite.

6. Comment on a Relevant Blog

Keep your comment relevant to the subject at hand and make it interesting. “Great post” isn’t going to drive many people to click on your site. It’s best to stick to your real name rather than keywords in the Name section of the comment form too – some blogs will delete your comment if you do the keyword thing. No extra links in your comment unless they’re really relevant and you know the blog owner won’t mind.

This can also help you develop a relationship with other bloggers in your niche. If you want to do guest posting, this is a huge help. It also improves the chances that other bloggers will choose to link to your blog as a resource in their own posts.

7. Put a Signature in Your Emails

Most email platforms will allow you to have a signature automatically added to all your emails. Take advantage of that. You can include your name, URL, and relevant social media profiles. Think about what you most want to get in front of the people you’re contacting.

8. Participate in a Relevant Forum

This can be tricky, as not all forums will allow you to have a signature line with a link. Watch those rules when you join forums, and be very careful about promoting your site outside your signature. Also make sure that you aren’t getting sucked into spending an excessive amount of time on the forum, especially if you end up reading more than participating. As with blog commenting, keep it relevant and not to promotional. Most people aren’t on the forum to read an ad from you, and excessive advertising is one of the quickest ways to get banned on a forum.

9. Respond to People

Whether you’re replying to emails, blog comments, tweets aimed at you, Facebook comments, etc., take a little time to respond to people who have contacted you. People remember things like that.

10. Write an Email Template

Got some questions you receive regularly by email? Make a template for your standard answer. This is a huge timesaver when going through your emails, plus you can really think out what your best answer is beforehand.

I have several templates I use. They have to be updated occasionally, but it’s so nice to have an easy way to answer common questions, rather than having to look up the link to information I’ve shared many times before.

11. Review Your Analytics

While this doesn’t directly impact your website promotion, it can give you ideas for posts that are getting traffic, and the sites that send it. Knowing which of your efforts have been most effective is vital.

12. Do Some Keyword Research

While it’s a good idea to do keyword research when writing blog posts, it’s helpful to do it in general too. I find some good ideas just by really digging into different keywords I’ve considered.

One of my current favorites is Answer the Public. When you put in a keyword, it will come up with all kinds of queries people have made on that subject. I like to download the CSV of the information and review it that way. Then I have it on hand the next time I want to use that keyword.

13. Look For Ways to Interlink Your Content

Linking within your site to your own content gives visitors the excuse to keep looking around your site. Make it easy for them by linking relevant posts and pages to each other.

The best way to do this is taking a little time to find relevant posts every time you write a new one. Sometimes you will also find that an older post should be linked to a new one. Think about your old posts as you write, and drop in the appropriate links.

14. Link to Other Relevant Websites

Want to be a great resource? Link to other great resources. Not only are you giving your visitors more of what you’re looking for, other site owners will see you linking to them and possibly driving traffic to them, and may return the favor.

15. Find Places to Guest Post

Writing a quality guest post should take more than a few minutes, but doing a search for places to consider can be done quickly. Search for sites in your niche that allow others to write for them. Read through the qualifications, subscribe to the RSS feed of the site or otherwise make sure you can keep up on what’s getting posted. I keep a list of sites to consider.

Do not guest post on low quality websites! This can damage your search engine rankings. Go for the best websites you can get to publish your posts. This will take patience, as some sites take several weeks or even a few months to tell you if they’ve accepted your posts.

16. Answer Questions on Q&A Sites

Sites such as Quora can be excellent for promoting your site – just don’t overdo it. Be relevant, especially when you include links to your own stuff in your answers, don’t be afraid to link to things you don’t own if they’re the right resource, and remember that you don’t have to include a link every time. You don’t get the best attention on Q&A sites by answering a lot of questions – you get it by providing the best answers.

17. Make Videos

YouTube and other video services are great for promoting your business. You probably don’t want to be purely promotional – people prefer to be entertained or informed. If what you’re saying can be boiled down to “my business is so great, my business is so great,” you won’t get many views of your videos.

It’s amazing how well some people do with videos. There are people making significant money unboxing products, playing video games, or playing with toys. I’m often amazed by what my kids like to watch on YouTube, and by how much some of these people earn with their videos.

18. Go Live

Many marketers are getting great results by using Facebook Live. People who are online right at that time can watch you and interact with you. You can answer questions directly in your video as they come up, or have someone type in answers for you.

Obviously, you must be well prepared to go live on video. I would suggest that you rehearse whenever possible. Going live is likely to be easier if you have recorded videos in the past. It’s much the same, except you can’t edit out your mistakes.

19. Make a Magnet For Your Car

A magnet with some information about your business attached to your car can help you promote your online business. Keep it quick and simple – no one has time to read a long ad while driving.

20. Celebrate an Unusual Holiday

There are “days” and “months for just about anything. April, for example, is National Humor Month, International Guitar Month, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, Mathematics Awareness Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Welding Month, Records and Information Management Month, Stress Awareness Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and many more. Today is Mother Goose Day, as well as May Day. Search for unusual holidays and see what comes up.

For that matter, you can make your own pretend holiday. It won’t be anything official to anyone else, but it could give you something fun to celebrate on your site each year. Make it fun enough, and people might start talking. But if you choose something like “My *$&#@$!#* Computer Crashed Day,” try not to repeat it next year.

How do you like to promote your online business? Are there any interesting promotion tactics you have tried that have worked?

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 March 12th, 2018

7 Fantasies About Online Home Businesses

7 Fantasies About Online Home Businesses

It amazes me how much people want to believe that it’s easy to earn a spectacular living from home. I know all the big sales pages for internet marketing products make it sound like that, but it’s really not that simple. They encourage fantasies about online home businesses that don’t hold up once you get started.

If you want to know just how unlikely it all is, just take a look at the disclaimers. No matter how much they talk up the ease of big earnings, they have to admit that big earnings are the exception, not the rule. Most people will fail, or at least not do as well as the big earners, by a long shot.

I get how much fun it is to have fantasies about online home businesses. The dream sounds wonderful. It happens for some people. But even the little things you might fantasize about while planning a home business may not happen the way you want them to.

Fantasy #1
More time for your family

How I’d love for this to be true! I’ve been working from home since before my oldest daughter was born, and I’ve run my own websites for 16 years now. Running my business hasn’t always made it easier to have time with my family. I still have to plan it.

Your mileage may vary, but the simple truth is that any business is hard work, especially in the early days. If you don’t work hard, you slow down the growth of your business and it may never take off.

That said, there are some advantages to an online business. You have more freedom to decide when you work, and that’s a big help. You can run most online businesses from home, and that means you can at least be physically present, even when you’re kind of busy working.

And if you work hard, eventually you get to where you can take time off more easily, as well as learning more about when you work best. It does get better from the early rough days of not having enough hours in the day to handle all that your business needs, never mind everything your family needs. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time to hire some help once you can afford it.

Fantasy #2
Easy money

I hear this one all the time. “I’ve been working at this for x months and I still can’t quit my job!”

True. You can’t.

I worked my online business for three years before I was able to quit my medical transcription job, and it was a risk even then. There are times I wish I still had that assured income.

That’s because this doesn’t come easy. If getting rich were as easy as all that, inflation would probably make us all poor again. But it would be fun while it lasted.

If getting rich were as easy as all that, inflation would probably make us all poor again.

Failure in any business is easier and more common than success. Even the most successful business owners usually have a number of failures not only in their past but in their future. Failure means you challenged yourself. It’s only a bad thing if you let it stop you.

Fantasy #3
Lots of tax writeoffs

The trouble here isn’t so much that there aren’t a lot of tax writeoffs for online businesses. Any legitimate business expense is a writeoff come tax time.

The trouble is that many people think they can write off all sorts of things that they really cannot. And that gets them audited.

You have to think before you write off any expense. Is it really a cost of doing business or are you lying to yourself?

If you buy a new computer, for example, is it really for your business or will the whole family be using it regularly? My computer is just for business; we have a separate family computer that the kids and my husband play their games on. If I were to replace it, that would be a business expense. Replacing the family computer would not be a business expense.

My home office is not only my home office. The room is also used as a guest room. This means I cannot claim the entire room on my taxes as a home office. My desk is the only area that is exclusively my office – and I make sure everyone knows to keep their hands off!

Fantasy #4
Build it and they will come

Long, long ago, in the early days of the internet becoming popular, maybe this was true. Now, with so many other websites to compete with, not a chance.

You have to market your site. Get the word out. Advertise. Whatever you want to call it, you have to do it.

The same goes for your social media accounts. They aren’t going to suddenly have a ton of followers. It takes time to build a solid social media following. You have to be interesting. You have to stand out.

And that whole going viral on social media thing? Not as easy as you would like it to be. By a long shot. A few people hit it lucky and go viral with no effort at all. They probably won’t be able to repeat it if they tried.

Be ready to grow your business slow and steady. You might be one of the lucky few to go fast, but if you aren’t prepared for things to go slow, you’ll get frustrated long before things start happening for you. As fantasies about online home businesses go, the dream of going viral with little to no effort is way up there. Worse, it can do more harm than good.

Fantasy #5
Tons of traffic is always a good thing

Nope. Not even close. Not if you want to earn a living from this internet thing anyhow.

There’s good traffic and bad traffic if you’re looking at earning money.

There’s good traffic and bad traffic if you’re looking at earning money. Good traffic has a decent percentage of people who will buy from you or otherwise help you to earn money. Bad traffic overloads your server and doesn’t earn you anything, or only very insignificant amounts.

If you’re serious about your online business, you want buyers! People willing to spend money!

It’s a blast having the traffic on your website take off. I can tell you from experience that it’s even fun if it knocks your server down. Frustrating, but an ego boost nonetheless. It means you’re doing something right even as you scramble to get back online and take advantage of the traffic.

If you don’t earn anything, the ego boost is all the benefit you’re getting. That doesn’t pay bills or put food on the table.

This is the bad side of going viral. Too often it doesn’t do what you would like it to in terms of income and long term improvements to your home business. If the surge in traffic doesn’t include an increase in income, it’s not a good thing, especially if you had to upgrade your website hosting to cope with the traffic.

Fantasy #6
You just need to be an expert on your topic

Being an expert is very good for your business. You need to be one. But it’s not enough to bring you success. There are a lot of experts online, and probably a good number in whatever niche you’re in.

You still have to market your site. No one knows you’re an expert if you don’t tell them. Show your expertise elsewhere. Comment on blogs, join relevant Facebook groups and participate on forums intelligently. Be helpful, but don’t push people about going to your site. If you’re interesting and helpful enough, your signature or profile links will do that for you without annoying the forum or blog owner with blatant advertising.

It may also be a good idea to submit guest posts to relevant websites so that you get in front of their audiences. Find out who publishes the best content in your industry and see what it takes to get something you’ve written shared there. Alternatively, see what it takes to become a resource that they quote. Find a way to get in front of that audience that you want and they already have.

No one will discover that you are THE expert they need if you haven’t spent time marketing your online home business and building a reputation. The internet is big and you are small, no matter how brilliant you are. Do the work so that people will find you.

Fantasy #7
Anyone can succeed online

I see this a lot. Sales letters promising that the system they teach is so easy that anyone can do it. Yet somehow most people trying any one system will fail at it.

Some of that is from people not trying. Most of it is because what works once doesn’t necessarily work twice online. Another part is that working online simply isn’t for everyone.

That’s true no matter what you’re talking about. There is no one type of job or business that is right for everyone. Some people really can’t stand the isolation common to running an online business. Some just never get comfortable with the tools and processes needed to work online. Some fall too deeply for the idea that buying the information and throwing up a trash website should be all it takes. Some give up too easily. Some honestly cannot afford to take the risk of either time or money.

That’s just life. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, sometimes it won’t be the right choice for you and you need to find a new path. Other times it all clicks and is wonderful. Only way you’ll know how it’s going to go 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 February 5th, 2018

How Do You Get Time To Run Your Home Business?

How Do You Get Time To Run Your Home Business?

Running a home business can be one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can do for yourself and your family. Being there for your family while dealing with the demands of a business is complicated. Getting time to run your home business can be difficult. There are a number of things you can do to get more time to really focus on your work.

Set Up A Daily Routine

Have a daily routine that gets you moving. Start your day taking care of all the personal care things that need to get done, as well as any childcare issues that must be handled, and any chores you prefer to get done first thing. This keeps you from thinking all day about the things you need to get done that aren’t your home business.

For example, if I need to go grocery shopping, I do that right after dropping the kids off at school. I’m already out and about anyhow. Taking care of it first thing means I don’t have to think about it the rest of the day.

Have a daily routine for your home business as well. Set times to check your social media and email, and don’t let them eat up an excessive amount of time each day. Give yourself time each day for your routine business tasks.

Many people find it helpful to outline their tasks for each day. This can be easiest to do at the end of your workday for the next day. You’ve been working on stuff all day, and you probably know exactly what you need to work on next. Write that task list while your needs are fresh in your mind so that you don’t delay later.

Squeeze In A Little Work Where You Can

Running a home business often isn’t a strict 8-5 kind of thing. Many successful home business owners break up their workday to suit the needs of their family.

Make a list of all the little jobs you can do for your home business that only take up a little of your day. When you find time to work on them, do so. These should be things that you won’t mind so much when someone interrupts you. It’s better to get a small amount of work done than to do none at all.

Have Your Spouse Help

If you’re married or living with someone, you can ask them to be in charge of the kids when you need to work. It can be hard to get the kids to quit asking you for things if they have a habit of asking you first, but it’s good to get them used to the idea that either parent can care for them.

Depending on what your spouse does, they may not always be able to care for the kids right when you need them. I don’t mean that you should let them give any old excuse to not help – being tired from their own day at work or wanting to do something else is not always enough reason to refuse to do their share of the parenting. Other times they will have a good reason why they can’t care for the kids right when you need them to.

If your spouse is sometimes reluctant to help out, talk about where the problem is. Both parents have to shoulder their part of the parenting burden to make these things work. If your spouse truly supports the work you’re doing on your home business, they’ll help you get time to run your home business, even if that means they have to do work around the house or be the main parent while you get some business work done.

Have Family Help

Other family members can be extremely helpful as well. When we lived close enough, my inlaws took my kids overnight most weekends. We no longer live close enough for that to be practical now, but it was quite nice back then.

If you have a sibling with children close enough in age to your own, trading childcare can be nice all around. You get time to run your home business while the kids get time with their cousins. Once the kids are out of diapers, extra kids may not be that much more work for the parent in charge of them at the time. Sometimes it’s even less work, as the kids entertain each other, rather than relying on adults to play with them.

Trade Childcare

You can also trade childcare with friends. This can be done informally by taking turns, or you can use a babysitting co-op app or website to keep track of who has done how much babysitting. There are quite a few available, some free, some paid, such as:

Sit4sit
BabysittingCoop 
SittingAround
BabysitterExchange
Care.com co-ops

You can also set up your own co-op with a group of friends. Agree on some rules and set up a place where you can ask for babysitting time or tell someone you’re available. A secret Facebook group is an easy way to do this without having all your information out where just anyone can see it.

Of course, you will want to make sure you know the other families well. It is best if you all take a look at each others’ homes, so you know how child safe the home is, if guns are kept, what pets are there, and so forth. Most co-ops, once established, require a member’s recommendation for new members to join, and then they must be approved by an additional member. Some have slight fees to pay for basic supplies.

You will want to have your rules spelled out to keep members from feeling as though they are being taken advantage of by others. Sometimes one member won’t be good at reciprocating, which annoys the other parents as they feel that they’re being taken advantage of. It can also damage friendships.

This is why a co-op needs written rules and a way to track hours. It’s too easy to take advantage if others can’t directly point out where the problem is. Having clear rules and tracking can make it a little less personal.

Pay For Childcare

There are times when you will have to pay for childcare. Sometimes the free and cheap options just don’t work out with the time you need to run your home business.

For example, you may need a regular daycare situation for your kids because you work a lot of hours on your home business and can’t be distracted by kids. In that case, a more traditional style of daycare can be more practical than relying on family or friends.

You can look for local daycares on your own or use a service such as Care.com or SitterCity.com. These may be able to help you find a babysitter or daycare whether you need one daily or just once in a while.

Work While Others Sleep

If you’re a night owl or an early bird, you may be able to work while other members of your family sleep.

This won’t work for everyone, of course. The kind of work you do may not be suited to working nontraditional hours. Such hours may also not work for you personally. If you’re too tired at those times to work, working late nights or early morning is probably not for you.

Ignore Household Chores During Work Hours

One of the big ways work at home parents lose time to run their home businesses is by doing too much around the house when they should be working.

It’s not all about the kids. It’s the laundry and the dishes. Cooking dinner. Cleaning up stuff that really doesn’t have to be cleaned right now, but you decide to do it anyhow.

Don’t let the household chores get in the way of running your home business. Save it for outside your work hours.

I like to be efficient when it comes to making dinner. It’s not always possible, but using my crock pot, Instant Pot and planning ahead makes my days go better.

Some people like to set a day aside to prep freezer meals, for example. I very rarely do that. Instead, I try to make two meals while prepping one. The extra goes into the freezer rather than be cooked. It’s almost as easy to make two meatloaves as it is to make one, for example. Doing it while cooking another meal means that I don’t lose a whole day to meal prep, yet I often have an easy dinner in the freezer.

Don’t Turn On The TV

It can be tempting to binge watch your favorite show while you work on your home business. Don’t. Just don’t.

Having the television on is a huge distraction, and it will cut down on your productivity. At some point, you are going to start watching rather than working, more likely than not.

Save the TV time for when you aren’t working. You’ll enjoy the shows you watch more because your work won’t distract you from them.

If you want background noise, play some music from your collection or use a service such as Spotify. Many people feel they are more productive with at least a little background noise rather than complete silence. Music is generally far less distracting than a television show.

Set Aside Time For Reading Online And Social Media

While you should read relevant blogs and participate professionally on social media, there’s only so much of that you should do during your regular working hours. You need to set aside an appropriate amount of time for these things that won’t eat into your day.

Separate out your personal use of social media from your professional side. Don’t get into chats with family or friends when you should be working. Do share your latest blog posts or work on some social media marketing in appropriate places. Don’t get sucked into the unproductive parts of your social media presence.

It’s Up To You To Make Time To Run Your Home Business

You have to do what it takes to make time to run your home business. Others may help by taking care of distracting children and household chores, but if you don’t take your work hours seriously, you’ll always feel as if you don’t have enough time for your business.

Whenever you feel as though you’re running low on work time, take a look at where the hours are going each day. The odds are good that you’ll find places where you can squeeze in a little more work. It’s amazing how productive you can be in a short time if you’re really determined.

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.