Beyond The Buzz

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

– Ray Bradbury

Ten Twitter Tips For Work-at-Home Moms by Jill Hart

Published May 14th, 2010 in Guest Blogger, Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on Ten Twitter Tips For Work-at-Home Moms by Jill Hart

We’re happy to have a blog written by a fantastic guest blogger, Jill Hart. You can find out more about Jill at her website, Christian Work At Home Moms.

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Social Media is quickly growing into one of the most-used marketing tools for work-at-home moms. One of the largest social media websites, Twitter.com, can be an effective way to spread the word about your business and learn from other top representatives in your business niche. However, it can take a lot of time to determine the best ways to use Twitter effectively for business. Below are ten tips to help shorten that learning curve.

1. Choose a Meaningful User name
If possible, grab your business name as well as your own name for use on Twitter. Having an easy-to-find and easy-to-remember username is essential.

2. Brand your Twitter page
Don’t leave your Twitter page boring and plain – spice it up. Make sure you add your logo, contact information and any other information that will be helpful for customers and visitors to your page. You can use a website such as TwitBacks.com to create a free or very low-cost background to bring life to your page.

3. Learn the Lingo
Twitter can be very useful, but it can also be very frustrating … especially if you have no idea what all those little symbols mean that fly across the screen. Take the time to research the meanings of the tags most often used on Twitter. One great place to do so is right on Twitter itself: http://help.twitter.com/portal

4. Follow industry leaders
Veteran entrepreneur Diana Ennen shares this tip: “I love to follow industry experts on Twitter and gain all their business insight. It’s almost like being right there in their office and getting in on their trade secrets. Not only do they post tips and how to information, but often share their business successes and mistakes and that allows me to learn from them. It’s so worth it!“

5. Interact
Don’t be shy! Take a few minutes each day to comments on what others are discussing or to throw out a question or idea. You never know when a topic is going to spark a response and help you build relationships with customers and your fellow Twitter users.

6. Don’t make it all business news – be YOU
It’s great to share about the things going on in your business and you certainly will want to share specials, discounts and other items of interest to your customers. However, as a small business owner you have the unique ability to put a personal face on your business. Let your customers and readers get to know a little about you as well as your business.

7. Run Contests
Twitter is a great fast-paced way to a run a contest. By having a great prize you can create a viral network of “tweets” about your company and the giveaway you’re holding. Sit down beforehand and plan out some great 140 character tweets that you can use throughout the giveaway time – whether that be minutes, hours or even days.

8. Share
Make your Twitter feed a worthwhile read for your customers. Share tips that apply to your target market, links to articles and other informational tidbits. Create a #hashtag for your business or topic (see #3 above) so that you can track re-tweets and mentions of your posts.

9. Be Thankful
A great way to make friends and build contacts is to thank others who re-tweet (RT) your posts. Send a shout-out saying thanks or feature them at special times like FriendFriday (#FF). They’ll know that you’re grateful and you’ll build a community that supports you – and each other.

10. Promote Others
Contrary to popular belief it IS in your best interest to work together with other entrepreneurs and to help spread the word about great things that they may be doing. Not only will people be drawn to your Twitter feed for great information, but they will see that you’re willing to share about more than your own interests. Another great benefit is that those you help promote will one day be there to help promote you as well.

Twitter is a great marketing tool for work-at-home moms. It can help drive traffic to your website as well as aid you in building relationships with your target market. Use the tips above to help guide you in how to best use social media to benefit your business and your customers.

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Jill Hart’s entrepreneurial career began in her teens when she spent a summer working with her father who ran his own business. When he put her in charge of a Coke machine and allowed her to keep the profits, she saw the benefits of being her own boss. She is the founder of the popular Christian work-at-home website CWAHM.com and mentors business owners at http://SuccessfulChristianWomen.com. Jill is also the co-author of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom (Beacon Hill Press, 2009).

You can find her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/cwahm

So you want to be a work at home mom???

Published September 2nd, 2009 in Marketing, Our Blog, Strategies | Comments Off on So you want to be a work at home mom???

Home-based businesses are estimated to be a $427 billion-a-year industry. In recent studies it was found that as many as 105 million people in North America alone were working at home. Considering this information, it is obvious that home-based businesses can be successful and authors Jill Hart and Diana Ennen will help you succeed with your own.

So You Want to Be a Work-at-Home Mom details all the basics of starting a business in a spiritual, motivational, and comprehensive manner. From deciding what type of business to start to keeping your family and faith first, this helpful tool details every aspect of establishing a business. With proven success tips utilized by the authors and others who own work-at-home businesses, this inspiration approach will provide you with the resources you need to start your own home-based business.

So You Want to Be a Work-at-Home Mom includes:
* Detailed information on types of businesses to start
* Ideas and assistance for setting up, operating, and marketing your business
* Definitions and descriptions of work-at-home terminology and processes
* Help for developing your Website
* Explanations of the business nuts and bolts, including bookkeeping, taxes, and more

About the Authors
JILL HART is the founder of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com. Jill is a co-author of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom. Jill has published many articles and is a contributing author in Laundry Tales, The Business Mom Guide Book, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Faith Deployed. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies. Learn more about working from home at http://www.cwahm.com/work-at-home/ .

DIANA ENNEN has been a leader and mentor in the work-at-home industry since starting her business, Virtual Word Publishing, in 1985. She is the author of many books, including Virtual Assistant the Series; Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and Words from Home: Start, Run, and Profit from a Home-Based Word Processing Business. She resides in Margate, Florida, with her husband and their three children.

 

Below is an interview with the authors of So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom – Jill & Diana.

If have questions they are happy to answer your questions anytime. Leave a comment below or email Jill@cwahm.com or Diana@virtualwordpublishing.com

How long have you been working at home?

Jill Hart – I’ve been working at home since 2000. I had to go back to work full-time for a brief period in 2003 when my husband got out of the Air Force. At that point I got even more serious about making my business work and I’ve been home full-time since then.

Diana Ennen – I’ve been working at home since 1985, when my son was born. He’s now graduated college and already working towards his own career. I absolutely love it. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

 

What types of businesses do you operate?

Jill Hart – I run Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com, a website full of free resources, job listings and information about home businesses. I also write articles and books (yes, more books to come!) and am a blogger for sites like Time/Warner’s Christian Momlogic.com and a member of the Guideposts blogger team

Diana Ennen– I’m the President of Virtual Word Publishing. I’m a virtual assistant and specialize in marketing & publicity. I’ve also written numerous books on how to start a VA business and offer PR and VA Coaching.

 

Tell us about your book? How do you think it can benefit those who want to start a business?

Jill Hart – The book has been such a "God thing." He orchestrated the entire sequence of events – from putting Diana and I together as co-authors to bringing us to the right publisher. The book is a hands-on practical guide for anyone who wants to build a business from home. We cover topics ranging from how to select the right type of business for you, to how to get started, to how to market and grow your business.

Diana Ennen – I think one of the best features of our book is that it’s not only informative, but motivational as well. You’ll feel like friends are helping you on your journey to success. Also, we discuss numerous types of businesses to start and provide proven methods to achieve success. We also often hear how starting a business can be so overwhelming. That’s why we pay special attention to all the how tos. We feel very confident our book will help, not only those starting a business, but those already in business wanting to expand it.

 

What types of businesses are featured in your book?

Jill Hart – We have such a great range of contributors – everything from direct sales companies like Southern Living at Home and Avon to unique product-driven businesses like BSM Media and GrillCharms. These woman are amazing and give readers a great insight into how they’ve grown their businesses in very different ways.

Diana Ennen – We cover everything from direct sales companies to specialized areas such as medical transcription and virtual assisting. Also, Jill shares detailed information on starting a community based membership site. We think you’ll get a lot of helpful tips too from such work-at-home powerhouses as Maria Bailey and Lesley Spencer Pyle.

 

Do you have any tips for success for Christian entrepreneurs that you’d like to share?

Jill Hart – I think my favorite tip – shared with me by one of our contributors, Tammy Degenhart, almost ten years ago is that working together benefits everyone. She told me, "Jill, what you give to others God brings back tenfold" and I’ve seen that hold true time and time again. It may not be in financial gains and it may not look like what we expected but God is so faithful in that when we work together there is no competition – it’s a win-win situation.

Diana Ennen – Do what you believe in and use your own skills and prior experience to find the business that’s just right for you. Research/Research/Research. The more you research, the better your business. Continue to market and be out there. So many once they find a few clients stop marketing. You need to get out there continually. You then become the go to person when someone needs services or products that you offer.

 

What are some of the challenges that you see with those starting or operating a business?

Jill Hart – In my experience, I’ve talked with many women who get frustrated because success doesn’t come easily or quickly. Working from home may sound easy, but in reality it can actually be just as hard as working outside the home. There are many unique challenges, especially when working at home while raising children. If women don’t prepare themselves, they can become discouraged and disheartened.

Diana Ennen– One of the major challenges I see is losing belief in yourself that you can do it. That’s why I think a faith-based book will be so beneficial. Even when times get tough, you can rely on your faith to forge ahead.

 

With the economy, do you believe it’s still a good time to start a business? Why?

Jill Hart – I think it’s a better time than ever. The internet is so much more widely used than it was even nine years ago when I began my website. If people do their research and find a company that fits them as well as their budget this can be a great time to break into the work-at-home field.

Diana Ennen – Absolutely. In fact, I think there’s never been a better time. You might have to work a little harder, but it absolutely can be done. Plus, there are so many businesses who need us more than ever because of the economy. For example, with virtual assistants because businesses are downsizing they are seeking the help of a VA to help on an as needed basis.

 

Your book is written from a Christian perspective? Tell us a little about that and how you feel that makes it so unique?

Jill Hart – My faith is central to who I am and therefore central to my business. I began Christian Work at Home Moms because I wanted women to have a safe place where they could discuss not only business things, but also talk about an area that doesn’t get talked about a lot in business circles – how our faith affects our businesses. The book is written in a way that doesn’t hit anyone over the head with our faith, but it’s true to who we are and talks about things from the vantage point that we see life – through the lens of our faith.

Diana Ennen – There are so many books out there today on starting a business. However, few have the Christian mom in mind. We provide a lot of scriptures and examples of how you can use your faith to help you. Our hope is that not only will your business thrive, but it might just give a little boost to your faith as well.


Learn more about the book at Beacon Hill Press or SoYouWantToBeAWAHM.com.

 

E-newsletters – still relevant?

Published July 8th, 2009 in Marketing, Our Blog, Strategies | Comments Off on E-newsletters – still relevant?

I have consistently encouraged all of my clients to have a newsletter sign up, but recently, with the advent of social media/marketing, I have had a lot of people ask me about whether a newsletter or ‘e-blasts’ are still necessary.

YES!

A newsletter sign up, even if you don’t use it, gives you a solid database of people who are interested enough in your projects and what you’re doing to ASK for information. It’s classic push/pull marketing at it’s best. If you randomly send emails or information to people who haven’t requested it, you’re pushing your information to people who don’t care. On the other hand, if you’ve had people reach out to you, you’re pulling them in and sending them information that THEY have requested. Don’t undervalue that!

Here are a few tips for keeping your newsletters relevant:

Don’t become spam! People have a tendency to abuse these lists and send out far too many email blasts. They fill their readers’ inboxes way too often and begin to be tuned out as spam. This is a sure way to lose readers. Make sure that as you send out your newsletters or email blasts that your information is important to their day. Don’t fatigue your readers by sending out emails just to do so. You’ll lose them!

Conversely, a well thought out relevant email blast can build your readership quickly. If you include valuable resources and information that can better their day or their current situation, they will pass the newsletters along and your database will grow. Keep this in mind as you’re pulling together what to include!

Schedule wisely. Make sure that you send out your emails at targeted times. If you have a program set up that will send out emails ‘anytime’ and you let it send them out in the wee hours of the morning, then they’ll be waiting in someone’s inbox buried in mounds of spam! Even if people are interested in what you have to say, they’re more likely to hit that ‘delete’ button when they’re clearing their inbox than they would be if the mail arrived during their day. This works for Friday (clearing the inbox before leaving for the day – or sometimes taking the day off for a long weekend) and Monday morning clear outs from several days out of the office. The best times to send out email newsletters and blasts are Tuesday – Thursday.

Content is vital! When you put together your newsletter, make sure it’s not too copy heavy. People see lots of lines of text and tend to skim quickly and sometimes, skip completely! Don’t overwhelm them with columns and columns of text. Break up the copy with tastefully chosen graphics or pictures.

Your newsletter IS you. Every time you send out a newsletter, it’s a new chance for people to get to know you and your business better. Share current events or information that they may not find on your company’s website. Give people a reason to sign up for your newsletter. Send out tips, hints, or strategies that your readers can use. They’ll begin to rely on you more and more as a resource and that will create a solid following for all of your future projects.

If your business IS you (such as an actor or author) share more about yourself than they would learn from another venue (such as a magazine or amazon.com) and open yourself up so that people can invest more in following you. (Aka, I really like this person!) As you do this, it’s a razor’s edge. Be cautious with your security and how much you share. Keep the information ‘out there’ to your professional appearances and don’t ever share more than what makes you feel comfortable. It’s a razor’s edge to keep your personal life personal while putting yourself out there publicly.

Successful newsletters and email blasts are invaluable additions to your overall marketing plan. Use them wisely.

Lessons learned from the Celebrity Apprentice

Published April 20th, 2009 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on Lessons learned from the Celebrity Apprentice

Is anyone watching this show? I do. I watch it faithfully and I don’t miss an episode. Mainly it’s because no matter what the task is, marketing is always forefront in the competition. You need to have a really good handle on marketing to be able to succeed at this competition.

One thing struck me as I was watching this week’s (4/19) episode. Well, actually, several things struck me but one stuck with me long enough to make me sit down and write a blog for my business about it. When one of the players found out that another player was trying to go to her ‘competition’ to raise money, she went ballistic. I don’t use that phrase lightly. A lot of foul language was spewed about their offices and a phone call was put on speaker phone where this contestant reamed out someone who wasn’t even in the game.

I was appalled at her actions and the fact that offices (both her office and the other team’s office) were at a complete standstill while she ranted and raved and cursed loudly enough to hear it plainly up and down the hallway.

When this was brought to the warroom in front of Donald, Ivanka and Piers, all three of them were completely nonplussed with this player’s meltdown. She brought in money, she stopped the ‘attack’ on her team, and she won the challenge – what does it matter how she played?

Now I may not be the career expert that my client, Dondi Scumaci is, (visit her website at www.dondiscumaci.com for fantastic career advice and guidance!) but I can say with some clarity that I believe businesses DO care ‘how’ you get to the finish line. If you are representing a company, you must comport yourself with respect toward clients and others both inside and outside of the business. You ARE a representative of the company and you are their face when you’re working with others.

I don’t believe that companies today are so focused on results that they will put aside their morals and their public image. They want results, but I believe it’s just as important to maintain a professional image with those results.

When representing a client, I am always vitally aware that I am their personal representative. In a social media world where everything is ‘instant’, you need to maintain a filter that will allow you to always put your best, most professional foot forward. When one push of a button instantly puts a comment, press release or public image online, it is not just the fact that it’s instant, it must also be instantly right.

It’s not enough to know the Internet, marketing or networking, it’s also important to remember that you’re putting your company image in someone else’s hands and to trust that person or company implicitly.

Don’t make resolutions. Set goals!

Published January 6th, 2009 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on Don’t make resolutions. Set goals!

As happens every year, people around the world are making (and unfortunately already) breaking their resolutions for 2009. Most of the time, we find that as we do this, we’re hard pressed to keep up with drastic lifestyle changes or new fresh decisions on how to manage our businesses. Marketing is no exception.

In addition to viewing the new year as a fresh clean slate, it’s important to look back at the previous year and examine what worked and what didn’t. This enables you to set reasonable goals and expectations based on what we learned in 2008.

In the next few weeks I’ll be addressing some trends and ideas in marketing that you may want to keep in mind as you put together marketing plans for your business.

Marketing is not always, and should not be expected to be, ‘instant’. Does anyone remember that commercial a few years ago where the small company made their website live and instantly started receiving hits? Then quickly, they realized they were in over their heads and everything turned from ‘fun’ to scary? I have clients mention that commercial to me several times a year, all of them saying that they’re afraid to have that happen. They don’t want to end up over their heads. So they don’t proceed with marketing plans, afraid to step out. On the flip side of that, I’ve also had clients who have dropped my services after just a week or two because they didn’t receive the instant gratification. They were expecting results similar to those of the commercial.

Both of these approaches to marketing will backfire for you and your company and do you more harm than good. For those who are afraid to venture forth because they don’t want to be overwhelmed, a good solid marketing company will take into account your budget, what you can and can’t offer to clients and work within those parameters to ensure you have the best marketing plan to suit your needs. They will partner with you to manage expectations, and help assist you in both defining your marketing plan and dealing with business growth based from that plan. They will be your support team so you won’t be alone in what can sometimes be a frightening and nerve wracking venture. And remember, no marketing company should ever push your company beyond its limitations financially. With the abundance of marketing possibilities in today’s environment, everyone, no matter how large or small their budget may be, has some marketing potential that they can leverage.

At the same time, if you’re looking for instant gratification, you’ll be disappointed. No matter how large, prestigious or promising the marketing company sounds, no one is going to be able to offer you the ‘instant’ of the aforementioned commercial without a huge financial layout. Social networking, blogging, and other ‘instant’ forms of communication are invaluable tools, but they never promise ‘instant’ results. Hiring a company to do marketing for you and then letting them go because you haven’t seen enough ‘solid’ results in the first week or two is a huge mistake. First, you could end up bouncing from company to company to company and never really gaining anything of value. It takes time to build a relationship, settle into the core audience, and find what works. Second, you could be inappropriately assigning success to the wrong things. If you hire a company that puts a marketing plan into place, then move to another plan in just a few weeks, the success you’re seeing may be a false success. You could be seeing results from the first company’s work and incorrectly assume that it’s coming from the second company’s plan. This can set you and your business on a course that will take you away from the success you’re seeking.

As you look to establish new goals for 2009, remember to manage your expectations and keep your goals attainable. Doing this will help you keep a better perspective on how to grow your business and keep moving toward the success you envision!