Every day, the news gets scarier and scarier. As I work from home and worry about how this will all impact the kids, I have found myself not sleeping well, and often talking to my husband about a lot of “what ifs.”
But in the midst of all the uncertainty, I’ve also seen a huge generosity of spirit. In the Washington, D.C. region, where we live, people are sharing online stories of neighbors helping neighbors, ways to support our health care workers, and how to support our local restaurants and small businesses during this time.
There’s another group that can use our support: bloggers and online small businesses.
This post contains affiliate links. To learn more about what that means, click here.
Who Exactly Are These Businesses?
I’m talking about people like me. I own and run both this site and another online business, called This Custom Thanks. I run both of these businesses on the side, in addition to my full-time job.
And I’m also talking about those amazing entrepreneurs who took the plunge, quit their 9-to-5, and are working full time to provide a service or product to others through their business online.
They Want To Help Other People
Pretty much all of the online entrepreneurs I know, including me, have this in common: we got into it because we wanted to help people.
I started this website because I want to help other stepmothers navigate and embrace blended family life.
Whether we’re helping you come up with ideas for new crafts, like my friend Lucy at Paper Glitter Glue, master the working mom life like Yameik at Rockstar Career Moms, buy and sell a home like Tamara at Better Buyer & Savvy Seller, or tackle the vegan lifestyle, like my friend Kim at Simply Plant Based Kitchen.
We all started our businesses because we knew we had a skill or a story that could help others.
Women like my friends Beth, who runs an awesome site, Favorite Families, that helps you with simple strategies for a happy family, and Yvonne, whose site Redefining Posh will help you find your way out of debt (something we may all need as this crisis runs its course).
Like my friend Ehrica, who quit her full-time job this year to grow her business Milestone Mom. And Jenny, who runs The Relaxed Homeschool, and has some amazing resources if you’ve found yourself educating your kids at home for the first time. And Michelle, of Teach Smart With Me, whose site helps teachers find balance in the stress and overwhelm of the teaching life.
And They’ve Worked Really Hard To Do So
I know each of those women personally and the risks they’ve each taken of putting themselves out there with their gifts and talents, hoping they can help even just one person. They’ve built their businesses and their websites from scratch through hard work, sweat, tears – and lots of love. (and I hope you will check out all of their websites, they truly are remarkable businesswomen)
There are countless other online business owners out there who want to help people through their services or products. (and keep reading, I’ve got a few more for you!)
So as you’re looking for things to do during this time at home, I hope you’ll take a look online and find a way to support these and other small enterprises.
And, great news! There are lots of things you can do to help them, both financially, but also without spending a dime.
7 EASY WAYS YOU CAN HELP BLOGS & OTHER ONLINE BUSINESSES:
1. Buy Our Products
I’m not saying you should get online and spend all your money. I know right now we are all a bit sensitive to spending. None of us know what to expect in the coming weeks and months. My household is absolutely penny-pinching through this isolating time.
But if you need a birthday gift, something to occupy the kids while you’re all at home, or are looking for help on a certain problem, there are loads of businesses out there who are ready, willing, and able to take care of you. And many of them are offering specials right now to help their customers.
Digital Products (Not All Of Them Cost Money!)
Many of us offer digital products. I recently launched my first product for stepmoms. It’s an awesome (if I do say so myself) system for surviving the challenges that will immediately hit you once you become a stepmom.
And almost all of us offer FREE digital products. I’ve got several totally free offerings. Like a guide to bonding with your stepchildren. And a brand new blended family at-home planner to help get you into a routine while you’re stuck at home.
There are loads of educators online offering help both to teachers and to you while you try to homeschool. I mentioned The Relaxed Homeschool. And my friend Michelle’s site, Teach Smart With Me, which helps teachers with the resources they need.
And my friend Nikki, who has moved from full-time corporate lawyer to cheerleader for and supporter of moms at Your Ideal Mom Life. She’s offering a great digital time management system, as well as a free fitness cheat-sheet if you’re looking to squeeze in a quick 5 minute workout while you’re at home.
All of them have free products so you can check out what they have to offer.
And yes, of course we all want to make money from our sites. But we also sincerely want to help our readers. You’re our people. Our tribe! So we want to give you as much high-quality free content as we can. If you want to help blogs or other online resources, take our free stuff!
Other Products, Like Books And Crafts
Meet Cowboy Cinch and Wrangler Rein as they embark on daily CowKid Adventures. The book is available on Amazon!
Books are the most commonly available product and there are some really innovative and inspiring authors out there.
My friend Bridget of Cowboy Specialist just published an amazing children’s book, Wrangler Rein Rides Again, available on Kindle right now.
It’s all about Cowboy Cinch and Wrangler Rein and their daily CowKid Adventures. They like to ride their horses fast. They chase cows, play with their dogs, run through water and jump over logs. The book is based on real kids and real events.
The book is seriously cute. I hope you’ll go check it out and support her.
And of course, my friend from high school, CB, owns Elliott’s Playground.
Last fall, I made this adorable Christmas ornament with the help of my friend CB and her business, Elliott’s Playground.
You may remember she helped me with a fun project last year to make an adorable Christmas ornament out of my logo.
And that she created a totally free pattern so my readers could make it at home!
CB offers both digital downloads of patterns, as well as felt crafts you can purchase.
She has created everything from adorable sloths to intricate Demogorgons.
These patterns make such fun projects if you’re looking for things to do with your kids!
Do you know of a small online or local business that is going to have a hard time without customers in the short term?
Reach out to them to see if you can buy a gift certificate to use in the future.
We are buying gift certificates to a number of our local businesses in the D.C. region.
These purchases will help them stay afloat paying bills and employees in the short term. And I know we’ll be able to use the gift cards for their services and products going forward.
We often market gift cards for our note-writing business as an idea to give people you know might want to send notes, like your favorite entrepreneur, a bride, or a mom-to-be.
We are happy to offer gift certificates so that your loved one can send notes in the future. And many other online businesses are, too.
If you don’t see an offer on a site for gift certificates, shoot them an email and ask. I bet you’ll be surprised!
2. Buy Products We Recommend
When you see an online article that recommends and links to any sort of product, chances are the author is making what’s called an “affiliate commission.”
For example, I make a small commission when you click on any Nordstrom, Amazon, Talbots, or Erin Condren (among others) links on my site and then make a purchase. Believe it or not, even clicking to order sports gear or fan apparel through online shops I link to like Fanatics.com, the MLB, NBA, or NFL will generate a commission.
Like most bloggers I know, I absolutely won’t recommend or link to something I either haven’t or wouldn’t use myself. And the gift guides I’ve created or recommendations I’ve made are for products or services that I truly think will help my readers or that they’ll enjoy.
In fact, I have declined a number of opportunities to work with products that don’t fit my business or what my readers will be interested in. Most online business owners are similarly careful with what they recommend for their audiences.
Buying something through a site’s links doesn’t cost you anything extra, but can be very helpful to the online businesses and blogs you follow.
3. Follow And Engage With Us On Social Media
Online businesses are always looking to reach new readers and help new people.
Social media is one of the ways we engage directly with readers and potential customers or clients.
The more followers, shares, likes, and comments we can get, the farther we can spread our message and the more chances we have to reach new people.
So if you like a business or blogger, comment on her Instagram post or re-tweet something that was helpful to you.
Share one of her posts, like her business page, or join her Facebook group.
And if you decide to check out any of the kick-a$$ women-owned businesses I mentioned above, follow them on social media, too!
If one of their Instagram or Facebook posts touches you, share it with your followers.
Spread the love. All of it helps them.
If you’re a stepmom, head over to Facebook and join our group. And if you’re not but know one, share it with them!
4. Share Our Articles
Every blogger yearns for the day an article she’s written goes viral. When posts are shared it increases readership, affiliate sales, and purchases. But it also increases our reach. Which helps us grow our tribe. And means that we can help more and more of our targeted audience.
Share this post. Or posts of those you enjoy reading. Or articles that touch you.
How? Anywhere on social media. Email links to friends. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
And Pinterest. Believe it or not, Pinterest is a huge way that people find us online entrepreneurs, so pinning our posts helps a ton. Many online businesses will provide a ready-made pin image that you can use to share our article to your Pinterest account.
Kind of like the one below. And most sites make it easy to do with a single click – if you move your cursor over the below image, you’ll probably see a red Pinterest button pop up in the top left corner. Click on that and you’ll be able to share the post easily. And look for that button on the images of other articles you read.
A way to help online businesses is to share their posts on Pinterest. Try using this graphic!
People are looking for things to do these next few weeks. Let’s help give them some reading material by sharing articles you have enjoyed. Things that make them think or even just entertain.
5. Leave Reviews And Comments
If you know of a small business, online or otherwise, that is on Yelp or any of the review sites, leave a nice review. It absolutely helps.
Of course, I’m not suggesting making up a review for something you have no experience with. I’m talking about a business you are familiar with and have had a positive experience with.
Good reviews are an easy, no-cost way you can help support small businesses and online entrepreneurs.
6. Offer Your Help
Do you have anyone in your social network that has a small business or blog?
Offer your virtual help to the blog or business! Are you good at graphics or could you help field their email inbox? Do you have experience marketing or in sales?
If there’s a business you really like, whether it’s online or brick and mortar – reach out and offer your assistance. Even if they can’t use it, the offer will no doubt be appreciated in these tough times.
And on that note, last but absolutely not least . . .
7. Reach Out To Us
If you enjoy something we’ve written or one of our products, please let us know! It truly touches us when we know that we’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
Even if you don’t know us, reach out if you like something we’ve done. That feedback means the world!
For example, I had a stepmom reach out to me after one of my recent articles to tell me that it was exactly what she needed to hear that day. Further, that she loved reading my emails and posts, and each one was meaningful to her as she continues her journey.
That kind of feedback not only warms our hearts, but it encourages us to keep going. An online business can be a tough journey. And we don’t always know if we are reaching our “people.” We sure hope we’re making a difference, but sometimes we can’t tell!
And the life of an online entrepreneur can be lonely even on a good day. Our family and friends don’t always sign up to follow us or share our pieces. They may not even understand exactly what it is we’re doing.
It’s Okay, We Know We Won’t Resonate With Everyone
I can’t tell you how many blank stares I’ve gotten from friends when I talk about my online businesses.
It doesn’t mean they don’t love me, they just don’t think what I’m doing is for them. Or they don’t feel they have time to support it. Or whatever the reason. And you know what? That’s totally okay. My business may not be for them!
Most of us online entrepreneurs truly want to reach our intended audiences. I know many of my pieces won’t resonate with women who aren’t stepmoms. And that’s totally okay.
But You Can Still Reach Out!
So, if you know someone with an online business, it doesn’t mean you have to read every post or email. You may not be anywhere close to their target audience.
But you can still check in with them and see how they’re faring.
And if it’s just an online business you follow or enjoy and you don’t know the owner personally, please check in with them, too, and see how they’re doing.
Tell them you’re thinking about them during this time. I guarantee that whether the sentiment is coming from someone they know and love or a complete stranger – they’ll appreciate it.
So, What Next?
Now that you have some ideas for supporting the businesses and people you love, let’s take it to the next level.
Will you commit to finding just one new business a week that you appreciate? AND to telling them? It won’t cost you anything other than a few keystrokes and clicking “send.” You might find some interesting new sites and learn some new stuff. And I can promise you it will brighten a day.
It’s a hard time right now. For everyone. Let’s spread some sunshine and help some blogs and small businesses, shall we?
P.S. In the interest of sharing my freebies . . . . Are you in a blended family and trying to navigate social distancing and being at home way more than usual? Or if you know someone who is, please share this with them!
Download our at-home daily planner to help get you organized between houses!