Blogging

Tips For Working From Home Without Feeling Isolated

Working from home can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. If you are someone who enjoys a challenge and the opportunity to set your own schedule, working from home is a good solution for you. I have worked from home for the past decade and I have some tips that can help you enjoy your work from home experience.

ONLINE NETWORKING

Working from home gives you an opportunity to meet many new people online. Use this opportunity to grow your business and make real online connections. Twitter is where I have made more business connections than any other social media platform. Facebook groups, as well as LinkedIn groups, give you more opportunity to make more online connections than ever before. Use your online networking time wisely and you will reap the rewards. The best tip I can give you in regards to online networking is to take those online relationships offline and let the magic happen.

GET DRESSED DAILY

Many would argue that they work fine in pajamas all day, not this entrepreneur. When I get up and get dressed, I am ready to conquer the world. When I sit around in pajamas, not so. There’s something about feeling confident about being dressed and “meeting” a new client from my home, would you agree?

EXERCISE

Make exercise a part of your day. If I find myself dragging throughout the day, I go for a walk, hop in the car to run an errand or tackle a room in my home that needs some attention. An hour of moving around will often reset my mind set, which will increase my daily productivity.

LOCAL NETWORKING GROUPS

Find a local networking group where you can have face to face conversations with like minded people. This could be through your local social media breakfast club or even hanging out in your local coffee shop.

Social Media Thrivent

The best thing about these two things, they are usually a free activity. Face to face conversations do matter and it’s up to you to make them happen. When you sit at home, buried in your office, those face to face, real life conversations will not happen. Skype is a great tool, but those face to face conversations still come out ahead in the long run.

INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS

Invest in your business, it’s as simple as that. Conferences, training sessions and anything you can do to help you be a better business leader in your arena, go for it. The real life meetups have always helped me and reminded me of how important people are in my life.

Working from home is a great opportunity for many of us, so use your time wisely. Network online and then build upon those relationships offline. There is no reason to feel isolated when you work from home in our ever-connected world of today.

So, tell me! Do you feel isolated working from home or have you found ways to avoid this awkward feeling?

 

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Tips For Writing Your First Ebook

If you cruise through Amazon, you know that ebooks exist in our crazy, busy world of today. Have you read an ebook lately? I’m guessing you have. Many people are reading books on their digital devices and it looks to be a fun space to be in. I do know that people want things simple, straight forward and to the point. Ebooks do fulfill that desire.

I do not declare to be the world’s expert on writing ebooks, but I can tell you that I have written four of them and found them very easy to publish. I have a few tips to help you navigate through the process as you write your first one, so you do not make the same mistakes that I did.

desk black and white

 

START WRITING

If you have not written anything down, the first step is to write! If you are a blogger, you may even have an ebook in a blog post or two. Most importantly, start!

KDP (KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING) IS YOUR FRIEND

KDP, self publishing through Amazon is very easy to use. They literally walk you through the process of publishing, step by step. Have a title for your book in mind and you will be set. I sat on my first ebook for several months because I’m not a graphic design person, and I failed to realize that KDP does that for you! They will design a pretty cover for you, in less than one minute. Yes, one minute! I had read online that people struggled with placing their own photos on the cover, but after publishing my fourth ebook I realized it was very simple to do.

BE PATIENT

Once you have everything completed, you may have to wait up to 72 hours for your ebook to be available for purchase. The ebooks I have written have all been available for purchase within 6 hours. I’m thinking it depends on the length of the book and if you have photos in the ebook.

If you are looking for a new way to reach new people in your business, I would highly suggest entering the world of ebooks. It’s another way to share your knowledge with others and offers you the opportunity to make a little money along the way.

So, what are you waiting for? START!

I started and this is what I now have in my ebook portfolio. This library will grow rather rapidly, as it’s a fun way to share a story.

Top 10 Things To Do In Omaha, Nebraska

Top 10 Things To Do In Mason City, Iowa

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How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club

 

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Growing Your Blog Is Easier Than Ever, Or So You Thought

There seems to be a misconception that growing a blog happens overnight. I entered into the blogosphere towards the end of 2008. At that time I had not jumped on any social media platforms. In fact, I had no idea what social media was or how it worked. I see and hear many people say, “I’m starting a blog and going to make a lot of money in a couple months.” I shake my head and think, “If you only knew.”

Blogging

I’m not going to tell you that people do not grow a blog quickly, as some do. In all reality, most bloggers learn skills and then find themselves marketable. It is work. For some reason, people think that bloggers lead a glamorous life of hanging out in the kitchen in pajamas all day, while building a following through the use of social media. It does not happen that way. Trust me, if you are only focusing on social media and not making real face to face connections, you will not be successful in this world of blogging. When you put yourself out there in your community, I can guarantee you will make connections that will be life changing, in a good way.

Social Media Thrivent

You may or may not like what I’m going to say, as this is a reality check for anyone in or wanting to enter the blogosphere.

BLOGGING IS WORK

If you are going to be successful growing your blog, you need to be present. This means you need to be writing, making videos and sharing through social media. You also need to be out networking to help you build the base of of your business. Nobody has ever said that building a business is easy, and I’m here to tell you that it is not.

BLOGGING IS ABOUT PEOPLE

Bloggers share their experiences to help people. If people weren’t around, there would be no audience. When conversations occur, business begins to flourish. When you offer a solution to a problem, your business will grow. People will find you, they will look up to you and respect your opinions. Write, make awesome videos, take great photos and share your passion. People will get to know you and relationships begin to form. Again, it’s all about the people, it’s not about you or social media.

books and blogging

BLOGGING IS NOT ABOUT LINK DROPPING

I see way too many new bloggers thinking that dropping links everywhere is going to take them to the top. It’s great to share content that others write, but what I see happening; is that bloggers are not focusing on the people. They seem to think that a blog will grow overnight through the use of social media. When you combine social media and meeting others in real life, that is when your blog will grow. Again, it’s called work.

When you become the expert in your arena, wonderful things will begin to happen with your blog. The time you have spent building on relationships, the social media breakfasts you attended and the networking events you invested in will take your blog to a new level. These ladies in North Iowa have been my inspiration to work harder every single day.

Sky Deck Bloggers

I can also tell you, that success looks different for everyone and it will look different from what you set out for it to look like. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be part of a business that is a media sponsor at the Women In Travel Summit in Milwaukee. This opportunity came out of face to face connections, it did not come from link dropping or staying in my kitchen 24/7. I met Lisa of The Walking Tourists, in person, and have not looked back since.

Lisa and Sara

Do you want to grow your blog? The best advice I can give you is to connect with a blogger that inspires you and meet up in person. Your blog and your life will be on a path that will take you to a level you never imagined to be possible. Think big and work hard! If I can do this, anyone can.

Editorial Calendar

Tips For Creating An Editorial Calendar That Works For You

If you are a writer or a social media account manager, you are very familiar with the term editorial calendar. The challenge seems to be implementing what you write down. Here are some tips to help you follow through with your editorial calendar and how you can have a successful experience using one.

EVERGREEN CONTENT

Depending on the type of business you are marketing, your evergreen content will vary around your business. Evergreen content can be used over and over. I often describe it as “generic” to people, as it’s something related to their business; yet pulls people in. It’s important to not use it too often, but it can be recycled through blog posts, social media and even put together as a program for an event you may be speaking at. I would place evergreen content onto your editorial calendar, when you feel like your content for the day is weak. A little extra juice with some evergreen content, can help with visibility of your busines.

CENTRALIZED CALENDAR

Have a centralized calendar for all people involved in the marketing of your business. This calendar can keep everyone on track and in check.

calendar for editorial post

If you know you have a topic that will take more than two days to share through social media, be sure to allot that amount of time on your calendar. An actual calendar that you write on, calendar on your phone or a shared google calendar may be what you need.

SCHEDULING SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

The best way to share through social media is to post everything live. If you do need to schedule, be sure to not use a third party app when using Facebook. It’s important to use Facebook’s scheduling tool to keep your algorithms in check. Make sure your notifications are set, so you know when a customer or potential customer engages through your social channels. Social media is all about engaging, it is not about link dropping. Hootsuite, Buffer and Co-schedule are three third party apps that many have success with. The quickest way to lose your fan base is to not be present in your social media. You need to be present and get those conversations rolling.

SOCIAL MEDIA POST SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR EDITORIAL CALENDAR

Sunday: Share a tip for the upcoming week related to your business
Monday: Offer words of wisdom from one of the employees of your business, share a picture of people visiting your business and how you help them, or ask a question related to an upcoming event in your industry?
Tuesday: Share a picture of people working in your business
Wednesday: Fill in the blank status update. Example: If I were to purchase a heated thermal mug, I would take it with me to _____________. (Fill in the blank)
Thursday: Share a customer testimonial.
Friday: Offer an opportunity for your fans to engage with you by sharing a national news story related to your industry.
Saturday: Share a video related to your industry or better yet, share a Facebook Live video if possible.

Most importantly, be consistent with your social media presence.

KEEP YOUR CUSTOMER IN MIND

When putting your editorial calendar to use, make sure you always keep your customer in mind. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Would I want to see “that” on social media? If you can say yes, proceed. Your customer will guide you, when you listen to them.

Most importantly, stick to a schedule and put your thoughts to work for you. Those blog posts and social media posts will help you grow your business. Be consistent and know that you are making a difference.

How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you someone that enjoys being a connector? A fun way to help connect people in your home town is to start a social media breakfast club. Here in my hometown of Mason City, Iowa we have been gathering to talk about social media for 3 1/2 years now. Our meetings are very simple and they bring people together. Each meeting is different an it’s not uncommon for us to focus on doing something good through social media for our community, as well.

Social Media Thrivent

Let’s face it, everyone is going this way and that way. Nobody wants to take the time to slow down and talk to their neighbors. Our North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is just that. We talk to each other, we share stories and we also talk about social media. Some of us do have our smartphones out and others have a notepad and paper. But, the best part out of the day is that people are making new business connections.

When people connect with others, they have more self confidence and their communities begin to thrive. The most rewarding part of leading our social media group in North Iowa has been the fact that businesses are growing, out of the contacts that they are making at these monthly meetings. It’s not uncommon for an attendee to walk away with a “paid” gig in their pocket and a new friend or two.

My phone started ringing a year ago and it was then that I started to write my experience down. Several communities are now hosting their own social media breakfast clubs, as many started based out of the model we have in North Iowa. If you would like to start a social media breakfast club in your area, here you go How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club is available for purchase at$2.99.

SM Breakfast Book Cover

As an entreprenuer, I have found that this is a great way to meet other people that are also working in their homes. Those that work from home are often longing for the opportunity to meet new people that think like they do, and this is the perfect opportunity. Go ahead, start your social media breakfast club and update me as to how it is going. I’d love to hear about it!

Tips For Networking At The Women In Travel Summit

The Women In Travel Summit is a conference where travelers and connectors unite. If you have not purchased your ticket to attend this year, I’d encourage you to do so here. I attended last year, and it’s fair to say that I made some connections that literally changed my career in the space of a travel blogger.

I would also like to invite 2017 Women In Travel Summit attendees to the Wanderful Happy Hour that Midwest Travel Bloggers is excited to be sponsoring!

Lisa and Sara

Join us for a drink and pizza on April 20th from 6-8 p.m.. Lisa, of The Walking Tourists, and I will be introducing you to six amazing midwest destinations that helped bring this event to fruition.

Here are some networking tips to help you get the biggest return on your investment.

ATTEND SESSIONS

There are several opportunities for you to hone in on your skills. From taking stellar photos to pitching magazines, there’s a lot to be learned while attending the Women In Travel Summit. The other neat thing about attending sessions is that you will meet someone new. Last year, I reconnected with Suzanne of Adventures of Empty Nesters, met Tam of Travels With Tam and Melody of WhereverImayroamblog. Guess what? We all four had something in common. We were all midlife travel bloggers. Fast forward to 2017, Suzanne and myself, along with Anne Parris of Mildlife Boulevard, are on a panel at the summit talking about how you can soar while writing travel in midlife.

Suzanee, Anne, Sara

Again, attend the sessions, that is where the magic can happen. The four of us now have a private Facebook group where we encourage each other and plan events together.

MENTOR SESSIONS OFFER 1:1 MEETINGS

I attended a mentor session last year at the Women In Travel Summit and again, it helped me grow my blog. This year, I am honored to be offering mentor sessions to attendees.

Sara WITS Speaker Badge

Local is very important to me. If you are wanting to step up your game on the local front, I have tips and some secrets to help you be the rock star blogger in your hometown. Want to start your own social media breakfast club, I’ve shared how to do it and now it’s up to you to start!

You can register here to sign up for one or two of these sessions. Again, by stepping out of my comfort zone while attending WITS and booking a 1:1 session, I was able to take things up a couple notches.

SMILE AND OFFER A HANDSHAKE

A smile and an occasional handshake go miles when it comes to meeting new people. The last time you met someone were you smiling or hanging your head low? Raise your head, smile, and offer your hand. It’s simple, yet very easy to do.

These are three very simple things that you can do while attending the Women In Travel Summit in Milwaukee. I hope to see you there and I’ll be ready to shake your hand!

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media

Tips For Reaching New People Through Your Business

Business owners are always looking for new ways to reach new people. Social media, in my opinion, is one of the simplest ways to do this. Find people that have the same passions as you and start talking. Yes, social media is a place to talk. Have a conversation on a Facebook Business Page, send an open tweet through Twitter, and comment on Instagram photos. When you have a conversation through social media, you are having a conversation with people.

North Iowa Bloggers Tweeting
Bloggers having an online conversation with others about their experience at a local restaurant.

I often find that business owners have a “private” Twitter account and my advice is to make it public. You will not find new people with any private social media account. People want to know who they are doing business with and why they should do business with you. They will quickly learn who you are through the things that you post online. Remember, as a business owner, people are watching.

Once you have developed an online relationship, take the relationship offline. Meet up at a local coffee shop or meet up at a conference. Chances are you have a lot in common and you will find that you both have the same needs and desires. This is where your entrepreneurial skills comes into play. This is an opportunity to brainstorm as to how you can partner together and grow your businesses together. Let’s face it, when you have someone cheering you on in your court, it’s a lot easier to meet even more new people.

Find a local social media gathering. Here in North Iowa, we have the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club that meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 8:30- 10:00 a.m.. The best tip I can give you, is to attend! Have a conversation with attendees and then meet up with them outside of this group. Folks with an interest in social media usually enjoy people and want to learn more about what makes you “click.” As an entrepreneur or business owner, this is one simple way to meet new people.

Owning a business is fun and challenging at the same time. What’s stopping you from taking your business to the next level? Step up today and make it happen!

Want to meet people in North Iowa that are also interested in growing their business using social media? Make plans now to enroll in “Bringing Social Home” on April 6th in North Iowa. You will walk away with new business connections and tools that you can implement to grow your bottom line. There are limited seats available, as this is a hands on event.

 

Social Media

How To Manage All Of The Facebook Groups That You Are In

Facebook groups have gained in popularity over the past 18 months, due to the ever changing algorithms that Facebook continues to have. If you belong to a group of two, there are some things that you do need to know.

READ THE GROUP RULES

Do not request to a join a group and then think that you can post whatever your heart desires. Facebook groups do not work that way. If the group administrators have said you cannot post ads in the group, this means you do not show up posting ads in the group. Saying, “I’m sorry,” is often not enough to let you stay in the group. Facebook Group administrators do not have time to babysit members, so make it easy on them and know the group rules.

If you are in a group that is working on sharing each other’s content, make sure you offer new content to share AND have updated information on your social media platforms.

NEVER ADD SOMEONE TO A GROUP WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION

I know this sounds like a broken record, but there are still people adding people to Facebook Groups without asking for permission. If you own a business, this is the quickest way to send business the other way.

http://socialsaraconnections.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Smart-Phone-With-Buttons.jpg

BE A GIVER, NOT A TAKER

When you give, your life will become much fuller. Seriously, Facebook Groups make it easy for people to be takers. Do not fall into that trap. Get to know the other members of the group, talk to them and work together as a team.

PLAY NICE

Remember, we’d all like to think that everyone in a “secret” Facebook Group will keep everything secret. It’s a good idea to remember that screen shots do exist and often times people are not afraid to take them.

GET TO KNOW THE GROUP ADMINISTRATOR(S)

The Facebook Group administrators are there to help you. If you have an issue, be sure to go to group members and click on Admin. Here you will find out who they are. If you have a question about the group, it’s perfectly acceptable to send them a direct message through Facebook. If you don’t have to, do not clog the feed of the group with please call me, please return my email, etc……..

So you see, Facebook Groups can be fun. Use some common sense and play nice! Are you enjoying Facebook Groups? I enjoy the groups I am in, although I will say that I get frustrated when people do not follow the rules of the groups. I’ve noticed more Facebook Group administrators are no longer giving people second chances when they post something they should not. Therefore, my advice is to follow the group rules and your life will be good!

Shari Hagen

North Iowa Women In Business Series Featuring Shari Hagen


The North Iowa Women In Business Series continues with Shari Hagen of Inkedandeducatedmom.com.  Shari has a a passion for helping people live healthy. Her passion is health and wellness, and of course, living life to the fullest. Meet Shari Hagen.

Shari Hagen

Shari Hagen is the owner of Inkedandeducatedmom.com.  She has been active in her business since January of 2014. It has been fun to watch her business grow the past couple years. Her story will inspire you to follow your passions and your dreams. I personally have enjoyed watching her business flourish and look forward to the bright future that she has ahead of her.

Why Did You Start Your Business?

I wanted to be able to help people with everything health and wellness. My son was diagnosed with Autism and many other diagnoses at a very young age. We were unable to find the resources that we needed in North Iowa when dealing with the biomedical side of it. My family has also dealt with chronic Lyme Disease, for years, without any  help. So, I wanted to provide that resource. In addition, I focus on teaching people how to live healthy on a budget, as many are struggling with their finances.

What Advice Would You Give A Woman Wanting To Start Her Own Business?

The advice I would give a woman wanting to start her own business, is to ignore the naysayers. The perfect example is someone in my community is old-fashioned especially when it comes to business women. I recall being at a business meeting and he saw me and asked, “You sitting in the bosses lap today?” I instantly was disgusted and thought of the different responses I felt like saying. However, I calmly responded, “I am the boss.” Even though we have come far in our society about roles of men and women; there are still people who have not changed their opinion. Don’t let this detour you.

Who Has Mentored You Through The Process of Building Your Business

I have had several great mentors on my business building journey. Val Heard (who has been her own boss for 12+ years), The Colemans of BEWELLness of Clear Lake (owning their own health and wellness store and being very good friends), and Sara Broers (sharing the social media aspect of business).

Tell Us About Your Family

I have been married five years to a wonderful, understanding man and have a six year old son named Levi. My son has been the main reason I embarked on my health and wellness journey. Even though he was nonverbal and had many behavior issues four years ago; through removing toxins, diet changes, and other biomedical interventions today, he is a normal Kindergartener. Our struggles with Lyme Disease are much less severe. Now we love to spend quality time taking trips and being a blessing to as many people as we can.

Shari reminds each of us that it’s important to be an advocate for your health. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong and you are not getting answers you want from traditional medicine, remember that you do have options.

Connect with Shari on Facebook

 

Christmas

Make The Most Of Christmas, Put Your Smartphone Down

Christmas morning is upon us and it’s tempting to share your whole day through social media. When you make a concentrated effort to put your smartphone down, everyone will be able to enjoy those special moments. Here are some tips on how to make your life simpler come Christmas morning. Focus on making those memories, your kids and/or grandkids really don’t want to remember all of the relatives posting those photos to social media. Your kids want you in the moment, actually engaging and playing with them, not your smartphone.

Your Emails Can Wait

There is more than likely no email that will need to be read instantly on Christmas morning. Sure, you may have your email app installed on your smartphone, but that doesn’t give you permission to check your emails 24/7.

Christmas Decorations

You know those Christmas decorations that you pack and unpack year after year? Make it a point to think about where they came from each year. Chances are you have some that have came from your travels, friends, relatives that have passed and other sources. Share these stories and you may be surprised at the interest of everyone in the room. Kids of all ages like a story or two, right? If you must snap a photo, make it short and sweet and share the story later through social media.

Churches across the country are embracing social media and some are taking family photos when families arrive for Christmas services. Now, this can be a fun way to remember where you were on Christmas 2016. There are stories to be told and laughter to be shared.

Embrace The Music Of The Season

Jingle Bells

Christmas carols are a fun way to enjoy the magic of the season. Christmas would not be Christmas without a verse of Silent Night. Maybe Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is your song or Frosty the Snowman is. Enjoy the music of the season and jingle all the way to the North Pole. If you host an old fashioned family sing along, why not get the ok of everyone in attendance and take video of your group and share it to Facebook later in the day. This shows your kids how to use Facebook for good. You can make someone else’s day and have a fun time with your family.

I seriously hope you enjoy Christmas with your family and friends. One day out of each year, let’s engage in the conversations, put the smartphones away and count are blessings of the Christmas season~ Merry Christmas!