3 Tips to Be More Productive Working from Home

3 Tips to be MORE productive working from home via HighleyDesigned.

Most people think working from home is a breeze. No schedule, no rules, no boss to check in on you and no annoying coworkers… But the truth is, as great as it can be to set your own schedule and get your creative juices flowing, working from home can be hard. It requires a ton of self motivation, organization and planning! I’ve been working from home running my freelance marketing business for nearly two years now and I’ve learned a lot about what works for me so I thought I’d pass along some tips this week.

  1. Plan Plan Plan. 
    When you’re managing numerous projects and accounts, planning is essential. Whether you use a detailed spreadsheet or a good old fashioned to-do list, make sure you have a plan for the week. Set realistic expectations of what you can complete each day and plan for unexpected things to pop up. Don’t fill your schedule to the brim so that an impromptu phone call throws you for a loop – give yourself some wiggle room. If you know it’s going to be really nice out one day, plan to finish early so you can enjoy the park!

    I use an Excel spreadsheet to manage all of my tasks and keep track of deadlines. A color system lets me know if things are HOT, WARM or COLD, and I work from red to blue. The goal is to keep all of my tasks in the blue – meaning I have plenty of time to finish them. Occasionally I’ll have a day full of red tasks that need to be done asap, but if I manage my time effectively, that’s not often, saving me time and stress.

  2. Develop a Routine.
    As nice as it is to “wing it” sometimes, working from home is a commitment that requires routine. If you’re not a morning person, that’s fine. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty because you enjoy your sleep. Maybe you do your best work from 4pm-11pm, find what works for you and stick to it! If you work from home so that you can take care of your kids, you’ll probably need to work around nap time or school pick-up etc. When you find what works for you, make it a habit!

    My daughter is 9 months old and requires a lot of attention, so my mornings are typically dedicated to her and keeping our home in one piece. I can count on getting back to emails and responding to any “red hot” tasks when she takes her morning nap. In the afternoon, I do the rest of my work. Not only does a routine help keep me organized, it helps me set boundaries so I can decide what I can commit to or decide if I’m too busy. As a freelancer it’s easy to take on a ton of projects so it’s always important to think ahead so you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

  3. Take Time for YOU.
    It’s easy to get lost in a project when you’re working from home. I know I’ve had those sweatpants and crusty t-shirt kind of days when I can’t seem to pull myself away from the computer until I finish ONE more thing! But the truth is, nothing good comes from overworking yourself (or wearing sweatpants all day.) If this sounds like you, put the laptop down, take a shower and eat a good meal! You can’t produce your best work if you’re not feeling good about yourself. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable while you work from home, but I find getting myself together in the morning, eating breakfast and just taking time to be human is a huge benefit to my work life.

 

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3 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Following

3 Tips to Grow Your Twitter Following via HighleyDesigned

My clients often ask me – “What should I be tweeting about? I’m not sure what to say and I’m afraid I’ll sound silly.” If you’re brand new to Twitter it’s easy to feel this way but you don’t have to be shy – Twitter isn’t like Facebook – you can say whatever is on your mind, ask a question or “share” (RT) a favorite quote. With Twitter, the more often you tweet the better. You don’t need to think of one profound statement or article to share each day – you can share many!

My best advice to anyone that’s brand new to Twitter is to learn from others. Take a look at what other people are tweeting or talking about and get some ideas of what you want your Twitter “voice” to sound like. If you’re a public speaker and you want to grow your audience and connect with other like minded women, look at the Twitter profiles of your biggest influencers like Oprah, MORE Magazine, Kim Garst etc. Even the president has a Twitter account these days. Take note of what others are tweeting about and how they are sharing information. Chances are if they have hundreds of fans and you find their content fun and interesting, they’re doing something right.

Now it’s your turn. Once you get used to tweeting regularly, sharing your blog posts and links to your website it’s time to start thinking bigger. If you’ve established a posting schedule and have great content it’s time to start expanding your audience. After all, there’s no point in sharing if no one is following! Here are some proven ways to grow your Twitter following without spending a dime. Trust me, they work!

  1. Tweet Regularly and Often and Interact with Others
    Not only should you tweet at least 4-10 times per day, you need to start interacting with others. Try to RT at least twice a day and thank people for sharing your content or liking a tweet. Use any interaction as a way to introduce yourself and if you want to learn more about someone send a DM and ask to connect on FB or LinkedIn.

    I’m not a fan of “salesey” DMs but with Unfollowers.com you can schedule automated DMs to go out to new followers and start a conversation with potential clients, customers or influencers. You can also auto schedule tweets to be sent to new followers, people who add you to lists etc. This is a great tool if you don’t have time to be on your phone throughout the day.

  2. Use Hashtags
    Hashtags are so important on Twitter. Not only do hashtags allow you to find out what’s trending and see what people are talking about, they allow other users to find YOUR content. For each tweet try to use at least one hashtag, and no more than four.

    When you’re trying to decide on what hashtags to use consider what’s trending, who you want to see your tweets, and what “category” you’d put your content into. For example, if you’re an educator you may use: #ChildhoodEDU #TedTalks #Homework #ParentingTips. Think about who the info is helping – parents. Who you want to reach – people that listen to Ted Talks. And the category you’re talking about – Childhood Education or Homework.

  3.  Participate in Twitter Chats
    Twitter chats are an awesome way to meet other people and gain followers. Usually hosted by a top influencer or organization, a Twitter chat will be scheduled to start at a certain time and that person or organization will tweet questions that anyone participating can answer. To be part of the chat use the specified hashtag and all of your answers will be categorized and searchable. You don’t have to answer every single question but if you have a great answer don’t be shy – share it! A chat is also an amazing way to interact with others. RT great answers that you agree with or reply to someone’s answer to say you love it / disagree etc. Your goal is to show off your expertise and find others that you can do business with, connect with or learn from.

 

 

5 Facebook Post Ideas for When You Don’t Know What to Post

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Lots of people ask me – what should I be posting about? If they’re an ecommerce seller they struggle to post anything that’s not promotional – if they’re a small business they struggle to post anything “personal.” There’s no magical answer but regardless of your business type, social media is about telling a story. Through social media you have the ability to tell people about your brand, what your business is all about, your employees and your values. The goal is to use this information to spark engagement and ultimately create customers who will keep coming back. So when you’re not sure where to begin or what to post – here are some ideas to get you started!

  1. Post a photo! Photos perform a million times better than plain text posts so every post should include a photo. If you’re a small business, take a picture of your staff at work or snap a photo during your holiday party – let people see “what goes on behind the scenes.” Ecommerce sellers can post photos too. Take a picture of some new products you’re ready to list on Etsy or a stack of boxes that are ready to be shipped. At the end of the day, people love seeing the personal side of your business. Maybe your wife stops by with your baby and kids or it’s take your daughter to work day – these are the photos that make people “feel good” and show that your company values family, fun, creativity etc. Give it a try!
  2. Post a quote! People love quotes and they get more shares, RTs and repins than just about anything. You can create a graphic with a photo and simple text overlay using sites like Pic Monkey or Canva. Both are free!
  3. Post a link to an article! Take note of holidays, trends etc and post relevant links your fans will find interesting. That might be a link to an article with fun ways to carve pumpkins because Halloween is just around the corner, or maybe something important is happening locally – share a link with info about the town’s Halloween parade and festival (especially if your business is a part of it).
  4.  Post a link back to your website! Your goal is to get people to use your product or services so post a link to your website once in a while when you update your blog, add new photos or offer coupons. You don’t have to be “salesy” if people have a reason to visit your site. For example, “Check out the new photos on the blog from Nate and Emily’s wedding” v “Check out our website! Our wedding packages start at $1299.” Both will get people to click through to your website, but people are more likely to do it when you tell them you’ve added more photos. It’s not salesy but while they’re on your site there’s a good chance they’ll click around and check out prices if they’re interested.
  5. Post a question! If you want to boost engagement, what better way to get people to comment than to ask them a question. It might be a simple “It’s Friday! How are you spending your holiday weekend?” or you could post a photo and ask “Which hat do you like better? We’re working on new styles and we want your input.” Questions are a way to get personal with your audience and the more engagement the better!

I hope these are helpful – Now get posting!

Facebook Ads for Beginners

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A lot of my clients ask me about Facebook ads. What do I recommend, are they worthwhile, how do they work? I definitely see a value in running Facebook ads, so I recently broke things down for a client of mine who has little experience with social media.

Boosting a Post v. Page Promotion

Boosting a post is a great way to get more people to see that specific post and when it features a link to your store, it’s a great way to get more clicks to your website. Another great way to increase your page views and let people know about your store is with a page promotion. A page promotion is just that. You select your audience and Facebook will serve your add to those people with a photo and a button that says, “like page.” The more people like your page, the more people yours posts will reach organically.

Local Awareness Campaigns

Another type of promotion that’s great if you’re hosting an event or if you have a physical store, is a local awareness campaign. This type of promotion targets only people in a specified mile radius of your location. You can even make it specific so it will only be served to people who have recently purchased similar items or looked for the type of service you provide. For example my husband’s family has a business, they do septic pumping. Local awareness ads are great for them because people don’t always know a septic company off hand. If they need one, they’ve probably Google searched one recently and Facebook can use that information to target them. For this type of ad to be effective, you need to know your audience. If you’re in retail think about the kind of shoppers who frequent your store. If you’re a service provider think about the people who need your services. For the septic business, a great filter is homeownership. I target people who are homeowners or first time home buyers. It’s also important to think about age. Don’t waste money advertising to people who are 18-25 if your store sells products for parents of school aged children, or your clients are generally affluent adults. There will always be outliers, but try to target your stereotypical client or customer.

What Kind of Ad Should I Run?

If you’re having a sale or a promotion, a great way to reach more people is to boost the post that has the sale info etc. Another option is to create a special paid promotion via Facebook. I haven’t had as much success with this – I think boosting a post is more effective.

How Much Should I Spend?

As for pricing – I have a lot of experience with ads and I’ve always had best results when I spend a small amount each day, but run the ad for more days. For example, a $5 budget per day for 10 days will perform better than a $10 budget per day for 5 days. Both will equal $50 total, but when it comes to daily budget – less is more.

I hope this is helpful!

~ Rachel

The Best in Social Media this May

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One of the easiest ways to grow your business and increase your sales is to constantly learn from others. With today’s technology it’s easy to find new ideas, infographics that show recent statistics, or articles written specifically for small businesses. Whether you run an eCommerce store, manage a franchise, or run a local business, staying up to date with technology, best practices, and industry standards is key to your success.

In this post, I want to share some of the best articles and resources I’ve found via social media for both eCommerce and small business. There’s something to learn from each article, statistic or photo and I hope you’ll find them useful!

  • Negative Reviews – If someone was unhappy about a product or service, the internet makes it very easy for them to write you a nasty review for all to see, whether it’s via your Etsy shop or your local Yelp page. Learn how to turn a negative situation into a positive one with this article from Business 2 Community.
  • Mobile-geddon – If you haven’t heard about Google’s new algorithms and how they’re negatively affecting websites that aren’t mobile friendly, click here.
  • Common Twitter Mistakes – Unfortunately, not all social media platforms are created equal and I see lots of people joining Twitter, with little knowledge of best practices. Just like Facebook, the 80/20 rule is key! Learn to avoid sounding overly promotional with these simple tips from Time.
  • Facebook is Still Number One – Don’t believe people who try to tell you Facebook is on its way out, teens aren’t even using it, it’s just a waste of your time… They couldn’t be more wrong and statistics show that Facebook is still, by far, the number one social media network for teens and people of all ages. See what research shows about Facebook’s true popularity and click here to read more.
  • Mistakes to Avoid with Your Etsy or eCommerce Shop – Bad product photography is probably the number one thing to avoid, but you may be guilty of some other bad practices without even knowing it. See what the experts have to say with this brilliant article.

For more small business tips and insights, be sure to follow me on Facebook andTwitter!

~ Rachel

Boost Your Brand with Summer Sales and Networking Events

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Sales are a great way to attract new customers and if you’ve got a local storefront or office building, what better way to let people know about your products or services than to host a sale as part of a local event! Here are some ideas to consider.

  • “Beat the Heat” Sale – Similar to a “beat the clock” sale, start your prices low and raise them back to normal as the day progresses or gets hotter. You could also do a one-day only “beat the heat” sale on a particularly hot weekend this summer and simply discount all products or services.
  • Memorial Day or 4th of July Sale – Discount items of your choosing on either of these major shopping weekends. Use patriotic coupon codes like REDWHITEBLUE or AMERICA. Local businesses, get in the spirit with special discounts on your services, throw in a free miniature American flag with every purchase over $50, have your staff wear red, white or blue etc.
  • “Christmas in July” Sale – This is a fun one! You can put all of your Christmas items or cold-weather clothing on sale to move old inventory. If you’re in the service industry, advertise a special price for your standard services, but only if scheduled or completed on July 25 (or the day of your Christmas in July sale).
  • Host an Event – If you’ve got a local storefront or office but don’t have a major advertising budget, host an event to let people know about your products and services. If you’re part of your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Coalition, offer your parking lot or storefront for the next business mixer, or contact the local blood bank to find out about hosting a blood drive. These are great ways to get potential customers in your doors and it doesn’t cost much on your end. Simply provide snacks, set up a display table etc. You may even be able to find another local business who’s willing to donate food or raffle items. At the end of the day, the money spent is well worth the networking opportunities!

Boost Your Brand with a Facebook Giveaway

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A giveaway is one of the best ways to increase Facebook engagement and brand awareness. Everyone loves a freebie and what better way to advertise than with photos of a happy giveaway winner enjoying their new products!

You don’t have to set up your giveaway with a fancy app or add-on. With less than 1000 Facebook fans or page “likes” a simple wall post is all you need.  Make sure your product photos are high quality so people can see what’s up for grabs, then think of a call to action – something you want people to do in order to be entered for a chance to win. Maybe you want them to “like” the post, or maybe your goal is to increase engagement so you want them to “comment” for a chance to win.  Get creative! Is it a holiday themed giveaway? A great call to action might look like this:  “Like this post and comment with your favorite Christmas song for a chance to win!” To keep things fair, add all of the “likes” and “comments” to a simple excel spread sheet and use a random sort method to choose a winner.  Apps like PageYourself will do this for you, but until you are dealing with hundreds of entries, stick to a self managed wall post.

When you’ve chosen a winner, make an announcement with another Facebook wall post and ask the winner to inbox you with their contact information so you can send them their prize. This is a great way to create dialogue with a potential customer. Respond quickly and thank them for their participation. Send the prize out in a timely fashion and package it with care.  Giveaway winners are potential future customers and great referral sources. If they love your product, you can bet that after their positive experience with you and your business they may place an order of their own or send a friend your way. Also, be sure to ask them to post a photo wearing or using their prize so you can share it on your social media channels.

So you’ve run a successful giveaway but you were disappointed in the level of participation.  This happens. Sometimes Facebook posts get “buried” in the newsfeed, but there is a simple way to combat this for next time – promote or “boost” your post for just $5. Facebook has tons of affordable options for running ads and promotions and for just $5 you can increase your giveaway participation ten-fold. Giveaways are great ways to reward your fans and followers so if you promote your post be sure to promote it to those people who already “like” your page. People who “like” your page are also more inclined to participate and “share” your post with their own friends. You’ll be amazed at the increase a small investment can make!

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FAQ

Q. How long should my giveaway run from start to finish? 
A.  People lose interest quickly and your giveaway post will not be at the top of people’s newsfeeds for more than a day so keep things quick. 1-2 days is all you need to announce the giveaway, provide a call to action and announce a winner.
Q. How much should I spend if I want to reach more of my fans and increase engagement?
A. No more than $5 – you’re already giving something away for free so save your cash. You’ll be surprised at what $5 can do.
Q. What items or products are best for giveaways? 
A. You don’t want to do a giveaway to get rid of old inventory or items that never sold – they probably never sold for a reason. You also don’t want to lose a lot of money. Choose something new, something fun or something seasonal that people will want to use or wear right away.