Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom: Learning from those who are older and wiser

My apologies that this didn’t get posted on Saturday as I’d planned. Some unexpected things came up and writing this post got ditched for more important things. If you’re new here, be sure to read the first posts in this Becoming a Work-At-Home Mom series here.

After my husband finished law school and I stopped working as a marketing manager for the homeschool magazine, I cut back significantly on the time I spent working on business endeavors. It was wonderfully freeing and I felt like I was finally able to focus on my family and home again after neglecting many things for months.

Before my daughter got up in the morning or during her afternoon naptime, I continued to work on building the blog and our online business. The blog had grown to have around 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per day, so there was an increasing load of email and comments to keep up with. Plus, our online book business was slowly picking up. There were always at least a few orders every day and when we ran sales, there’d be a slew of at least 30 to 50 orders.

I had plenty to do, but I was looking for ways to be a little more efficient and maximize the return on my investment of time when it came to business stuff. So I started spending more time learning more about monetizing a blog. I began observing other bloggers who were making a full-time income from blogging and trying to determine what made them successful and what was working for them.

I discovered that most of those who were doing well were honest, straight-forward, unique, creative and they blogged often and wrote well. I also noticed that they usually utilized multiple streams of income. In many cases, not only were they offering private ad sales, but they also had ad networks plus they participated in various affiliate marketing opportunities and some even produced ebooks and downloadable products. One thing was clear: they didn’t put all their eggs into one basket.

The thought of making a full-time income from blogging seemed utterly unattainable to me, but I remember thinking how incredible that it would be. I figured it was something only a small handful of really smart, really talented people who got in at the right time and place could ever pull off. But it fascinated me and I kept watching and learning from those who were doing it well.

At the same time, I continued to spend a lot of time writing ebooks as these were our best-selling items and required very little upfront costs. Plus, since I had set up the download process through Clickbank, unless a customer had a technical issue, the buying process was entirely automated. It wasn’t unusual for me to make between $15 and $30 per day in ebook profits. And when I ran a sale or released a new ebook, the earnings would be much higher than that.

I was encouraged and excited and I realized that the more I could automate things, the more I could increase the business income without it requiring more time and effort on my behalf.

One day, I had an idea to produce a little ebook with 10 different fast and frugal dinner menus complete with recipes and tips. I called the ebook Simply Centsible Suppers and it sold like hotcakes! After that ebook was such a success, I wrote another called Simply Centsible Breakfasts. Again, it sold really well. I was selling these ebooks for $2.97, so after the fees associated with the download, I was making less than $2 in profit per book. However, it was really apparent that I’d hit on a hot topic.

Being the entrepreneurial person I am, I started to brainstorm all sorts of things I could do with this idea. I envisioned a whole line of ebooks: Simply Centsible Snacks, Simply Centsible Side Dishes, Simply Centsible Sack Lunches… you get the picture. Then, I decided I should set up a website which was called SimplyCentsible.com that had articles on frugality and which promoted my ebooks.

I had just found out we were expecting our second child and was in the throes of morning-noon-and-night sickness, so I figured it was the perfect time for me to work on setting up a new website. And so I went to work setting up SimplyCentsible.com — a website which I thought was destined to really take off and put into practice all these monetization ideas I’d been gleaning over the past year.

My brain was spinning as I lay there day after day sick as a dog on the couch. I’d hit on a brilliant idea — or so I thought.

But time would prove that it was a very short-lived “brilliant” idea.

…To be continued on Saturday

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Comments

  1. says

    Gah! You really know just when to stop to have us anxious for the next installment!
    Thanks for mentioning your pregnancy, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been trying to peg the parts of your story to a date. Just because I’m trying to imagine at which point of your story you were at when I first began reading MSM, and how long this whole process took.

  2. Rose says

    Man, I love reading this stuff. It really motivates me expecially when you wrote you never thought you could make money when you compared yourself to other blogs. Good Job

  3. says

    Hi Crystal,

    I so enjoy your site…it is THE BEST and MOST COMPLETE! I so appreciate you.

    I actually sent the same question as Anna above to you some months ago and never received an answer (which I actually took as a “No”:): Do you have any of your Ebooks available for sale somewhere/how??

    Thanks a bunch and many blessings to you!

    • says

      No, I actually made the decision to stop selling ebooks a year or so ago because the customer service side was becoming very time-consuming and tedious. In addition, all of the ebooks I was selling needed a serious face lift. I have some new ones in the works right now which I’ll be giving away for FREE once they are finished. So stay tuned. :)

  4. says

    I’ve always wondered what ended up happening to SimplyCentsible.com! :) Was it because the name was hard to spell? (At least, for me it was :D)

    • says

      Bad name, bad design (because I didn’t know how to do site design) and poor website premise… but it’s what got me started in the direction of setting up a money-saving blog. So it wasn’t all for naught!

  5. says

    P.S. You’re pretty amazing. I mean seriously! When I have morning-noon-and-night sickness the LAST thing I am thinking about is business ventures or work!! :)

  6. says

    Thank you so much for this series. I just recently decided to take the plunge and set up a domain. I know next to nothing about the whole concept of making money through blogging, but your articles have given me a lot of hope and encouragement. Every page view and impression is so exciting! Thanks again.

  7. Prathee chandar says

    Crystal,
    You’re truly an inspiration. We love you and your writing. God bless you!

  8. says

    Thanks for continuing the series! I’m working very hard at starting my own business selling diaper cakes and baby gift items. It’s a lot of work-especially with little ones in the house! Can’t wait for Saturday!

  9. says

    I love this series. I often struggle with what I want to do in life and jump from thing to thing. Thank goodness my hubby doesnt mind and supports me in whatever I want to do that day. HA! When I started blogging he didnt think it would last, but I love it. Ive been researching a little bit about knowing how to make money while blogging. Ive havent had to chance to set anything up yet, but hopefully I will soon. Any little bit of income is nice.

  10. says

    Thanks for sharing this Crystal! I love reading this series. It’s nice to know sometimes that success doesn’t come overnight, even though it seems that way to us outsiders! :-)

  11. says

    This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing your story Crystal! My husband and I are working on paying off our mortgage and have been looking into additional revenue streams (right now they seem like trickles!). I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of monetizing my blog, or should I say growing my blog to the point where monetizing would be possible. But I know it would take a big investment of time to do it well, which it seems like I don’t have in this season of life (wife, momma, working outside of the home as well). Still something to think about!

    Mary Ellen

  12. says

    Since becoming more “devoted” if you will to saving money I have took on a paper route (which means 5am mornings), housecleaning, Scentsy and I have looked more into “picking” up my blog (if you will) all the while trying not to neglect my husband and 2 toddlers.

    I am still in awe. I have almost zippo grammar skills as well as computer/blog techo/decor etc. I know I saw somewhere that you had a good grammar education, how would one like me be refreshed?

    • says

      Creative writing was something I’ve always enjoyed, but I’ve only become more of a grammar geek in the last few years (and I’m still far from a grammarian; I just love to study people who write well or read books on writing).

      Personally, I think the best way to improve your writing is to write. Challenge yourself to write at least 15 to 20 minutes every day and then come back to what you’ve written a few days — or hours! — later and examine how you could improve.

      In addition, surround yourself with well-written books and blogs. It will rub off on you!

  13. says

    Crystal,
    Thanks for doing this series! I am linking it back over at The Family Quilter. My choice to work at home doing licensed in-home preschool was a little nerve racking, I must admit. I am licensed K-8 school teacher, but I have also done in-home day care as well. The one thing I decided on was the fact that I love to teach. I had to look at the true cost of working outside the home and for the local school district verses working for myself. A few things turned me away from working outside the home. First, the fact that we are a homeschool family and my own children need me at home to help them with their schooling. Second, I do not like how the public school system seems to be taking over more and more of our parenting responsibilities. Third, I feel that the evaluation process for public school teachers is becoming unfair, not given the proper resources in which to bring students up to levels that the government and superintendents want.

    Doing a licenced in-home preschool allows me to fulfill my inner “teacher bug”, stay home while I homeschool our own children, and to provide assistance on my terms for the children and families that I provide care and education to. I really do love what I am doing and I enjoy additional benefits from my pay, paid days off, and a true evaluation of what my efforts are from my teaching experience. Who would not enjoy a day of getting into finger paints, talking with your goldfish crackers, singing the alphabet song over and over, or running around the yard screaming, “Tag! You’re it!” Some days I just can’t believe I get paid to do my job. I really do believe if you are doing the work that you truly love, that you will be paid so much more in the end, more than just a paycheck, but the inner glow of being happy in life.
    ~Michelle

  14. says

    I have 2 sites now, one on couponing, and the other is on parenting adventures. I am soooo looking forward to hearing more from someone who has done it before!

    I am glad you are not charging for this info:) It is a wealth of knowledge…maybe an ebook one day…

  15. says

    Can you suggest a site to use if you want to sell ebooks to make the process more automated? I know you’d said ClickBank but didn’t know if you had any other sites you would go with now if you were still in the “ebook business”.

    You’re site is an inspiration to everyone who comes across it. Between you and Ree at The Pioneer Woman… wow, is all I can say!

  16. says

    The hope of hitting on a brilliant idea is always within me. I’m hopeful to inspire others to record their youth for their children with my new blog, but only time will tell how “brilliant” it is.

    When I read the women’s stories though, I know I can never regret the small part I played in helping mothers preserve stories of their life for their children and see God’s hand in their lives.

  17. says

    I am loving this series! I appreciate you giving us the taste of the good and the bad in the various experiences you’ve had in trying to help your family out financially. I started a blog a few months ago and I’m really trying to figure out how to monetize. Any suggestions on honest and non-time-sucking affiliates and if the payouts are worth it? Looking forward to next weeks addition.

    • says

      Hang tight, I’m going to be reposting my revised Blogging for Profit series once I finish up this WAHM series. That should help you out. :)

  18. Tricia says

    Your ebooks, Simply Centsible Suppers and Breakfasts, along with a few others bundled together would be how I found you to begin with. I downloaded the books during a sale a friend had stumbled upon and have been a loyal reader since! At that time you still had Biblical Womanhood going too.

    Thank You for this series and I, too, can’t wait for more!

  19. kelly says

    I love reading these posts! I’d love to read more about keeping up with the business management part of things, book keeping, record keeping, paying self-employment taxes, etc. That part of working from home is intimidating to me.

  20. says

    Crystal, I’ve been reading this series and was just able to get caught up after missing the last three posts. Wow, I appreciate all you honesty and the wisdom that comes from your learning experiences. I can see why you’ve succeeded- you are willing to do what it takes! Thanks for the inspiration.