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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 CWAHM Blogs

Apr
02

An interview with Katie Ganshert, author of No One Ever Asked

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Tell us about your new novel, No One Ever Asked.

No One Ever Asked is a story about three very different women whose lives are brought together when an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors. Camille Gray is the wife of a corporate executive, mother of three, and a long-standing PTO chairwoman. Jen Covington is a newly adoptive mom who’s struggling
with a happily-ever- after so much more difficult than she anticipated. And Anaya Jones is the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. It’s a story that explores the implicit bias impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human?

 

What inspired you to share this story?

A couple years ago, I was listening to an episode on a popular podcast called This American Life. The episode was titled, ‘The Problem We All Live With’, featuring investigative reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who covers race in the United States. She was sharing about a modern-day integration story, wherein a Missouri school district comprised almost entirely of low-income, black and brown students lost their
accreditation, triggering a law that allowed these students to transfer to a mostly white, affluent school district nearby. The podcast included several sound bites from a town meeting held in one of the affluent district’s high schools, and the pushback from the parents was shocking. I couldn’t believe it was from 2013. It was a story that captivated me about a topic that impassions me. So when it came time to write my next novel, this was where my heart kept returning.

 

What message do you hope your readers will take away from No One Ever Asked?

I don’t think there’s any one message I want readers to take away with them as much as I just want hearts to be impacted. I hope the last page of No One Ever Asked will find hearts softer than the first. I hope eyes will be opened, defensiveness will crumble, and ears more willing to listen.

 

What are you currently reading?

I just finished listening to Every Last One by Anna Quindlen on audio, and holy buckets! Talk about heart wrenching. She captivated me with her honest prose, and when I reached the part in the book where the title is first mentioned, I literally gasped out loud. It’s definitely not a light read, but it is a moving one. I’m also reading Becky Wade’s Her One and Only, which has had me laughing out loud at several points, and smiling big throughout. She writes wonderful romance!

 

Where can readers find more information about No One Ever Asked?

Readers can subscribe to my Stay in the Loop email list for all the latest news, as well as exclusive giveaways. You can sign up on my website, www.katieganshert.com.

 

About No One Ever Asked

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray–the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser–faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones–the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as “this” or “that”, when such complexity exists in each person?

About Katie Ganshert

KATIE GANSHERT is the author of several novels and works of short fiction, including the Christy Award-winning A Broken Kind of Beautiful and Carol Award-winner, The Art of Losing Yourself. Katie lives in eastern Iowa with her family.

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Apr
02

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 35 – Your Marketing Plan: Begin or Grow Your Mailing List

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40 Days to a Better Business

One of the first things that you should do when starting a business is to begin a mailing list. If you’ve been in business for a while and haven’t done this yet, now is the time to get started. Not only does a mailing list gain you the contact information of your customers, it can also serve to help you make sales.

When I started out, I sent an email newsletter once a month. I would feature articles that appeared on CWAHM, interviews with other entrepreneurs and other tidbits of information that I thought my audience would find interesting. I found that it was a great way to remind subscribers that CWAHM existed J and to draw them to the website to see what was new.

As my business grew, I continued to work towards growing my mailing list, too. Once I reached several thousand subscribers I decided to begin sending my newsletter out weekly. I was worried at first that this would backfire and cause people to unsubscribe, but thankfully it had the response that I was hoping for and helped my website traffic grow steadily.

I’ve tried many things over the years trying to make people aware of the CWAHM newsletter and to make it easy for them to subscribe. Here are the things that I’ve found work the best.

Stand Out Sign-Up Box

You want your newsletter signup form to stand out from the rest of your website. Use a bright color that clashes, or at least doesn’t blend in easily to the rest of your site. This will help draw the eye and get it noticed.

Freebie

Once you have their attention, offer a freebie that will get them excited about subscribing. You’ll want to change this out every so often, so that you can promote your new download or whatever it is that you’re offering for free.

Read More→

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Mar
31

40 Days to a Better Business: Days 33 & 34 – Homework

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40 Days to a Better Business

This week we’ve covered:

*Goal Setting

* Building visibility for your business

* Branding

* Why your business needs a marketing plan

* The basics of creating your marketing plan

 

Next week we’ll discuss some specific strategies we can use to market our business.  What have you learned this week? What do you need to put into action?

 

Your homework over the weekend (next 2 days) is:

1. Assess your goals, business branding and marketing plan.

2. Begin setting goals for the next several months/years including, if necessary, creating or re-vamping your branding and marketing plans.

3. Set a deadline for when you will complete each task.

 

Get to work! 

 

Miss any posts from 40 Days To a Better Business? Read the entire series here.

Learn more about starting your own business HERE!

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Mar
30

Taking Care of Yourself is Branding, Too!

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As business owners and work at home moms and dads, it’s so easy to put ourselves last. We often hear this guilt trip: God first, others second, me third.

I’m here to tell you that’s absolutely wrong.

Shocked? That’s because JESUS should be the center of everything in your life, including your brand! He has called you to be a work at home parent, right? Then you’ve got to be healthy!

That means being proactive. And I’m talking to myself also as I write this. In fact, I chose this topic because I need to do better!

As I write this, I know that I’ve slacked off on my exercise goal and also I have not been taking the right supplements for my allergies. The wind tonight is ghastly and it’s wreaking havoc on my sinuses! If I had been using saline spray I would not have as much of an issue.

Yes, sickness sometimes is unavoidable, but if we take care of ourselves as much as we can we will be in shape to obey God in our businesses.

Here’s a few ideas that I do to keep me on track. Of course, I am not a doctor and never will be a doctor. Follow this advice at your own risk, talk to your doctor, yada yada yada…

1) Elderberry syrup. I try to take a teaspoon daily. Back in 2010 when the Swine Flu was prevalent, my son and I always had our Elderberry Syrup. We were in a homeschooling enrichment program at the time, and everyone got sick. Except us.

2) Find a right balance of supplements. Some important ones that come to mind: Vitamin D3, Magnesium, and Omega 3 as well as a good cocktail of Vitamin B. Be wary of synthetic vitamins. They tend to go right through you without doing any good. I try to stick to whole food vitamins like those found in Garden of Life. We like to drink their Raw Protein Powder as it has tons of vitamins, and probiotics and prebiotics, which are key to good digestive health.

3) Feed your mind with good things. You know, it’s easy to pollute our minds with junk. TV is full of this kind of poison, and so is Facebook. Paul instructs us to think about whatever is lovely, pure, admirable…

Instead of listening to that radio show (and believe me, I love radio shows, especially those that are political in nature), listen to music. When was the last time you let yourself enjoy a song? There’s many of them on iTunes. Very uplifting songs. Make it a habit of listening to at least an album a week as you practice the presence of God.

4) Regular exercise. Full disclosure, this is a tough one for me. I don’t like going to the gym. I have feet problems so walking is difficult. Yet there is no excuse. I can exercise sitting down if I really wanted to! Why can’t I take 20 minutes to get a workout in when I can waste a half hour on Facebook as easy as pie?

Some suggestions: Faithful Workouts and PraiseMoves. I love exercising knowing that my spirit, mind, and body are fully engaged and I’m doing the exercise as an act of worship to God. Read More→

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Mar
30

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 32 – Your Marketing Plan

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40 Days to a Better Business

Yesterday Lori shared with us several reasons why our businesses need a marketing plan. We need to have specific, achievable goals in mind so that we know where our business is headed. This also allows us to discern what marketing options are best for our company and our budget to reach our target market.

Today we’re going to outline the basics of a marketing plan. Grab your notebook and create a page just for your marketing plan. Break it into sections including:

Your Market

It’s important to get to know your market as you get started. You’ll want to make note of what is already available to your market so that you can nail down a niche where you can meet needs that are not currently being met.

Also, make note of how your target market gets the information about products or services similar to yours. You’ll want to use these avenues, but more importantly you’ll want to try to come up with new and unique ways of reaching your audience.

Your Product/Service

Write out a full description for your product or service here. This will help you to define things for yourself and also to be able to easily describe your business to anyone who asks. Too often we have an idea in our heads, but find it hard to explain our business to others. By taking the time to lay it all out in this section, you’ll be confident anytime someone asks about your company.

Also, take time in this section to lay out what it is that makes your company unique. What sets you apart from your competitors? Maybe your less expensive or provide amazing customer service. Whatever it is that makes you stand out should be laid out in this section. Read More→

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Mar
29

Tracking your finances with freelance work

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Working from home can be beneficial to living a satisfying life. Many times, this includes doing work that is on a freelance basis. A freelancer is someone who is self-employed and offers services to clients or a business.  They choose when work is completed within the given time frame while being mindful of the deadline. One of the most important parts of being a freelancer is that it pays. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, dad, or student, you must learn how to keep your finances in order from a freelance job. As is the norm with anything in life, this will require some time and research.

 

Manage your personal finances

In order to track personal finances, freelancers must learn to manage those finances. To focus on the work itself, and find new opportunities, freelancers should learn how to automate their finances. If you are a stay at home mom with young kids, setting time aside for anything outside of your kids may seem hard. However, it’s important to remember that a financial plan will benefit you in other aspects of your life. An easy way manage the transferring of funds is setting up automated transfers and payments for a certain percentage of your income. That way, the money goes where it needs to go before you have a chance to spend it. Plus, your savings will go up! Go further and consider managing your personal finances by keeping separate bank accounts. Look into your options and weigh out the pros and cons of doing so. Read More→

Categories : Articles, Jill's Blog
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Mar
29

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 31 – Why Your Business Needs a Marketing Plan

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40 Days to a Better Business

by Lori Twichell

No matter who you are or what the size of your company is, a marketing plan is always a good idea. It’s far more necessary than most people realize. Often, marketing is the last thing people consider when starting or growing their business. People tend to get so wrapped in what they are working on, creating it or maintaining it, that they expect the product will stand for itself. There’s an inherent assumption that all the time and effort you’ve spent building it will automatically turn into buzz. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The most important reason that every business needs to have a marketing plan is that it helps us to solidify and clarify our goals. If you have a plan, you have not only clear end goals, but a path you can follow to get to those goals. This also allows you to measure opportunities that come your way and see if they fit into those plans or if they’ll get you to the end goal. It’s easy to get dazzled by someone else’s ideas and get excited about what they can do for you. If you don’t have a plan, it’s possible to get wrapped up in those ideas and get distracted from your own goals. A plan gives you a constant reference and measuring stick that you can use to help keep your business – and you – on track.

A marketing plan also help you understand your business from not only an owner’s perspective, but from your customer or client’s perspective. Putting together an effective plan requires you to understand your business, your audience, and how to reach that audience. This is invaluable information for any business owner to always have in mind. It’s pretty much impossible to get the word out to your audience if you aren’t sure who the audience is or what they would need from your business.

With a good, detailed plan, you learn about your business from the outside in rather than the inside out. You can fine tune your marketing message, branding, and make choices that will continue to move you toward you’re the end goals you’ve set for your business. An effective marketing plan will give you a reference manual for your business that includes a tagline, a mission statement (even if only for yourself), and a customer/audience profile. This encourages you to learn more about how to effectively share your business with those around you.

The final thing that a marketing plan offers you is control. It sounds strange to think that a business you own or manage might not be under your control but that’s very much the reality if you don’t have a good marketing plan in place. If you have a solid plan, you’ll be able to handle customer service issues, questions or problems that come along and you’ll be able to fine tune your message for your customers.

Read More→

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Mar
28

Wishing Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

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Rev. James Snyder, Out to Pastor bloggerThe last several months have been rather busy with hardly a break anywhere. Sometimes the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I get so busy we forget about the necessity of taking a break every now and then. Soon one day becomes just like the last day. And tomorrow? Will be just like today.

We did take a little break and went out for supper one evening at one of our favorite restaurants. This has become a rather rare occasion and so we tried to enjoy the moment as much as we could.

We were chit chatting and enjoying our company as the waitress brought our food to us. It was a delicious meal and I was beginning to enjoy myself, maybe just a little too much.

“You know,” I said rather cheerfully, “what I really wish for?”

Not knowing where I’m coming from my wife said, “I really have no idea what you’re wishing for right now. Just be careful what you wish for.”

Staring off into space a little bit I responded by saying, “I wish I could take a week off and do nothing.”

When she finished laughing she said, “Don’t wish for something that you can’t follow through on. You know that’s not possible.”

Together we laughed and enjoyed that far-reaching impossible idea.

A week later, almost to the day, I was scheduled to go to my doctor for blood work. I don’t know why doctors are so interested in blood, especially my blood. It was on a Monday and the day before I had pain in my right shoulder all the way down to my fingertips. I figured I would ask the doctor when I was in for my scheduled appointment. I assumed I had a pinched nerve somewhere.

I showed my arm to the doctor and there was a little rash beginning to develop near my elbow. The doctor looked at that, smiled wickedly and said, “You have shingles.”

I have heard of shingles, but I did not know anything about it. I did not know if I should call for some roofing contractor to work on my shingles or what.

After further examination, he confirmed his first guess and said, “You do have shingles and it’s good that you’re here today because we got it just in time.”

The doctor went out of the room, came back in the room, went out of the room and came back in the room all the time smiling. Up to this time, he had not been able to find anything wrong with me. His comment always has been, “A person your age should have something wrong with them.”

Well, now I have something wrong with me. Are you happy now, Dr. Dracula? Read More→

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Mar
28

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 30 – Branding Your Business

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40 Days to a Better Business

by Roshanda Pratt

When you think of brands like Wal-Mart, Starbucks or Nike you probably think of very specific things.  For me, Wal-mart is one-stop shopping for all things.  Starbucks is the cool, trendy place to get a good cup of Java.  Nike is the sneaker that allows you to “Just Do it.” These companies and many like them have successfully branded us with their mission and vision.  Branding can be defined as consistently executing and promoting a specific set of values, both internally and externally, for the purpose of establishing ownership to those same values in the marketplace.

With that definition in mind, let’s consider Wal-Mart.  The store has branded itself as a low-cost store.  When you see a Wal-Mart you can count on saving more, living better.

Now, while your company name sets the tone for your brand, along with your logo and tagline, those elements alone are not the sum total of branding your business.  Simply put, branding is an impression; a mark you impart on your client or customer. The topic can be rather exhaustive; however, before you begin here are a few questions to consider:

What makes you different from the other guys? What are your competitors not doing?

The above questions are a starting point to showcasing your values and what you represent.  Remember Branding and Marketing are NOT the same.  Marketing can be simply defined as making specific people aware of who you are, what you do, and how it can add value to them. It is important to know the difference in order to effectively market and brand.

There is an effective, cost efficient way to brand your business, many of the tools you can do yourself as a small business owner.

  • Make sure your message is consistently delivered to every customer through the quality of product or service, packaging, logo, tagline and etc. Consistency is critical. It creates expectation.
  • Analyze the trends in your specific industry or niche and position yourself within the industry as an expert. You can do this by blogging, writing an E-book, creating a newsletter or providing media interviews.  This establishes your reputation and builds credibility.
  • Give something free to your target customers. Think Ice-Cream. Baskin Robbins gives away a free pink spoon of Ice-Cream as a taste test. How can your clients or customers “taste” or experience what you have to offer?
  • Let the customer get to know you.  Many people feel more comfortable purchasing or supporting people they know. Consider using yourself as the face of the brand and letting customers get to know you.
  • And most importantly, stay relevant. In a world constantly changing because of technology make sure you stay on top of what’s happening and how it could affect your business.

Read More→

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Mar
27

40 Days to a Better Business: Day 29 – Building Business Visibility

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40 Days to a Better Business

Improving your business is a long-term commitment, something that must be worked on daily. We talked about a lot of methods of determining what you want for your business and for yourself as a business owner. But really, what good is all of that if no one knows your business exists?

Over the next several days we’re going to be talking about ways to increase the visibility of your business – from branding to marketing and everything in between.

Today let’s talk just a little bit about how to get your business seen. There are so many businesses out there, so many places that people can choose to spend their money. How can you keep your business on a budget, but still make a mark on the world?

Finding a niche is the first step in setting your business apart from the crowd. Locate your target market and then find a niche within. Look for a problem that needs to be solved (i.e. no one local offers organic vegetables) and then be the one to solve that problem. By being unique, your business will gain momentum more quickly than the generic businesses who spend their time copying what others are doing.

Next, begin building and email list. Ask your customers if you can email them a regular newsletter or email that contains your specials. This is a great way to connect with customers, build a relationship and remind them to buy from you. Offer subscriber-only discounts and specials to build their loyalty and excitement about being a part of your business. Read More→

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