Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Life Shift has a new home!

My Life Shift has moved to its very own website! Please point your browser to:

If you're a subscriber, you don't need to re-subscribe to keep getting updates from the new site. However, if you haven't subscribed yet, please do so in the above website.

Please bear with me while I transition the site. I realize some pages might look awful and some links may have been lost. I'll be fixing these in the next few days.

I must say that Caroline Middlebrook's Ebook, "How to develop money-making niche sites with WordPress" made the process of setting up the website really pain-free. It only took me a couple of hours. Thank you, Caroline! The only downside is that Caroline recommends an FTP software for PC, while I'm using a Mac. But no problem, I quickly found ClassicFTP, a free software for Macs and figured out myself how to use it. (That's how easy it is to use Macs!)

I hope you like my new "home on the Web". Do drop by and give me some feedback -- both positive and negative comments are most welcome!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Can I make $10 in 30 days?

Photo by peasap

I've joined the 30 Day Challenge! This is a FREE online training program on internet marketing. Ed Dale and his colleagues are teaching us the basics of internet marketing and the goal is to make at least $10 in 30 days! Ed is a casual and occasionally funny guy who seems to know what he's talking about. I don't know why the program is free -- so far, Ed hasn't tried selling anything to me yet (or maybe it's in one of the Emails I deleted without reading!).

I'm only on Day 4, but I have already learned so many things. I have made a list of seven possible topics for a niche and will soon be doing market research on each of those topics. It's very exciting!

One of the most important things I learned -- and I learned this during the lead-up to the challenge -- was how to use Bloglines, a free online tool for keeping track of and organizing your blog subscriptions. Now that's another tip for avoiding information overload. It's a great tool so you won't get overwhelmed, which led me to subscribing to a couple of new blogs....

I'm not sure I can even keep up with the challenge. I'm on a dial-up connection, which makes downloading all those videos a real pain! All the tutorials are either on audio podcast or video. Plus, I'm on an Internet fast every Friday during lent (in place of fasting from food since I'm still breastfeeding). Not to mention that we'll be moving halfway across the world in a couple of weeks and I don't know how long I will not have any Internet access at all. But even if it takes me more than 30 days to finish the challenge, I know it will be well worth it.

If you want to learn Internet marketing, I suggest you begin by joining the 30-day challenge. If you want a preview, you can see the tutorial videos on YouTube. You have nothing to lose and so much to learn.

I'll be giving periodic updates on my progress in the challenge. Meantime, check these out:

30 Day Challenge website. Of course.
Caroline Middlebrook's blog. She is one of the graduates of the 30 Day Challenge
Mike Mindel's blog. Now designated the official notes on the 30 Day Challenge

Coming next week: Part 2 of "How to avoid work at home scams"

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Monday, February 11, 2008

How to avoid a work at home scam, Part 1: Do your research

Photo by ToastyKen

Have you ever fallen for a work at home scam? I have. Or rather, my DH has. And I was right there over his shoulder. We didn't lose huge sums of money because we cut our losses early. But when you have three little mouths to feed, every cent counts.

So when I decided to become a work at home Mom, I promised myself that I would be more careful. I joined several work at home forums and discovered that there are ways to protect ourselves from work at home scams. This is a synthesis of the advice and information I received from the lovely women in

Ask yourself three questions:

Is the company asking you to pay first to make money later?

Be wary of a company that requires payment in order to give you a job. An example is a company recruiting data encoders to work at home that requires you to pay a joining fee before giving you the job. Raw materials for assembling products, promotional materials, and even your training should be paid by the company, not you.

On the other hand, if you are considering a home business, then expect to make a small investment. Direct selling companies, for instance, typically require a small fee for membership or a starter kit. The fee can range anywhere from under US$20 to under $500. This is true even for large direct selling companies such as Avon, Shaklee, and Pampered Chef.

Is the company making outrageous claims?

Think twice before believing claims that are too good to be true, such as earning a six-figure income on one hour of work a week. Don't expect to get something for nothing. Any successful business requires hard work, pure and simple. When you're just starting a business, it will often require more work hours than a typical office job.

Is this a legitimate company or business?

Doing research on a company or person before joining their business is the most basic way to protect yourself from scams. In DH's case, he jumped into an "internet business opportunity" because it was recommended by a trusted colleague. He went against his better judgment and dove in before finding out more. Don't make the same mistake: investigate everything, even if your mother herself recommended it to you.

The Internet is filled with tools for researching a company or person (which I'll refer to as "the company" for simplicity). Here are 10 websites you can use:

1. The company's website - Begin by looking at the company website. Scammers can have very professional-looking websites; don't let that fool you! Do use the information in the company's website to check out the company's claims and information. But don't stop there....

2. - A simple search could bring up feedback about a company, such as in blogs or forums. You may also find cases filed against the company.

3. - Enables you to do a reverse search on a company's address and telephone number. If these don't match what is in the company's website, then you should start getting suspicious.

4. - Gives information about a particular domain, such as who owns it, how long it has been in existence, and the owner's address. On the other hand, if the domain's owner signed up for domain privacy, then only the company's web host information will be displayed.

5. - The Better Business Bureau gives a detailed report about its members, including how long it has been a member of BBB, the number and types of complaints that have been lodged against it, and whether the company has a satisfactory record.

7. - Not quite as informative as the BBB website, but worth checking out if you're considering joining a direct selling company. Being a member of the Direct Selling Association means that a company has passed the DSA's rigorous screening process.

8. - Has a "Wayback Machine" that shows you what a website looked like in the past. Think hard about joining a new or start-up company that might be relying on your investment for its seed capital.

9. - Allows you to see if other websites contain exact text from the company's website. You might be surprised with what you see! You'll have to decide, though, who is plagiarizing whom!

10. - Alerts you of various types of scams, including those annoying email scams. Type the company's name in the search form to bring up reports about it, if any.

Coming soon: "How to avoid a work at home scam, Part 2: Use reliable work at home leads"

Meantime, check out these other resources:

Watch how Chris Durst of Rat Race Rebellion investigates a job lead and discovers massive "webnapping":

For a step-by-step guide on how to use some of the tools discussed above, including a worksheet, download this free Ebook entitled, "How to Investigate Home Business Opportunities: The Consumer's Guide to Avoiding Scams".

Also check out the Scambusters website for more information on specific scams.

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Monday, February 4, 2008

How I overcame work at home information overload

Last week, I found myself unable to empty my email in-boxes (despite what I had learned from Getting Things Done). I couldn't focus on anything; I would flit from one blog or website to the next and then to an E-book. I wasn't making progress on my to-list. What was happening to me?

I found the answer after my mind had cleared and I sat down in a quiet corner with my copy of Yaro Starak's Blog Profits Blueprint. I had the plague also known as "information overload". I had gotten seduced by the idea of having passive income through a work at home internet business. I wanted to learn everything right now. But as Yaro said, information overload makes you lose direction, forget your purpose, and keep you from working towards your goals.

It's a good thing that last week, even as my eyes glazed over all those blog posts I tried in vain to digest, I found myself hitting the unsubscribe button instead. It was only the first of several things I did to help me regain my bearings.

Here's a list of what I did to overcome work at home information overload:

1. Cut the number of emails by unsubscribing from all but 3-5 blogs

It was those blog and newsletter subscriptions that had clogged my in-box, making it impossible for a busy Mom to keep up. So this was the first and obvious way to de-clutter my email -- and my brain. I realized that most of what I was receiving was not immediately useful to me anyway. And if I did need the information, I could easily find it on the Internet. I know bloggers are supposed to help each other out but I was subscribed to uber-popular blogs anyway and I don't think I'll be missed.

2. Stay on top of my email in-box by processing it the GTD way

With most of the blog subscriptions out of the way, I had much fewer and more manageable volume of emails. Ah, what a relief!

3. Went on an Internet diet by visiting only those sites that helped me complete my to-do list

I actually went off-line for two days, except to check my email. Then I only surfed when I needed to do research for my class materials, or to help with the kids' homework. Oh and I went shopping for breastfeeding clothes -- which was not overwhelming at all!

4. Got up and away from the computer and did something completely unrelated to Internet marketing

Doing the above made it possible for me to leave the computer for longer periods of time and get my mind completely off from Internet marketing ... such as do yoga. Ah, that felt good!

5. I reviewed my priorities and goals

I have these written down in a notebook but I had stopped reading them last week. So I went back and reviewed them and realized I was supposed to be preparing for my demonstration childbirth class! That was the most important thing at that moment, especially since I aim to finish my certification this month!

6. I listed those topics that I needed or wanted to learn about and prioritized them according to importance

Just to get this Internet marketing thing off my mind, I did make a list of all the topics that I'd like to explore and learn more about. I also noted which ones I wanted to tackle first.

7. I set a schedule for doing research on Internet marketing

When I finished preparing for the first day of my childbirth class, I rewarded myself with one hour of surfing about Internet marketing, stumbling a few websites, and reading a couple of my favorite blogs.

Today I completed the first day of my demonstration childbirth class. I am one step closer to becoming a certified childbirth educator. And when I am, I'm sure the opportunity to begin Internet marketing will still be there.

Newbies are susceptible to information overload. We're excited to learn, anxious to get going with the pros, and try to do too much, too soon. Have you ever experienced information overload? How did you overcome it?

Also check out these posts:

Skellie's "Productivity by Elimination"
Leo Babauta's "A Guide to Cutting Back When You Feel Overwhelmed"
Yaro Starak's "Blog Profits Blueprint" (free E-book)

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