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

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.”

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.

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!

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

 

 

 

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Simple Tips For Using Instagram In Your Small Business

Instagram is a beautiful place to be on social media. From photos to life experiences, there’s a lot of beauty shared on this social media platform. Do you recall the last photo you loved on Instagram? Chances are, you probably do and you will return to that Instagram account.

Social Media

Small business owners have an opportunity to share what they do on a daily basis through Instagram. It’s one of the simplest ways to share your story. Here are some simple tips to help you grow your business through Instagram.

INVEST IN A SMARTPHONE

I meet many small business owners on a weekly basis that do not own a smartphone. That is the first step you need to take when it comes to using Instagram in your business. Small business owners need to invest in a smartphone. Posting photos to Instagram is so easy and it will seriously take less than five minutes out of your day.

SHARE QUALITY PHOTOS

Post photos on Instagram that are eye catching. This means that your photo is not blurry and rich in color. I personally own the Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone and love the photos that it takes. I have very little photo editing to do with the majority of the photos I post.

USE HASHTAGS

Hashtags are fantastic on Instagram! Be sure to use several. On Instagram it’s OK to use 10-15 hashtags on a post. Keep in mind, this large number of hashtags is spam on other social media platforms. Use hashtags that are relevant to your business. For example, if you are a farmer, you can use #agriculture #harvest16 #soybeans #wheat #corn. If you own a jewelry store, your post could include the hashtags #jewelry #bracelet #fashion #MothersDay or others specific to your area. When you use these hashtags, more people will stumble on your Instagram account and hopefully click on follow.

Instagram is a fun platform to use. I use Instagram a lot when I travel. In fact, my husband and I rerouted on a recent road trip, due to a hashtag search on Instagram. We found an area in Florida that we had no idea existed, due to a quick Instagram search.

I’d love to hear how you are using Instagram in your small business. It’s an easy social media platform to use and it will not take a lot of time to use. These simple tips can help you grow your business through Instagram. Most importantly, download the Instagram App and start!

Looking for a new Instagram account to follow? Travel With Sara has some great travel ideas for you on Instagram.

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.

WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

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.

WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

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.

WHO HAS MENTORED YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS OF BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS?

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.  

DO YOU BELONG TO ANY BUSINESS ORGANIATIONS, IF SO, WHICH ONES?

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.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.

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.

World Wide Web

Tips For Breaking The Boredom When You Work From Home

Working from home has many good points, as well as challenges. At some point, boredom will set in and you will be trying to dig yourself out of a hole. Your productivity level will have plummeted and it will be evident that you need to turn things up a notch or two. Having been in those shoes a time or two, here are my tips for breaking the boredom when you work from home.

LISTEN TO MUSIC

Everyone enjoys music in one way, shape or form. Tune into Pandora and make your playlist. Find music that excites you and makes you want to get moving. Chance are, this will encourage you to do what you need to do to move your productivity level to the next level.

START A NEW PROJECT

Social Media

If the idea of starting something new excites you, why not explore a new one? If blogging is your thing, start a new blog, test out a new social media platform or even start planning an event. Event planning can be exciting and it will give you a purpose. There’s no reason to be bored when you start a new project. Your reward will come once the project is completed and you can reap your rewards.

NETWORK LOCALLY

Join your local Chamber of Commerce, attend social media breakfast clubs in your area and meet up with local folks that work in the same arena that you do. If there isn’t a meet up group with your profession in your area, start one!

TAKE BREAKS

I rarely work more than three hours at a time. I make sure I drive somewhere, take a walk outdoors or attend a Twitter chat to break up the boredom. In fact, when I make it a point to not stay glued to my chair all day, I am motivated to get my work done and get out the door.

I’d love to hear if you struggle with boredom while working from home. There’s no doubt that social media can divert some of the boredom, yet in all reality, we all need face to face contact. Find a career that you love and your days of boredom will be limited. I speak from experience, as I love what I do and am rarely bored.

Tackle the boredom now and embrace your passion. The only thing standing in the way, is YOU!

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Katy Flint

The North Iowa Women In Business series continues, as we introduce you to Katy Flint of Social Impact. Katy is a go getter and a huge supporter of North Iowa.

Katy Flint

When did you start your business?

I started my business “officially” in January of 2016, but had been working with clients since May of 2015.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?

If you want to do it, just do it. Start where you feel comfortable, but be ready for the successes and the failures. Be patient because it will take more time and energy than you anticipate, but it will be completely worth it.

Who has mentored you through the process of building your business?

Sara of Social Connections, LLC  has mentored me, as well as Donna Hup of Donnahup.com  and Liz Nead of Nead Inspiration. Having strong business women around me has driven me to reach for what I wanted.

Do you belong to any business organizations, if so, which ones?

I am an active blogger with the North Iowa Bloggers. I enjoy writing on my personal blog, Learning As I go.

Tell us about your family.

I am married and have two amazing step-sons that are 12 and 16. We love camping, playing games together, and my husband and I love following all of our boys’ activities.

I have loved getting to know different business owners and helping them each achieve their goals through social media and blogging. I am always looking to meet new people and learn new things.