Making money with niche sites

seo googs

There’s a way of making money online that has caught my eye lately and that’s niche sites.

What is a niche site?

Basically, you make a website based on a product that people like to search for online. You write lots of reviews and comparison charts and basically have a site packed full of information about that product which can help other people make up their mind about which one to buy.

You then have lots of links on the site to those products on Amazon. People come to your site, read your reviews, click on a link to Amazon, buy the product and voila! You make a commission from Amazon.

How hard is it to build a niche site?

It is not hard. Anyone with a bit of WordPress knowledge could knock one up quickly particularly if they build it about a product they already know a lot about. The idea is to put a stack of information up in the beginning and then there is not much need to keep working on the site ongoing. Basically it is work upfront and then once it is all worked out, lovely passive income should keep coming in month after month, year after year.

So what’s the drawback?

The hard part is getting people to the site that are your target audience. That is, people who want to buy your product and will click on your Amazon links and make a purchase.

The most popular way to get this audience is to use SEO to gain readers from Google search. This is what I plan to do on a niche site I am going to build.

This is not that straight forward and it requires a good grasp of SEO. I am enjoying learning more about it.

The first thing I have to do is find a good product that lots of people search for and for which there isn’t a lot of sites already. I then have to look for lots of keywords which are the words people type in to Google when they are looking to learn more about the product in question. Then I have to write articles that use these keywords.

After this, I need to encourage other people to link to my niche site. Links from other sites on the internet are like a vote to that website and it helps them rank better in Google. This step will be the hardest. Thankfully, I have a good online network of people with websites so I am hoping they will help me out.

Next Steps

I love the idea of passive income from a niche site so I am going to give building one a go. My next step is to work out which product will be most profitable and then I will get researching and writing!

2015 in review

our new dog

It’s been a busy year for me – too busy really as I didn’t meet one of my New Years resolutions – growing this site!

I have been busy with my current online work and raising my three kids. It’s been a big year. 2016 will hopefully be a good year for this site though!

My second child started school this year which helped free up a lot of time. She was not happy at the beginning but, thankfully, she was happy after about a month.

It’s been nice to have special time with my youngest at home all alone, although sometimes I can find this makes things tougher as he needs a lot more attention from me with no one else to play with.

A big thing for us this year was a summer trip to Europe. We took all three kids and had a fabulous fortnight travelling around Italy. We visited Rome, Florence, Venice and Verona and I was surprised by just how much we all enjoyed it, including the kids. We are now looking forward to next summer to do it again – only we will go to France this time.

We bought a puppy after our trip. She is a lot of work – it’s like having another baby, but she has been a great addition to our family. The kids just love her and I even have them on a schedule of feeding her and helping to walk her. The novelty hasn’t died off yet and I am crossing my fingers that it doesn’t anytime soon.

In less happy news, my mom has been quite sick. She has been in and out of hospital with some problems. Things are looking up now and I am really hoping 2016 will be a better year for her.

All in all, however, 2015 was a good year and we are looking forward to all the crazy challenges to come in 2016!




Working as a blogger

blogging online

As I have said before, there are many different ways to earn money online. One way that particularly interests me is as a blogger.

What is a blogger?

A blogger is basically someone who writes a blog – like me with this blog. Of course, it is not so simple as just writing – there is so much more to it.

Successful bloggers generally only spend a small amount of their time writing.  They also need to market their content and deal with potential advertisers.

Most bloggers have social media accounts that they need to keep active. They might worry about SEO (search engine optimization) and networking with other bloggers doing things like guest posts to try to increase their audience.

It takes a lot of work to have a successful blog.

How do bloggers make money?

Bloggers make money in many different ways. Some make money from advertising and affiliates (basically linking to products on sites like Amazon and then taking a percentage of anything the reader buys). Others from writing reviews and promoting companies.

Others use their blog to advertise their services. For example, if you are a writer, a blog can be a great way to sell what you do to potential clients.

Why be a blogger?

I have wanted to be a blogger for a long time. I love the idea of sharing what I know to help others. Although, it takes a lot of time and at the beginning, at least, there is no financial reward.

I believe the key to success to being able to work full time online is having multiple income streams so that if something goes wrong with one, you still have money coming in from elsewhere. I would love blogging to be an extra stream for me, but I am struggling to find the time to make it work. Hopefully, I will get there some day.

Tech support scams


Scams target everyone, including people working from home (perhaps like yourself). We’ve discussed scams before, and how to avoid them. However, there’s an increasing amount of reports about a newer type of scam that targets people who are less technologically savvy. Having been targeted by a scammer trying to implement this type of scam I thought I’d spread the word.

What it’s about

Like most scams, they are after your money. The scammers will ring you up and claim to be from a support center – typically claiming to be from Microsoft’s support team. They will say there is a problem with your computer, a virus of some sort, that they have detected. Their aim is to get you to pay for “tech support” or get access to your computer, or both.

How it works. has a great article giving the rundown on the scam, but I’ll give you a brief outline of how it played out for me.

It was early in the evening when I received a call from “Steve” claiming to work for Microsoft. He said that my copy of Windows operating system was telling Microsoft that my computer had several problems including viruses.

Steve then asked me to open the Event Log program. Not knowing where that was, he gave me directions to how to find this program in the Administration Tools. There was a series of messages there but nothing seemed serious or concerning. I told Steve that and at this point he became pushy and asked me to visit a website he said proved I had a virus.

I ended the call at that point.

If I had continued, the next step is ot be asked to download a program that will let the scammer connect to your computer, where they will claim to inspect your computer, and usually find more things wrong with it.

At this point they will ask for money – $100 or more – as a fee to “repair” your computer. Usually they will open a web page when you can enter your credit card details.

If you agree they will make it look like they are trying to fix your machine. If you refuse they will often threaten you with damage to your machine, such as deleting all your files. Either way they may install programs that will let them track what you do and try and steal information – such as bank account or email logins – from you.

Never give them access to your machine. The call itself is harmless.

Watch it happen

If you’re really keen to see what happens, the man in this video, Carey Holzman, records a call from a scammer like this, and gives the scammer access to a spare computer, taping what happens. It’s a long video (at more than an hour) but it is very interesting:

What to do if it happens to you

The easiest thing to do is hang up and ignore such calls. Legitimate companies will not contact you this way. If you want to see if the call is real or a scam then say you’ll ring back on a publicly listed number (like on a website) and ask for a name.

Never give access to your computer, and never provide any credit card details over the phone.

But what do you do if you’ve already dealt with a scammer? If you have given someone your credit card  then either cancel the card or try to reverse any charges (or both). And if you did allow a scammer access to your computer then get it looked at as soon as possible. It might cost money but it’s better than someone having long term access to your machine.

The right stuff: equipment you need

What equipment are you using?

Whatever job you are doing, having the right tools make doing the job a lot easier. And working from home doesn’t change that fact. While money is tight when you start, and no one is paying your work related expenses any more, there is no excuse in not being properly set up for your new independent work  So make sure you have the right equipment for the work you are planning to do.

Computing Equipment

Most work from home will involve using a computer. Freelance work, like the type found on oDesk, will definitely need some form of computer.

While computers can cost a lot of money, there are decent cheaper options that will fill most people’s needs. The type of computer you need will depend on what type of work you are doing.

For most people I recommend buying a laptop or notebook computer. There is really very little that a laptop can’t do when compared to a traditional desktop computer. If you’re doing some heavy duty video editing or something where you need more than two monitors (like a day trader, for example) then you might need the additional graphical power of a desktop, which supports discrete graphics cards.

If you’re one of these people then you probably have a good idea about what you need, and how much it costs.

If you’re not someone with a specialist need yet still prefer the idea of a desktop over a laptop then you should look at spending $500 to $1000 to buy a desktop PC that comes with all the accessories you need. This will usually be a mouse, keyboard and monitor. Desktop computers are usually quite small these days (unless, again, you have high-end needs) and come with built in speakers.

As to where the best deals are, shopping online is hard to beat. In the past I have found Newegg to have good prices on computers (and extra things you might need.

Monitors: how much do you need

Desktops obviously need monitors, and generally come with them. However it can generally be a good idea to get larger monitors if possible, or have more than one monitor, to allow you to see and do more at once. This eliminates the need to constantly swap between windows using Alt+Tab, saving you time and making you more productive. When buying a computer (especially in store) see if they’ll upgrade your monitor – even if it costs you more it is money well spent.

A 27 inch monitor or two smaller monitors (like two 22 inch) will allow you to have more programs visible at once, or have things at a more comfortable resolution (like me) or both. I like two monitors: on one I have my email and maybe an IM program open for communication, and on the other I usually have a browser for internet tasks and Word or Excel windows.

Even if you have a laptop, you can still attach at least one monitor (sometimes two) to allow you to have multi-monitor capacity when you’re home at your desk.


I recommend a laptop for most people for one reason: flexibility. You’re not tied to your desk, which is great for location independence. Travel a lot? You can take it with you. Want to work outside? Or on the beach? You can. And you don’t give up much in the process.

In terms of what to buy, like always it depends on your needs. While cheap netbooks and “Chromebooks” can be had for $300 or so these tend to be small, and are suitable for online tasks but nit much more.

For most people laptops that are 15 inch in size are the best option. These tend to be “entry level” machines that are still capable for a wide range of tasks. Such laptops from companies like HP or Dell start from $500.

For people who are on the move more often, or need more power, than not you might want to look at smaller laptops, like those that are around 13 inches. Many of these fall under the “ultrabook” tag, and tend to have more processing power and/or more battery life in a smaller size. Dell sell such laptops, but it is a competitive area, and companies like Toshiba and Apple, with their MacBook Air, tend to make good machines in this category as well. They do cost more, usually starting at $1000.

If you like the comfort of sitting down at a desk you can easy use your laptop there. Laptops usually have all the necessary ports to plug in monitors, USB mice and keyboards and whatever else you need. Smaller laptops will have fewer port, though.


Finally, you’ll need to be connected, both at home at remotely.

For the home you’ll need a DSL or cable modem to connect to the internet. If you have a laptop or multiple devices (like iPads or cell phones) you might consider a wifi router as well, allowing all of the devices in your home to share the one connection. There are plenty of devices where the modem and the router are combined.

When you’re out and about you need your cell phone. Smart phones that can help you communicate and connect online are not cheap. If you can’t afford to pay for your phone up front then consider taking out a contract. It doesn’t matter if it is an iPhone or an Andriod, but look for ones that will connect to the newer and faster network types.

The best cell phone company differs based on the coverage in your local area, so look not only based on price but connectivity and coverage.


How to work and parent on the move


One of the big advantages of being a work at home mom is being able to work on the move. There is no reason you have to live in the same place and can’t travel thanks to the location independence of working online.

Traveling plus working isn’t easy

As awesome as it may sound to be able to travel whenever you want, traveling plus working and parenting is not easy. It is quite tiring and takes a bit of forethought as to how to manage it all. To make it work, here are some tips:

1. Ensure there are plenty of rest days

If you need to work while traveling with kids, it’s important that you do not travel at a fast past. There needs to be plenty of “rest” days, not that these will be restful for you! If you are traveling every day, there will not be time to complete your work. I find that working in the evening when traveling, like I do at home, just does not work as well, as I am so tired by all the extra things we do on vacation. For this reason, I recommend spending a week at a time at a place, so there is no reason to rush around and plenty of opportunities to finish work.

2. Take the right equipment

When traveling with kids it is always important to take the right equipment, although this becomes even more important on a working vacation. It is essential you not only take all the work equipment that you need, but equipment for the kids as well.

For the kids, I ensure they have plenty of things to do.  This includes some prized toys, stationary, crayons and baby equipment. I especially recommend taking a good travel crib (you can read some reviews here)

3. Ensure there will be fast internet at your location

There is nothing worse when relying on internet for work than when there is no internet or it is very slow! I always ring ahead to accommodation providers and ask them about the availability, cost and speed of their internet. I also check out reviews on TripAdvisor to see what others say about the internet as often the accommodation provider is not truthful or just do not realise how bad their connection is for people who need to work online. Do not leave this to chance.

There is no reason why you can’t have a successful family vacation while working online as long as you take it slow, have great internet and take the right equipment. Hopefully, these tips will help you.

Taking your profession home

take your profession home

One of the best ways to get started working from home is to take whatever it is you currently do for a job and simply to transfer to doing it at home. Of course, this will not always be possible, but many professions can be completed at home with a bit of thought and planning.

Could you do your job from home?

Most jobs can be completed at least partly from home. Some questions to ask yourself about whether your job could transfer to home:

  1. How often do you have to meet with clients face to face? Could this be done over the phone or via email instead?
  2. Could your work be completed fully online or could you utilize couriers and the mail so that you don’t need to be in the office?
  3. Would your existing company allow you to work from home or will you need to find a new job or your own clients?

It can be easy to write off your job as only being able to be completed in a work place unless you actually analyze why you believe this. Often there are many ways to get around having to be in the work place, like using Skype to communicate. If there really is no way to avoid all human contact (and perhaps you don’t want to), maybe it would be possible to have all your meetings in one day, so that you only need to go into work one day a week.

Jobs you can do from home

Some professions particularly lend themselves to being able to be completed at home. This includes ones such as programming, design work, accountancy and bookkeeping. It is also very possible to be a work from home lawyer, marketer or PR representative.

You can also get more creative. Perhaps you work in retail now. Why not open a home store and start selling on eBay or Amazon? There are so many ways to get started and so many jobs you can do from home.

The other option is to start freelancing. You can read my article all about that. The main thing is to get creative and just give it a go. You never know what might happen!



Why a work at home mom with a business should hire a virtual assistant


A virtual assistant is the newest and most convenient way of getting help with your business without worrying about all of the problems that usually come with taking on new staff. Often, virtual assistants are professionals experienced in this type of work or freelancers who are looking for a project to work on that can benefit both themselves and their employer.

If you’re a busy work from home mom with an equally busy family life, then not only hiring some help at home, but hiring a VA or virtual assistant is right for you. Sometimes you need to pour all of your effort into organically developing your business, or you might need some help because of family commitments. Either way, a virtual assistant can help you cut through your work load and let you focus on what’s important to you.

Why hire a personal assistant?

A personal assistant is something to think about when your business grows to a point where you’re starting to turn a profit, but your workload is threatening to swallow you. Otherwise, they can be a great edition to a new business and can help you deal with the day-to-day running whilst allowing you to focus on larger goals.

While at the moment you might spend valuable time and energy on mundane things like checking emails or putting appointments into your diary, a virtual assistant can take on everything a normal assistant would. They can cut through the red tape and free you up.

Virtual assistants, like you, work from home and manage their own career; they can help lend perspective to your job and free up more time for you to spend with your family. And the biggest advantage? They are location independent!

You don’t need to worry about giving them desk space or setting up a time shift system for them to work in. They work from home just like assistants in an office, but don’t provide so much of headache. The only downside is they can’t get you coffee, but if you’re working from home, your coffee machine is just in the other room.

How do I hire a virtual assistant?

Nowadays the ways to hire a personal assistant are varied and come with many different parameters. Regardless of what way you choose, the most important first step is to write a job description outlining exactly what you want your virtual assistant to do and how you want them to do it. This is universal for every different way of hiring a VA.

You might consider using a freelance site like oDesk or, as these are often populated with a great number of highly skilled freelancers. This way, possible candidates ‘bid’ for the job and try to showcase exactly what they can do for you. Whilst these sites take a small percentage for the service, it is more than worth it. All pay is easily facilitated and there are often measures in place to enable easy collaboration and communication.

The other popular and effective method is to post a job listing on an online site such as Craigslist. However hiring a VA in this way often involves more work, and considering you want a virtual assistant to decrease your workload to spend more time with your family, the first option might be more appropriate for your needs.

Whichever you choose, you can be assured of more free time and a more enjoyable business with a virtual assistant, as well as having help to develop your business and increase your output. With a VA in place you can start to concentrate on the important things in addition to organically developing your business and growing your client base.

Why the location independence of working from home is perfect for moms

working on a beach

Working from home can be hugely rewarding as a career option from the get-go, but deciding to work from home when you’re a Mom is one of the best decisions you could make.

It’s important to firstly mention the overall advantage of working for yourself: you can do what you love. Imagine being able to do exactly what you want to do; something you love, something you’re good at, something that gives you joy. Imagine turning your hobby into a viable business doing something like becoming a freelancer.

They say that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. Working from home and starting your own business means you’re the boss and you decide what projects you complete

Location independence

On to the subject of location independence, this is the most obvious draw for anyone to start their own business or start working from home, especially moms who have to juggle work and family. Why not combine them into one easy role?

You can literally work wherever you want. You can manage your emails and clients while you’re waiting to carpool your kids from school, go out and have lunch time meetings with clients where you choose, complete that important report while grabbing coffee. With the power of the internet and mobile phones you can manage your entire business from the couch – with your feet up and a glass of wine.  You can even work from the beaches of Thailand as a digital nomad or wherever else takes your fancy.

Do other moms work like this?

In my job I’ve dealt with a lot of freelancers, as well as business owners who work from home. A larger majority than you might think are stay at homes moms who have decided to start working. Often they’re highly skilled and don’t want leave the work force of stop doing a job they love because of a family.

If you have something that your passionate about, or something that you’re naturally good at such as graphic design or copywriting, but want to spend quality time with your kids, then a working from home role is perfect for you.

What sort of things can I work as?

One of the top location independent jobs I find moms doing is as an online virtual assistant. The concept of the role is simple and may be something you’re familiar with or even something you worked at before you left work. Just like a normal assistant, the role is to answer emails, organize files and make appointments – the best thing? You can work from where ever you want.

The advantage of virtual assistants for employers is mainly that of location; it often cost extra to give an assistant a workstation at an office; your employer might even also work from home and so can’t legitimately hire an in-house secretary. For you, this means booking a plane ticket for someone while you’re making dinner, and then adding the details to someone’s calendar while you sit down in the evening.

The location independence of a stay at home job isn’t the only attraction – often working from home will yield the same wage for similar work within a company. It may even be slightly more because you charge for the service, but there are no overheads. You get what you deserve.  There can also be tax advantages.

In this day and age, working from home as a mom can not only be a viable career path, but it can also be a hugely rewarding role. The independence you have, both in what you work on as well as where you work means that you have such a larger majority of free time to spend with your family. You can work for yourself and get paid for what you do in addition to still being there at all times for your loved ones.

If you’re looking for a career change or looking at getting back to work, then working from home is for you.

Read my article about working and parenting on the move here.

Why working as a freelancer on oDesk could be your next career move

work at home dad

Freelancing is a job that most people know little about. The world of a freelancer can seem mysterious to outsiders as well as ever changing and insecure. Freelancers are usually highly skilled individuals who have decided to take their career into their own hands.  This can be a fabulous option for work at home moms.

What Is a Freelancer?

A freelancer is someone who performs multiple tasks, or ‘projects’ for a variety of different employers over the course of a fiscal year. They work for themselves and sell their particular skills to clients who need projects completed. Often the freelancer is given the free reign of a contract and allowed creative license and freedom to complete the task whichever way they choose.

Freelancers that work for longer periods are sometimes referred to as ‘permalancers’ and often fall into the position through employment of a single contract from which a business relationship grows between freelance and client. This might sometimes benefit both parties; the employer because they like the original work and the freelance because the market can sometimes be very unpredictable.

Freelancers were originally named so because in medieval times, knights without allegiance would roam the country looking for work. These were referred to as ‘free’ lances because of the weaponry they carried. They are not called this because they work for free, or for very little money; many freelancers who have found a niche and a client base can make a very adequate salary.

Why Become a Freelancer?

Freelancing is the first and easiest step to working for yourself. There is more creative freedom than most jobs and once you’re established you can pick and choose which projects you complete. In this way, you can often work on something you’re really passionate about and really enjoy, as well as having a varied roster of potential jobs.

As a freelancer, you can expect no two days to be the same. If you’re good at content writing you might be drawing up press releases for a mid-range furniture company on Monday and contributing to a blog on flower arranging on Tuesday.  You can also choose which days and when you want to work, so you can wait until the kids are in bed, or work harder on the weekend, when dad can take care of the kids.

There is also a great satisfaction knowing that you will be doing work and helping many different people out. If you work more high profile projects or are allowed to publish work under your own name, you can start to build a portfolio off of which you can launch bids for bigger, more ambitious projects for bigger clients.

Why Use oDesk and How Does It Work?

Of course, there are many different freelancing websites out there that facilitate the great work that many freelancers do and many clients benefit from. oDesk is different because of how dynamic it is. As a new freelancer, you can easily bid on projects and start your career.

That is, indeed, how freelancing on oDesk works, as it does on many other sites. An employer will post a job advert. Within this advert an employer can write a job description, ask applicants to answer certain questions, set certain restrictions (e.g. only looking for workers in North America) and specify the type of job, be it hourly or fixed price:

An hourly job is one where you, as a freelancer, get paid for every hour you work on a particular project. oDesk have a handy little program that you can use to track your work and bill your clients for exactly how much time you spent.

A fixed price contract is one where an amount is agreed upon by both employer and is paid when the project is completed and submitted.

What makes oDesk so much better than its competitors is how much of a complete service it is. As a freelancer you can guarantee your privacy as well as benefit from an easy to understand and use interface which allows you to keep track of projects and interact with clients.

Literally anyone can start freelancing on oDesk. If you have a particular skill, or are looking to develop meaningful experiences then freelancing is for you, and there is no better place to start than somewhere that can nurture your career and also provide high stakes contracts when you become establish.  It is a perfect job for a work at home mom and can even give you the option of location independence. Just make sure you avoid any online scams!