Category Archives: Ways to Make Money

Announcing New Remote Working Series

This post is brought to you by Nakturnal.

Black and white image of a girl pullingi a grey pajama tee over her face. Beneath, text reads, "remote work series."

I wanted to take some time today to introduce a new series you’ll be seeing on the blog. It centers around remote work, which more and more employers are allowing on the regular. If you’re building a business via the internet, you might be on the other side employing people remotely.

In either situation there are a lot of questions in need of answers. Here are just some of the ones we’ll be covering in coming weeks as we chat with small business owners about how they handle their remote teams.

How do you handle communication?

When you’re not all in the same office, it’s important to have great systems in place. With all the options on the market today, we’ll look into both software and analog systems that other growing business owners have found useful.

How do you handle employee timeclocks and payroll?

Do you have an actual accountant or do you use one of those online services? What’s the market rate for these services so I can make sure I’m not getting ripped off?

Payroll is not something you want to mess up. But there are solutions out there whether you’re paying freelancers or W-2 employees. For example, Buddy Punch offers a remote employee time clock that tracks and geolocates your employees’ hours. The system can also be used to request PTO or setup auto reminders to nudge your employees to take a break.

How do you handle everything else HR remotely?

It’s interesting to look at the conflict resolution that has to happen in remote workplaces versus physical workplaces. In some ways there are less problems, but in other ways there are just different HR tasks that need to be completed. Can a software program really handle all this for you? At what point do have you grown enough to make an HR pro one of those employees?

Who benefits from remote work?

Pretty much everyone. Less time commuting. Less time spent fraternizing. But it’s not for every employee or every workplace.

We’ll explore some of the workplaces that do benefit from having remote teams, as well as learning about specific benefits to specific demographics–like military spouses or disabled individuals.

What do employers look for in a remote employee?

Are there any specific keywords you should include on your resume when you’re applying to a remote job? What are the overall soft skills that are especially important for remote applicants to highlight while they’re trying to secure an interview?

Should you even be an employee, or is freelancing better?

We’ll explore all this and more with our interviewees.

Call for questions!

I’m not done with all the interviews yet! So I wanted to ask you, dear readers, what questions you have on this topic. Whether you’re building your own business or wanting to pick up a remote job, leave your questions in the comments and I’ll add them to my list for interviewees!


Self-Empowerment through Self-Employment

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

Bright yellow background. Hands filling green shoes with purple laces, looking like legs. Arms are tatooed with cartoon characters and basketball players and the phrase "Don't Give Up." Underneath printed words say, "Self empowerment through self employment."

One of the most freeing feelings in the world is creating a successful business from scratch. You call the shots, you make the decisions, and you reap the profits.

Choosing to become self-employed can be scary. In fact, when I made the decision years ago, I rarely got a good night’s sleep, and I always felt surprised when I earned enough to pay my bills. I was even more surprised when I, eventually, could buy a few of the nicer things in life, like throw pillows and wool-blend socks.

Self-employment can be an answer to making extra money, earning some cash as a stay-at-home parent, or if you’re done fighting traffic just to make it into work on time in order to grind out your forty hours per week. Most freelancers and business owners are happier and healthier than those that punch the time clock. Why not get in on that joy by being your own boss?

If you’ve wondered how most self-employed women get started, we’ve put together a guide to help you put the ball in motion if you’ve considered going at it on your own.

Narrow-In on Your Passion and Find Your Niche

Some of us are Jills-of-all trades that can paint the most stunning compositions that stop viewers in their tracks and also write songs that listeners replay on loop for hours. This is great; you can incorporate your talents in various ways into your business. But you need to focus in on what skill you want to sell and rely on.

You may be able to offer it all, but when it comes to your business, you shouldn’t. Find a niche or a category in your market to focus on to help more customers find your services and to set you apart from your competition.

Some niche ideas to get you thinking, include:

  • Painting dog portraits
  • Designing custom tv stands
  • Creating eco-friendly home decor
  • Freelance writing for any given industry

Decide if Self-Employment is Right for You

You’re going to be broke–or at least somewhat broke when you first begin unless you find financing. You’re also going to be stressed out. I can tell you that most people find it worth it, but your situation may not allow for these circumstances right now. Take an honest look at your finances and situation and decide if you can manage financially and emotionally before taking the plunge.

Self-employment also requires that you approach your skill with a different mindset: that of profitability. This is difficult for some people since they’re always used their skills differently. Prepare yourself by playing over rejection and criticism in your mind before experiencing it in real life. If it’s too difficult for you, you may not want to be a business owner.

Research the Competition and Create a Business Plan

Before you register your DBA with your state, take the time to look into the competition to see how they run their businesses and what you think you could do better. This will help you create a business plan.

When creating a business plan, you want to look at the macro picture and the details of how your business will function. You also want to set goals and establish a mission and company culture. This will help you stick to your brand as your business develops.

No matter how small or large your business is, you will want to be prepared with a plan that will scale. Make sure you think about the cost of your time and other details that go into your pricing like if you need extra space while working from home.

Choose a Memorable Name

If you thought finding the perfect Instagram handle was hard, try naming a business. Take your time and try to be as creative as possible without losing sight of what service or goods you offer. Make sure your business’s name is easy to pronounce and memorable.

Test your name by asking friends, family, and strangers what they think. Don’t rush into committing to a name until you’re ready.

Create a Website

Most businesses exist on the web these days. This helps you reach a national and international audience if you wish to. A successful website also makes pitching or selling to customers a lot simpler. Selling becomes more of a one-and-done process rather than repeating your selling points over and over again.

To create a website, register a domain name (probably your business’s name), design an attractive layout, write your “About Us” page to share your journey, and write compelling descriptions of your services or products. Most website services also keep track of your sales for you to help make accounting easier.

Market Yourself

A lot of new business owners struggle with the idea of tooting their own horns. Don’t be. You’re awesome, you make the best products and provide the best service. Review some marketing basics to get started. Be proud of your skills and market them the right way.

Some marketing strategies that won’t break the bank and help establish your brand include:

  • Social media promotions
  • Blogging
  • Word-of-mouth
  • First-time customer discounts
  • Partnering with other local businesses
  • Starting with friends and family
  • Partnering with a charitable cause

Keep Your Clients Happy

One of the simplest ways to stay in business is to keep your customers happy. Invite customers to use your services again and create a loyalty program. Ask if you can post about them on social media. Request and value their feedback.

In a world where people trust Google more than any other source for information, customer reviews will help keep you afloat. So, make sure your customers have a great experience and have wonderful things to say about you.

Venturing out on your own can be one of the most frightening endeavors you pursue, but it can also be the most rewarding. If you’ve always wondered what it’d be like to follow your dream and share your love for your craft with others, save up a big emergency fund and do it. Don’t look back. Be bold and be brave.

Useful Offline Marketing Strategies to Boost Business Sales

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

orange banners sitting in an alley that read "Yum Yum" in white writing.

Marketing a business comes next to developing useful products and services for the consumers. Without a clear and well-defined strategy, competitors can swiftly come in and capture the target audience. The Google Consumer Barometer says that 22% of target audience purchase products and services online, while the rest still depend on offline channels. This makes offline marketing strategies an important aspect.

Marketing strategies should be a well-balanced effort for lead generation, because people who do not engage with products on the web constitute a significant portion of the consumer demographics, says an expert at Print Banners, a leading provider of high-quality and affordable business banners.

It is for this reason that marketing experts advise printing custom banners and creative vinyl banners for businesses to gain a wider exposure. This has to be done in tandem with content marketing and SEO strategies.

Make your Employees as Brand Ambassadors

Physical branding is important to place the brand in the customer’s mind; opportunities for that is all around us. Customized apparel is huge these days, and they help create a sense of belonging or affiliation for employees. Products with brand logos can be distributed as gifts among employees; many companies have resorted to special web stores, where employees can choose from different products for friends and family. This is a good way to advertise the company to outsiders and create a unique brand image. You will be able to project your company as one which cares about its employees. It is important that these promotional items be of good quality and something useful on a day-to-day basis.

Trade Shows

Trade shows puts businesses under the same roof as the competitors. They also bring businesses face-to-face with customers; both existing and potential ones. Printing custom or vinyl business banners shouldn’t be excluded, along with digital marketing tools like explainer videos and social media tags. One of the oldest forms of advertising, banners are great for industry events like these. Nowadays, vinyl banners can be printed and delivered on the same day. They are highly customizable and rip-resistant.

Community Event Sponsoring

Take the lead and sponsor an industry event to gain wide-spread traction in print media and news channels. Of course this is expensive, and should be done after careful research and consideration. This is a great way to get involved with social issues. For example, sponsoring a fundraiser for the benefit of cancer patients or people affected by a natural disaster in any part of the world will make consumers associate with the brand more. You can distribute business cards, branded items, discount coupons, gift certificates and pamphlets to event participants. This will enable increased word-of-mouth referrals and visibility.

Over the last five years, there has been a paradigm shift in marketing, with the rise of social media channels. Also, the growing use of high-end smartphones have causes changes in the search behavior of the target audience. Despite these advancements, experts believe that the marketing efforts of companies should be a mix of online and offline channels. The consistency in these campaigns boosts brand recall and promotes sales.

Tips on Choosing the Best Step and Repeat Banners

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

white tesselation of hand-drawn faces painted onto black background

Step and repeat banners and stands can be used as effective backdrops for your company’s booth at trade shows and other events. Such backdrops enable businesses to showcase their brand and increase awareness regarding their products and services. The key is to design the banner with your company’s logo, name and contact information clearly visible, says New York Banners, a reputed step and repeat banner printing service in NYC.

There are several things that you need to consider while choosing a step and repeat banner, not the least of which is your budget. Here’s a look at some key considerations.

1.   Size

Step and repeat backdrops have a standard height of 8 feet, although the width can be customized as per your needs. Whether you want a wide backdrop or a narrow one will depend on the space available and your budget. And, while designing, keep in mind that if the backdrop is a wide one, people are less likely to look the information or images in the corners. On the other hand, an entire group of people can get their picture clicked at once in front of a wide backdrop.

However, smaller backdrops also have advantages. You can fit them in small spaces, such as behind a trade show booth. And, they’re obviously more portable and cost-effective. Also, you’ll have greater flexibility with small backdrops. If you’re at a big event, you can choose a panel design by joining two or more smaller backdrops to form a wide display. But, if the space is less, you can set up them one as single panels.

2.   Logo

Your logo should be clearly visible, even from a distance. Make sure that the print is high quality, such that there is no blurring of any logo element. For this, only use pictures and graphics with high resolution to avoid pixilation on resizing. Logos in a step and repeat banner and stand should ideally be 5-7 inches tall and 9-11 inches wide and should be displayed in a repeating pattern.

3.   Color Scheme

Ink causes much more reflection than the white or grey vinyl on which it is printed. Therefore, the glare will be much less if you don’t have a colored background. However, if you want your background to be colorful, so that your backdrop looks brighter, then you should choose fabric instead of vinyl for your backdrop material to avoid any glare.

4.   Ease of Assembly

Ease of assembly is very important, since you wouldn’t want to struggle with setting up your backdrop at the last moment. A poorly set up backdrop could even fall on the people and cause you great embarrassment at the event. Therefore, when you choose a custom step and repeat backdrop banner printing company, such as those in NYC, check if they offer banners that can be quickly assembled without any hassle.

Custom banners are a very powerful marketing tool to engage your target audience. A few photographs at the right event can take your brand’s visibility to the next level. And, they can also be a great way to give a hip look to your trade show booth.

Get Cash Money for Not Giving Up on Your Resolutions

This is awesome. $60 for saving in my savings account like I'm already doing, and an additional potential $1,500 in prizes? Yes, please!

Dedicated readers with elephant memories will remember last year when we talked about SaverLife, nonprofit EARN’s program that pays you to stash money in your savings account.

If you don’t have an elephant memory, check out the post. It’s one of the easiest ways to make $60 you’ll ever come across.

The reason I’m bringing this up–aside from getting you an easy sixty bucs–is that EARN is currently running two stellar contests that will help you keep your financial resolve this year, and possibly earn a cash prize.

Pledge to Save Part of Your Tax Refund

Ahhh, I remember the days when I got a tax refund. Back in the days before my business was my primary means of income and my W-2 employer withheld money from each paycheck.

Getting a tax refund is a great feeling. It’s an instantaneously injection of cash into your life, which can help you get caught up on bills, actually be able to afford that family vacation or pay down some debt. One year I even used the majority of my tax refund to get a much needed mattress after years of horrific sleep.

It’s really tempting to spend your tax refund all at once. For a lot of people, the lump sum is more money than you’ll see deposited into your bank account all year. I know it was for me.

But when you get that much cash at once, spending it all in one place isn’t a great idea. That money can offer you some much needed financial security, and one of the best ways to assure that financial security is by saving it.

That’s why SaverLife is asking you to pledge to save at least a portion of your tax return this year. It’s an initiative I can totally get behind. To top it all off, the nonprofit is giving away $15,000 in prizes to people who pledge. Each individual can potentially win $500.

In the unlikely event I do get a refund (I’m not sure how my health insurance subsidies are going to work out this year,) I’ve taken the pledge. And I invite you to do the same here.

#SavingsResolution Photo Contest

It’s the end of January, which is a time when a lot of people give up on their New Year’s Resolutions.

But not you. You know that even if you haven’t reached your January goals, giving up in February is a sure recipe for failure. You know that you’ll get much further if you don’t give up and keep putting effort in for the remaining eleven months of the year.

SaveLife is supporting people in the pursuit of their savings goals with a separate contest. The #SavingsResolution contest is easy to enter. You just snap a picture or video representing something meaningful that you’re saving for. Then you upload it for your chance to win $1,000 to apply towards your savings goals.

How are you handling savings this year?

What are you saving for? Are you saving a portion of your tax refund? Are you pushing through in February even if you didn’t hit your goals in January?

I want to hear all about it in the comments, along with if you took the pledge or entered the photo contest!