The 20 Minute At-Home Money Maker

by Mary Jo Rulnick

Would you like to earn extra money? Money you can earn without leaving your home, with the knowledge you already know?

As entrepreneurs, stay-at-home mothers, business people or parents, we all have knowledge to share with others. Whether your knowledge is tips on making, saving or planning budgets, or business strategies, you can sell your advice to publications.

According to Writer's Digest (Cincinnati, OH), the "How-To" article is the most popular piece of writing sold and needed today. Why? Today's society is the self-help era. Everyone wants to learn something new. And you can tap into this "need" to learn by writing and selling the tips, advice and know-how you offer to your friends, family and business associates.

All you have to do is tap into the unique source of knowledge you have floating around inside their head. Information you know. But, how do you start?

First, keep a notebook handy. Jot down your tips, ideas, and advice usually give away. After you've gathered enough related material on one subject, (i.e. marketing strategies, business start-up, dealing with kids while working at home, organizing family and business life) number them. Remember, each tip must have a common theme.

Next, write your tips into short, concise sentences. Which one is your strongest tip? It should be at the beginning of your article. And the next strongest or a tip that concludes your piece should be at the end. All other tips go in the middle. Your reader needs a strong beginning to entice her and a strong ending to satisfy her.

I've categorized "How-To" articles into four areas. The Hands-On article tells how to build, make or do a project. The Reporter describes a place, restaurant or item. The Advisory Page advises the reader on a subject. And the last one which is the easiest to write is the Tally Sheet.

A Tally Sheet lists a certain number of helpful tips on a specific subject. These tips have a common theme throughout the piece.

Tips on writing a Tally Sheet:
  • Give an opening sentence (also called lead) expressing the problem.
  • Keep advice short and to the point.
  • Sequence your tips in logical order.
  • Put weaker points in the middle or eliminate them completely.
  • Include a specific number of tips.

An example of a Tally Sheet:

Make the Most of Twenty Minutes!

A home-business requires attention and time. Time you can't always find. Here are three tips to increase the never-ending battle.

  1. Keep a tote bag, notebook or paperwork in the car. Take advantage of the wasted time during car pools, doctor's office, traffic jams, office delays, sport practices, etc.
  2. If you have kids, find an activity they can do. i.e. Once a week, I take my son and his friend to an indoor roller blading park. In the same building is a small cafe. I take my paperwork with me. While the boys are having a good time, I have several hours of nearly uninterrupted work time.
  3. In the evening, sort through your notes, files, etc. Then, make a to-do list for the following day or days. This small detail prepares you for the next day and eliminates the "Where do I start?" problem.

This is how easy it is to write a "How-To" piece.

After your article is completed, scan various magazines. Which one buys articles similar in topic to your? That's the type of magazine, ezine or newsletter you should sell.

And as I always say in my classes, if I can sell a "bingo" idea to Disney, anyone can write and sell "How-To" articles. Remember, one thought, one idea turns into a published "How-To" article. Now, pull out your pen and notebook and get started.

Mary Jo Rulnick, instructor, lecturer and author of Write Well & Sell: How-To Articles and co-author of Write Well & Sell: Self-Publishing Made Simple. She utilized the knowledge she gained as an active volunteer and stay-at-home mom enabling her to sell family-based "How-To" articles to Disney's FamilyFun Magazine, Highlights for Children, Hyperion Books, Pittsburgh's Parent and many other family publications across the country.

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