My New She-Shed & Office Building!

So in case you missed it in my last post, I laid out my goals for 2017 … well, I am happy to announce that in my quest to get more serious about my business and blogging this year, I am building a new office / she-shed that will be separate from the house, so I can have a private place to work!

I didn’t even really know she sheds existed until recently. My husband started talking about how he needs a man-cave (typical man, right?), and so I began researching online and found out that she sheds were basically man caves for women. We are actually going to turn our basement into a man cave (so my beau still gets what he wants), and we’re going to build a separate workspace for me in the backyard. I’ll also be able to store my gardening tools there, which is a major plus.

I’ve hired a company in Charlotte NC that specializes in steel buildings to help me, and so far they’ve got me really excited about this project. There are so many ways you can customize a metal building, it’s unreal. They’re actually called “pre-engineered” or “pre-fabricated metal buildings,” which initially makes you think that perhaps they are pre-built and can’t be customized, but that actually just means that the steel components are pre-fabricated to your specifications, once you decide what you’re looking for. You can choose size, color, style (even roof style), and add insulation, electricity, windows, doors, etc. They even have these really cute cottage-style buildings that you can buy and have them painted to match your house or stand apart if you prefer. I definitely want my she shed to stand out from the rest of my house. I’m gonna feng shui the heck out of it too!

The other day, I ventured to Hobby Lobby to buy some DIY stuff to make my own decor and build my own storage shelves. The only thing missing will be running water and a toilet. I could add plumbing if I really wanted to, but that gets a little complicated and costly. Besides, I will need an excuse to take a break and make my way back to the house. It’s gonna be hard though … now I understand why men love their caves so much. And I haven’t even gotten my building yet!

It’ll be here in a few weeks, and I’ll take more pics then. For now, here’s a sneak peek:

metal she-shed

My Goals for 2017

goals

Last year (or maybe it was earlier this year), I published a post called “Happy New Year: My Goals for 2016.” Well, 2016 has come and gone, and I’m sad to say that I did not accomplish most of them. As a refresher, here’s what I had set out to do:

  • Blog consistently
  • Learn affiliate marketing
  • Write an e-book
  • Spend more time with family
  • Create passive income of $50K by the end of the year

I have blogged more consistently but not as often as I had hoped to. And as far as affiliate marketing goes, though I did start learning how to do it, I quickly learned that it is likely not as profitable of an industry as I had originally hoped, so I’m still in search for other sources of passive income. I’m sure that clues you in on goal #5 and where I am with that … again, not accomplished as I had hoped. I have started an ebook, but it is not finished.

All in all, I’d say the only goal I’ve accomplished out of the above is spending more time with my family, which I’m pretty happy about. At the same time, if I had actually accomplished the other four goals, that goal would probably not have become a reality.

2017 is right around the corner, and I’ve got some new goals that I’m aiming to accomplish. Here we go…

#1. Get fit. Okay so this is probably everyone’s number one goal, but I have begun my quest to eat healthier so physical fitness should naturally follow. I’ve already lost 30 pounds by cutting down on carbs significantly in the last few months. Starting January 1, I’m going to exercise every day for 12 minutes each day, doing high-intensity interval training to burn fat and build lean muscle. Who doesn’t have 12 minutes a day?

#2. Travel more. I’d like to take at least 2 trips a year to exotic locations. As someone who tends to stay comfortable in her hometown, traveling will force me out of my comfort zone and give me a chance to see the world. Plus, I believe this to be a very realistic goal and one that I can easily accomplish. It just requires a little money saving and planning ahead.

#3. Minimize my lifestyle. I’ve been seeing a lot of articles online about living a minimal lifestyle and what a stress reducer it can be to purge your home of unnecessary belongings. This is one of my major goals for the year. I want to get rid of everything I don’t need, pay off my debts, and use whatever profits I make on my business to reinvest and travel the world.

#4. Learn one new skill. This could be anything really. Perhaps I’ll take piano lessons. Or maybe I’ll go to photography school or graphic design school. Haven’t decided yet. All I know is I want to learn how to do something new that I’ll enjoy doing for many years to come.

Comparing last year’s goals to this year’s list, I’m noticing a big difference. I feel like my 2017 goals are much more realistic in terms of their achievability, and I look forward to updating you on my progress moving forward. Til’ then … have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

Is Network Marketing Just Another Scam?

is mlm a scamI’ve been in and out of network marketing businesses over the past decade or so, and I get asked this question a lot:

“Is network marketing a scam?”

While I don’t believe it’s a scam (which I’ll explain in a second), I’m personally  not a big fan of it for my own income generation. I truly believe it has to be something that you enjoy doing if you’re going to succeed (as with anything). But it’s far from being a scam. It may be a little saturated, but I can safely say it is a legitimate business opportunity in most cases. It really varies depending on what company you’re working with. In general, you want to make sure the network marketing business you choose to join meets several criteria:

#1: The company has legitimate products and/or services for sale. If you join an MLM where the only thing you get paid for is sponsoring other people, then that’s a big red flag. Legitimate businesses have real products and services to market and sell. Without products in rotation, you’re probably involved in what’s called a “pyramid scheme.” (More on that later.)

#2: The company has a well-thought-out compensation plan. There are various types of compensation plans. The main ones are Binary, Forced Matrix, Uni-Level and Breakaway. Some comp plans even offer a combination of sorts. You’ll need to research and figure out which plan will work best for you and be most lucrative in terms of building your biz. In any case, make sure you thoroughly understand how it works and how you can expect to get paid before joining and committing to build the business. (Unless you simply plan to be a product user.)

#3: The company has been around for a while and has a good reputation. The last thing you want is to experience massive success in a company within its first 2 years and then it goes out of business. I’ve known people who have worked as part of the corporate staff for MLMs that simply disappeared within the first year or two. I think the statistic is something like 90-95% of network marketing companies fail in their first year…

While there are perks to joining a company that’s brand new and unsaturated, there are obvious advantages to joining one that has been around for a while and has a great reputation among current and past associates. Realize also that some associates will bash a company simply because they did not succeed at building the business or suddenly decided that they didn’t like the products. Read every review online carefully and decide what seems to you to be most credible before making an informed decision.

Is network marketing a pyramid scheme?

As discussed above, some MLM companies may, in fact, be pyramid schemes if they don’t sell legitimate products or services. However, network marketing itself is not a pyramid scheme, generally speaking.

Think about it this way: if you work for a company in Corporate America, who typically makes the most money and has the most prominent position? The CEO, right? And who typically makes less than the CEO? The people who report to him. And who typically makes less than the CEO’s direct reports? The people who report to them. It goes on…

The people on the bottom tier of any company usually make less money than the people on top. If your definition of a pyramid scheme is a structure in which the people on the bottom make less money than the people on top, then Corporate America is, by definition, a pyramid scheme. In fact, the opposite is true in network marketing. Everyone has unlimited income potential, and in many companies, the people underneath you can actually surpass your income level if they work the business harder than you do.

As with any business, network marketing works if you work it! Personally, I did not enjoy MLM and decided not to work it, which is why it did not work for me. I have full confidence that if I enjoyed it and decided to act on that enjoyment, I could have been very successful in network marketing.

My overall impression is that no, network marketing is not a scam.

Need to Build Your Network? Check This Out!

networking event

Genuine network marketing companies can supply people the opportunity to make some extra cash, build their contact list, as well as learn even more regarding today’s advertising and marketing environment. The structure of the compensation plan for network marketing opportunities can range from the simplistic, such as you selling a firm’s product and them separating the profits with you, to an intricate sales and settlement version. If you are interested in becoming involved with network marketing yet are unclear which network marketing program to sign up with, the finest trait to do is to look at the product that you, and also your producers will be selling. Lots of network marketing programs do not have great items as well as for the most part, are scams where every recruit is required to get the item. A network marketing program with an exceptional product, on the other hand, is far much less likely to be a rip-off.

Brand name all of your advertising and marketing materials in the same way. A great idea is to base it all off your web site as it will have electronic graphics currently made, which are quickly multiple-use.

If you have an interest in getting involved with network marketing, however are uncertain company to join, the best thing to do is to check out the product that you, and also your manufacturers, will certainly be selling. Lots of multi level marketing programs do not have wonderful products as well as for the most part, are frauds where every hire is called for to get the product. An mlm program with an impressive product, on the other hand, is far less likely to be a scam. Wonderful items sell themselves. If you can supply them an excellent product to market, it will also be significantly less complicated to recruit leading manufacturers.

Listen to individuals and include their stories into your pitch. Ask them about their life and the goals they are attempting to attain when you are trying to recruit somebody. This will direct your pitch since you can then inform them exactly how you can assist them with their goals if they join you in business.

Let your network marketing leads understand exactly how the info you’re offering has worth in their life. If they consider the program to be something which will certainly add to value to their present scenario, they will be sold on it.

A key tip to consider when it comes to network marketing, is that you have to be sincere with yourself and also choose if this is going to be your company or simply a hobby. This is very important due to the fact that it will note your level of dedication and interest, as well as will determine how high you need to set your objectives.

An essential suggestion to remember is that you must make time for your company. The more time you allocate towards working on your business, the more your business will create as well as become a lot more rewarding, permitting you to expand it further than you might ever before have thought of, which will in return create much more revenue.

The above post went over questions people must ask before thinking about a multi level marketing business such as just what product or products are being marketed and also exactly how settlement is paid. There are numerous legit internet marketing possibilities that provide people the chance to make money as well as obtain a further understanding of this advertising and marketing idea.

#Bossbabe: My Thoughts on Being an Entrepreneur

Hello again! I’ve been seeing the hashtag #bossbabe a lot on twitter and Instagram lately, and it got me thinking about entrepreneurship and what it means to be a female business owner in this day and age.

We live in a country that has already elected its first African-American president, and it’s highly likely that we could have a female president in office by this time next year. If you ask me, that’s a great reason to be inspired to really go after your dreams, especially as a female entrepreneur. I keep Michelle Obama’s picture as my computer’s desktop background to inspire me daily to keep grinding. But sometimes, even the best #bossbabe needs a break. So I’m taking one now to write this post. (I guess you can’t really call that a break, can you?) 😉

How to Become a #Bossbabe

If you’re an aspiring #bossbabe, here are some steps you can take to keep you on track to owning your own business and making it profitable.

Step #1: Create your vision. I know it sounds cliche to say “set goals” but it really is such an important part of the process. Without some sort of vision, you’ve got nothing to keep you moving forward, and nothing to measure your results against when you start to see growth. My advice is to create a vision that stays top-of-mind throughout your workdays. Whether it’s on a post-it note, an office whiteboard, or it’s a visual representation, like a vision board, this is one part of the process that you simply cannot skip. My motto, as an online marketer, is “begin with the end in mind.”

Step #2: Create to-do lists. If I don’t start my day with a clear set of steps to guide me from 8 to 5 (or sometimes from 8 to 8), I am much less focused and much less productive. Learn to live by your to-do lists, and get in the habit of writing them down the night before so you can wake up and hit the ground running!

Step #3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are some things you’re good at and some things you aren’t so good at. Figure out what you love doing and outsource the rest to someone else who enjoys it or will do it better. It’s important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses so that you don’t waste time doing things you don’t enjoy or that will take you much longer to do.

Step #4: Network, network, network! There isn’t a week that goes by that doesn’t involve some sort of networking event for me, whether it’s a chat at local coffeehouse or dinner with a local Meetup group. Networking is so important. If you don’t have the time to get out there and meet people in person, you should utilize the power of social media and technology to make connections. Linkedin is my online powerhouse for finding new clients!

Step #5: Learn from your failures. I started with a cliche, so I figured I’d end with one too. This goes without saying, really. You are going to fail. It’s not a matter of whether you allow yourself to fail or not. At some point, it’s going to happen, even if you do everything right. I believe God allows us to fail so that we become stronger through the learning process that happens afterwards. So be prepared to embrace each failure as a learning opportunity.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go out there and build your dream! You certainly won’t become a #bossbabe by sitting here and reading my blog all day long (though if you’ve made it this far, please know that I do appreciate it and will do my best to continue serving up nuggets of useful content for entrepreneurs.)

Speaking of Bed Bugs…

As much as I hate cliches, I have to say it…

When it rains, it pours

Recently, I wrote a blog about how we were considering homeschooling after my daughter came home from school with a black eye.

Well just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I let my daughters go to a friend’s house for a sleepover last weekend, and they came home with bed bugs!

We didn’t realize it until a few days afterwards when our entire house had been infested with the darn things. Ugh. What makes it even worse is that very few pest control companies in the area will take care of bed bugs. They all hate doing it because it’s such a pain. (And terribly expensive.) A friend of mine on Facebook referred me to a local company, so I called them, and they were willing to do it. The price was pretty steep, but that would have been the case with any company I called.

Bed bugs are the worst type of pest to infest your house, because they’re so hard to get rid of. And most pest control companies will want you to take some preliminary measures before they even come out to treat. If you have a really bad infestation, you may even have to replace your mattress and box spring.

Not to mention, the horrible rash they cause. My legs have been itching so bad for the last week that I’ve had trouble focusing on work and getting anything done. But I said I was committed to posting more, so here I am… telling you all about my bed bug problem.

Ya’ll please pray for us. Bad things typically come in threes and I’m pretty nervous to see what will happen next…

Oh, and happy cinco de mayo!

Pros & Cons of Working For a Startup

I’ve worked for a few startups as a freelancer and independent contractor—some of them even full-time. I wanted to write this post, because a friend of mine and I were discussing #startuplife while out to lunch the other day and it got me thinking about the startups I’ve worked for. She was telling me about some of her experiences and they sounded very similar to mine, and as a freelance writer and entrepreneur I thought this information might be helpful to someone else who is considering a position within a startup company.

There are definitely risks to working with startups. But if the venture is successful, the risk is worth the reward. Unfortunately, I’ve never had the pleasure of working with a startup company that made it past the first round of fundraising, so I can’t speak from experience when I say that. But I can say that my hunch is pretty strong!

Either way, here are some of the cons I’ve experienced while being a part of startup culture:

Con #1: They might go under. In fact, I’d go ahead and prepare yourself for the worst, no matter how positive things look. One company I worked for made it sound like everything was peachy-keen, and then one day, out of the blue, I get a call from the CEO, and he’s telling me all about how our board members were having disagreements and they had to reduce my hours. Next thing I know, they let me go within 2 weeks after that phone call…

Many startups will spend too much cash too fast in an effort move things forward quickly. And if the person spending isn’t smart when it comes to investments, they might run out of money before the first year is over.

On the other hand, the opposite is quite possible as well… which brings me to my next point.

Con #2: They’re too frugal. Especially if they’ve had a scare from a previous spending spree. I’ve had department heads drastically reduce their budgets after coming close to bankruptcy in an effort to real things back in. And those reductions were often followed with layoffs. The first people to go are always the independent contractors, since they have no stake in the company and don’t require unemployment benefits.

Speaking of pay…

Con #3: Don’t expect to get your check on time. Especially if you’re a freelancer. Make sure you put those net-30 terms on your invoice or you may never get paid. Also, be prepared to lower your rates. Startup companies don’t have the same budgets as the big guys.

Now for the positives. (Yes, there are some awesome things about working for startups too!)

#1: The experience of wearing multiple hats. Startup companies are small, so if you’re looking to diverse your portfolio and gain a wealth of new experiences, there’s a good chance you’ll get to.

#2: The ability to work remotely. A lot of modern startup companies hire employees and independent contractors from all over the world. That means you get to work from home for a virtual company, which I think is pretty cool.

#3: The opportunity to help a new business win big! If your startup is successful, you can look back and say that you were a part of the team that helped make it that way. Can you imagine being one of the first people ever to work for Google? You could literally say you were a part of the crew that helped to revolutionize the world by creating the world’s most-used search engine today. I don’t know about you, but the prospect of that sounds amazing to me.

Have you ever been a part of #startuplife? Share your experiences in a comment below!

‘Til next time… Shae.

Why We’re Considering Homeschooling

One of my girls came home from school the other day with a black eye. It was gut wrenching to see the tears flowing down her face as she told me the story of how she got it.

Bullying is real, guys. It really happens. I guess you never think it’ll happen to your kids, and then it does, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. You especially don’t think it’ll happen to your girls. Boys are aggressive and it’s not hard to imagine them getting violent. Girls are supposed to be ladies. They’re supposed to be polite. Sugar and spice and everything nice, you know?

My daughter was beat up by another girl at school, and I didn’t even know what to say or do when she told me it happened. As a mama bear, I wanted to go and find the girl who hit her and give her a piece of my mind, and fist. But then you don’t want to teach your children to retaliate with violence. You want to teach them to turn the other cheek, as hard as it can be.

I’ve decided that I don’t ever want that to happen to either of my girls again, and since this episode, we’ve been looking a lot at our options for homeschooling.

But this incident isn’t the only reason why. I guess it was just the match that lit the fire under my butt and got me to start seriously considering doing what we had been thinking about for a long time now.

Homeschooling has been on the table for years. My husband has always been a “buck the system” type of guy. He never wanted our children to be indoctrinated by the state. But, life gets busy, mom’s gotta go back to work, dad has to work too, and your options are limited. That’s pretty much what happened after we had the twins.

Now that I’m a work-at-home mom though, our options have opened up quite a bit. My girls are older and self-disciplined enough to complete their curriculum without much babysitting. And we’ve been looking into Ron Paul’s homeschool curriculum, which encourages independent learning. So while I’m working at home, they can learn from home at the same time. We’ll get to hang out together, they’ll be safer from bullies, and my husband will be happier knowing they’re not being indoctrinated by our flawed governmentally-funded school system. (Not to mention, we happen to live in a county that has one of the poorest school systems in the entire country.)

If you’re a mom, you should definitely check out the Ron Paul curriculum when you get a chance, especially if you’re considering homeschooling your kids and want them to grow up learning about freedom!

How Much Does a Freelance Blogger Cost?

As a mompreneur, I spend a lot of time trying to drum up freelance work online. There are lots of website owners who will pay for guest blog content. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of low-quality content farms charging anywhere from $1 – $15 for a single post, which puts people like me in a tough situation.

Honestly, if you are looking for high-quality content to post on your website, you need to be ready and willing to shell out at least $50 for a single blog post (300-500 words maximum). I’ll go ahead and say that’s what I charge, but I do know plenty of freelance bloggers who won’t take less than $100 for a single post, and sometimes that’s only for $250 words.

If you’re a business owner and you’re raising your eyebrows because you think that sounds crazy, hear me out. Quality content takes time to produce. Sure, you can go to a content farm or a freelance site like Textbroker and find someone in Guatemala to write articles for $5 a pop. But you’re likely to get low-quality, spun content that sounds like it was written by someone who’s native language is not English. But search engines are getting smart these days, and they don’t like low-quality, spun content. So if you’re trying to produce content that will pass their inspection and get read and shared by real people who find it interesting, you’ll want to hire a real person who can write interesting things. A professional freelance blogger doesn’t come cheap, and if you find one that does, it should raise a few red flags.

I just wanted to put this out there, because I’ve struggled to find freelance jobs lately. Too many cheap business owners don’t seem to want to invest in themselves. That, or they don’t understand the value of good quality content. I was actually told recently by a client of mine that they found a cheaper way to get articles. The last time I looked at his website, it was obvious he’s been using spun content to beef up his online presence. But it’s not working… his content is far from beefy. It’s pretty thin, actually.

If you’re looking to hire a good, English-speaking freelance writer, stay away from content mills. If you do choose to use a freelancer site, look for people in or from the United States.

Rant over. 🙂

How a Roofing Company Can Help You Save on Home Energy Costs

roof on fire

So I may or may not have mentioned in my last post that we recently had some roof repair done on our house. We didn’t pay for it, because, as I said before, we’ve been in the midst of some financial woes the past few months. And part of those woes included a little accident. In the form of a fire. Started by my oldest child. (God bless him… mom forgive him… I’m still trying.) 😀

He was playing upstairs in the rec room and managed to knock over a candle that was lit by his sister in an attempt to quench the bad smell that we later discovered was coming from the trash can. It fell and started a small fire that lit its way up to our roof. The fire department came and put it out just in time, but it was still a pretty big mess. We contacted our homeowners insurance and they gave us the funds to hire a roofing company to fix it.

I called around and spoke to the owners of a few Charlotte roofing companies, and we finally found one that seemed reputable and gave us an estimate within the budget designated by homeowners insurance. They came out and inspected our roof and decided that it needed repair above the room that was set on fire. Thankfully we didn’t have to get the entire house re-roofed, or I don’t know what I would have done!

I didn’t expect this to happen, but our energy bill has gone down by $100 a month since these guys came out and fixed our roof! I guess the moral of the story is that everything happens for a reason (as cliche as that sounds, and as much as I detest cliches). My husband and I were right in the middle of a financial meltdown and on the verge of separation. So I prayed for God to provide, and it really is true that He works in mysterious ways… ahem. Please pardon the cliche. 😀

I called the energy company to see if maybe they had mistyped our bill, and they said no. Our energy use has significantly decreased. The only culprit I could think of was the roof repair, so I called the roofing company, and they confirmed that the eco-friendly materials they used in the construction job likely contributed to a drastic reduction in our energy bill. Who knew?!

I am one happy mama…