Wednesday, May 02, 2018

When to turn your hobby into a business

This month marks my blog's 12th birthday. Twelve years I've been blogging, folks! Actually, it should be 13 years because I started blogging on Friendster in 2005 then moved to Blogger and got a proper blog name in May 2006.

Blogging started as a hobby—a very fun hobby, too! But in 2008, I was invited by Nuffnang to join other bloggers all over Asia for a bloggers conference in Singapore. I couldn't believe what I saw there. The bloggers from Singapore, for example, were living lavish lifestyles sponsored by many brands. Meanwhile, the Pinoy bloggers I was with (Alodia Gosiengfiao, Anton San Diego, Ramon Bautista, Hannah Villasis, and more) all told me how they earned from their blog. I just couldn't understand it then but that really was the push that made me decide on monetizing my blog.

Pretend blogging haha for a photo shoot for Biogenic Alcohol.

And here we are! It's 2018. My blog started earning serious money in 2013. Enough to be my family's main source of income for the last 5 years. To say I'm grateful that a little hobby has turned into a massive blessing is an understatement! 

If you're a mama who hopes to start a business but doesn't know where to start, you can start with your hobbies! Who knows, right? Anyway, I wrote this article for now-defunct website, I hope it helps you!

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Hello, my name is Frances and I’m a professional blogger. Yes, by professional, I mean it’s a real job. My blog is registered with the DTI and the BIR, I have official receipts, and I pay my many taxes. What was once an enjoyable hobby is now a legitimate income-generating venture. I never would’ve thought that this would happen when I started my blog—with the fancy-shmancy name of, no less—more than ten years ago. If I had known it was going to become a big business, I’d have given my blog name more thought!

That’s the thing with any hobby—you start it for your own personal pleasure, not because you’re thinking of how it can make you money. So what do you do when it becomes bigger than you expect? Should you turn it into a business? Here’s how to tell when a hobby should become a business: 

Sharing my finds is part of being a mom blogger. It's not always easy to blog about. Sometimes it requires weekends hunting for things and also actually building stuff so that my readers can really get the low down on the stuff I find! 

When you’re spending a lot of time on it
Hobbies are usually the things we do when we can find pockets of time away from our hectic schedules. But when it starts eating up your day, you should consider earning from it. After all, what is it they say? “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If you can make your hobby earn money, then not only will you look forward to work every day, you also won’t hear your family and friends complaining about you spending too much time on your knitting or baking or surfing! 

Bridal fashion designer and floral bouquet entrepreneur Michi Calica-Sotto may already have a lot on her plate but her love for stand-up paddling [SUP] gave her more ideas. “I spent at least three times a month, [from] 8am to 5pm, paddling. Other weeks it was more. Two weekends a month in Anilao,” she said of her devotion to her hobby. “I also spent two hours a day searching the internet for news on SUP, say, where next to paddle, new gear, forums.” 

With all that time Michi spent on stand-up paddling, she decided she should use that time earning money, too. Hence, her business selling equipment like boards, paddles, and leashes. She also offers tours and classes on SUP.

When you’re spending a lot of money on it
I started blogging because it didn’t cost a thing. As a writer and editor, I already had a computer and an internet connection. But as I became more serious with blogging, I began investing in good cameras, buying clothes for #OOTDs, and spending a lot on Uber attending events. Hobbies can be an expensive pastime!

Michi agrees. She lists the initial costs of SUP: “A board is P60,000, a paddle is P8,000, and a leash is P1,600. Of course there were the outfits at P20,000. Then we must count the overnight stays in the beach, about P10,000 at a time.” She accedes, “I realized my hobby did cost a little something, so it was wise to make some money to sustain it, later on to really promote this sport, as it is the fastest growing sport in the world. SUP is in the rise in our country.”

I wanted my blog to earn money because attending events costs a lot of money! Pamasahe pa lang, ang gastos na!

When there’s no one else who seems to be doing it
Some hobbies are specialized. You can either relish being one the few people who can enjoy it or you can see this as an opportunity to make money! For Tab Abad, it wasn’t really a hobby but an obsession with being well-groomed that pushed her to start her waxing business. As a young girl, Tab enjoyed keeping herself neat. “I love grooming. Growing up, I always had a kikay kit. I’m very hairy so you can imagine my arms! I would always make the hair straight so it does not look magulo. As young as 14, I was already threading my brows, the hair in between. In fact I would always tell the girl at the salon, ‘Just clean it, don’t give it a shape,’ because what do they know of shaping that time? I just want everything neat and orderly.” 

Tab was able to enjoy being neat and orderly when she worked at cosmopolitan Jakarta, which had grooming salons. Until she realized she wanted to go back home. “But going back home meant I would miss all these services I was doing in Jakarta,” she said. “So I decided to ask the franchise of the business for Manila because I needed to make sure I would have some place I can go to for the rest of my life. This I know would make me happy!” 

It also made her lots of money. Tab put up The Strip and Browhaus, a string of successful waxing and grooming salons, at a time when no one was talking about specific grooming services. Everyone either went to a big salon or did hair removal themselves. Tab said, “This was one way to help generate opportunity. Opportunity wherein one would not need to go abroad for greener pastures... Back then, there was hardly any niche or service-specific salon. These services were always taking a back seat in salons, and those that tried still didn’t have that international quality to make it really good and fantastic.” Seeing that no one was offering what she wanted, Tab created a business that catered to her needs. Filipinas who loved a hairless smoothness thanked her forever after that! 

I finally gave blogging workshops because people kept asking me for advice!

When your family and friends and their friends start asking you about it
Some hobbies are so fascinating or require a unique skill that people can’t help but notice it... and want it, too. Anna Chavez never thought her childhood hobby of “lettering” and doodling was going to become a business. While in the thick of her corporate job, Anna took up the pen more seriously. “A few years ago, around 2014, I suddenly realized I missed having a creative outlet so I started to immerse myself in the craft again.” She became so good at calligraphy that her family and friends saw an opportunity for her to earn from it. “It was my cousin, Ghia Pastoral—owner of The Write Impression, which I think is the best invitation and stationery supplier in the country!—who gave me the idea and encouraged me to put my hobby to good use. In early 2015, she started giving me clients for envelope addressing and referred me to her clients along the way.” 

With clients lining up for her services, Anna took the plunge. “It was the most opportune time since I was planning to quit my corporate job of 13 years and finally be a work-at-home mom. So together with my own accounting business, which I also started in 2015, I decided to make calligraphy a full-time job.” 

When you’re consistently earning from it
Last but most telling of all is the money your hobby is making you. Some hobbies make money for a season, like during the holidays when enterprising moms would bake extra goodies or create extra crafts to sell to gift-seeking shoppers. If your hobby’s income goes beyond the season and people are hankering for your products and services all year, then time to make it legit. 

At a workshop for enterprising entrepreneurs I attended a few years ago, financial writer and businessman Fitz Villafuerte told us that if we’re consistently making at least P5,000 a month, then that’s the signal to put up a business. Since my blog was regularly earning way more than that, I realized that this little hobby is actually our family’s main source of income. That’s why my blog is now a business! 

A hobby that becomes your business truly is a dream come true. Every day, I am amazed that I get to do what I love. The entrepreneurial moms featured here agree. Michi is happy her stand-up paddling business lets her work on the beach. Tab is ecstatic that she not only enjoys being perfectly groomed anytime she wishes, but also relishes the fact that many Pinays have access to those services. Anna admits that it’s not all roses. “Of course when projects start piling up, it becomes very exhausting, that when all’s done I would refuse to pick up a pen for days or weeks! But in the end, my love for writing (literally!) wins me over. And I keep reminding myself that not everyone is as lucky – earning from something I love to do, at the comfort of my own home.” 

For stand-up paddle tours, lessons and gear, contact SUP Central Tours in Coron 6390 188 6609; Soloviento Caliraya 09188911968 

For invitation calligraphy for weddings, debuts and corporate events, logo design, and other paper products, contact Calligraphy by Anna on Instagram: @CalligraphyByAnna and

For waxing and face grooming needs, visit the websites of The Strip and Browhaus.

If you need help registering your business and paying your taxes, sign up for Taxumo! Use my code FRANCES to get P100 off the first time you file your taxes and FREE one month for Taxumo PRO =)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: BabyLove Premium Gold Pants Diapers

Hi mamas! I told you last week that we finally tried out a new diaper brand. Because life is short and it presents lots of choices and it's fun to explore those choices, right? And also there's now online shopping! Now here's my quick review of BabyLove Premium Gold Pants.

1. It's a quality product.
Notice the word "premium." That means it's special and it really is. No joke! When the BabyLove diapers arrived, the diapers felt luxurious. Excellent materials. Soft and light. Cute design. Smells good. Really well-made. I know quality when I see and feel it and this BabyLove diaper is top notch.

2. It makes my son feel comfortable. 
The diaper is soft and smooth all over. No sharp edges, no scratchy surfaces, no plasticky feel. Nothing that can hurt or irritate my son Piero's skin. And with him, we have to be extra careful because his skin is more prone to allergies than his brothers' skin. And BabyLove diapers are hypoallergenic. Really a great pick for babies with skin allergies!

3. It really keeps my baby dry.
It quickly sucks up all the pee, so the skin isn't exposed to any wetness, and then it keeps all liquid away from the surface. It doesn't matter if Piero sits, lies down, bounces—that trapped pee is not going to leak out at all! Why? It has Lock & Dry Protection which is really just the absorbing microbeads in the center of each diaper. (These make for great science experiments, by the way! Maybe we can talk about that in another post.) Plus, it also allows air to circulate so the skin doesn't sweat. And we like the leak-proof barriers around each pants hole. These fit snugly around each chubby thigh, preventing any leaks.

There you go! My three reasons why I love BabyLove Premium Gold Pants!

Actually, it's Piero who loves them because he wears them all the time. He likes them so much, our toilet-training sessions have been derailed because, in Piero's words, "Mama, I want to wear this FOREVER!" Uh oh!

Mamas, if you're looking for a new diaper to try, do check out BabyLove diapers. Get them from Lazada so you can have the ease and convenience of having your new diapers delivered to your home. It's Lazada's Birthday on April 25 to 27! You can get your BabyLove diapers on COD terms and shipping is free! SHOP HERE!

Check out the Facebook page of BabyLove Philippines for more info!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Waiting in the wings

"By 40, all women are amazing."

Gwyneth Paltrow said that in an article for the November 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar. That month, I turned 40 and reading that quote from supermom Gwyneth just made me feel... I don't know. Not exactly amazing. I was thinking, "I'm 40. I'm amazing. And yet I don't feel amazing because NOTHING is happening to me. I'm just here at home, elbow deep in childcare, and trying to get some sort of work done. I'm nothing special. I used to be hot shit. Now, nothing."

This blog post has been brewing in my head and my heart for more than a year now. Maybe more. I've changed my mind many times about it as my heart and my head fight it out but I finally let myself submit to the one who should have always been in charge anyway—my Lord! And right now, God is telling me that the only thing I should be concerning myself with is being there for my husband and my sons.

That's it. And that's okay.

This struggle started when my third son, Piero, was born. I've mentioned a few times that I've been having a hard time adjusting to having three kids. Actually, I realized just recently that I was having a hard time adjusting to three kids AND my need to be doing something else. I have three kids and juggling two jobs: I'm a blogger and an editor. I also squeeze in writing assignments, Boss Bellas workshops for Manila Workshops, and PR campaigns for brands sometimes.

Last year, 2017, was really hard for me. I went back to work while also still blogging, right? Well, I was confronted with the fact that I can't get paid higher or even equal than my last salary, I don't know a lot of things anymore because the world has moved on and it moved fast while I was being a mommy, and I was nobody again, working my way up the ladder again. And I was 40. "Life begins at 40," so it is said. I just didn't imagine 40 was going to be truly life beginning again.

Last year was very humbling. I remember one night when I sobbed to my husband Vince, telling him I had worked so hard and so long to become somebody and then motherhood happened and now I had to start all over again, like all the work I did before didn't matter. I cried, "What was all that for then? I feel like I wasted my life!" And he gently told me, "You know who you are. You know the work you can do. What you know about you and your work is what matters." Something like that. I was very upset that night! But he helped me feel better. My pride was wounded but it's okay. We all need to be knocked down once in a while and I'm glad that happened. I'm more humble now. And in many ways, I'm a better person because of it.

Celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary with the kids! 

I'm grateful. I may not be amazing anymore but I do have an amazing life and I really ought to be grateful. God is good and He is faithful. Yes, I stepped aside and focused on my family. Yes, I did something else (I did the crazy freelance life! I put up a blogging business!). Yes, other bloggers have become bigger and better. That's okay. I always liked the path I chose. Sometimes, however, I have to be reminded that I chose this and that I like it.

If you're a mommy who had to give up her career or pass up on a promotion or you find yourself saying no to a lot of nights out with friends (or concerts and musicals like Lion King!), breathe in, breathe out. Life isn't passing you by. Your life is happening right now. And one day, if you choose it, then the career will happen. The dressing up again will happen. Your super hot bod will come back again. Sure, it will take a ton of work but if you want it, it will happen. Just wait. I like to think that it's the other way around—that kind of life is waiting for you. You're just too busy with the important stuff right now.

My mommy life is happening and it is so very real, too—all its mess and chaos, sweaty hugs and sticky kisses, deafening shouts of joy, soft breaths of babies sleeping, conversations deep into the night with my husband, hearts bursting as we both watch our kids grow. Not a milestone missed! Add to that my working life and, honestly, what is this waiting for? I'm living the dream right here, right now. How crazy lucky am I?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Considering a career change around your kids? Here are questions to ask first!

All mothers are busy. We can all agree on that, right? But when the kids are already spending all day in school, or you're lucky enough to have responsible household staff, and you feel that you now have time to do what you've always wanted but still have time for family, what do you do?

Many mamas feel they are missing professional challenges in their life. Now that you have a little bit of time on your hands and your long-suppressed ambitions are getting rowdy in your heart, then it might be a good idea to look through your career progression options. Whether you would like more flexibility or better time management, there is a perfect job out there for you. Before you make your final decision, however, you will need to check whether you can complete the transition and get what you want out of your new career. Here are the questions to ask yourself:

Do you have support?
Looking for a new job or asking for more work responsibilities is not just a professional decision. You have to make sure your family is behind you 100%. That means they really will be there for you when you come home late or need to meet deadlines. Supportive means they won't complain about the hours you spend studying or training. Supporting you means no emotional blackmail and making you feel guilty. It's hard enough to be a working mama so you're going to need your family's cooperation if you believe it's time to pursue your dreams.

Do you really have the time to pursue this?
One of the things mothers struggle with is time. You don’t want to spend more time away from home than necessary. If you are working full time at the moment, you might not be able to commit to training and development. If your training or further schooling is far from home, you might feel bad at the long commute, especially if you live in the traffic hell that is Manila. Before you decide which career option to go for, it is important that you check the time it will involve and if you're okay with committing to it. I'm not being discouraging, okay? I'm just being pragmatic. Best to know if you can do it than jump in and then find that you wasted your family's money and efforts because you didn't have the time to do it.

Being a consultant editor for BABY magazine was perfect! I brought the kids along to photo shoots, for example.

Can you build on your existing qualifications?
One of the best ways of speeding up your career progression or transition is to look for a new course that takes into consideration your previous qualifications. As an example, if you would like to upgrade your diploma online RN to BSN you will get credits for your previous course and get your degree faster studying at your own pace.

How flexible are your choices?
When raising kids, you will have some important responsibilities that you cannot neglect. Ideally, you would like to spend the weekends with your family, eat dinner with the kids, and be able to attend parents’ meetings and football matches. If your chosen career is not likely to give you this flexibility, you might need to look further. If, however, you will be able to work from home for a couple of days a week, you can work around your family life. That's my life now! It takes a lot of discipline, working from home, since there's a bed, a TV, and books to distract you! But I do enjoy working from home.
There's a lot of cute guys in my work place. Here's the littlest one!

Have you considered starting a business?

If you're tired of your office hours or the commute or if you're a housewife who now wants to work but doesn't want to go back to the stiff corporate environment, then you might consider starting your own business and being your own boss. Like I did! While at the beginning you’ll need to put in the extra hours and work hard, in the end you will get more freedom and money to spare. Consider your options and build on your strengths and opportunities to create a long term plan that works for you. From blogging to becoming an affiliate, virtual assistant, or online accountant, there are several options to choose from, depending on your qualifications, interest, and skills. 

I turned my blog into a business: I get sponsorships, partnerships, brand ambassadorships, and launched workshops.

Us working mamas often struggle with work-life balance. If you feel like it is time for a career change, consider your current and future commitments, and what your new job will help you to achieve. This way, you can not only improve your career, but also live a more balanced life.

*This post has affiliate links.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The day after our wedding

Look at what Vince found last week! Photos from the morning after our wedding!

He's showing off his wedding ring. Hindi nakita haha
My eye bags are so wow.

These were 11 years ago. I took them with my Blackberry. We were so exhausted and exhilarated. Just so giddy and happy and tired. My eye bags are huge! I swear I look younger now than I did 11 years ago haha Thank you, eye cream!

Oh, such a happy day my wedding was. But, as someone once said in a speech at another wedding a long time ago, your wedding day is not the happiest day in your life. And it's true. The next day was. And most days after that. When the children are born... Oh my dear heaven, nothing beats that day and I'm so glad I had three of those blessed days.

Sure, marriage isn't all happiness. One time, Vince and I had a massive fight and I said I wasn't happy anymore and he seethed back, "So what? I didn't marry you to make you happy. I married you till death do us part!" And I was taken aback and realized that if every couple married for happiness, then what do you do when you're not happy anymore? And in life, there is only one guarantee—it's going to be hard, sometimes so hard you can't see through the darkness and despair. That's why you vow to stick together for better and for worse. Your husband is the hand you hold as you struggle out of the muck. And we went through a lot of shit a few years ago, and we came out of it still together and stronger than ever.

I can see Vince reading that last sentence and rolling his eyes in mirth. Vince likes to tease me whenever I blog about difficulties in our marriage. He goes, "Grabe, parang maghihiwalay na tayo! Grabe ang drama!" Kainis!!! In my mind, these are real struggles. But in his mind, I guess, as long as we're together, they're nothing to be worried about. He's so stable, so secure, so sure. I love this man.

Happy anniversary, Vince! Eleven years married, 19 in love. Next year is 20 years yo! You're such a lucky guy. And I'll always be the luckiest girl.