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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 Jill’s Blog

May
03

Taking Care of the Environment from Your Home Office

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Going green in your home office might seem like a bit of a challenge, often we need to print out files, send a lot of postal mail and use a lot of electricity. However, there are some steps you can take to make sure that your carbon footprint is getting smaller year on year.

It can be challenging to work out just how much power you are using if your home office is in the corner of a room, rather than a separate place – however, there are a few things that you can do to ensure you are really taking the eco-friendly thing seriously. If you are in a while room before you leave the room each day turn off the power from the switches on everything, no standby modes here. Unless you have equipment that cannot be switched off for whatever reason. Be smart.

Try to go as paperless as possible. We are all in need of some notebooks and the odd printed out a file to take to a client, but in this day and age, most of the time it will be digital. Check out hosting fax services, cloud storage (with good data encryption), send invoices via platforms like Wave, Paypal, or just create them in Word or Pages and email them to your clients. Now would be a good time to create a digital signature on your computer, so if something needs to be signed, you can still do so without printing, signing, scanning and them likely – shredding.

If you do need things like business cards, pamphlets, booklets and other promotional materials, try and use a company that have 100% recycled options.

Make your surroundings greener too. Get some office plants. Not only are they great to look at but are proven to boost productivity, and they do their part for keeping your office air cleaner too. Check out succulents, small rose bushes, spider plants and rubber plants.

Maximize your natural light. This one will not only keep you healthier (even while sitting in your office) but stops the need for bright screens, lamps, lights and other sources of human made light. Saving money, saving energy and giving you a bit of a peep up.

PLUS, people who sit near natural light are up to 15% more productive. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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May
02

My Somber Longing for Summer

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerMy favorite time of the year is summer and I don’t care what the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage says. Summer is what I live for especially here in Florida.

As soon as Fall arrives in full steam I am looking forward to summer with uncontrollable anticipation.

One thing that attracts me to summer has to do with the weather.

I don’t like cold because I’m growing too old now to shiver properly. When it is cold and I am supposed to be shivering, I don’t have the energy. I admit that I don’t have the energy I had a few years back. Let’s not talk about how many years back. Shivering now is really not part of my exercise program.

I think God created winter for someone like me to appreciate summer. I have had enough winter now so that I can appreciate summer for the rest of my life. I wonder if heaven is going to be like summer?

Another thing I don’t like about being cold is having to wear sweaters and sometimes coats and hats and mittens. When it’s really cold outside by the time I get dressed to go outside I’m either too tired to go outside or I can’t remember why I wanted to go outside in the first place.

It takes me “forever” to get dressed for cold weather.

Another thing about being cold is my brain doesn’t function 100%. When it is cold, parts of my brain have to be used to deal with the cold weather on my body. Don’t ask me how that works, I just know it works.

I have a brain and I take care of my brain and feed my brain so I can use my brain for my things and not for things like the weather!

What I like about summer is that it is hot. I love hot, contrary to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Don’t let this get around, but she doesn’t like when the weather is hot outside. She complains and complains about how hot it is outside.

I remember one time she was complaining about how hot it was outside and I was sitting there smiling. I try not to let a smile break out on my face when she is complaining about something. This time, the smile broke out on my face and I could not control it.

“What are you,” she said rather snarly, “smiling about now?” Read More→

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May
01

3 Ways to Surpass Customer Service Expectations Even With a Small Staff

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One advantage of running a small family-based business from home is that you can give your customers highly personalized service. In the beginning, you may know each of your customers by name, and your customer base is small enough that you can give personal attention to each service inquiry. But as your business grows more successful and scales up, you begin to attract more customers, and your customer service workload increases proportionately. You find yourself more pressed for time, with customer service vying for attention with other parts of running your business and your home.

At a certain point, to maintain the quality of your customer service as well as your own quality of life, you will find yourself needing to adopt new support strategies. Here are three ways you can continue to deliver superior customer service as your home-based business scales up, even if you have a small staff.

Leverage Automation to Free Up Time

A proven way to save time on routine work tasks is leveraging automation. However, automation can be tricky when applied to customer service, since you don’t want to gain efficiency at the cost of losing a personal touch with your customers. The trick is to strike a balance between automated, efficient handling of routine service tickets that don’t require live help and manual support for tickets that do need a human touch.

A key to striking this balance is to choose cloud contact center software that allows you to integrate automated and live customer service options through a single interface. A cloud contact center provides a digital service center that manages all your customer tickets no matter what support channel they come in on, whether via automated channels such as knowledge bases, chatbot and IVR or live channels such as live chat and phone. When a ticket is opened, the contact center’s software automatically compares the ticket information with your customer database to gather data relevant to the customer’s needs. In conjunction with artificial intelligence, this can be used to rapidly identify whether the individual’s issue can be handled by automated tools or whether they need to be routed to human support. It can also automatically determine which human agents are available and which represent the best skills match for helping the customer. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Apr
30

‘I Can Only Imagine’ Giveaway!

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Want to hear more of Bart Millard’s incredible testimony after watching I Can Only Imagine? This 4-Episode Video Series features Bart Millard, lead singer of MercyMe. Bart shares his true testimony of redemption and hope, along with the lessons God has instilled in him. Contains select scenes from the I Can Only Imagine movie. Each episode is approximately 12 minutes.

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Apr
27

5 Ways to Promote Yourself When You Have No Advertising Budget

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DanaSo let’s face it. Owning a work at home business sometimes means we have no extra money for advertising. But this could mean the death of our endeavors! How can we overcome this challenge?

Let me share five ways you can promote your business with no budget. These are methods I have used or will use in the future.

Bear in mind, these methods take a little more sweat equity and they take more time. But when cash is hard to come by, especially in the beginning of building your business, it will be worth it!

1) Guest blogging

Sharing your expertise online will increase your traffic, your leads, and eventually your sales. Many established blogs need guest writers. Fresh content is very important to marketing for websites. So you may just have a different perspective a website owner is looking for!

After all, this is what I am doing on the CWAHM site. I am honored to be a part of the writing team! It increases my credibility and leads and sales, yes. It all goes together. I also am a guest writer for a micro blog. Each week, I write a marketing tip for a Facebook marketing group I belong to.

Soon I will be coordinating a blog for my homeschooling group. This will give me additional leads as homeschooling families are my primary target market. By writing a blog strictly on homeschooling, I will be increasing my credibility and website traffic.

2) Creating a Facebook community

One of the most effective marketing strategies I have ever used is creating a Facebook group. Most of my clients have come from this tactic. It’s all about creating a safe environment to share common experiences. It started because I was dialoguing on a Facebook page and saw the need. Now every time I see certain questions in pages or groups, I offer this Facebook group as a place for people to learn and help with their particular challenges. It has grown tremendously over the last year. Today I added 12 new people just by offering people this simple solution in another Facebook group I belong to! The Facebook group I facilitate gives me a tremendous free platform to get the word out about my products and services.

And what’s phenomenal is my clients share testimonials in the group, often unprompted.

It all brims from an attitude that I am there to serve and to help others grow.

3) Partnerships

Partnerships are an extremely powerful way to create awareness about your brand. If you can find a business that compliments­­not competes­­what you have to offer, than you will reach more people and find creative ways to advertise. For example, I am in the process of negotiating creating a small course for a homeschooling site in exchange for advertising. This means I will reach more people in my target market and gain credibility. It is an amazing opportunity for me. How did I get this? By listening and engaging on Facebook. I have developed key relationships over the years, so when an opportunity is expressed that fits with my goals, I seize upon it!

Read More→

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Apr
26

Virtual Assistant Niches and What You Need to Know to Grow Your VA Business

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Diana Ennen, Virtual Marketing bloggerFinding the right virtual assistant niche is a great way to build your virtual assistant business with the best clients for your particular niche.  These tips should help.

So what exactly is a niche? Easy, a niche is a target market or industry whose needs fit well with a particular skill set. The great thing about the virtual assistant industry is that the opportunities for matching the right talents with the right niche are tremendous.

Basically having a niche allows you to focus your time and energy on the exact people you want to work with. And the ones that will pay your rates!  You will also be able to market best to find the right clients once you are clear on your niche as well.  When you aren’t all over the board, your marketing works best.

Here’s a breakdown of numerous Virtual Assistant Niches and the services they provide:

Publicity Virtual Assistants – Marketing VAs – PR VAs (My favorite of course)

  • All types of marketing – Really any marketing can be done by a virtual assistant
  • Finding the right type of marketing for each individual client (yes it differs!)
  • Write and send out press releases and articles
  • Help with book promotions and business promotions
  • Send out pitches to the media and securing clients on radio shows, TV engagements, mentions in magazines & newspapers, etc.
  • Creating professional images
  • Finding speaking opportunities for clients to speak at
  • Helping them blog and also send out regular newsletters
  • Building their brand

Author Assistant Virtual Assistants – Authors are an excellent source of work for VAs.

  • Editing – Proofreading
  • Typing of manuscripts
  • PR and marketing – selling their books as well as selling the author’s services, especially for business books
  • Ebook and book creation (typesetting too)
  • Social media marketing
  • Landing speaking opportunities and more
  • Getting them set up on Amazon
  • Publishing assistance (self-published or published).

Speakers and Coaches – They have very similar roles so often virtual assistants target them both.

  • PR and marketing – article and press release writing and submissions, brand marketing, event promotions, etc.
  • Teleseminars – from scheduling to promoting and marketing and being instrumental in having them run successfully, a VA can assist with every aspect.
  • Websites – Creating websites and maintenance, blog assistance & more
  • Social media marketing – getting them visible and keeping them visible
  • Consulting and brainstorming on creating courses, ebooks, etc.
  • Finding speaking opportunities & everything involved in making sure these opportunities go off without a hitch
  • Administrative – emails, calendar assistance, document preparation, etc.

Real Estate Virtual Assistants – The real estate industry is huge now.  Long forgotten is the big crash of yesterday.  Now it’s thriving.

  • Design ads / Social media images, etc.
  • Verify and setup appointments with buyers and sellers and calendar management – Keep track of the calendar for busy agents
  • Prepare and proofread documents and various paperwork
  • Update listings
  • Respond to email inquires
  • Administrative tasks
  • Listing Coordination / Transaction Coordination
  • Bookkeeping
  • Marketing – Everything from research to sending out press releases and pitches
  • Website Creating & Maintenance
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content and Blog Writing
  • Video assistance
  • You name it, you can do it.

Bookkeeping Virtual Assistants – Truly a best friend to many especially this time of year!

  • Bank Reconciliation & Reconciling Credit Card Statements
  • Client Invoicing (huge help for businesses)
  • Accounts Receivable & Accounts Payable
  • Keeping books on a monthly basis and reporting findings to clients.
  • Year-end tax assistance & tax preparation
  • Payroll
  • Quarterly taxes
  • QuickBooks Assistance
  • Any and all accounting services.

Event planning virtual assistants –   The key to a successful meeting is planning and careful attention to every detail.

  • From planning the event to more advanced things such as getting sponsors, etc.
  • Finding venue or coordinating with speakers, hosts, & those coming to the event. Often times reduced rates on rooms come into play. Be on top of that and also make sure all attendees are well aware of this in advance.
  • Travel arrangements. Can you imagine a mistake here and the host of the event doesn’t arrive in time.  (BAD, very bad)
  • Technical work. Too much to even name here, but it’s a lot.  You want the speakers to sound great and also be able to show their slides if they have them, video, etc.  You want it all to run like a well-oiled machine.
  • Front desk support. Registering attendees, etc.
  • So many more, but you get the drift.

Read More→

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Apr
25

A healthy dose of medicine for the soul

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerIt is well with my soulA large segment of the human population takes things way too seriously for their own good. The strange anomaly is that most people laugh at the wrong thing and fail to laugh at the right thing. This serious incongruity has robbed people of a healthy attitude towards life in general.

Those who take life too seriously are in danger of missing the great joys of living in a crazy world like ours. I am not sure about the scientific research but I would guess that for every sad moment it takes one hundred laughs to balance the books. Some people are about ninety-nine laughs short of a real sane moment.

I like the old English proverb that says, “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.”

From my perspective, if you cannot laugh with someone you will not be able to cry with him or her and have it mean anything.

According to some medical advice, it takes more facial muscles and energy to frown than it does to smile. Of course, the only exercise some people have is frowning and who am I to take that away from them.

I am determined, no matter what, to exercise my right to smile and laugh and enjoy the world around me. I must confess that I get this attitude quite honestly.

My paternal grandfather was a Past Master in the area of practical jokes. No amount of time was too much to spend preparing for one of his famous practical jokes. His favorite holiday was April 1 and began preparing for this holiday right after Christmas.

The fact that his practical jokes at times got him into trouble did not seem to affect him at all.

Once while in the hospital for an extended period he had somebody smuggle in to him a can of snuff. For some reason he liked chewing snuff. It is the most disgusting habit I know of on earth.

He no sooner received his smuggled goods then he began chewing it. If you know anything about chewing snuff, you know it is accompanied by a lot of spitting. As usual, his timing was impeccable. Just as the head nurse passed his door and looked in, he leaned over and spit in to the garbage can he had next to his bed. The nurse, not knowing about the chewing snuff, thought he was spitting blood and immediately went into emergency mode. Immediately my grandfather was rushed into the operating room and the surgeon and medical team were assembled.

My grandfather was very sick at the time. Some did not think he would get out of the hospital.

Just as they got him situated in the operating room he pulled from under his sheet his can of chewing snuff and smiled at them. The only person in the room that thought this was in any way amusing was my grandfather. The doctors were so angry with him that they refused to see him for three days and confiscated his can of chewing snuff. Read More→

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Apr
24

Computer Paper and Other Things Kids Waste

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Finding Simplicity as a SAHM by Adrina PalmerOnce upon a time, my seven-year-old daughter planned to write and draw the best princess story that ever existed. She grabbed a handful of white printer paper and stapled them together. The title on the first page was in pink with a sloppy princess with long flowing blond hair. The second page was filled with… nothing. Same with every other piece of paper she stapled together and left on my husbands desk… three weeks ago. She wasted all that paper as if I haven’t told her one hundred times computer paper costs $2.50 at Walmart and shouldn’t be wasted. She replied she thought was cheap, and I responded it is until you have to buy six packs of paper every month. 

Kids waste stuff. Computer paper, food, soda, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, the list goes on and on. Why do children waste everything? Because they are unaware the item has value and guess who’s job it is to teach kiddos value? Yep! Yours, mama. Let’s add one more thing to our to-do list. But this one is important as your kids will take this lesson into the future with them. Don’t make that scared face. I have another list for you.

Computer paper, crayons, paint, and other art supplies – do not put these items out of reach, trust me, your child will climb up on anything if they are feeling creative. Put limits instead. My three cannot get computer paper without both permission from me and from my husband. That cut down computer paper usage in thirds. Take that you wasting wasters. They also have to ask before they use other art supplies end of discussion. Well, not quite if they leave art supplies out they lose them for a week. 

Food, drinks, milk, cereal – the worst is leaving boxes of food open to go stale. Nothing drives me more nuts than wasted food. I stopped throwing away or replacing stale food. The kids have to eat it and I won’t buy more of that snack until the old one is gone. Now they use those handy little clips I got from Ikea’s checkout aisle. Other methods are to give clear guidelines for snacks. Only three cookies, only one small glass of juice. If they don’t listen don’t buy that item again. My kids eventually ask why I stopped buying the item and I say because they were wasteful. The promise until their eyes turn purple they won’t waste anymore and that lasts about a week. 

Read More→

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Apr
23

Overcoming Challenges in Business

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Diana has owned her own home-based business since 1985! In this month’s video she addresses some the challenges she’s faced and how she has overcome.

 

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 diana@virtualwordpublishing.com.

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Apr
23

A Look at How Social Media Might Be Affecting Our Relationships

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One of the most amazing benefits of living in the digital age is the Internet. What used to take hours, or even days, to accomplish can now be completed in nanoseconds, and it’s all there at our disposal with just the click of a mouse – or touchpad if you happen to be on a laptop! We can even forge new relationships thanks to social media but there is also a downside to that as well.

For those who work online, it’s only natural to spend a certain amount of time in chat rooms and on social pages, but what happens when social media consumes much of our free time? If you work from home and the Internet is a huge part of how you get things done, maybe it’s time to step back for just a moment to take an honest look at how life in cyberspace may be affecting our real-life relationships. Here is some of what you should be asking yourself.

Whatever Happened to Gathering Around the Table?

The next time you sit down to dinner, think about where you are. If you are like most people in the 21st century you are probably sitting there watching your family text away on their cell phones. While you may all be seated at the table, are you really at the table? Perhaps your mind is elsewhere.

Your kids are on Instagram or Facebook happily chatting away and you may be reading up on the day’s news or perhaps on Facebook yourself. Whatever happened to family meals around the table where everyone shared the day’s events? Can you even remember a time when no one sat at table minus a phone?

Are Sunday Afternoon Drives a Thing of the Past?

There was also a time when families would all pile in the car, attend their place of worship and then go for a drive in the country or to the lake for a picnic. While many families forego this pleasure because of the ever-rising cost of fuel, most often it’s because we’ve nothing to say to each other. We are so used to speaking with our thumbs that the spoken words are few and far between.

If you’re looking to the Internet for something to do for fun, why not get ideas from sites like Funattic.com? Learn about family activities which are helping other families connect on a real, interpersonal level and have fun doing so. Whether it’s a day at the beach or a trip to the local ski resort, set social media aside even for just a day to begin re-connecting with the people in your life.

Finally, What Do I Really Know About My Kids?

In the end, what do you really know about your kids except that they want the latest iPhone for their birthday and that they simply adore Snapchat. Billed as “The fastest way to share a moment,” are they really sharing anything other than a two-dimensional image of themselves? If you really want to know your kids, take the phones away for just a day. Sometimes a few hours are sufficient.

Talk to them. Ask them how they’re doing. You may get a bit of rebellion at first, but if you make it a fun experience, they’ll soon learn to appreciate your time spent together. Use those ideas you got off Fun-Attic to keep the experience light and friendly. Now you can actually have something to say if anyone should ask you what you really know about your kids.

Social media is a fun way to connect but it shouldn’t be the foundation of all our relationships. As the old classic goes, “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand, make this world a better world if you can.” Remember, it all starts at home.

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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