A Tale of 2 WAHMs

Ramblings of 2 WAHMs - Anita DeFrank and Kara Kelso. Partners in business discuss how we manage successful websites and young children at home.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Online Classes & Stress Don't Mix

Between trying to reach goals, the kids, and school, my "me time" is really lacking. Right now I'm not feeling so good, and I'm guessing it's a reaction to stress. Yesterday and today were just not good. :(

Whoever said online classes were easy? Oh sure I don't have to drive to the campus (a HUGE plus, concidering I don't have a car at the moment - more on that later), but it's not so easy when the teacher feels the book is "good enough". We get an occational email about an upcoming assignment, but for the most part, we're on our own. Which wouldn't be so bad, but have you tried to read (and understand, mind you) a college text book? Holy crap, ENGLISH PLEASE! See now THIS is why I love copywriting so much - one of the first rules is to write for an 8th grader. Meaning if a Jr. High kid can understand it, so can the entire adult population. Or rather, read it quickly instead of having to think.

On the plus side, I do have one teacher (Statistics) who is taking full advantage of technology. Our lessons are given to us via video - where we see what he's doing on his computer, and hear him taking us through the steps. This has been a HUGE help. I was fine just reading the book up until Chapter 3, then forget it. I got so confused, but watching the video made it all click. Well, that and his theory was pretty much "forget doing the confusing math by hand, that's what Excel is for! Here's the code....". WOO! Love them shortcuts! Don't get me wrong, this wasn't your average math - this was standard devision and variances. "What the heck is THAT?" Yeah that's what I thought at the first look too.

So even though the other two classes are teacher-less, I haven't been doing so bad. COBOL isn't a hard language to learn, and I'm holding an "A" in the class right now (90-some percent). Yea me! Hold off on that celebration until after I turn in my first program though, which is due next week. Things could get messy when I stop just answering question and start fighting with my computer.

Computer Network Literacy has got to be the computer equivilant of rocket science. Like I know or care what all those wires behind my computer do. But, the class is required for my degree. Oh joy. I suppose somewhere down the line it will be good to know, but for now I can't barely keep wavelength and protocol straight. I was just barely holding an A in that class after one assignment and 3 quizes, until last night. I was extremely stressed and worrying about business related matters that I dang near flunked the quiz. I ended up with a 78% on that quiz, which dissapoints me. Stress does not mix well with quizes, I found out. Now my grade in that class has dropped to somewhere in the 80% range. Bah. Passing yes, but not up to my standards. Not that I was an A student in high school, but this is a little different and way more important.

As much as Computer Network Literacy sucks, I'm hoping to make it to Chapter 12, which is all about the Internet. I skimmed because I can't wait - FTP, servers, search engines, mailing lists, and HTML. WOOOO HOOOO....I smell a 100% on that quiz! Chapter 14 looks pretty good too, since it's about e-business applications. I may not know exactly how to DO some of the things seen on websites (or afford for that matter), but I know the general idea behind them. I spend more time in front of the computer than I do behind it, so no problems there.

After passing the quiz I just took in COBOL I'm feeling a bit better. Stress is just piling up big time, and I'm just trying to handle it at this point. Not to mention I was without a car for the last few days. Yes we have another here, but the battery was dead (wouldn't you know it?). Nothing too major with my car, just new brake pads and a new part that holds up the tail pipe. It was rusted out making my exhaust loose. Nothing major, just making a really aweful noise at certain low speeds. Made me realise how old my car was getting, and how good it's been to me. Imagin a little 98 Sunfire running pretty much perfect after 7 years, 130,000 miles, and my kids beating the hell out of it (my son broke the back window and scratched up the side door - told me his sister did it while he still had the rock behind his back - gottal love kids). Oh yeah, and the incident with the deer - don't worry he survived and so did my car, it just has a big dent in the side. Poor thing (the car, not my deer - he hit ME!).

*Sigh* Anyway, it's definately time for bed. No sleep isn't going to help stress levels any. Tomorrow is a new day that has GOT to be better. At least that's what I need to tell myself to make it through. ;)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Site Build It Goes Wahm

Okay, I'm a little late at getting this out. (Or even reading it myself {BLUSH}) But, I'm sure there is other WAHMs out there that haven't read it or even seen it for that matter. So, I'll recommend it now, lol! (And it's free!)

WAHM-IT - The Masters Course
This latest addition to the SiteSell University Series is a winner. "WAHM-IT!, The Masters Course" is written by Work-At-Home Moms for Work-At-Home Moms.

Four "ordinary" moms, three from the United States and one from the UK, explain everything that a mother would want to know about starting a real business from home. They start right from the beginning, from reviewing all of the options and organizing properly, to the nitty-gritty of how to actually build a substantial income online. They even include case studies.

Click the link above to download your free copy. It's a must-read!

Friday, September 22, 2006

So Busy It Hurts

Last night as I was thinking "I should post something here", I was so tired I hurt. This week has been nuts, and we've been running all over the place getting things done. Between the kids stuff at school, delivering candles and closing candle shows, housework, other business stuff, and school.......I don't have time to breath. The other half is in Ohio right now visiting a sick family member, so I'm on my own here. Not that he was a whole lot of help while he was here, but that's another story and we won't go there.

There's so much I want to get done, I just don't know where to start. I've dropped the ball on Idea Queen, although income wise it's doing just fine. The original goal was to work on it every day, but then I got distracted by Etsy. Which turned out to be a good thing - the sales over there have been absolutely crazy. Since I started posting about 2 weeks ago, we've sold 6 items. Nothing too spectacular, but hey, better than ebay. I've put little work into advertising listings and my shop, so I see that as a decent number.

Plans are being made for changes at Direct Sales Helpers, and I was happy to get some work done on that yesterday while Anita and I were both home at the same time. Really looking forward to Tuesday when the main announcement goes out, but with that will come the REAL work of getting things changed over by the end of the month.

While the kids still have things I have to keep an eye on every week, I'm glad to have the fundraiser crap out of the way. I know it goes to school and all that stuff, but I still have a hard time paying $8 for a frozen pizza. Especially when our sales tax in my county is 7%, of which 2% is suppose to be going to the schools. We pay more than the big city just east of us in the next county, so I'm not too thrilled about how much we are paying on a regular basis. That's a whole other vent though.

On the business side of things, while making some networking rounds it looks like I accidently started some trouble. Who me? Trouble? Nah! Really though, I wasn't trying to. I guess I just set someone off, which I tend to do on occation. Things can be taken so many different ways online, it's pretty easy to upset someone when they can't hear the tone of your voice or see expressions on your face.

That's about it for now I believe - I really need to get some "real" work done today, since it looks like I've got a straight shot until the kid comes home at 3pm. :D

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Stop with the crappy websites!

A little harsh? Eh, I guess so but yuck!

I'm talking about the cookie cutter-type adsense websites. First of all, don't get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using adsense on a website. I have them on my websites and even here on our blog. However, how about we include some content with those ads instead of having ads with a little bit of content.

I guess I'm lucky because I have my very own test subject here at home (shhh ... don't ever tell him!) My husband really doesn't know a whole lot about what I do onlne. He has some basic ideas but other than that ... the only thing he really likes to know about is my PayPal account, lol. (Okay, now that didn't make him sound too good, did it? You know what I mean.)

Anyway, he does enjoy going online to do searches for whatever topic he's interested in at that moment. Needless to say there's nothing that pisses him off more is when he clicks on a website and the first thing he sees is a bunch of ads. You know how long that holds his attention? Maybe about 5 seconds and he's hitting the back button to the search engine page. He doesn't even bother scrolling down. (He's actually kind of funny to watch because I'm serious ... this really ticks him off.) After a while he'll yell out something like "Well, it's about time I find something to read other than an ad!"

So, take it from my "average joe test subject" here.

- The average person does NOT want to see a bunch of ads so don't over do it.

- They don't want ads to be the first thing they see.

- They want to read a little something before they have to click yet another link. Too much clicking from this to that to that ... and they're gone. People don't want to have to click over and over again.

- Make your ads look like they belong in the content. Make it look like they're simply clicking for more information.

Oh, and let's make sure the content includes facts that are correct, lol! Sounds like a pretty worthless piece of advice (ya know, a no-brainer), doesn't it? That's what I thought too but take a look at Patty's blog post Don’t Waste My Time by Pretending to be an Expert and Dianne has a little bit to say on her post Do You Use Adsense?

Teaching kids to keep safe in school

My soundoff for the day...
Now that both my kids are in school now, I actually get control of the tv and get to watch what I want to watch (yay!)

This morning I chose to ABC Good Morning America. The first story I got to watch was about teaching how children how to be safe in school (focusing on gunman). Now don't get me wrong here, I think it's great that we're teaching our children what to do in a situation like this. Of course we want our children to be as safe as possible. The sad part is the fact that there is a need to teach them! How scary is this?

A few good tips that I picked up...

- Find a room with a window to make an easier escape route.

- Use anything you can. If you're trapped in a room with no way out, pick up whatever you can and break the window. One of the items they mentioned was a computer. Pick up that computer throw it through the window and get out.

- If you're trapped in a bathroom. Smear soap on the floor in front of the door. It'll make it super-slippy and the gunman will fall when they run in the door.

- Use exits. As simple as this sounds, ABC GMA set up a fake emergency situation and many of the students ran past the exit doors. Maybe this is a mindset that children can't just run out the front door or maybe there is another reason. Either way, remind children that the ultimate goal is to get out of the building as quickly as possible. And keep in mind, once they're outside, keep running until they're far enough away. Most children that did make it outside, paused right outside the door.

As scary as this all is, it's still very real and we need to make sure our kids know what to do in an awful confrontation such as a gunman.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No More Cheap Ink!

I went to print brochures for our candles the other day, and was not pleased. The color looked terrible, a sure sign it was almost out. *Grumble grown* No big deal right? Wrong. I just put that ink in before I printed the last batch of brochures for the last craft show. Yeah I print a lot of catalogs and what not, but not THAT many. A normal color ink cartridge should have lasted for at least 100 brochures or so. I printed maybe half that. Grrr.

I've now made a vow - no more cheap ink. I don't care if it's half of what the other ink cost, it's just not worth the hassle. Not to mention if the cartridge doesn't even work (and I've run into that more times than I'd like to count), it's like pulling teeth to get a return like all those cheap companies promise. I'm still waiting on a confirmation number to send back TWO that didn't work from 4 months ago. Something tells me I'm not going to get it. Fine, lesson learned. I think paying $30 at Walmart for a brand new one is better than $20 (after shipping) for one that's not going to last nearly as long or not even work.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I'm Addicted to Etsy

Every once in awhile I put something up there, but haven't really sold all that much. Over the weekend I peeked in at my Etsy listings, and to check out some of the other listings. All I have to say is WOW - that site has REALLY taken off. What started as an eBay alternative for crafters has turned into a really awesome site. I flipped through tons of seller just to see how well they are all doing, and it's absolutely amazing.

Seeing how well the site has taken off, I did some research. I spent some time at their message boards, looked at other auctions (especially candles), and paid close attention to prices and products. The handy thing about etsy is you can SEE what's been sold. Price, title, description and all. VERY good information for learning how to sell better!

I did a little work on my own "shop", and decided I was going to make Etsy not just a place where I put specials. Instead I've been posting individual candles on a daily basis, one scent at a time. THAT'S what sells and all it takes - just one scent to catch the eye of someone and take a closer look. Of course, a good title is always a plus. ;)

It didn't take but maybe one day, and there I had a sale! Awesome! It's the first of many I hope, and I'm busy adding a few here and there every day. I've also had two other contacts ask questions, so I'm definately sticking around for awhile.

Don't think I'm done working on Idea Queen though. Oh no, not even close! I've still got my eye on that site, and will be working on it daily. Today hasn't been good for much, because I spent the day in the city. Tomorrow though - well that's a new day! With absolutely no kids in the morning, it's sure to start out good. ;)

Before I go, I have to urge you all to check out my shop at Etsy. There are some awesome listings and a few discounts there, so go NOW! *Grin*

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Computer Problems

I seriously have about had it with this computer. Off and on I've been having a problem with IE and Outlook, and in the past all it took was a quick reset of my internet connections. Last week after installing a program for a class, that trick stopped working.

Now it seems the only time I can get IE or Outlook to work is if the computer gives me some critical error. Then all is fine. I'm sure that's not a good thing, though. This morning it's not giving me any type of error, so I had to go looking for ways to fix this. It's a good thing I'm a FireFox user, or else I'd REALLY be in trouble. There would be no way for me to search for a solution if I didn't have FireFox.

I'm sure the root of all these problems is the program I installed, because in order to install it I had to change some settings. What I changed I don't remember, so just uninstalling the program probably won't make a difference. Plus of course, I need it for this class.

Speaking of classes, I have a quiz today which I'm not going to be able to do if I can't get into IE. Of course, my online class doesn't like FireFox. Just my luck! There's other things I need to get done today, but of course they all rely on me getting into my email on Outlook. Crossing my fingers the problems STOP soon, or I don't know what I'm going to do. :(