Blog Buttons

Blogging Into 2018 And Beyond

There’s a lot of talk about how blogging is dead. Here’s my take on this topic. If you believe blogging is dead, it is. If you believe it is not, it is not. Sounds simple, right? Your blog is your online resume and if you don’t look at it this way, it will probably die out at some point.

Many people blog for different reasons. One of these is the fact that many blog for therapy and an outlet to write. That is perfectly fine. One of my favorite bloggers that writes with a passion of doing good for others, is Beth Ann of It’s Just Life. If you have not visited her blog, do it now! When you read her stories, you can hear her voice. Authenticity is the key when it comes to building your blogging community.

books and blogging

It’s true, a blog on your company website gives you the opportunity to share your story. Who doesn’t love reading a good story? Write stories that showcase your business and boom, you have new customers. Once they land on your company blog, this encourages people to click around and shop. This is one simple way to grow your business through online activity. If you are not a writer, your money could be well spent hiring someone to write stories on your company blog.

If you are new to the blogging space, as many are. The best advice I can give you is to write. The more you write, the more you share, the better you will become. I can tell you that Travel With Sara has evolved and continues to evolve. The Walking Tourists have worked hard and their new book is scheduled for release this spring.The blogging space is not dead. Make sure you have a plan. What does your plan look like and what is your end goal?

If you want to be a part of an accountability group in 2018, I have some spots open. The group is limited to 5 people and during our three-month journey together, we will take your blog & business to a new space. If you would like more information on this opportunity, email me at and I will email you the details. The first five people to commit, will complete our group this go around.

Happy Blogging and here’s to business success in 2018!


Jenni Honn

North Iowa Women In Business Series Featuring Jenni Honn

Our North Iowa Women In Business Series continues. Meet Jenni Honn. Jenni is an up and coming woman in business in North Iowa, as a Rodan + Fields Consultant. Jenni was looking for something to help her grow as a person and she is soaring high in North Iowa.


After using the products for close to four years and referring my friends and family to my sister, who is also a consultant, I decided to jump on board as a Consultant in June of 2016. At that time I thought if I could just earn enough money to pay for my own products I would be happy. In the past year, however; it has provided me so much more than that, both financially and personally. The personal growth I have had has been amazing!


I have always suffered from terribly dry skin and had what I like to call a “product graveyard” in my bathroom cabinet. I tried it all, from cheap to expensive products, all claiming to be the best but none of them worked. When I started using Rodan+ Fields products, I immediately could tell a difference in my skin- it was no longer dry and flaking off. I loved the products but it just wasn’t the right time for me to become a consultant. Fast forward four years later to June of 2016, the company is quickly growing (the fastest growing skincare company in the U.S. for the past several years), my skin looks and feels great, and not a lot of people have heard of Rodan +Fieds. This company was founded by two practicing dermatologists that have clinical data to back their products and they have a 60-day money back guarantee. To me, these things were very important, so I decided to jump right in and see what happened. I had a fear of missing out on something big. This company is (and still is) in its infancy. I have seen first hand what this company has done for so many people across the United States. You get out of it what you put into it, as there is no glass ceiling. There is unlimited earning potential and who wouldn’t want that, right?


Take a chance and figure it out after that. My team name is “Team Chance” because I felt like I was taking a chance on myself and this company. I also appreciate the fact that my team also feels the same way. When it comes to the Rodan + Fields business opportunity, I tell people to jump right in and learn how to do it later. One of the best things about this company is that they give you all the tools and materials to be successful. There are resources galore. If you use them, you will find success.


I can’t name just one person. There is a tribe of people (men and women) that want me, and other consultants, to be successful and are willing to offer me advice, give me tips on what’s worked for them, coach me, and challenge me!


Jenni Honn and Family

I have been married to my amazing husband for 16 years! We live in Mason City with our sons, ages 11 and 5. I volunteer my time to activities that my kids are involved in and like all adults, I am very busy! I literally have found success with Rodan + Fields by fitting it into the nooks and crannies of my everyday life.

For more information on the Rodan +Fields products and/or business opportunity, please email me at or visit my Facebook page at

Barn at Enchanted Acres

How To Keep Your Seasonal Business Active On Social Media 365 Days Of The Year

Seasonal businesses are seasonal. This does not mean that your business goes to sleep in regards to social media during your offseason. Here are some tips on how you can keep the conversation going, all year long.


Many of you have heard me say this over and over. It does matter! If you are not present, your customers will move on to your competition. Customers want to know that you are serious about your business and they want to know that you care. If you own a Christmas tree business, you are more than likely ramping up your social media game by the time October rolls around. For example, a Christmas tree farm waters their trees, they may have to mow around the trees, and they may even offer seasonal merchandise. A great way to drum up some conversation in the offseason is to ask questions that relate to your business. You, the business owner, can take that information and apply that to your marketing and products for the next season


Encourage your past customers to leave you reviews during the offseason. You can incorporate this into your email signature. Incorporate your asking for a review in a blog post and share it through all of your social media channels. You may need to lead the conversion by asking, “What is your favorite memory of your day with us?” or “Share your pictures of your day with us!”


During the offseason, you can gain a lot of traction by sharing helpful information. For example, if you own a boating business, you could write blog posts about tips for storing your boat, tips for taking your boat our of storage, tips for keeping things nice in your boat while it’s in storage, or even offering stories about the best lakes and streams for boating in your area. If you own a pumpkin patch, such as Enchanted Acres, you may want to talk about how to choose the ultimate pumpkin during the offseason.

Enchanted Acres Iowa

Most importantly, make the time to grow your business during the offseason. The people that you meet along the way, will quite often turn into your biggest fans.



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.


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.


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?


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.


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, 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



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, 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.


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

Top 10 Things To Do In Clear Lake, Iowa

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.”


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.


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.


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


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.

Shari Hagen

North Iowa Women In Business Series Featuring Shari Hagen

The North Iowa Women In Business Series continues with Shari Hagen of  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  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


Renee's Loving Care Storefront

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Renee Burdett

The North Iowa Women In Business Series continues with Renee Burdett of Renee’s Loving Care. Renee understands the challenges of caring for someone that is ill or aging in your life. We are blessed to have her as a resource here in North Iowa. Renee is a great example of giving back and an inspiration to women wanting to start their own business.

Renee Burdett

Business Name:

Renee’s Loving Care, LLC

Why Did You Start Your Business?

I started my business after taking care of my mother for three years. We were able to comply with her wishes of keeping her at home with us versus going to a nursing home. She wanted to stay in the comfort of our home where she had some privacy. I saw from my own eyes that she lived a healthier and happier life in the comfort of our home. After she passed I was blessed to have had the opportunity to take care of my family. I have taken care of several family members over the years who have become ill and also wanted to stay in the comfort of their own homes. I was able to fulfill their wishes and able to care for them until the end. I enjoy trying to give someone the best quality of life for whatever amount of time they have! At this point, I started to see more and more people had the same wishes, but they did not have anyone like my family members did to care for them. So… I decided to do what I felt was my calling in life and start my business and help others in need. This was the BEST thing I have ever done! I love what I do!

Renee and lift van

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

Go for your dream! Never think you can’t do anything. If you have a drive to make a difference, then reach out to others and find a way to make your dream come true.

Who Has Mentored You Through The Process of Building Your Business?

I have done it all on my own with a VERY supportive family and friends who believed in me and I made it happen! If it wasn’t for my Mother telling me how much she appreciated all we had done for her at home. Her happiness encouraged me to push forward and my dream came to fruition. This idea would have never came to be without my Mother’s appreciation.

Do You Belong To Any Business Organizations, if so, Which Ones?

I volunteer with the ALS Foundation, and I am a member of the Aging Services Coalition.

Tell Us About Your Family.

I have been married to my husband Pat for more than 20 years and we live in Osage, Iowa. I have a son Joshua who is 34 and lives in Ames. I also have a daughter, Sara, who is 32 years old and lives in North Liberty. We moved back to Iowa in 1994 to be closer to family and I am so glad we did. As time went on, I lost several family members to illness, but I was able to help take care of them and spend quality time together. I feel I was meant to move back to Iowa when I did. Family is very important to me!

I absolutely love what I do! I love being able to help others. I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to take care of friends, their families and past teachers. It feels so good to be able to give something back to those that have helped me through the years.

Stay Connected:

Website: Renee’s Loving Care

Facebook: Renee’s Loving Care




Dave and Mary Hopper

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Mary Hopper

The North Iowa Women In Business Series continues, as we introduce you to Mary Hopper of Natural Plus Nursery. Mary is your resource, when it comes to selecting the perfect plants, shrubs and flowers in North Iowa.

Mary Hopper Women In Business

Business Name:

Natural Plus Nursery

When Did You Start Your Business?

Natural Plus Nursery was started in 1978 by my in-laws, David and Linda Hopper. My husband and I bought the nursery from them in March of 2014.

Why Did You Start Your Business?

Dave’s parents were looking to sell the nursery in 2013, and both Dave and I were working full time jobs elsewhere. We had talked at length about wanting more freedom to do what we wanted, and to be investing our time in something we were building ourselves and our future family. The nursery seemed like the obvious choice. It was very appealing to move onto this piece of land that has been in Dave’s family since the time of his Great Grandfather. We knew the nursery and his childhood home would be a great place to raise our family, and we wanted to try our hand at being our own bosses and being in control of our own destiny. We both can’t imagine doing anything else now.

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

Just go for it. There are always going to be people that will tell you that you can’t. And sometimes that person will be you (that little voice in your head), but you have to set that aside and go forward. You’re going to have failures, and not everything is going to work out as planned. Often it’s in the failures of the unexpected, that you learn the most.

Who Has Mentored You Through The Process of Growing Your Business?

The fall before we bought Natural Plus Nursery, we attended the Launch & Learn Class put on by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Small Business Development Center at NIACC. Since that class, we have met with them several times, and they have helped connect us with integral people in our journey. We are also fortunate to have Dave’s parents, who were right by our side. As we learned how to run the business, they have let us lead in our own way, but are still here to help whenever we need it.

Tell us about your family.

Dave and Mary Hopper

Dave and I have been married since 2013, and are adding a little one to our family in January 2017. We have a lovable pup named Lena.


Be Well God Bless

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Angie Huffman

Angies family

The North Iowa Women In Business series continues. I would like to introduce you to Angie Huffman of Be Well God Bless. Angie has a passion for helping others, as she is passionate about people, God and problem solving. If you have a business that needs a little help, Angie has a solution for you.


The idea of Be Well God Bless has been growing for a couple years, it officially became a business in January 2016.  We started out in a beta phase tweaking the software and team members’ responsibilities. In July we have started our soft launch fully able to enroll new members, knowing we will still be perfecting our system and thus we have a discounted rate for membership.  January 2017 will be our full launch where advertising will begin and additional add-on services for members will be available.


Since 8th grade career day I’ve been focused on wellness and recreation.  I was in my dream job in my hometown as director of the Cedar River Complex in Osage but realized I needed to let that go, and it was time for a change.  After I quit I wasn’t sure what my purpose was.  It was a rough spot in our life, and I got on my knees and asked for God’s help.  Soon after there were people in my life with services and products that gave me hope, healing, joy and love.  It was at this time in 2014 the idea of Be Well God Bless started to form. The idea of having a community of people to share their stories knowing it could positively impact others.  It would be free for anyone to come and learn, and there would be a paid membership for those that wanted to share.  I knew technology could provide tools to record and share people’s passion, but for many technology is a barrier because of time, money and know how.  Our team takes on the role of building the tools and shares them with a community of like minded people.


There are so many people that have crossed my path during this process that have really helped develop what Be Well God Bless has become. The team is a group I constantly go to to get feedback, and I value all their thoughts.  I attended a class at UNI for launching a startup business, and our assignment was to call 100 people that would be considered our niche market to learn what is typical for them and what are their biggest challenges and struggles.  From there build your business to solve their problems.  It was very valuable to learn not to create something you think is cool and try and convince people they need it, but instead learn about a problem and create a solution. That certainly helped mentor me through this process. 

Others that I have always admired and looked up to as great entrepreneurs and business leaders that I connected with are Eric & Janet Sparrow who developed Milkhouse Candles, Jason & Alicia Trout who developed GoodBlogs, Steven Thompson who wrote “Sitting in the Rubble or Standing on the Wall”, Jim Anastasi who is a counselor, speaker and author, and Bob & Pat Kern founders of Generac Power Systems.  Each of their stories helped me put into perspective where we are at and what it takes to have success and also to help me better define success.  


I’ve recently been introduced and belong to Polka Dot Powerhouse in Cedar Falls which is for positive, action-forward business women.  The goal of the group is building relationships, celebrating one another, learning together, collaborating, changing the world and enjoying the positive perspective.


I married my high school sweetheart, Derrick.  We have 3 school age kids. Derrick and I partner with my parents farming near Elma, and Derrick also works at FMC landfill. We live in Osage and the kids are active in music, sports, dance and playing with their friends.  One of our favorite things to do is head to the farm, we jump on the trampoline, have a campfire, ride the four wheeler on our trails and hang out in the barn.  I have an amazing husband, kids, parents and in-laws, and without their help and support I would not be where I am today. 

I believe God puts us in certain places at certain times for a reason – To Learn, to Share or to Grow.  Be Well God Bless is connecting the people that want to Learn with those that want to Share and together both Grow.

I love connecting with people, learning about who they are and what is their passion.  It really frustrates me when I meet someone who has a great gift, but they don’t know how to share it with others so I created a system to record their story and build them tools so they can be understood by more people and ultimately use their gift to positively impact more lives.