Earning Extra Money in the Run up to Christmas

I'm delighted to introduce my first ever guest blogger, Gemma Johnson, who co-founded www.babeecard.com. Many mums who are starting their own business find they need another income stream to keep them going in the first few months. Here are some great ideas for topping up your income in the run up to Christmas.

As Christmas approaches, we could all do with a little extra money. Here are some swift and simple ways to boost the family budget over the next few months.

Sell Something There are lots of opportunities to earn extra income through direct selling. To find the best direct selling business, do a little research. Ask friends what they are planning to buy for Christmas. Find out what other direct selling companies are operating in your local area. Last year at my daughter’s school everyone was having Body Shop parties and it got to the point where there was almost no-one who hadn’t been asked to host. Pick something that is different AND make sure that what the company offers is in the right price range for the people you will be targeting.

Earning Online If you have a computer there are lots of simple ways to make your money go further and earn cash back, commission or affiliate fees. Start by signing up for a cashback site or two, so when you do your Christmas shopping you get a few percentage of what you spent back in your account. You can sign up for affiliate schemes where you promote a link and get a small amount every time one of your friends or contacts shops through that link. If you’re a BaBeeCard member, for example, you earn £5 credit for everyone you get to sign up.

Look for a Job In the run up to Christmas lots of businesses need extra help. Spend an afternoon going round your local shopping centre and asking about whether they will be hiring extra staff before Christmas. Wear something reasonably smart: you don’t need to wear your interview suit, but look like you are smart and ready to work. Ask to speak to the manager if possible. You may be asked to supply a CV if they have vacancies, or you could be given a form to take away and fill in.  If they will be looking for staff in coming weeks, make a note of when and where they will advertise vacancies. And if you have a CV, revise it with an emphasis on skills that you have which would be useful in a busy store in the run up to Christmas.

Remember, whatever way you choose to earn some extra money, persistence pays off. If you don’t get the first job you apply for, keep trying. If you go for direct selling, look beyond your friends for party hosts and target groups and offices too. And if you opt for an affiliate scheme, spread the word to as many people as possible to maximise your earnings.

Gemma Johnson

Co-founder of www.babeecard.com Winner of Mumpreneur of the year 2009 sponsored by WBMN

BaBeeCard Winner of Best Gift Card Award 2009 by Prepaid365.com

For Inventor Mums : Roundup of the Week

Inventing a new product must be one of the toughest businesses to run as a parent of young children.  Running a business and bringing up babies at the same time is never going to be easy, but keeping your confidence and patience during the long research, design, production and marketing process takes a special kind of determination.

PR Genius

Which is why I take my hat off to Keira of Mamascarf.  Rather than be dismayed by the postal strike this week, she turned it to her advantage and invited the BBC, Sky News and Central News round to her place to talk about it! You can read about it on her blog.

Free Training

Getting the right support and information is vital if you’re developing your own product. Did you know that Business Link offers a huge range of free courses for anyone starting a business? Check out what’s going on in your area here.

Support for Inventive Women – for just £1!

This week I discovered a  great resource for women developing or inventing products – She’s Ingenious!. She’s Ingenuous has practical advice, inspiration, mentoring  and the opportunity to meet like minded people.  All with a trial membership for only £1.

Mum Product Designers Have The Edge

Have you been watching Design For Life on BBC2? French product designer Philipe Starck was looking for the next great British designer by inviting twelve young product designers to his HQ in Paris. The best designer of the group would win a six month placement with Starck.

Now I know designing isn’t as easy as it looks and that these guys were right at the start of their careers. But I’m convinced that the inventor mums I know could do a much better job, even though they don’t have a degree in product design.

What’s the difference between a 21 year old product design graduate and an inventor mum? The mums have creativity, determination and  know how to squeeze the maximum out of every spare minute of their time.  And unlike the young designers, they start with a problem that needs a solution, usually a problem that they have lived with and understand inside and out. That has to be the best starting point for designing a new product.

The ability to turn your challenges into great PR could come in handy too!

Business Ideas For Mums

(This post was last updated on 9 June 2011 – see note at the bottom)

I’m writing articles (like this one) that aim to give you a snapshot of a business idea. This is exactly what I wanted when I was on my first maternity leave, but couldn’t find. I had an idea that I could run a business around my family, but no idea what I could actually do or how it might work.

This is going to take me a while to complete, so in the meantime I thought a list of businesses that you could run as a mum would be useful. I’ll link each idea to the posts as I write them.

Bookkeeper – In the book Start a Family Friendly Business

Web Designer

Graphic Designer – In the book Start a Family Friendly Business

Writer

Business coach

Public Relations

Virtual Assistant

Marketing Consultant

Interior Designer

Private Tutor

Personal Trainer

Childminder

Personal/Life Coach

Running a Pre-School Group

Running Children’s Parties

Running an Information Website (blogging, directory, membership site, information products)

Running an Online Shop

Proof Reader

Journalist – In the book Start a Family Friendly Business

Ironing, Dog walking, Cleaning, Gardening, Pet Sitting, services around the home

Babysitting Agency

Equipment Hire (buggies, baby equipment that parents can hire when they arrive at their destination)

Wedding/Event Planner

Photographer

Travel Agent

Running a Community Magazine

Direct Selling and Party Plans

Selling on eBay

Developing and Selling a New Product – In the book Start a Family Friendly Business

Making and selling crafts etc – see Turn your creative skill into a business

Holistic/Complementary or Sport Therapist

Beauty Therapist

Antenatal teacher or therapist (also Doula)

Update: 9 June 2011

This post was the seed that grew into the book Start a Family Friendly Business! Some of these posts became part of the book and my co-author Antonia Chitty added many more of her own. I’ve also added links to articles that were posted here on Business Plus Baby after the book was published.



The magic of Twitter

I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately and struggling to write posts for this blog. Nothing serious, just a side effect of being at the beck and call of two tiny children and the inevitable sleep deprivation that comes with it.

So when I saw the quote “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still” it struck a chord with me. The quote came from @Homebiz_Mag, otherwise known as Mag Furness and I’d never heard of her until last night. I liked the quote so much that I retweeted it (copied it so that my followers could read it).

It must have struck a chord with @mumstheboss (otherwise known as Sam Pearce and Helen Woodham, who I’ve actually met face-to-face a good few times) because they retweeted the quote too.

Now I know that Sam was suffering from bloggers block yesterday – you guessed it, because she tweeted about it. So this morning  I was delighted to find Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still” had inspired Sam to write this blog post. Brilliant!

Yes, Twitter suffers from a lot of hype and spam, and it’s the best way of wasting time that I know. But what a fantastic way of connecting with people and passing on ideas.

Business Ideas For Mums – Running an Information Website

Tell me more… Online shops are a popular choice for mums who want to run their own business. Alternatively, you could create a website that provides information. This might be…

  • A listings website showing what’s on in your local area
  • A blog – blogs (‘weblogs’) are websites which started out as online diaries, but many have now developed into websites that provide information, news and opinion on a specific subject or to a particular community.
  • A social network or membership site where members pay a monthly fee to receive information, training or coaching on a particular subject. This could be as a video, podcast, e-book or e-course.
  • A website selling an information product such as e-books and e-courses.

You can earn money from an information site by…

  • Selling advertising space, much like a magazine
  • For a directory site, you could charge people to list their business or sell advertising space (or both).
  • Google Adsense – Google will pay you when a visitor to your site clicks on an advertiser’s link (there are other similar programmes too).
  • Affiliate links – you are paid commission when visitors to your site buy from a site you are affiliated to.
  • Selling an e-book, e-course or other information product on your website.
  • Becoming an expert in your subject could lead to delivering courses, selling print books, coaching or being a consultant.
  • Ebuzzing

What are the benefits?

  • You can work whenever and wherever you want
  • It’s cheap and easy to get started
  • You can write about a subject that you love and get paid for it.

Things to consider…

  • It’s very easy to start a blog which means there are millions of blogs out there. Getting large numbers of people to visit your site will take a lot of work, including networking, driving web traffic to your site and writing lots of content plus some knowledge of search engine optimisation and social media. You’ll also need to write great content that will bring people back to your site again and again.
  • Getting people to spend money on your website will mean you need to convince them that what you have to sell is of value to them and that you’re an expert in your area. This can take a lot of trial and error to discover what works for your audience,  as well as giving away lots of information for free.

Further information

  • Examples of information websites run by mums:

Business Plus Baby – this site is a blog.  Parent Pages is a website giving local information and things to do for parents. Become a Mumpreneur is a membership website.

  • Want to try blogging?

You can start your own blog for free using WordPress or Blogger. To make money from blogging you’ll need to move on from a free blog, but this is a good way to see if blogging is for you. To learn about making money online, see Entrepreneur’s Journey and ProBlogger. For advice on writing content, see Copyblogger.

Not convinced that running an information website is for you? Take a look at other business ideas for mums.