Interview with Martine de Luna of Dainty Mom
I’m a mom of one (Vito, aged 2), and wife to Ton who, like me, works from home. We live in Manila, the Philippines, and have collectively been working from home for 6 years. (My husband was working from home prior to me.)
Today, I am a freelance writer, with a focus on blogging and copywriting. I offer my freelance writing services via my blog, Daintymom.com, a lifestyle blog that is geared towards moms and women who would like to or are working from home. My writing clients are both women-business owners and brands that are geared towards women. I brand my writing and PR services under “Dainty Mom Media.”
I didn’t always use my blog as a platform for my writing services. I began my journey as a freelance writer purely out of curiosity: I wanted to know how to write for clients online. I began looking for writing jobs on Craigslist and Elance.com. I wrote mostly for clients who needed content or link-building articles. Eventually, I was able to find clients who wanted to hire me for my services on a long-term basis.
When I was able to balance several clients who needed similar writing jobs, I moved on from writing web content and link-building articles. I began focusing on creative writing: web and print copy, a variety of PR writing projects, and even scripts, audio-visual productions, magazine concepts, etc.
In the past year, though, I’ve been building up my blog as a platform to help market mom-owned/women-owned businesses, and brands targeted towards women and families. Blogging, in this respect, has become a major part of my business now.
What did you do before launching your own business?
I used to work as the head of a tutorial department in a small school, before I began working from home as a freelance writer. I began doing small online writing jobs on the side, while I was still working full time at the school. I’d use my free time after work hours to write.
How did you fund your business? I had invested in my own laptop so that I could keep up with blogging, but that was before I even thought of venturing into freelance writing. Eventually, I began taking sideline jobs, writing SEO articles and the like for a handful of clients. That was my first venture into outsourced work, because my clients would be based abroad. The PayPal savings that I’d accumulated from these writing jobs eventually went towards purchasing my own domain, Daintymom.com. Around this time, I was lucky enough to receive a year of free webhosting, thanks to a contest by Tanya Peterson over at Blogelina.com.
How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent is your home office?
I work about 20 to 30 hours a week. I spend all of that time on my laptop, at home. Sometimes I like to work out of the house, so I leave my son with my parents or with my in-laws, and take a few hours of time alone just to get a large chunk of work done.
How would you rate your success?
I am very pleased at how well freelance writing has turned out for me. Since deciding to work from home full-time, I’ve been able to increase my income by more than double what I used to make as a school employee. This has enabled us to put more into our savings and investments, which is of prime importance to us, being that we’re just starting out as a family. The blog, Dainty Mom, has been instrumental as a “storefront” for my freelance services. I recently added some consultancy services to my roster of offerings, since I had been getting frequent emails on how to start a blog, how to work from home, how to write, etc.
I should mention one particular aspect that been essential to my “success,” and that is coaching. I am very grateful for the support and coaching I’ve received from work-at-home “experts” in the blogosphere. It’s hard to set yourself apart from among the millions of mom-run blogs out there, so it helps to consult with other moms in business who have been in the blogging business or writing business. I’ve learned much from consultations, and I’ve also gleaned a lot in terms of business advice just by following women who have successfully established business blogs.
What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?
For a time, my biggest struggle as a freelance writer was in learning how to streamline my service offerings. Before, I’d take on all sorts of writing jobs, without really specializing in a particular niche or topic area. This led to me spending a large chunk of time on writing jobs that were time-demanding, but were not very profitable. I learned to let go of certain jobs that were not really helping me develop my writing skills for a particular niche.
These days, learning how to balance several clients with varying needs and demands can be extremely challenging. As a writer, I have to deliver creatively within specific time periods. I’m constantly learning how to juggle various projects while still maintaining that creative thought… it’s not easy, but it comes with the job.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I maintain a regular routine for work, home, and personal activities. Certain days are set aside for running errands out of the house (e.g. groceries, bill paying, etc), other days are reserved for “me” time. My husband and I maintain a weekly lunch or dinner date – it helps keep us excited for our times alone together. In the same way, I pattern my work hours according to my son’s schedule. After all, he’s the reason why I decided to work from home!
I make sure I block off a chunk of my day for “power writing,” wherein I do all my writing projects in one, huge “go.” I also set up vacation responders for when I’m out of the “office” or on weekends, so that people are aware of my work hours and availability. Weekends are sacred to family and friends, so I don’t schedule any blogging events or work on Saturdays and Sundays.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Before venturing into your own business, you need to first be sure that you really LOVE what you would like to do. I always knew I wanted to write for a living, but I didn’t start out writing the things I wanted to. It took time to build up my services; it took time to develop different writing styles; it took time to grow the blog. Despite these challenges, you need to stay motivated, and you need to be working towards a goal.
Website: Dainty Mom Media
Blog: Dainty Mom Blog
Facebook Fan Page: Dainty.Mom