Welcome to a series exploring how real-life moms work alternative jobs in order to work and mom the way they want or their family needs. For many, this means working at home. For some it means jobs with flexible schedules. For others it means more traditional business hours, but owning their own business. As we examine the different ways moms make it work, you’ll see a lot of creativity and hopefully be inspired to make your job, traditional or not, work best in your life.
Erin Smilkstein is the leader of Money Mamas, an online community aimed at helping people figure out the crazy world of passive income online (yes, it IS possible!) She has been self-employed for over 15 years and has raised her 6-year old twins, Jakob Happy and Marley Rose, by herself for the last 5 years while running her businesses. Life is not always easy nor tidy, but Erin makes it work.
PM: What jobs have you done in the past?
ES: I have always been involved in education. Before the twins were born, I was an educational therapist in Los Angeles. And before that, I was a middle school math teacher. The educational therapy route is what sparked and launched my journey into being an entrepreneur and business owner. Before that, I hadn’t thought I would be anywhere but in the classroom. Then, I branched out as a solo therapist, created educational games and launched http://www.thehomeworklounge.com, an online math resource and virtual tutoring center.
PM: How did you come to do what you currently do?
ES: Everything happens for a reason. Before the twins, I was easily able to take clients on as late as I wanted: I had no reason to be home for dinner! But once they were born, I suddenly didn’t want to be working until 9 at night, getting home at 10. I wanted to be there for bath time, dinner, bed time and snuggles. So, I had to figure out how to take 10 years of one-on-one client work and shift it to match my schedule better. That’s how The Homework Lounge started, as a way to do more with less commuting.
But then, I started thinking, “There’s more I can do online!” and I researched heavily, learning a ton about online marketing. I found video marketing and dove in. That lead me to learn about a ton of new ways to make money online, which I didn’t even know existed. Everything online is another rabbit hole, which takes you even deeper to a new arena. I talked with a man who was making money passively, he introduced to me to something called “revshares”, and I tried it out. I spent hours and hours trying to figure out what it was, how it worked and how to do it. That’s when I realized, “If this is hard for, I bet it’s hard for others to figure out, too!” So, I started Money Mamas to guide people through all the jargon and technology online so they, too, can figure it out more quickly. I still see students online for math, and I have a supplemental income from the passive income streams!
PM: How long did it take you to get to where you are now?
ES: It took about a year to get good at recognizing which opportunities online I should share, and which ones I should warn people about. I spent the last two years transitioning my educational therapy model to an online platform. I now see math students all over the US and Europe, while building a worldwide Money Mamas following!
PM: What are the biggest challenges?
ES: It’s scheduling for me. I have so many little pieces that I often find my schedule over-booked and my time limited. I would like for the passive income model to take over all of my financial needs.
PM: What are the biggest advantages?
ES: I can literally work from anywhere. When the twins were 3, in 2014, I made the decision to move them from Los Angeles to Colorado before they started kindergarten. I got all but one client to move to an online model, and I basically took my entire business with me. I can work in the park, in a parking lot (it’s happened, just hotspot the phone and I’m online!) I got to coffee shops a lot. It feels very free.
PM: What are your next goals?
ES: My long-term goal is to create a way to make all of my income streams passive. I have a math program for alternative learners, called Smartiply http://www.thehomeworklounge.com/multiplication-facts-are-fun-to-learn-ditch-the-drills/. I also want to bring in more Money Mamas and get other people building their passive income as well! I’d like to buy a house with a huge yard in the mountains for us. That’s my ultimate goal.
PM: What advice do you have for moms who want to work from home or start their own business?
ES: Do some research, but don’t get caught up in all the ways it can’t work. Instead, work smart. You don’t have to work hard to succeed, you just have to work smart. Find something that fits your personality and time commitments. If someone convinces you to sell candles, but you hate selling, that isn’t going to work for you. Remember: this is your business, and you will run it exactly the way you want, whether it succeeds or not. So, find something that you can do that WILL succeed!
PM: What is your productivity tip?
ES: Take one step at a time. There’s only one thing that needs to be done right now (it’s true!) and you take one step, and then the next. A long list that looks overwhelming becomes a long list of things you didn’t do. Start with one step, go to the next, and ask for help. Also, you are more productive when you take time for yourself. Be sure to put that in there somewhere, too.
Visit Money Mamas at http://www.facebook.com/groups/moneymamasonline
The Homework Lounge at http://www.thehomeworklounge.com and Smartiply at http://www.thehomeworklounge.com/multiplication-facts-are-fun-to-learn-ditch-the-drills/.
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