December 28th, 2017

5 Year End Tips For Online Businesses

5 Year End Tips For Online Businesses

The end of the year is the time to take a look at how your online business has done and decide how you’re handling things next year. Most of it is things you can do at any time of the year, but the end of the year is when most people have the motivation to get things done. Here are a few year end tips for online businesses that you should consider.

1. Think About Taxes

Making the most of tax deductions and reviewing your income is important to do at the end of the year. There are a number of steps here you should take. If you aren’t certain of anything, talk to your accountant to get the best advice for your situation. They will know far more than you or I about what the best steps to take in a particular year are.

First is to look at what you can do now to reduce your tax burden for the year. Have you contributed as much as possible to your retirement account? Does it make sense to fit in an extra mortgage payment on your home? Have you paid all your employees or contractors if you have them?

There may also be things you can buy for your online business that can be deducted on your taxes. Think about what your business needs. When possible, buy new equipment and supplies for your online business before the end of the year.

Don’t forget your quarterly tax payment is due January 15.

You also want to start getting your paperwork together for tax time. Make sure all your paperwork is in order so you can have your taxes prepared easily when the time comes. If you’re expecting a refund, filing early makes a lot of sense. If you’re expecting to pay in more, filing closer to the deadline makes sense. It’s hard to know which situation you’re in, however, if you don’t take a peek early on.

2. Review Your Year

In general, how has the past year gone for your online business? Has it been a good year or a bad one? Somewhere in between? What would you like to do differently in the coming year?

There are almost always changes you want to make in your online business. The sooner you make an improvement in how you do things, the sooner it will help you.

A good year can make you feel as though you don’t need to make any changes, but that doesn’t mean you can let things slide. Online business can change rapidly, and what works well now may not work as well later. Pay attention so that changes don’t catch you off guard.

3. Plan For Next Year

What are your big goals for the next year? What about your little goals?

The size of the goal doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have them and have plans to reach them. Figure out what actions you will need to take to reach your goals. A goal is nothing without action.

You may notice that some of your goals will be hard to reach because of your current limitations. Take action to handle those limitations. Sometimes this will be best handled by hiring a virtual assistant or contract employee to take care of things for you. Other times, you can learn a new skill on your own to grow beyond your current limitations.

4. Clean Out Your Computer

Odds are good that you have downloaded a lot of information you’re never going to act on during the past year. There’s always tons of free information out there. While you don’t see it sitting on your computer most of the time, it’s there, and when you notice it, it becomes a distraction.

All those things you thought you would read but really won’t – delete them. Don’t waste any more mental energy on thinking that you will get to them. Keep anything you are confident you will refer to later and ditch the junk.

5. Clear Out Your Mind

Don’t start the new year full of last year’s frustrations or ideas you aren’t going to implement. Work on having a clear plan on how to move forward.

Start thinking out more of what you can do with the time you have. Most people waste a lot of time thinking about what might be and not how they can get there. Having goals is important, but planning how to get there is more important and more productive than just saying “I have a GOAL!”

Don’t sink into negativity if you’ve been having a hard time lately. We all get frustrated by our businesses at times. Things never go entirely perfectly. But that’s not what you should focus on.

When you have a problem, focus on the solution rather than the problem. If you don’t have enough traffic to your website, you shouldn’t think about that as much as you should think about how to bring in more traffic.

The more you can focus on what you can get done and will get done, the more productive you have the chance to be. Give it a try and head on to a productive new year.

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.

December 26th, 2017

What Are Your Goals For Your Home Business?

What Are Your Goals for Your Home Business?

With the new year approaching, many people like to review how things have been going and make resolutions or set goals for how their business will go in the new year. It’s as good a time as any to do this; in fact, reviewing your progress and setting new goals for your home business is best done a few times a year in my opinion. You need to be aware of how things are going to make sure you’re on the right path.

I’ve been doing a lot of this lately. This past year did not go as well as I wanted it to, but some things I’ve been working on are showing signs of life. My income dropped this year, and that simply will not do.

You have to adjust your goals when things like this happen. It may not be only your goals for your home business that change, however.

Take a look at other things happening in your life, especially if they make it harder for you to work on your home business. Find the parts of your life that are making it more difficult to reach your goals for your home business, and try to change them too. Ask for more help around the house. Tell your family you need more work hours and come up with ways to make that happen.

Balancing a home business with your family is a team effort even if you’re the only one who works on the business side of things. Get everyone on board to make things happen. And always remember that there are a lot of quick tasks you can do for your home business even when you don’t have a lot of time.

Keep Goals For Your Home Business Realistic

Your home business goals must be realistic. Goals that you’ll never reach are only so motivating. Lesser goals that take you in the direction of your greater goals are necessary so you know you’re making progress. You may have a goal of becoming a millionaire, for example, but what are the intermediate steps. If you don’t have realistic goals that take you in that direction, eventually you will get tired of that goal and give up.

Let’s start with something simple, say, earning $5000 a month from your home business. It’s not an excessive goal, but it’s one many of us would love to reach.

Depending on where you’re at, that may be too distant a goal or it may be a perfectly reasonable one. For this example, I’ll treat it as a distant goal, something for someone new to running a home business might be dealing with. Most of us aren’t going to hit that goal quickly – in fact, most home businesses earn much less. You need goals you can achieve so you can really feel your progress.

There are many goals you can set that will help you to know that you’re making progress toward that $5000 a month goal. They aren’t all financial, although having a goal of even $100 a month to start isn’t a bad beginning if you’re still at $0 a month. Here are some goals to consider:

Writing Goals

Most home businesses require a lot of writing. There’s a reason why blogging is such a huge part of many online home businesses. Creating new content is often one of the best things you can do for your online business.

Setting a writing goal is not as simple as deciding that you will write 2000 words a day or whatever. Sometimes you will need to do more research than writing. Sometimes a quick post will be more effective than something long-winded.

The most important thing to remember is that quality is more important than quantity. A reputation for incorrect information is hard to shake. Show your website visitors that you care about giving them the right information by doing your research when it’s needed. Cite your sources. This builds trust, even when you aren’t doing academic work.

Website Traffic Goals

How much traffic would you like to generate? Keep it simple at first, then increase. You may also want to measure this goal by increases, such as increasing your website traffic by 10%, 25%, etc.

There are a lot of ways to generate traffic to your website. Social media is extremely popular these days, as it gives you an audience that has chosen to follow you. Done right, it’s incredibly effective.

But social media is not your only option for building up traffic. You should also consider how to get links from reputable sources in your industry.

There are lots of ways to increase your website traffic. You’re usually best off focusing on no more than a few methods at a time. You can’t master them all, and you probably don’t have the time to work on all of them at once. You certainly don’t have the time to master several different traffic generation strategies at once. Taking the time to learn each one properly will make your efforts more effective.

Social Media Goals

Social media is one of the best ways to bring traffic to most websites. You have a lot of power over how people see your home business on social media, and you should try to make the most of that.

The first thing to remember is that your social media goals should be about more than numbers. Look at what you’re accomplishing with it.

Your social media goals for your home business will vary by the platform. You should look professional on LinkedIn. Twitter is often better for building relationships between a customer and a business. Instagram is about building an image, and it doesn’t let you add links to posts, making it more challenging for traffic generation.

Pinterest is highly visual, and many find it one of the best social media sites for generating traffic. People often use Pinterest for inspiration and to remember things they want to buy.

Any social media website will require time and effort to build a following. Getting to the point where things take off is difficult for most people. You can experiment with the different websites, but there are two basic things I recommend. One is that you find a good quality course to learn about the social media sites you want to try. Udemy has a good range.

The other is that you use the right tools to make scheduling your posts easier. Social media can eat up much of your day if you let it. While you should still visit the sites you use regularly so that you can interact with people and posts there, appropriate automation can take care of the basics for you. I like Hootsuite because it handles a good range of social media sites.

Networking

Social media is important for traffic generation and reputation management, but it can be so much more than that. It’s an opportunity to network with potential customers as well as other people in your industry.

Other people in your industry aren’t only your competition. Sometimes you can boost each other. Odds are that you are not offering the exact same thing to your visitors or customers. If you have networked with others in your industry through social media, you may know when to refer people to them, and they can refer people to you.

You can also network in person, of course. Go to local events, especially if they relate to your industry. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce. Talk to people about what you do.

Don’t be that obnoxious person who talks about nothing else, of course. Overdoing your in-person networking can drive friends and family away.

Education

What do you need to learn to run your business better? Set a goal to learn and apply that new skill. Learning a new skill is nothing if you never apply it. Don’t set a new goal in this area until you’re actually using the information or have consciously decided that the new information or skill is not something you want to apply to your home business.

Check out Udemy and other online education websites to see what you can learn. Pick courses carefully and commit to finishing them. Then apply what you have learned before you move on to learning something else.

As you can see, none of these on their own is about earning $5000. However, they should help you get on the right path toward that more difficult goal.

Analyze Your Efforts

Whether you reach your goals for your home business or not, you should be analyzing what went right and what went wrong. This will help you keep from making the same mistakes over and over again.

You may find, for example, that in doing your research you tend to skip the step of applying the new things you’ve learned. That’s a lot of time and very possibly money wasted. It’s a very common issue for people running any sort of online business.

You need to figure out why you aren’t applying things you’ve learned to your business. Are you too quickly attracted to bright and shiny product launches? Do you always think they’re too hard to do? Are you really trying to learn the right skill sets for what you’re willing to work on?

Once you know your mistakes you have a better chance of not making that same mistake in the future. That improves your chance of success.

Sometimes things will be beyond your immediate control. You may fail to generate the traffic you hoped to gain because your site fell in the search engine rankings for your best keyword. You can work on that problem once it’s noticed, but it may take time to fix. Knowing where the fall happened will help you figure out what to do about it.

Be sure to hold yourself accountable for your failures as well as your successes. It’s important to acknowledge both.

Even when you aren’t reaching your goals as quickly as you’d hoped, it’s vital that you set some sort of reachable goal. It’s one of the things that can motivate you to keep working on what is probably a very challenging business.

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.

December 13th, 2017

Upgrade Your Skills To Improve Your Opportunities

Upgrade Your Skills To Improve Your Opportunities

When was the last time you took a class? Online, offline, an hour or many months, it doesn’t matter. I just want you to think about the last time you took a class, any class, to upgrade your skills and improve your opportunities.

For many people, it has been a while. For others, not long at all.

What I want you to think about now is how you benefited from that class. Did it help you in your professional life? Did it inspire you to try new things? Have you put what you learned into practice?

It’s often difficult to find the time to take a class, even a brief one. Most of us lead such busy lives that it’s hard to spare the time. I know I have that problem quite often.

Getting around the time issue is a matter of priorities. You have to give something else up for a time or reschedule things so that the class you want to take fits in. If you choose the right class, the time spent will be well worth it.

Self paced may sound like a good idea, but if you struggle with finding enough time for your classes, it may not be. Some people simply cannot cope with self paced classes – they let them slide too much. This is why many online courses are never completed by people who pay for them. I’m guilty of that one myself.

Can You Afford To Upgrade Your Skills?

Upgrading your skills usually takes money. It may not be easy to decide to spend that money, especially when things are tight. However, if you choose the right skill to improve, it will be money well spent.

Ideally, you want to improve a skill that will improve your income or your lifestyle. Nothing wrong with taking a class for your own personal pleasure, after all! My focus here will be on work at home and online business skills, but if you want to find a class that has to do with one of your hobbies, go for it and have fun! Downtime matters too.

Classes can cost anywhere from a few dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the kind of class you want to take. I have rather enjoyed some of the classes I’ve done through Udemy, even though I struggle with making time for them. They’re really affordable as a general rule, which I like.

Decide How You Want To Upgrade Your Skills

There are a lot of ways you can upgrade your skills. Online courses are very popular because they’re so flexible. In-person classes through local community colleges have the advantage of a set schedule, which can make it easier to finish the course.

If the class you want to take is self paced, set up a schedule you’re willing to commit to for yourself. It’s the best way to ensure that you actually go through with it. Pick an hour or two each day or week, and work on your class.

The more time you commit, the sooner you will finish your course. There’s no prize for finishing a course quickly – you want to learn your new skills thoroughly, and that can mean spending a lot of time on the parts that are more difficult for you.

I’m very fond of online courses. Community colleges and such can be great, but not all teachers will be up to date on things. You can find reviews on online courses and see how recently they’ve been updated to reflect changes in the industry. That can be a huge help.

You will also want to consider whether you prefer to learn through videos or text when you learn online. I’m not big on video, but many people adore it. I prefer text that I can go over at my own speed until I get it. Think about how you like to learn when considering a course.

You don’t have to spend money on improving your skills, of course. You can try figuring things out on your own. Trial and error doesn’t work for everything, but it can help with many things. The main disadvantage is the mistakes you will make along the way – you may lose out on income by doing it on your own. Learning from someone who has figured things out already should be faster.

Consider Upgrading These Skills

There are a lot of great skills you can upgrade that will improve your opportunities. Here are some suggestions to consider. It’s not a comprehensive list – if there’s something else you want to do, go for it. It’s all for you.

Work At Home Job Courses

These courses may help you to find more work at home jobs, whether as a freelancer or as a regular employee.

Medical Transcription Training through Career Step – I’ve recommended Career Step for years. They have a good program. You can read up on medical transcription as a career here and think about if it’s for you.

Medical Coding Training through Career Step – I’ve also heard that Career Step’s medical billing and coding course is good. I’ve written about medical coding as a career, and you may want to read it as you consider whether this is the right step for you.

Freelance Writing – Working as a freelance writer is a popular work at home job for very good reasons. It can be flexible, and if you know what you’re doing, the money can be pretty good. It can also be pretty awful if you don’t know how to value your work properly.

That’s where a course such as Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success course can help. It will help you learn how to start your freelance writing business the right way and get clients.

Virtual Assistant – Freelance virtual assistants can also do very well. Virtual assistants can do a wide range of services for the companies they help, which gives you room to specialize. Gina Horkey also has a course for that, 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. You could start helping clients with their social media, email marketing, customer service and more.

Online Business Courses

These courses are more about building your own business, although you could use them to improve your skills for a work at home job too.

I love the range of courses you can find on Udemy. You can find something good for just about any online skill you could use, as well as courses that are just for your personal benefit. It’s worth taking a good look around.

You could consider How to Start an Amazon FBA Store on a Tight Budget, for example. It can be tough to make a living selling physical products through Amazon, but it’s a great platform once you know what you’re doing.

There are also courses such as Etsy 101: Set Up a Shop and Promote It on Social Media for those who would rather make their own creations and sell them on Etsy.

For those who need to improve their social media marketing, there are all kinds of courses, from Social Media Marketing 2017 to courses specific to each platform you might use. If you just can’t quite get how to master a particular platform, you can get help there.

I could seek out good courses on Udemy all day and find plenty of great choices. It all depends on what you want to learn.

Commit To Using Your New Skills

Once you have a new skill, make sure you do everything in your power to use it. If it requires finding a new job, this may not be easy. If it’s something to help you improve your online business, on the other hand, you’d better get right on it.

Fit your new skill into your daily routine. If that means job hunting, work at it daily. If that means a change in how you handle your social media marketing, make that change right away.

You’ll never know what your new skill will do for you if you don’t use it. Learning something and not applying your knowledge means you wasted your time and your money. Do you have either to waste?

What Skills Do You Need To Upgrade?

Have you decided to upgrade your skills? What opportunities do you think this will open up for you? How will you fit the time it takes to learn something new into your current routine?

The best time to start improving your future is now. If you put it off, when will it happen? Whether you buy a new course, finish an old one or try to figure things out on your own, it’s time to get things moving.

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

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.

December 11th, 2017

10 Perks of Working at Home

Perks of working at home

Being home with your kids isn’t the only good thing about working at home. It’s certainly a benefit when you’re a parent… provided you can actually work with the kids around, which is not always easy or smart. But there are a lot of other perks of working at home that you may not have considered as much.

1. No Commute

Losing the drive to work is wonderful. There are some work at home jobs out there where you may have to drive to the office sometimes or to see a client, but for the most part, you don’t have to drive anywhere to get to work. Potentially, that’s a huge time savings.

You’ll also use less gas. This is a personal favorite, especially whenever gas prices start climbing. So long as you don’t take the excuses to drive all around town, working at home uses a lot less gas for most people… unless you have to meet with clients a lot away from your home.

2. More Time

Cutting that commute means you have more time. The average U.S. travel time to work is 24.5 minutes. I assume the drive home is similar. That’s close to an hour a day of driving. Working at home gives you that time back, to use as you wish.

For what depends on you. You might work more, or you might have more family time. Some use it to volunteer at their children’s schools or elsewhere. It could be more time for a hobby or to improve your skills by taking a class.

3. Your Day Can Be More Productive

Most people are more productive when they work at home, distractions or no. Meetings can be held with online tools such as Slack, which also makes it easy to share documents.

If you need to chat with a coworker about something, you can. The online tools for this have really improved in recent years. Companies that have a lot of remote employees are pretty good at handling communication between employees now, which is a huge boost for productivity.

4. Your Home Office, Your Style

This is one of my favorite perks of working at home. You can set up your home office to suit you. You want a standing desk, it’s up to you to make that happen. Office plants and other decor are up to you. Your home office can be a guest room, as mine is.

Odds are that you won’t want to spend a lot on your home office, at least not at first. But you will have the freedom to pick out the desk and chair that fit your needs and budget, and upgrade when the time comes.

Not everything will be up to you in some work at home jobs, of course. You can’t work at the coffee shop if you’re required to have a wired internet connection or a silent work area. You probably won’t even be able to work outside your regular workspace. But you will be able to set that space up to suit you, rather than by a set of corporate rules.

Some companies will give you a stipend to set up your home office. This may be mostly for the technology you need to do your job right – a good computer and monitor, for example. Some will provide enough that you can also get a good desk and chair. Others will expect you to provide your own equipment.

You have full control of the thermostat when you work at home. Get that programmable thermostat or a smart thermostat to make it easy to keep your home at the right temperature while you work. My husband’s biggest complaint about his job is that he is exactly under the blower at work. Even on the hottest days of the summer, he brings a jacket to work because it gets so cold at his desk. I don’t have to worry about that at home because I have full control over the temperature of the house.

You aren’t even restricted to working in your home office with many work at home jobs. If you want to head outside because it’s a beautiful day, you might just be able to do that. There are lots of places you can work at home if you aren’t required to have a quiet or wired setup.

Home Office

5. A More Flexible Work Day

Most work at home jobs give you more flexibility to get things done. That makes it easier to run quick errands or get the kids from school if you need to. That’s especially handy if one of the kids gets sick at school. With a regular outside the home job, you’d be done for the day. With a work at home job, you can get the kid and then decide if you can keep working.

Some require a schedule and strict adherence, but even then you can usually pick a schedule that suits you. If you work best in the early morning, you set up your schedule so that you start in the early morning. If you’re a night owl, many jobs will let you do much of your work then. So long as you can sign in for online meetings, you’re probably fine.

Better yet, you can have a lot more fun on your breaks during the workday. You don’t have to worry about disturbing your coworkers if you want to crank up the music during a break. You might embarrass any kids who are at home if you sing along, but you won’t bother your coworkers.

You’ll even have more time to work out if you want. You can get to the gym in the middle of the day when it’s relatively quiet, rather than fighting the crowds. Some people find that getting a workout in also helps them come up with ideas. Taking that break can greatly improve your productivity.

6. No Distracting Coworkers

You won’t have any coworkers stopping by your desk to chat when you work at home. You can set your status in your work chat group to “do not disturb” when you really need to focus. It’s much easier to control when you socialize with coworkers.

On the other hand, there are other distractions, just waiting for you to give in. And they’re always there. If you don’t learn how to ignore the television and the housework you may have difficulty being sufficiently productive at home.

You will need to teach friends and family that they aren’t allowed to distract you. A spouse or child swinging by your home office to chat can be even more disruptive than a coworker if they don’t take the hint to let you work.

Don’t even get me started on my cats. Given a chance, they’re wonderful distractions. But they also make me feel good, so I’m pretty sure that balances out.

7. No Sharing Germs With Coworkers – One Of The Best Perks Of Working At Home

This is one of my favorite perks of working at home during cold and flu season. I can almost guarantee that I’m not the one bringing the latest virus home. I might get sick due to my husband or kids bringing something home, but that’s it.

You can even decide to work when you’re only mildly ill without having to take your coworkers into consideration. It’s so nice when you can save your sick days for the days you really need them without feeling as though you’re spreading illness to your coworkers.

The ability to work at your own speed when you’re not feeling 100% well is a huge help. It’s easier to take an extra break in many remote jobs. If your schedule isn’t flexible you may still be stuck, but for many jobs, you can take it a little easy when you’re sick.

Just try not to think about how much worse that sick kid at home with you can be. They’re usually far worse than a contagious coworker. On the other hand, you’d have to deal with that sick kid even if you worked outside the home. You might even have to take a day off work to deal with them, while a work at home mom or dad might still be able to work.

8. Eating Healthy Is Easier

This one is all up to you, but it can be much easier to eat healthy when you work at home. There’s less excuse to grab lunch out, and what’s in the fridge is under your control.

One of the best ways to take advantage of this perk of working at home is to prepare things in advance. Don’t have a lot of chips, soda or candy in the house – it’s too easy to snack on them if they’re in the house. Instead, prepare healthier snacks for yourself. Chop up any vegetables you like for a super fast and easy snack. I’ve also developed a taste for frozen yogurt bark, which is very easy to make.

Have healthy lunch fixings available too. I pack up leftovers from dinner and put them in the fridge or freezer for easy lunches. They’re a good alternative to sandwiches. If you freeze them you don’t get so bored from always having leftovers from the night before as your lunch.

Keep a good supply of coffee around if that’s your habit so that you don’t get the urge to run out to a local coffee shop. Not only will that mess with your productivity, it adds up fast.

9. Wear What You Want

Many people love the ability to dress as they please when they work at home. It’s one of the most popular perks of working at home. Some prefer to dress just as they would if they were going to the office. They say it gets them into the right frame of mind to work. Others do just fine dressing casually or yes, working in their pajamas. You choose the clothing that makes being productive easier for you, rather than having to abide by the company dress code.

Of course, if you’re meeting someone face to face or by webcam, dress appropriately. What this means depends on your job, but rarely includes pajamas.

10. Environmentally Friendly.

Working at home can be very environmentally friendly. Sure, you’ll use more electricity around your house, but you also use less gas, which tilts the environmental considerations in your favor when you work at home.

Your home office can be as efficient as you care to make it. You can use LED lights. You can have plants in your office if you want. If you have space in your budget, you can even consider solar panels for your home.

Having people work at home also means companies can use smaller buildings. Odds are that you aren’t buying a bigger home just so that you can work from there. An employer, on the other hand, has to provide space to all employees who come to the office.

Some will debate the environmental impact of working at home – you still need all the equipment, and heating or cooling individual homes is less efficient than heating an office building. Overall, most say the environmental impact of working at home is less than that of commuting to an office.

Are There More Perks Of Working At Home?

What are your favorite perks of working at home? Have I missed anything great?

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.

December 6th, 2017

Geeky Elf On The Shelf Ideas

Geeky Elf On The Shelf Ideas

My kids really enjoy when we use the Elf on the Shelf. My older two don’t much care what the elves do, aside from laughing when we do something particularly funny, or snagging their share of candy when candy is involved. As we’re a bunch of science fiction geeks around here, so I’m often working on geeky Elf on the Shelf ideas. That way it’s more fun for me.

We have two elves. The first is Peppermint, the second is Cocoa. Cocoa started last year as an elf in training when we couldn’t find Peppermint for a while. This year, Cocoa is still around, helping Peppermint while waiting for a permanent position. I made Peppermint poseable, but Cocoa isn’t

The challenge is deciding which fandom to use. There are so many choices.

I started out simple this year. The elves have been messing with my dragon, Norberta. Peppermint started things out by stealing Norberta’s eggs (the eggs were made in the thumbtack, Game of Thrones style) and putting them in the fridge with the regular eggs. Peppermint hid the next night in the cat carrier because Norberta was after her. She has since tried to use Minecraft TNT to blow Norberta up. The feud continues.

Elf on the Shelf dragon egg

Elf on the Shelf hiding from dragon

Minecraft stuff is easy to make. The TNT is paper. The emerald egg Peppermint is holding was made for a Minecraft themed birthday party some years ago and is made of Perler beads. Perler beads are great for making Minecraft stuff if you can spare the time.

Elf on the Shelf Minecraft TNT

There are so many fandoms to work with, and you may have some of the things you need for geeky Elf on the Shelf poses on hand.

Geeky Elf On The Shelf Basics

Take a look around your house to see what you have to make this easy. Funko Pop vinyl figures make it easy to have characters from just about any fandom. Disney Infinity characters are very useful, as are Lego Dimensions and Lego building sets your kids have made.

Dolls, action figures, and anything else you and your kids have for shows you love help as well. Plan things out so that you can easily reach what you need while the kids are sleeping.

I scout things out while the kids are at school. Usually, even my older kids don’t know what I plan for the next day. This is more fun for those ideas that they actually like.

I do not focus on the idea that the elf is spying for Santa. I’m honestly not fond of that part, so we ignore it. My kids have heard that one from friends, not from me. Our Elf is more fun and has been known to do thing such as replace the ice in the ice maker with candy. That was a really fun one. A lot of work, but worth it.

Elf On The Shelf With Harry Potter

My oldest loves Harry Potter stuff, so we have done quite a bit with that fandom. This one with Harry Potter and Peppermint going up against Voldemort was an easy setup. The elf’s wand is a bamboo skewer cut down to size.

Elf vs Voldemort

The most fun Peppermint has had, however, has been chasing Niffler around. I got my oldest well with that one. Peppermint chased Niffler all around the house for days as Niffler stole shiny things. My daughter was quick to ask to have the Niffler figure when we were done with it. It was a stocking stuffer for her.

Elf vs Niffler

This year I might have Niffler bring in some candy in shiny wrappers. Not chocolate coins – the chocolate in those is usually awful. Some Ghirardelli squares might work. Not that Niffler will make them easy to reach.

Many other people have done a lot with Harry Potter and the Elf on the Shelf. Rather than recreate them, take a look at these links.

A Little Moore has a sorting hat printable.

This Harry Potter meets Elf on the Shelf idea on Pinterest is cute.

Elf On The Shelf Vs. Disney Infinity Characters

As I said above, the Disney Infinity characters give so much range to set up your Elf on the Shelf. Disney owns so many popular franchises that kids adore. We have rather a lot of characters in our Infinity set because my sister handed down a bunch when she got tired of having duplicates.

That means we can do the simple “horde of characters attacking the elf” scene very easily.

elf vs disney infinity

With the various Star Wars characters, I decided Peppermint needed her own lightsaber. This was easy to make.

I used a bamboo skewer and some nail polish. I have a nice, bright green nail polish, so that was the best choice for Peppermint’s lightsaber. The handle was painted with my black polish.

Paint an appropriate length of the skewer for the lightsaber. It will take a couple coats. I stuck the unpainted end into the edge of a cardboard box so the polish could dry. Once it was completely dry, I cut off the excess and painted the ends with the nail polish. To let those dry, I set up some other skewers and laid it across them so the ends wouldn’t touch anything as they dried.

elf lightsaber

Now Peppermint can join the Jedi in battle. Or will she betray them? Who knows.

elf vs jedi

Stitch is another fun character for an Elf on the Shelf to play with. Who else gives the elf so good an excuse to get a little messy or get into the food?

elf Stitch eating fruit

Especially the candy.

elf Stitch and candy

There’s always the good old snowball fight with Elsa and Anna. I used cotton balls because one of my cats would eat the marshmallows if I used those for a snowball fight. My kids like to use cotton balls for summer snowball fights anyhow. It’s kind of a thing around here.

elf vs Elsa

Peppermint also had a nice chat with the feelings from Inside Out. If I had some Orbeeze or other small, colored balls there’s more that could be done there, but without that, they just relaxed together.

elf and inside out

Given the range of Disney Infinity characters that we have, I could probably do the entire season using nothing but them. That would get dull, though, wouldn’t it?

The Elf And The Doctor

We have some Doctor Who fans around here, so naturally Peppermint has to play along. In fact, the Doctor should be careful, because the elf has the Tardis. Okay, it’s just a Lego Tardis, but there still might be a problem.

the elf has the tardis

Peppermint and the Doctor can have a lovely chat, aside from what’s behind them… what was I talking about?

elf doctor silence

I don’t know what Peppermint is doing to my router with the sonic screwdriver, but I hope it speeds up.

elf router

Geeky Elf On The Shelf Ideas With Other Fandoms

Around here, you can’t forget the other animated shows, anime or manga. My kids especially enjoy movies by Studio Ghibli. So naturally, soot sprites make an appearance.

elf soot sprites

They’ll have to hide shoes some other time.

Soot sprites are very easy to make. Black puff balls and googly eyes make very simple ones. You can use black pipe cleaners if you want to give them legs, but I’m too lazy for that. I used a hot glue gun to attach the eyes, but you can use whichever glue works for you. I like how fast it dries and how well it holds.

Peppermint seems to enjoy manga. It’s easy to set an elf up with whichever book your kids like. I’m not sure if I should be concerned that Peppermint is reading Death Note, however.

elf death note

I couldn’t resist bringing Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls into the game. My oldest still loves that character from the show – she dressed up as him for Halloween. So, I had Bill give the elf some advice.

Bill Cipher and elf

Finally, I have to mention the cute, printable Elf on the Shelf superhero costumes over at Simple Made Pretty. They’re an easy way to dress up your elf as the superheroes your kids like.

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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