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Top Things to Consider When Setting Up an E-Commerce as a Full Time Parent

Top Things to Consider When Setting Up an -Commerce as a Full Time ParentPhoto by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Looking for a way to earn income as a full-time parent? Starting an online shop could be a great idea.

Being a full-time parent is a job within itself. So, how can you find the time to look after the kids and set up an e-commerce business? It may be tough, but it’s definitely doable. To help get you started, below you’ll discover the top things to consider when setting up an e-commerce as a full-time parent.

Focusing on the right things

There’s a lot to do when setting up an e-commerce business. From deciding what you’re going to sell, to setting up the shop, finding stock and generating customers; with so much to do, it’s easy to focus on the wrong things. For example, you may want to offer numerous new product lines. However, when you’re just getting started it’s a much better idea to focus on just one product line.

The delivery process

The delivery process is one of the most important factors in your business. Customers today don’t want to wait days for delivery. So, you’re going to need to make sure you’re offering several delivery options, and that you have a good system in place to deal with orders quickly.

Using a courier app, such as the one offered by Parcel2go can help you to get orders out quickly and easily. It’s crucial you choose a courier you can rely on.

Automate parts of your business

One thing that’s really going to help you when you’re just starting out, is automating parts of the business. There are a lot of tools out there which can help you to automate numerous parts of your e-commerce store.

As you’ll be using social media to build up your brand, you might want to consider using an automated application such as Hootsuite. These enable you to schedule posts in advance. You can also automate email marketing and potentially orders if you use Shopify’s clever apps.

Setting up a business as a full-time parent is challenging. However, if you follow the tips above, it will give you the best start, helping to increase the chances of your e-commerce store’s success. Make use of weekends and evenings to focus on the business when the kids are asleep. Running an e-commerce store as a busy parent isn’t going to be a 9-5 job!

Looking for a way to earn income as a full-time parent? Starting an online shop could be a great idea.

Being a full-time parent is a job within itself. So, how can you find the time to look after the kids and set up an e-commerce business? It may be tough, but it’s definitely doable. To help get you started, below you’ll discover the top things to consider when setting up an e-commerce as a full-time parent.

Focusing on the right things

There’s a lot to do when setting up an e-commerce business. From deciding what you’re going to sell, to setting up the shop, finding stock and generating customers; with so much to do, it’s easy to focus on the wrong things. For example, you may want to offer numerous new product lines. However, when you’re just getting started it’s a much better idea to focus on just one product line.

The delivery process

The delivery process is one of the most important factors in your business. Customers today don’t want to wait days for delivery. So, you’re going to need to make sure you’re offering several delivery options, and that you have a good system in place to deal with orders quickly.

Using a courier app, such as the one offered by Parcel2go can help you to get orders out quickly and easily. It’s crucial you choose a courier you can rely on.

Automate parts of your business

One thing that’s really going to help you when you’re just starting out, is automating parts of the business. There are a lot of tools out there which can help you to automate numerous parts of your e-commerce store.

As you’ll be using social media to build up your brand, you might want to consider using an automated application such as Hootsuite. These enable you to schedule posts in advance. You can also automate email marketing and potentially orders if you use Shopify’s clever apps.

Setting up a business as a full-time parent is challenging. However, if you follow the tips above, it will give you the best start, helping to increase the chances of your e-commerce store’s success. Make use of weekends and evenings to focus on the business when the kids are asleep. Running an e-commerce store as a busy parent isn’t going to be a 9-5 job!

The Things You Can do Online Without Leaving Home!

OnlineWhen I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my Nan, and I remember a lot of her days seemed to be a real slog. Instead of going to the supermarket for one big shop, she’d go to the butchers, the greengrocers, a general shop for cleaning stuff and cupboard essentials and then to Marks’ for what she called her “bits”.

Then came anything money related, which meant a weekly trip to the Post Office to get her pension and pay some bills, then to the building society to pay money into other accounts…it’s truly mind boggling when you consider how much we do online from home these days! It got me thinking about things I never thought I’d be able to do from home…

Socialising

I don’t know whether this one is a good thing or not, but I personally love the fact that I can still interact with my friends without leaving the comfort of my own home. Social media means I can keep in touch with friends and family who I might not see from one year to the next, which is a truly wonderful thing in my opinion.

Gambling

I won’t lie, I do love a flutter every now and again and being able to go to a live casino online without even having to get out of my pyjamas is a bit of a novelty! Watching the spin of the roulette wheel on my screen is such a thrill, and it’s even better if I win!

Banking

Just recently, Husband and I sold a phone on Facebook and were paid in cash, which I took to the bank to pay in and it occurred to me that it was the first time in about three years that I’d stepped foot inside an actual branch! Husband and I do all of our banking online, usually through a phone app and rarely need to go to the bank in person.

Shopping

Just as with the bank, my trips to a High Street are few and far between. I avoid the shops as much as humanly possible and MUCH prefer shopping online…although the amount of returns that I have to do are too darn high sometimes!!

What do you do online that would have been a massive chore for your parents or grandparents?

Keeping Kids Safe Online in the Holidays

In previous years, the summer holidays have meant that Sausage mostly just sees her friends on her birthday (which is in August) or if I manage to arrange playdates with her friends, by contacting their parents. This year, however, seems to be a whole different kettle of fish. Sausage is going into year 5 in September and seems to be growing up before our very eyes. She has her own iPhone, iPad, laptop etc, and so do many of her friends, which means that she’s able to communicate with them as and when she likes, within the bounds of when she’s allowed device time. We aren’t MEGA strict with her when it comes to devices, but we do try to get her to put them down for at least an hour before bed so that the blue light from screens doesn’t interfere with her sleep.

The communication versus online safety thing has been playing on our minds, however. She’s not allowed a Facebook account because she’s too young, although we do know kids of her age who are on there. Snapchat’s recent update has left us with security worries and we’ve got her account locked down because it’s a site which is well known for being an avenue for grooming. She currently uses WhatsApp or iMessage to speak to her friends, but we still worry about the lack of security with these; it would only take one of her friends to give someone her phone number or leave their own device unlocked for someone to be able to attempt to contact her and it’s something that is a constant source of worry for us.

Just recently, Azoomee got in contact with us to let us know about their new chat features and it seems like something which could be the answer to all of our worries. Azoomee Chat was built for children. It’s not an adult platform re-designed for kids! Key features which make Azoomee Chat best practice are:

  • Communication between two children only takes place if a parent for each child has verified the connection
  • There is no geo-tracking data
  • There are no group chats (which is where cyber-bullying begins) opnly one-to-one communication
  • There are no photos or face-time (we use personalised avatars instead)
  • There are lots of pointers in case a child needs advice
  • Parents have full visibility of all communication
  • Only pre-verified friends can see your posts

Every child has their own Kid Code; it looks like this: GF6D7XS2. You’ll find your child’s Kid Code in the Azoomee Settings screen. Your child can give their Kid Code to their friends, or you can give it directly to their parents. They need to add your child’s Kid Code in their Azoomee Settings. Finally, for an extra layer of security, you’ll need to verify the friendship – you’ll receive a notification to do this in Settings.

We’ll be trialling Azoomee over the next few weeks and are really hopeful that it is something which could work for our family and give us the peace of mind we need to be able to allow Sausage to use her devices without the need for us to be constantly looking over their shoulder. I strongly feel that schools should be offering kids an Azoomee membership and teaching them safe communication as part of the national curriculum as we’re only going to be MORE reliant on technology as the years go by.

Keep your eyes peeled here for an update so you can see how we get along with Azoomee’s new chat functions or head over to their site to get your free trial of the services.

 

Top 5 Reasons to Use Dealspotr

DealspotrWorking from home might sound like I spend my day solidly writing articles, but in fact I have a number of different ways that I monetize my time. As well as working on social media campaigns, writing for my clients, editing and sourcing posts, I also make money through various third-party sites, and Dealspotr is one of them. Dealspotr allows you to find coupon codes, as well as allowing you to add them to the site yourself, and earning you money in the process. It’s a great site for a number of reasons and I thought I’d share some of them with you here:

1. Dealspotr Saves you Money

If we’re planning to make a purchase of something, we ALWAYS check Dealspotr for a discount code, voucher or deal. I’m pretty savvy when it comes to finding vouchers for things, but somehow the listings on Dealspotr seem to have ones that even a seasoned bargain hunter like myself hasn’t found yet! Of course, there’s not a voucher for everything, but so far, we’ve saved money on everything from pizza to days out to trainers and I reckon the value of what we’ve saved is probably into the hundreds of pounds now.

2. Dealspotr MAKES you Money! 

Setting up your own Dealspotr account is a great way to make yourself some money. Once you start adding the deals you’ve spotted, once they’re verified you’ll accrue points for every single find, and eventually this will add up to vouchers. Husband and I probably spend more money on Amazon than any other shop, so these vouchers do equate to practical funds for our family.

3. It Takes Minimal Time and Effort

When you add up the actual time you spend adding deals to Dealspotr versus the return, it’s actually really good value! Just a couple of minutes a day will add up really quickly towards your points balance and the vouchers you earn are on par with, if not more than the vouchers that you’d potentially earn on other sites of this type. Most of us spend time on our mobiles, tablets or laptops doing things to help us idle away the time, like playing Candy Crush or surfing social media. Take that time and dedicate it to deal spotting and you’ll be making your free time work for you.

4. Helping Others

I don’t know about you, but I really love the warm glow you get when you think about helping others! I’ve added a lot of vouchers to Dealspotr in the time that I’ve been using it and when I think about how many other families like us who’ve saved money or potentially been more able to afford something because of vouchers I’ve found and added it really makes me feel good. Dealspotr Is like a little community where everyone’s goal is to help someone else to save money and that’s something that I absolutely love.

5. Dealspotr Saves you Time

There are a number of ways in which Dealspotr actually saves you time; first of all, it has a higher number of WORKING codes (how many times have you trawled through, added a dozen different codes to your basket before any of them actually works?!) than other voucher sites online. It also shows you a screenshot of the codes working on the sites, giving you a guarantee that the code is working. This means that not only do you save time by heading to Dealspotr rather than doing endless Googling to find a legitimate voucher code for your purchase, you’ll also save time on the Dealspotr site because you’ll know that each code is the real deal!

Are you a fan of Dealspotr? Do you regularly use the site or is this something that you’re planning to do now that you’ve read all about it? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear from you.

 

11+ Help for a Fraction of the Cost with Education Quizzes

Education QuizzesI’ve mentioned before that Husband and I have been looking into getting Sausage a tutor to help her with the 11+ and now that we’re getting towards the end of year 4, it’s becoming even more of a pritority. The main issue we have is the cost associated with tutoring; most of the decent tutors locally charge betwen £25 and £30 a week, which can really build up over the course of the month and it’s quite normal to think that would be well out of the budget of the average family, who usually doesn’t have that kind of spare cash at the end of the month.

Just recently, we were made aware of Education Quizzes, an online education portal which contains quizzes on a number of different levels, including KS1, KS2, 11+ and even G.C.S.E’s and the cost is absolutely fractional compared to that of a tutor. For just £9.95 a month, your child will have access to quizzes relating to the level they’re studying which are written by teachers and are intended to make learning both interactive and fun.

The site is totally advert-free, which is something that appeals to us massively. We’ve done our best to make Sausage super savvy when it comes to internet stuff and advertising, and she even checks all of the permissions that apps ask for before she’ll download them onto her phone, so it’s nice to know she won’t be bombarded with adverts while studying. You can also cancel your subscription at any time without any fees, which is also good to know.

It’s also possible for schools to sign up to Education Quizzes and allow all of their pupils access to the site with one membership – schools are offered a hugely reduced rate per pupil and they’ll have access to a whole new set of resources for helping the kids, as well as giving the children something they can use from home if they choose to. If you’re a parent and think that your kids’ school could benefit from this, I strongly suggest you put the idea forward to them!

I love the fact that we’ll be able to monitor Sausage’s progress as well as the fact that this type of extra curricular learning will be totally convenient for us. Not only do we live well out in the sticks (much further than most tutors are willing to drive!) we’re also usually pretty busy with something or another, but with Education Quizzes we can fit it in wherever, and whenever, we need to. I also think that the online aspect will be appealing to Sausage – let’s face it, most kids would rather look at a screen even if it’s for something educational, so at least we know this will hold her interest!

I’m excited to see how Sausage gets on with the site and I’ll update you at some point in the future. In the meantime, if you want to find out more about Education Quizzes, follow the link above.

How to Make a Success of Your Online Business

Having an online business, be it for selling something or some other service, can give you the flexibility of working from home, dictating your own hours, reducing the need for childcare and saving you money on commuting or additional premises. However, while is may sound like jacking your job in and going it alone is the solution to a perfect life, there are a LOT of things which can go wrong with a new business, not least of all being the lack of security.

We’ve got five tips for you which anyone thinking of starting a new business should think about before taking a leap of faith.

Know Your Niche

Knowing your niche is hugely important, especially if it’s a market which is already flooded. If you plan to start a business which is just like another, already established one, what is going to make people shop with you rather than going to the on they already know? It’s a fact that most new businesses fail within the first year, so planning ahead and making sure you really know your market is hugely important.

Build Your Audience

Online shops are NOTHING without customers. You can have the best products advertised on the sleekest website but if no-one is buying your stuff, it’s all pointless. Social media is one of the best allies that a new business can have because it allows you to build your audience and give your business a personal touch. Remain professional but personable and engaging when you speak to people and your shop will be memorable to them.

Proper marketing

As with the point about social media above, people will only shop with you if they know about your shop! Using some of your start-up budget on proper marketing from a service like Innovation Company will ensure that you spread your message as optimally as possible for your budget, with professionals who really know marketing on your side.

Good Customer Service

Anyone who does a customer facing job knows that “the customer is always right”, and although we all know that sometimes the customer is ACTUALLY a frustrating ass, dealing with people in the right way will really win you support from people. Obviously we aren’t suggesting that you allow yourself to be fleeced by chancers who are trying to get something for free, but being accomodating with your customers will go a LONG way towards making them loyal to you.

Cheapest Isn’t Always Best

When you first start a business, there’s a massive instinct that you need to undercut the competition in order to win customers, which isn’t always the case. Many people are still suspicious of the cheapest shops because they feel that they must be ‘too good to be true’ and will opt for something slightly more expensive for a sense of reassurance. Also, pricing yourself so low that your business cannot afford to continue won’t help anyone!

Do you have any tips of how to make the bets of a new business? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Getting Ahead with Spires Online Tutoring

Spires Online TutoringWe’ve been toying with the idea of getting Sausage a tutor for some time now. I’ve written before about her lack of confidence in maths and how she’s incredibly bright but seems to get flustered with numbers, and also about how she’s adamant that she wants to do her 11+ and I do worry that her own nerves will get the better of her. The issue we have with private tutoring is two-fold. Firstly, one-to-one tutoring can be expensive, and although it’s possible to buddy up with another family and pay for the tutor together, the second issue is that we live in the middle of nowhere, seriously limiting the amount of tutors who’d even come to us (and giving us a far shallower talent pool to choose from, in much the same way as smaller, rural schools).

The obvious answer is online tutoring, which is where Spires comes in. Spires is an online tutoring site which offers tutors from Oxford and Cambridge and all of their work is done via the internet which means that our location is no longer an issue. It also means that costs are kept down because travel isn’t a worry – a Spires tutor could effectively sit at their desk for eight hours a day and tutor solidly the whole time, without ever needing to move!

One thing that I absolutely LOVE about the Spire ethos is that they’re aiming to level the educational playing field by offering top-class tutoring to ANYONE, rather than only priviledged kids at the top schools getting all of the benefits. They say on their site:

“No matter how much the UK’s top universities are said to encourage entrants from the state sector, the reality remains – students from the best independent schools consistently have a far greater chance of entering the best universities.

So we asked ourselves:

What could we offer to maximise the chance of any student getting into a university worthy of their intelligence, ability and potential regardless of their background?

We attended one of the best universities in the world and we were oblivious to just how lucky we had been. Only at Oxford did we begin to appreciate the unfair advantage that going to a top private school had given us in getting into a top university. At school, we were drilled, tutored and trained to get those places.

We were coached over and above the curriculum. If we were struggling with any element of our studies – great tutors were available, around the clock one-on-one – to fix that problem.

We created Spires to provide the one-on-one tutoring experience that gave us the edge in our final exams. Our aim is to make that experience affordable to as many parents as possible and level the playing field in those pre university examination years”

I went to a really good grammar school for my secondary education and was lucky enough to get in despite living WELL out of the catchment area, but my parents couldn’t have afforded tutors because they were expensive (and probably non-existent in a town like Basildon anyway…), although I know lots of other girls have them, so it’s really good to know that my kids won’t be at a disadvantage if they ever need help with their studies.

 

Stay Safe Online with Azoomee

In the past, I’ve admitted to being a helicopter parent and although I am still pretty overbearing involved in Sausage’s life, I do try to step back a little now that she’s getting older. Although she’s one of the youngest in her school year, she’ll be going into Year 4 in September, which means that that it’s won’t be long until boys and secrets with her friends are on the agenda. As someone who was mortified to discover her mother read her diary when she was a teenager, I firmly believe that kids should be given respect and privacy, but this can be tricky in modern life because of the Internet.

The best thing we can do is to properly educate our kids about staying safe online and self-moderation, so that we can afford them a little more autonomy and not have them feel like we’re looking over their shoulders all the time. That’s why, when I heard that Azoomee had teamed up with the NSPCC to create an app, including a series of lessons for kids about staying safe online, I was thrilled. Take a look at what it offers here:

Azoomee from Azoomee on Vimeo.

The Azoomee app is available on both Android and Apple (there’s a free 15-day trial available), and it’s basically an all-encompassing safe space for kids to use. Within the app, kids can choose to do arts and crafts, play games or watch kid-friendly TV shows. The art section allows kids to share their creations with friends and family who’ve been pre-approved by a parent, which means that kids can still communicate through the app without needing to use an unsecured and potentially unsafe messaging app.

What’s more, this summer Azoomee is running a series of FREE, weekly, interactive learning sessions based on Search It Up, an animated series on digital literacy and online safety. Search It Up was produced by Azoomee, written by BAFTA winner, Dave Ingham and created by BAFTA award winning production studio, ArthurCox.

I love the fact that the Azoomee is suitable for both of my kids as there’s content within that suits all ages, meaning that we don’t need to have two different services running for each of them. At the end of the day, anything that’s able to give parents a little bit of peace of mind is worth every penny in my opinion! Sausage is getting a phone for her birthday (shh! don’t tell!) so this would be the perfect way to ease her into the responsibility of having her own device.

How much does a subscription to Azoomee cost?

Premium (Full access for up to five children in a single family)
  • Monthly subscription: £4.99
  • 6-monthly subscription: £29.95
  • Annual subscription: £44.93 (three months free!)

You can also follow Azoomee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or go and have a read of their blog which is packed full of useful info.

Is this the  sort of thing you’d install for your child? Have you already tried Azoomee and love it? Leave me a comment below!

Things You Should Do Online

It’s a modern world we live in and it now seems that there’s barely anything that you can’t do online. Sometimes, it might seem like dragging out to the high street to run errands is the only option but there are actually a lot of online services which could make your life a whole lot easier. Here’s just a few:

Online Key Cutters

I have to say that it has never occurred to me that you could order keys from an online key cutters, but apparently that’s a thing! Every time I go to my local key cutters, I seem to either stand in a queue for ages or get sent away because the person who does it isn’t there, so this seems WAY more convenient.

Birthday Cards

Okay, so most of us know that you can order birthday cards online but many of the services actually offer a reminder service too. Add all of your important birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions to the calendar on your account and they’ll actually prompt you to send a card in time for the big day!

Write a Will

It used to be that you needed to deal with someone face-to-face in order to make a will, but these days there are loads of online services which allow you to write a will. Some of them will even print the documents and send them to you, OR keep them safe in a Cloud-based service.

Book a Doctors Appointment

You might not have realised but most doctors surgeries now offer a lot of online services, such as appointment booking, test results and even repeat prescription requests. It’s great that they seem to be moving towards the 21st century a little quicker as so many of these services have been the sort of thing that you used to only be able to do in person, which can be a real inconvenience.

 

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

I’ve always been a huge fan of kids using technology; I know lots of people think that screen time is negative for kids, and I agree that all things should be in moderation, but I strongly believe that children can learn a lot from various apps and programs and that they should have time on devices without us leaning over their shoulders.

Sausage is at an age now where her interest in the internet has evolved slightly. No longer is she spending ages on the Cbeebies website or using the Mister Maker app to make beautiful, fridge-worthy creations. Now, she’s also asking about websites (like the ones you see advertised on the TV) which allow users to not only play games, but chat with one another too, which really concerns me. I have no objections to her chatting with friends online, but these websites are SO often a completely unknown quantity and can be a portal to online bullying, which is why I was keen to help when a cyber-bullying charity got in touch. Here’s what they had to say:

To mark this year’s Stop Cyberbullying Day on Friday 17 June, anti-bullying charity Bullies Out has partnered with data analytics firm Online Them to raise awareness of the risks of cyberbullying and what parents can do to spot the warning signs in time.

Monitoring software such as Online Them enables parents and teachers to keep an eye on children’s online activities and highlight any causes for concern. Any monitoring of online activity tends to spark handwringing sermons about the right to privacy. But this is not another example of Big Brother clipping the wings of youngsters trying to explore the world and all the opportunities that brings. Nor does it give parents and teachers free reign to spy on children.

Tools using Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing can identify and highlight anything of concern or unusual to an individual child such as social media posts containing adult content, or mentions of crime, as well as flagging any new friends in countries outside the UK and a rank of who a child is interacting with most on social media. This is done on a consent-only basis, meaning a child has to agree to the use of software to monitor their high-level social media use. Consent can be given easily and quickly via an email invitation – all they have to do is click the attached link and authorize access to their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. They can connect all three accounts or just one or two.

Monitoring tools present a great way to hold a child’s hand as they enter the world of social media. Parents and teachers can both use these tools to safeguard children in a low-maintenance and non-intrusive way.

Sausage uses her own iPad and laptop, both of which are internet enabled and I really don’t like to be hanging over her shoulder the whole time, so using an online monitoring software would really give us peace of mind. She’s not allowed anywhere NEAR Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the other places where random people could gain access to her, and Husband and I will be thinking long and hard about whether she’ll ever be allowed accounts on these sites, while she’s under our rules.

If you want some really handy tips on how to keep your kids safe online, take a look at the Bullies Out site, where there is a whole wealth of information, and also links to allow you to donate to this excellent cause. Online Them are also currently offering a free one month trial for parents, allowing you to try the site before you commit to a subscription.

How do you moderate your kids online usage? Have you got any apps installed? Have you ever had to deal with cyber-bullying? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave me a comment below.