Tell us about The Dabbling Mum®…how did it get started?
Back in 1999, I wanted to start a print magazine but the costs for printing such a magazine, then distributing it were out of my budget. Being that I am not a sales person, I knew I wouldn’t be able to bring in the thousands of dollars a month needed to make the publication profitable and I wasn’t about to go belly-up just to “test drive” a dream. So I did a little research and discovered the power of the Internet.
How has it evolved?
The publication started out as a cheesy (yes, really that bad) website with a few articles, affiliate links to Amazon.com, and links to a home party business I had intended on starting. I wrote articles, inserted tips, and tried to sell people on buying party supplies online. Later, I added Tupperware. But the more I stared at the website, the more discouraged I became. It wasn’t what I envisioned. And it looked crappy.
So I bought a few HTML coding books, Frontpage 2002, and began playing around with the design and color scheme. It took years to get the design we currently host, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The website is known as a “static” site meaning everything is done in html coding, not script or interactive programming software so changes take a bit more time, but I enjoy knowing that I designed the site and that I have creative control.
Anyway, the more I played with the content and design, the more it became clear that what I really wanted was a well-rounded magazine for BUSY parents designed to help them enjoy family time and create a homebased business. Many of the parents I knew wanted to earn money from home, and many dreamt of becoming writers–but very few of them actually followed through. I wanted to show them that it could be done, and so I began writing articles to help them achieve their goals. Then one day, I began adding articles from other writers. At first with articles from free content groups, but later by paying professional writers to write the content–thus ensuring its originality.
Today, The Dabbling Mum® is a well-respected online magazine and I couldn’t be happier!
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The truth? What I enjoy most is the flexibility. When my children are sick, I can stop what I am doing to tend to their needs. I can run them to the doctor without having to ask permission from a boss and should I feel sick, I don’t have to call in sick and worry about using the last of my sick leave. I can just take the day off. The flexibility is also wonderful when unexpected events take place. Last year my mother passed away, and I needed to fly to California. I was able to stop what I was doing and just go. This year, my in-laws were passing through on their way to a Utah vacation when my sister-in-law got really sick. I was able to stop what I was doing, cut back on work, and be here for them while she healed.
What is your greatest challenge?
Marketing. I am not the best marketing, advertising, or PR person. I hate selling myself, my product, or my company. Yet to be successful, that’s exactly what you need to do. You must market, you must advertise, you must promote, you must sell. If you don’t your business falls apart.
There are weeks where I don’t do an ounce of marketing. Then there are weeks where I’ve finally talked myself into taking the plunge and I go full-force, until I burn out.
How have you measured The Dabbling Mum®’s “success?”
I measure success in several different ways.
1. Have I changed a life? In other words, has the publication and its e-books touched a life in such a way as to make a real and lasting difference? I want the material I produce to matter. I want it to touch lives. I want it to help lead people by the hand–even if The Dabbling Mum® is only the first step in a long road.
2. Can I pay my writers? I feel it’s very important that ANY publication seeking writers should pay those writers. I understand that depending on circulation and advertising dollars, those fees can be as little as $20 per original article and $5 per reprint, but pay something. If I have enough in my advertising budget every month to pay my writers, than I feel successful. It means that something is working!
3. Are my subscriptions increasing? Let’s face it. Numbers count. Are my e-zine subscriptions increasing? Are my website page views increasing? If not, why? If so, by how much?
4. Can I support my family? While all advertising dollars currently go to paying writers, my e-books and freelance writing business support my family and pay for office supplies and other business-related expenses such as web hosting, shopping carts, merchant fees, and domain names. If I can make ends meet every month, I feel satisfied. If I can make ends meet and have a little money left over, then I feel successful.
What are your plans for the future of The Dabbling Mum®?
Great question. My plans are to continue to find ways to increase revenues without having to charge a subscription or membership fee for the magazine.
I’d like to develop a line of greeting cards, improve my photography skills so that I can offer wall art, sell customized photo slideshows, and write more e-books.
You can find Alyice on-line at http://www.thedabblingmum.com/.