7 Sensational Online Business Ideas for the Mom Entrepreneur in 2012

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The economy has forced us to be more creative than ever when it comes to making money. Many of us have been laid-off, or are having a hard time re-entering the workplace after years of childrearing. As a result, more and more of us are considering starting an online business.

We have researched seven online businesses that have the potential to reward you with a steady stream of income, and don’t demand a huge start-up investment. When considering what home based, online business is best for you, be sure you select one that you’re passionate about and have the skills and experience to support your passion. Let’s ponder a few ideas.

1.    Virtual Assistant

What it’s all about: The world of Virtual Assistants (often referred to as VAs) is on fire. People are hiring VAs to help them become more efficient in their daily business activities. So how about becoming a VA, or creating a website that helps VAs and employers connect? Cushion the site with webinars, educational material or even sell modestly priced programs such as a “7 Step Program to Becoming a VA.” Virtual Assistants can perform nearly any task a traditional assistant might perform such as: data entry and/or management, transcribing, placing want ads, drafting business correspondence, etc. Keep in mind that VAs can help with personal as well as professional tasks.

What it takes: This might be the right business for you if you enjoy working with people, you’re extremely organized, you have a moderate savings to invest, and you’re okay with waiting to see a ROI for several months. Bonus if you’ve worked as a VA.

2.    Micro-Consulting

What it’s all about:  There is a big trend called crowdsourcing right now and there are new companies popping up that are getting some attention.  One such company is AskYourUsers.com, which Techcrunch describes as “a simple service that helps you find people for micro consulting  projects lasting no more than 15 minutes — and it uses your LinkedIn network to help you find them.”  You can set your own pricing and work on short projects, which can allow the flexibility you desire.  If you have a special skill or talent, consulting makes for a great online business.  Niche consulting can help you stand out in your field if it’s already packed. Take inventory of yourself: What are you passionate about? What are people often asking you for advice on?

What it takes: Don’t go into the consulting business if you aren’t prepared to be completely committed to your clients. People skills rank high on the list of traits you’ll need for success. Consulting doesn’t require a huge start-up investment, and ebooks, webinars and products can help generate additional revenue.

3.   Creative Crafts

What it’s all about: Don’t laugh, the online craft business is huge, and growing bigger every day. Many craft-sellers start on sites such as Etsy.com (a site that sells handmade goods) and then develop their own website to feature additional goods, ebooks, videos, etc. For the month of January of 2011, Etsy reported a whopping $33.5 million of goods sold. Clearly, people want handmade goods, and they are willing to pay more for them too. Research a few ideas to get a feel for competition before you settle down and get crafty.

What it takes: Creativity and commitment to your craft are must-haves. To get your online craft business up and running, you’ll have to invest in materials, and of course spend some time creating the crafts you’ll sell. Crafts can turn a profit, but don’t expect to get rich overnight. Networking and using social media are likely to have a positive impact on your product’s exposure- so get those Tweets rolling.

4.    Go Get the Green

What it’s all about: The environment. Whether you’re making re-usable shopping bags or suggesting the best eco-tours of South America, the environment sells. Going Green gives you an opportunity to take a common product or service and transform it into a niche one. Bracelets made with sea glass, dog brushes made with all natural materials, organic nutrition bars for toddlers… you get the picture.

What it takes: A desire to better your family, your community and the world- while turning a profit. Education in the environmental or health field certainly couldn’t hurt; but it isn’t a necessity. If you have a knack for innovation, Going Green could mean good business.

5.    All About Apps.

What it’s all about: Every day you hear about new Apps that do all sorts of neat stuff. In fact, there are more than half a million apps on the market. So, your app has to be better, or do something more unique than the rest in its field. Does your app solve a problem for its user?  Consider running your app idea by a focus group for suggestions.

What it takes: Research and planning can’t be overstated; and neither can the need for your app to solve a problem or do something super cool that no other (or few) apps are doing. Plan on spending $2,000-$5,000 on an app developer, and perhaps another $500+ on marketing. You don’t need to be ultra-tech savvy, but it doesn’t hurt. Apps can be risky business, so this is only a good venture for those who can afford to swallow a financial loss.

6.    Virtual Party Planning

What it’s all about: People are getting more and more creative with their parties; especially children’s parties, but other kind of parties too (think: spa parties, martini parties, mystery parties, etc.) That’s where virtual party planners get in on the action. You’ll likely do best if you focus on a niche (but not one that’s too restrictive)- something like: “Terrific Toddler Parties for Under $100.” Maybe you’ll incorporate a retail section on your site where you sell toddler party supplies, ebooks such as “The Ultimate Superhero Party,” “Designing a Delicious Candy Buffet.” Adding a few videos that feature decorating tips or party crafts might be a nice touch.

What it takes: You’ll want to start snapping shots of your great parties now, so you have some to feature on your website. You’ll also need to do some extensive research on party products so you can advise your clients where they can find the party items you suggest. All in all, it is a financially easy business to get started in; overhead it almost zilch. Best yet, since you aren’t actually setting up the parties, just creating them, you won’t have to invest in loads of party decorations and supplies.

7.    Social Media Expert

What it’s all about: You might not be aware of this, but thousands of people are making a living as social media “experts.” There isn’t a genuine industry standard for the “expert” qualification, and skills range significantly. That said, there are people right now, working in the comfort of their PJs, getting paid to create Facebook posts, Tweets, and craft Pinterest accounts. Almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. Companies large and small are hiring social media experts to keep their name at the top of the consumer’s mind. Check freelance sites such as Odesk.com to find those looking to hire social media experts. Bonus: You can have your business up and running in no time (like less than an hour!)

What it takes: Clearly you need to have some familiarity with social media and how it is being used to market companies, people and specific products. A background in marketing is a plus, but not necessary for success. Developing a concise, engaging writing style is important. Since this is freelance work, you’ll have to be self-motivated, and willing to spend a portion of each week looking for work.

Every single one of us is special- we all have talent. Tapping that talent and crafting it into an online business isn’t easy, but thousands are successful at it every day; you can be too.

Need more ideas? Click here for 6 more online income generating ideas to consider or reconsider.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns FreelanceMom.com, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.