Saturday, May 10, 2014

Social Media Savvy

There are so many ways to connect with others in today's world. Cell phones, email, letters, etc. are all ways to keep in contact with your friends and family. Hardly anyone uses landline phones or letters anymore. Most turn to places like Facebook or Twitter. I'm sure you realize that Facebook and Twitter are forms of social media.

If you are a writer, editor, marketer, business owner, or work in any type of position that requires an online presence, then you understand how important it is to establish this presence. Many times, it will make or break what you are trying to do in your niche market. For example, my blogs don't have a ton of traffic right now, but they have traffic every day.

As a reviewer, business owners are able to communicate with me, if they choose to do so. If they were proactive about their reputation, then providing a response to all reviews would be a great way to stay on top of it. Even if they did not personally respond, having a personal relations or marketing associate take care of it would positively reinforce that they care about their business and customers.

Marketers, and those new to marketing, wish to learn how to effectively strategize the best ways tactics for their products and campaigns. One of the best ways to be effective is to increase exposure. The more you are seen, the better your chances of success. That's something that should be common sense.

There are so many factors when it comes to utilizing social media. What tools do you use for social marketing? Are they effective? Can you track them? How many hours a week do you dedicate to social media?

Is your website or blog mobile-friendly? If you don't have a responsive blog or website, people won't want to spend time trying to navigate through it. To be frank, it's a waste of time and aggravating. Mobile-friendly websites are the way to go, especially since a good majority of users are accessing the web using some form of mobile device. I am aware that my blogs are not 100% mobile-friendly, which is why I am going to make changes very soon. I've almost identified exactly how I will do it and everything will be updated accordingly.

Since I am just digging into the meat of the subject, I am going to direct you to a couple of links I have found to be incredibly useful:

Why Social Media is so Important for Your Business in 2014

Social Media Examiner's 2013 Marketing Industry Report

If you want to be successful, you have to be willing to research, adapt, and put in the hours of work. Share your work with everyone. Include links in your signature lines with your profiles. There is nothing wrong with that. Network, network, network!

As I travel down this social media journey, I will pass along valuable information. If something I share helps someone else get over a hurdle or become more successful, then that's wonderful. I wouldn't want to keep information to myself. Help each other, that's the way it should be.

Thanks for reading! If you have any tips, questions or comments, leave them below!

Like what you see? Subscribe to my blog!

Many blessings!

~ Crystal ~

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Avoiding Bad Habits

Working from home seems like a dream, right? You're free to create your own schedule. No rushing in the morning because you slept through your alarm and are going to be late for work. Seems great, working in your pajamas. Well, let me tell you, it has its ups and downs. You can form many bad habits if you are not disciplined enough. Your habits - good or bad - will affect whether you are successful or not.

1. Stick with a schedule. Set a timer for each task to help you stick with your schedule. Monitor what you do with your time. Nobody is born with great time management skills. It takes discipline and work.

2. Get enough sleep so you won't sleep in the next day. If you aren't sleeping enough, then you are more likely to sleep past your alarm. Some people work better at night, but most don't. If you aren't a night owl, then I recommend going to bed early enough so that you can wake up ready to conquer the world.

3. Set goals with a timeline to accomplish them. Write them down, put a map on your wall - do something that will motivate you. Prioritize your goals. Start with something small, then work your way up to bigger things.

4. Get out and breathe some fresh air. Sitting inside all day can make you feel lethargic. Take a walk, go for a run or meet a friend for coffee or lunch. It's GOOD for you!

5. Stay away from social media suckers, like Facebook. Okay, I understand that you want to complete one more level of Candy Crush - but does that help you get ahead? I understand that you want to check your newsfeed every two minutes to see if something new has popped up. However, it takes valuable time away that you could be using to finish your work. Facebook or Twitter will still be there. Work first, play later.

6. If you have children - hire a nanny/sitter to come stay at your house a few hours a day. You love your children, but you need time to complete your work. You can't be effective while they are running in and out of the office, tugging on your arm or would like another glass of milk, but can't pour it because the jug is too heavy. Hire someone to help you! Don't feel bad if you need help. It doesn't make you a bad parent. Some parents feel it makes them less of a parent if they can't juggle all of it. It takes a village - remember that! You will be happy for it in the long run. You accomplish more and your children won't feel neglected.

Do you have any other bad habits that you would like to point out? Feel free to leave a comment below. Like what you see? Subscribe to my blog! Thanks!

Thanks for reading! Many blessings!

~ Crystal ~

Friday, April 25, 2014

Comfort vs Professional Attire

A perk of working remotely is that you don't have to worry about getting dressed for the office - no suit, dress, high heels, or fixing your hair. Besides, let's be honest, it's comfortable working in your pajamas. For example, I'm sporting my black yoga pants, blue shirt, white socks, and my hair pulled up with a mango colored scrunchie into a bun on the top of my head. I will stay dressed this way until after I've had my coffee and prepare for my day. I will probably change into something similar later in the day.

I'm bringing this up because perhaps the way we dress affects our current state of mind. There is a chance you could actually be hindering your productivity. Perhaps by not getting ready for the day, your mind stays in a relaxed state instead of jumping into business mode.

Have you ever contemplated enforcing a dress code? I've never really lingered on the idea. I like wearing pajamas or workout clothes. If I had to travel to a job site, then I would have to wear makeup and fix my hair - just to have the Florida humidity ruin it.

If you have to be available for Skype or FaceTime video calls with clients, then perhaps your zebra print pajamas aren't as appropriate. I don't have that issue currently, so I don't worry about it. If you need to be prepared for video calls, then it's probably best if you get ready in the morning. I mean, at least fix your hair and throw on a professional shirt. You can still wear your pajama bottoms. Nobody's going to notice that.

Try this experiment for a couple of weeks. Begin your day as if you are going onsite to do work. This can help you determine if your productivity levels increase. As for me, I'm going to continue wearing my pajamas or workout clothing during the day. I don't feel hindered by uncomfortable clothing. If I don't have to get ready, then I'm a very happy person.

Do you wear professional attire or comfortable clothing while working at home? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

~ Crystal ~


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Being Civil Towards Those You (gasp!) Can't Stand!

I was doing research this morning, hunting down contracts (which my friend referred to me as a bounty hunter - I guess you could call it that). I came across this website: Fistful of Talent. I was actually seeking information on another company.

Side note:
Always research a company before you attempt to do business with them. There are some pretty shady companies out there who will take you for a ride and then some. Don't be the sap who is crying about how Company X took your money because they promised this for that. Just don't do it! Researching and triple checking the information will always be your friends.

I am always doing research. I spend the majority of my time learning. Sometimes, I get lost in the vast ocean of knowledge that's out there. I mean, literally, I read and read until I feel my limbs protest because I have been sitting for far too long. Hey, I can't help it. Greatness isn't accomplished overnight. Go hard or go home!

This company has a plethora of articles. I could spend ALL DAY reading, however, one of them caught my eye right away: Incivility... The Signs Aren't Always Obvious. I began thinking about people and their manners. I work really hard with my children to instill ethics and manners into them. I also tend to do it with my nieces and nephews. To be honest, it is something that has become automatic for me. I don't even think about it. If one of them wants something, they either ask politely for it or they won't receive it. I'm not above refusing to give something to a child if they rudely demand it. The same goes for adults. I don't tolerate rudeness very well, especially from other adults who should know better.

Most of my time spent in public is on errands. I have to come into contact with many people because, well, that's what happens when you're in public. I also watch the people I come across. I noticed that most of them lack the manners my children have learned. Who taught (or didn't teach!) these people to be polite? Did they grow up with parents who never bothered teaching them how to be decent adults? Apparently not.

They lay on their horns, don't let people in who are trying to get on the interstate, don't hold the door open for the person behind them, talk away on their phone right at the register as they check out - the list goes on. Thank goodness I don't have to work with them!

I have worked for companies who had managers who felt it was okay to belittle their employees. I have a big problem with this. You should too. It is absolutely unacceptable to treat your employees like garbage. I have left a job here and there because of this very thing. Let me rephrase that, I lit the bridge on fire and made sure it completely burned down.

I refuse to be treated as though I am worthless. Every person deserves better than that. Don't allow someone to treat you in that manner. If it happens, contact upper management. If that doesn't solve the problem, then perhaps you should start looking for work elsewhere. Find a place where you are treated respectfully.

I have also worked with people that I didn't like, but I was still professional and kept my feelings to myself. It's part of being able to adapt and display common courtesy - even for the people you don't like! You shouldn't treat others differently solely because you don't like them. It's unethical and extremely wrong/rude.

The reason my children use manners is because I use them myself. It begins with you. The changes will occur around you because you don't just expect them, but practice them as well. I would never expect my children to use manners if I did not. That's hypocritical. If you expect others to be civil and polite around you, then you should do the same.

A business that is impolite to each other will probably not be so polite with the customers at some point in time. Maybe not right away, but it WILL happen. Also, if a customer witnesses you treating your employee or co-workers like garbage, they may not come back. Word will spread about how the company operates. Wouldn't you rather good news spread about your company than bad news? Inspire others to be better than they are through your actions and the rest will fall into place.

Thanks for reading! Leave your comments below!

~ Crystal ~

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Technical Glitches?

I just recently realized that I had made a mistake on my other blog. NONE of my pictures were showing. They were linked to my student account, so no one could see them. You have to log in to see them. A friend pointed out to me that they were still not showing after I thought I had fixed the problem.

Here's another example. I went onto the Seminole Tribe website because I am doing research about someone who we believe is our ancestor. We're actually about 70% certain. As I browsed their website, I found it to be outdated and in need of some work. There are broken links and their online store is nonfunctional. It was disappointing to say the least.

This post isn't going to get into anything too serious. I simply want to point out that when you have a website for your company or a blog, you need to check to make sure it is working properly. Triple check your uploads. Check the website across different browsers to ensure compatibility.

The majority of users don't take the time to see if it is their browser that is causing the problems or if it's a glitch with the page. I was fortunate that my friend was kind enough to point out the problem. Normally, they move on to find something that works. If something isn't loading fast enough or the link doesn't work - they go back and try another page.

If you sell products on your website, don't you want to ensure the links to those products work? I can assure you that I will move on if something isn't working or if there isn't a picture of something I am interested in purchasing. I will only cross-check browsers if I don't have another option.

The moral of the story? Cross your "t's" and dot your "i's" multiple times to avoid mistakes. Check, check, check and check again.

Be diligent and ensure everything works over time as well. Sometimes things become "broken" over a period of time, but it flies over our head and we don't see it.

If you want to be successful, then you have to put in the time and work. That's all there is to it. :-)

Thanks for reading!!


~ Crystal ~

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Creating an Exclusive Work Space

Before you even begin working at home, you should consider WHERE you will work inside the premises of your humble abode. And, why? Why does that matter? Well, I'll you why below:

1. It's good for the psyche. If you think about it, when you work where you play, you don't get much accomplished. It's difficult to break out of that relaxed mode and shift gears. If you draw a boundary by having a distinct space for work, then it makes it easier to get to down to business. You are less likely to be distracted by the television or the dirty dishes if you are in a completely separate room or different area of the house. 

2. It is tax deductible. Who doesn't want to shave off some of their taxes? I certainly do. Even if you do not have an extra room, the area you consider to be your office space qualifies. It doesn't matter if the space is only a 5x5 section. It is still considered eligible to be written off in your taxes IF the area is used solely for business. This also includes purchases such as a computer, printer, other office supplies, some of your electric bill, phone bill and etc. You get the idea. You can find more information under IRS Publication 587, which you can find here: 2013 Publication 587 - Internal Revenue Service

Make sure to keep your records of everything organized. It's important because when it comes time to file your taxes, then your life becomes much easier. I recall a former client of mine who had an extremely bad habit of tossing his receipts into multiple bags. Then, when it came time to claim expenses, guess who had to organize every single stinking receipt?? Oh, you guessed right, it was me! It was the worst! Don't be THAT person. If you don't feel like you can keep everything straight, hire someone to help you. 

Also, remember this:

3. Tailor it to your comfort level. You will spend many hours working away in this room. Does it have a nice window, with natural sunlight streaming in? Being in the dark encourages the production of melatonin. If you are sleepy, your production levels will be down. Sunlight is an excellent way to keep the sleepiness at bay. Is your desk and chair comfortable? You can't sit in a chair that kills your back after 30 minutes. Do your wrists hurt from being at the desk after a while? Perhaps a pad to support your wrists could help.

Make sure you have everything you need to be productive. Don't forget a filing cabinet or container to keep those important papers you need for taxes in order! I recommend making a list, then going through it to ensure you have everything you need. This way, you can set up your exclusive workspace and get down to business as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know below.

As always, thanks for reading. Have a great day!

~ Crystal ~

Saturday, December 7, 2013

No landline phone? No problem!

Some companies, like Comcast or AT&T, offer digital phone service instead of an analog line. The downside to using a digital phone - If your power goes down, so does your phone line. I also found that my phone line would go down when my internet went down. I've been there with Uverse and it sucks. I will stick with my hard, analog line from now on. Thanks!

Other companies allow either an analog or a digital phone, but NOT VOIP. A digital phone uses your cable/network connection for phone calls. You will use an actual phone to make/receive calls this way. Voice over Internet Protocol just uses the internet. No phone is needed for VOIP calls. You only need a microphone, speakers or a headset(preferably) to make/receive calls in this manner.

Many customer service or sales representatives are required to use an old fashioned analog line. It is the most reliable when you compare digital vs. analog. However, not everyone is able to afford a regular phone line, especially if you haven't been steadily working for some time.

My soon-to-be SIL sent me a message asking about potential work at home jobs. I sent her a list of companies who hire representatives without an analog phone line that I found here: Phone Jobs - No Land Line Required. I went through the list and started narrowing down the ones who require a digital or VOIP phone instead of an analog line. Please remember that you WILL need a headset for any of these companies AND a hard-wired phone (no wireless phones).


VOIP or Company software:

Next Wave @ Home
OnPoint Advocacy
Acanac

Digital:

American Support

Any:

Pierce-Eislen
InteliChek
Virtual Office VA Staffing (This one said any in the WAHM post, but fill out the form and send it in anyway.)


Again, I have only just started going through the list. I wanted to go ahead and post this, so if you can check out the entire list without having to wait on me to finish sorting through the companies. There are a LOT of them out there. Hope this helps someone!

Until next time!

~ Crystal ~