Monday, August 24, 2009

Can you really work from home when you have young children?

Working from home, in whatever career, business or job you choose, requires time, and generally at least some child free time. The most child friendly work from home business I can think of is family day care, where you look after other children in your own home. But even this requires time for paper work, doing the finances, planning activities, making meals, preparing and cleaning up the area you use with the children and attending meetings and training. Family Day Carers are regulated like any other children's service and must provide a professional level of care.

With a lot of other jobs, such as tutoring or running a party plan business, there are specific times, when you cannot do the job with young children there.

I came to the conclusion that within the first two years of your child's life, it is very difficult to set up any work from home opportunity without having some sort of outside care for your child, and as one of the major reasons for working from home, is to be there for the children, if they end up in day care anyway, isn't it defeating the point?

However, as the children get older, they benefit from external care. We used Occasional Care when our children were 2, for just one day a week to start with. Not much you might think, but it allowed me a few precious hours to concentrate on something other than children. I may not be making a fortune, but I could start to work towards it, and I had a mental break which refreshed me for the rest of the week. At 3 or 3 1/2 pre-school is available, and my personal feeling is that my children benefit hugely from attending pre-school, where they are exposed to a wide range of different activities we don't do at home, and they get the chance to socialise with other children and adults. My decision was that I could then work during those hours, but still be there each day to pick up my children and spend time with them. As we get to the school years, I still want to be able to do the same thing, but will have 5 part time days a week I can work in.

One other option is to share care with your partner. For example, I have a Saturday morning job teaching a pre-schoolers' sports class. I can do this, because the other half does not work on a Saturday, and will happily take care of the children. A friend who works for Tupperware, plans her parties of an evening, again so hubby can be with the kids. The only danger is maintaining the balance and not loosing too much precious time with your family.

I think the basic message is that you cannot expect to work around your children when they are very young, as you'll probably resort to television to claw back a few hours, and then you'll feel guilty, and won't enjoy that time. If you're lucky you have family who will support you, but if not, you need to work out how much time you need and want on your own, and when you feel your children will be ok with external care.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Work from Home - Training Courses

Design, build and present your own training course. Or beome a trainer for someone else's course.

Think what training courses you've been on in your career:

technical courses, programming courses, project management courses, management training, business knowledge courses, finance courses, time management courses, leadership training, public speaking courses, presentation skills training, budgeting and project planning, interviewing skills...

And that's just my list.

There are hundreds of different skills, both hard and soft skills that people need in business. As part of personal development, motivation and reward, companies provide training for individuals and often look to outside oraganisations to provide that training.

Individuals also might be looking for training, to build or improve skills in a particular area. Skills to help them find the next job. Skills to help them build a home business. Skills to help them build a website. Or just as a hobby.

Can you become a trainer? Or do you have a subject you could write your own training course in?

Have you done something you could teach others to do? Have you set up your own business, set up a B&B, published your own book online, built your own furniture, created a film?

Is there anything here you can turn into a training course?

Courses can be half a day or five full days. They can be in an office or at the trainer's premises.

Courses can be online, or delivered in person.

How does this fit with the children?

Development and sale of your course can be during school hours. If you intend delivering your own course, you may need some flexibility with child care arrangements, but it would be within your control.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Work from Home as a Writer

Writing from home could mean freelance writing for your local newspaper, or writing a book, or writing resumes for other people. It could mean writing technical documents for the IT company you used to work for, or training material on a subject you are an expert in.

It can also mean writing content on the web. This could be articles, Blog entries, or web site content. There is a huge demand for content, as a website's success depends on its content and links to it, which affect rankings in the search engines.

If you search on the internet for writing from home jobs, you will find a range of sites, where you can register as a writer and might be asked to bid on jobs, or sites where you get paid for the articles you write.

The amount you get paid varies hugely, and in some cases you have to pay a monthly fee to be able to see the listings of work available. I need to try some of these out to see if they are genuine.

Another way to earn money writing, is to write your own Blog and earn money through affiliate marketing.

Or, if you are good at the sales pitch, professional copywriters charge a decent fee for a marketing pitch. For example, if I were to write an eBook, I might hire someone to put together the sales page for me. They would know how to write it to appeal to the right audience, get people hooked and hopefully buy my book.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Work from Home as a Photographer

If you are a professional photographer, or a decent photographer, with a love of pictures, you can make some money by sharing your pictures online.

Stock photography

Stock photography is photography of people, places, sights, ideas and events that can be used in marketing and design. A customer who uses a stock photo rather than hiring a photographer, saves time and money. The users of stock photography are publishers, advertising agencies, graphic artists, web designers, interior decor firms, corporate creative groups, and more.

Stock photos can be licensed for specific uses. The same image can be sold many times, because buyers usually don't get exclusive rights. Stock photography includes images of people, animals, objects, landscapes, buildings, concepts, and events that can be sold to and used by a wide variety of media outlets.

A few years ago a new type of stock photo agency emerged. These new image banks, known as 'microstock' sites, have allowed anyone from the amateur to the professional photographer to sell images easily. These sites take images from individual contributors, and the photographer gets a commission for each image sold. The microstock photography market was pioneered by iStockPhoto and followed by Dreamstime, Shutterstock, Fotolia, BigStockPhoto, and many others.

With microstock photography, the photographer loads up photos for free, and receives a commission each time their photo is downloaded. Earnings are obviously based on the popularity of your photos.

My view is that if you are a keen photographer and you are taking photos anyway, you may aswell give this a go, as the photos could be earning you ongoing money without any additonal effort.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Earning money from home - hosting students

Rather than looking for a specific job, there are other ways to earn some additional income, that fit in with you staying home with the kids. One we tried last year was becoming a host family for foreign students.

If you have a spare bedroom or two, you can make some money by renting it out on a short term or longer term basis to overseas students who are in Australia to study. There are quite a few 'Homestay' organisations you can register with if you are within easy travel to a university or language school. What they require is a room for the student, with a bed and bedding, a wardrobe and a desk for them to study at. You need to provide breakfast and dinner for them during the week, and three meals a day at weekends, and, as their objective is to learn or improve their English, you need to include them in conversation. Quite easy if you sit down to dinner with them most days.

Payment is about $220 to $250 per week, out of which you have to take your costs and usually, the cost of picking them up. Some students stay for a term, some come on a short trip and just need accomodation for a long weekend. The longer term students are usually older and independent, a short term student might be younger and need to be in your care full time.

We were slightly worried about the imposition on our lives when we first tried this, but we were very pleasantly surprised. We chose to take two female Japanese students for a long weekend. They were both 15 years old, and here to experience the Australian lifestyle. We live in a great area of Sydney on the Northen Beaches, so we took them on a picnic to Palm Beach, and showed them the sights. We walked to our local beach, did some touristy shopping in Avalon and generally had a good time. I cooked some easy meals - we made pizzas one night, and a roast dinner another, which they loved. They wanted to know how I made the gravy, so I had to show them the pot of Gravox!

The students were fantastic with our children and I actually got to make dinner in peace each night. The kids were entertained rather than hanging off my legs. Probably the highlight of the stay was our possum hunt. Just as it got dark, we wrapped up, got the torches out and went down the driveway on a possum hunt. We only had to shine a torch up into the trees to spot one. And as a bonus, there were a couple of bandicoots playing in the backyard. The students were thrilled and the kids loved it too.

So basically we had a fun weekend, and got some extra cash for it as well.

Friends have hosted students on a longer term basis and have enjoyed it. The older students tend to be out at classes during the day and have study to do at home as well, so often just spend meal times with family.

If you have the space, enjoy spending time with other people and don't mind the cooking, it's worth giving it a go.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Work from Home as a Virtual Assistant

A Virtual Assistant is a home based secretary or administrative support person. A virtual assistant can provide a range of skills from basic secretarial skills to more complex executive assistant skills, working remotely for the business they are supporting. Often the client is a small business, an independent consultant or a professional, who does not need a full time administrative person, and/or who do not have the premises for them to work from.

Some of the services a virtual assistant might provide are:

- bookkeeping
- database setup and management
- desktop publishing
- editing/formatting documents
- email and fax
- flyers
- invitations
- mail merges
- newsletters/enewsletters
- presentations
- proofreading/copyediting
- repetitive letters
- reports
- spreadsheets
- submissions
- transcription services; tape, digital and shorthand
- web conferencing
- word processing

How do you become a virtual assistant?

If you have the basic skills i.e. any or all of the above, you will also need a computer, the relevant software, email and a phone.

Getting your clients is the hardest part, but there are quite a few agencies out there for virtual assistants. Some examples are:

A Clayton's secretary:

Executive Stress Office Support (

International Association of Virtual Office Assistants (IAVOA)

Virtually Yours:

Australian Virtual Business Network:

As a virtual assistant, you register your details on these websites, and clients can access the listing and contact you directly. Some charge a subscription fee to be listed on the website.

Some of the listings literally have contact details and a list of the skills the virtual assistant provides. Other virtual assistants include a link to their own website which provides more details, including references and examples of work completed.

The skeptic in me wants to know how many virtual assistants actually find subscribing to the websites pays off, so I will be doing a little digging to find out more.

Having said that, the creator of Virtually Yours was nominated for the Telstra Women's Business Awards and was a finalist in the Home Based Business Awards in 2006 and 2007, so she must be doing something right.

AVBN also has an award winning founder, recognised in both the specific field of virtual assistants and as a Business Achievers Award winner in 2007.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Work in children's activities

I have just got myself a little job, starting Saturday morning. I am going to be teaching a class called 'Ready Steady Go', which is a fun, high quality sports and exercise class for children from 2 1/2 to 5.

It's just 3 hours, but it fits with the other half being home to look after the children, and it uses my previous child care experience and qualification. Potentially there might be other classes I could teach during the week, and they are all done in the morning, starting at 9:30, so it fits perfectly with school and pre-school.

This is one area us mums can definitely work in. There are lots of classes for pre-school children out there, each requiring teachers, and for the majority you don't have to have a formal qualification, just experience.

You too could design your own class for children, or for mums and babies, based on your own skills and experience. Could you teach a kiddies art class, or music, or dance? Could you teach yoga for mums and hire a carer to look after the babies, or have a mums and bubs class?

Let me know your experience...

For more information on Ready Steady Go, see their website: