being a mom

How to Make Money at Home as a Stay-at-Home Mom

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“My life changed when I had a baby” is such a huge understatement, I have to say it again in all caps, bold AND italicized: MY LIFE CHANGED WHEN I HAD A BABY.

Before my son was born, I made most of my money through performing stand-up and music and teaching music lessons. I had a completely different mom life envisioned for myself — one where the baby came with me on stage in my sling and together, we continued doing stand up in all the places I used to. I imagined he’d just get tired and quietly nap on my chest, and that on those late nights, we’d sleep in until we felt like waking up. I had this mentality that I’d just mold his life into mine. Or something. I don’t know, I just had no idea what I was walking into. But once he was born, I realized that everything was going to have to change. Sure, I might have been able to do the above plan, but I don’t think either of us really would have been that happy.

Re-envisioning and re-creating my creative and working life post baby has been a challenge, but it’s not an impossible feat. Being a self-employed freelancer may even make it more possible. Not to mention, In today’s “gig society”, there are many apps and other ways to help bring in a few bucks here and a few bucks there. Here’s a handy dandy guide to how, with some planning and commitment, moms can make $1000 a week, freelancing, mostly from home.

Monday / Day 1: Focus Group

Pay: $75-$200
Time commitment: 2ish hours (including transportation, though some focus groups happen at home)
Pros: You can easily afford a babysitter, sometimes it’s OK to bring baby, you get to decide how much or how little you work
Cons: You’ll have to pay for a babysitter if you need one
What to spend it on: After you pay a sitter if necessary, spend 1/3 on groceries, put 1/3 towards rent, with the rest, buy diapers and hit that 50% off sale at Baby Gap

Do you use lipstick? Diapers? Lotion? Then focus groups are for you. A relatively easy way to make some regular money, you can sign up with several agencies and even do some of the work online or from home. Many focus groups average a paycheck of $75-$200 or more for an hour or so of work just giving feedback on products that are coming to the market, or ones that you may use already. Focus groups are fun, easy, and sometimes you even get free stuff. One time, I got a free bottle of Chanel that I had to wear for a week and then talk about how it made me feel, and I got paid a few hundred bucks to do that. Not a bad gig.

Tuesday / Day 2: Fiverr

Pay: $5 per item, sell 10 – 20 week for $50-100
Time commitment: 1-2 hours
Pros: Babysitter not required, work during baby naps, you won’t have to wake up at 6:15 to take public transportation to a job that may or may not contribute to the demise of the planet
Cons: You have to hustle a little to get this gig going
What to spend it on: Put 1/3 towards rent, 1/3 towards groceries and buy yourself a shirt with no puke stains on it

Fiverr is a website where you can sell things for $5 or more. Birthday messages via mp3, easy illustrations, art, advice, short videos or whatever you deem worthy of selling for $5. Things that do well on the site are a combination of useful and kitschy. It helps if there’s something you’re already kind of good at and can crank out easily. Maybe you crochet cup cozies or pot holders, or make paper clip animals. Maybe you’re great at editing emails or you have incredible handwriting and can make terrific place cards. The bottom line is, if you can do a $5 thing in groups of 10 or 20 and you can do that in an hour or two, you’re in business, baby. Increase your odds by listing several of your skills.

Wednesday / Day 3: On-line Teaching

Pay: $25 / half hour lesson — 4 lessons $100
Time commitment: 2 hours
Pros: Babysitter not required, make your own hours, if you need to cry, you don’t have to cry in the bathroom while co-workers do a #2
Cons: It may be hard to wrangle if you don’t know your baby’s schedule yet or if your baby is very high maintenance
What to spend it on: Put 1/3 towards rent, 1/3 towards child’s college fund, hire a CPR certified private instructor for a baby swim lesson

Got a skill? Sure you do, we all do! Maybe you’re great at public speaking, knitting, cooking, baking, sewing, piano playing, singing, tap dancing or what have you. Skype, FaceTime and Google Hangout technology, among others, have made it super easy for us SAHMs to teach lessons from home. Put the word out to friends and moms you meet, post info on the grocery store community board and you’ll be surprised how fast students roll in, especially if you’re a decent teacher. Before you know it, word of mouth will bring in more students than you can handle and your biggest issue will be feeling bad when you tell people you can’t take on any more students.

Thursday / Day 4: Blogging / Writing

Pay: $50 per story, 2 pieces per day: $100
Time requirement: 1-2 hours
Pros: Babysitter not required, work while baby naps or after bedtime, you won’t have to choose between sacrificing precious sick days and being with your baby
Cons: You have to hustle to get gigs
What to spend it on: Put 1/3 towards internet bill, 1/3 towards rent, splurge on a nice cup of butter coffee which tastes interestingly delicious AND will keep you full for hours

If you like writing, there are many places you can submit stories and get paid. Be it fiction, first person, comedic tales, information about motherhood and more, there is an online publication out there and even some print newspapers and magazines left that will be willing to pay you per piece. Some pay less, like $10-$25, some pay more, like $100-$500 and up. If you need to write a few free or cheap pieces to build up your resume, don’t feel bad, crank ‘em out and move on to the bigger fish. If you’ve got more to say, consider jumping into the extremely lucrative and easy publishing business. Ha! Just kidding. But seriously. You can publish a book on Amazon and have a big hit, like the writer of 50 Shades of Gray did. J.K. Rowling is another example of a mom gone writer. But for now, just submit an article or two to some of your favorite publications and see what happens. Or start your own blog and sell ads to fuel your new baby.

Friday / Day 5: Podcast

Pay: $3 / episode x 50 subscribers: $150
Time requirement: 1 hour
Pros: Get paid to talk, can do while baby is awake or asleep, no boss overlord
Cons: You have to get subscribers in order for this to work, equipment for podcasting isn’t cheap but you can borrow it or buy it used
What to spend it on: 1/3 towards baby college fund, 1/3 on rent, buy yourself a nice shade of lipstick and stick the rest into your cleavage like the hot ticket you still are

A friend suggested to me that by doing 2 podcasts per week — one free and then charging $3 for the other — I could bring in a steady weekly income. Some sell advertising to pay for their podcasts. Anyone can start a podcast and it’s easy enough to do, you just have to passionate about something or a few things and then talk about them. You love to talk, right? If not, this isn’t the gig for you! But if you can chatter with the best of them, love yapping on the phone, like interviewing people or talking about what’s going on in the world, you could bring in a regular little paycheck to make being a stay at home mom that much more tolerable. Did I say tolerable? Ha ha, I meant wonderful. And if the baby is cooing in the background of the podcast, no big deal — it’s kind of a sweet listener bonus.

Day 6: Sell Your Old Stuff On eBay

Pay: Somewhere between zilch and jackpot
Time requirement: 1-2 hours
Pros: Get paid to get rid of stuff, you can pump when necessary where you please vs. every 2 hours in a cold, windowless “pumping room”
Cons: You might have to spend more time than any human should reasonably have to spend at the post office
What to spend it on: 1/3 towards groceries, 1/3 utility bills, invest the rest into the stock market via the Robin Hood app

As the baby ages out of clothes, set them to the side and once you have a few items worth selling, stick ‘em up on eBay. You can also keep your eye out for cheap but good finds at yard sales or thrift stores to sell. It’s not hard to use eBay—snap some photos with your iPhone or ask a friend to help out. With the eBay app you can write the ads while standing in line at the grocery store or while side feeding the baby in the early evening.

Day 7: Craigslist Gigs

Pay: Varies
Time requirement: 1-2 hours
Pros: Choose the work that appeals to you, get a chuckle out of some of the ridiculous jobs that people want done, take your lunch break when you damn well please
Cons: You’re working with total strangers so some personal discretion might be required, discipline is necessary to get work done on time.

Craigslist is awesome. You can find anything on there—a great couch, a roommate, heck, even a husband. And you can definitely find plenty of great work, and I’m not talking about of the naughty kind. Instead, feast your eyes on teaching gigs, graphic design jobs, illustration projects, photography work and other things that you can do at home or in your own time are on there and waiting to be had by a stay-at-home mom who needs to make $100ish bucks a day freelancing. When submitting your info, don’t forget to set a reasonable rate but not to undersell yourself. Send hyperlinks to examples if you have them and make it as easy as possible for them to contact and hire you.

Good luck, mama!

(Image: iStock / monkeybusinessimages)