Monday, December 6, 2010

Identifying Obstacles

Identifying obstacles early in working at home is important. Working with an energetic three year old running around is challenging, but not impossible. Luckily, I've noticed a little pattern. After breakfast the kiddo will watch a bit of TV and play with her dolls. There's an hour usually uninterrupted. Then another hour or two for naptime in the afternoon. After that, it seems like everything falls apart.

Working at home takes quite a bit of commitment, and I feel like I'm struggling to maintain. In theory, I should be able to squeeze out about five hours a day to work, but in reality I often fall short.

The biggest road block I seem to encounter is that everybody thinks since I'm WAHM I can drop everything at a moments notice. Frustrating! Sure, a few minutes here and there don't hurt, but getting through to the significant other that I need to focus my time while working has proven challenging. 

All this has just made me more stubborn. Working at home is my best option right now, so I owe it to myself to give it my all.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time, and lack thereof.

Now that I've been a SAHM for a year, I'm wondering how I ever had time to get out the door and get to work before. I have waivered back and forth between trying to make money online, and focusing on the house. It seems I can't find a happy medium.

I have really gotten out of the habit of checking out MTurk everyday. For a while I really got into a good groove with them, logging in at certain times of the day, searching out requesters whose work I enjoyed, and I was making around ten to fifteen dollars a day. Slacking off for several months, I'm finding it difficult to get my routine back.

One thing I haven't stopped doing was looking for the perfect work at home job, and I did stumble onto some opportunities on the forum. Because of a NDA agreement, I can't say a whole lot about it. But I passed all my required testing and am set to start working this week. I am so excited, but so worried that I'm not going to be able to juggle everything. Eh, I guess I don't know how it will work out until I try. :)

But becoming a WAHM vs just a SAHM, I'm just going to have to buckle down on scheduling. Work is work, and you get out of it what you put in. Maybe it will work out beautifully, maybe it won't. But if I don't take the chance I'll never know either way.

I am hoping once I get back into the routine of working at home that I can squeeze in an hour or so each day for MTurk. It's really nice to have that little bit of spare change for new books for the Kindle. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

When Good Requesters Go Bad on MTurk

Well Summer's here, and as usual not finding a whole lot of time to do MTurk work. But there's some valuable lessons I relearned this week when what was one of my favorite requesters posted a lot of work on MTurk.

It's really important to keep up with reviews on Turkopticon and Turker Nation. Even though I've previously done thousands of HITs for ProdUniverse without any problems, I noticed several forum posts about them rejecting tons of work. As in, the vast majority of work submitted. Most of the posters in the forum had sent emails to both ProdUniverse and MTurk and had heard nothing in return. Something is fishy with this. I did do 11 HITs to test the waters, so far all are still pending. I have enough HITs approved prior that it wouldn't put a ding in my approval rating.

It just goes to show how vigilant a Turker needs to be to protect their best interests. Why put in a bunch of time for nothing? And for those who don't have large amounts of HITs approved already, a big batch all rejected could wreak havoc on their approval rating, limiting what work they can do. I rebounded mostly from my big hit at Christmas, but it was a long hard road to do so. I'm not about to give ProdUniverse a chance to make me do that all over again.

All in all, I do enjoy their HITs. They won't make you rich, but they're easy time killers and the money isn't horribly bad. If ProdUniverse can fix whatever seems to be the problem, I'll be back. If they can't, I'll have to chalk them up to a good requester gone bad and stay away. Life's too short to play with scammers.  

***Edit: The eleven HITs I did yesterday did all approve today. I'm still not confident enough to jump in and do a bunch. Turker Nation is still showing several posters who are getting the vast majority of their work rejected from ProdUniverse. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Work

Summer is here, and I'm finding it much more difficult to buckle down and work at home. Between playing outside and tending the garden, I've slacked off on online work. However, I do still check in with MTurk early in the morning and late in the evening and still make a few dollars a day.

As with anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it with MTurk. The irregular checking in like I've done misses a lot of good HITs, but there's always transcription work to find. Which is good. Claritrans and Castingwords almost always have transcription work up to do around the clock.

Another thing I do try to do to add up a little here and there is just taking five minutes here and  there throughout the day to work a few HITs. Even if they're penny work. It does add up over time.

All in all, I still plug away with MTurk. So far it's been my favorite way to make money from home. I may not be getting rich from it, but it does give me money for gas and spending money. Plus, I know it pays out so I know it's worth my time. In about a year's time, I've made around $2100, and about half of that time I hardly logged on to work. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Zazzle

With some beautiful weather and flowers in bloom, I've taken this time to add more items to Zazzle. I spent part of this morning taking tons of pictures, and added several products today. I'm so excited to be working with Zazzle!

create & buy custom products at Zazzle

Friday, May 28, 2010


One more way to make money from home that I've found is Zazzle. A little creativity is all that's needed to create your own Zazzle products, which Zazzle will print on their products and give you a commission. I love photography, so I took the leap and signed up. About half of my Zazzle products are nature photography, some geared toward local teams and schools, and others are just funny quotes.

As with any online venture, you get out of it what you put in. Quality and quality are both important, and a little promotion doesn't hurt, either. Keywording and creating products that are in demand should also be taken into consideration.

It's been a couple months since I starting putting up items on Zazzle, and today I made my first sale, yippee! I sold a travel coffee mug that said "I like my coffee like I like my men, tall, dark and rich." I made $1.40, it's a start! I can't wait to make more products now!

Swag Bucks

Since my hiatus, I signed up for Swag Bucks to see if it added up to anything. Boy am I pleasantly surprised! I signed up through a friend on facebook because I kept seeing where she won this and that, and thought it couldn't hurt to try. I installed the Swag Bucks toolbar, as I search out various things throughout the day. I suppose it would be just as easy to go to their search engine. Either way, it adds up.

You can seek the Swag codes to earn Swag Bucks, take the daily poll, sign up referrals, and other various ways to earn. When you add up to certain levels, you can cash in your Swag Bucks to buy merchandise or gift cards to various retailers, including

In a little more than a month, I have enough to get four $5 from Amazon and halfway to the next one. I'm very happy with Swag Bucks! Click the logo below to learn more.

Search & Win

Natural Remedies in the Garden

One thing I love about gardening is I feel like I'm spending time with my Grandmothers all over again. Both were frugal and full of knowledge. I spent many summer mornings with Grandma and Granny as they tended to their gardens, learning many natural ways to control pests and boost growth and fruit production. 

Slugs and snails are a big problem around here for any gardener. I remember my grandparents saving egg shells for this. They would rinse them out, crush them flat and let them dry in the sun. When you have a fair amount of them, crumble and sprinkle them around the base of plants. Slugs and snails will not cross this. If they can't reach your plants, they can't eat them!

Most other garden pests can be controlled with a mix of water, dishwashing liquid, and cayenne pepper. I mix about one part dishwashing liquid to three parts water, and a little bit of cayenne pepper. The pepper will clog a lot of sprayers, so I just put it in the watering can and water it over top the plants, covering the leaves and stems as much as possible. It's ugly, but effective. This washes easily off your fruits and veggies and will not harm the plants in moderation.

Bigger critters is where it starts getting tricky. I planted an entire row of sunflowers around my garden. Deer LOVE sunflower leaves, and my best friend has had luck with them stopping there. I planted mine in an area you have to step down into, and deer don't seem to cross over. The end that slopes out to meet the rest of the yard I planted pumpkins, the leaves are a little prickly so I hope they don't like them. Otherwise, I've heard a lot of home remedies can work some. A bar of scented soap like Irish Spring hung in a pair of panty hose can help deter them. It makes sense to me, as hunters do not wash with soap before going out to hunt.

The one I'm really fearing might win the battle is raccoons. We have tons of them out here. The garden I planted this year isn't permanent, so I couldn't justify putting a fence up just yet. Even if I had, they're good climbers. An ammonia soaked rag hanging nearby is supposed to be a good way to get them to avoid the area. Only time will tell with that!

Edited to add: Don't go overboard with the cayenne. A little goes a long way. A lot fries your plants.

Gardening to Save Money

Being blessed with a lot of rich soil, this year we planted a fairly large garden to help trim the grocery budget. Not only will it save money, but there's just something about produce fresh from the garden. All the hard work, watching over and nurturing plants, there's just a sense of satisfaction that comes with growing your own food.

Early in the season I bought two mini-greenhouses off eBay for $40. They are well made, and seem like they will last several seasons. I used them to start most of the garden from seed. Most things came up really well, only a couple did not and it was probably that I tried to start them outside when it was a little too cold. I did also buy some tomato plants, a jalapeno plant, two green pepper plants, and some summer squash already started.

And I couldn't resist, I also bought the Topsy Turvey tomato planter. I put one tomato plant in that and two others the same size in the ground. Guess which sprouted the first tomato? Yep, the upside down one! I'm not as impressed with the upside down strawberry planter. I think it could work for some fruits and veggies, but my strawberries just aren't doing that great.

One other thing we did was stagger plant some things like peas and green beans so we have more than one harvest, and not stuck processing too many at one time. I plan to freeze or can a lot of what comes out of the garden to use through the year. I really hope to trim down the grocery budget with this. 

And of course we had to have the one novelty plant. I am growing three giant pumpkin plants. I didn't follow all the advice for growing the record breaking pumpkins, some of them top 1,000 lbs! But I did buy seed of the same stock as the champs and even if it's only half that size we're going to love it!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm baaack!

Yay, I'm back! For months I had a rather nasty virus on my computer that was redirecting search engine results, some news pages, and most importantly No matter what I did myself, I could not fight it or stop the redirects. I was not able to log into my blog at all!

All my anti-malware software was pretty well useless. If it would open, it wouldn't update or it would scan clean. Others would not open at all, and when I tried to download them again my computer would not connect to their pages. I was at my wit's end!

So, I took the plunge and posted asking for help on Bleeping Computer and was quickly helped by Gringo. It didn't take long and my computer had all malware removed and running the way it should, yay! I highly recommend Bleeping Computer for computer help, the forums are very helpful and you'll find tons of information on fighting spyware, malware, and viruses or trojans. Mine was a nasty rootkit infection that seems to be going around. Hopefully I'll be back online more often and back to work!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MTurk Work

Well it seems working on MTurk is really going well lately. There seems to be tons of good stuff to work on! I'm having trouble working a lot of the Retail Data HITs, it seems there's some kind of glitch in their qualifications, maybe? It's really aggrivating to see all that work posted and no way to do it!

Otherwise, ClariTrans has been posting a lot of work, and as I've said before, I really like their stuff. I can crank it out fairly quickly and haven't had a rejection from them yet. The pay is fairly decent, and they seem to post work quite frequently.

I tried a requester I hadn't seen post work before, Jason Davis. It was to figure out why tags were used for descriptions on a craft website. I did more than I was comfortable with, and a few of them have approved. I was leery to do more until I could see how they were going to approve. I have had six of them approve from the past three days, but many more are just sitting. Kind of makes me nervous, but they were quick and paid well, so we shall see.

I'm still doing some CastingWords transcription work, but not as often as ClariTrans. I like CTs shorter transcription snippets, I never know when the kiddo is going to wake up from a nap or when the phone is going to ring, so I like to zip through and be done with it. Both have posted a lot of transcription work lately, though, so it's easy to switch back and forth between the two.

There's been other odds and ends, but nothing all that notable. I'm hoping Retail Data qualifications get straightened out soon, I'm so picky when doing the HITs I'm fairly confident that I'm doing them correctly. So to then get an email of a qualification revoked is a little irritating.

I'm still not getting rich overnight, haha. But for the ease and comfort of working at home MTurk is working out well for me. 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

ClariTrans Transcription on MTurk

So I've stumbled on what seems like a newer requester on MTurk, but so far so good with ClariTrans. Their transcription work is broken down into smaller segments to transcribe, which is nice with a toddler running around. I haven't been able to accurately judge how much money per hour I've been able to make on these, but I'm not unhappy with the results I've seen at all.

Their style guide is a lot different than CastingWords, so that's taking some getting used to. But I do like it, it's simpler, and often just one speaker, so it seems to go quicker.

I aced the first qualification test, and have worked several of their HITs now. All were approved and paid within hours. I did take the qualification testing for the reviewer, and no matter how many times I take it I can't get a 100! Frustrating! On the bright side, I haven't seen a whole lot of the review work come up for grabs. Maybe after doing a little more of their work it will become easier to reach that perfect score.

I had been on a $10 per day streak on MTurk, and was starting to inch above until the snow storms and power loss broke my stride. It's been hard to get back into that grove and hit ten bucks every day. I'm getting there, but I think ClariTrans might very well be able to double my goals in no time at all. Yay!

All in all, I'm happy so far with ClariTrans. There seems to be quite a bit of work posted in various segments of time, batches with as short as 5 second work on up to 35 second work. My only complaint is trying to work transcription at home with a very noisy two year old! But for nap and bed times, it's perfect for making a few dollars each day. I'm definitely happy to find this requester, and I hope they stay around for the long haul.   

Monday, February 15, 2010

Homemade Butter

We decided to try something simple this weekend, we made homemade butter. Yummy! There's nothing like fresh real butter to take a meal to a new level.

It's really quite simple. Just take heavy cream, a clean jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake shake shake. Just when you think you can't take it, shake it some more! First you will end up with whipped cream, then as you shake a little more it will look like lumpy whipped cream--you're almost there at that point. It will seem like it's getting hard to shake, but keep going--it's almost done. Then you will see the little globs of butter forming and the buttermilk will start to separate from the butter. Yes, this is REAL buttermilk, which has a slightly sweet taste. Strain off the buttermilk, shake a few more times until there is no more liquid coming off, and rinse in very cold water. Scrape the sides to ensure you get all the butter and voila! You have real, homemade butter. Yummy!

We used almost a cup of heavy whipping cream, and it made a ball of butter about the size of a smallish lemon. And it was so good! I didn't add any salt, but if you wish, add a pinch or so after you have rinsed the butter and stir it in. Chill, and you are all set. Keep in mind, real homemade butter is a little firmer than the margerine you may be used to, so set out at room temperature for a few minutes before using.

I got this idea from my friend Joey a while back, but if I'm not mistaken she had used a blender (or food processor?). That would probably be a GREAT idea, because my arms sure did get quite a workout! It was totally worth it, real butter is fantastic!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Great eHow Debate

eHow has recently had quite a mess on it's hands. The infamous eHow UK debacle has left many writers angry and feeling cheated. I've kept up on the eHow forums on related threads, and really do feel for people affected. I, however, do not feel my earnings were impacted to the level others were. I had some of my best earning months in that time, so I have no personal complaint.

In trying to not blame the victim or make excuses for eHow, I'm wondering exactly how many factors there actually were for the earnings slump many suffered recently. Many people a year ago reported a holiday slump on earnings. Google changes it's ranking formula on a regular basis. Perhaps having cloned content did hurt the US content. I don't think the slump was an intentional cheat on eHow's part, but that's only my opinion.

The UK Compensation-- many people were extremely disappointed, and I suppose rightfully so. I received about 10% of my monthly average, but again I feel I wasn't that affected so I'm happy with that. It was like a nice little bonus *for me.* I fully admit, if my earnings were impacted to the level other member's were I would not feel the same way.

I've heard others say they will not write further for eHow, or they will be removing their articles from the site. I do still plan on writing for eHow, my momentary break stems more from site glitches at the moment than anything else. eHow has still given me the opportunity to earn passive income I would not have otherwise had. The page ranking eHow pulls in far exceeds anything I could manage on my own. For me, I'm still pleased with my interactions with the site.

I will continue to write and keep articles on my computer to upload at a time the publishing platform seems a little more stable. Even if it's only a little bit, it's still a hundred bucks (or more!) a month I didn't have before. I'm happy with my results thus far, and hopeful for the future.

Snow snow snow snow

Well I think we're finally digging out from a couple of back to back snowstorms. We lost power for three days from fallen trees and power lines. So I had to take some time away from my online work endeavors. Ouch. But just line anything else in life, working online is sometimes two steps forward, one step back. And it seems it is taking a little while to get back into the groove I'd built up before.

On the bright side, we've got miles of snow to make snow ice cream out of. Yay! Eight cups of snow, a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a tsp of vanilla extract. That's it. Mix it all up and eat immediately. Yeah yeah, I know there could be some contaminants. But I truly believe it is minimal, and no more health risk than anything else in life.

One thing I was really happy to be able to fall back on during the lack of electricity was my mad camping skills. We have well water, and with no electricity we also have no water. Fortunately, there is a creek right out front, so we hauled up water to boil for dishes and cleaning. We had already bought bottled water for drinking, and my coffee press came in handy for my morning cup of joe. But washing dishes in a pan of creek water sure did bring back memories of washing dishes beside a camp fire. The best way to do this is to start with the least dirty and work your way to the greasiest and dirtiest last.

Thankfully, the generator we ran for a couple hours at a time kept the chest freezer nice and cold, and the items in the fridge fit nicely in a box we sat on the porch. It got frigidly cold at night, so I laid towels on top of the box and sat it back inside the fridge to keep cold, but not frozen, until morning. It seemed to work well. We did lose a few things, mostly dressings and condiments I didn't pack, but our food loss was minimal.

I did have to make a run in town for more batteries and candles. We had some, just not enough for three nights without power. I underestimated the need for canned goods in such an event, but we ended up okay.
Now it's time to get back in the swing of making money. I am definitely saving up at this point for a vacation somewhere nice and warm!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A thousand bucks on MTurk!

I finally did it! I hit the one thousand dollar mark on MTurk, woohoo! I won't lie, it took a LONG time to do it, but it was worth it, yay for free money!

Crowdsourcing isn't for everyone, but I have tried to make the most of it. Sure, it doesn't pay that great. But there's no rushour traffic jam, no annoying co-workers, and no paying for a babysitter. Those are the things that keep me pushing on working on MTurk to earn extra money.

Lately, I've been averaging about $12 per day, and that's not too awful bad for my needs. I spend the latter part of the morning, and a couple hours late evening making money online. Those are the times that seem to work best for me. Plus, the work I really like on MTurk is usually posted in those times and gets taken rather quickly.

I have searched around online for other Crowdsourcing sites, and have not had much luck at all outside of MTurk. I registered and took several qualification tests at, and applied for several jobs on there. I didn't hear squat. I was doing a little work for CrowdCloud, and only made a couple of dollars, plus they had SO many glitches it just wasn't worth it.

I'm still always keeping an eye out for more work, but for now am happy to stick with MTurk. It's definitely not a get rich quick thing, but it does add up here and there for some spending money.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting back in the swing of things

I took a little break from everything for a few weeks to clear my head, but I'm back in the saddle and hoping to head in a good direction this year. It's still sometimes a little rough making the transition to SAHM, but now that the holidays are over I'm ready to focus on moving forward.

I've still been plugging along with MTurk, and at just shy of $1,000 earned so far. I've been trying to make $10 per day on there, sometimes it's easy to make double that, and other days I can only squeeze out enough time for a couple bucks. When I get enough routines down pretty well, I want to up my daily goal to $15 per day. 

I've been trying out a couple different strategies for working on MTurk, and they seem to be paying off. I spend two hours each  morning working on MTurk, another in the afternoon when time allows, and another around midnight. The mornings seem to be when I'm making the bulk of my money, the other times I've found it hard to focus well enough to really make a lot. 

Another thing I've been doing is to request any and all qualifications I come across that look even remotely useful. I've noticed the HITs available seem much more this way. The Retail Data HITs are usually pretty plentiful, so I've requested and received most of their qualifications. They may be penny work, but they're easy and they pay in a reasonable amount of time. Plus, when nothing better is going on there, you can almost always find Retail Data HITs. 

eHow's earnings are still doing okay for me, I wrote a few articles in Nov and Dec, and they seem to be holding their own. I consider my eHow earnings my bread and butter, they may not always be consistent, but I know they are there waiting for me once a month. I just need to up that residual income a little more and I'll be doing just fine.

So all in all, I'm really thankful the holidays are over! I'm getting over the winter slump and working hard to up that WAHM income. It hasn't been easy, but I'm learning new tips and tricks every day.