How I Started Making Money Online

So, I’ve followed the realm of “online” work for quite some time now. I just could never find anything to invest in, the right schedule, or the timing to make working from home a possibility. That sounds silly, I know. How could you not make time to work from home? Well, when you’re trying to provide for a family, while going to school, options seem limited. Now that I’ve graduated, and right before our big move, I knew it was a do or die moment for me.

I was either going to work toward the dream I really wanted or I wasn’t. As simple (and complicated) as that. And every tutorial on how to make money online and/or from home will tell you — it takes some hustlin’ on your part.

So, at the beginning of May…I really started hustlin. But what did hustlin’ even look like?

  • I revamped my LinkedIn profile — updating it with info that I thought would help for the jobs I really wanted. Before, I rarely even touched my LinkedIn profile except to add a new job or update my school information. I never shared it with prospective employers/clients unless they specifically requested it because I knew it was neglected. Now, I’m in a few groups, I check out job leads through the search, and can easily share the link with any new clients. It doesn’t take much to get it up and running, and once you do, it’s super easy to upkeep!

    How I Started Making Money Online

  • I found VA/Blogging Facebook Groups and started engaging — I’m an introvert. Even in the interwebs, it’s hard for me to be social. I’m that blog lurker that loves my fav bloggers, but rarely adds a comment. And don’t even get me started on self-promotion. I strive for authenticity, so it’s hard to find a way to promote my work without feeling like a spammy salesman. So, VA/Blogging FB groups are a goldmine for introverts (and extroverts!) because they’re communities that are trying to support each other, share their work, and engage in discussion over anything and everything. **A little side note about these groups: Make sure you know the groups rules. Some groups have a specific thread to share your work, others don’t allow self-promotion, only questions and such. I found my first VA job through a FB group, so they are definitely valuable in my book.
  • I worked (and continue to work) on my design — Design is a HUGE deal in the realm of online entrepreneurship and blogging. There are way too many blogs out there that function well and look great, so your blog design game needs to be strong. And if it’s not strong — you need to research how to make it better or hire someone. This is an active work in progress (literally, I’m searching for tutorials on blog design) for me. My blog still isn’t quite where I want it to be as far as look and functionality, but I continue to work on it. There is a huge, wide array of tutorials across Pinterest and YouTube that you can utilize! Financially, I just can’t swing having somebody else do my design for me right now, and yes, that means more leg work for me. But I also love searching for tutorials and figuring stuff out for myself. So, it’s not bad if you like the work, right?

Working from home has been a goal of mine for several years, and now it’s finally becoming a reality. Soon, I’ll start sharing my income reports so we can watch the growth together!

If you work from home, how did you get started?

How to Repair Your Academic Mistakes

How to Repair Academic Mistakes - Cue to Cue MamaI just graduated with my BA in English (don’t even ask me what I’m going to use it for…) And it’s exactly 13 years after I graduated high school. Needless to say, my road to my degree was one marked with a lot of missteps, wrong turns, u-turns, and chaos.

In high school, I was often the student that was, “bright and engaged in class, but never does her homework.” Or “extremely bright, but doesn’t apply herself.” I heard some form of those two comments my entire high school career. And I knew that I wasn’t reaching my potential, but honestly, that’s never meant much to me. I value knowledge and education. So much, honestly. If I could be a lifelong student, I would be. Not for any other reason, but I love to learn. I am inspired when I’m engaged in learning. And I am a research nut. I have a question — I can guarantee you I will find an answer or resources to help me reach the answer. That being said, the idea of some sort of potential others saw in me, never really had an impact on me. It’s nice to feel like people believe in you, but I was always more interested in pursuing things that mattered to me — homework was often not that.

Out of high school, I went straight to college. I loved the new found freedom. I felt inspired by the new friendships I was creating. And most of all, I was enthralled in learning. I loved every moment of it. However, for the classes I didn’t like (College Algebra…) I just wouldn’t go. This was partly born out of anxiety and frustration–math has always been a struggle for me, the large lecture environment for math was not conducive to learning (at least not for me), and I can always find something that’s more important than going to classes I don’t like.  After that first school year – I failed out, moved back home, and started taking gen ed requirements at a local community college.

Then I got married.

Then I joined the military.

Then I got pregnant.

Then I got out of the military.

Then I got divorced

Then I had Z.

And started taking classes again. After a ton of life experience, I was determined to finish my degree. First, I tried an online program (one that really failed for me — non-engaging, not a very helpful admissions or financial aid department), then I went back to the community college (which was fantastic, led me to E, and plenty more), then tried a Graphic Design program online – another for-profit school that wasn’t very helpful or strong academically. I felt like I was paying a ton of money for an education I could teach myself. Then I applied for a school that I was over the moon about. I was packed, ready to move Z and I, only to find out 2 days before the move, the school hadn’t received one of my transcripts. And once they did, my GPA did not meet their minimum requirements.

I was absolutely devastated. This was the first program I couldn’t do something to get myself in. So, I went back to community college again…obviously over my credit hour limit, got my associates, then finally decided to go to a local university to finish my BA in English. I could go into a lot more detail about the journey it took to get me here, but I won’t bore you with the details.

So, how did I finally do it?

  • Write a ton of letters
    I wrote a ton of letters to admissions departments, financial aid departments, and even academic departments. I think the thing that saved me was just being honest. I was honest about how my time management skills were lacking, how I probably wasn’t ready for college at certain points in my life, how I had extenuating circumstances such as a divorce (and before that a marriage filled with turmoil), joining the military, losing a pregnancy 20 weeks in (and mourning for a long time after), and then having a child of my own. Even though some of the programs I attempted weren’t very inspiring, it was still no reason to do poorly in the classes. And I owned that. You will have so much more success if you own your experience — good and bad. After revealing your mistakes (and don’t feel like you have to go into great detail — you don’t…and probably shouldn’t), talk about goals you have, how you plan to repair your past mistakes, what’s inspired you to kick it into gear, and in particular what your end goal is and when you want to have it completed by. They want to know that you have a clear vision.
  • Identify your weak spots
    My weaknesses: time management, afternoon/evening classes, and focus. It is so important to identify your weaknesses, not to beat yourself up about them, but to give you some clarity on what you need to do to reach success. If you’re a person that tends to dwell (hello!) and harp on yourself, write down a strength for every weakness you have. And if you can’t do that. Take a break and come back to it the following day. Self-reflection and actualization does not have to lead to a depressing outlook. If anything, it should empower you because now you are aware and can plan accordingly. I figured out (after a few attempts -ahem-) that late afternoon/evening classes were just not my cup of tea. I’m a morning person, so I start to hit a wall around 3pm, and it’s incredibly hard for me to focus on anything time consuming or thought-intensive. So, if I was able, I tried to enroll in classes before 3pm or online. If I absolutely had  to take a late afternoon/evening class, I tried to schedule it for days that I didn’t have as much going on, so I wouldn’t feel so drained. Plus, one of my favorite classes was an evening class, so be flexible.
  • Make sure your lifestyle is ready.
    I’m a firm believer that sometimes you just have to take a leap and figure things out on the way down. But you really need to have your life on board for school. If you have kids, a job, or other responsibilities, research and find out all your options. Talk to your employer, they may even pay for part of your schooling, or they might tell you that it just won’t work with their business. I had to leave a job that I really liked because the hours they needed me for just couldn’t work with my school schedule. You have to make those choices and sacrifices and weigh whether or not they’re worth it.
  • Be fair to yourself.
    I am the queen of biting off more than I can chew. I’m a dreamer and can often be overly-ambitious. This is a reason I’m kind of glad that I hunkered down with school a little later. I knew that I sometimes get myself into situations where I agree to much more than I can actually handle. I finally had to be realistic. Taking 18 credit hours, balancing life with a fiancee and 6 year old, and a job, it led to total and complete burnout. And the semester after, I struggled to even read a page or write a sentence. I’m an introvert, so a constantly spinning schedule and interacting with tons of people on a daily basis is extremely draining for me. Know your limits and honor them. The more you do that, the more successful and sustainable you will be!

If you’ve really screwed academically or changed your mind on majors a billion times, it’s okay. There are plenty of us who have done the same. But you can bounce back! If you’ve ever made a misstep academically, what did you do to repair it?

My Blog Diagnosis: 3 Reasons Why I Haven’t Gained More Followers…

As my school year wraps up, and I anxiously await my graduation, I now have an opportunity to sit down with my blog(s) and get serious about improving them. I’ll be honest, this last semester, I struggled immensely with focus. After being the busiest I’ve ever been last semester, I found myself completely burnt out. It was a struggle making it through my final few classes (and I even had to drop a few, taking them in the summer to lessen my load) , and so all motivation was thrown out the window.

Now that I’ve (for the most part) closed the degree chapter of my life (yeah, grad school’s gonna wait for a bit…) I’m so excited about my adventure in blogging, virtual assisting, and Etsy selling. In the past few weeks, I’ve been focused on the mantra, “Find the joy.” Because that’s the core ingredient to what I want in life — to find joy in every season, joy in the ups and downs, failures and successes. To live a life with gratitude is my ultimate goal.

When I read the crazy amount of blogging how-tos and income reports from successful bloggers, I’m completely overwhelmed. When people mention have 100,000 pageviews, that seems like such a far-fetched number for me. I barely have 50/month.

So, what has been holding me back?

My Blog Diagnosis: 3 Reasons I Haven't Gained More Followers

Consistency of posts

I’ve had a post every month of two. That’s certainly not consistent enough to gain any sort of dedicated readership. I don’t even need to read another “How to blog” post to come to that conclusion. 😉 Remedy: Since, I’m still in a transition time with school, Z’s school, starting some VA gigs..etc, I’m going to make it a goal to have 3 posts/week with C2CM. My other blog is going to take the backseat for a bit.

Trying to Do Too Much at Once

There’s a reason I reached threat level: burn out. I wrote earlier this year about my addiction to busy. And what I found the last 4-5 months was the fallout of that addiction. I went from a go-go-go rhythm to a I can barely convince myself to do the laundry attitude. I would sit in front of my computer to blog or do homework or even write a simple email and I would simply stare at the screen for minutes on end. Remedy: I’m learning the art of hustling, but I have to remember to stick with my mantra (and a huge inspiration for this blog): Take it one step at a time. So, instead of stressing myself out by trying to attempt every idea/thought that pops into my head, I have a continuous list going on in Evernote of my random ramblings, thoughts, ideas, goals…etc. Once I get a second, I’ll find the ones that really speak to me in that moment and start writing out more detailed goals. I’m also creating my goals with a sense of sustainability, based on my own rhythm and temperament.

Take Myself Seriously

As popular as blogging is, it’s hard for people to take it seriously. So, they ask you what you do and you say, “I’m a virtual assistant, but I’m also trying to grow my Etsy shop and blog.” It’s easy for that awkward tension to permeate the conversation as you feel them questioning and slightly judging your response. I’ve always been one that attempts to explain myself way too much, and so it’s been a daily reminder for me to take myself seriously. As crazy and unpredictable as that life might sound to some, it’s one that I very much believe in and fighting to own. Remedy: Stay clear on my goals. Reminding me of why I want this life, what writing does for me, how I want this blog to grow, and be excited for my successes when they come around.

Blogging is something I’ve been working on for years now. Mostly as a hobby, but now I can really see potential in investing in it. What are some stumbling blocks you’ve had to fight against in pursuing blogging or one of your passions?

#21

Dear Zoey,

It’s been a good while since I wrote one of these, but today has given me the perfect opportunity.

Today’s May the 4th. Also know as Star Wars Day. #maythe4thbewithyou

You found out about this wonderfully nerdy holiday last week when your school announced that May 4th would be Star Wars Day, and that anyone who wanted could dress up to celebrate.

Us being the nerdy family we are, of course, jumped at the chance. You said, “I want to do my hair like Rey!” Because Rey has been your hero ever since you saw the latest Star Wars installment. Of course, I agreed in full support and that was that.

This morning, however, you woke up and said, “I don’t think I want to do my hair like Rey anymore.” I asked why and you broke into tears, “I don’t want –insert little girl that has given us trouble from day one name’s here– to laugh at me. And she told me yesterday that I shouldn’t do anything for Star Wars Day.” Of course, I go into mama bear mode, and immediately want to rip this little girl apart (and did I mention this is not our first issue with said girl?!) But instead, I asked you, “Why does it matter what she thinks? Do you want to do your hair like this?” And after 15 minutes of going back and forth about it. I finally said, “You know what? Her opinion does not matter.” Then, you got sad because you thought I was being mean. And here was my response…

It is not mean to call it like it is. It is not mean to be aware of people and their actions. And then I asked you, “why do you like Rey?”

And you said, “Because she’s awesome and saves BB8 and is brave.”

You’re right, she’s brave. She saves numerous beings, she kicks ass, she takes names, and yet she is still kind and good. Her circumstances are life and death, and I’m sure the idea of kids laughing at you for being authentically you feels like life and death. But being brave means battling those things that scare us and challenge us. Sure, this all started over a silly hairstyle, but standing up for what you want, and being authentically you will be a battle you face your entire life.

And that’s why I will always encourage your nerdy interests, because they’re mine too, but also because the Reys, Leias, Hermiones, and Wonder Women (to name a few) of the world should be noticed and valued. You are Rey. You are Leia. You are Hermione. You are Wonder Woman. You are Zoey.

You ultimately decided to wear your hair like Rey. And you questioned that decision the entire way to school…”What if I’m the only girl?” , “What if they laugh at me?” , “What if they don’t get it?” When we arrived to school, you opened the door, got out and were greeted by at least 3 other girls who were dressed up as Rey or Leia.

Continue fighting to be brave. You’ll be doing it your entire life.

Love you,
Mama