Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bed Bug Laundry and Dry Cleaning Service

I always feel inspired when I see a business which has found a niche where they are truly helping people solve a problem. The NYC Bedbug Laundry is an excellent example of this. The company provides a discreet and easy to use service for people who need to have clothing and household fabrics like towels and bedding treated after a bedbug infestation.

In addition to being convenient, the free pickup and delivery service offered by the NYC Bedbug Laundry is also helpful to the community because it helps keep bedbugs from spreading from people taking infested fabrics to laundromats. Instead, the materials are safely bagged and transported to a facility where they are professionally treated, washed, and dried.

Another useful thing about the service is that you can have your clothing, bedding, etc treated at the same time that your home is being treated. You can have your fabric items delivered to you when your house or apartment is once again free from bedbugs.

The people at NYC Bedbug Laundry made themselves experts in a field where their work is helpful and necessary. Their website is also very informative regarding why it's important to work with professionals when dealing with bedbugs. The bottom line is that it's one of those problems where it just makes sense to work with people who know exactly what they are doing to help you keep your home pest-free.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Learning from the World of Antiques and Collectibles

I learned a lot about being an independent entrepreneur by reading the story of a self-employed antiques dealer in Maureen Stanton's book, Killer Stuff and Tons of Money. Earlier this month I posted a review of the book on EzineArticles.

The central figure of the book is an antiques dealer who works out of his house rather than going to an office or other "typical" place of business every day, and as someone who mostly works from my house, I could relate to his experiences balancing work, home, and family. There's a vivid image of his antiques encroaching on the living space in the house--it made me think of my books and papers strewn from room to room. Anyway, all this to say: even if you're not particularly interested in antiques, this is a great book to check out if you want to read the story of an indie businessman.

I've been doing a little selling on eBay over the past few months, so the story had some extra resonance for me in the descriptions of "the hunt" for treasures--although the stuff I look for (mostly t-shirts and toys) is a far cry from the antiques in the book!

It was clear to me that Maureen Stanton developed a great interest in antiques and collectibles over the course of her research for the book, and I hope she chooses to write more on the topic.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rebounders by Rick Newman

Usually I wait to post about a book until I've finished reading it, but I have a free moment right now, and I don't want to put off writing about this book until I get around to it later (you never know when that will be!). I picked up the book Rebounders by journalist Rick Newman at the library a few weeks ago along with some other books about entrepreneurship and career change. For more about the book, check out this page on Newman's website.

There are two things I really like about this book! First of all, it's story-based; Newman shares the stories of people in a variety of career fields who either went through a "comeback" (or multiple comebacks) after having career and/or personal difficulties, or who have had a long, hard road to success. The other thing I really like is that Newman shares his own story of figuring out how to bounce back in his own life following a difficult divorce and some professional struggles because of the downturn of print journalism as blogs and other online outlets started taking over.

It was interesting for me as a reader because the first couple of in-depth examples in the book were about men, and I thought, wow, if he doesn't write about a woman soon, I'm going to lose patience with this book, and then the next chapter told the story of Lucinda Williams. I have to say that it was pretty motivating to me personally to read about Williams taking singing lessons in Los Angeles while she was working on kickstarting her career. If Lucinda Williams can be humble and take voice lessons, I can certainly be open to taking classes, doing research, learning from others, etc. There are a lot of things to do as an artist or other professional rather than just "waiting" for something to happen; success isn't just going to come while you wait for it--you have to work on your skills, put in the hours on your new business, etc.

In other words, this is an encouraging book that teaches by example. If you're like me and can draw strength by taking lessons from the experiences from others, pick up this book--especially if you're working through a challenging phase in your career.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Inspiring Barbara Winter

I said months ago that I'd post a review of Making a Living without a Job by Barbara Winter. I don't know why it's taken me so long to post about it because basically I just want to say that I loved the book.

It's a cheering and inspirational book for aspiring indie businesspeople. The author was ahead of her time with a lot of her ideas about self-employment, including her idea about setting up multiple streams of income. What I especially like about the book is her emphasis on not getting overwhelmed by instead focusing on small and achievable goals. For an idea of the author's philosophy, check out this recent blog post of hers about her concept called The $100 Hour.

If you're thinking of shifting more into working for yourself and/or want to expand your existing independently-run business, check out Barbara's book. It's a great source of encouragement for solo-entrepreneurs.

Speaking of solo entrepreneurs, check out this interview I did with Part-Time Ted, a guy who has built a career on developing content-rich websites.

Monday, April 29, 2013

An Inspiring Book for Indie Businesspeople

I've been meaning to post about some books I read earlier this year, but I keep getting busy posting interviews to With Five Questions. Well, I was thinking this morning about how much books help to inspire me as an independent author and entrepreneur, so I wanted to take time to share.

If you read blogs and/or books about do-it-yourself small businesses, you've probably already heard of Chris Guillebeau. I'd been hearing his name for quite a while but hadn't read any of his stuff. Turns out that I liked The $100 Startup quite a lot.

The subtitle of the book is "Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future." The central idea of the book is that you can start a small business on your own right now, using skills you already have. The author shows you lots of examples of creative people working in a wide range of fields who are doing just that. Guillebeau bases the book on his own experience as well as the experiences of a number of people he's personally interviewed. He has a very encouraging voice as an author; basically he wants you to put down the book and go and set up a website or write a sales letter or do something to get your business idea off the ground.

What I like most about the book is the author's assertion that you don't need a lot of capital or other resources to start a business. In fact, he discourages readers from borrowing money, etc. His emphasis is on starting small. This low-risk and potentially high-yield approach is very tempting, and you can experiment with it without quitting your day job.

The book actually inspired me to start teaching some independently-run online classes. I read about an artist Guillebeau interviewed who had turned her photography skills into a series of online classes, and I decided to try the same with my writing skills. My first poetry workshop is just wrapping up, and I'm taking registrations for a summer workshop now.

With his examples and his you-can-do-it perspective, Guillebeau makes you want to explore new ways to turn your interests and skills into businesses that you can run independently from home (or from anywhere in the world, if you want to travel with your laptop or tablet or smartphone). There are enough examples in the book that something is going to resonate with you. Based on my personal experience, I can definitely recommend The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.

Coming soon: a review of Making a Living without a Job by Barbara Winter.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review of Put More Cash in Your Pocket

I'm always skeptical about money-making books, yet I can't help perusing them when I visit the library. Not long ago, I checked out Put More Cash in Your Pocket by Loral Langemeier.

What I like most about this book is that it doesn't aim for the moon. It aims for a smaller goal of extra cash each month. The author suggests that everyone can put their existing skills to work in a self-run business and make $500 to $1000 per month. I think this estimate is a little on the high side for many of us, but the author's heart is in the right place. She wants to encourage each reader to figure out a way to start making extra money without investing money you don't have.

The other two things I like are that the author gives practical tips, worksheets, and advice--and she offers detailed case studies of people starting small businesses in areas like tutoring, computer repair, and power washing. The book feels accessible, and the plans seem doable.

Langemeier does have a taste for snappy phrases, and I feel like she oversimplifies a bit in her role as cheerleader and encourager. I haven't read other books of hers, and I've read that she talks a lot about real estate in her other work. This book doesn't talk about real estate or anything that requires more than a few hundred dollars in start-up costs (and you can even avoid that if you already have the equipment you need).

All in all, this is a friendly and encouraging book for people who want to start practical home-based businesses to increase their income without quitting their day jobs.

For more on Langemeier, see this review of another of her books on Get Rich Slowly.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Is Fiverr?

Here's a brand-new article I wrote about starting a small business on

How to Start a Micro-Business on Fiverr

How to Start a Micro-Business on Fiverr
By Amanda Laughtland

On Fiverr, sellers offer goods and services for five dollars, and buyers use PayPal to purchase those goods and services. The website functions as an international marketplace and an intermediary, processing payments, handling disputes, and taking a commission of 20 percent from every sale.

On the one hand, you might well be thinking, "What am I going to sell for just four dollars?". On the other hand, Fiverr is more complicated (and offers more earning potential) than its name would suggest.

Outside of the active community of sellers on Fiverr, a lot of people don't know that Fiverr has a small but significant series of levels, and as you advance beyond the basic level for new members, you have opportunities for sales beyond the five-dollar mark.

The key to making more than pocket change with Fiverr is to become a Level One seller, at which point you can add extras onto your five-dollar gigs. There's also a Level Two, and then there are Fiverr-selected Top Sellers, but simply breaking into Level One marks a solid step toward more income through the site.

For example, if you want to offer article writing services, you might offer a 250-word article for five dollars, with the option of a 500-word article for ten dollars, and maybe another option for a set of three related articles for 20 dollars. We're still talking micro-business, but it can become a nice part-time job, especially for someone who wants to work from home and needs flexible hours.

All sellers must start out with five-dollar gigs with no extras. You need to be on the site for 30 days and have completed at least ten orders to earn the Level One status; you also need to maintain high ratings from buyers.

And so we return to the question: What are you willing to do to make four dollars? Some sellers create gigs that are worth far more than the price tag, biding their time to reach higher levels where they can restructure their gigs and add extras. But why not give serious thought to that four-dollar question?

There might be smallish jobs you'd gladly do for just a little cash. What skills do you have? What jobs are easy for you to finish quickly? Do you have (or could you put together) an e-book that teaches valuable tips that aren't readily available elsewhere? Maybe you have something you're already putting time into (like a website, Twitter account, or Facebook page) that you could leverage into a Fiverr gig.

My best advice is to find something you like to do. When I signed up on Fiverr, I knew I wanted to do writing-related work, but I didn't want to be on the computer for hours to earn less than a penny per word. So I started by coming up with some gigs that utilize my skills in writing and blogging but also involve buyers in sharing the writing tasks.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to browse the different categories and listings on the site to see what other sellers have to offer, and definitely take time to visit the Fiverr Forum (linked at the bottom of the main Fiverr page) and talk to other sellers for some friendly chat and good advice.

Amanda Laughtland is a writer, editor, and publisher who teaches English at the college level. She offers a range of gigs related to writing, publishing, and the arts on her Fiverr page, located at

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