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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

Jul
09

Six Ways to Make Your Marketing Count

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jill-new14According to the National Center for Policy Analysis there are nearly 17 million home-based businesses in the U.S. today. As the number of business rise, it becomes increasingly more difficult to effectively market a small business. And when the small business is run by mom with a minuscule advertising the budget, the challenge becomes even tougher. As moms trying to make our way in this billion dollar industry, how do we best focus our marketing efforts?

Do Your Homework
The best way to get good results from your marketing efforts is to research the sites you’re considering. Look for websites that are aimed at your target market, that have premium ad placements and that are willing to share their traffic statistics, number of subscribers, etc.

Be Bold
Statistics show that the bigger the ad, the higher the response. Double Click, a digital marketing firm, did a study in 2006 that showed a “strong correlation between the size of ads and their clickthrough performance.” So, whenever possible, choose a banner size larger than the standard 468 x 60. It may be pricier, but the results should be worth the extra expense.

Think Fresh
Try to find innovative ways to reach your market. Consider trying a rich media campaign that includes a video advertisement, banners formatted in Flash, and other interactive ads. By finding new ways to present your business or product, you’ll catch the eye of viewers who might not normally have noticed your advertisement.

Be Personal
The potential customers who view your ads want you to connect with them. They want to know how your product or service will make a difference in their lives. Write your ad copy in such a way that it brings the viewers need for your product to their attention.

Another way to make your advertising more personal is to use images – especially real-life photographs. You can find royalty free photos online on various websites.

Be Unique
Make your ad stand out by creating something different and unique – something that represents your company well. Diana Ennen, a publicist and president of VirtualWordPublishing.com states, “With so much competition out there today, it’s important to make your ad stand out and speak directly to your target audience. No one knows your business and clients better than you, so create the an ad that tells everyone why they should buy from you.”

Read More→

DanaIn stand outthis Internet age, it is more important than ever to stand out above the crowd. You can get literally lost in a sea of choices these days! So how can you get noticed?

One very important way is through having a professional brand image. Many home-­based business owners make common mistakes when it comes to their logos that detract from their brands. As a graphic designer and brand expert, I see these mistakes often. If you know what they are, you will have an edge up on your competition and you will get the attention you need for your business to thrive!

So here are the three common design mistakes:

1) Using Inch/Foot Marks

Now, you may be wondering, what in the world am I talking about? Foot marks and inch marks are symbols that stand for measuring length. They are straight up and down and they look UGLY. Due to the limitations of the Internet, these symbols have to be used for quotations and apostrophes. But you should not be using them in your brand images and marketing materials! Instead, use what’s called “smart quotes” or “curly quotes.”

Before the advent of desktop publishing, typesetters had the job of turning copy into columns of type. There were standards that were adhered to and widely known in the industry. Upon the introduction of computer layout software and image manipulation software, graphic designers became in effect typesetters. Professionals knew the standards.

But these computer programs became so widely used that amateurs had no idea about the difference between these marks. The typesetting aspect of design got lost.

Why does this matter? Because the image created with smart quotes looks professional and the foot/inch marks look amateurish. A professional image sets your business apart from the competition. That means you will be noticed if you follow these standards.

So how do you use smart quotes? Most software programs have a toggle switch in the preferences window that allows you to turn on smart quotes. There are also keyboard shortcuts, but they are different between PC and Mac. It’s not too hard to find out just by doing a little research.

2) Lack of Aesthetic Design

Making a brand image, a logo, is graphic design. This is an art unto itself and there’s a lot involved in it. Experienced graphic designers understand the elements that go into creating a logo. Basically, these elements are the same principles used in fine art. These range from color balance to aligning of objects, which is a very important standard in graphic design. Images need to be grounded, not floating on a space. There needs to be proportion and evenness.

Understand the elements of design and your brand image will be professional and that will mean it will get noticed!

Read More→

Jul
02

Market Your Business This Summer And Show Your Best Self

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Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerSummer is often a time when things slow down a bit.  Between vacations, holidays, and just wanting that relaxed pace, more and more clients require less time.  What’s good is that means more time for you to cha chill too.  But, unfortunately, it can have a negative effect on the paycheck.  That’s why it’s critical to keep marketing over the summer and we’ll show you ways to do just that!

Here are my top summertime tips for marketing your business:

Social Media Magnify – Step it Up!  – Keep your social media marketing consistent and running throughout the summer.  So often you can see lapses in content when the business owner goes on vacation and even when they just slow down and get “out of the mood to post.”  It’s hot, we feel you!  And if you go on vacation, you know that the week prior and the week after can be just as busy, so a slowdown there often happens for extended periods of time. What you need to do is prepare in advance and schedule posts or hire someone to help.  Also, know you can actually do this early on (like even in May, although we’re a little late on that for this year).  That way at the last minute you aren’t saying, “Man I need to write these posts, because guess what … you probably won’t!  But even if you do slow down, don’t go total ghost and disappear.  It’s better to have some postings than nothing at all.

With your social media too keep in mind that people are more cha chilled during the summer, which rocks.  It’s good to give your postings more personality because of that.  Share more fun videos.  Write more fun tips. Share pics of you out having fun.  Just keep it professional.  And yes, even on your business page, it’s AOK to post a pic of you enjoying the summer.  We just recommend keeping those bikinis off the page.  (Although we know you look marvelous in it!)

Content Marketing Magic – Make it Happen – There are those frazzled business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking at taking a vacation and thinking, I’ll never survive send help!  Well guess what, when your content shows up right at that right moment, it might be just what they need to take action and check you out.  (In a good way of course.)  So write that awesome content to show all you can do.

Write articles & blog postings specially addressing services you provide and especially ways you can help an overwhelmed business owner survive and thrive.  An awesome article outlining how you can help with the summertime blues and overwhelm and adding specific things you can do might just do the trick.

Paid Advertising – Do It – Do It Now – Let’s face it, it’s summer and more people are on social media relaxing than most times of the year.  This is a great opportunity to connect with those you might not otherwise get the opportunity to.  And why not make it easier by paying for ads and targeting your marketing directly to those people. Now you don’t want to throw off their chilled mojo, but you absolutely can advertise in a way that promotes your products and services, and has them clicking to find out more without spilling their beverage of choice.

And once again, let’s pump it up and make it fun.  You will catch more attention with a fun video, graphic, text, etc., than if it’s the same ole same ole boring content.  Let them see that “Hey, that’s the kind-of business I want to do business with.  I bet they are a hoot to work with.”  Now, of course, you don’t want to go overboard, but I bet if you try this out this summer, come fall you’ll like it so much that from now on, your ads will have more personality, which breaks down to more sales and $$$$.  That sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?  You betcha.

Networking – Get Out There  – During the summer a lot of folks take off and don’t attend as many networking events as they normally would.  Now you would think that would be a bad thing if you want to get out and network, but it can have the opposite effect.  So often networking events have clicks (oh I so don’t like that term, but it describes what I need to say perfectly.)   And when you attend these events, it’s hard to break into these clicks.  (Oh gosh there it is again.) But when some of the regulars don’t attend, those newbies can often connect on a more personal level with those there. Plus, with smaller groups, the meetings can be more intimate. Now no nasty emails telling me about your group not being a click.  I don’t mean any offense to anyone.  My point being, get out there and network.  Don’t take the summer off.  Try and connect with a few new people and most of all enjoy yourself. Often times event organizers will reward summer-time attendees with more laid back events. Read More→

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Jun
29

What Does It Really Mean to Be “Authentic” with Your Brand?

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Dana“Authentic” is another buzz word heard a lot when talking about branding. I use it myself in my branding courses. It’s core to what I do and how I help my clients.

But what does it mean? And how do you be authentic?

Authentic is being real. It is being you, not a carbon copy of someone else. It is not fake. It does not promise one thing and not deliver.

Finding your authentic identity involves a thorough analysis of your talents, gifts, callings, vision, dreams, weaknesses, personality, strengths, and more. When you fully understand who you are and why you are in business, you can build a brand based on you and your uniqueness. It will truly be customized.

It’s kind of like this: Have you ever driven into a developer neighborhood and gotten lost? I certainly have! Cookie cutter neighborhoods look all alike. I cannot find my destination by memory. I have to work extra hard to know the address.

But when you go to a custom house, do you not remember it? If it is really well designed, is it not worth more?

It’s the same with a brand. When your look is cookie cutter (like from one of those cheap business card templates you can get from the Internet), you will lose customers. You will not be easy for your customer to find because you will not be memorable. There is nothing to distinguish you from your competition.

But when you customize your brand you are adding value to your business. That in the end means increased revenue.

That is why building a brand based on your authentic identity is so important. It has be to be who you are, who your business is, at the core. And part of that authenticity is delivering on your promises.

Read More→

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Jun
15

4 Tips to Overcoming Procrastination in Your Business

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DananapProcrastination. Really, quite honestly it is one of my biggest weaknesses. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in Facebook or checking my email a hundred times per day or wasting my time just “putsing” around. It holds me back from accomplishing everything I need to accomplish and it definitely could hurt my brand if I let it continue.

In fact, if clients rely on you, procrastination can be a brand killer!

So how can we overcome procrastination? Perhaps these ideas will help us:

1) Take things in bite­size chunks.

It’s really easy for me to get overwhelmed with everything I need to do. I feel pulled in a million different directions. When that happens, I just want to chuck it all and do nothing or waste my time doing trivial things like spending excess time in Facebook.

The trick is to break projects down into small steps. Don’t overwhelm your “to­do” list with hundreds of items. That will only burden you down. This drag leads to avoidance behavior. Believe me, I am speaking from experience!

It’s so much better to concentrate on the three or four strategic things you need to do for your business rather than 20 things you think you have to do in a day. Be committed to get those few things done and then you can go on with a feeling of success. This will give you strength to tackle more.

Once you accomplish a few things, be sure to give yourself little rewards to keep yourself motivated. You might think of a huge reward when you finish a big project. Read More→

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Jun
11

The Top Four To-Do’s of Successful VA’s

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Pebbles Jacobo, All Things VA bloggerI have had a lot of experiences in building my company from the ground up and refining my skills and services. From my experiences and education, I have a lot to share which may help with your own virtual assistant (VA) business. Here are my top “do’s” to begin with:

Do Communicate With Your Clients: Communication ensures you and your client are on the same page, tracking with the same line of thinking. This goes a long way in building a rapport with clients which will have them coming back for more. Repeat clients are additional revenue.

Do the Social Media Marketing and Networking Dance:  Social media marketing is, in the words of Diana Ennen, “is here to stay.” It is a free method of marketing and getting the word out about your VA services. Social media marketing, if done correctly, also is a way of establishing your expertise in your field.

Do Schedule Your Time: Believe it or not, scheduling your time in regards to clients and tasks will not only reveals hidden pockets of time, but also help you stay on target. This will serve you well as the more on target you stay, the more productive and the more money you can make.

Read More→

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Jun
08

3 Print Promotional Ideas to Skyrocket Your Marketing and Sales!

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DanaIn mJb165Ithese days of Internet marketing, it is easy to forget about old-­fashioned methods. No, they are not dead!

In fact, think about this: what do you receive in your mailbox? Junk and bills, right? So perhaps you can stand out above the crowd through some direct mail campaigns targeted to your audience. May these ideas get you started!

1) Postcards

Postcards are an extremely effective way to introduce yourself to prospects, especially in a localized area. Relatively inexpensive, they also offer a lower rate when it comes to mailing services.

Want to introduce your products or services? Then this is a perfect way to give a shout out to local businesses or individuals that you exist. Don’t know where to start? Check with your library! They usually have databases that you can use to help you target a list. Then you can follow up with a phone call a few days after the postcard is received. And that will mean you won’t be strictly cold calling, which will be more effective in the long run.

2) Notecards

Sending notecards is a more personalized method of promoting your products or services. This is especially helpful for current customers. After all, they are your best customers.

Using notecards is the first major marketing campaign my husband will employ in his new endeavor as a full time self­employed architect (yes, he now works at home!). I designed special notecards that included his branding and one of his best drawings on the cover.  He will write personal notes (with my help) to construction and engineering firms around the state to announce that he is open for business. He will then follow up with a phone call or email or both. Read More→

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Jun
01

Social Media is About Networking and Branding is Key!

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DanaRecently, laughinglwhile a guest on a local radio show, I got to meet a top social media marketer named Kevin Knebl. He wrote a book called, “The Social Media Sales Revolution” and he is in high demand as a speaker all over the world.

As I listened to him being interviewed, what he said resonated with me. The host asked a very interesting question about LinkedIn. She mentioned that direct sellers would frequently set up a meeting, having contacted her her through LinkedIn, and then try to get her to join their downline. This would make her feel very uncomfortable,  especially if others were brought into the meeting.

She felt like they were leading her on as their intent was never shared ahead of time. Busy with her radio show and job as a branding consultant with a radio conglomerate, she has no interest in joining an opportunity, although she’s very supportive of small businesses and will become a customer if she really likes the product or service.

Kevin’s thoughts on this subject were so true, something I’ve seen happen over and over again. The direct sellers who do this kind of thing are not using social media effectively. It’s not for spamming. Social media is for networking, for building relationships.

And that’s the key to successful sales, and to successful branding. It’s about relationship building.

Kevin also pointed out that if this were done in the 90s, they would have used their cell phones. Really, if a person is bad at networking, then they will approach social media in the same way. The opposite is true. If a person is good at networking, their social media efforts will be effective.

The important factor is knowing how to network and doing it effectively. What’s one of the best resources out there? Kevin suggests Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

Because the truth is, business success is based on timeless principles. Too often in this Internet age, we seek for this next big shiny object that will solve all our problems instantly. But the foundations of marketing, sales, and business building do not change over time.

Because people do business with people they like, know, and trust. That will always be the case. Social media is a great way to accomplish this and is in fact a gold mine!

However, it takes wisdom on how to use these tools. For instance, do you remember the saying “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it?” Well, social media is much the same way. It’s not the place for gossip, excessive ranting, or continual spamming.

Read More→

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mhBLNi8Over the past month, I’ve made a realization that has changed my life.

It’s so simple, but revolutionary: Taking a break from work is the key to getting more done.

I’m not just talking about a break from physical activity. I’ve found I’m even more in desperate need of a mental breather. The chaos that goes on in my tortured little mind is  exhausting.

This has been a radical concept for me. It doesn’t make sense, does it? We think that if we rest, we’ll fall behind. Forget something. Lose productivity. I have a very driven personality, so the thought of relaxing tends to make me stressed. I’m not sure how to do it. Yes, I have issues.

But something changed this past Easter Sunday.

As I pondered Christ’s incredible sacrifice, I felt led to pull the plug on all my normal activity that day and just let my mind focus on Him. I kept the computer shut down. No checking email or Facebook. No doing “just a little bit of work” to get a head start on the week. I resisted the lure of the remote and fought off the impulse to watch “Chopped.”

It felt strange – this mental rest – but I liked it.

At some point during the day, I realized I felt a sense of peace that I hadn’t felt in a long time. And I heard a voice inside me say, “Why don’t you do this every Sunday?

So I have.

It has had some amazing results that I didn’t expect:

  1. I’m more focused and disciplined during the week. I never worked a lot on Sunday, but now I don’t leave it as an option at all. Since I now know that everything work-related needs to be done by Friday or Saturday, I tend to stay on task better during the week.
  2. I hear the Holy Spirit more clearly. I’ve had such an amazing month of spiritual insights. And I directly relate that to my mental rest on Sundays. That discipline of mentally resting on Sunday has carried over to the rest of the week. I’m gradually finding it easier practice mental quietness at times during the week. That’s key to hearing the Holy Spirit speak.

So how does this affect our productivity? The Holy Spirit is our Guide. When we’re hearing Him speak, we go down fewer rabbit trails. We experience a sense of purpose and energy in our work that’s supernatural. Read More→

May
25

Why a Tagline is So Important … and How to Write One

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As a home­based business owner, a tagline or slogan is extremely important.

Why? Because it clarifies why you are in business and what you do. As the saying goes, brevity is the soul of wit. As a society, we are used to sound bites. You need to make a sound bite for yourself!

This is especially important in networking. In the networking group I belong to, introducing myself, my business, and my tagline is a prime way for me to stand out.

A slogan helps your prospects understand better what product or service you provide and if the tagline is memorable, will keep your business top of mind. This means when they have a need for your particular product or service, they will think of you and be more likely to contact you.

So how do you write a tagline?

Think through the question most often asked in social circles, “What do you do?” What is your 60 second response? This is often called an elevator speech. Now cut that speech in half. Then cut it to 10 seconds. Can you get your message across in that amount of time and is it memorable?

Alliteration is a useful tool when it comes to writing slogans and taglines. So is humor, as long as it is tasteful and fits with your business. In our networking group, a couple of the ladies share some funny taglines that make people laugh. Often they rhyme. These are memorable for sure!

Using keyword research can really help you also. After all, you want to make sure people online find you! This was the main method that my husband and I used when creating his tagline, “Safeguarding lives through strong and robust building design.” Building design was our main keyword. We also wanted to make sure his personality came through when writing the tagline. Because it shows what makes him different from other architects. Read More→

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