Tuesday, May 27, 2014

5 Easy Relaxation Tips for Busy Entrepreneur Moms

It seems like there is no rest of the weary.  And, the weary person is usually mom.  Moms take care of hearth and home, but who takes care of her?  If you are a busy entrepreneurial mom, (and lets face it, we all are in one way or another!) learn to value yourself as a person and schedule personal time.

Personal time is a right of being a person.  Each of us has the capacity to nurture others but that type of care takes its toll.

A car is filled with gas to make it run.  Eventually the gas runs out and your car won’t move unless the car is replenished with fuel.  The same goes for you.  Emotional issues can develop when you don’t take the time to take care of your emotional well-being, not to mention the physical results of emotional neglect.

Mom time refuels the tank so that you can give to your family as well as yourself in equal measure.  Don’t be ashamed to sit for fifteen minutes doing nothing.  In the springtime, relaxing in a hammock under a tree is the perfect getaway from the pressures of the day.  Reading a book for 30 minutes can also seem like heaven to many moms.

Here are a few tips to help you fit in much needed “mom” time:

1. Get up early.  When you have kids, the day begins at a hurried pace.  Once you hit the ground running, there is no stopping you.  Waking 30 minutes to an hour ahead of time means quiet solitude to drink your coffee, read a book, meditate or listen to music.

2. Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.  When you take a bath, add candles, bubble bath, quiet music and/or an inflatable bath pillow.  Your regular bath has now become a spa level experience.  If you watch a movie, turn out the lights, pop a bag of microwave popcorn and curl up on the couch.

3. Ask for help.  Kids love their mothers but time spent with dad is important too.  Let them bond with dad while you go shopping for a new outfit or root around in the garden.  Since the time is yours, do whatever you like.

4. Act Like a Boy Scout.  Always be prepared and you can spend more time in a relaxed mode.  Fix lunches the night before.  Iron clothes for the next day and place backpacks by the front door so kids can grab them on their way out.  The fewer things you have to do throughout the day, the calmer you will be with your family and not experience burnout.

5. Take an exercise break.  When you get a few minutes the last thing you want to do is exercise but getting a little physical activity in your day has far-reaching implications.  Exercise helps you to think clearly and stretches the muscles.  Also, stress will drain away as powerful endorphins are released into your system.  Do jumping jacks during a television commercial or jog to the bus stop to pick up the kids.

6. Laugh.  Keep a funny calendar cube on your desk or subscribe to a daily joke site.  Laughing releases stress and can lift your spirits significantly.  It also keeps the abs tight.

Take care of you.  Your family would miss you if you were not around to love and care for them.  You owe it to yourself and you deserve a break from the daily hustle and bustle.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Need Energy? Organize Your Desk!

I'm getting into spring fever mode, for me that means organizing my desk and computer files.  Being organized give me energy.

If your desk and your computer files are messy and disorganized, it'll sap your energy, reduce your productivity and waste your time on trying to find things.

Furthermore, when your desk and your files are organized, it creates a sense of pride in your workspace. You're more likely to look forward to working, rather than dreading it.

What's the best way to organize your files?

Clear Filing System for Physical Papers

Do you have a clear filing system for the papers related to your business? Or are they just in random stacks of paper, where you hope to remember what they are?

It doesn't matter what the exact system is, as long as it works for you. It can be chronological, alphabetical, by category or any other system you can think of.  Need motivation?  I ADORE these file folders from Erin Condren, she always inspires

Eliminate Your "Stuff" Drawers

People often have drawers that are just made of "stuff." It's where they throw things when they don't know where else to put it.

Get a bunch of random business cards that you'll never contact but can't bring yourself to throw away? Toss it in "stuff." Got an interesting advertisement that you'd like to emulate but don't know where to put it? Toss it in "stuff."

Pretty soon your "stuff" drawer is overflowing and you have no idea what's in it. Important files can get lost in there, while unimportant files subtly zap your energy and sense of organization.

Eliminate your "stuff" drawers. Create folders for things like random business cards or future to-dos and file them. Even if there's only one piece of paper in the folder, file it anyway.

Get rid of the "stuff" drawer. It's the "under the bed" of your office.

Digital Organizing Essentials

Much like physical organizing, your first step with digital organizing is to create systematic folders so you know where everything is.

Think up a filing system that makes sense for you. Perhaps a different folder for every client or project. Perhaps a separate folder for deliverables versus things you're using on a project.

Again, the actual system doesn't matter, as long as it makes sense to you.

Create "quick links" to your most frequently used folders in the Windows file browser, on the left. Just drag and drop folders into these shortcuts for easy access.

Once again, do a deep cleaning of all the files and folders on your computer. Clean up your desktop so it's not strewn with random files and folders. Delete files you don't need any more and file anything that might be necessary for future reference.

Once you've organized your offline and online systems, schedule 30 minutes every two weeks to keep your organization system in check, and file any build-up of paperwork.  You'll have a renewed sense of energy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Hi Everyone and welcome to the LearnEASE blog!  A big thank you to all of you that are joining us from the Ultimate Blog Party #UBP14 - it's nice to "virtually" meet you!

Just a reminder, if you have not registered for the amazing prizes do that RIGHT NOW.  LearnEASE is so proud to be a part of the $200+ Prize Page with prizes valued at over $200 by offering three lucky winners custom FaceBook Business page design services.

This is me: @DiahanaBarnes
Which leads me to telling you a little more about LearnEASE and our services. Founded (by me) in 2006, I am a wife, mom, corporate woman and LearnEASE small business owner.  I love coffee, spending the day at the beach with my family and my iPad Mini!  Unknown to them, I have also been know to use pictures of my kids in my blog posts on occasion.

LearnEASE is a Marketing, IT and Virtual Assistant Services company that supports small businesses "virtually". We offer two main areas of focus:

Marketing Services:  Including FB Page design, website design, Book blog tours, email marketing and more. Our clients include professional Speakers, Trainers, Real Estate agents, Interior Designers, Hair Salons, really any small business looking for a little help...

IT Services:   Antivirus, Firewall, Back up Protection, Cloud Migration and Monitoring. We can protect and back up your data, photos, videos and make them accessible from anywhere!  Our solutions protect Civic Organizations, Restaurants, Ambulance andSales Training Companies, and other small businesses with IT needs.

Our best ideas start with listening to our customers and discovering what they really need and want to be successful. We call it "Customer-first innovation", and it's at the core of everything we do!

Now onto the party!  Thanks for stopping by and let's be sure to connect on Facebook and Twitter!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Why Facebook Fans Are Important to Your Business

Just about everyone uses social media networks these days. It’s a way to keep up with friends old and new. But, did you know how important it is for the business side of things?

Social Media Hype

What is it about social media that is so appealing? For one, in the age of technology, it is a way for people to keep up when their schedules are too busy for actual face-to-face meetings. People can stay social and share with others over the cyber waves even if they don’t get out much.

Friends and family can stay in touch over the long miles with social sites. You can also meet and make new acquaintances through the personal information that you provide on your profile. Facebook can make suggestions for you of people you might know.

What Does It Mean for Your Business?

If you own a business, whether brick and mortar or online, you can benefit from your association with Facebook. Most of us use Facebook for personal reasons. We chat, share photos and other things. But it can be turned to profit your business.

Start by creating a business page on Facebook. You can link to this page from your website. Use your social media page to offer special coupons or offers to those who visit and see what you are talking about there.

As your page is an extension of your business, use it as a way to hone in on what your customers are thinking. Do your due diligence as well. Respond to questions and comments asked there. Offer surveys and polls for those who “like” your page.

Highlight what is going on at your business and upcoming features. Target your updates to those who are in your niche market. And, keep them brief and timely so no one is inundated with a lot of posts to their wall.

If you are just beginning a Facebook business page, invite your friends and family members you are already “friends” with to visit and “like” your page. This can get the ball rolling. They can suggest your page to their list of friends as well.

Another suggestion is to hold contests on your business page. Mention them on your website, but only offer entry to those who check in on the Facebook page.

Did you know that Facebook pages appear in search results on major search engines? With that thought in mind, don’t forget to optimize that page just like you have done with your website. Post snippets of your content here with links back to your website for those who find you through the social site first.

Facebook fans are important to your business because there are so many of them. And, through their clicks, you can find more targeted traffic for your website.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Let Yourself Shine! Be Yourself

Personality marketing is one of the most powerful kinds of marketing you could employ. Take Oprah for example. Oprah is one of the most powerful women in the world, able to take unknown authors to the top of the New York Time bestseller list just by mentioning them on her show. Her entire business is built around her personality.

People often follow websites not for its content, but because people like the personality behind the website. In many industries, like weight loss for example, success is determined much more by your personality than by anything else.

Most People Aren't Willing to Let it Out

Everyone has a personality. When you're with your friends, you probably say things spontaneously that could come off as hilarious. And you probably aren't afraid to express dissenting opinions.

But online, people tend to tone their personality down. They sound "correct" rather than spontaneous. They err on being right down the middle, rather than risk their audience by expressing an actual opinion.

This can get you so far, but you can't build a truly successful business on it. Most people are afraid that they'll lose their audience if they let their personality out. The opposite is true.

When you withhold your personality, you don't grow your audience. People just won't be that drawn to your work. When you really express your personality, it's true that some people will be polarized away from your work. But those people weren't really your audience anyway.

How to Let Go

Of course, telling someone to just express their personality can be about as useful as telling someone to just "be yourself" in tense social situations. For some people, it just doesn't come that easily. So what can you do?

Take out a journal and a pen. Write your opinion about a topic, as if you were just ranting to yourself or to an imaginary friend in your diary. Talk as if nobody would ever read it. Pour your emotions and inner thoughts into the page.

Once you're done, let it sit for a day, then use that journal entry as the outline or foundation for your post. This can be a very useful technique for circumventing your mind's innate resistance to expressing your personality.

Getting Positive Feedback

Perhaps the best thing about letting your personality out is the positive feedback you get from your audience. People will generally be much more excited about your work when you're pouring your heart into it.

Start letting your personality out to your audience. Then listen to their feedback. Let the excitement from your audience pour over into your own excitement, and use that to bring even more emotion into your personality marketing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Marketing Campaigns Made Easy

The best kinds of marketing campaigns are those that integrate all kinds of different media in one. It's far more effective to use email, social media, blogging, SMS and other media all together than to just use one. So how do you create integrated marketing campaigns?

Tease with Social Media, Launch with Email

The most powerful platform for launching a marketing campaign is by far your email list. You'll be able to reach far more people through your email list than through any other avenue.

Use social media to tease people about upcoming launches. For example, drop hints about what might be in a new product, or tell people that an awesome contest is coming up, without actually letting on what the contest is.

Once it's actually time to launch, use your email list to get things kicked off.

Enroll Cheerleaders and Affiliates Early

Reach out to people who can help you early on. Talk to people who could retweet you once you're ready to launch. Reach out to potential affiliates as early as possible.

Cultivate relationships with people in your industry before you need it. When you're ready to launch a campaign, you should have allies across all kinds of media. You should have people retweeting for you, affiliates mailing promotions and bloggers writing reviews.

Have Two-Way Communication

Build a two-way communication channel with your audience. Use social media and use blog comments to get feedback from your audience. Having open communication also lets your users feed off of each other's excitement.

If you were just using email marketing, people can't talk to each other about your launch. They can't share what they think is coming up, or ask questions of each other. Make sure you have at least one channel of communication that allows your audience to talk to you or to each other.

Using SMS and Direct Mail

SMS and direct mail are two forms of media that are seldom discussed.

For each promotion, product launch or contest, send just one or two SMS messages. Don't overload your audience by sending too many texts. Send your text when it's most timely.

Direct mail is a fantastic avenue for reaching previous customers. It's only really valid for product or event related campaigns, since it's quite costly. You have to be able to make money by making sales to recoup your costs.

These two tactics aren't mandatory, but can really make a big difference when used properly.

During Down Times...

When you're not doing a campaign, do as much as you can to cross-promote your different kinds of media. Use your email list to grow your social media following. Use social media to boost your blog traffic. Use your blog to bring on more email followers. So on and so forth. This makes launching campaigns much more powerful once you get around to it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Should You Use Craigslist for Marketing?

Craigslist is the largest classified advertising website on the planet. In the past, if you wanted to promote a small business, the best place to go would often be the newspaper's classifieds or services section. Today, this is more or less completely replaced by Craigslist.

Craigslist is free for the vast majority of users. There are certain sections in the Services category that charge a $5 or $10 fee in certain high traffic cities. By and large, however, the majority of users won't have to pay a dime to use Craigslist.

So how can you use Craigslist for local marketing?

The Services Section

The services section of Craigslist is the best place to market most small businesses.

Start by looking through the section you're interested in advertising in. How many other people are competing there? What kind of prices are they asking for? Open as many of your competitors' ads in new tabs as possible.

Scroll through your competitors' ads and put yourself in your customer's shoes. Which competitor would you personally choose? Why?

Did one stand out in some way? Were they offering something that others weren't? Did they seem more credible?

Try to duplicate the things that make one company seem better than the other. For example, if you're a graphic designer and notice that the ads that have a lot of samples in their portfolio seem to be the most compelling, then you should probably do the same.

Before you post in the Services section, make sure you read Craigslist's terms and conditions carefully. It's easy to inadvertently break the rules and get flagged, or in the worst case scenario get banned altogether.

Marketing Other Types of Businesses

What if you have a business that isn't a service? For example, what if you're marketing a restaurant?

One of the best options is to use the "Groups," "Events" and "Classes" sections.

In order to do this, you need to actually host an event at your restaurant. That's pretty simple - you can just put together a wine taster, or an appetizer taster.

Then go on Craigslist and market that event. Of course, you should also market the event over different avenues, mailing lists and in your restaurant itself.

Get creative. You can't just post a flyer for your business or a menu for your restaurant on Craigslist. You need to find a way to fit it into Craigslist's infrastructure.

One Last Method

Finally, you can look for people who've checked "Yes, contact me about other commercial interests." The vast majority of people won't check this box. Those who did, however, you can email directly with your proposition.

That's how you can use Craigslist to promote your local business. Look for a section that specializes in what you offer. If it doesn't exist, then create a way for you to offer something that matches the Craigslist structure.

Happy Marketing!