Want to work from home? Make it a family business, not YOUR business.
It’s hard to know where to start answering your questions about my writing process and how I balance parenting with working from home. You’ve asked some great questions, and I’ve got some answers for you.
But I don’t have all the answers. And, everyone’s situation in life is different, so I don’t want to share what I do as though it’s a prescription for How To Work From Home. Over the next few weeks, my posts about work will be more descriptive; how it has worked for me thus far.
There are many others I know who successfully write (or run a business) from home, and they’ll be sharing their insight as well.
To start, I thought I’d tackle what I found to be a very interesting question — and one that speaks to laying the foundation for a successful writing or home-based business career.
“How do you convince your husband you’re not just playing on the computer?”
I got a little chuckle out of this one, because I can definitely see that issue being a big deterrent from finding the freedom to work online. if Kyle thought I was goofing around on Twitter or just chatting for fun on Skype all day, then I’d definitely feel frustrated about doing my work.
Here’s the thing, though — I’ve never had to convince Kyle that I’m not playing on the computer. From the get-go, he has been 100 percent supportive. He was there when the blog idea was first thrown my way, and encouraged me to give it a go.
I wrote on ProBlogger last fall how Simple Mom would not be what it is without Kyle behind me. When I write, he gives me the time I need. He graciously rolls up his sleeves around the house. And he gives me post ideas and encouragement to keep going.
Just some of Kyle’s roles include: approving or declining ads from our ad network affiliation, receiving and distributing email from the blog’s contact form, paying all the editors and contributors, tracking all the blog’s accounting, serve as a sounding board for most every idea I have, and of course, share the workload with the house and the kids.
Lots of successful blogs are what they are because of the spouse behind the main writer. Here’s what a few friends had to say:
• Stephanie Langford of Keeper of the Home says, “When I was balancing two blogs and had a much higher work load, my husband pitched in a lot to make it happen. He helped me with running my private ads and responding to advertisers, checked my emails, and sometimes gave me time off to go and work while he stayed with the kids. With both of the books I’ve self-published, …he was instrumental in helping me to edit, format and market them, as well as giving me plenty of time to get away during the writing process.”
• Meagan Francis of The Happiest Mom says, “First of all, [my husband is] my biggest cheerleader, which is great for morale. …And he’s totally competent with the kids and happy to take over on that front (though he doesn’t do everything MY way) so I know that if I run out to a coffee shop to work for the afternoon, everything will be okay at home. …We talk business and strategy all the time. Whenever we go out to dinner we end up spending half of it talking shop about blogs and books and publicity and all the rest. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other and setting long-term goals about where we want to take each of our businesses. I love it.”
• Katie Goodman of Good Life Eats says, “My husband is my taste tester—always honest and that means a lot to me. He is also a great help cleaning up the disastrous messes that happen regularly in the kitchen. Occasionally he will take the kids for a “daddy outing” on the weekend if I need some alone time to get caught up. I couldn’t keep up with anything if I didn’t have his support. He’s an emotional support as well.”
• Nester of Nesting Place says, “My husband plays an equal role as me in the success and longevity of Nesting Place. I cannot imagine starting a business of any kind without the support of a spouse. Of course, for many of us, blogging started off as a hobby so the jump to business blogger is tricky, but my husband is a visionary, entrepreneur, risk taker, and encourager at heart, so it was natural for him to get excited about the blog. His enthusiasm and acknowledging my blog/passion as a real business has helped me see it as that.”
• Emily Freeman from Chatting at the Sky says, “If my husband didn’t understand the blogging thing, I don’t think I could do it. The main way he is supportive is that he respects blog writing as a legitimate way of communicating and expression. He gives me time to devote to it. He prays for the people who read. And he usually reads my posts as well.”
In short, Kyle’s full support is the biggest reason why I’m able to run Simple Living Media. And it’s been that way from the beginning. So to be honest, I’m not really sure how to convince your husband that you’re not just playing on the computer — at least not from personal experience. Here are a few thoughts to mull over, however:
1. Are you just playing on the computer?
I don’t mean this in a snarky way. But when you do sit down, are you mostly working? Yes, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between online play and work, especially when blogging is so much fun.
But I’ll be honest – I hardly read any blogs anymore. I wish I had more time, but I’ve found over the years that I have seasons of producing and seasons of consumption, and when I’m producing a blog, I rarely have time to consume them.
I’m also on Twitter and Facebook just a few minutes per day. Really. If I kept them up all day, I’d never get any writing done. I know myself too well.
So ask yourself if your husband might actually be on to something. Are you writing or working more than you are playing?
(I’ll show you soon what my typical work schedule looks like, and how I allocate my time.)
2. Share your process.
If you’d like to earn money blogging (or making jewelry, or whatever), talk about what you’re working on. Share what you’re learning, show him your work, and ask for his opinion.
Make it a family business, not your business. When Kyle and I talk blog stuff, we talk about our work and our ideas. It’s not my baby at all. He really appreciates when I fill him in on my day — the emails, the interesting article I read and linked to, the response to my Facebook questions.
3. Show him the money.
Well, not literally (or maybe literally, if you’ve got it). Basically, show him some of the small, early rewards of your efforts. Has a big blogger linked to you? Did you make a sale in your Etsy shop? Did you sell a small ad on your sidebar? Receive a sweet email or comment from a reader? Delight in those milestones and share them with your spouse.
4. Show him this post.
This post isn’t the end all to be all, but perhaps if your husband reads this post and sees that the success of many blogs depends directly on the full support of the spouse, perhaps he’ll be more on board.
When you’re just starting out
If you’re just getting started, it’s not necessary to expect your spouse to perform a lot of tasks related to the blog. Don’t feel like you can’t turn a profit from your blog or business because your spouse isn’t willing to share the workload.
But it really is helpful to have his moral support if you want to spend any decent time on your writing or business. If you don’t yet… talk to him about it. Tell him how you feel. Make some tangible, concrete goals with your work, and see what he thinks.
And then support him with his work. Ask him questions about his passions, and talk about stuff other than your work. I think Nester sums it up best with this wonderfully convicting thought:
“I never dreamed that I would get to do something that I loved this much and now. I’d like to be able to support my husband as he transitions into something that fits more with his passion. And Nesting Place is allowing him to do that. My advice for someone who wants their spouse to support them: consider if YOU are encouraging them in their passions; it works both ways.”
I started with the issue of spousal support because I really think it’s one of the foundations for a business’ success. Soon, I’ll get to the nitty gritty of how Kyle and I balance our workloads together.
How do you support your spouse in his or her passions? What are some practical steps you can take to help him or her take your writing (or whatever) more seriously?
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