Woman helps others navigate divorce process

Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo Tracy Achen of Clovis wrote a book and created a Web site dedicated to helping women through divorce.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Tracy Achen took a lemon of a divorce procedure, and turned it into a profitable and enjoyable lemonade.

Referring to herself as an “information aggregator,” Achen self-published a divorce guide for women in 2004 and has maintained a Web site for eight years to help women navigate the divorce process.

In 1998, Achen said she went through a very difficult divorce and found more homework than she bargained for.

“There were books on divorce, but it was like they were written more for divorce lawyers … (and) most people don’t have a clue what they’re talking about,” when it comes to divorce.

Years later, Achen and her ex-husband mended their differences and are now close friends. But she didn’t forget the helplessness she felt in the divorce process.

“That was the reason I started the Web site. I never realized how traumatic a divorce could be,” she said. “There are things that they don’t tell you.”

Achen said she chose women as the traditionally “lesser income spouse,” because it was the audience she felt she could write for and speak to best, though she said much of the information she provides applies to men as well.

Though she markets her book for sale, both in print and as an E-book, she gives away a large amount of information and resources on her Web site — including articls from mediators, lawyers and financial advisors from around the country.

Her site averages 170,000 visitors a month with nearly half-a-million page views — a level normally reached by sites with millions in startup dollars.

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to take it to the level I have… it’s good, it’s definitely good,” she said.

Internet based businesses are often appealing because they can be often be done from home and people are more comfortable with the web, said Dianne Thompson of Clovis Community College’s Small Business Development Center.

“But (success is often) based on the business owner’s experience, how much time they put into the business and the exposure,” she said.

Now remarried, Achen said she was a single mother when she began her endeavor during hours off from her job as a magazine merchandiser.

“It’s all been self-taught. It’s been an interesting journey and I’m kind of glad that I was older when I went into it because (if I had computers in my youth) I could have been a total computer geek,” she said laughing.

“Anytime that I wasn’t working my job or taking care of the kids, I was on the computer.”

Her previous job began to take a physical toll on her, so she quit and jump into her website and writing full-time.

Achen, 47, now spends about 10 hours a day on the computer, and she’s never regretted her choice.

“It’s still a labor of love,” she said, “because of the way I’ve chosen to do it.”