9 Ways I Make Money as a Stay-At-Home-Mom
A few months ago, I remember running into one of my high school friends at her place of work. She and I were discussing our kids, pregnancies—life—since we’d last seen each other. I was joking when I said, “Yeah, hubby stayed home today, so that I could do something for myself for once. I feel like I’m drowning in babies at home!”
She looked at me with sad eyes, and said, “I’d give anything to stay home with my daughter.”
My heart broke for her, and I immediately felt guilty. Not that being a stay-at-home-mom is a walk in the park, but I wouldn’t trade it for going back to work. Just because I need an occasional break from the piles of diapers, laundry, and lack of adult interaction, doesn’t mean I’d change a single thing about my life.
This conversation inspired me to share some of my money-making endeavors in the hope these can help other moms or even college students out there.
Your “Strong Why”
The fact that you’ve found yourself reading my little post, tells me that you have a reason for looking at alternative income avenues. Maybe you want to transition to staying home with your baby, after maternity leave has come and gone too quickly. Maybe your spouse lost their job. Maybe you need something “extra” to feel accomplished as a SAHM.
Think hard about why you want to make extra income.
Write it down and post it somewhere you will read it everyday. This will help drive you through the rough patches of lethargy, exhaustion, frustration, set-backs, and other negative feelings that will try to make you quit.
My strong why has changed over the years, but as long as I’ve had one, I’ve been able to draw on that well of ambition and passion to push through the tough bits and think creatively. All of these ideas have personally made me income. Some of them I “grew out of,” some are seasonal, some I scaled back, some I launched into higher-income businesses, some I do out of enjoyment AND income, some require little effort, some require ENORMOUS effort. Any one of these things could be turned into a steady income business, depending on your initial resources, interests, and ambition.
I’ve personally done all of these things (I would never recommend them otherwise), so I know it can be done with a little elbow grease and luck!
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Although these things may make earning income easier (spend money to make money—just not too much!), they are not required to make money. If you are in financial straights, start as small and as free as you can! Many of these ideas can be implemented by networking with other local businesses, neighbors, or a small initial investment in an online platform!
Without further ado, here are 9 ways I have made money while trying to build my blogging income:
Selling Handmade Products or Supplies Online
If you’ve read my Online Shop Success Tips post, you know this is how I’ve made the lion’s share of my income this past year—and because of Etsy’s rules—most of that income was from a personal web store I created using WIX.
If you’re good at crafting, graphic design, or photography, selling your handmade goods on Etsy or in a personal store is a great way to earn extra income.
If you are a blogger trying to hang in there until your readership gets big enough to really make income with ads and traditional affiliates, take stock photos and sell them! If you’re good with design and graphics editing (or even watercolor) creating brands, banners, and labels for other blogs and shop owners is a way to monetize too!
One way Etsy is aiding in monetizing my own blog started after they rejected me as an affiliate partner. Yes, ouch, no one likes rejection, but I realized that as a crafting blogger, I needed to offer specialized equipment and supplies for a lot of my craft tutorials.
Things like molds, dried mini roses, and small quantities of crafting supplies (not many casual crafters want 24 extra glue-on bails after using one for a single tutorial), so I’ve started selling wholesale supplies in small quantities that coincide with my tutorials.
These sales gross more than affiliate sales would, and although a lot more work, the reward is bigger and the supplies are the exact supplies I use, meaning my readers can make something just like my photos.
Using Etsy and eBay to offer specialized supplies, work just as well as selling finished products (especially now that Etsy Studio is up and running). This is one way to both earn money without a blog or to monetize a running blog.
Baked Goods and Body Products
Make sure to comply with your state’s regulations and code of health (also think about a little insurance policy for your business), but if you’re a baking blogger or beauty blogger, selling your recipes (finished goods) in-person is a great way to earn while building your readership (make sure your blog URL is on your business cards).
My experience with selling baked goods is: choose 3-5 items and bake a lot of them (crusty white bread always sells well), muffins, cookies, zucchini bread, pumpkin bread, savory scones, brownies, fire crackers, and other snacking bits sell best. No cupcakes, no pies, no big cakes, nothing too messy. Even just partnering with a local business (like a coffee shop or insurance agency) is a good way to sell these things. Package them well and have clear sell-by dates on the packages!
Making a home-delivery service for things like homemade bread can minimize costs that would otherwise be eaten up by vender’s fees at a farmer’s market, which may be a good way to start if you’re low on capital. We trade our homemade baked goods for fresh, organically raised eggs with our neighbors. Even using a bartering system like this, affords healthier options that are much cheaper than buying them outright at a store.
Funny story, when I was a kid (maybe 11 or 12), July 4th was coming up, and my dad refused to give me any money for fireworks. Frustrated, the stubborn mule in me decided that, FINE! I’ll get my own money!
I set to work baking on July 3rd, and spent 6 hours straight making brownies, a cookie cake, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin scones, cupcakes, biscuits, and goodness knows what else. I loaded my creations in my Red Ryder wagon and with my sister and two neighborhood friends tagging along, I went door-to-door selling my wares.
I had a few people refuse, and NO ONE bought the mashed, messy cupcakes (the icing was running in the heat and bustle), but I made about $35 and got me some darn FIREWORKS!
Moral of the story is: you have to be stubborn. Channel your ambition and you’ll succeed…eventually.
With body products, packaging is everything! It doesn’t matter how great the product is, if it’s not visually appealing. I like using Bags & Bows (receive 15% Off from clicking this link). Their products are of good quality, they have lots of options, and they always have some kind of promotions going (especially for return customers).
Also, stick with mild, comforting scents and flavors: mint, lemon, orange, and lavender are all good bets for things like lip balm and lotions. Amazon is where I find all of my DIY beauty product packaging (things like macaron-shaped lip balm containers and Weck Jars are always pretty and make your products more appealing).
Try different variations using my Softest Lips Naked Lip Balm Base. This is a nourishing “base” that can take many additions like colorants, scents, and dried herbs. Really make it your own!
Beauty Product Kits
On the flip side, selling something like a DIY Solid Perfume Locket Kit will appeal to people’s sense of excitement and accomplishment. They won’t take as long to make, and the option to personalize will appeal to other crafters and do-it-yourselfers. They can customize the scents by adding their own perfumes (eliminating the dreadful let-down of beautiful packaging, yet a scent you don’t like).
A lot of people are also more comfortable making these things themselves, because if you have OCD like me, you’re always concerned about the cleanliness of the person and environment while the products are being made, and prefer to make them yourself.
Again, appealing to a sense of accomplishment and fun, kits like this beginner Needle Felting Starter Kit, teach skills, aren’t as expensive as buying a finished product, and in selling a skill, you are offering an experiential gift or activity.
Don’t have sheep? Package dried herbs for a “DIY Tea Blending” kit. No green thumb? Package some sewing supplies, a hand-drawn shape or pattern, and basic hand-stitching instructions (back-stitch, blanket stitch, etc) and and sell it as a “My First Sewing Kit” or “DIY Christmas Ornament” Kit. The possibilities are endless! Green Kid Crafts boxes can be another source of inspiration for the kinds of “kits” that sell well (they also make lovely, usable Christmas gifts that won’t take up a lot of space, which is another great way to market your own kits).
People (at least someone like me) admires other artists’ skills and sometimes want to purchase that final piece of art or product, but most of the time, I look at something, and think “I bet I could make that,” then don’t buy it. Personally, I’m more likely to buy a craft kit, trial kit, embroidery pattern, instructional book, or knitting pattern, than the finished product itself.
Clean out your attic (or your parents’) and consolidate your vintage toy sets. Disney, Barbie, Polly Pocket, Littlest Pet Shop, and other collectibles sell well on Etsy and eBay (especially with the holidays coming up). I’ve personally made over $100 selling just a few of these toys. They were competitively priced, well-photographed, and listed just around tax-return time.
Walking garage sales will also help bolster your inventory. Don’t check your phone when you come across something, just buy it (at a fair price), and list it at a competitive price when compared to other online sellers. Be generous and kind in dealings with thrift stores and garage sellers. Yes, you need to turn a profit, but don’t haggle them down when you’re already getting a good deal. Karma, and all of that. If they know you’ll buy from them, they may even give you the first dibs on new inventory!
Some of my items are listed a little above competitors’ prices, but they have more sentimental value to me than other pieces, so if they don’t sell, I won’t be sad, if they do sell, I’ll feel like they sold for their worth.
I’ve been using Ebates for a few months and have made about $40 buying things I needed to buy anyway, so like the PayPal 1% cash back debit card, it’s a (free) no-brainer to sign up. *Plus* you get $5 cash-back for anyone you recommend.
Money DOES Grow on Trees
Do you know how much money edible flowers and fresh baby greens fetch at farmers markets and upscale restaurants? A pretty penny!
Edible flowers, fresh tomatoes (I recommend small tomatoes, as their yields are better and they aren’t as bothered by bugs and nutrient problems), baby greens, and local fruit are in high demand by fancy restaurants and markets (especially near or in big metropolitan areas).
Squash blossoms (pumpkins, zucchini, patty pan, anything in the squash family) make huge, high-yielding, tasty flowers that can sell for $2-5 per flower! Borage, Nasturtium, roses, violets, lavender, pea blossoms, bean blossoms, begonias, daylilies, and pansies are all edible flowers (that taste good).
Botanical Interests is where I like ordering my seeds, if I’m not ordering directly from the grower. The seed packets are filled with growing tips and folklore about your plants, and the illustrations are beautiful enough to be used as clip art or pasting into my garden journal. The germination rate is always very good (which means the seeds sprout well) and they offer an organic line, heirlooms, and “collections” with grouped seeds (which save you money).
In my experience, growing roses, daylilies, borage, nasturtium, and squash/pumpkin blossoms are all the easiest to grow. These can be grown on an apartment balcony, a porch, or in a yard. I highly recommend growing in The Grow Box. I’ve recommended it before, and I’ll do it again!
These boxes are optimized for maximum production with the least amount of work. I’ve grown COPIOUS amounts of edible flowers in these. If funds are too low for that initial investment, turn a clean milk jug or old bucket into a planter by cutting some holes in the bottom for drainage, adding soil, and your seeds. Your yield won’t be as high as in a Grow Box (you can only do this with the non-fruiting plants like nasturtium and borage), but it will give you good experience for next time, and possibly help you make some money for investing in self-watering containers.
Keep in mind, you CANNOT use conventional pesticides on these flowers, and they MUST be grown from seed (roses can be purchased, then harvested several months later, after any initial pesticides from the store have worn off). Here is a how-to on “organic pest deterrents” I use in my garden (we eat A LOT of edible flowers)!
If you are new to gardening, or haven’t had much luck in the past with growing plants, I recommend reading this post about 3 leafy greens anyone can grow(nasturtium is one of them). Nasturtium is the one edible flower I recommend starting with. It’s easy to grow and nothing eats it (it’s very spicy, but tasty and beautiful, so no bad bugs like it).
You can also watch my muddled gardening season this year on myYouTube Channel. There is no glaze or gloss. I show you my failures, my produce, the pests Mother Nature throws at our garden, and sprinkle lots of gardening tips throughout each video.
If you have an old fig tree, berry bushes, or other fruit tree in your yard, harvest those fruits and sell what you can’t eat, or make them into baked or canned goods and sell those.
When choosing tomatoes and other varieties to grow for “fancy” places (or even your front yard), choose heirloom varieties (their flavor is more complex) or odd varieties (something they can’t get from big-box suppliers). This makes you special, and they’ll be more likely to purchase from you. You can find my recommendations for these variety seedsin this post:
If you DO have a green thumb, selling baby plants like succulents or rooted fruit tree clippings is another option to make income. It is an exceedingly common sight in my small town to see “Plants for Sale” signs in my neighbors’ yards. People propagate common landscaping plants for our region (palms, beauty berries, aloe vera, plumeria) and offer them at a much cheaper price than garden centers. These plants are also much more likely to survive too, because they’re well-adapted to live in our region.
I can’t tell you how many awesome plants I’ve bought from Amazon and Etsy sellers who propagate interesting varieties of air plants,succulents,fruit trees, tea plants, etc. These are desirable plants that can be made into planters for house plants or produce food of some kind.
Live and sell by William Morris’s quote: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
If growing edibles sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, but don’t know where to start, McGee & Stuckey’s Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Edible Flowers is the only book you need. I’ve read, probably, hundreds of gardening books and blogs, and this one has the most useful, relevant, productive information in it. One of my favorite non-fiction reads!
If you want to be a stay-at-home-mom, but are afraid you cant afford to stop working, one way you can immediately make a decent income is in-home childcare. It actually costs quite a bit to even GO to work. Wardrobe, gas, car maintenance, fast (or convenient) food, supplies for on-the-go, lunch with the girls, picking up coffee, childcare costs, data streaming on your phone away from wifi—it all adds up!
When I suddenly had to leave teaching due to pregnancy complications, I realized, I was saving several hundred dollars (sometimes a month) by staying home. Saving this money, in addition to watching other children can quickly make up the difference, or get close, to the amount you were earning at your day job. Do comparison checks in the area of daycare centers and after school programs for older children to determine a fair price.
You’ll also need to check state regulations for how many children you can watch, and update your insurance policy in case of accidental injury in your home, but many of my friends (and myself) have stayed out of the red by babysitting and nannying other children!
If you’re just getting started, but don’t know anyone with young kids, try Care.com. This is also a great place to find babysitting jobs that aren’t regular and can offer “trade” babysitting from another family or earn just a little income, instead of consistent childcare.
Last, but not least, my sister-in-law has really gotten into meal prepping for members of her roller derby team and for her coworkers. The idea is you cook something (or prepare it if it’s cold), put it into containers, and provide work-place meals for other people who don’t cook or don’t have time, but want to eat home cooked meals.
This is highlighted in the book (and Netflix series)Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, by Micheal Pollan. This is a great way for many women to earn income in India, and for blue and white collar workers to get home-cooked meals, instead of fast food.
Take your ingredients into account, then the time to cook and prepare the containers to get an idea of pricing—don’t sell yourself short!
Some good recipes for this type of meal prep would be soups, stews, rice-based dishes, casseroles, “all-in-one” type of meals. Make something that can feed an army, then box it up, label it, freeze it, however you and your clients want to do it. Just make sure to follow food safety rules!!!
Some of these ideas I’ve used to keep my family afloat until my husband was able to find a job. Some of these things I’ve done while developing my crafting and jeweling skills, and increasing capital to invest in my store’s products and designs. Some of these things I’ve done just for fun, and they turned into a business of their own. Some of these things (namely growing or baking food) have offered goods with which to barter or have saved us money at the grocery store. Money not spent is money earned in my eyes!
I hope these ideas spark some money-making-madness inside of you! No, they’re not easy, get-rich-quick ideas. These take work and creativity and forethought, but so does any honest business, so use these ideas to hold you over until your blog does well.
Who knows, you might like your budding business more! I know I’ll continue making jewelry and growing food even if I start making a million dollars one day, because those are things I LOVE to do. What do you love? How can you make money doing it? Anyone have any suggestions to add to this list? Good luck entrepreneurs!