Christine Jones ~ Freelance Writer and Website Owner
Please introduce yourself: My name is Christine Jones. I am the mother of one son, Brandon, a very energetic 14 month old. I live in Connecticut and am approaching my 23rd birthday. I've been working from home as a freelance writer and website owner since I was twenty years old.
Tell us about your business. I am the owner and maintainer of Home Jobs Online, a free service geared towards mothers and the homebound who need home employment resources and information. The site offers live support, a directory where people can list and advertise their own home businesses, telecommuting and freelance information, as well as information and ideas on how to start and operate numerous home based businesses. I also own and maintain other websites, which topics include parenting/mothering issues, general employment, home employment and bartering services.
I also currently write a bi-monthly column on working from home for The Internet Clinic, a website geared towards business owners. Freelance writing provides me with a great extra income and I get to write about things that I have passion for; specifically my job and my son!
How did you get started in this business? I have always enjoyed creating websites for fun and for profit. I particularly enjoy home employment issues. I ran a telecommuting website from late 1997-1999, until my son was born. It provided me with the opportunity to help people (specifically mothers and the disabled) find part or full-time work from home with a telecommuting position.
After that, I focused my attention on a broader audience by including various other means of working from home, aside from telecommuting. I added freelancing information, selected business opportunities and relaunched the improved site at www.homejobsonline.com. As the site developed and grew larger, containing new channels such as parenting and motherhood issues, I decided to expand the topics with their own websites.
What was your greatest career challenge and how did you over come it? Competing with large budgeted companies and websites is definitely my biggest challenge. Overcoming this obstacle is an ongoing process. If you don't have the budget to advertise your business, the greatest thing around is bartering. Starting out, I didn't have an advertising budget at all, so I relied solely on swapping links with fellow site owners. When I needed graphics done on my site, I bartered my advertising space in exchange for great graphics done by a fellow work at home mom! Bartering is a great opportunity to get the services you need when you don't have the budget to do so. It also puts you in touch with fellow business and website owners for possible future exchanges.
Do you work out of your house? What challenges do you face working at home and how do you deal with them? It's a great thing to have the opportunity to work full time from my home. The greatest challenge that I face working in my home-based environment is trying to adhere to any type of work schedule.
I've found out the hard way that it's next to impossible to explain to a one year old that Mommy needs to work at one o'clock and clean the house at 2 o'clock. It's also just as hard to stop working when there are deadlines to meet. My day doesn't begin at 9am and end at 5pm as a typical workday would, so it's very difficult for me to rely on certain times to get things accomplished.
For me, the easiest way to work from home is to expect the unexpected. Aside from the usual daily duties such as planning appointments, arranging online meetings and meeting article deadlines, I've also accepted the fact that grape jelly smeared on the keyboard is now a part of my daily agenda. I'm now able to work around this . . . do I have a choice? :-)
What sets you apart from your competitors? There are hundreds, probably thousands, of sites like mine out there. It's difficult to succeed with this kind of site without providing something different to visitors.
The biggest difference between my site and others - I don't recommend a resource simply for the commission involved (if any). I personally research and hand pick each and every link and article that appears on any of my websites. I've removed many profitable resources simply because I feel that their offers don't belong on my sites. Many competitors don't do this and I feel that they are losing visitors because of their greediness.
I've also been to many similar sites where the site's owners seem (or even are) unreachable, for whatever reasons. I don't hide. I am a real, live human, who answers emails for help (in between diaper changes and meals, of course).
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of? As far as my personal life, I feel that my son is my biggest and proudest accomplishment. He is my main reason for continuing to work from home and one day I will thank him for that. I am also proud of the fact that I successfully juggle work and home, in the same place.
As for my professional accomplishments, my site has received small mentions in a few top online and offline publications, which I feel has been my website's major accomplishment so far.
I've also had the privilege to meet and communicate with the most wonderful people on the Internet, people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet offline.
Are there any books, classes, or other sources of education that you found helpful when you were starting up? I studied many free online courses and tutorials on the HTML language when I was starting to work with website building. www.webmonkey.com provides a great "how-to" library for people who wish to learn HTML.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting up, what would it be? It's easy to give up when starting up your own business. Growing any type of business takes time and patience and it's easy to interpret this as failing. It's frustrating at first. Things may be slow, and maybe not going as smoothly as you planned. Take things a day at a time; your efforts will pay off in the long run if you realize that success doesn't happen overnight -- it's something to work, and strive, for.
Is there anything else you would like to share? Backing up my above statements about the challenges faced with working home with kids, I'd like to share that this interview took me three entire days to complete!