Archives for May 21, 2012

Meet Meredith – Our Work at Home Contributor

After six years as a work-at-home mom, parenting three little kids, and starting two self-owned businesses, I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to “After 9 to 5” as a work-at-home contributor! I am 100% passionate about the benefits of working out of the home – especially when there are little kids involved – and I have loved my experience with this nontraditional work-style.  Hopefully I can inspire you to take the leap into working at home if you’ve been considering it, or encourage those of you already doing so in your own journey. Although endeavoring to split my time between making a little money while loving and cherishing and raising my three kids may not be a piece of cake, it is worth the effort!

I’ll start by telling you about my own story…

I started out working as an attorney for a small company, but my plans quickly changed when I became pregnant with my first child. We always knew that I would be a stay-at-home mom, but after spending $$$ on three years of law school and striving so hard to pass the bar and earn that license to practice as an attorney, it seemed silly to give up on utilizing my skills to make a little money on the side.

I have an entrepreneurial side, so starting my own firm out of my house was more exciting than nerve-wracking. And after being so accustomed to keeping busy with a legal pad in front of me and stacks of papers to read, I felt antsy just dropping everything to spend time with my new baby all day, every day. I loved being a new mom, but felt the itch to add to that role. Working at home was the perfect combination of being there for my little one, while still exercising my mind and feeling productive.

Two more kids soon followed the first, and my work-at-home experience quickly changed as the free hours in the day rapidly diminished. These days, it’s much more of a challenge to fit everything in and balance my life than when I only had one little baby to keep an eye o.! I’m forced to be more focused, more intentional, and more organized.

As time passed, I began to feel bored (and perhaps a little trapped in the at-home routine). So I did the unthinkable and added another part-time job. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I needed it. This time the “job” was something that was just for fun and just for me – working as an independent stylist for Stella & Dot. After spending all my time pouring over legal documents and chasing my kids, I craved more social interaction. Making some extra bucks while mingling with other ladies, wine, and pretty jewelry has been such a fun addition, and the flexible work-at-home style fit perfectly into my life. Tweaking your set-up is such a good idea when things start to feel stale!

Apart from working, blogging was another great outlet for me and has been a positive way for me to take time for myself. It gives me a break from the day to update extended family on what we are doing, and gives me interaction online with other ladies similar to myself. It’s nice to have another creative outlet in my day.

So here I am: three kids, two part-time work-at-home jobs, two blogs, a husband to support and love, and a house to maintain. (Don’t forget how much keeping house plays into working at home! Sometimes that’s the hardest part!) I’m constantly asking myself that how I do it all, and trying to find better ways to get things done while keeping my sanity.

Hopefully I can share some useful tidbits with you as I contribute to this blog and perhaps help some of you to find a good balance that allows you to do some work, especially if staying at home with your kids, too. I have so much I want to write about, but please leave a comment and let me know if there is a topic you are just dying to see. We all need that inspiration and motivation no matter where we are in our journey!

what would you like to hear about when it comes from working at home?

Mind Block Monday : Q&A Posts

Each week, we’ll be talking about a certain type of post or a way to get out of a creative rut – basically anything that may help you when you have writer’s block. Then if you write a post with that theme or concept in mind that week, you can link up the post and find others with similar posts that week. Along with that, you’ll be able to look through past MBM posts whenever you’re in a creative rut and hopefully find some inspiration.

This week’s topic:

I love Q&A posts. Whether it be for the reader or the writer, you almost always learn something about someone that you wouldn’t normally learn by just reading their blog or interacting with them via comments. Surveys, random questions, polls, Internet memes, ask me a question post, etc – they all accomplish the same thing: getting to know a blogger or a reader and some of their attributes.

It’s a great way to interact with other people and answer what they want to know/ask what you want to know. So here are some tips on getting the most out of these kind of posts.

For the Blogger:

If you’re sharing information about yourself, the main goal is to make it interesting and captivating enough for people to want to read it then want to know more about you because you seem like an interesting person.

  • Open it up to your readers to ask you a question. If you don’t have many readers or are somewhat shy about doing it, make up your own. Talk about things that you think people might find interesting.
  • Spread it out. If you want to share 100 different things about yourself, break it up into parts for your readers to view. It’ll not only increase your views if you link to the posts within each other, but you’ll also be more likely to keep their attention for all of it. Divide it up according to how much information is being shared and ask yourself how likely you would be to read that length of a post on someone else’s blog to help decide on the perfect length.
  • Get creative. These posts can be overdone and become boring for some so the more creativity that goes into it, the better. Put your own spin on questions/answers, do it via a vlog, add pictures, etc. Make it memorable so people want to come back and read more.

For the Reader:

If you’re trying to get to know your readers, the object is a bit different. The goal is to keep it simple enough for people to want to answer and not feel like you’re too nosy/taking up too much of their time.

  • Keep it short and simple. Any surveys/questions trying to get to know your readers should be fairly simple and easy to answer. The less time they have to spend doing it, the better.
  • Don’t require specific information. If you’re doing a poll or survey and using a feature that allows for “required” answers, it’s best if you don’t. Some people may not feel comfortable answering certain things and if the question that’s a requirement is the thing they feel uncomfortable answering, they’re unlikely to even complete the questionnaire. Leave it to them to decide what to share with you.
  • Allow for anonymous answers. Similar to the last bullet point, some people may not be okay with sharing their identity. Especially if you’re asking them a question that could be viewed as somewhat negative (IE: “What do you dislike about my blog layout, posts, etc?”)

what do you like to learn about people in these kinds of posts?

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