10 Tips for Working from Home (with a Baby)

working from home

1. Create a schedule
When I first began working from home I had only a few clients and could get most of my writing done at the beginning of the week leaving me with a few “free” days for running errands etc. That is no longer the case so a schedule has become essential. My schedule doesn’t dictate what time of day I work on things, but it does tell me what needs to be done each day. Mondays – Pinterest, Tuesdays – Blogging, etc.

2. Make a to-do list
I keep a simple Excel sheet with a list of my clients, what needs to be done and when. I date everything when it comes to social media management so that I remember when I last worked on something and when those social media accounts will need to be worked on again. Being able to schedule posts ahead of time is a huge advantage but I try not to go more than two weeks out because a lot can change during that time and I always want posts to be relevant. For additional items like “Buy dog food” or “Pick up dry cleaning” I use the app Evernote. It’s FREE and a great way to remember things. It syncs between my phone and laptop so no matter what I’m working on I have access to my latest notes or reminders.

3. Plan ahead
I like to stay at least one week ahead when it comes to content creation – this way if something comes up it’s not the end of the world. When you work from home it feels like you have all the time in the world to complete tasks but at the end of the day with a fussy baby there are moments I find myself saying “What did I do today??” If you know your little one is acting fussier than usual, plan ahead and get an extra hour of work done when he or she goes to bed, so that if you lose time the next day it’s okay. I also make sure to keep Dr. appointments, meetings and anything else on the same calendar so that I can plan around things and be prepared.

4. Take advantage of nap time
This is a big one. I will make sure to save my most challenging work for nap time. I try to do things like vacuuming, folding laundry and household chores when baby is awake because it doesn’t matter if I’m interrupted a million times, but when it comes to writing, design or content planning – nap time it is!

5. Be willing to be flexible
I recently read the quote “Perfectionism is the enemy of Hustle.” I think this is perfect for remembering to stay flexible. When you have a baby toddling around nothing is ever going to be perfect and this has taken me a while to learn. I am seriously OCD when it comes to my home and keeping things tidy but at the end of the day that doesn’t get things done.

6. Schedule phone calls
When you have a baby the worst thing that can happen is an unexpected phone call during nap time or a door bell ring followed by incessant barking and chaos from your 100lb dog. (Maybe that’s just in our household haha) Regardless, nothing can mess up your day like an unexpected 30 minute conversation when you could have done a bunch of other more important things during that time. I ask all of my clients to email first and if they need to talk on the phone that’s fine but I schedule my calls in advance so 1. I can be prepared and 2. It doesn’t mess up nap time and 3. It doesn’t interfere with my other work.

7. Plan time to check and respond to emails.
Email can be a major time-sucker. Unless it’s urgent I don’t open it right away – this way it remains highlighted so I know I need to come back to it. I try to check and respond in the morning and again later in the day. As much as I want to be available to my clients, email can become a serious interruption to other work. I find I can write a better response when it’s not rushed and I’m not doing other things so setting a time for email checking and responding has proven valuable.

8. Designate a work space
I love that working from home means I can work wherever, but I like some stability so when I sit down I know, “okay, it’s work time.” We have an “office” but I hate it. It’s secluded and baby girl has no room to play. I have commandeered the breakfast bar in the kitchen as my work space instead – there’s ample space for me to spread out papers, drink my coffee and plenty of outlets for chargers. Plus I can put baby Kline in her walker or jumper and let her go to town, all within watching distance. Having a work space is great – even my dog knows when I’m sitting here I’m not to be bothered.

9. Limit distractions
Okay, we all have our lazy work from home days when we catch up on our favorite shows or watch the Today Show for an hour but when it comes down to it I cannot do my best work with the TV on. Even catchy music can get distracting for me so I limit myself to a few classical Pandora stations for some welcome background noise. I highly recommend “Piano Guys” radio to anyone that loves music – it’s all instrumental versions of your favorite songs so it’s fun but not distracting. I’ve also learned to successfully tune out Disney radio but sometimes when Frozen comes on I just have to belt out “Let it go!” for the world to hear. (baby girl thinks I’m a great singer!)

10. Enjoy your little ones while you can!
The best part of working from home is getting to spend time with your little one (s) so do it! They may be your biggest inspiration when it comes to your next creative assignment and when I’m stressed nothing is better than some quiet time nursing my baby girl. Don’t forget why you’re working from home to begin with. “Work” can always wait or you can catch up on something when the kids are in bed.

What are your top tips for working from home with kids? I’d love to hear them!

– Rachel

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Boost Your Brand with Summer Sales and Networking Events

Colourful hanging sales tags with optional transparent shadow

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!

Rules of [Facebook] Engagement

March Newsletter Header

Facebook is the number one place to engage your customers, but so often we forget that engagement is like a conversation – it goes both ways. If you’ve hired someone to manage your social media pages, you don’t have to login everyday to post something original, but I do encourage you to login on a weekly basis to interact with others on your page’s behalf.

Posting great content is the first step in beginning the conversation, so after people like, comment or share your post it’s up to you – are you going to continue the conversation or let things trail off?

Here are some simple tips for using Facebook to network with others, build your audience and expand your brand. I bring you, the “rules of engagement.”

1. When someone comments on one of your photos or posts, comment back

Example: They say “What a cute idea.” You say “We thought so too!”

When your audience knows that you see and appreciate their comments or feedback, it makes them more inclined to like, comment or share again!

2. When someone asks a question – respond in a timely manner

If I manage your Facebook page and notice someone has sent you a message or asked a question I can’t answer on my own – I will send you an email asap. If you notice someone has commented on one of your posts with a question or sent you a direct message, be sure to reply in a timely manner – even if you don’t have all the information, let them know you’ll get back to them. Facebook is a great way to show off your customer service skills and spout your expertise so take advantage of any opportunity to interact with potential customers.

3. Use Facebook as a networking tool 

When you login each week, make an effort to see what other small business owners are up to. Facebook is a great place to get ideas, scope out your competition and build relationships. Make it a goal to do the following:

a. Like a new page each week. Maybe that’s a local restaurant you eat at or a store you shop at, a charity or foundation you support, or a business that’s similar to yours.

b. Comment on a photo or a post that speaks to you or relates to your brand.

c. Share something that inspired you. If you’re not sure it’s a good fit for your business page, share it on your personal page. When you share someone else’s content it’s a great boost for their page so choose a business or a cause that you support!

4. Last but not least – invite your friends and customers to like your page! 

Your friends and customers are the easiest way to grow your brand and build your audience. Maybe your friends know about your business but they aren’t sure how to find you online – send them an invite! Every time you login to your business page you will see an “invite friends” option. Do this on a regular basis. Don’t feel like you have to go through and select people one by one – invite them all. The more the merrier!

Tell your customers you’re on Facebook and ask them to like your page or write you a review! Simply include a flier or postcard in the packages you ship or tell people face to face when you meet them at craft shows or events. If you answer the phones for your business, remind potential customers to like your Facebook page before ending your call. You’ll be surprised how positively people respond!

~ Rachel

Promote an Event with Social Media

Hosting a business mixer, charity event or major retail sale?  Radio and print advertisements are great, but if your business is on a budget, be sure to consider the advantages of social media.

Because social media is free, you can begin promoting your event long before a small budget would allow for promotion on radio or TV.  Start a countdown and build anticipation with posts that offer a sneak peak of what’s to come or provide incentive for people to visit your website for more information.  Not only will people check back to see what’s happening on your Facebook page, but providing incentive to visit your website for more information can boost web traffic leading up to the event.

Provide information and photos on your company blog so that customers and fans can find all event details in one place and easily share the information with others.  Is registration required or do you plan to offer a special discount to the first 100 customers?  Include a link to the registration forms on your blog or create a Facebook-Only coupon to increase page likes and engagement leading up to the event.  The goal is to spread the word about the event and create a call to action that will get consumers to follow through and attend/vote/purchase an item on the day of your event.

If you spend weeks promoting a special event, be sure to post follow up photos and to thank your fans and followers for their support.  If someone has seen updates about your charity drive in their Facebook newsfeed for weeks, they are going to be disappointed if they never see photos from the charity event itself.  Make sure people see what their time/money/efforts have contributed to.

ReBath and More supports Schreiber Pediatric’s Rubber Ducky Race and Festival each summer, so I recently began promoting the event via the company Facebook page.  Closer to the event we have a TV segment planned and Schreiber has representatives on local radio stations throughout the month of July leading up to the even on July 27.  With Facebook I’m able to encourage people to buy ducks for the race, tell them about the event and what it supports and spread the word about the festival and ducky race.  By selling ducks on site we are able to increase traffic to our showroom and demonstrate our commitment to community.

Whether your event is large or small, social media can add tremendous value to a limited advertising budget, helping you reach a larger audience and generate a greater turnout/increased sales. Not only does an event give people a reason to visit your business on social media but it can drive traffic to your website and provide valuable content for your company blog and other web pages. See how HighleyDesigned helped ReBath and More promote the Schreiber Pediatric Rubber Ducky Race and Fesitval by visiting the company blog or checking them out on Facebook.

Below is one of the fliers I created to promote the event throughout the shopping center where ReBath is located.  I asked the other local businesses to send people our way to purchase ducks for charity, ultimately supporting a good cause and increasing our business at the same time.

Event Flier

Event Flier for Local Marketing