Ways to Stay Motivated During the Work Day

A lot of the time, staying motivated while working from home is a challenge. There are tons of distractions and not as much accountability compared to working in a traditional office. Because of these factors, sometimes it is hard to stay motivated to complete the tasks at hand. 

Here are a few ways to stay motived during your work day. 

  1. Take an actual lunch - Eating at your work station always sounds tempting and if you are pressed for a deadline, it might seem like your best option. However, not allowing yourself a long enough break to eat could leave you feeling frazzled and distracted.
  2. Take breaks throughout the day - Take a ten minute break every hour. I find that if I do 50 solid minutes of work then take a short break and repeat this cycle, I am able to concentrate more. 
  3. Close unnecessary browsers - Tempting as it is, try to minimize the time spent on the internet while you are working. This will only prolong the time it takes to complete a project. 
  4. Create a work environment - I say this a lot, but it really will benefit you to have a dedicated space just for your work. This will create a mindset to motive you to finish your work tasks while not being tempted to finish your home tasks. 
  5. Reward yourself - Make sure to pat yourself on the back when you complete a project or cross that last item off your to do list. 

 

Staying motivated while working from home can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be.

How to Decline Working with Someone Gracefully

This has happened to every consultant. You nurture a lead and gain their interest. They are interested in your services and have reached out to you about learning more. Excitement! You correspond back and forth for some time to realize that what they want is not something you are interested in or are unable to provide. Disappointing isn’t it? 

From here you have a few options. If the potential client seems totally unreasonable in what they are looking for. They best thing you can do is send them an email explaining why what that are looking for won’t fit the budget that they have. Include some suggestions as to what what they want might actually cost. Offer some strategy or tips that they can implement on their own. 

Another option, if the potential client seems reasonable, but what they want is beyond your abilities, consider referring them to a consultant that can meet their needs. This is a great way to build relationships with other consultants and maintain a positive relationship with that would-have-been client. 

Tact is necessary in declining work with a potential client. Do not ever completely burn a bridge but instead try to work with the client in other ways be that offering a bit of advice or referring them to a different consultant. 

How Social Media Managers Act as Customer Care Specialists

When you hire a social media manager, you are hiring someone to manage your social media presence online. If they are contracted to do the actual implementation (like I often am), then naturally, they would be the first choice to be your customer care specialist on social media as well. 

Chances are that your social media manager has at least some background in customer service. They will also understand the tone, history, and goals of your brand and how to translate those things in social media communication. Therefore, the social media manager who is handling your accounts will likely be in charge of handling customer feedback directed to your accounts. However, it is always extremely helpful to provide some training on your company’s social media and customer service policies. 

As a small business owner you should feel confident in your social media manager’s ability to handle interaction between your brand and audience on social media. This will allow hem to create engagement and help to foster positive experiences between your audience and your brand. For example, allowing your social media manager the ability to craft unique responses ad hoc in order to respond to feedback (without have to have it checked and approved) in a timely manner will help to create positive interactions. Even further allowing a social media manager the ability to offer a refund or other incentive to help create a positive interaction can also be helpful. 

Customer service should be a priority at all times and in all facets, including social media. Keep in mind that your social media manager can also serve as a customer care specialist when managing your presence online. 

Using Social Media for Customer Service

You may have thought that social media can only be used for building your brand’s presence online, engaging with potential customers, and helping boost SEO but did you also know that social media can be a valuable tool for providing customer service? 

Marketing works well when you identify a trouble spot for a customer and aim to fix it. The same can be said for customer service. First, you will need to listen to your customers and potential customers. Monitor your brand on social media and see what these users are saying. Are they identifying problems with your product? Are they praising a new upgrade on your app? In either of these situations, acknowledge your customer. To build brand loyalty, customers want to be heard and responded to. Social media is the perfect place to do that. 

There are some key situations that will help to increase customer service engagement on social media. For example, there are many times social media users will ask a brand a direct question about their product, a technical question. A timely response to these questions will help to create favorable experiences between the consumer and your brand. 

Realistically, not all feedback directed to your social media channels will be favorable. That is ok. Do not rush to delete these comments. Instead, try to spin them in a positive light. For example, if a customer complains about their meal at your restaurant, ask them to message you privately and offer them an incentive to try your restaurant again ($15 off their bill should convince them!) when they do. Consider only deleting negative comments if they are abusive, racist, or promote harm. 

Social media is a great way to engage with your target audience on a very direct scale. Because of this, it provides the opportunity to create customer service experiences that will in turn create fondness of your brand. 

Three Social Media Platforms Every Etsy Shop Should Be On

For Etsy Shop owners, marketing can sometimes be a bit tricky. Many Etsy shop owners do not have the time or resources to launch full scale marketing campaigns, grow email lists, or buy paid advertising because owning an Etsy shop is a side gig or they would much rather focus on their talent of hand making goods. However, there are three social media platforms that etsy shop owners should maintain a presence on in order to boost sales.

Facebook - By creating a Facebook page with excellent graphics, your shop will gain some legitimacy. On your personal profile you can list yourself as the owner of this shop and link to your page in order to promote it to your network. You can promote your page and listings in Etsy seller groups on Facebook as well. On the page itself you can share content related to your craft and even post the listings to your products. If you have a budget, you can create paid ads to promote your products and your page.

Instagram - Because Instagram is so visual, it is the perfect platform for showcasing your handmade items that you sell in your Etsy shop. Be sure to use high quality images and helpful and captivating descriptions. Also be sure to use popular hashtags in your post in order to connect with others who are using those hashtags (#etsyshop #supporthandmade)

Pinterest - Chances are you may already be on Pinterest and use it for inspiration when creating your handmade goods. Like Instagram, be sure to use high quality images when creating a pin since the likelihood of it getting repined is much higher. Create relevant boards and join group boards when you can in order to share your pins to redirect back to your listings. Also, you'll want to create relevant boards to your craft to connect with potential customers who may share an interest in your craft. 


Should You Run a Holiday Themed Marketing Campaign?

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Ah, the holidays. It's the time of year where small businesses make one final push to boost sales before Christmas. It is the perfect time to sell because consumers are as ready to buy as small businesses are ready to sell. How do you reach these buyers to get the maximum impact during this time period? 

Create a holiday themed campaign. 

Now is the time to really boost your sales with a specialized theme before the holidays. The campaign cane take the form of a limited time discount ("40% until December 15!") or this can even be an opportunity to grow your mailing list ("Subscribe to our newsletter to receive Free Shipping on your order!")

Pay for advertising on Facebook and Twitter. Use high quality graphics and copy in your ads to get the attention of your target buyer, or in some cases those who buy for your target. For example, a board game for children will most likely be purchased by their parents. 

Because of your expected increase in sales due to the holiday season, this can be your time to demonstrate a high level of customer service. Ensure orders are sent on time (don't promise orders by Christmas if you know you will be unable to fulfill the shipment). Remember to surprise and delight your customers. You can do this by saying thank you with a coupon for their next purchase or including a free sample. 

Holiday themed campaigns can work to your advantage if you are a small business owner. They can be an opportunity to increase your sales for the year end while demonstrating your customer service skills and gaining loyal customers. 

Are You Burnt Out?

When you work for yourself, you often do not feel the same necessity to take breaks or place limits on the amount you work each day the same that you would if you worked a traditional 9-to-5 job.

Because you work for yourself, the amount of work you do will most likely directly benefit you.

This can be extremely stressful if things are not working in your favor or if you are going through a slow period. This leads to over work and potentially exhaustion. Both are symptoms of burnout.

What is burnout? Burnout is the exhaustion (both mentally and even physically) after being under long periods of stress. Basically, you have placed such a high demand on yourself to perform at a certain level and have been working at a very high level of stress. This has caused you to exhaust your self, thus a burnout. You may also feel a lack of engagement to your work or total indifference.

If you feel that you are experiencing burnout, be sure to recognize this immediately. When you can name what you are going through it makes it easier to tackle. Immediately step away from your work and look at it objectively. Come up with a plan to make it more manageable. This should give you the confidence and motivation to get back to work in a healthy way. Make sure to take some time for yourself and do something you enjoy. That can be taking a vacation, going for a walk, or even taking a long shower.

A main cause of this for those who work for themselves is not having a health work/life balance. It is tempting to constantly work. The temptation to send 5 more sales emails or spend and extra hour writing blog posts is real. However, these take up time that should more deservedly be spent to self care. Set clear boundaries for when your work day is over and stick to those boundaries. Allow yourself to have time to yourself during your work day. Breaks are essential.

Three Types of Content Real Estate Professionals Can Post on Social Media

Even if you have a decent following on social media and a good network of previous clients who send you referrals, the type of content you post on social media can make or break how well you market yourself digitally. Often there is a challenge in deciding what content to share on your social media outlets. 

Here are three suggestions for real estate professions: 

1. Guides - Share guides and resources about buying a home for the first time, refinancing, or securing loans. Your potential audience will find this information helpful. 

2. Information about the area you work in - Potential home buyers will be curious about the area that they are considering buying a home in. Be sure to turn yourself into a knowledgable resource by sharing information about the area on your social media outlets. 

3. High quality images - Across nearly all social media platforms, high quality images receive the greatest amount of engagement. When you share images on social media, make sure that they are high quality. 

 


Ways Real Estate Professionals Can Use Pinterest

Pinterest is a great platform to visually display content. It is a popular platform utilized by a wide variety of age groups, including those who may be in the market to purchase a home. 

Real estate professionals can harness the power of Pinterest in a variety of ways. 

Create relevant boards for your area - For example, if you are a realtor on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Create a boards like "Restaurants in Chicago", "Things to do in Chicago", etc. This provides a valuable resource for those considering a move to the city. 

Use high quality photos of your listings - Pins that contain high quality images are the pins that get repinned and saved. 

Create boards dedicated to your listings - Create a board that has several high quality images of your listing. When the property is sold you can either delete the board or add "sold" somewhere in the title. 

Cross promote your boards - If you have a specific board about a property you have listed, promote that Board on Facebook and Twitter, include it in your emails, and/or write a blog post about it. Encourage traffic to your Pinterest boards. 

Create boards based on your own interests - You'd be surprised how much you have in common with potential clients. If you like Home DIY, Gardening, or Grilling, those might be excellent boards to create - they're topics you might have in common with potential buyers. Humanizing your brand is always key. 

Interested in developing a presence on Pinterest? Learn more about my Pinterest Marketing Services here

Five Ways Real Estate Professionals Can Leverage Social Media

In the know real estate professionals have already carved out their space in social media as a way to immediately connected with potential home buyers. Social media is a cost effective and direct way to connect with clients and to showcase your listings and several real estate professionals have taken advantage of the advantages social media presents. 

If you are newer to social media, it might seem a bit overwhelming. Don't worry, here are 5 ways to immediately start leveraging social media as a real estate professional. 

1. Be engaged in the area you work in - Post about events, landmarks, and other news that occur in the area that you work in. Reach out to others in the area and form genuine connections with them. 

2. Share relevant content - There are a lot of helpful guides on the internet for your industry. Try sharing those with your followers as a service to them. If you are targeting first time home buyers, consider sharing guides to buying your first home. Or, if you want to take it up a notch, write the guide yourself (or hire a business blogger to do it). 

3. Be visual - Facebook and Twitter are great, but are you on Instagram and Pinterest as well? Both are great platforms to showcase your listings visually. Instagram allows you to connect directly using hashtags and locations. Pinterest will allow you to upload several photos to a single board in order to provide as single place for potential buyers to view photos. 

4. Add a blog to your website - Be the authority in your industry and in your specific area buy posting fresh content on your website's blog. This will help your search engine rankings and will allow you to create unique content that can easily be shared on social media. 

5. Be consistent on all of your platforms - Make sure that your branding and photos (your professional headshot) are consistent across all of your social media profiles. 

Why Hire a Business Blogger?

As a small business owner, you may have heard of the benefits of blogging for your business.More often than not, business owners struggle to come up with topics to blog about, or, small business owners do not consider themselves skilled writers. They may have a wealth of knowledge in their industry, but they may not be able to articulate that into a blog post.

In this case, consider hiring a small business blogger.


Here are some things a blogger for your small business can do for you:

1. Craft content for your blog on the regular- Chances are that your blog is hosted on your website. This is a great idea versus hosting it elsewhere. A business blogger can create fresh content on a regular basis for your website. This in turn will help improve your search engine rankings.

2. Develop a Voice for Your Brand - Your brand may have a voice on social media and in other aspects of your advertising efforts but a business blogger can really help to develop your brand's voice through blog posts.

3. Help you establish authority - A business blogger can collaborate with you and take away the industry knowledge you have and turn it into a high quality blog post.

Are you interested in hiring a business blogger? Send me a message and let's discuss how business blogging services can help you!

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Set Your Home Office Up for Success

If you work from home, you often know it is challenging to make your home feel like an office, because, after all, it is still your living space.

However, if you are fortunate enough to be able to carve our some space, maybe a spare bedroom or a corner in your basement, you can turn it in to the perfect home office.

The most important think you will need is a del or a dedicated surface for you to work at. By having a surface only for work, you won't have to overload your dining room table. Having an actual desk is ideal as this will create a work atmosphere the best.

You'll also want to invest in a planner. I use this term loosely. You could buy a paper, bound, traditional planner, use a Calendar app on your phone, or use a combination of both or something different. I schedule all my work in Calendar on my Mac and have that sync to my phone. I also use a Moleskin weekly calendar for my daily to do lists.

The software you use is also key to your success.

Accounting- I use Waveapps. It is free and allows you to send invoices and get paired within the same program. You can also add your accountant to your account in order to give them access to your records to do bookkeeping.

File Storage - I use Google Docs because it let's me do everything that I need without having to purchase Microsoft Office. It allows me to share a document or spreadsheet with my assistant or a client easily. Everything stored in Google Drive syncs to my phone which means I can always easily access my work.

Project Management  - Asana is the perfect tool to create to do lists, content calendars, and outlying projects in. I am able to sync it with my calendar to make reminders for myself.

Essentials of Creating an Instagram Bio

When creating an Instagram Bio, there are a few key points you want to keep in mind.

First, when you are entering your name, be sure to use your small businesses name. Use it the way it is most recognizable. Leave out any abbreviations or extra words.

The exception to this is if you are part of a larger chain. For example, if you are creating an Instagram account for one of four restaurant's called The Sandwich Shop you might opt for The Sandwich Shop - Lake St. Or, if you are a blogger, coach or consultant, you might want to indicate that in your name as well. 

Be concise. Because you have such little space in your bio, be sure to be straightforward about what you do, how you can help your target clients, and anything other differentiating info that could set you apart from your competitors.  You can use emojis and spacing to make your text easier to read as well. Emojis work really well in Instagram bio's because they can give a quick indication as to what you're about. 

However, there is one caveat to using spacing in an Instagram bio. On iOS you are unable to use the return key to create space/go to a new line.  A quick remedy for this is to first create your profile in the Notes App and in crude spacing and emojis. Then copy and past the text and paste it into your Bio. 

Are you on Instagram? Feel free to follow me at .@SarahMagana_Social

What is the number one way to achieve Work/Life Balance?

When I first started this business, I was newly engaged, had just bought a house with my now husband, and adopted my pup Horatio. It was not the most opportune time to start a business but it was a goal that I wanted to achieve.

While doing so, I had a hard time achieving a Work/Life Balance. Not having this impeded my success and left me feeling quite unhappy. I wanted to work hard but still have a fulfilling life.
 

To me, a Work/Life Balance is central to my success. It means being able to work hard doing the type of work I love while at the same time having a life outside of work. The number one way that I achieved a Work/Life Balance is through separating my work space from my homespace both phyiscially and mentally. I did this in a variety of ways.

1. Set Work Hours - This is easier said than done. When I first started this business I worked all sorts of hours every day. This quickly led to me feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. Trust yourself that there are enough hours to work in the day and schedule in the times that work for you. For example, I wake up later so my work hours start around 9:30 and end at 4:00 when my husband gets home. In between that I take a 2.5 hour break to catch up on reading, have lunch, and play with my pups (I have three now!!!)

2. Create a Separate Space - It's very tempting to Netflix and Work on your couch and I am guilty of that on occasion (I'm also guilty of working from my bed once in a while). When you work in your home space, your are combining the two places and this creates a bad habit. You don't necessarily need a spare bedroom to turn into an office, but you do need a dedicated space that you can consistently work at.

3. Candle Method - When I am working during my office hours, I sometimes light a candle. Mentally, this is how I signify I'm at work. When I blow the candle out, work is over. It's a nice touch to have in my office in terms of decor as well. Creating a ritual like this will help to get you in the work mindset. 

4. Take an Actual Lunch - You should eat, and not in your workspace. Take some time every day to disconnect from work and recharge during a meal and some downtime in the middle of your work day. 

These are just some of the ways I've created a Work/Life Balance. They work for me and have helped me to maintain my focus on work while still giving me flexibility and time to pursue other things that I love to do.

10 Quick Hashtag Tips

Ah, Hashtags. When used properly they create a traceable collection of content. When used improperly, they can be an annoying eyesore. Here are 10 quick tips on best practice when using hashtags. 

  1. Don't include punctuation. When you use punctuation you break up the hashtag. So use #SarahandRobGetMarried not #SarahandRob'sWedding
  2. Use hashtags sparingly in your captions. A good caption is "Check out our #LaborDay sale for 25% off of all our #shoes" not, "Check out our sale on shoes this Labor Day. #LaborDay#HappyLaborDay#holiday#sale#shoes#saleonshoes#buynow#shopping"
  3. Like above, if you are going to use several hashtags on an Instagram post, post the photo with the caption, then have all of your hashtags posted in a separate comment under your caption
  4. If you are going to use hashtags, make sure that your social media profiles are public. There's little point of using hashtags for your posts if no one can see them. 
  5. Don't include a hashtag in your baby's name #ChristopherJames might be a name you'll both regret. 
  6. Keep hashtags to a minimum on Twitter. Too many hashtags comes off as spammy. 
  7. Capitalize to separate words in longer hashtags. For example, instead of #oldirvingpark, it should be #OldIrvingPark
  8. Keep an eye on trading hashtags. if they are relevant to your industry, use them. If they aren't don't include them in your posts - it will look spammy
  9. Makesure you have more words than hashtags in your posts
  10. Use hashtags wisely. Misuse or sappy use of hashtags can hurt your credibility and be a turn off to your followers.  

The 5 Most Challenging Aspects of Working from Home (and how to overcome them)

Having worked from home for a year now, I can be the first to tell you that I have experienced nearly all of the challenges that one can expect in this type of position.

My daily routine consists of waking up, feeding the pup (well, now pups, we adopted two more last weekend), working for a bit, taking a loooong lunch, getting back to work, then calling it quits for the day. Or some variation of that. 

my favorite co-worker, Horatio

my favorite co-worker, Horatio

Here are the challenges I have found: 

  1. Most People are on a Different Schedule - For example, my husband works a regular 9-5 job. When he comes home, most of the time he wants to relax. While I, on the other hand, have been home all day and am *dying* to get out and do something. I try to overcome this by getting out of my house for 2-4 hours a day. Sometimes I go to the gym, or shopping, or to a coffee shop to read for a bit. 
  2. It's lonely - Omgosh is it lonely sometimes! Luckily, I've always had my 3 year old boxer, Horatio, to keep me company and his two new fur sisters came to live with us last week so I probably won't be feeling lonely any time soon. However, in case I am in need of some human interaction I did find a local MeetUp group for freelancers that meets Tuesday mornings for a few hours. I can't wait to attend my first Meetup and work with other people! I am also looking into a co-working space for 1-2 days a week.
  3. Tons of distractions - The biggest distraction being your cozy bed calling you from the next room, or that marathon of Law & Order: SVU that you noticed was on TV. It is so easy to get distracted from work in your own house. It's best to have space that is just for work, that way it is easy for you to concentrate. 
  4. It's often hard to hold yourself accountable - This is especially true when you are a one person operation. It is hard to make and enforce deadlines when you are the only person you are accountable to. I was having a little bit of trouble with this, so I hired a virtual assistant. It's great because in order to have tasks and deadlines for my VA, I have to set them for myself as well. My VA holds me accountable to a certain degree. 
  5. Separating Work from Home - As I mentioned earlier, it is hard to separate your workspace from your "home" space sometimes. The easiest way to do this is to convert a room or even a corner to your workspace. This way, you are in a work environment, and when you step away from it you're in a home environment. Need work space inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board. 

Have a job usually presents itself with a set of challenges, but working from home comes with a whole unique set of challenges. With planning, they can definitely be avoided. 

Using Emoji's in Digital Marketing

You've probably seen them in text messages but did you know that emojis can play a large role in your digital marketing message? These small characters can sometimes concisely portray a sentiment or a message that words cannot. 

Emojis are a language of their own. It is a language that is also universal because they are pictures and not words. Nearly anyone can understand the sentiment behind an emoji when it is used. 

 

 

Emojis in digital marketing can be used in a few ways: 

As a reaction - emojis contain a specific set of faces that are perfect to use as a reaction from happy, sad, or shocked, they can express an emotion without words. 

To punctuate a statement - emojis can be used to punctuate a statement. For example, if you own a Mexican restaurant, you could include the taco emoji in some of your messaging occasionally. 

To add humor - if you've used humorous verbiage in your message, you can add in an emoji to change the tone or lighten up the mood of your messaging. 

However, there are some things to avoid. You'll want to avoid using too many emojis. This could become confusing and the intention could be lost. Make sure the emojis you use are appropriate and are not offensive. Lastly, make sure that when you use emojis in your messaging, they are relevant to your message and make sense. 

 

Understanding Your Target Demographic on Social Media

If you are involved with marketing your small business, you know that you have a target demographic that you are trying to reach. That demographic can vary from very general (all adults over 60 years of age), or it can be specific (women between the ages of 21-26 living in urban areas). 

As it relates to social media, it is important to know exactly who you are trying to reach and where they spend their time online. 

 

My all time favorite infographic on social media demographics was put together by SproutSocial. You can check it out here

Based on this information there are a couple key points to take a way from this information:

  • Facebook is still the most popular social media platform. Regardless of what your product or service might be, it is generally worth the time and investment to be on Facebook. No matter what your demographic is, chances are they are largely present on Facebook. 
  • Twitter is perfect if you are trying to reach a younger crown. A majority of the users are under 50. 
  • Instagram is a great platform if you are trying to reach young women under the age of 30 in specific. 
  • LinkedIn is a platform that is business based. Many of the users on this platform are college educated and employed. 
  • Almost half of the users on Pinterest are Women of a variety of ages. 
  • Google+ is mostly men based in the United States. 
  • Snapchat is by far the youngest demographic with more than half of its users being under 25. 

Using Snapchat to Market Your Small Business

Snapchat is a relatively new app that has increased in popularity since 2011. It's popularity continues to grow as the app is updated and improvements are made.

Basically, the app allows a user to take a photo or video and send it to their friends. This photo or video disappears after seconds and is gone forever. Sometimes there is an option to replay it and then the sender is alerted. The sender is also alerted when someone takes a screenshot of the photo they sent. Additionally, the image or video can be posted to a feed of sorts accessible for only 24 hours 

Who is on Snapchat? 

According to their website, more than 60% of smartphone users between the ages of 13 and 34 also use Snapchat. This is a large and influential demographic. It is also important to note that many Snapchatters use the app several times a day. This means that many who use Snapchat, use it regularly. 

This provides a lot of opportunity for a brand to gain exposure via Snapchat. 

After you've created an account for your brand (or designated a representative for your brand to Snapchat on behalf of the company) star promoting it on all outlets. Post on Facebook, Tweet about it, create an email campaign, etc. Promote heavily in order to gain followers. These followers become your audience. 

Tip: Upload a short video with the caption, "To see more, follow us on Snapchat @xxxx" 

Now that you have built up your audience, start posting content and post it frequently. 

Suggestions for content to post to Snapchat include: 

  • Quick, funny videos from the CEO/Owner
  • Videos of the product in action
  •  Use the geotag filters when available
  • Inspirational or scenic photos 
  • Include the personality of the company in photos or videos 
  • Give a behind the scenes look during the work day

Are you on Snapchat? If so, follow me at @SarahMagana