Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: A blessing in disguise

If you’ve missed the first posts in this series, read them here.

While in our first year of having the custom wedding business, we had our first baby. Needless to say, my life was forever changed – in a wonderful way. At the same time, though, I found it was hard to juggle the demands of a fussy newborn, with coordinating the details of the wedding business.

While I was pregnant and had a lot of extra time on my hands, I had experimented with various additional streams of income to add to our current website. One of those was selling books. I started off with books on preparing for marriage and when I saw that there was a market, I kept expanding to other good books and resources our family has appreciated.

I also was getting the itch to write, so I wrote a small booklet on some small ideas girls and teens could do to earn money from home. We had very little extra business money to work with, so I had a friend edit it and bartered with another friend for the cover design. In order to come up with enough money to pay for a tiny print run of the books, I ran a pre-publication special with my current email list.

Much to my surprise, I sold 100 booklets during the pre-publication special and had enough to pay for a print run of 200. It seems like such a microscopic number, but for me, it was huge.

A few weeks after I released the ebook, a small family business contacted me and asked if I’d sell them ebook rights to my book for $100. I didn’t really even know what an ebook was, let alone know how to turn my book into one, but $100 was a big number at that point, so my husband and I felt it would be a good move. The friend who designed the booklet layout kindly availed herself to turn the book into an ebook for me for $25.

So, I sold the rights to the ebook to this other company (by selling the rights, I gave them permission to sell an unlimited number of ebooks through their site for whatever price they chose) and I entered this whole new world of ebooks. I’d never given any thought to the possibility of someone paying you for a download, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to offer the ebook on my site. I was completely surprised to discover there is quite a big market for ebooks — especially simple how-to ebooks — and I started concocting other future ebook ideas.

While all this was going on, the wedding business was continuing to demand a lot of my time and it was producing little income. And we were still just barely limping by. We were beginning to see more profit from our business — but that was mainly from the sale of books.

I started to wonder if maybe I should discontinue the wedding business and just focus on selling books, since that’s what seemed to be working. But it was really embarrassing to me to think of having to admit the wedding business hadn’t worked out. I wasn’t a quitter like that and I figured there had to be a way to make it work.

Well, guess what? The next two dress projects turned out to be disasters. The customers were very upset with the work and it was weeks of pulling my hair out and trying to figure out how to fix the issues and make the customers satisfied. But it was to no avail.

My husband and I really felt that God used these difficult situations to make me willing to close down Covenant Wedding Source. It was hard and humbling to do, but it was the best thing for our family and my sanity. And I also needed to focus the time I did have on things which would be profitable.

For months, I struggled with feeling like a failure over the fact that the business didn’t work out. Now that I look back, though, I realize just what a blessing in disguise this was. Not only did I learn such valuable lessons through failure, but I also go this crazy idea to start a blog. Little did I know what those feeble blogging attempts would lead to!

But first, I had a lot more lessons to learn and experience to gain.

…To be continued next Friday

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Comments

  1. says

    This is such a helpful series, especially as you talk about not only the things that worked for you, but the ones that didn’t. People don’t like to “fail” at anything, and often don’t take risks, but the way you talked about the struggles toward the end of your wedding business and how they led to you focusing on better things teaches the benefits of failure. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. says

    Oh the joys of sewing. LOL Its very hard to do it online because you are not there to take the measurments, see how things fits and all that. I have had my number of failures. :P It never gets easier. LOL!

    Kudos!

  3. says

    We all start each day from scratch and as long as we look on everything as a learning experience basically there are no failures only learning experiences. I have never been a Martha Stewart yet I got slotted into being a “happy rather at first and unhappy housewife ” 24 years ago now as my daughter is turning 24 she two is being hit with many choices in life. Life often shows us many learning experiences and if we choose to embrace them we can learn and grow so very much.
    We all have gifts to share regardless if we are a succcessful attorney or the homemaker without the salary.

  4. 4monkeymama says

    I’m wondering why you have to work at home and what is wrong with me that I don’t. It seems like all of my friends have some sort of hostess-type business where they extort sales out of the rest of us or have some way of making money. I don’t. I am completely overwhelmed by taking care of 4 young children and maintaining BARE minimum safety and sanitation standards in my home. Early in our marriage, we decided that my husband would provide–and that keeps him busy 75 hours a week. Am I failing him by not making money?

    • says

      I have 4 kids here too and you make such a great point!! Just as we can feel pressure to work outside the home, we can feel pressure to work from home. Having 4 kids is TONS of WORK!! I don’t have a business or make significant money either. My husband is in a good career field and is a wonderful provider here too. Don’t feel bad or put pressure on yourself! Nothing is wrong with you. I’m overwhelmed by keeping up with my four young children with no help. We don’t need to put added stress and pressure on ourselves to be entrepeneurs as well.

    • says

      @4monkeymama,

      I stay home with my two young children while my husband works and I don’t do anything to bring in any income right now. My husband is away from home a lot with work (Army) and we are far away from family and friends.
      While we certainly do have financial goals (and are meeting them with his single salary) it isn’t a goal right now to pay cash for our house up front or xyz (insert anything else anyone else is doing). Our main goal right now is to maintain a peaceful, hospitable, God honoring home right now. And that is done through extreme simplicity in our lives during this season.

      It’s not about comparing yourself to others to deem yourself a success or failure in your own home. That isn’t fair to YOU since you’re an entirely different person than Crystal.

    • Stephanie says

      @4monkeymama,

      My husband made a comment this morning that made me realize that he sees that by me saving money on normal things, that I am actually increasing what his income can buy. He said that his mom, when he was a kid, never had to worry about money and so never bargain shopped or looked at prices. (And now that she needs to, she has no concept of how to do it.) This means that though is dad made good money, it could have been even more if she would have been aware of prices and what she was buying. So, it isn’t always about whether you bring in extra. It is also about how you use what you have.

      I’ve looked for ways to bring in a bit extra, but it is not out of necessity right now. In actuallity is isn’t a whole lot at the moment, though in one area that is starting to change slowly. That particular area is something that I would be hardpressed to just jump into if I had four little ones. Perhaps if I started out with just one and was doing it as they each came along, then they would know how to behave and help out, and I would know how to work with them there instead of them being a hinderance. Crystal didn’t just start doing this one day. She has worked up to it from before her first was born and now has others helping her.

      One thing I couldn’t do, due to personality and such, is a hostess-type business. It just isn’t me and I would fail horribly at it. Therefore I don’t even consider those a possibility. Just because others can do something, doesn’t mean you have to be able to also. Sometimes I have to remind my self of that (over and over and over) as I see someone else doing something and making it look so easy.

    • brookeb says

      @4monkeymama, You mention that your husband is busy 75 hours/week with his job. I’m sure that puts added stress and demands on you that might not be the case if someone’s significant other was occupied 40-50 hours. I think it just supports the idea that everyone needs to evaluate their own unique situation in determining their family needs.

    • says

      @4monkeymama, Believe me, working at home isn’t a piece of cake. If you can “just” be SAHM by all means don’t feel one bit guilty about it. Trust me I know there isn’t anything as “just” as SAHM!

      Most days I’m tearing my hair out with 4 kids, me chronically ill and a hubby who works at home. If he wasn’t doing most of the work on our website there wouldn’t be one right now! Enjoy the peace and what works for you!

    • says

      I started working at home out of necessity, I now do it because I enjoy it and because it gives me the opportunity to help hundreds of thousands of families across America while not neglecting my most important important priorities as wife and mom.

      You need to do what works for your own family and what pleases your husband. While I believe every woman should seek to be a home economist, I have never said and will never say that every woman should work from home at every season in her life. I just share things on working from home because I want to encourage women who have time and are struggling financially to be creative and find ways to bring in extra income.

      If you’re overwhelmed with your life, I’d encourage you to focus on streamlining and bringing as much order and structure into your home so you can enjoy your children and bless your husband. You don’t need to add something else to your plate right now.

      As always, I try to post lots of different ideas and suggestions here to serve as inspiration. Take what helps and works for you, leave the rest — without guilt! And remember that I don’t do many, many of the deals or ideas from others that I share. No one is superwoman; we can’t do it all.

      Be encouraged and go love on those little ones of yours. :)

    • Aimee - AR says

      @4monkeymama, motherhood can be awfully overwhelming, can’t it? i found myself saying after dinner “can mommy have one minute of alone time????” :-) Only you and your husband can decide what is best for your family. I was part of a new mothers’ Bible study while on maternity leave with my first child. I was the only mom who would be working outside the home once the study ended and I often felt awkward with all of the SAHM talk. Thankfully the other moms were great and I knew that they weren’t implying that I was *supposed* to do what they were doing and vice versa. They’ve continued to be some of my closest friends and we’ve found that regardless of SAHM, WAHM, WOTHM, all moms share in similar joys and challenges. We’re better wives and moms when we focus on what is best for our families and not worrying about what everyone else is doing. If you’re really concerned, ask your husband how he feels about it. You just might be pleasantly surprised!

  5. Nancy says

    Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t think Crystal shares her stories on this to convince anybody to become a WAHM. I took her story as simply sharing her knowledge for those people who WANT to be one. In other words she is graciously sharing her hard learned lessons to possibly spare someone else, not because she thinks people should go out and start a business.

    Just because somebody else does something doesn’t mean you should, or have to, try it. On the other hand if you are praying for some answers it is always a good idea to get advice from somebody who has already done it successfully. This is such an encouraging blog I don’t think Crystal would ever want people to feel bad about their own lives because they compare themselves to her and feel lacking. She doesn’t strike me as that kind of a person.

    This is such an inclusive blog I always read and glean what I can but when something doesn’t appeal or apply to me I just skip over it. Keep up the amazing ministry Crystal! You are changing lives and families all over the country!

    • says

      You’ve got that right! Trying to be what everyone else is only leads to tremendous frustration and guilt. Be who God has called you to be, do what God has called you to do and live in freedom from guilt and comparison! (I’m preaching to myself, too, because I struggle with this often.)

  6. says

    Crystal,

    Thank you for continuing this story! I have had a business playing the harp for years and years. Playing the harp was a passion of mine in my teens and early twenties-even majored in it for a couple years in college then switched to a business major.

    My husband (our sole provider) lost his job of almost 11 years last fall due the economy and since then, life has been VERY challenging…His job used to pay the bills, basic necessities, clothing, food, and allowed us to support a few missionaries and have a small savings. Now, we are barely scraping by. God has provided a dependable job for him but it just doesn’t pay much-but at this point, we are just thankful for a job.

    Harp jobs were falling into my lap last fall about the time my husband lost his job. I really thought God was directing me to put even more effort into my harp business. This year, I participated in three wedding shows and usually I make my money back on the entry fee for the show plus some. Not this year! I haven’t made a single booking from ANY of the shows. The economy, I’m sure, has played a huge role in the lack of bookings.

    I’m so glad you’re finishing the series because I’m venturing out into a different business too since my husband does not want me working outside the home. I have started making diaper cakes and will probably expand to make burp cloths and maybe hair accessories as well, as time permits. I haven’t stopped my harp business but it is time to supplement some other ideas into my entrepreneurial mind. It is a challenge working at home with the kids around (they want all the toys I put on the diaper cakes!) but I am learning how to work with them and how to occupy them while I work.

    Thanks for sharing your story and for being real about it.

    • says

      Praying for you, Rachael! Job loss is very, very hard and I totally get being at the point where you’re just thankful for any job which pays anything!

      Are you going to be selling your handmade things online?

      • says

        @Crystal, Yes, I am planning on selling online. I am looking at Etsy.com and possibly setting up my own site. Right now, I am contacting local gift shops and baby shops to see if I can get my ‘cakes’ into their store. So far, no luck but I still have more to hit.

        When I get my own site up and running, I’d like to do a giveaway on your site to help bring traffic to my site. Looking forward to your next installment on online marketing!

    • elizabeth says

      @RachaelP, I think that’s great about the diaper cakes. I have made a few as shower gifts, and have to say they came out great. It is the only crafty thing I do really well. Everyone was saying I should make them to sell. I did find though, that the ones I have made turn out to be pretty pricey in materials. I think to turn a worthwhile profit I’d either have to selling enough to buy materials in bulk, or charge ALOT. Also I never figured out how/where I would sell them.

      I wish you all the best in your endeavors and hope your $ situation improves. We are also on a very tight budget and times are rough all around, it seems. God bless :)

  7. Mary says

    I think in our goal to be the greatest wife or the greatest mom, we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. Guilty of it myself, many times over. The important thing to remember here is that we are each placed on this earth, with our own mission. Remembering this, helps me to put things into perspective.
    p.s. Crystal, I’m always inspired by your creativity, keep it coming

  8. Debi B says

    Crystal, a friend and I are just beginning to start a business this fall and I LOVE that you are sharing not just your successes, but your failures as well! Thank you!!!

  9. sara says

    I teach classes online for 2 universities. It does not pay much but gives me enough money that I feel like I am contributing. It also allows me to use my degrees.

  10. says

    Crystal,
    Thank you for sharing openly of your failures. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with wanting to help my family financially while staying at home. However, thanks to your blog I am stretching my husbands earnings further and helping to pay off debt with the extra we have at the end of each month.

    If fact, I just stared CVSing thanks to you. I have spent $4.99 OOP and have a package of pads, a beautiful photo book (for my husband), a prescription I needed plus $7.99 ECB and almost $22 on a CVS gift card. Thanks so much for the encouragement!

    • says

      Way to go!

      I always encourage people to start by lowering their outgo before trying to increase their income. It’s taxfree money — and it requires a lot less outlay of time than starting a business does. Plus, it can have a BIG impact on your financial situation.

  11. says

    I wanted to mention that I am a WOHM, and I still find this blog and its suggestions, tips and deals fantastic – even inspirational, in some cases. Though I may not share all of the same beliefs as Crystal, I find much assistance here in saving money for our family of 5 – with the help in getting starting with couponing and shoping Rite Aid, we already feel like our money is going much further than before! There’s more $ left in the account at the end of the month, and I no longer feel the urgency to ‘up-grade’ from my part time teaching job that I love to a more lucrative, but more stressful, full time position.

  12. Lisa says

    I appreciate you sharing your story. I enjoy the deals, but the most important thing I’ve taken from your blog is your comment about “different seasons of your life.” It is so true. We are gifted by God with our children, by birth or adoption. Balancing our lives to honor that gift is an individual experience depending on our own situations. Children need us and watch us at each stage of their lives (age o to death, ours or theirs). How we act and react to struggles, successes and failures are absorbed by them. Your path has led you to a place to help so many. But it is your path and not to be compared with anyone elses as they are to walk their own path. You said “I am in a season of my life when I do not have the time to do that” (clipping coupons to send overseas). But, you put it out there for people who do have time. I sat thinking about that, turning it over in my mind and thought she’s right, you have to set priorities and boundries and accept what is right for here and now, this season of your life. Thank you!

  13. says

    Thanks so much Crystal for sharing your stories. It really inspired me to think about what is out there. We really are in need of increasing our income and your posts help me brain storm ways I can do so. I appreciate hearing about both your successes and failures as well.

  14. Aimee - AR says

    The comments on this post have been so encouraging. I am not a stay at home mom but find the information on Money Saving Mom very useful. Sometimes I’ve felt like I’m in the minority readership since it seems like most of the comments are from SAHM…these comments, though, have shown that the readership is very diverse and there’s a place here for all of us regardless of what season we are in or how we have chosen to care for and provide for our families.

  15. says

    I have loved this series! My husband and I are still a few years from kiddos (unless God has a different plan) ;) and I have such a desire to stay at home. It’s something that I feel God has truly put on my heart just within the past year. Reading this series has been so encouraging and uplifting! Even though we’re a few years away…I love the thought of going ahead and finding ways to get some income set in place that will continue when I leave my job to be full-time mommy/wife. Thanks for all the ins and outs of getting to where you are. My current struggle is just remembering that every path is different and only God knows what’s best. How wonderful that He trusts us with the “big things” when we are faithful in the “small things”.

    And as always….what a blessing your blog is!

  16. says

    Thanks for sharing your story! I am a work-from-home mom (but I work mostly for a company and just a bit for myself freelance writing/editing) so it is interesting to hear another mom’s journey. Sometimes I feel frustrated and wish I didn’t have to squeeze in work and wish I kept my house cleaner :-), but most days I am really thankful to have the extra money, and the ability to keep up with my career a bit, and the connection to the “real world.”

  17. Katie says

    I work from home and have two small boys but there are lots and lots of things I don’t do! Life is a balance and sometimes things have to be left. My dad told me once, when I was complaining about the state of my house (it was a total tip that day) – no one on their death bed says “I wish I’d done more housework!”

  18. says

    I am thoroughly enjoying this series of posts and look forward to the next one! I just started a blog to earn income so that I can stay home and be here when my children get home, to be a homemaker, and fulfill all of the responsibilities that I have here. Ones that I had a hard time getting to when I worked outside the home.
    I am still researching and learning about blogging.