Categories: Email Marketing | Family Entrepreneur Lifestyle

Have you ever struggled with resuming writing your blog after an extended absence?

I know I have. Thoughts like:

  • My readers are disappointed with me- how do I explain myself?
  • It’s been so long, they’ve forgotten me – whats the point?
  • How do I just “pop up” again and be relevant?

What if you never had to worry about justifying yourself?  What if you could seamlessly start a new conversation with natural ease and engagement?

Here’s the great news: you can! And no one is waiting on the other side of the screen to “shame on you” with crossed fingers like your grandmother would do when you sneaked cookies before dinner.

Here are two thoughts that helped me, personally, get moving and writing again.

First, I had to reject the guilt.  Feeling guilty wasn’t making me feel better or make progress and the reality is that some very real and attention-demanding things were happening for my family. (We’re moving from NY to TN but more on that on another date.)

I built my business in such a way and with the goal of being able to be present for my family. While I always want to be providing valuable information to clients and readers, I choose to embrace the positive fact that I have done just that- I had to momentarily sacrifice my blog, but I was right where I needed to be.

If you stepped away from your blog with legitimate cause (and I mean not with excuse, such as not knowing what to write about) then stop right now trying to justify yourself, embrace what you’ve accomplished and move on.

So how do you just start writing when you feel at square one and haven’t had recent engagement?

I turned to Twitter.

I absolutely love Twitter because it is always relevant. Because Twitter is instant live everyone chatting at once, you have access to current content. You can use Twitter’s search feature to look up trending topics of interest to you or your readers, or just look at your Twitter stream to see what conversations your connections are having.

Just this afternoon, I had a conversation with a few ladies about preferences on kid entertainment while traveling.

Don’t get me wrong- blogging and email marketing(newsletter) is an important part of your business model. But at the end of the day, you didn’t create your business to blog- you created it to support the life you want and sometimes that might result in a bump in your blogging road. Also, guilt is like quicksand and will only suck you farther away from where you want to get to.

Next time you find yourself with an unsightly date gap in your blog, shake off the guilt or excuses and start some conversations online. I’m betting you’ll find something to write about pretty quickly.

Do you have a great story or tip on resuming writing after a lapse? I’d love to hear from you- comment below!

Categories: Networking

Do you ever feel awkward about asking your clients to help you, whether is feedback or something else?

I recently mentioned to you how I’ve been in marketing mode and doing some deeper level interviews with some of my clients. At first I was hesitant about approaching them. Fears of imposing or overburdening sprung up.

Now I’ve always been a person who likes to live as fearlessly as possible and the way I’ve done that is to quickly do a reality check.

I looked back at emails and recalled conversations with clients and the reality is, we have a history of personal and genuine conversations. It’s not just business, it’s personal.

With that foundation, I realized that I could confidently ask for help and expect a positive response.

Here’s the amazing part, not only did they come through for me, but in fact it was helpful for them! How cool is that?

The questions and insights I was looking for turned out to have a connection with what they were working on.

I recently heard Marie Forleo say that clients are friends that give you money (paraphrased, because I just can’t recall verbatim)

You do your work because you care about the people you serve and it’s completely natural to develop friendships, of varying degrees, with them.

Let me leave you with this thought- your clients are a part of your community, they are there by choice and if you nurture and serve them, they will want to reciprocate.

Client input is an invaluable asset to your business; use it and always express gratitude!

Categories: Family Entrepreneur Lifestyle | goal setting & vision | Thoughts | Time management

As the weather slowly warms up here in NY, I’m already thinking of sandy shores. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably had a few sandy days of your own. I love how it’s in every kid’s DNA to build sandcastles! That serious look that takes over, biting the side of his lip as he maps out the moat and towers. He already knows exactly how it’s going to look. But then dusk creeps up along with the rising tide and eats away at sandy masterpiece.

Some kids frantically try to piece it back together, while others shrug and run for one last jump in the waves. And however we reacted to that in our earliest years is most-likely how we react now in our businesses.

Are you trying to piece back a plan that’s being pulled apart by elements beyond your control?

As an entrepreneur, everything you create,whether vision or tangible product, it’s your baby. You pour your heart, soul and sweat into it. Ain’t nothing getting in your way- and then something does.

Sometimes it’s something you can push through or create a detour around. As long as you are organized and have support, you can usually be flexible in your business. However, there are the times when no amount of rerouting will yield the desired outcome.

I used to be a planning and strategy freak. Yep, the rumors are true; on average, I had a plan A- K. But more often than not, it resulted in over-frustration and exhaustion and while I have an extremely patient family, even they were begging me to give it a rest. So now I’m just a geek- meaning that I care about being prepared, but I’m not losing my mind over it.

I want to share with you quickly some tips I use to stay in control of just me and roll with the waves as they come.

Time Awareness: I created what I refer to as “Schedule Templates.” I have 3 alternative schedules that I can follow based on the appointments and commitments I have on my calendar. The appropriate schedule template is placed on the wall each day allowing  me to be aware of my obligations and the space I have to meet them in.

Cloud Knowledge: My Google calendar is synced to include my personal, business(including team) and Rick’s schedule. With desktop and mobile access, I’m always in the know and can adjust accordingly. Our team also relies heavily on Dropbox to have remote access to current project documents.

Filtered Perspective: When I was in freak planning mode, I was driven by a poor mindset that if I didn’t bring my plan into fruition I failed by default. I tied my identity to the outcome rather than the reason behind the action. It’s absolutely key to look at your work and efforts through the perspective of Why. What was the vision for the project? Often, doing this will give you relief, knowing you actually did accomplish what you set out to, or that continuing would counter your original goal.

If you’re diligent with your time, organized with your information and clear on your goal you’ll know when it’s right to push through and when it’s OK to step back and ride with the waves.

Have you been frightening against the current lately? Comment below, I want to hear from you.

 

 

Categories: Email Marketing | Networking | Website

How to Sell to People

“Are you sure this is helping you? ” said a recent interviewee. “Oh yes, very much. Now what’s your favorite YouTube video? ” I asked.

I had been interviewing an ideal client for marketing research and this particular gentlemen wasn’t quite sure he was answering the questions right. What was interesting to me, was that like many others, he thought that all he needed to know about his target market was in the professional realm. But what is key to remember is that even though we spend most our time in our vocation, we aren’t defined by that. As individuals, our make-up is infinitely deeper, and it does play a role in how we perform in our work environments. Simply said, our personal preference will affect our decisions in our professional space.

Coke sells happiness. Apple sells cool yet intellectual. Audi sells young luxury (Mercedes is for your mom, Audi is for you.)

Benefits Marketing Strategies

The strongest brands understand that they are selling to people and they invest heavily in marketing research to understand how their product can meet one of their customers’ emotional needs. As you can see with the examples above, the buyers’ needs or fears are not always directly related to the product. A car is meant to get you from point A to B but the mindset of a Ford Taurus driver is vastly different from the Audi driver. Both need to get to their destination but they have different benefits priorities. Thriftiness vs status etc.

When you understand who your buyers are as people, you can reach them where they are and what they care about.

Everything we buy has a primary function, although not all are essential to life. Lets look at Apple; macbooks are not a life requirement. They have a clear use but what gets us to buy them, is the benefits they offer and the deeper needs we want fulfilled. Most people have a desktop at home and if not, libraries are a great option. But if you bought a macbook, you are no longer limited to where you can work or surf the web. It offers you flexibility and freedom to choose whatever workspace you want. It’s light- freeing you up to take something else you might have had to leave behind if it was heavier. Or even just relieving the shoulder pain your old laptop used to cause.

Maybe you think I’m stretching it, but this is exactly what a great marketer does. She looks at the pains of her clients-which requires knowing them as people not just qualified buyers- and then identifies how her service legitimately solves a deeper issue, benefiting them beyond it’s basic function.

Get More Clients

As we head into the weekend, and get close to closing out the 1st quarter of the year, I challenge you to look deeply at your ideal client.

  • Write out what his day looks like, from waking up to going to sleep.
  • List the emotions and struggles he encounters. What solutions would she pay anything for?
  • Explain how your service address those deeper needs.

When your finished, come share on our facebook page!

Categories: Family Entrepreneur Lifestyle | goal setting & vision | Thoughts

Are you excited? I find that I do my best work, I give my all, when I’m in a state of excitement.

Working on closing a large deal, launching a new product, hiring… What’s happening in your business right  now that you are excited about?

Now you may be saying yea but I can’t stay in a permanent state of excitement. Things slow down, there isn’t always something new. Well, I want to challenge that thought. To begin with, each day is new. Today has never happened before. You will have a new idea. Meet a new person. Go to a new place. Even just have a new conversation.

Right now, stop and think what is new today. What can you be excited about? A bit obvious, maybe. But definitely something we all overlook at times.

The beauty about entrepreneurship is that it is always within our power to do something new. At the very least something that excites us. Sure, there daily tasks that must be done, but if you are having a day that seems to be too ordinary for your liking, take a break and dream. Allow yourself to go into creative mode and explore your vision.

One of our goals this year to do 2 live events, one with our team and one with our clients. It’s rainy here in NY today and it’s also errand day for our family. Instead of getting caught up in drudgery, I got on my headset and dialed my mom who doubles as my executive assistant. My mom has an absolute gift and passion for unique events & travel planning. (Not my forte.) I know the feeling and atmosphere I want to create and she unleashes the ideas.

We had a blast talking about venues, themes and activities that we want to do for these events. Are they in our budget? Not just yet. But thinking about them gets me excited. It kindles that fire and passion that I then pour into my work, freshly inspired and knowing where it’s all leading up to.

If you’ve been finding yourself caught in routine, stop, drop what your doing and dream with your team. Your team might be your spouse or it might be a few assistants. All that matters is that you create a fresh wind for everyone, reigniting the purpose and mission of your business. Not to mention its a great opportunity to reconnect with your team and you might be surprised by the ideas and passion you discover they have for your business as well.

Gratitude and getting back in touch with the big picture are often all it takes to get the momentum and excitement back in your business.

Have something exciting going on or a vision that seems far off? Share below, I’d love hear from you!

Categories: Email Marketing | Family Entrepreneur Lifestyle | Time management

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It’s been 10 agonizingly long minutes at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble. I finally booked the sitter, am out of the house and the ideas are no where to be found. Have you been there?

As a home based entrepreneur all the family freedom comes with a proverbial dark side. You get an idea and the kids burst into the room. Or like in my case today, you get a sitter and quiet space, only for productive thoughts to elude you.

Here’s the secret to recover the precious time and be productive: write a list…and type it somewhere into a cloud app (evernote, google docs, etc.) Now you have a running list of topics to reference when coffee shop inspiration is not happening.

I turn out to be lucky because I can tie in this experience to what I want to share you with today. I’ve been checking out Jon Acuff’s new book, Start and while reading his bio was reminded of my own job quitting spree years ago.

There’s never been a day I wanted to quit my business, but definitely days where I wanted to quit “positions” in my business. You know, the cook, baker, bottle washer …you didn’t leave a corporate environment to take on your dream plus 5 micro-roles. And some days you want to quit and just paint, write, research, whatever it is that you do.

I’m going to encourage you to quit.

Here’s how to your quit the extra jobs within your business: Can someone else perform this task?
If yes, Quit today and delegate it.
If no, Quit giving it only part of your effort. Delegate other responsibilities and zero in on the tasks that only you can do. This will usually be related to your voice, such as writing articles, connecting on social media and teaching.

Now treat your true position professionally. Be fully aware of your responsibilities and deadlines. Pay attention to how much or little you spend on working hours, don’t stay logged into Facebook and prepare for your work… Or you might find yourself in a coffee shop with paid babysitting and no work to show for it. 🙂

Cheers,
E

Categories: SEO | Website

7 Easy Website Tweaks To Get More Customers

Your website should be working for you, but if you’re not happy with your results, enjoy these developer-free tweaks that you can handle all on your own.

Change your domain name. Resist cute and go practical. Names that are too long or to rhyme-y get forgotten. If you are using something other than your company name, keep it concise, easy to spell and remember.

Add google analytics to your website and install google analytics plugin to your WordPress back-end. The monitoring tools will help you learn which posts are attracting the most visitors and what pages are converting. Tweak your website based on your data.

Add social sharing links and enable facebook comments. Social share links can expose your business to your ideal clients network, getting you in front of more of your target audience for FREE. Same applies to facebook comments because these will show up in newsfeeds. Not to mention it will increase your interaction.

Remove dead-links and under construction pages. Dead-links and 404 errors damaged your SEO rankings so do a monthly check on all pages and outbound links. SEO rankings take page content into consideration so skip the whole page with only “coming soon”. You don’t want potential buyers to think your business is incomplete either. BONUS TIP: If you’re goal is to let your market know about something you’re releasing soon, promote it in your blog and social media channels.

Add an Opt-In. The point of your site is to collect leads. Adding an opt-in is easier than you think, especially in WordPress. Email Campaign providers such as mailchimp, aweber and infusionsoft all offer easy drag and drop form builders with a link that you copy and paste in your side bar widgets in your WordPress back-end.

Install Yoast or another WordPress SEO plugin. A good SEO plugin will allow you to add a page title, keyword and meta description to your posts and pages without navigating to another page or needing to know any html. The cool bonus about Yoast is that is also has some built in metrics to let your SEO “grades”.

Update your copyright dates. This is often overlooked by business owners but because site information can often be found in footers, your website visitors might mistake your 2008 copyright to mean you aren’t updating the site or worse, are out of business.

Categories: Family Entrepreneur Lifestyle | Thoughts

Valentine’s Day is very special to ProfitGeeks because it is the weekend it all began. To Rick and I, Valentine’s Day is our everything Anniversary. The anniversary of our relationship, our business, the day our new lives began and I’d like to share it briefly with you. If you want to skip straight to the featured article “7 Easy Website Tweaks To Get More Customers”, go for it, no offense taken. For the rest of you sappy romantics, lets jump back to exactly 3 years ago.

It was Friday night and while everyone was streaming out of the office looking forward to Valentine’s plans, I was packing up the few things on my desk for good. I hadn’t been the least bit surprised when my boss had called me into the office; They had been laying staff off for months. But that didn’t make it any bit easier to swallow. I was a 22 year old, recently divorced single mom of 2 boys, ages 3 and 1, both who were just being diagnosed with developmental delays.  Even now, I can’t draw the exact words or the emotions, but I can say that I felt extinguished. The fire, drive or motivation was gone; I had zero desire to go through the job hunt circus.

I picked up my boys from daycare and began the drive to their dad’s for the weekend. I couldn’t stand the idea of moping all weekend so I called a co-worker, I called Rick.

Rick had tried to be friendly with me in the office, offering advice when I had been in the midst of custody negotiations. He was 45 and had 2 tween daughters that he got to see on the weekends. I felt bad for being stand-offish so I had agreed to hangout on Valentine’s Day strictly on a friendly basis. But in that cold, lonely moment, Sunday seemed too far off so I gave him a call, told him what happened and I asked if I could tag along on his visit with his daughters the next day. He graciously invited me along skiing and offered to pay my lift ticket.

In a strange turn of events, Rick’s daughter’s had both taken a spill before I arrived and so my 1st time “hanging out” was in the Medical Hut with a co-worker I barely knew, two injured girls I’d never met and their aunt who shot me dirty looks the whole time. Awkward. After the girls had been treated and were on the way home with their mom, Rick and I grabbed a bite to eat before doing a few runs. We talked about the awkward afternoon and he explained the aunt probably thought I was his girlfriend, to which I laughed uproariously. How ridiculous, right? We parted ways agreeing to still hang out the next afternoon, Valentine’s Day.

I arrived at Rick’s place while he was still out picking up some snacks for our netflix movie, Benny & Joon (true Johnny Depp fans will remember this one). He pulled up 5 minutes later with an apple pie with a misshapen gel heart. I swallowed hard. Hadn’t I made it perfectly clear this was strictly platonic? What was with the heart? I decided it would be best to ignore it, I was probably making a big deal out of nothing. I had made evening plans with another friend so we watched the movie and then I left.

In another strange turn of the events, the evening plans I had feel through. It was barely 5pm on Valentine’s Sunday and I still wasn’t eager to go back to my empty apartment so I just drove back to Rick’s house. I’m not sure what I was thinking, I didn’t call ahead. Rick opened the door clad in PJs, giant moose slippers, a Guitar Hero guitar strapped across his chest and the most bewildered look.

It was like candid camera without the camera team. I asked if I could come in and explained my abrupt change of plans. We spent the rest of the evening watching YouTube recordings of my favorite novella, as I half translated for Rick. At the end of the evening, I think we were both pleasantly surprised at how much we had enjoyed each others company over the weekend. It was the beginning of our 100 Days together.

He made me dinner the following night and then I reciprocated on Tuesday. We saw each other every single day and those first dates were the best; at home dance parties, scrabble, it was weeks before we had an out of the home date night. Roughly 3 weeks after I had been let go, Rick was laid off also. This was the defining moment in our relationship. We had spent an overkill amount of time together, but even so, it had only been 3 weeks. Although the word “love” hadn’t been thrown around (divorce can make you skeptical) we knew deep in our hearts this was forever so despite the unusual circumstances, we moved in together.

Our relationship began in a way I’ve never heard anyone else experience before. 100 consecutive days together from day 1. We had a big party on Day 100; I put 100 candles on a cake and the cake nearly melted!  It was around the 60 day mark that we decided to start a business together, coupling his web development background with my marketing and business management experience. It was around 130 days that Rick proposed. A month after, Rick’s mother whom we had been caring for, passed away from lung cancer. And a few months later we bought our first house. We got married on that property a year from that point and last month our first child together turned 1.

While it is a sappy love story, it’s our real story and we hope it is an encouraging one to those overcoming hardship. It is so important to know that both love and opportunity come in all shapes, sizes, ages and experiences. Today, whether your Valentine is your spouse, child or BFF, we wish you a day full of love.

Warmly,
Erica & Rick

Photo from our 1st Website

Photo from our 1st Website

 

Categories: Family Entrepreneur Lifestyle | Thoughts

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Last month we asked you what your biggest Marketing roadblock is and your response (38%) was “Need practical and customizable tools and strategies. ”  Our mission at PROFITGEEKS is to ensure you are making a profit, that is a valuable return, both with our paid services and free training content.

Today we have just a handful of quick questions that will give us insight to your business to deliver what you need to show up sharp, wowing and wooing your potential clients.

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Categories: Family Entrepreneur Lifestyle | Thoughts

5 Smart Ways to Not Let Family Drama Derail Your Business

We clung to each other tightly with tear-stained cheeks, our heartbeats finally slowing down, allowing us to drift off to sleep.

If your business partner is your husband or wife, please don’t let family drama derail your business! This was only last night and I’m sharing this not to be too personal and I’m not going into details, but because I know we are not the only entrepreneurial couple to have 3am spats, fights, meltdowns and so forth. (Also I don’t want to be on a false pedestal of you thinking I have it all under control.)

Having a business with your spouse requires constant communication and clear boundaries.

Rick and I compliment each other; That’s a nice way of saying we’re polar opposites. Just some of the challenges we’ve weathered while growing our business , and I’m sure you can relate, include overworking, unequal responsibilities, working at inappropriate times(family time, couple time etc.) and unprofessionalism.

So what exactly can entrepreneur couples do to not let family drama derail their businesses?

  1. Define Roles and Responsibilities. Define all the roles needed to be filled in your business. Be careful not to assign a role to your spouse. It is crucial that you each choose and accept your own roles for maximum effectiveness. Roles should be assumed based on skill-set and consider delegating roles that neither of you are a best fit for.  Describe the responsibilities for each role to prevent unnecessary confusion or blame.
  2. Set Boundaries. Three boundaries need to be set.The first is to respect each others roles and not overstep into their responsibilities. Simply put, let your husband do this work in the way he chooses and focus on you. The second boundary that needs to be set is time; how much will you work, when and where? Because you live life together is affects everything from your marriage relationship to relationships with children. Set a clear boundary and honor it. Lastly, you must set a financial boundary. It is crucial you both a receiving wages for your work and that you have agreed limits on how business profits are spent. Set a business budget covering everything from advertising to profession education.
  3. Communicate Professionally. Having an intimate relationship with our business partner makes us vulnerable when emotions spike. Try to maintain a personal attitude when working. Treat each other with the same professionalism you would a coworker in an office. Yes, you can still sign off emails with “I love you.”(And I don’t think it would hurt to start emails that way either, just sayin’.)

Don’t let family drama derail your business by taking the time to define roles and responsibilities, set boundaries and honor them, and communicate professionally, especially when emotions are running high.  Did this article help you? Use the comments below to share how. We’d love to celebrate with you!

Cheers,

Erica

PS. [Video] Here’s a great communication during conflict resource, talk by Lysa TerKeurst at Elevation Church.