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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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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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Aug
12

And Then the Thunder Roared

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerlight through cloudsIn our house, thunder has a variety of meanings. Some not as good as others, but that is another story. Either way, I am not a fan of thunder.

Recently, some heavy thunder visited our area along with rain and lightning. I was beginning to understand how Noah felt during his first night in that Ark. Some of the thunder was so loud it seemed like it was inside our house.

Thankfully, I lost my heebie-jeebies a long time ago.

All week long the rain came and with the rain was lightning and of course, thunder. What in the world would a rainstorm be without thunder?

One night the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I decided to stay inside and enjoy listening to the thunder on the outside. Nothing is more cozy than listening to it rain and thunder while drinking a nice hot cup of coffee. It is even better when an Apple fritter comes with that coffee, but that would create a different kind of thunder on the inside.

I must point out during this time, young people were breaking into cars, rummaging through them and stealing whatever they could find. Even locked cars were broken into and I wished I knew how they did that. I have locked myself out of my car several times. If only I had the skills of a car thief, I would not worry so much nor call AAA.

I had my vehicle broken into once and they rummaged all through it. Unfortunately, for them, I had nothing of value to steal, except several Bibles and a dozen gospel tracts. Not one of my Bibles or one of my tracts was stolen. All that work and they found nothing to steal. I had considered putting an offering plate on my seat with a sign that said, “Your tithe goes here.”

When it comes to robbing vehicles, I have no experience. If I were going to rob a car the best time to do it is doing a heavy thunderstorm when nobody wants to come outside.

If I was going to invest time in stealing, which I am not, I would not focus on cars, especially in my neighborhood. People keep the dumbest things in cars.

While listening to the storm, it suddenly got quiet. Both my wife and I took a deep breath and she said, “I think the storm’s over. I’m going to go out and check my car.”

I really never gave it much thought. I went back to the book I was reading and then I heard it. The thunder roared again like I have never heard it roar before. I was waiting for the lightning to flash, but again the thunder roared. Read More→

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Aug
05

Messed Up is Part of the Plan

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerOne of the hats I wear — other than Dad, or Writer Extraordinaire; is Pastor. I am the Life Care (aka ‘Counseling’) Pastor at a mega church in West Virginia.

I usually keep a low Pastor profile; I don’t travel in a bubble-mobile, wear robes, or douse anyone with holy water (exception: vampires), but periodically I get tagged to do something pastorly — like preach. One of those times is coming up, so of course I chose a topic that fits well with Doing the Dad Thing.

I’ll probably start out by telling the congregation a little bit about myself, especially since I’m an introvert and there are about 5000 people that attend the church. Most people don’t know who I am, instead they wonder, ‘who’s that bald guy with a name tag?’

But you, faithful readers, know me pretty well already. You know that I’m a geek and like humor. You know that I have been a work-at-home-dad because my wife has an auto-immune disease. You already know that my goal is that Dads should stick together and collaborate to be great parents and husbands.

I usually am sitting in the audience during the sermon, so I understand the attractiveness to keep it simple (aka ‘short’) so that:

  • We don’t get bored
  • We make it home in time for lunch

So I am going to take that perspective to heart, even with this blog. I have a sermon with only 1 point:

Messed Up is Part of the Plan

I’ll even probably outline the whole sermon so that everyone knows what to expect:

Visit the Lost Son

Memes

Get Metaphysical 

Shameless Plug will also be thrown in

Maybe a fist bump to end

Though every part of the Bible is important, I end up using the Parable (story) of the Lost Son quite a bit, especially regarding parenting.

I’ve tried to be transparent in some of my articles, that I’m not always the best Dad. I make mistakes. Even when my two boys were littler and I felt like I had a pretty good dad system; I was still making mistakes. When we moved from Florida to West Virginia the circumstances with being a Dad became even more difficult. My boys are both now teenagers. Not just teenagers, but they are thoseteenagers that parents talk about dreading — teenagers that have their own opinion, and that try and argue, and that know everything, and that don’t know what they want for their imminent future, and that need a job, but don’t want to work anywhere . . . those teenagers.

Plus when we moved to West Virginia it became apparent that the State Motto is: Drugs.

Seriously though, although any place in the world can have a drug problem, West Virginia is definitely fighting for top spot. We quickly discovered that at public school in WV, you can obtain practically any drug you can imagine.

So being a great dad got considerably difficult. My failure rate of parenting began to climb drastically in the last year or so.

Which brings me to the Parable of the Lost (or Prodigal) son. Jesus told this short story to the people:

Luke 15:11-14

11 “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.

 

Probably worth interrupting this narrative to point out a very important part of this story.  Not only is this a good short story that really could have happened in ‘real life,’ but it is also a ‘metaphor.’  The father in this story represents THE father.  God.  If the Father of all creation could have a son that made mistakes, a son that ‘messed up,’ then really, as a Dad myself, is it any surprise that my teenagers struggle?  If the greatest Dad in the universe, God, has a kid that becomes impatient, makes horrible decisions, wastes, sins, leaves, — all those things, then it shouldn’t be a mystery that our kids are going to do things like this.

God eagerly watches for us and loves us, and is ready for us to turn around and come back.  We need to be like that kind of parent.  “Messed up” is going to happen (it’s part of the plan), but there is total forgiveness and restoration when you turn to trust Him.

Back to the story . . .

 

Luke 15:15 – 24

15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

I’m probably going to utilize some memes at this point in my sermon. Everyone loves memes. Lately I’ve been seeing some great parenting ones.

[meme slides play – much to everyone’s enjoyment]

But as great as memes are, we need to examine this story a little deeper, because not only is it a metaphor; it’s a metaphor with another metaphor — how metaphysical!

The Father is God, and he represents how God loves His child and accepts him with open-arms redemption.

But the son in this story also represents people that mess up by being impetuous, and leaving, and sin, and disrespect, and bad decisions . . . yes, that’s right: Us.

It’s a metaphor for me and for you as we relate to God as our heavenly father. We mess up and do all these things; sometimes even daily.

So, wait a minute Brad — I get it. We are all messed up. Our kids are messed up and make poor decisions and we should be Godly parents. AND we adults are messed up and make poor decisions too. Greatest sermon ever so far.

What are we supposed to do with this? Read More→

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Jul
31

How To Be A Better Entrepreneur

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Being a master entrepreneur is about much more than knowing how to run a business. The most celebrated entrepreneurs in the world have worked tirelessly to get to where they are today and will have developed a wide range of skills in this time. If you have aspirations of being a master entrepreneur and taking your business to the top, then it can be hard to know where to begin, but there are a few steps to take which will put you on the right path and could help you to find success. It can be extremely challenging, and you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone, but this will all prove to be worthwhile in the end.

 

Learn About The Great Entrepreneurs
There have been many incredible entrepreneurs over the years, and they have inspired people all around the world to start their own businesses. You can learn a lot about how to be a great entrepreneur by merely studying these individuals and learning from them. There are many names to look into, but a few worth researching include:

 

  • Bill Gates
  • Walt Disney
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Steve Jobs
  • Andrew Carnegie

 

Find A Mentor

 

Similarly, many young/new entrepreneurs find it helpful to have a mentor that can provide advice and guidance. People often make the same mistakes when it comes to business, but you can avoid these by having a successful and experienced entrepreneur in your corner who can keep you on the right path.

Network Continuously
Networking never stops when you are an entrepreneur as the more people that you have a connection with, the more opportunities will present themselves. Networking online is a fantastic way to grow your brand and connect with people all over the world, so you should certainly be using social media and platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Additionally, make sure that you are networking in person, too, as this can be much more effective and memorable.

Be Tech-Savvy
Technology has always played an essential role in business but never more so than today. There have been so many remarkable technological advances in recent times which have completely revolutionised the way in which companies operate, so you need to be familiar with the latest technological trends and news. You can do this by reading blogs online, signing up to mailing lists, reading magazines, following tech people on social media, and so on. A few types of technology to familiarize yourself with at the moment include:

 

Set Yourself Goals
Being a better entrepreneur is all about self-improvement, but this can be challenging if you do not have goals and targets in place. Set yourself regular and achievable yet challenging goals so that you are always focused on moving forward. Be sure to celebrate these accomplishments when they have been made too.

Take Calculated Risks
As mentioned, you need to be able to step outside of your comfort zone in order to be a better entrepreneur which will require taking a few risks. These should always be calculated risks so that they should work out and not jeopardise your livelihood, but they should still be a risk. All of the best entrepreneurs in the world will have made numerous mistakes over their career, but they will learn from these mistakes so that they can be smarter in the future.

Improve Your Soft Skills
It is hard to succeed in business without excellent soft skills, so think about what areas need improving. You can improve your soft skills by reading, watching videos online and practice, but in some cases, there will be a course or class that you could take. The main skills that need polishing include:

 

  • Leadership skills
  • Communication skills
  • Time management
  • Self-motivation
  • Teamwork
  • Problem-solving
  • Negotiation

Earn Qualifications
You should also look into earning qualifications, which will help to improve your knowledge and skills in a business setting. A masters degree in operations management online is an excellent qualification which will equip you with the tools that you need to find great success in business. Additionally, you are able to study the course online, which means that there is flexibility, and you can study and work at the same time.

Stay Organised
One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face is staying organised because there are so many areas that need close attention. This means that you need to find a way to organise your time and give enough attention to the different areas. Technology can be helpful for this and even lighten your workload, so make sure that you are embracing the latest technology.

Work Hard
The best entrepreneurs all have a strong work ethic which is better than the average person’s. This means that you need to find a way to improve your work ethic; you can do this through goal setting, focus and by eliminating any distractions. Although it is important to work hard, you must also make sure that you do not go overboard as this can lead to burnout and is not good for your physical or mental health. 

 

  • Look After Your Health

 

Although you will be highly busy with work, you must also find the time to look after your own health. This is so that you are able to perform to a high-level day in, day out, but also so that you can enjoy your life. Looking after your health will include:

 

 

These tips should help any entrepreneur to find greater success in their business ventures. It can be challenging to be a better entrepreneur as you must be willing to work hard, step outside your comfort zone and take risks but this journey makes the end result that much more rewarding, and you could find that it helps in other areas of your life too.

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Jul
18

How To Renovate Your Home Into A Place You Can Work And Live

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If you’re a work-from-home mom or want to start using more flexi-time to look after the kids, you will need a space that allows you to be productive. You may have heard other parents claim that working from home is impossible. However, if you sit in bed with the television on – then of course concentrating will be a struggle. If you want to create a home space that also works as an efficient office, here are a few aspects to consider. 

Fix the big issues first 

If you are dying to use the extension on the side of your house as a personal office, but leaks and disrepair make it a daily hazard, then it may be time to bit the bullet and get it fixed. Finding a contractor who can create a custom made metal roof for you will solve your problems and help you create a safe-to-live-in space. 

Clear space

Having a clear space will create a clear mind. If you have a small desk in your living room, which also happens to be littered with kids’ toys, you won’t be in the right frame of mind. However, clearing space doesn’t always mean putting a few books away here and there. Sometimes a clear-out can involve a significant re-shuffle. Here are a few ways to effectively clear some room and create a working space:

  • Pull out all books and decorative items in the room. Do you really need them or could they be re-loved at a charity shop or thrift store somewhere?
  • Do you have old furniture that is no longer used? This can take up significant room – particularly in spare rooms, which can easily become a junk yard for unwanted furniture and ornaments. 
  • Rearrange furniture: by pulling furniture out and trying it for size in different corners of the room, you not only ensure that every nook and cranny is cleaned, but you will also get to see if you are using your furniture to the best of its abilities in the space you have. 

Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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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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Jun
19

Eating Out Of My Comfort Zone

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerwoman laughingOne pleasure the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and myself enjoy is going out for a quiet dinner together. It does not happen often, at least not often enough. When it does, it is always a delightful time and we try to take advantage of it.

The delight on my wife’s side is that she does not have to cook the meal and then clean up afterwards. I have offered to help clean up, but only once and I am now forbidden to get anywhere near the dishwasher. And, for good reason.

Once in the early days of our marriage, I decided to surprise her by cooking supper for her. She spent the afternoon shopping with some friends and so I thought it was the proper time for me to do this.

Up until that time, I did not know how difficult cooking was. I’ve seen my grandmother do it and my mother and now my wife, so I thought it was a rather easy thing to do.

I must confess I have never studied these ladies while they were preparing the meal. I enjoyed the meal when it was done and that satisfied me.

I spent all afternoon that day preparing a very romantic dinner for us to enjoy together. The kids were at camp or somewhere so we had the house to ourselves. I worked very hard doing what I thought was cooking a nice meal.

As soon as my wife walked in the door, she stopped and said, “What is that awful smell? What are you burning?”

I must confess that the kitchen was filled with smoke and I am not sure the source. What I was cooking that night escapes me at this point, but I thought I put enough time, thought, and it to do it properly.

The whole meal that night was a complete and perfect disaster. I know there is nothing perfect, but this came as close to perfect as I have ever seen.

I must confess there was a nice balance to that meal. Some was undercooked and some overcooked. If you balance them together, maybe something comes out right, I am not sure. Nothing, however, met the standard that my wife upholds in the culinary department. All the appliances in the kitchen were shocked by a disaster they had never seen before. And, never since, because I am banned from cooking in the kitchen.

The only thing I can do in the morning his turn the coffee pot on, that is the limit to my kitchen activities.

As we were sitting at our table at the restaurant, I was smiling. My wife looked at me and said, “Okay, what are you smiling about?” Read More→

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Jun
17

Unconditional Positive Regard

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerSometimes people will ask me how I am effective as a counselor.  I wish they would ask with wide-eyed wonder, or awe, or with groveling and pawning like Wayne & Garth in Wayne’s World.

(Yes, I know some of you reading this have not seen the comedy classic of Wayne’s World.  If you watch it in response to this reference, e-mail me your personal review of the movie)

It would be nice if people came up and gushed:  “I heard that you were a ROCK STAR Counselor!  How do you do it?!”

But honestly, usually people don’t grovel or shout or throw roses . . .  they just want to know how to effectively help people when they share their problems.

There are several tricks that almost everyone could do that would ‘dupe’ even the most savvy person into thinking that you are a great counselor.  Here are two:

  1.  Listen (actively)
  2. Periodically prompt people to “Tell me more about that.”

Do those things well and you could pass yourself off as a counselor in the top 20% of counselors.  I’ll explain.   When you listen to people you are giving them a great gift.  You are helping them express themselves and work through issues in their own way.  You are ratifying their experience and showing them that they are important.  In counseling, we add the term “active” to show that listening isn’t just silently hearing a person; an “active listener” will stay engaged, periodically repeat what the other person said, share affirmations, and ask questions that are open.

Distressed person:  So, I was at Starbucks getting a drink.  I overheard a movie spoiler, and I was so startled, that I accidentally spilled my latte.

Active Listener:  Oh, my!  [nods head to indicate encouragement to continue]

Distressed Person:   I had just put in creamer, and hadn’t put the lid on yet.  Some of it splatted on my jeans!  It was a disaster!

Active Listener:  So, you put in creamer and it spilled on your jeans while the lid was off?  Wow, that was a disaster.

Distressed Person:  [Begins crying in anguish]

Active Listener:  Please tell me more about how you felt when this happened.

. . .  and . . . scene

That’s a ridiculous example of using the first two counseling skills in a way that would have someone think you are an actual ROCK STAR Counselor.  People love to feel like they are heard, and important.  I’ve seen people blossom and brighten, become a warm and engaging person, just by someone actively listening to them. Read More→

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Jun
14

5 Ways to Run an Ethical Business

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Many companies often develop various guidelines for their employees to adhere to, which can range from social media policies to payroll and overtime procedures. However, few fail to establish an ethics policy, which clearly sets out a code of conduct for the brand and staff to adhere to each day.

If you want to create a policy of your own, here are five ways to run an ethical business.

 

  • Set Core Business Values

 

Core business values will set internal priorities for your brand and could help to set it apart from its rivals. After all, they will inform your target audience that you run a trustworthy business that takes responsibility for its decisions and actions.

The values you incorporate into your business are not only essential to your branding, but they will define corporate behavior that you expect your employees to embody.

 

  • Secure Consumer Data

 

Every business has a responsibility to protect consumers sensitive data, such as their:

  • Addresses
  • Bank and credit card information
  • Customer account numbers
  • Email addresses

Unfortunately, some organizations fail to take this legal obligation seriously. If you want to protect your consumers’ data, invest in a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate, which will encrypt all data between the customer and your web server. It can also prevent hackers from accessing the information.

As an SSL certificate will change a URL from HTTP to HTTPS, it can indicate to your visitors that their information will be protected when they use your website. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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