With the cost of living going through the roof, and wages and pay rises stagnating, an increasing number of busy parents are setting up a part-time business from home to pay the bills and make ends meet.
In recent years there has been an explosion in the numbers of people working from home, and although a vast majority are actually people employed as remote workers by large corporations, a lot of them are new start-up businesses being run by parents, many of them mums, who are looking to supplement their monthly family income.
While it is never simple to combine a busy family life with starting your own business, many people are managing to achieve their own work/ life dreams, and the number of new businesses being created are certainly diverse!
The ease of selling via the internet has freed up the ability of creative people to sell their own work to a wider audience without having to lay out hard cash on a tradition bricks-and-mortar business. So parents with an artistic talent are able to sell their creations through their own online site, or through niche selling sites such as Etsy, ArtFire and Bonanza that are mainly aimed at the arts and crafts market.
There is plenty of interest in the home-made market at the moment, so even parents who may have had a mainstream job for most of their working life are finding success in selling something they may have treated as a hobby in previous years. So anyone with a passion for jewellery making, ceramics, sewing, and even cake baking and decorating can find a niche market for their wares.
Even parents that don’t have an artistic bone in their body are finding ways to utilise their skills online to create an extra stream of income. Bookkeeping for example is a useful skill to offer online. With many businesses switching to online accounting software, there is no longer a need for some to employ a full-time bookkeeper, and will hire a freelance bookkeeper for a fraction of the price.
Parents who are trained teachers, or specialise in a particular area, can set up a tutoring service, or record video lessons to sell online as tutoring courses in specialised subjects. Musical instrument tuition is particularly popular, for example guitar lessons for a complete beginner.
Having organisational or business skills can lead to lucrative side-lines, such as business plan writing, business consultant, business mentor, wedding planner, bridal consultant, party planning, life coach, image consultant, genealogy researcher, family tree design, graphic designer, virtual assistant, and even remotely answering business telephone calls and taking messages for small and medium businesses that don’t have full-time office staff.
The age of the internet has created opportunities such as content marketing, blogging, copywriting, and freelance editing, so anyone with a good grasp of language and grammar can make money online writing about their passions. This also applies to fiction and non fiction writers who can write and publish their own works online and through print on demand sites without having to pitch their books to a traditional publishing house to win a contract.
These are just a few possibilities, and there are too many more to mention here, but while all this opportunity sounds wonderful in practice, when you are really time-pressed and already have a full schedule taking care of your family and other household duties, how on earth are you supposed to fit in all the essential marketing of your business to make it a success?
When you are spending all your spare time preparing your goods, building your website, uploading content and photographs etc. what little time you have left has to be used efficiently and effectively to promote your business and attract customers.
Social media marketing is by far the most economical and cost-effective means available to you, but it can also be the biggest waste of your precious time if handled incorrectly. This old 60s saying is very apt here – “keep it simple, stupid”, or KISS for short.
The KISS Principle is a design rule that emphasises simple systems over more complex ones. So keeping this in mind when approaching your social media strategies will be the best plan to utilise your time. For example, you may think that “the more the merrier” will apply when choosing which social media platforms to use to promote your business, when in fact it could be a case of “less is more!”
For example, if you are an artist, sculptor, or run a hand-made crafting type of business, then these are very visual products that need to be seen to be appreciated to their fullest. So an obvious choice would be Pinterest and/or Facebook purely for your ability to post high-quality photographs of your work for instant pulling power.
Why would you spend your evening typing away at lengthy and descriptive content about your work or art on a more text-heavy social media site when one simple picture on a visual site can generate more interest and better click through rates.
Do your research – find out where other people advertise who have similar products and services to your own. If it works for them, then it can work for you too. Follow the crowd because that’s where you will find your customers!
Facebook and Twitter are the two largest social media platforms out there, so if you offer a service rather than a product, you can write articles about what you offer and post them onto your blog or website, then put up a well worded snippet on Twitter, and a bit more info onto Facebook, and link them both back to your site.
Think about timing. If you are busy in the evenings with your family, then you are going to find it difficult if not impossible to sit and post interesting content to your social media sites when your potential customers are online. For those craft-based parents who spend their evenings creating goods to sell, you may be missing a great opportunity to engage with your followers who are posting questions on your page about your products.
Being organised and setting up a weekly schedule can go a long way to help balance your marketing and production time. If you decide that Tuesday and Thursday evenings between 6pm and 8pm will be spent online for live conversations, feedback and queries, then let your followers know you will be available on these days each week. If you make it clear that any queries left at other times will be answered the following day, then your followers will be satisfied that their questions will be answered, and that on other evenings you will be busy making your products and fulfilling orders.
If you have a willing and co-operative teenager or partner in the house, then why not rope them into helping? After all, your business is for bringing in money for the whole family, so why not let them contribute if they can! Answering queries and acknowledging feedback is polite and courteous, so they can easily do this on your behalf. If you have enough willing volunteers you could even get them to monitor your social media pages on regular evenings, and your customers will be assured of a quick response to their queries.
Using a social media management site, such as HootSuite for example, will enable you to dedicate a spare hour to creating posts and scheduling them to go out on your chosen sites at times where you will be otherwise occupied with other duties. If you have a talented writer in your home, then encourage them to write interesting posts for you as and when they have the time, then you can load them up and schedule them to go out to suit your needs.