Catch up time, AKA what I’ve been up to for the past 3 months…..

Time flies when you’re having fun- or something like that. Looking back over the past 3 months, it feels like that I have been operating in an underground bunker- hard at work, largely hidden away from the world, and connected to the outside solely by social media. Working from home has highlighted some cold, hard facts: 1.) Get social for the sake of your health; and 2.) Never feel that you can’t change your course/path while working from home. The first fact was of the upmost importance to me. By nature I tend to lean more so on the introverted side when left to my own devices ( hence my love of books, solitary time, writing, you get the idea). However, being a stay at home mom to two young children by day and working from home by night left me longing for some adult interaction besides chatting with my hubby and going to the grocery store. So, I did what any sane woman would do: I started Googling mom groups. I reached out to my local Mocha Moms group and scheduled a playdate for the first time in August, and it went very well! I met some great ladies, and my kids were entertained.

The second fact was one that I had to accept with some humility. Sustaining any kind of income by working from home takes determination (to finish work and make that money despite numerous distractions), focus ( begin with the end in mind), and honesty ( to objectively critique your progress, keep that which works for you and discard the things that do NOT work). I had to come to some tough conclusions about my journey. In short, I discovered that I needed more: more structure, more outside childcare, and last but not least- more opportunity for growth! Working for the world’s biggest e-retailer is great, but I need a set schedule in order to plan activities with my family. I’m not opposed to quality childcare, but great caregivers can be expensive….catch my drift? The initial reasons for working for them have changed. I simply need more in order to stay relevant and competitive in this economy. (I will talk more about this in future posts.) I will say this: working from home is still in the plan, perhaps just with a different employer!

Speaking of work, in September I parted ways with the direct sales company that I joined in December 2015, La Senorita Jolie- and a bit of relief. I wasn’t like I had invested several hundred dollars ( I joined the company with $6 bucks and monthly website maintenance was embarrassingly low). Here’s the take-away thing about marketing/selling certain products: consumable products (i.e. skincare and cosmetic) are easier to market to others than clothing. In other words, it’s easier and economical to spruce up a look or pamper yourself with a great red lipstick and a detox mask than to pay $135 for a jumpsuit. Being the frugal person that I have become, the company’s vision ultimately didn’t line up with mine (especially when you can achieve the minimalist look with items from Thred Up* at 1/3 of the cost). So, at this point, I liken the process of finding a great direct sales company to speed dating. And I am having a blast! I just joined two companies over this past weekend (Origami Owl for $2, and Thirty One Gifts for $1- in all $3 bucks), and I am an unashamed “kitnapper”! I am enjoying the process, getting a feel for each’s company culture, and meeting some great folks along the way.

So….this is my life at this current point. Til next time……..

P.S. A huge thank you for those that have subscribed to the madness that is my blog! I love you all.

*You can find some amazing finds on Thred UP. Here’s $10 dollars on me…..go and look for that perfect bag or dress using this code: http://www.thredup.com/r/UO6SGQ

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Sanity savers for stay at home mom who also work from home

Being a stay at home mom by day/ work from home mom by night is NOT for the faint of heart. It takes prayer, discipline, diligence, and lots of caffeine to remain focused. Even then, you need some reinforcements! Let me share my list of sanity savers with you:

1. Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies – Between maintaining my marriage, raising kids, and being a productive worker, my spirit often needs to be fed to maintain its health. Being a Christian, maintaining my relationship with God is extremely important. While I make it a priority to attend worship services weekly, it is not always possible for me to attend Wednesday night prayer meeting. That’s where Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies comes into play! For 6 weeks at a time, I can join thousands of ladies online by immersing myself in a Bible study group, and reading the required material ( which is the Bible of course, and another book- typically a devotional). The Thursday Night Bible Study Live event on Facebook is legendary and encourages me to pursue deeper study of the Word. Check it out here: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/

2. Team Beachbody- When I consistently work out, I am more focused and energetic throughout the whole day. I decided to get back into the swing of things by doing a free trial of Team Beachbody. Now, I have access to popular workout plans such as CIZE, PBX90, and Insanity. In addition, I have my own personal fitness coach, and access to food plans to keep me on track. Find out more at http://www.teambeachbody.com/home

3. Apps such as Evernote and Keep- I discovered the power of apps thru the Working Motherhood podcast. Evernote is a great way to jot down your notes and various lists to stay on track. As for Keep (available in Google Play store), in my own opinion, it is just like Evernote and easily syncs from your computer to your smartphone.

4. Coffee- Hot or cold, Starbucks or Mickey D’s- it’s all good and oh-so-needed!

‘Til next time!

Is MLM evil? A realistic view at direct sales

Yesterday, I read an great article from Christianity Today, entitled “The Divine Rise of Multi-Level Marketing” (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/december/divine-rise-of-multilevel-marketing-christians-mlm.html).The article discussed the problematic nature of MLMs (aka direct sales), particularly among Christians (apparently you have some Christians who are so overzealous in pitching their wares to the flock that it has resulted in strained communication and church budgets alike). Being a veteran of direct sales ( I was a pretty decent Avon lady back in the day!), I was intrigued by the ultimate argument posed by the article: Is MLM a bad thing to join? Here’s a snippet that I found very interesting: “Further, MLM allows Christian women to engage business, community, and family at once, in a way that the current work–home divide doesn’t allow for, at least not as seamlessly. Many women want to work and raise a family without the demands of a 9-to-5 job.” From here, let’s break down what MLM is- and isn’t.

1.) MLM is NOT an “easy job”. Potential to make money is there…..are you willing to work for it? I’m not gonna lie- upon joining a MLM, you are goaded into thinking that “the product will sell itself”, blah blah. Newsflash: a box of facial cream is an inanimate object. It cannot speak or think. That means that you are going to have to draft a plan to pitch your product- and a good one, at that. Hopefully, you have a competent team leader that will train/groom you for the next 30 or so days. Sounds like work? That’s because IT IS WORK. Also, remember this: you won’t make a ton of dough by not putting in the necessary prep time.

2.) MLM is NOT a license to annoy the ones you claim to love. Treat your MLM like a business. When I say that, I mean this: don’t mix personal with professional. Don’t badger your mom, sister, and friends in purchasing a product in order to make a lil’ change. Prior to signing the agreement, actually read the compensation plan- and re-read it, if necessary. Create a budget. Write a vision statement, then draft an actual business plan. Store it next to your signed agreement. Once again, this is not a “jobby” ( a hobby masquerading as a job).

3.) MLM will NOT make you a sales guru. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is not cut out for selling stuff. If your feelings are hurt if someone doesn’t text you back in an appropriate time, then chances are, direct sales is not for you. You have to have tough skin in this line of work. Persistence is key.

4.) Believe in the product that you have chosen to sell. Plain and simple. If you are passionate about a certain product line and believe that it can work for the other person, that excitement will shine through.

Just my input on the whole debate…..thoughts? Leave them in the comment section!

Part 3 of this process: My time at Fancy Hands

Hey everyone! Hopefully you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving- I know I did! I “put my foot in it” so to speak- I roasted my own turkey, and did the sides…..My hubby raved over it, and our 2 year old son enjoyed as well. As far my month old daughter, well she dined on my fabulous breast milk so she was good!

Now that the holiday is somewhat over ( let’s face it- Black Friday is an extension of Turkey Day), I can use this time to talk about my stint with Fancy Hands. For those who are unaware of this company/startup, Fancy Hands specializes in providing virtual assistants to various clientele on a task-oriented basis. The customer can purchase one of 3 packages to meet his/her personal/professional needs, beginning at $30 for 5 requests and up to $150 for 50. Pretty cheap, right? Just stay with me.

First of all, applying to Fancy Hands was NOT a difficult task. I mean, the company doesn’t even document SS numbers ( which I imagine will bite the company in the collective behind in the near future). The application process consisted on a brief ( and I do mean BRIEF) grammar test, a recording of your vocal quality, and a reply to a sample question involving Google research on the location of the Declaration of Independence for public viewing. I was accepted for work within a few days of applying. Prior to applying, I had already read the reviews of the company, which were mixed at best. But I said “Hey. Better than nothing!”

In all, I learned some things while working with them. One, I learned more about time management and this program called Google Drive ( the easiest program out there!). I also learned something else: I could make more money providing services elsewhere! Remember the pricing I described earlier? Well, that translated to the pricing of tasks beginning at $2.75. Yes, TWO DOLLARS AND SEVENTY FIVE CENTS. The pricing of tasks is based on the logic that most tasks will take oh, about 15 minutes. Not true. Most took at least an hour. Add into typical client response time ( delayed due to mentor’s response as well), you could look at working on a task for two days. (In case you’re wondering about “The Mentors”, they were assistants promoted to review the other assistants’ work for 10 cents extra, lol). Eventually I became wiser and started seeking out the tasks worth a pay increase. For example, I selected a task that required extensive research involving healthcare data. I carefully explained the reasons for a price increase to the manager ( yes, there is a manager), and the payout was increased from $3.65 to $11. Not bad.

Unfortunately, there was another dark side to FH: the forums. A virtual watercooler of sorts, the forum was a place in which assistants could ask questions, vent about policies, and mentors could throw shade. Yes, this took place on a DAILY basis. It became so bad even the manager had to step in.

In all, it was a fairly easy way to earn a little cash while introducing yourself to the world of virtual assisting. But once you’ve mastered that, move on as quickly as possible. Read the reviews of Fancy Hands here: https://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Working-at-Fancy-Hands-EI_IE685954.11,22.htm

Catch you later- make it a great day!

From there to here, aka from being a stay at home mom to work from home mom

Looking back over the past two years, making the shift from being a stay at home mom to a work from home mom has not been easy, to say the least. When I made the initial choice in the summer of 2013 to quit my job in order to stay home with my newborn son, I totally underestimated the impact it would have financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Looking back on it, it was only by the grace of God that I didn’t go bonkers. I was a new mom who recently moved to a new residence (more about that later). I was leaving behind colleagues that I knew for the past 13 years. It was a lot to take in.

Instead of taking a moment to fully allowing myself to acknowledge what was feeling, I made the somewhat foolish decision to jump back into school ( which didn’t work out, not surprisingly). I also made my first attempt into working from home as a Avon representative, which was a learning experience. First of all, I was attempting to build a new customer base while staying indoors ( an oxymoron, I know). I discovered that it is quite difficult to sell to others without an aggressive marketing plan. Simply placing brochures at Starbucks and my fave dry cleaners wasn’t going to cut it! Convincing others to shop online proved to be challenging ( especially with the older church ladies). And how could I forget that I nearly got scammed…..yeah it was rough and I managed to bow out with some grace.

Despite the lows, I learned greatly from the experience. Plus, it only made me more determined than ever to master this whole thing of “working from home”. To be continued………