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Four Side Jobs That Are Working Well — an article on the Smart Living Network
April 10, 2013 at 9:01 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Four Side Jobs That Are Working Well

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Even before I was a mom, it seemed as if money was always tight. Now with two children in additional to my husband and me and an abundance of animals, it seems that the dollar doesn't go quite as far. So, since we wanted to live debt free and still continue homeschooling the kids, I decided to explore side business models which would work well with schooling, caretaking, and living.

Now, in addition, to these businesses, I have also started earning a little through blogging and similar programs through paid to clicks, but I don't want to talk about those. Chances are, you already know about them. But maybe you haven't heard of one of these.

Bait Raising

            Worms, roaches, and especially crickets are very popular here year round. I contacted some of the pet shops in the surrounding area as well as the vets, bait shop, and pet owners I knew personally. What I offered them was an organic bait supply.

            My children and I gathered crickets and worms from the woods outside. We then brought them inside, put them in large clear plastic containers with dirt for the worms and mulch for the crickets, and fed them chopped up organic fruits and vegetables. You can find guides to doing this economically across the internet. I help my customers more by gutloading the insects before selling them. This technique involves feeding the insects heartier food, such as whole apple and banana slices for at least three days before selling.

            Because these insects are so nutritious for the pet owners, I am able to charge between 10 and 25 cents a bug. The kids and I have a great time working together on these. It doubles with science and biology, and it has cured my youngest of her fear of insects quite well.

Blanket Design

            This business is one of my favorites! I discovered a site called Vision Bedding thanks to my husband, which allowed me to upload photos and combine with stock photography. As I am also an artist, I have worked that into my service. What I do is offer to create a custom blanket which includes professional photographs (which I of course offer to take) as well as custom art. The art may be caricatures or abstract designs or whatever the client wants.

            My favorite part about this business is that I get to really know my customers and make their hopes and dreams come true. What's particularly fun is helping frustrated parents who want to get something special for their teenagers the perfect present. Vision Bedding handles all of the printing, so all I have to do is upload the pictures and place the order. My prices vary by the size and cost of the blanket and my client's circumstances.

            I use this business to teach the kids "hard business skills" such as listening to a client, filing, taking notes, and meeting the clients' expectations. My older kids work with me on this as it also offers a great opportunity for them to learn how to employ their natural art abilities.

Herb Cultivation

Chives, basil, sage, and the like are popular all year round. But our local farmer’s market only makes itself available during the summer months. Since so many of my neighbors would dearly love fresh herbs, I keep a windowsill garden indoors. Each of my sun filled windows has a window box on the inside filled with fresh herbs.

            With regular trimmings and cultivation (and a few of the worms from my stock), I grow fresh herbs year round. Prices go up in the winter, and I charge between 25 and 50 cents a bunch. While this one doesn't quite capture the artistic side of my life, I still love it. It makes me feel close to the earth during the winter.

            I use this business to teach the kids how to cultivate their own herbs. Chelsea wants to start growing tomatoes and zucchinis year round. We'll try that out come January after they get their stocking stuffer seed packs!

Gourmet Dinner

            Cooking is one of my passions! Gourmet cooking with organic ingredients particularly so. And ironically, it was the one side of my personality that I struggled with most. But now I've come to accept it.

            What I do here is offer to prepare an organic gourmet dinner for a family or a couple or a party. Right now, I don't handle more than ten or twelve people at a time. I charge different rates if they provide the ingredients (though I do insist on fresh ingredients!) and if I purchase them. And most of the time, I offer a special calligraphically written menu.

            Dinners vary by what I'm cooking and the time it takes to prepare. I tried to cook these out of my home at first, but I found that transporting the dishes, particularly the easily spoiled kind, was too difficult. So now, my additional requirement is that I prepare it in their kitchen. I do, of course, offer complimentary cleanup.

            Coming along on these excursions is a privilege. I believe in letting the kids learn cooking through lots of observation and practice. However, going into other people's homes is not something that they get to do unless they've earned it. So I take these opportunities to reward them for good behavior, teach them more about gourmet cooking, and the importance of civility.

            Individually, most of these side businesses don’t seem to bring in that much. But they have helped keep my family above water, adjust to the increasing prices, and continue to remain living debt free. For the most part though, the wonderful part has been that they keep growing, and who knows what might be coming around in the following months!

            Additionally, they work well with homeschooling. The hours are flexible, and the kids love learning in a hands on way. The girls are trying to talk me into raising bunnies to sell to the local pet shop as well. There are many different opportunities out there. The important thing is to find something that works in your schedule, budget, and family lifestyle. All manner of businesses can work well for home education. Just take advantage of every opportunity to teach your kids all that you can.

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1 Comment

  • Wow! Emily, I must say, I really admire your drive and ingenuity! Unfortunately, a lot of people that try to work from home, pursue businesses they cannot really be competitive in. I have several friends for instance, that tried to go the etsy route making their amazing crafts, only to find the effort and money they put into their crafts, priced them far above the bargain prices (often, mass production companies in disguise) of similar products.

    I think the most difficult thing is finding something you can do well AND for significantly less money/time than you would be able to sell the end product for. All your business endeavors seem quite sound, and yes, I think they provide an excellent example for children!

    Please continue to keep us updated. I love your blogs! :)

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