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The first step in getting started as a work-at-home mom? Decide.

by Meagan Francis on June 11, 2013

This post is part of an ongoing series on blogging as a profession and working from home in general. To read the whole series, click here.

how to get started as a work-at-home mom

I’ve always had a bit of a “leap, then look” approach to life. And believe me, it’s gotten me into some trouble over the years. But one place my impulsive, commitment-happy personality type has (mostly) been a boon? My career.

When I decided to chart a completely new way of life and become a freelance writer ten years ago, I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew one thing: I was going to do it. And that decision set in motion the activities which, done consistently and over time, helped me break into that first national magazine, then sell my first book proposal, then turn my blog into a money-making venture.

Since publishing my post on making a living as a blogger last month, I’ve gotten questions from lots of readers who are interested in pro blogging or starting a business from home.  By far the question I’ve gotten most is: How do I get started? What’s that very first step that will lead to the next step and the next?

I sat down and thought it over, and realized that I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer the question. Ten years ago, five years ago, or even three years ago, the way to get started as a writer or blogger was certainly different than it is today. Publishing has changed, blogging has changed, and anything else you might be interested in doing as a business – retail, crafting, software development, graphic design – has also changed.

Not only that, but I truly believe there is no one formula for success. The way I started – backing into pro blogging after writing for magazines for several years – worked for me, but it’s not the only way or even, probably, the most direct route.

But then it occurred to me: there is one thing that every person must do before she can launch an at-home business, no matter what that business may be.

First, she has to decide.

Decide.

Not wish, not dream, not hope. Not just talk endlessly about it, join eighty-seven support groups, or create a dozen vision boards (though I do love vision boards!).

She has to actually say to herself, “I AM going to do this thing.”

I AM, period. Not “…if the baby naps” and not “…if I find enough time.”

Just I. Am. And then put herself to work knocking down obstacles of time, energy, and knowledge.

From leading writer’s groups and classes, I’ve gotten good at telling who’s going to make their dreams a reality, and who is probably going to stay stuck in “wannabe” status. And – surprise! – it’s not always the most talented or skilled writers who I can tell are really going to do it. Instead, it’s the ones who seem to glow with urgency and purpose, those who have made up their minds to make it happen, who most often do.

Others – those who are operating on a vague hope or wish or dream – tend to get mired in the details: reading books about writing, reading blogs about writing, thinking about writing, talking about writing…doing pretty much everything except writing. Or they write, but stop short at trying to get their work out there in front of the people who might read it. Whether it’s fear or apathy getting in their way, the results are the same: no action.

Not everyone is ready to decide. If you’re pretty comfortable with your life at the moment, or aren’t 100% sure you want to write/craft/design/sell for a living, or just think this isn’t the right time of your life to really commit to something new, that’s completely fine.

But trust me: you will have a much harder time creating momentum or helping your dream take off if you are in a wishy-washy, “whatever” – rather than determined and decisive – place.

So there’s your big-picture inspiration. Now how about some details to help you on your way?

how to go from dream to decision

Here’s my five step process to turn “dreaming” into “deciding”:

Create a sense of urgency. It can be difficult to make the necessary sacrifices if you don’t have a good reason looming. For me, it was my due date: I knew I didn’t want to return to my job full-time after my third baby was born, and that I would have to replace some of that income right away. If you aren’t facing down a built-in deadline, you may need to fabricate one: a date you’d like to pay off that student loan, for example. 

Dream big. I’d rather not-quite clear a tall hurdle than coast over a bump in the sidewalk. And think beyond the work you want to do. How will your life change for the better once you make this dream a reality? How will it improve your family life or make you happier?

Tell somebody. I know it can be terrifying to share that dream for the first time, but trust me: it gets a lot easier with practice, especially when you pick the right people to trust with your dreams. Choose wisely: keep your risk-averse aunt and Negative Nellie neighbor in the dark for now, and surround yourself with supportive, awesome people who will cheer you on.

Look to others for inspiration, not imitation. It’s great to let other successful bloggers or business owners inspire you. But keep in mind that we all have unique stories and circumstances that make it impossible to re-create another person’s success story. My strategy: look to other bloggers for guidance in the nuts and bolts – choosing a blog or e-commerce platform, for example – but when it comes to the personality and feel of your writing , photography, or product, be uniquely you.

Apply butt to chair. What’s the first step you need to take in becoming a writer? Well, you need to write. The same logic goes for whatever your would-be venture is. Don’t worry about having the perfect business plan, blog header, or social media strategy from day one. Those things will come, and you can re-invent yourself countless times along the way. But once you’ve identified the essential service or product you want to provide – whether it’s knitted baby hats or helpful blog posts - then commit, create, repeat. And make a decision to do that day after day after day.

So? Are you ready to decide?

Photo credit: Caitlinator, via Flickr Creative Commons 

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Nanouk June 11, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Yes, I am! Thanks for the inspiring words and tips!

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rebecca at thisfineday June 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Great post. I’ve finally after 5+ years of blogging decided to blog for people other than my family and friends. I’ve so far made some wonderful networking connections and actually have a small but consistent following!! It gives me so much more drive to continue. I also work part-time from home, it makes it hard to get it ALL done, while also being a SAHM mom, but as you said, I have a sense of urgency about it all and I just get it done! :-) Thanks for the extra vote of confidence!

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Meagan Francis June 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

It’s weird, but sometimes I find the more I have to get done, the more I accomplish! It definitely is that sense of urgency that drives you through. Good luck with expanding your blog!

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Mandi @ Life Your Way June 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm

This is so, so good, Meagan!

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Meagan Francis June 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Thanks, Mandi! Coming from you that means a lot :)

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priest's wife (@byzcathwife) June 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I’m a micro-blogger- and will probably stay that way- but I am ALREADY a work-at-home mama because we homeschool! (now I need to act like a work from home mama)

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Meagan Francis June 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

That’s a huge job, and one that must take a ton of drive and determination. Love it!

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Kathleen June 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm

This is very true. As easy as it is to come up with a list of reasons why you can’t do something, it is just as easy to come up with ways you can make it work. All you need is conviction and the desire to do it. I don’t know many people who work from home, so it is nice to read about your perspective and experience (even if the workload is a little different. I don’t earn anything from my blog). Looking forward to reading more!

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Sarah @ Sweet Miles June 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Ok I SERIOUSLY needed to hear this today!! Wow, if that wasn’t sent down from the high heavens today I don’t know what was. Thanks for your words of wisdom!!!

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Jinelle August 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm

These are powerful and inspiring words! I have just embarked on my own blogging AND
work -at-home journey and am feeling fortunate to have found ‘The Happiest Home’. Thank you!

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Kelsey September 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Love this so so much. Just what I needed. Two weeks ago I decided that I do not want to work for anyone else and I’m going to make it happen. I’m not very sure how I’ll get there but I have to work with what I have right now, a small blog, a few ideas, and a willingness to work my butt off. I think you’re so right that you have to decide to do it. One way to do that is taking ownership of it and instead of telling people, for example, “I’m thinking about developing my own business” say, “I’m starting my own business “. That frame of mind can be really powerful and self-fulfilling.

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Reem January 2, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Thanks for your insight! I always enjoy reading how you ‘made it’! Starting a blog has helped me be creative, and thrive in photography! I’m slowly earning through making money off photoshoots – next goal is writing and to just stick to it!!

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Ari Heller April 7, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Oh, jeez. I really am new at this! I just left a comment loving this article as a new (2 day) blogger and gave the wrong email and page! Lol. I have a lot to learn, including remembering what my blog’s name is while sitting in the car in the pouring rain at night waiting for my daughter to arrive from a school event.

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Tanja October 5, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Keeep on working, great job!

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