Creative Jobs for Stay-at-Home Moms

sahmJust because a woman chooses to stay at home when she has her children does not necessarily mean that all of her moneymaking possibilities dry up. In fact, there are plenty of creative mothers out there who have figured out how to combine the joys of stay-at-home motherhood with an entrepreneurial spirit that results in a steady income.

These are some of their bright ideas; what's yours?

Raking in the money with yard work

As a stay-at-home mom, a little extra cash can go a long way in enjoyment for my family. Whether it is a movie night, a pizza or even just trips to the zoo, there are lots of fun extras which can become costly without a small side job. I began looking at the "labor gigs" on Craigslist for small things I could do with kids in tow. What I found was there are numerous gardening/lawn mowing jobs that occur very regularly from mid-April till late September.

- See the average salary for a gardener.

These were things like weeding flowerbeds, mowing lawns for city folks who didn't have a mower, clearing underbrush that had gotten out of hand or spreading bark dust or compost. Even as a small female, I can do that and get exercise while being paid!

And as long as my son was either helping me or occupied on his own with a book or small toys, he could even come with me. After I purchased a weed-pulling tool from the local discount store, it turned out he loved pulling weeds by himself. Most lawn-mowing jobs paid $25 and took 45 minutes to an hour. Gardening was usually a bit longer lasting for two to four hours, paying $10 an hour.

These jobs quickly became so regular so that I usually had two a week (and more if I had wanted) and I easily made an extra $200 a month. Definitely a slow-and-steady-wins the race style of side job; it won't make you rich. Once developed, however, it is a wonderful way to spend the summer with your family earning a little extra on the side.

Brynn Dahlquist

Making extra dough a piece of cake

Even in this tough economy there are reasons to celebrate, and where there's celebration there is always cake. A close friend of mine asked me to bake a cake for her first baby shower. As a surprise, I took it one step further and included matching handmade invitations. I received wonderful feedback from the guests, and a few of them even offered to pay me to create cakes for their special occasions. I have been a part-time baker ever since and my children don't mind at all (as long as they get to lick the bowl).

-- See the salary range for a baker.

In the beginning I had to be creative to find new clients. I made cards and fliers that I posted at local flower shops, bridal shops and baby specialty stores, and I even paid my children to put the fliers on car windshields. Now word of mouth is my best advertisement. Several of my clients have come to me for bridal-shower cakes and returned for their wedding, baby shower and baby's first birthday cake.

I charge anywhere from $60 for a child's birthday cake to $400 for a custom wedding cake. The coordinating invitations have also proven to be very popular and cost $1.50 to $4 apiece.

Since that first baby shower, I have taken several classes to hone my craft and stay on top of the trends. I have been baking cakes and making cards on a semi-professional level for nearly seven years -- and I feel very lucky that what started out as a hobby for me, a stay-at-home mom, has evolved into a very sweet source of extra income.

– Katie De La Vega

Transcribing translates to a good income

Being a stay-at-home mom is ideal for many and medical transcription could be the perfect answer for countless moms who dream of working from home.

-- See the average hourly rate for a medical transcriptionist.

The great thing about medical transcription is it will always be a position that is in demand, as long as we have doctors taking care of us. All you need is your computer and valid training or certification, and you are set to work from the comfort of your home. Plus, the flexible hours of the work are ideal for juggling the task of mothering with the task of working. As long as you have some self-discipline, it should be easy and enjoyable to work from home and on your own time.

The best part is, medical transcription does not require a college degree. Plenty of valid training programs are available online from various accredited institutions. Tuition varies from program to program but typically, for good training, you can expect a tuition of $1,000-$2,000. Some programs actually include job placement after graduation from the course, making your life even easier! This is the ideal situation, as most employers look for about two years of experience when hiring a new medical transcriptionist. But if you can find a training program that offers job placement, that obstacle is removed.

With medical transcription, the pay rate begins at $10 an hour; but with a little experience, the rate can go as high as $20 an hour. And you can do it while your children are asleep or at school!

– Alicia Yamashita

Teaching virtually, making real money

Are you ready to work in cyberspace? The commute is an easy walk to work, and you will be able to watch the driving rain or blowing snow from the comfort of your home. If you have a master's degree, and some teaching experience, you will qualify to teach undergraduate college courses online.

To juggle this job with the demands of children, plan to rise early or stay up late in order to ensure at least two hours a day of uninterrupted work. Teaching online is a thoughtful process. It requires carefully constructed writing in order to create a welcoming online voice.

Online courses are contained in Content Management Systems (CMS), or Learning Management Systems (LMS). They are web-based and appear very much like a website; however you will be in a closed environment, only accessible to you and your class members.

To snag one of these positions, surf college and university job postings for virtual-learning instructors. Your duties will include ensuring the accuracy of course design, then making sure course elements, assessments, discussion topics, assignments, links, and assignment checklists align with the syllabus. You will write weekly announcements, e-mail, and descriptive feedback to your students, as well as moderate a discussion forum and guide learners through course content.

-- See the average salary for a training instructor.

You will find that in each of your online classes many of your learners will be newbies, and have little experience in the virtual classroom. Many learners will be sorely lacking simple computer skills. It is a challenge, but it will be your job to help them along.

Since it is a text-based job, reading and writing skills must be sharp and you need to enjoy it. You also need to be computer savvy and very comfortable with the online environment. If you are self-motivated and able to manage yourself and your time, you will enjoy this work. It is not for everyone, especially procrastinators or disorganized individuals.

Assessment of submitted work is the most time-consuming part of this work. Thoughtful, constructive feedback helps the students to identify their own strengths and weaknesses in the journey through the course's content. It takes concentration and keen reading comprehension to sift through a student's submission in order to determine his or her success in meeting the assignment's objective.

The pay varies depending on the region and institution. Generally, $1500 for an eight-week course would be an average salary for this stay-at-home job.

– Linda J. Anderkin

Scheduling pick-ups a pick-me-up

Five years ago I divorced after 16 years of marriage. I wanted a job that would allow me to be able to finish raising my kids, as they were young teenagers and I knew it was a critical time in their lives.

A friend's mother had been working from home. Now much older with her children gone, she was on her own just like me. Every time I went to visit, she was working on the phone. She worked for a charity setting up donation pickups.

-- Find out what a call center representative earns.

Curious, I asked her about her job. She explained the charity sent her a list, by mail, each week. She would call the list asking for donations of household items. I thought to myself, this would be perfect for my needs!

I started out part-time and learned the tricks of the trade. Quickly I moved to full-time and found I could make enough money to support myself and my kids. It was everything I needed, but it was not easy. I had to figure out how to get people to donate.

Five years later, I am still with the same organization. I am at the top of my field and I work from home. I work all day, seven days a week from 10AM to 9PM I take small breaks throughout my day to do things like laundry, vacuuming, dishes and cooking meals.

It is a juggling act. I set up 175 to 200 pickups a week. I earn around $1.75 per pickup. We live a modest life with no extras or frills, not even cable. I have to live within my means; but so far, it has worked for me.

– Michelle Basile

Painting for profit

I am a stay-at-home mom who makes a nice income with my artwork.

More than a dozen years ago, an acquaintance of mine was opening a family-fun center and I overheard her desire to have jungle murals on all the walls. I put together a handful of drawings and approached her with my ideas. She loved them and I immediately started painting all seven party rooms. My children came along, played countless free games of laser tag, jumped on the indoor jungle gym and sat on the floor with their books while I happily painted.

I had no formal training and no references. I simply took a bold step and presented my sketches and ideas. We spent some time collaborating and came up with a different focus for each room.

-- See salary ranges for fine artists.

Other mural opportunities came up and I juggled those against the needs of my growing family until that became too much, for not every job site has a safe built-in playground. So I turned my attention to custom art on canvas, which am able to do in my home. The income is variable -- paintings range from $250 to $1,000. I enjoy being able to earn money for extras and emergencies in a unique way.

In order to keep awareness of my work in front of new people and to gain new clients, I donate a few paintings every year to charity organizations for their auctions. This allows me to dress up and attend nice local events. It also establishes my name as an artist. As a stay-at-home mom, just having that little bit of recognition and time out is fabulous. I always carry business cards; but my mural work and previous clients are my best advertisement.

– Sylvie Branch

Cooking up some extra cash

When I decided to stay home with our two children (ages 12 and 7 at the time), I didn't realize how many luxuries I would have to give up. I knew that I needed to do something to add more money to our budget, so I had to figure out something that would allow me to be there for my children and still earn a salary.

-- See the average salary for a cook.

Cooking was always my favorite hobby. Most of my friends would tell me that I should start my own business. But I wasn't sure how I could start a catering business from my home. I wouldn't be able to obtain a license from the Department of Health nor did I have the space for industrial-sized equipment. Financially, I couldn't afford to rent a place and that would defeat the purpose of wanting to be home for my children.

The answer came in the form of a friend of a friend. She had heard of my culinary expertise and asked me if I would come to her home to prepare a meal for a dinner party she was planning. It was the niche I was looking for. I was able to go there on a Saturday night with all of my ingredients, things that I had prepped at home (much of it during the week with the kids at school), and cook a fresh, delicious meal for them while they talked, ate and relaxed. I even selected an appropriate wine to accompany each course; and while they finished up with dessert and coffee, I cleaned up and left my client's kitchen just as clean, if not cleaner, than I'd found it. The evening was a huge success.

Five out of the six couples there, including the hostess, had me cook for similar functions at their homes. My personal-chef business had started growing by word of mouth. I was even able to spend a little on advertising in local newspapers, which brought me new clients. Word of mouth still seems to work best, and now I have a fairly steady stream of customers that are happy to recommend me to others. Best of all, I can still drop my kids at school each day and be there for them when they get home.

– Natasha Singh

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