Business

Work at Home Mom: The Counterintuitive (Sometimes Counterproductive) Dream Job

Work at Home Mom: The Counterintuitive (Sometimes Counterproductive) Dream Job

*Article written for and published on The Mom Empire Let’s get a little vulnerable and pull back the curtains for a sec. Working from home has been a dream of mine since.. I became a mom. I have a deep respect for moms who work from home. With small children. Holy moly. I used to  Read more... ...
How to Build a Social Media Presence on a Low Budget

How to Build a Social Media Presence on a Low Budget

*Article written for and published on The Mom Empire When starting a new business, you’re hoping to spend as little as possible and gain as much as possible, right? Let’s start with the basics: social media, the magical place where your followers currently reside, oblivious to the fact that they need your business in their lives. How do  Read more... ...
Boost Your Traffic With a Contest (Facebook and Instagram)

Boost Your Traffic With a Contest (Facebook and Instagram)

Everyone loves winning – it’s a fact. So why not use that to your company’s advantage? Read more... ...
5 Mistakes New Business Owners Make (and How to Avoid Them)

5 Mistakes New Business Owners Make (and How to Avoid Them)

*This article was written for and featured on The Mom Empire Let me start by saying I’ve worked for many startup companies and have watched some grow successfully, while others struggled to thrive and eventually evaporated. From years of working in many different industries and closely watching the making of successes and failures, I am  Read more... ...
Imposter Syndrome: Fighting False Feelings in Business

Imposter Syndrome: Fighting False Feelings in Business

Tell me if any of these sound familiar:
“I can’t do it, why am I even trying?” 
“I’m not good enough, I will never be.” Read more... ...

Work at Home Mom: The Counterintuitive (Sometimes Counterproductive) Dream Job

*Article written for and published on The Mom Empire

Let’s get a little vulnerable and pull back the curtains for a sec.

Working from home has been a dream of mine since.. I became a mom.

I have a deep respect for moms who work from home. With small children.

Holy moly.

I used to think sharing an office with adults was hard.. until I realized they don’t sporadically scream in my ear, hit me in the head with a bowl when they’re hungry, or demand immediate attention the minute I sit on the toilet.

Ever try doing a conference call while your kids are home? Something WILL go wrong, I promise.

5 minutes before the call, you will realize your home office turned into a storage room and the living room transformed into a giant toy box overnight; so you scramble to find any blank wall without crayon marks and set up a chair to “appear professional.”

The call starts in 2 minutes and your 4-year-old is suddenly starving.

The call starts. The baby wakes up early. You can hear her crying in the background.

Your 4-year-old all of a sudden needs help with something ridiculous that he’s been doing on his own for years (like wiping his hands after eating an orange).

You pause and mute the call and run upstairs and toss 5 different foods, some toys, and a bottle in the baby’s crib and run back downstairs, hoping and praying you had actually hit the mute button. Fail. They heard everything.

Back to the call.

You get one sentence in. Now the baby is hysterical upstairs, shrieking like a gremlin. Your 4-year-old suddenly decides to ask you some deep, soul-searching questions that he’s had all YEAR to ask, and needs an answer at this very moment. And the baby is not giving up either.

You mute the call, run back upstairs, grab the baby and put both kids in front of the TV and throw Cheerios at them like you’re feeding chickens. “STAY ENTERTAINED!!!!!”

Back to your call.

The minute some intelligent words roll off your tongue, the internet cuts out and you can’t hear what the others are saying.. and just as you decide to end the call and consider quitting your job out of embarrassment, 2 other women on the conference call have kids that show up on screen demanding attention and wondering why they weren’t invited.

Yassssss!!!! Someone gets it!

Does this sound familiar? Maybe?

Here’s what I’m gonna tell you. My working-from-home is not the picture-perfect scenario I envisioned. It’s definitely been a learning process.

I’m not perfect. I’m a great mom and a skilled marketing professional, but things don’t always go as expected. My kids seem to want my attention the moment they see my laptop open.

It seems my company needs me just as much as my kids need me. So how do I divide my time fairly? How do I stay productive while working at home, with kids? How am I able to successfully meet deadlines, manage a team of people, and put out high quality work that impresses my boss and clients every time? Here are a few suggestions:

1) Stay in contact with your team and clients. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of each task and forget to communicate with the people who are requesting the work. If you don’t understand something – ask. Ask twice if you need to. Send that check-in email, make a phone call, double-check your work. It’s better to get all the facts and details prior to working on your project so you don’t miss something and lose credibility.

2) Take notes and create lists to stay organized. “Mommy brain” is REAL! I use Google Drive and Trello (a task organizing app) so my team can stay on the same page for each project. There are other task-organizing sites like Wunderlist, Todoist, and Asana that are just as useful.

3) Relax. You are working from home because that’s where your priorities are. If you’re working for a company, they hired you to work remotely, so they’ve got to understand that schedules change, kids get sick, and some nights you just don’t get any sleep. If you are working for yourself, go easy on yourself. Maybe hire another work-at-home mom for the smaller tasks that you can’t keep up with (Hey The Mom Empire can help with that wink-wink!).

4) Remember that you CAN do this. Being a mother automatically makes you a multi-tasker and an entrepreneur. You’re used to doing many things, all at once, and you’re very good at it. You have persuasion superpowers. You can be authoritative and compassionate at the same time. There’s nothing you can’t learn and do.

My work hours are during my kids’ naptime and after 10pm when they’re asleep. That’s my prime time to focus, plan, and prepare. And I’m okay with that. It works for me.

Working for a company that lets me choose my hours and make my own schedule allows me to work when my creative juices flow and not when my kids’ juices spill on the carpet.

And guess what?

There are many, many other moms in the business world who work from home also, who understand what you’re going through, and are cheering you on.

So I’ll say it again.

Work at home moms – we salute you, we praise you, we encourage you, we’re inspired by you. We’re all in this together. You got this, Mom.

How to Build a Social Media Presence on a Low Budget

*Article written for and published on The Mom Empire

When starting a new business, you’re hoping to spend as little as possible and gain as much as possible, right? Let’s start with the basics: social media, the magical place where your followers currently reside, oblivious to the fact that they need your business in their lives. How do you spark their interest and keep them coming back, with little to no money? Here’s how:

  1. Post regularly – If your followers only hear from you once every month or few months, you’re losing the opportunity that social media gives you to promote yourself and your business. Get in front of them, often. Some experts suggest posting 50-100 posts a day through all of your channels. I know it seems unrealistic, but it really works! This gives your followers the chance to see more of your content and think more about your brand. Hey, no one can miss your content if it’s constantly in front of them.
  2. Share your knowledge LIBERALLY – Don’t hoard your knowledge! If you’re a chef, share some recipes or cooking advice. If you’re a fitness trainer, share a few free exercise videos! If you’re a consultant, share business insights and advice! Trust me, this works to create more engaging content and keep followers’ attention. It also sets you up as an expert. And when they want more, there’s your chance to sell them!
  3. Use #HASHTAGS! I cannot stress the importance of using hashtags. What’s a hashtag? #this #is #a #hashtag. On social media, if anyone clicks on a word with a “#” in front of it, it connects them with ALL content on that platform using that same hashtag. Fun fact: I discovered The Mom Empire by searching the hashtag #workathomemom on Instagram, and here I am working for them and writing their content!
  4. Facebook groups – There are many Facebook groups that will allow you to post your business or blog either on the page itself or in the comments. Be careful, some groups have strict business promoting policies, but some local pages are happy to let you post your services. You have to do the work to find them.
  5. Contests and giveaways – Have you ever seen those giveaways where participants are required to like that particular Instagram page, tag all their friends, and have their friends like the page also? The prize could be anything from a $50 Amazon gift card, a cute gift basket, pressure cooker, etc. Be willing to actually do the drawing if you’re going to do this; I’ve seen many contests where the winner is selected at random but not by a raffle system. Basically a scroll-and-pick method to save time.
  6. Ask questions, create engaging content – By posting content that people are interested in reading, responding to comments and asking specific questions to your followers, you’ll get a lot more engagement. By posting content that people want to read, you’ll get more people reposting and liking your content. Also, consider using memes and relatable content to make people laugh. Life is hard, who doesn’t need a good laugh?
  7. Post pictures and videos – Text alone doesn’t get as much attention or engagement on social media. Pictures work well, and videos do best. Broadcast live video feeds, this can be done on Facebook or Instagram. Show your audience what you are doing. Show them your current sale items and promotions. Show tutorials and give free advice. Host a free live seminar. Ask your followers to share your content with those who could relate.
  8. Tag other experts – By tagging experts, it shows your audience that you are aware of who the other “players” are in your industry/area of expertise. It also gets those experts to look at and comment on your content and expands your network. Who knows? You might learn something new from them too!
  9. Keep a dollar amount in mind – If you’re wanting to spend $100 or less per month on Facebook ads, consider how many people that would reach (Facebook will give you an estimate). Consider the time they will be reached, as there are prime times that most people are on social media each day. You will have the option to select specific demographics, and Facebook will do the math and advertise to those who are most likely to see and click on that ad. Cool, right?
  10. Include your social media icons on your website and marketing emails – By adding links to your social media pages as icons on your website or marketing emails, this will drive more traffic to your social media pages.

These are just a few of the many ways to promote your business and gain social media followers on a low or non-existing budget. I hope I’ve answered your questions and given you some things to consider. I would say “don’t expect big changes to happen overnight,” but I once created a blog post that went VIRAL and I woke up to over 400,000 page views. Hey, it could happen! Be ready for it, you deserve it!

~Corri Anna

Boost Your Traffic With a Contest (Facebook and Instagram)

*This article was written for and featured on The Mom Empire

Everyone loves winning – it’s a fact. So why not use that to your company’s advantage? Contests, giveaways, sweepstakes, anything that involves prizes and winning, can boost traffic to your website social media pages, grow your email list, and create a buzz around your brand like no other!

As far as gift ideas go – useful, popular items win big. You might have products that your company sells that you’d like to raffle off, or you might want to purchase a prize. Got a gift card for a national restaurant chain or store? Consider using that as your prize! It will be a small investment in the beginning, but the amount of traffic and engagement you may receive could definitely prove its worth.

There are many companies out there who, for a fee, could set up a social media contest and run the drawing for you, but I like to encourage free or inexpensive ways to grow your traffic, so I will not be referring to those in this article. Let’s get started!

Facebook Contest

Running a Facebook contest is an easy and inexpensive way to drive traffic to your website and Facebook page, and to build your email list (contest rules are always changing so be sure to check that your contest complies with Facebook’s contest regulations when you create it). The best way to create a contest on Facebook is to create a landing page on your website and link a Facebook post to it. Here are the basics on how to do it (image below is an example by ShortStack):

  1. Create your landing page – Use your company’s email platform (Constant Contact, MailChimp, Flodesk, etc.) to create a landing page on your website. On your landing page, you will list details and rules about the contest. Add an image of the prize and the date of the drawing. Adding a countdown timer would create a sense of urgency. Add a simple form requesting their name and email address (Bonus tip: This is a great opportunity to ask if they would like to be added to your email list).
  2. Create your Facebook post – Include the link to your landing page. Don’t be too wordy, just describe what the prize is, when the drawing will happen, and how to enter (mention if there are ways to get additional entries, such as tagging friends in the comments, asking them to like your page, or share the post). The goal here is to get as many entries as possible. Be sure that your prize is worth the buzz around your contest and include a call to action (for example, “enter our _____ sweepstakes for a chance to win _______!”).
  3. Set a date – Your contest can’t run indefinitely. Make it last a week MAX. The shorter the contest runs, the more hopeful your contestants will be. Aim for the following weekend, while most of your followers are online and thinking about it still.
  4. Encourage engagement – Having your contestants engage in the post will not only create a buzz around your brand, but it will be seen by more people. You want your contestants to work for their prize (have them comment on the post once they’ve entered, maybe about what they would do with the prize for example). If you have the ability and budget to promote your contest via Facebook advertising, I would highly recommend it, although it is not necessary (you may have to run a few contests and see what kind of results you’re getting and then consider if promoting it is best for you).
  5. Selecting your winner – On the date of the contest, list all of your entries in a spreadsheet document. There are websites out there that will select a winner at random for you, or you can use the “scroll and point” method, which saves you time and sanity. Put your finger on the screen, close your eyes, and scroll up and down until you decide to stop. Whoever is on that line is your winner. Congratulations!
  6. Notify your winner and ship their prize – Create a Facebook post and tag your winner and message them for their shipping address. Be sure to ship your prize quickly. You did it!
  7. Bonus tip: Make the contest more interesting! Select a second-place winner to receive a free or hugely discounted service or product from your website. For an ultimate win, create an email list using everyone who entered the drawing, and email them saying they’re a 3rd prize winner, and their prize is a free download, or service discount, or something of that nature. Even if it’s not the big prize they entered the drawing for, they will appreciate winning something!

Instagram Contest

Running an Instagram contest is a fun way to build your Instagram following. Consider how many times you’ve liked and tagged 20+ friends in a post to get more contest entries. Remember that giddy feeling of hopeful enthusiasm you had as you tagged each friend? Because adding website links on Instagram is nearly impossible, you can create your contest one of two ways: 1) You can create a post with your contest details and have contestants click on a link in your bio that leads to a landing page (see Facebook landing page details on how to do this), or 2) you can do an Instagram-only contest with the sole intention of growing your following. I will discuss the latter option below.

  1. Set up your contest – Here you will outline your rules, the contest date, what the prize is, and how to enter.
  2. Add an image of the prize – Use text on your image to make it pretty! People who scroll through various posts and hashtags need something eye-opening to stop them in their tracks and enter your drawing.
  3. Highlight your entry requirements – Make your contestants work for their entries! One entry is simply not enough. You want your following to grow, right? Have them do the following: A) Like your post B) Follow your page C) Tag their friends (each friend tagged is an additional entry). It seems like a lot of work and names to keep track of, but trust me, it’s worth it.
  4. #Hashtag the crap out of it! – This contest is not just for your followers. You want every Instagram user to find your contest. Use as many hashtags as possible when creating your contest post, and make sure your page is public so more people can find it.
  5. Share your post – This one is self-explanatory. Make sure your contest deadline and drawing date are set, and publish it. As the entries come, add them to a spreadsheet (do not add the names tagged, here you only want to add those who commented, and if they tagged friends, add their name on the list again). If you have the ability and budget to promote your contest via Instagram advertising, I would highly recommend it, although it is not necessary (you may have to run a few contests and see what kind of results you’re getting and then consider if promoting it is best for you).
  6. Select a winner – You can select a winner on your spreadsheet by using the “scroll and point” method listed above, or find a website that uploads the list and selects a winner at random.
  7. Notify your winner and ship their prize – Rewarding the winner can become content in and of itself to let viewers know that someone actually won, and that a gift was actually given. Also, it generates more buzz for your next contest (consider doing a contest every month to keep your followers engaged). Create a post and tag your winner and message them for their shipping address. Be sure to ship your prize quickly. Congratulations, you did it!
  8. Bonus tip: To get even more followers, consider partnering with another company on Instagram to run a contest together. For example, David’s Tea uses the following:

Contests and giveaways are a fun and exciting way to grow your social media following, boost your website traffic and promote your brand. If you’ve found this post helpful or have an example of a contest you’ve done that was successful, we’d love to hear about it! Please share your comments below!

~Corri Anna

5 Mistakes New Business Owners Make (and How to Avoid Them)

*This article was written for and featured on The Mom Empire

Let me start by saying I’ve worked for many startup companies and have watched some grow successfully, while others struggled to thrive and eventually evaporated. From years of working in many different industries and closely watching the making of successes and failures, I am happy to share the top mistakes I’ve seen new businesses make that contributed to their eventual downfall, and offer a few small but impactful tweaks to avoid trouble later on.

Before I start, it’s important to note that this entire article is strictly my opinion and suggestions and might not work for everyone, so take it or leave it. I also want to start by saying that the type of business I’m referring to specifically in this article is online businesses, not brick and mortar businesses. For brick and mortar business tips, I will be sending a separate email.

What works well for one type of business might not work well for another. Everyone knows that, right? WRONG! Most people don’t know that. You see, some companies are struggling badly because they’re using marketing methods that are not meant for their type of business. Let’s dive right in.

1. Spending Too Much Money (this one is inevitable)  If you Google “what new businesses need” you’ll get a long list of products and services that professionals highly recommend. But guess what? As a business owner, YOU are the professional and decision-maker, and YOU get to decide what your business needs. How can you tell? Look at competing businesses and see what they offer.

What I recommend (facts according to Get.com): The 20-80 rule reigns. The majority of business comes from a minority of paying customers. Spend money to reach only your targeted market, and keep customer-acquisition costs low. The best advertising is word of mouth – effective, valuable beyond price, and free. (I couldn’t have said it better myself!)

2. Website Creation – Don’t be tempted to build a custom website from scratch!! I would know, as a web designer and developer myself, my job was often to repair the damages made by previous web developers and designers (and restore faith in humanity). I discovered that there are web developers out there who are sneaky scammers – they will give you a long list of jargon and fees, in hopes that you’ll pay them more money for their services. Don’t fall for it!!

What I recommend: Most new businesses just need the basics: A domain name (think: yourbusinesshere.com), and a web host (think: WordPress or SquareSpace). Everything else can wait. Simply browse the free templates the host provides and add your own pictures and content and you’re good to go! The rest you can add and upgrade as your company grows and starts making a profit.

3. Marketing and Outreach – Outreach is not the problem. It’s the type of outreach you’re doing. Most companies blast out countless emails and social posts hoping to attract followers and hoping that people will purchase their products as a result. According to Forbes, subscriber reach for social media posting is only 10%, and 20% for emailing (and it’s even worse for magazines so don’t waste your time or money with those). How can anyone make sales based on those low numbers??

What I recommend: For businesses who wish to use social media (Facebook specifically) to promote their company, here’s what I suggest: with Facebook’s new algorithm, there’s no way all of your followers will even see the ad, because everyone is online at different times and depending on how many posts they scroll through, they might not see the ad. Try placement ads instead. According to SocialMediaToday, Facebook has recently announced a new tool that will enable companies to have better control of where their ads appear across their ad delivery network. Do your research and see if this might be right for your company.

If you’re looking to use email marketing to promote your company and grow your sales, I recommend sharing coupons, flash sales and free “stuff” like printable templates, ebooks, etc. Use deadlines to create a sense of urgency!! People buy out of a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). People are also more likely to subscribe to an email list if they’re getting something free.

4. Having WAY TOO MANY IDEAS – Ideas are good, that’s not the problem. The problem is having so many ideas and long lists of “things to do” and being so bombarded with hopes and dreams for your business that it leads to inaction, anxiety, or significant loss of money. Take the time you need to brainstorm, strategize, set weekly and monthly goals (not just reaching for the sky), and review your successes. Focus on the most important stuff: What your business aims to do (what specific problem needs to be solved), who it intends to help, and how.

Here’s my recommendation (besides what was said above): Invest your time (but not money) into a good task management system. I find Trello very helpful as a free online and mobile task management app. I can add my list of tasks, along with assignments, goals, deadlines and ideas. Again, I’m not against ideas. Ideas are great. I’m against the overwhelming amount of ideas that lead to anxiety and spending money on services that you don’t need (like Yellow Page and newspaper ads – why is that still a thing??). Celebrate the wins. Learn from the losses. They’re going to happen. Get better, grow stronger, and in the long run, your company will do well, longer.

5. Hiring Employees Too Early – According to Under 30 CEO, the biggest waste of money for small business/entrepreneurs is hiring employees during their early stages.

Here’s what to do instead: Instead of hiring employees, unpaid interns are a free source of help so that businesses and entrepreneurs can begin to learn the process of delegation and refocus their time and energy into the most productive and lucrative aspects of their business. Wait what?? Believe it or not, some people are actually willing to work for free (call it an internship or whatever you want), especially during the startup phase of a new company, in order to obtain bragging rights to having a part in the company’s overall and eventual growth and success. Of course, your job as the employer is to make their time meaningful and productive. Don’t just overload them with busy work, your job is to teach them, guide them, and promote them as soon as your business picks up. Give them the promise of eventual promotion.

I hope this article was helpful and didn’t scare anyone away. There are so many “things to do and buy” and “investments to be made” when it comes to starting a new business, and that can be terrifying. Simply pick and choose what works best for you and your business. It’s my hope that every small business, especially businesses owned by working Moms, is successful and profitable.

Sincerely, Corri Anna

Imposter Syndrome: Fighting False Feelings in Business

Tell me if any of these sound familiar:

“I can’t do it, why am I even trying?”

“I’m not good enough, I will never be.”

“She does it so much better, I should just give up.”

“Why would anyone want to buy from me?”

“I don’t deserve this, I didn’t do anything special.”

“Everyone else around me is succeeding, but I’m failing.”

If you’ve heard these voices in your head, especially as you’ve tried to start and grow your business, you’ve likely experienced some of the many voices of imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is that voice in your head that constantly whispers lies, that makes you feel unimportant and insignificant, that echoes your fears and loudly proclaims that you’re going to fail. It starts in your mind and moves to your ears and can manifest itself in your actions, or rather, inactions.

According to one article, lack of self-confidence, anxiety, doubts about your thoughts, abilities, achievements and accomplishments, negative self-talk, feelings of inadequacy, dwelling on past mistakes and not feeling good enough — these are all signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome.

Just imagine what this can do to someone starting a new business. There is so much competition out there. And it seems like everyone else is excelling and succeeding. With all of these negative voices screaming so loudly at you, threatening your imminent failure, pressuring you to give up and not take chances… how can you fight those false feelings and get rid of them for good?

Here are my top 5 suggestions on how to combat imposter syndrome.

  1. Separate fact from feelings – When those thoughts seep into your mind, take the time to do a quick reality check. Understanding when your mind is telling you a lie versus actual facts can help you to realize that even though you may feel stupid, in reality, you are not stupid.
  2. Avoid the Dirty C’s – The top three things that make people unhappy in life are comparing, competing, and complaining. Learn to accept your wins and hold yourself accountable for your shortcomings, and set personal goals to improve the things you feel you could do better. This will help you focus more on improving your circumstances rather than feeling disappointed in yourself whenever you make a mistake.
  3. Celebrate your wins and your failures – Don’t over-celebrate your wins and don’t under-celebrate your failures. Keep it close to neutral. When you have a successful moment, give yourself a hug or treat yourself to an extra TV show or sleeping in for an extra 15 minutes the next morning. Instead of coming down on yourself for mistakes and failures, tell yourself “It’s okay, everyone makes mistakes,” and “This is/was an opportunity for learning and growth.” Give yourself credit for the effort, there’s no need to punish yourself for anything less than a win.
  4. Break the cycle of continually seeking validation from others – Remember that YOU are the key to your happiness, not someone else. Especially in business. If compliments make you, insults will break you. Don’t rely on others to tell you whether your idea or business is a good idea or not, you determine that. After all, people sell artwork made from vomit for tens of thousands of dollars online. How bad could it be?
  5. Believe you can succeed – I’m basically saying fake it ‘til you make it. Look confident. Act confident. Be confident. If you’re looking for validation, here it is. You can do this. You got this. You truly do have what it takes to succeed. The world needs your expertise, opinion and experiences. The world needs the products you have to sell. You just have to convince them that they need it, and that will be easy. You can and will be successful. Believe it and then do it.

About the Author:

Corri Anna Matheson is the Chief of Staff for The Mom Empire. She wears many hats – as a stay-at-home Mom and a long-time blogger, self-proclaimed chef, actress, model, web designer, extreme couponer, marketing specialist, cat lover, Wife to her true love, and Mother of two beautiful, happy children. Her blog, Femiology, is a women’s lifestyle blog that shares fashion and fitness advice, recipes, crafts, DIY activities, couponing tips, and family fun. She spends her time doing all the things she loves.