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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

As more and more look to work from home given the present state of things, it’s important to know some ways to implement it.  If you haven’t done it previously it can seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.  These tips should help.

10 Tips for Working Virtually:

  1. Set up a dedicated area. If you can convert a room or a part of a room to an office that is the best scenario.  Find a place where the interruptions are less frequent and also away from barking dogs and other distractions.  Being able to shut the door too is a godsend.  However, work with what you have.
  2. Internet is crucial. Repeat the internet is crucial.  Get it set up and know what to do if it happens to go down.  If your company provides tech support utilize it. However, don’t wait until the last minute.  If major companies send everyone home to work, your favorite tech support guy is going to be extremely busy.  So get prepared.
  3. Test your equipment and work out any bugs. I’d love to say this is going to be a flawless operation, but that’s not necessarily the case. Those who have worked from home for years (I’m at 35 years) know that things happen and how you deal with it is what can save you.  A quick Google search or a YouTube video might be just the answer you need.  If not, talk with someone with experience and get their recommendations.
  4. Back up all work. Your company more than likely had back-ups already in place. But now that you are home it’s imperative that you set this up immediately.  A flash drive, cloud storage such as Dropbox, and also Carbonite are good recommendations.  I have them all.
  5. Skype and Zoom will be your best friends. These allow you to have audio and video conferences. Before you have a conference, learn the basics and test that you can be heard and seen.  Nothing is more frustrating than someone attending a meeting and you can’t hear or see the person who is there.  Valuable time can be wasted here.
  6. Set up your webcam. Invest in a good one too. More importantly though check it out and see how you look.  When it’s too close all you can see is your face and close up that can be not the most flattering.  Also review your background.  Anything that is in view should be cleaned up. Now is not the time to see your 20 bottles of old Diet Cokes you haven’t thrown away. I mean who does that? (Guilty as charged!)
  7. Discuss your needs with your family and any friends. Be firm on the fact that you’re working and just because you are home, you can’t talk for hours or go for coffee.  If you have children let them know you need to work as well.  They might love the fact that mom or dad is at home now and that’s awesome, but it can add additional stress you don’t need especially as you are trying to figure out your work arrangement.
  8. With small children prepare now and have a goodie basket of things such as crayons, coloring books, books, etc. that you can give them to help keep them busy allowing you to take calls and work. The Dollar Store can make this less expensive or make some of your own by printing out coloring pages.  Of course, prepare depending on your child’s age.  And no too many cartoons or Netflix right now is not bad!  They have probably heard the news too and this can be relaxing for them.
  9. When on important calls or conferences, be sure to turn off any distractions. If you are on Skype, turn your phone off so you can’t hear voice mails. Log out of email programs such as Outlook so all your notifications don’t appear if you have it set up that way.  If you have a dog that barks every time someone knocks on the door put a note on the door not to knock.  UPS has hurt many a conference call for me so I do this every time now.  What else?  Review what your needs might be and plan accordingly.
  10. Write down all your passwords. I’ll leave it at that.  You’ll thank me later for that one!

Remain calm. This is a situation that in and of itself is extremely stressful.  Then you top that with having to figure out how to work virtually.  Try and relax and take it a step at a time.  Take frequent breaks and reach out to friends when too stressed.  We will all get through this, but hopefully some of these tips helped.  If you have additional tips please do leave them in the comments below or if you have questions, let me know.

 

About the Author

Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerDiana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, www.virtualwordpublishing.com, where she offers PR and Marketing, book marketing, PR and Virtual Assistant Coaching, VA services, writing and editing, ghost writing, and so much more.   She has been featured in all major media including Forbes, Fox, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Radio, Woman’s World Magazine, and too many to mention and gets her clients in these publications as well. Email her for more information at moc.gnihsilbupdrowlautriv@anaid. Posting is free to be reprinted as long as this bio remains.

Jan
14

Marketing Offline Can Increase Your Online Business

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jill-new14The Internet can be a scary place for those looking for a home-based business opportunity. The fear of not connecting personally with others is one concern and many people have been “taken” by online scams in their search for a legitimate business and are fearful to take any more risks. One way to overcome fears such as these is to market your online business locally. By simply offering the person a contact that they can speak to and possibly even meet face to face you will making the statement that your business is legitimate and trustworthy.

It is effective to market your online business locally primarily because potential customers and business recruits prefer to have the option of speaking with the business owner face to face. By attracting customers locally, you can maximize the opportunities to meet with them. You will no longer be that “someone they found online,” but someone that they will be able to relate to and feel confident doing business with.

But how do you market locally? Here are some excellent tips:

Besides the common local advertising routes, such as Newspaper Ads, Yellow Pages, Etc., another effective (and inexpensive) way to advertise locally is to post business related flyers around your community. Many grocery stores, libraries, bookstores, and office supply stores offer bulletin boards for this purpose. Make yours stand out and be recognized, yet professional enough to warrant someone trusting you with their business. Also, if possibly have a tear-off section on your flyer so they can take your number and leave your flyer.

Look for events geared toward small businesses. There are organizations, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, that hold events across the nation to help promote the small business owners. At events such as these, you can purchase a booth and make hundreds of local contacts, as well as sales, all in one day. Read More→

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Jan
02

Organizing Your New Year

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jill-new14
new year new startThe New Year is here!

I look forward this new beginning each year with a great deal of anticipation. It’s time to shake off the things of last year and look to the days of head and all of the opportunites they hold.

To help you start your year off right, here are a few thoughts for organizing your business and household for the upcoming year.

BUSINESS 

1. Files – Now is a great time to go through your files and make sure all is in order – labeled and put in a place where they are easily accessible. Take the time to throw out anything that can go and put old tax and business files into storage.

2. Desk –  A clean desk is a great way to kick off the new year. Find a place for everything and put everything in it’s place. It will help motivate you to sit down and get to work – no distractions.

3. Calendar –  Buy yourself a new calendar and/or planner and start filling that baby up. Make sure to mark in the days when there is no school (or early out days), and other items that you’ll need to keep you organized in both business and family tasks.

HOUSEHOLD 

1. Drawers and Closets – With the cold weather keeping you indoors, this is a great time to clean out those drawers and closets that need your attention. It’s also a great time to donate your gently used items.

2. Books – Just like clothing and other household goods, books can be donated to your local homeless shelter. Our local shelter has a library available to all of it’s residents. So, take time this new year to go through your books and donate those that you can part with.

3. Storage Spots –  Now that it’s time to put the Christmas decorations away, you might as well tidy up those storage areas as well. I’ve found that adding shelving to our small storage room makes it much easier to keep things organized and accessible. Also, nowadays you can buy colored totes to make separating out holiday decorations – or other items – easy.

SPIRITUAL LIFE

1. Hello/Goodbye Workbook and in this new decade, they are offering The Last 10, The Next 10, (by Jo Saxton and Stephanie O’Brien – “The ‘Hello Goodbye’ process is a tool in response to New Year’s resolutions – it is not about fixing yourself, but intentionally, prayerfully turning away from certain things, whether good or bad, and turning towards other things.  Those things might be fun (like working out!) or they may be uncomfortable, such as embracing  grief or forgiveness, but the focus is finding ways to be healthier emotionally, spiritually and physically.”

2. Joanna Weaver’s 2018 Utmost for His Highest Bible Reading Plan  –  Joanna Weaver is the author of several books, most notably Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Joanna explains a little about her 2018 reading challenge: “Each day, after reading an assigned chapter from the Bible, you’ll be encouraged to also consider that day’s entry from Oswald Chambers’ devotional classic, My Utmost for His Highest .” Joanna will be sharing updates every weekday on her blog (and I’ll be contributing in April!). You can download the free workbook when you sign up (also free) on her website: JoannaWeaverBooks.com.

 

I hope you’re as excited about this new year as I am! I’d love to hear your tips for getting organized – post them in the comments below!

Read More→

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Dec
05

How to Run a Successful Home-Based Business

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If you’re tired of the traditional 9-to-5 working environment, then you should branch out and start your own home-based business venture. If you’ve got a profitable business idea and you have the ability to remain productive despite not having a boss looming over your shoulder throughout the working day, this could very well prove to be both a fruitful and fulfilling route for you to take in your career.

To find out what you need to do to run a successful home-based business, be sure to read on:

 

Go above and beyond to prove your worth

No matter how big your company grows or how successful your venture turns out to be, your home-based business will always be labeled with the stigma of operating from a residential address. Most consumers will openly admit to the fact that they would much prefer to bring their business to companies that operate from traditional workspace environments, and that’s something that your organization simply cannot provide. This is just the way the world of business is, and you’re never going to change that.

What you can change, however, is the perception that people have about your business. You can prove to them that you are a viable option in your market despite the fact that you do not work out of a commercial property. To show that you are a bonafide competitor in your field in this instance, you must go above and beyond to prove your worth. To do this, you should:

  • Communicate with customers, partners, and clients in an effective manner that they expect from business owners — if your communication skills could do with a little improvement, have no qualms in enlisting yourself on a Speaking Training Toni Vans course
  • Have all the right equipment at hand to ensure that you are able to take on all orders no matter how big they are or the time at which they come in
  • Keep your company website up and running at all times to ensure that your business is always accessible

 

Write out a business plan

Writing out a business plan is one of the best things that you can do to ensure your home-based company’s long-term success.

Here are a few of the things that you need to incorporate into your plan if it is to be as effective and targeted as it can possibly be:

Executive summary — a professional overview of your plan

Company description — a brief history pertaining to the inception of your business

Products and/or services — information regarding what it is you actually plan to offer to customers going forward

Market analysis — proof that you have studied your market, that you understand your niche, and that you know who your competitors are

Marketing and sales — a documentation of all the ways you plan on promoting your business

There’s nothing stopping you from taking your home-based business to the very pinnacle of its industry. To reach those lofty heights, you just have to be willing to put the move advice into practice.

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Nov
27

Holiday Marketing that Works

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Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerSo here’s the deal.  The holidays are upon us and that means you are more than likely adding more things to your plate. Now these can be fun things like shopping and family and friends gatherings, but business as usual usually goes out the door at this time.  And with that so does your marketing efforts.  So this year, let’s talk turkey and what you can do to keep marketing even with your busy schedule.

Here are some tips to master your holiday marketing:

  • Be realistic  . I have to be honest here, I read my holiday article from past years and was sorely disappointed.  I had big plans for how I was going to market during the holidays but ended up doing less than half of those things on my list …. And I do marketing for a living!  YIKES!  What that told me was this time, I need to plan for exactly what I know I can accomplish.  Yes, it’s helps to plan big, but if it doesn’t get done, well it’s going to go the way of Aunt Helen’s fruitcake … out the door.  So be realistic and plan accordingly.
  • Break it down and schedule accordingly – What I discovered was that I got started with a bang, but then got busy and the follow-up just didn’t happen.  This year, I plan on scheduling out smaller marketing steps and making sure that I do them.  Then plan on not going to the next thing until I finish the previous one.  That way I won’t have a bunch of things started, but nothing really completed.  Plus, I absolutely love being able to cross things off my list.  So by creating a to do list, I normally accomplish more because I love the thrill of crossing out those items.  I’ll also reward myself when I do complete things.  Maybe my favorite Starbucks or something.  Again, just for motivation to get more done.
  • Schedule Client Gifts & Relax – The best way to market your business during the holidays or anytime really is just not to stress out.  I hear you, that sounds good, but is it really possible?  Yes, it is.  Here’s just one example to try.  Say you routinely send out client gifts and you want them to arrive close to the holidays.  You can start ordering them now, and just put the shipping date for the date you want.  Just make sure you keep good records so you don’t make the mistake of sending them again.  The advantage there too is that you will probably pay less on shipping because of the advanced notice.  Plus, this doesn’t just apply to business gifts, you can do the same with your holiday shopping.  Bamm, now that’s how it’s done.
  • Reach out and say hi!  I missed you or it’s great working with you.  This one I actually did good on last year. I did reach out to clients and potential clients as well as friends I’ve had for years. I didn’t push that I wanted their business in the New Year, but more that it’s great to know them and what can we do to connect more in the upcoming year. And not only did I enjoy it immensely, it did bring more work. The key here is to have fun. I don’t know about you, but I get lonely sometimes working at home.  I have tons of great online friends, and I talk with clients regularly, but there are days that I just want some more companionship.  So this one came naturally to me.
  • Specials rock!! People love to save money this time of year and also even more important is that most are planning on spending money. Offer discounts on your popular products or services. And be real that it’s a deal.  I know one major company that offers coupons and discounts. However, once you apply the coupon code the shipping rate jumps $4.00.  So S&H went from $5.99 to $9.99.  I tested it numerous times to make sure that it was actually happening and it was.  So bottom line, if you offer a discount, make sure it’s a legit discount. Also, take it a step further and if you have any clients on the fence of whether to work with you or not, email them the discount with a nice, btw just wanted to let you know of my holiday special. It just might be what they need to move forward.
  • Don’t be business as usual. This month plan on talking a bit more on your family and things that are really important to you.  What you’ll discover is clients and potential clients as well as your associations want to get to know the real you.  I know I love it when I get to know more about someone.  And just like with other tips, be real.  Sometimes it’s great to hear challenges you might be having and not all is MY LIFE IS GREAT that posting on social media often curtains.

What a gift for you this year if you try even some of these tips.  Get marketing and make the next decade the best ever. And remember you don’t have to do it alone.  There are those out there who specialize in PR and marketing who can help.  The most important thing is to do it, have some fun, and welcome the New Year with open arms.

 

About the Author

Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, www.virtualwordpublishing.com, where she offers PR and Marketing, book marketing, PR and Virtual Assistant Coaching, VA services, writing and editing, ghost writing, and so much more.   She has been featured in all major media including Forbes, Fox, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Radio, Woman’s World Magazine, and too many to mention and gets her clients in these publications as well. Email her for more information at moc.gnihsilbupdrowlautriv@anaid. Posting is free to be reprinted as long as this bio remains.

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Oct
29

PR and Marketing Takes Time – Let’s Break it Down

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I love this time of year because it’s so much about reflections, the good and the bad!  Seems everyone is in the let’s go full steam ahead to reach those end of the year goals (at least until mid November when then it’s let’s enjoy the holidays and go gangbusters come the first of the year. Am I right?)  But with reflections also comes the opportunity to break down your business and see where you are.  Since I do PR and marketing for myself and clients, this year I broke down time because honestly, it’s one of our most valuable assets.  Here are some thoughts that I hope you will find beneficial.

PR Takes Time – One of the biggest lessons I learned in 2019 is just how much time it takes to do PR Right.  Last year I started really taking note of that time and I was truly amazed.  For example, one of my tasks is finding the right topics for my clients to write on.  We have great success in getting articles accepted because of this.  But it’s so much more than just hey let’s write on this topic this month.   I review major publications to see what’s current and newsworthy.  I review their keywords and topics of my clients to see what’s happening there. And I also review what my client is up to.  If they have a new program or are focusing on something, I try and take that into consideration.  I also like to offer them options.  So instead of just giving them one idea, I normally have several for them to choose from.  And although it takes time, it’s so worth it because we normally see success with the articles they choose.

Preparing Media Databases – Cision makes it really easy to prepare databases for editors and the right media connections for newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, blogs, etc.  However, once I have the database of all those awesome media contacts, I need to go through them and fine tune it.  That requires deleting all those doubles that I might have in other databases, deleting  those that even though the topic is on point, it’s not a good fit for our pitch, etc.  That takes time.  The results speak for themselves when I’m done doing this and have killer databases, but again, it’s not just here you go – send away.

Proofing & Editing – I’m really good at proofing and editing as that’s part of what I’ve done for the past 34 years in business.  However, to make sure our articles, pitches, press releases, social media updates, etc. are stellar, it takes time to proof and make sure I didn’t miss anything.  And we all know the old saying that we are just too close to it to see things.  That is so true.  There have been times I’ve read something a dozen times and then still find a typo and it just kills me!  (Okay, I might be somewhat of a perfectionists!) To help with this, I have found secrets that work.  These are really nothing new, but they help me considerably.  For example, my main one is reading it from the end to the beginning or reading it a paragraph at a time from the end.  The reason this works is you aren’t anticipating what’s next. Also, triple checking the links to make sure they work. Even if I did that recently every time I send out a pitch or publish a press release to a new database or editor, I check on the links. Read More→

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Sep
30

Living Life As a Mad Mom – Hope and Help For Angry Moms

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I know firsthand was life as an angry mom is like. I spent almost two years trying to control my temper and failing miserably. It took a confrontation with someone close to me for me to really take a good, hard look in the mirror and realize that the problem was bigger than me. My anger was out of control. I had turned into someone that I didn’t recognize and my family was suffering because of it.

Living Life As a Mad Mom - Hope and Help For Angry Moms, by Jill HartSoon after that confrontation, my kids and I were in the doctor’s office because one of them was sick. After the check-up, as the doctor was getting ready to go I mentioned to him briefly that I’d been struggling with anger. I remember saying, “I’m not sad or depressed. Just really angry…all the time.” Having known us for quite a while (in fact he delivered my son), he gave me a prescription for an anti-depressant and wanted me to try it to see if it helped. I really wanted it to help. I wanted to be a good mom, a loving mom, and at the moment I felt an ogre.

Fast-forward a couple of years. I was no longer taking the anti-depressants and the anger was still an issue. One day, during an appointment with a med-student (I had gone in because my hands were swollen), she decided to check my thyroid levels because of some other symptoms that I described such as weight gain and exhaustion. It turned out that things that I assumed were part of a mom’s normal life (what mom isn’t over-tired? and many of us are still carrying around a little ‘baby fat’, right?) were actually a medical issue with my thyroid. I’m thrilled to tell you that after a year of treatment, I’m on my way to being “normal” again and the anger is no longer an issue. Read More→

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Aug
19

Three Tips To Get You Started Blogging for Business

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creative-workOver the last several years blogging has become the foundation for social media campaigns of businesses big and small. Where Facebook and Twitter help keep companies in the limelight, spreading the word about special events, discounts and newsworthy items, blogs are the place where companies build their reputation and make sales. As popular as blogging has become, I often hear from home-based business owners who are trying to figure out exactly what a blog consists of and how they can use one to benefit their business. Below are three tips that can help maximize the impact of your business blog.

1. It’s All In The Name
Be sure to choose a name for your blog that is both descriptive and easy to remember. Try to stick to either your business name or the name of your star product/service. If none of these are available consider using your name or business tagline. Also, consider possibly adding in your keywords … such as Publicity Virtual Assistant.

2. Use Keywords Effectively
When you write posts for your business blog be conscious of the words that you choose. Pepper your posts with keywords relating to your business, products, services and brand. These keywords will trigger Search Engine results and help you reach the top of the results for your keywords. Be careful not to overuse keywords, though, because readers will get frustrated and the Search Engines consider that against the rules.

Also, consider keyword phrases – often called long tail keyword phrases (why, I’m not sure!). Long tail keywords are simply a sting of words that make up a phrase that represent your keywords. Think, what would people type in Google to find me. Examples, “how to start a business.” Think … how can I define my blog more (or this particular post). I wrote this blog post on … (fill in the blank), now what keywords do I need to put in so others can find me? Read More→

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Jul
01

Publicity Ideas to Create Visibility for Your Brand

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Dana Susan Beasley, Branding for Success bloggerPublicity Ideas to Create Brand Visibility by Dana Susan BeasleyPublicity. It is often the forgotten marketing method to increase brand visibility. So how can you use publicity to effectively increase your presence in the marketplace?

Here’s some ideas to get you started.

1) Find out what your needs are in the community and apply your gifts, talents, and donations. Look for sponsorship opportunities where you can support great causes while at the same time bring brand awareness to a wide audience. Christmas time is a wonderful time to do this. A networking group I belong to in Colorado Springs does this every year for a charity called Christmas Unlimited. Last year they gave away $20,000 in toys to needy children. And I know that in the end the sponsors benefited from all the brand recognition!

2) Another way to get involved in the community is by offering your talents. For instance, recently I had the idea of creating a special book to help fire and flood survivors in Colorado. I sent out around 80 press releases to local media up and down the Front Range. I also have been on local radio a few times to bring awareness to my project. While my motive is to help those in need and to uplift and inspire those who read the book, I have also increased the presence of my company in my region. .

3) Enter local contests. Several years ago, I entered a balloon festival logo contest and I won! The logo I designed was on t-shirts, bags, pins, and much more. The local paper did a story about me. It is an event that I frequently use to illustrate my credibility as a designer. And plus, my prize was to ride in a balloon. Who could beat that?

4) Use PR services like PRWeb.com. For a nominal investment, you can have a press release go all over the Web. It is easy to do. Just have a newsworthy event, like publishing a new book or offering a new program or winning an award. Sites like PRWeb.com will walk you through it step by step.

Read More→

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Jun
21

Seasons of Finding Yourself

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We oftenWoman in worship position hear about “seasons of life,” especially when something tough happens in our life. As the years go by, I am also noticing what I like to call “seasons of finding myself.” This applied primarily to times in our life when a major shift has occurred, and we must readjust our view of ourselves – our identity – into a new normal.

Some of these major life shifts may include:

  • Becoming a wife
  • Becoming a mother
  • New life-stages of motherhood (infants, toddlers, elementary age, tweens, teens, adult children)
  • Transitioning home from the corporate world
  • Going back to school
  • Starting a new job

I have experienced each of these stages, and each one seems to throw me off while I sort-out what my new identity or role is. For example, when my children transitioned from toddlers to school age, I had to determine what my role would now be. My role as their mother hadn’t completely changed, but new role opportunities had been added – Room Parent, School Volunteer, PTA Parent, etc. I now had to decide what level of involvement I would have in my children’s day-to-day lives while they were at school.   Read More→

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