Emily's experience

Securing my childminding business through a global pandemic

When the Coronavirus pandemic began in 2020 I was still a new childminder. I registered in 2019 following the resignation from my role as a teacher so that I could be in charge of my own curriculum, be my own boss and stay home with my young daughter. We had spent a year with two lovely children and built a network of fellow childminders, groups and classes to attend and I was enjoying it immensely.

However, once the pandemic gathered pace and lockdown was introduced I began to panic. As a newly self-employed person I was eligible for no grants or financial support, my income already modest as a small setting because my daughter is included in my ratios was in jeopardy and I began to feel lonely during the day with heightened anxiety, unable to socialise with other children and adults for the 10 hours I was minding and beyond. I wondered what I would do if I could not come to a financial agreement with my mindee’s parents, if they withdrew their children completely or we had to close due to my husband’s medical conditions.

It was at this point that I discovered an advert for Usborne Books at Home and School! I asked for further information and discovered that here was a self-employed opportunity to sell books from home, work with schools and earn a second income all in my own time around my childminding business - as much or as little as I wanted - all for a joining fee of £48.00 which in turn included a website and a box of books worth £150.00...all with no targets or pressure, just one compulsory order. I thought I would give it a go as £150 books for £48 seemed like a good deal and I had nothing else to lose - and The Wormy Apple Bookshop was born.

Managing more than one business

Because my Usborne Bookshop does not require me to do anything compulsory, I am able to flex the workload depending on how busy I am with my childminding. If I have training to complete, or learning journeys to update, I will do less with the books that week and vice versa. I usually reply to any messages when I finish childminding, and have a ‘power hour’ in the week or at the weekend where I schedule social media posts, plan for my projected monthly sales, and then the odd evening I my run a team training since I was promoted to team leader.

I am responsible and accountable for my own time management, but I was willing to spend a little more time in return for a little more money. I was surprised at the balance of this, especially as for me it feels like a hobby, so getting paid is a bonus!

I am fortunate enough to work with parents who also love books, and they frequently place an order a couple of times a month after seeing their children enjoying the books within my setting, or on the back of a special offer I tell them about, or a recommendation of a particular title. My goal is to integrate the two businesses as much as possible.

Involving the wider community

I have brought books to the local community through a charity fundraiser for my granny’s care home, where local residents pledge £5 to sponsor a magic painting book for a lonely person, and I deliver these to the residents with a little note to say who it is from. The care home residents were overjoyed to be thought of, and loved the activities within the books too.

I hosted a virtual book party for a playgroup, and got them lots of free books through the ‘host’ benefits. I have done doorstep deliveries for home-schooling resources on my daily exercise, and more recently booked 10 reading challenge events and virtual book fairs for schools across the country for World Book Day. This will get these schools hundreds of pounds of books for free, provide a boost to my modest childminding income, and promote literacy to children at the most important of times. I am very proud of the way that everyone benefits.

I am in touch with potential customers via social media, my existing network of friends and childminders, by distributing leaflets and catalogues, and generally growing awareness of The Wormy Apple Bookshop through word of mouth.

No money worries

Thanks to the income generated through my book sales, I have been able to continue to run my small childminding setting without worrying about the cost. I have been able to gain hundreds of pounds of books for my setting for free, I have introduced new stories to the families at my setting, I have brought books to my local community and enriched the lives of care home residents, I have felt a sense of purpose and belonging within the Usborne community. I have made new friends.

I have built a team (consisting mainly of childminders, teachers, EYFS workers and mums) whom I support to set up their own bookshops across the country which has enabled me to win a company award (dinner at The Ivy with Peter Usborne no less!) and I have made additional money from home, all whilst enriching my childminding business. The two have blended together wonderfully and I am so grateful I have been able to extend my offering by providing a valuable service to many parents locally.

I hope to continue to run the two together for a long time to come, and continue connecting with childminders and those in similar positions to do the same.

Emily Robinson
Childminder, and owner of The Wormy Apple Bookshop
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www.usborne.com/organiser/wormyapplebookshop