What is the best business model that fits your vision of mommyhood? Oh, do I wish I had asked this question before starting Katarina’s Paperie.
Or maybe the answer has just changed over the years…. not sure which.
After having our first little, I dreamed of starting a business to fill the quiet hours when I was home with her. I come from a family of workaholics. Work was revered, glorified and something that you spent hours and hours on each day.
You didn’t take time off to raise your kids. You always needed to be working. There was no time for family. Oh yeah… and child rearing was not a job. (This always makes me laugh when I think about how much we spend on childcare services these days.)
I am certainly not against hard work. But I also wanted to be there to raise my kids. So, I started a stationery studio to fill naptime hours and give me the time to spend at home with my littles. I loved it. I enjoyed designing invitations, working with customers, completing business tasks and marketing our products. Running an online business was so much fun.
As with most businesses, we started to grow. What used to take a few hours in the morning and evening, suddenly started spilling into the daytime hours. Running the business took longer and our family’s needs started to change. With the kids getting bigger, we wanted to travel on school holidays, summer vacations and weekends.
But, I had chosen a business model that required me to be in the studio EVERY SINGLE DAY no matter what. When the kids were little, we were home a lot any way since traveling was so complicated. Now I had little adventurers at home, I suddenly felt tied down.
I will be the first to admit that I haven’t figured out a solution for this yet. I love my stationery shop, but I don’t love that my dream mommy lifestyle isn’t coming together.
The handmade business model that I originally chose does not fit my current vision of mommyhood.
Oh, is that a difficult statement to type.
There are many different types of online businesses that you can start. It’s important to choose a business model that works with your personality, fits your family’s needs and matches your business goals.
For example, if your future goal is to become a digital nomad with your family, choose a business model that supports the digital lifestyle such as a virtual assistant (VA), freelancer, digital download creator or blogging. This way when you’re ready to hit the road, your business travels with you without missing a beat.
By determining the type of mommy lifestyle you want, you can figure out the kind of business that fits it. Remember there isn’t a one size fits all solution either.
Your business can change over time as your needs (and family’s needs) change. It’s important to understand all types of business models first, so you can make an educated choice.
The handmade studio is one of the most common business models that you find on Etsy and other handmade marketplaces. An Etsy shop is run by artists and designers that create handmade products in their studio.
Since Etsy flexed their rules a few years ago, using outside manufacturers is possible now. If you are a designer, you could sell items printed by a drop shipping company on Etsy. You will just need to obtain permission first.
This business model is great for moms who have kids in school and don’t have ambitious travel plans. You will need to man the studio daily since closing the shop for vacation results in a loss in your search result ranking. (Many fellow Etsy shop owners who have closed for vacation have reported it taking them a month or more to reestablish their regular sales volume.)
Digital Downloads or Printables
This design business model is one of my favorites for moms who want to become digital nomads. It’s also great for moms who homeschool because the maintanence can be hands-off. There is an upfront knowledge cost and you will need to create your own digital downloads which could use expensive graphics programs.
To start this type of business, you will need at least some familiarity with graphic design. You can take classes on Skillshare or Lynda to learn some of these important skills. Another class that I recommend for creating digital designs is a course on Printable Crush. This class is all about introducing you to the joys of Adobe Illustrator and helping you design your first printables.
You can also create digital downloads that are available as instant downloads. An instant download is a digital download that customers download right after purchasing to print. This way you do not have to do a thing.
Some instant download ideas include art prints, invitations, holiday tags and business printables. If you have the correct program, you can even create downloads that can be edited by the customer.
I will be sure to go into more detail about how to create your own digital downloads in the future.
Please note that you can create a hybrid version of these two business types. Right now, Katarina’s Paperie is a hybrid model where we sell both handmade items and digital downloads. I have found that offering both types of items serves our customers better even though it means that I am more attached to the studio. My dreams of becoming a digital nomad live on, though, and I hope to attempt this lifestyle temporarily in the future (at least for a summer)!
Multi Level Marketing (MLM)
We’ve all been there. You’re invited to a party expecting to mingle with your friends only to discover that you are being sold something instead. And don’t forget the catalog to take home in case you change your mind.
Although I am not against MLM businesses, I do find that the people running them have aggressive sales tactics. And I understand why… they have a family to feed just like everyone else.
When I was a kid, though, Avon was one of my favorite ones. I used to buy their bubble bath in bulk, experimenting with all of their different scents. It’s a shame I don’t know any one selling for Avon any more…
That being said, I have rarely found products from these MLM companies that I think are affordable or useful (except Avon) and I don’t like leaving a party feeling guilty that I didn’t purchase something after being cornered in the back room.
And then being called weekly for 6 months following the party. As I said, the marketing is a bit more aggressive for my taste. (I know some of you are asking why I didn’t say I wasn’t interested and I think it’s because I feel bad. It isn’t that I didn’t like the product, it’s just that I don’t need all of these products cluttering my small home.)
All of that put aside, I do think these companies have a low entry fee (for example Arbonne is $79 to get started) and it is a great way to try running a business without much financial investment. It also offers a lot of flexibility for travel and staying home with the kids on vacations.
This business model is also good for a busy mom who loves to socialize. You can host parties, moms nights out and other fun events while selling products.
Some popular MLM businesses right now include Arbonne, doTerra Essential Oils and Lula Roe. Before signing up, though, do your research and find other people in your community that are also selling these products. It will help give you an idea of how the business works before committing.
If you like to write and have a topic that you would like to share with others about, blogging might be a business type to pursue. You need little money up front (expect to purchase a domain name and hosting company – about $100 to $200 for the year) and it is a completely digital profession.
You have the flexibility to travel, spend time with your kids and even become a digital nomad like Making Sense of Cents did. The problem with blogging is that it can take months (and in some cases years) to establish yourself.
Blogging is a great business model if you are going to be home with littles for awhile. You can work on your blog during their naptime without having to pay more for childcare.
Making money from blogging can be confusing, though. The blog itself doesn’t actually pay you money – your audience does through affiliate marketing, advertising, courses, sponsored posts and working with brands. You will need time to build up an audience. This can require a lot of patience.
I have seen a lot of successful bloggers go on to write books, sell products in big box stores (such as Michael’s) and create a nationally recognized name for themselves. If you have time to invest and patience, this might be a wonderful business model to pursue.
There are two types of drop shipping businesses today. The first one is when you source products (mainly from China) and create an online shop to ship them to customers. They are usually stored in a warehouse (so you do not need to manage the goods) and sent for you when the order is processed.
This first kind of drop shipping company can take a lot of time up front to build since you will need to create a website (we recommend using Shopify for this process) and find quality products to ship.
You can save time by creating an Amazon version of this storefront. Although Amazon takes a large cut of your earnings, products are stored at their warehouses and they help find customers for you, which cuts down on marketing costs.
I did just discover a Shopify application that takes the guess work out of choosing and shipping products from China. It is called Oberlo and it let’s you get started creating your drop shipping website in just a few clicks.
The other type of drop shipping business model features your designs printed on products. For this type of business, Shopify is a great platform for easy set-up. There are many drop shipping printing companies that have apps to connect to Shopify. This way when an order is placed, it is sent directly to the printing company for fulfillment. This saves you time in processing the order and sending the information yourself.
Both of these drop shipping business models take a lot of time up front to set up. You need to create designs, select products, create listings, build a website and take product photographs.
Once established, though, these types of shops can be run with relative ease. For the product drop shipping model, you might have to find additional products to sell, handle customer questions and returns. But you aren’t trading dollars for hours the same way as a freelance operation.
For the print on demand model, you will have to create new designs on a seasonal basis. Otherwise, someone else handles order fulfillment. Your focus is solely on the digital marketing piece and managing returns.
I have met successful entrepreneurs who have started both business types. They have found that after the initial start up time and small costs for the websites and hosting, they spend about 10 hours a week running their businesses.
Depending how many different shops you have, this business model could be perfect for those who want to travel occasionally with their children or work on their online business part time.
You can find fantastic resources for starting a product drop shipping business on My Wife Quit Her Day Job.
For those of you who want to start a design drop shipping business, this interview with Jenn Leach is very helpful. She makes over $10,000 per a month with different print on demand businesses.
Some of you might not be thinking about starting a product based business, but a services based business instead. Service based businesses can be focused on event planning, consulting, photography, virtual assistance and coaching. This business model can be the perfect solution for the mom that wants to travel, take their family on the road, have a flexible schedule or even homeschool.
Although you are trading dollars for hours, once you choose a skill to become an expert in, you have the potential to make a lot of money for those hours. Plus you get to work with many wonderful people, coach others and help customers reach their true potential.
If you are considering opening a services based business, focus on an area that you already have some skills in. It might even be skills that others admire you for. Then, make a list of ways that you can package those skills into services customers might buy.
For example, if you are a photographer, you might offer mini photography sessions, event photography and newborn photography services on your website. You could also explore offering e-courses or design tools so you can reach customers beyond your local area.
If you do not believe your skills are sellable yet, consider checking out online classes (such as Skillshare or Lydia) or even check into class offerings at your community college to become more of an expert in your field.
One last online business model, one of my favorites, is setting up a freelance business. Freelancers include writers, designers, public relations experts and photographers.
The best part about the freelance business model is that you can work your own schedule and take on work as you choose. For example, if you know that the kids are going to be home over the summer, then you don’t have to take on freelance jobs during this time. This frees up more time to spend with your family and cuts your childcare costs.
Although there are little upfront costs to starting a freelance business, it is hard to get established. You might want to consider taking on smaller jobs at first that don’t pay as well to create a portfolio and reputation for yourself. Once you’ve established your portfolio and have a client list, then you will start to grow (exponentially possibly) and the real benefits of being a freelancer will kick in.
Want to be a Slasher?
I recently heard this new term on the radio and thought what is that. It turns out that slasher does not just refer to a type of horror film. The term was coined in 2017 by Marci Alboher, the author of One Person/Multiple Careers. Slasher describes a person who holds multiple careers at the same time.
For example, I am an entrepreneur/designer/writer. I run my shop, create graphic designs and freelance write. All at the same time.
If you can’t pick one business model that you think suits you, consider becoming a slasher. You could pursue multiple angles and split your time between different business models. It’s great way to fill all of your passions at once in your career.
Are there other business models that you could consider? Of course! You can start a business in mostly anything these days and there are many business types that you can use to do so.
Before you start your business choose a business model that fits the mommy lifestyle that you dream of. Figure out how you want your family to spend their time, where you hope to live and how you work best. You’d hate to pursue freelance work only to realize that you miss the daily water cooler talks.
Even though your desires might change over time, at least you will be on track to creating the mommy lifestyle that works best for you.
And if you’re still having trouble choosing, consider this advice. According to Steve Chou from mywifequitherjob.com, the real way to build a business empire is to keep reinvesting your earnings in new business ideas. This way if one fails, your other business ventures might succeed.
Most successful entrepreneurs have at least 7 income streams. So, don’t feel like you need to choose one of these business models. You could become a slasher and see where it takes you.