CWAHM Devotional

Do Life DifferentDo Life Different
Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Home Business Articles

jill-new14blogBlogging is a favorite for small business marketers, mainly because of the amazing results they received when they blog consistently. And publicity isn’t the only benefit to blogging. There are many ways that blogging can add merit to your business. In fact, The Wall Street Journal once featured CWAHM in an article on how blogging can help small businesses create a buzz for their products and services. The results from this were amazing and prove that blogging truly works.

Here are ten ways to use blogs to increase your business revenue:

1. Ad Revenue — Offering paid advertising on your blog is one of the easiest ways to see tangible evidence of the benefits of blogging.

2. Link Swaps – Swapping links with other like-minded bloggers increases your standing with search engines. One of the biggest blogs available, problogger.net, recently completed a survey in an attempt to find where bloggers get the most traffic. The overwhelming response? Google at 46%. This shows us how important search engine rankings are. Link swaps are just one way to improve yours.

3. Reviews — Another growing trend online is that of the customer review. People appreciate reading the thoughts of others before they purchase a product. It doesn’t seem to matter how big or small the product, either. Posting reviews of books you’ve read, CDs you love, etc, is a great way to generate traffic for your blog.

4. Free Offers — Who doesn’t love a freebie? There are many ways of using freebies to your advantage.You can offer a free e-book when someone signs up for your newsletter is an easy way to build your subscriber base. Many blogs also offer contests for those who post comments or interact in other ways on the blog.

5. Social Media — Having a strong social media presence is one of the best ways to promote your business. You can make this a bit easier on yourself by connecting your blog to automatically feed posts to just about every major social media site out there. You can also add links to easily allow your blog readers to share you content, making this a great free way to gain visibility.

6. Networking — It goes without saying that building relationships with people is one of the oldest ways of gaining long-time, loyal customers (or in this case, readers). Taking part in the comments discussion on blogs and social media sites is a great way to do this. The key, though, is to be authentic. Don’t simply blast places with the link to your blog; take part in the discussion and provide useful information — not just your business pitch.

Read More→

Terri Seymour - Making Marketing Work bloggerSince 2004 social media has been booming and there is no indication of any lapse in its strength. If for some reason you are not yet taking advantage of the intense growth and popularity of social media for your business, now is the time to get started.

10 Faux Pas to Avoid When Using Pinterest by Terri SeymourOver 72 million people use Pinterest and many of them can become your customers. Businesses make money from Pinterest users and you can too. But learning and building an effective social media network takes time and a lot of work. As much as you should learn what to do, you need to learn what NOT to do. Below are 10 mistakes you might be making on Pinterest.

1. Dead or Broken Links – Be sure to check all of your posts to make sure the links are working and actually lead to the intended information. Sending your followers to dead or non-existent pages is a good way to lose them.

2. Ineffective Images – Images are everything on Pinterest. Images without human faces get liked and repined much more than images with faces. You also want to have multiple colors in your images. Images with red, orange and brown get repined many more times than blue. You do not want a lot of background or whitespace in your image. The less background, the more repins. Less than 30% will get the most repins. Smooth texture gets repinned much more often than a rough texture. Medium lightness does the best as opposed to very light or very dark images. Details matter and paying attention to your image details could make all the difference.

3. Unorganized Boards – Pinterest has a very good format for organizing your pins and information. Take advantage of that. Separate your pins into categories and create more boards for easier navigation. But do try to keep the number of boards you have under control. If your boards are too specific and only have a few posts, consider merging them with similar categories to make fewer user-friendly boards. Place your most interesting sand intriguing boards on top to get more followers. You need to get their attention immediately especially if you have a lot of boards to scroll through.

4. Not Commenting on Other People’s Posts – Look for popular posts and share your thoughts, opinions or ideas. Get involved. Don’t just say “Nice pin” or “Love it”. Also, mention others in your comments, when it is appropriate. Be on guard on how much you comment, however, as Pinterest strict spam rules. Keep your commenting down to a few times a day.

 

5. Not Using Buttons – Pinterest has all kinds of buttons and widgets you can use to help get people to your boards. Use a Pin It button on your website to make it easy for people to share your pages. Use widgets that show your pins to get people to follow you. Sprinkle these tools all over your website and if you use WordPress, look over all the best widgets available to you. Show off your pins and get more followers.

6. Incomplete Profile – Make sure you have a completed profile with all needed information available. Be sure to add your business info as well. An incomplete profile might give people the impression you are trying to hide something, making you untrustworthy.

7. Not Customizing the Description –Although the image does most of the talking, you need a good description included with your post as well. Add searchable terms and keywords. Add your call to action. Like, share, comment, repin – what do you want them to do. Be clear, straightforward and appealing to the senses. You could also use quotes from testimonials or reviews you have. Adding prices when appropriate could increase the response to the pin. Link back to your website when possible. Be sure to use Rich Pins which will include extra information on the pin itself. Find out more about Rich Pins at Pinterest for Business. Read More→

jill-new14mgyUUaeStarting down a new career path can be both exciting and terrifying, especially if your chosen “career path” is being an entrepreneur and running a home-based business. Below are five questions to ask yourself to help you determine what type of business might be right for you.

1. What is your passion?

Answer this question with the first thing that comes to mind: If money were no object and you could do anything, what would you do? You might have answered “be a writer”, “speak at conferences,” “bring my product idea to life” or any number of things. Whatever your answer, this most likely is your passion. I challenge you to take the time to ponder this and see if there is a way to bring your dream to fruition.

2. What types of things did you like to do as a child?

Many times the toys and games we loved as children give us a glimpse into who we have become as adults. If you loved climbing trees, you may now be an “outdoorsy” type of person. Think about how this might be incorporated into your business. For instance, you might enjoy setting up outdoor birthday parties for children or selling herbs from your backyard garden.

3. What type of products would you be interested in representing?

If you’re looking in the direction of direct sales, whether that be your own product or an established home-based business option, you need to think through what types of products you’d be comfortable presenting to your customers. Take the time to do some research and find a product that truly excites you. Your customers will see your sincerity and that can sell a product just as easily as a fancy presentation.

4. What skills and experience do you bring to the table?

If you’ve left the corporate world in favor of working at home, you’ve undoubtedly brought with you a set of skills. There may be a way to market those skills in a new way and turn them into a profitable business. For instance, if you were an executive assistant you may be able to type 80 words or more per minute. You could set up shop as a Virtual Assistant and help other business owners in processing orders, transcribing documents and much more.

5. Are you thinking outside of the box?

Most of us have a fear of the unknown. We many times assume that if we haven’t done something before it is simply out of reach. This carries over to the business world as well. We take our products or services and market them in the same way that we see other business owners using. However, it can be much more effective to find new and innovative ways to market. One home-based business owner I know sells stuffable toy kits. Instead of using the usual home parties and birthday party events, she works almost exclusively with children’s hospitals doing fundraisers. She makes a great living and helps not only the hospitals, but the children as well. She is a great example of unique marketing and overcoming the mundane marketing methods that so many business owners resign themselves to.

Read More→

Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerThese days, it seems that more and more companies do not care about their product or service and they are apathetic toward their customers. But as a work at home Mom or Dad, you have an excellent opportunity to stand out. And as a Christian, by striving for excellence in all you do you can be a shining light in the business world.I see people promising way too much and not coming through. This hurts a brand.

Have you noticed this trend toward mediocrity? Have you ever had lackluster customer service? I wouldn’t doubt it! I know that my husband, Travis, and I have been fighting our former mortgage company for months. My husband practically had to tell the customer service agents how to do their jobs and it was only until we threatened legal action did they come through with our request, which was by the way what they had to do by law.

This lackluster customer service reflects badly on a brand. In fact, companies can become “branded” in a negative way.

But as a work at home business owner, you can choose to be different. From your marketing to your identity collateral to your product and/or service to your customer service, you can strive for excellence.

So how does that practically look? Here are some ideas:

1) Look out for your customer’s interests, not your own.Does that sound slightly biblical? It certainly is! I think of my husband’s potential client, a restaurant owner. My husband could tell this client that he needs this and he needs that done and it would bring us a lot more money. But we know that the client wants to keep this project simple, so Travis is going to bat for him with the city. It’s not about how much we can get from him, it’s about providing excellent service at the level he needs it.

2) When you say you’re going to be somewhere, be there! So this seems really simple, right? Yet more and more I see people promising way too much and not coming through. This hurts a brand. It’s called over promising and under delivering. You always want to be careful about your commitments and make sure you can be counted on. This is a huge way you can stand out. Under promise and over deliver.

Read More→

Oct
29

Is ‘Tooting Our Own Horn’ in Our Direct Sales Business … Christian?

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hornWe know that in our direct sales businesses continuous networking is vital. Our reach needs to be far beyond the people we already know or the client base we have already built. Growing our client base may seem like a daunting task, and as Christians we may struggle with the concept that “tooting our own horn” is very UN-Christian. Can we righteously market ourselves or our businesses?

In our culture, marketing our businesses and self-glorification can easily run together, but they need not be the same. Proverbs does not discourage praise, only self praise (Proverbs 27:21). It is more fitting for someone else to place the crown on the ruler’s head. Besides, if you are good, there is no need to tell people. They will know it. And if you need to tell someone you are good, how good could you be?

This is a key reason why we must always conduct our businesses ethically; with honesty and integrity being at forefront in our mission statement. Those with whom we do business are our greatest resources for continued growth. Positive client feedback, and word of mouth referrals are the backbone of our continued growth.

When it comes to promoting our businesses, how do we get our names and our products in front of new people, on a daily basis? More importantly, can we do this without sounding prideful and self-serving?

I believe the answer is a resounding, YES.

As an independent sales rep, don’t fear the word “promoting”. It’s OK to be proud of the products or services we represent. It’s necessary to get our names out there and take advantage of the different public platforms we can utilize that will help us market ourselves. Here are some suggestions that have worked for me . Read More→

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Oct
26

10 Low­-Cost Vendor Booth Ideas to Rocket Your Brand Recognition

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DanamarketAs Christian work at home business owners, we need to get out in the community on a regular basis. I have found the best way to get out in front of my target market is to participate in vendor fairs.

But signage can be extremely expensive. And how can you make your booth appealing instead of drab and boring?

This is an area where I’ve put much thought into. While I have a long ways to go, I have also made great strides, all while being on a limited budget. Let me share some ideas with you:

1) Make a banner with CafePress.com

This is where I had my large, full­color banner made. It was extremely affordable, I believe less than $50. It didn’t take me long to get it and I could fully customize it to my branding. Their banner fits easily on a typical vendor table and it comes with grommets. It is durable vinyl. I have had mine for a couple years now and it is in good shape.

2) Use presentation boards from Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby seems to have the best variety of tri­fold presentation boards at the best price. They have many colors that will fit within your brand.

3) Use fabric to cover up the boards to make them look even more unique!

This is what I did with a couple of boards I had. I spruced them up with fabric. Actually, they were curtains that I got for cheap and I cut them to fit. It made for a very unique presentation. I had to use a very sturdy tape to glue the posters onto the board, so be aware of that! Read More→

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Oct
19

Five Tips For Landing a Legitimate Work-at-Home Job

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According to the latest American Community Survey data, there are approximately 2.8 million people, not including the self employed or unpaid volunteers, who consider home their primary place of work. The struggling American economy has created the need for companies to cut back as much as possible. This has created growth in the work-at-home industry as it allows companies to save on expenses like office space, equipment and insurance costs.

However, the telecommuting world can be a hard place to get your foot in the door. Linda Dickerhoof, Public Relations Director at VIPDesk, one of the leading virtual concierge and virtual customer service providers in the United States, reports that they receive as many as two hundred resumes a day. With that kind of competition, it’s imperative that you stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when applying for telecommuting employment.

1. Do Your Research – This is, by far, the most crucial aspect of your work-at-home job search. There are many legitimate companies that hire at-home employees. However, in order to weed out at-home job scams, you need to know what “red flags” to look for.  A legitimate work-at-home opportunity won’t ask you for any sort of “affiliation fee,” nor will they send you any type of list of employers to contact.

A legitimate opportunity will also not offer an unrealistic salary. The ads that you see offering $5k/wk with no experience usually are just what they sound – too good to be true. Avoid work-at-home opportunities advertised via infomercials, signs taped to a lamp-post, stop signs or via spam e-mail. Always check with the Better Business Bureau to see what type of reputation the company you are considering has, then follow up with an Internet search to see what is being said about the company in blogs, on twitter, and in the mainstream media.

2. Resume Success  – Applying for a working-at-home position should be treated just like any other job application process. The company may allow you to work from home, but they will not tolerate an unprofessional attitude. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that your resume will be selected if it’s anything less than top-notch.

In order to get ahead, put together a professional resume outlining your job experience and highlighting any special skills or training applicable to the position you’re applying for. Keep your resume to one page, if possible.

3. Interviews Are Important – The interview process is more critical than usual in the work-at-home world because the interviewer will not be meeting you face to face. Most at-home employers have a strenuous screening process to filter out applicants who do not fit the professional standards required.

Prepare ahead of time for questions not only about your employment background, but also about what your home work environment will be like (they do not want to hear animals or children in the background). Interviewers will be listening intently to how you present yourself over the phone, so be as prepared and professional as possible.

4. Know What To Expect – One of the best ways to succeed in any career is to know what your employer expects of you. Before your interview, put together a list of questions that will help you understand what to expect from the employer, and what they expect from you. Ask about things like training, support offered during work hours, and specific job expectations.

5. Get Set Up – Once you’ve begun the process of searching and applying for telecommuting positions, it’s time to make sure your home workspace is appropriate. Most employers will be looking for you to have a noise-free home office that includes: a landline phone, a computer (most companies will have specific computer requirements that will need to be met),  and high speed internet.

If possible, do your research ahead of time to ensure that your home office set up will work for a telecommuting opportunity. There are some employers who provide the necessary equipment, but most will require you to have these items in place.

Telecommuting can be one of the most rewarding career decisions available today. It provides flexibility and scheduling that many other types of employment are unable to offer. Prepare yourself to stand out from the job applicant crowd and you’ll find yourself with a remarkable new job in no time.

 

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Oct
09

Organizing Your Home Office

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It can be a real challenge as a work at home parent to maintain an organized home office. Many times, the office or desktop is the last of our worries as we strive to raise our children, support our spouses and run our home-based business. However, keeping up with the clutter and chaos of your office may be just what you need to get you in a working mindset and help you to be more efficient while working.

There a few simple things that you can do on a regular basis that will help to de-stress organizing process:

 

  • Address your home office/desktop chaos in blocks of time. You may need to set aside just a few hours, or you may need an entire day. Decide what will work for you and stick to it. If it’s not possible for you to set aside a block of time, consider using a headset while you are on the phone and be de-cluttering, too!
  • Have the necessities on hand: a trash can, pen, file folders, mail baskets and other organization items that will enable you to sort, throw out and find a place for each item. Envision your goal and purchase the supplies necessary to create that environment.
  • Clear the space you want to organize (the desk surface, one of the drawers, etc.). Then make a pile of all the paper. Begin to evaluate each piece of paper, sorting it by importance. Throw out as much as possible and find a place for each of the other items.
  • If you start to feel stressed, take a break. Make a goal of how far you’d like to get during the time you have available and set an incentive for yourself if you reach your goal. It’s always easier to complete a task when you know you’ll be rewarded.

Once you’ve organized your office, it’s important to take small steps everyday to keep the room clean and tidy. It’s very easy to fall back into the routine of piling things on your desktop and around the room. There are five simple tasks that you can do daily to help maintain your organized space:

1. Clean out your “Inbox”. In today’s world this can apply to postal mail or email. Create a special basket for postal mail that needs to be taken care of right away, and another for items that can wait a day or two.

To keep your email inbox under control, create folders within your email program. Keep what needs to be done immediately in your inbox and distributed the rest into your folders. You can also use “rules” to help separate email and make it easier to manage.

2. Make sure all notes are transferred to your calendar, palm pilot or day planner. It is very easy to pile up a desktop full of paper by writing every note on a Post-it. You can also create an “Idea Book” to catalog all of your business ideas for future reference.

3. Remove all mail, catalogs & magazines from your desk. Put them in their proper place as you receive them. This will considerably cut down the amount of clutter on your desktop.

4. File as you go. This is the most basic and most important tip of all. If you file as you go your records will be in order, your desktop will be clear and you will feel like a professional.

5. Clean off your desktop each evening. There’s nothing better than sitting down at a clean workspace each morning. It helps to keep your mind focused on your business and makes finding important documents a snap.

By following these easy guidelines you will have a clean and organized home office in no time. Having a clutter-free workspace is the first step in creating an organized and professional home-based business.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Hart is the author of several books and the founder of Christian Work at Home Ministries, CWAHM.com.

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Oct
05

Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Using #Hashtags

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lightbulbHashtags are simply words or phrases with a hash tag or pound sign (#) in front of them to highlight or emphasize the specifics of the message. For example: If you are posting a message about a product you offer, you might do something like #newproduct #diamondbracelet or #affordable.

The hashtag promptly increases the chances of your post being found when someone uses those terms in a search. They can be a bit annoying but are important if you want your posts to be found.

As with any tool or technique, it must be used properly to work effectively. Below are some ways to effectively and not so effectively use hashtags.

1. Do Not Use Spaces – The words or phrase you want included in the hashtag cannot have any spaces. You do not want your hashtag to look like this: #vegetable gardening.  You need to keep the space out. #vegetablegardening As with a url if you want to separate the words, use upper case letters. #VegetableGardening

2. Do not Use Punctuation Marks of Any Kind – Adding punctuation marks or special characters will render your hashtag ineffective. You also do not want to use all capital letters. You can use numbers as they will be effective within your hashtag.

3. Do Not Overstuff – I have seen messages or posts that were nothing but a jumble of hashtags. This is a definite no-no. Try not to use more than two or three hashtags per message. Using too many might give people the impression that you are a spammer. Use them as a tool, not as your entire message.

4. Do Not Make Them Too Long – For example: #bigsaleonallfurnituresavemoneywitheverypurchase. As you can see this is just a big confusing mess. Try not to use more than two or three words for your hashtag.  #FurnitureSale You want your hashtag to be easy to understand. Read More→

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Aug
31

3 Ways to Keep Your Brand “Top of Mind”

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Keeping your brand “top of mind” with your prospects and customers is an important goal. Why? Because when a need or want arises, your prospect will think of you first and naturally want to reach out to you for help. This will result in more sales, both with new and repeat customers.

How does this work? First of all, you have to build credibility and likeability. Because people do business with people they like, know, and trust. You have to continually be adding value to your prospect and customer, no matter what medium you use, whether an email, a phone call, or a branded card with a personal note.

But what specific methods or strategies can you use to keep your brand “top of mind” with your prospects?

Here are three ideas to get you started:

1) A follow-­up system

Creating a follow-­up system with prospects and customers will be the most effective way you can keep your business “top of mind.”

Most businesses do not do this at all. By practicing this one habit, you can vastly improve the bottom line of your company and bring customers to you. Kevin Knebl, author of “Social Media Sales Revolution,” became a top seller and worldwide speaker in demand by creating a follow up system that truly nurtures relationships. I had the privilege of attending one of his seminars and what he shared was life changing!

Because communication is a timeless principle. Just because we have new technology does not mean the tried and true methods of influencing people is out of date. In fact, they are more important than ever!

This is why “old fashioned” snail mail printed pieces like business cards, postcards, and thank you cards will never go out of style. Brand your identity collateral and use it to keep in touch with your prospects and customers. It will be well worth the investment!

2) A regular e-zine or newsletter

Marketing experts tell us it takes seven exposures to make a sale. Probably in reality, that number is even higher. There is more competition today than ever before, due to the fast- paced world of the Internet.

Providing your customer or prospect with a regular e-zine or newsletter that features information that will make their lives better will keep your brand in front of them continually. The trick is doing market research to know what kind of information they are looking for and providing it on a regular basis.

Read More→

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