Blogging for Business

Are you scared to blog?  Are you wondering how blogging can help your business?  I will admit, I am not an expert BUT I do know as a result of blogging daily for over 4 years (OMG!) I have made a difference which is my purpose personally and in my business.

A simple challenge from Vanessa Coppes of ETTM, changed my life.  On those days I want to quit, I go back to the emails I received from readers and customers to see how something I shared has helped them.  Do I struggle some days finding a topic? YES!  Do I wonder if anyone actually reads them?  YES!  It is the occasional comment or message from a friend or reader which keeps me going, wanting to write more and share more.  I am always amazed how many people actually read my blog!  It is humbling to think people read AND share it with friends, family and team members.

The Sales MOMS Network actually did a story on Blogging for Direct Sales“.  There are some great suggestions in there on how to get started if you are in direct sales and are considering blogging.  It can be a little scary at first but the benefits far outweigh the scare factor.  They also shared a blog on “The 7 Tips of Basic Blogging”.

I remember the first time Deb Bixler included my name in a tweet – I was shocked, honored and for those who know me – yes, I cried just a little but they were tears of joy.

I know my blog is all over the place.  I go from talking about my business to sharing personal health struggles to organizing tips and product spotlights.  I have heard pros and cons about the best way to blog – focused versus general.  Most days, my blogs are about what I need to hear and I hope some where along the way, it helps someone else.

Are you considering blogging?  What have you got to loose, right?  Will it give you instant business?  Probably not.  Will it help you to develop relationships?  Absolutely.  I know for me, it has changed my life.  It has helped me step just a little further out of my comfort zone by sharing sides of myself very few people know.  I LOVE helping others to grow – personally and professionally to be the best they can be.  Remember “You can’t fail if you don’t stop BEFORE you SUCCEED.” Wise words from Mary Christensen.

I challenge each of you to move the walls of your comfort zone so you can grow.  If it isn’t blogging, maybe it is picking up the phone and making calls. Or is it sharing the gift of your business with someone you don’t know?  Whatever the wall is – step beyond it and experience the greatest gift of all – overcoming your own personal FEAR.  I look forward to hearing about the walls you are moving – please share.  If you are blog or are starting a blog – share your link below so we can all check it out.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.

How It All Began

I has been 4 years… four years of blogging daily sharing my strengths, hopes and experiences.  Sometimes I wonder if I should continue.  Sometimes I wonder if anyone would notice.  Then I think back to what started it all and the response I got from the first post.

This is my first blog post from March, 2013.  Thank you Vanessa Coppes for encouraging me to not only share my story but to start writing again.  I know in my heart, I make a difference to at least one person each day with what I write.

I just wanted to share how “bullying” can be hidden by our children. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent, it just means that you may have taught your child coping skills to help deal with the bullying from school mates. Bear with me as I share some background information..

As a single mom for 14 years who worked full-time trying to provide all of the things that I had when I was growing up and more for my daughter, Belinda. Isn’t that every parent’s wish – to give their child more? I moved to a double wide trailer in a trailer park in an area that had a good school district, lots of children my daughter’s age and it was affordable. My daughter was involved in a lot of activities outside of school – first competitive gymnastics, then field hockey then all-star cheering. This was my way of making sure Belinda stayed away from the “wrong crowd”. She went to public school until she was a Sophomore in HS when she asked to be changed to a private Christian school where our Pastor’s family taught and went to school. Her reasons made sense so we juggled the budget and Belinda graduated from Pilgrim Academy – smiling, happy, ready for college & still living in the trailer park. Belinda traveled 13 hours to go college – Western Carolina University. I was heart-broken that she was so far away but after the first semester, she excelled – graduated with honors in the Honors College program.

Here is when the “clueless mom” found out what had really been happening…My daughter is a social worker that loves working with troubled kids. As she was preparing her applications for grad school for her Masters in Macro-Social Work, she had to write some essays as to why she felt she would belonged in this field. Since I am a grant-writer, she asked me to review her essays (like she usually did) to check grammar, etc. This is when I found out the “horror” of my daughter’s school years….

Belinda recounts many tales of verbal abuse from school mates because we lived in a trailer park that as the years passed became like the “projects” of the Township. She only invited her closest friends back to our house for sleep overs, parties, etc. I never really thought about it since I was working, juggling her activities and making sure that her homework was done. The truth was very few parents wanted their children to come over because of where we lived – not necessarily our home but the neighborhood. Belinda talks about how people used to call her “trailer trash”. The outside sports activities along with my example of what a strong woman could do is what she attributes to her success. Some called her a “snob” because she was involved in outside sports. Then when she became active in church, more verbal abuse came. Some of her friends from the trailer park fell into the lives that people expected – sexually active, lots of unsupervised parties, drugs, alcohol and more. I was blessed, Belinda didn’t do any of that.

Many believe that if I was clueless about the verbal abuse, I would be clueless about everything else…My daughter and I had and still have an amazing relationship. When I asked her why she never told me, her response “I didn’t want to hurt you because I knew you were doing the best you could. The material things didn’t matter because you were always there for me”. My daughter has amazing attributes – self confidence, speaks her mind (sometimes without tack) and is forever looking to help the underserved youth in her community. She tells me on a regular basis how she hopes to accomplish all that I have both professionally and personally.

I wanted to share this to let people know that bullying isn’t always visible, it can happen to any child. As I travel back to our old hometown, I look around and ask my husband – was I that “clueless” about what life was like. His response is always the same – “You did what you had to do to make sure that Belinda had everything she needed even if it wasn’t always what she wanted. As a result, she is a bright, intelligent & confident woman who wants to take on the world to make it a better place”.

Since signing up to be a part of the Family Wellness & Beauty Day for Kickin’ It Kids AntiBullying, God has pressed on my heart to share this story. This is an amazing cause and I truly believe that children who are visibly and “in’visibly” bullied can benefit from this type of program.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What Defines You?

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Happy Friday!  I am in Day #2 of covering for a co-worker while she is on vacation at my part-time job.  There will be time to reflect, set goals and get down on paper what I want to do for the rest of the year.  It can be a very quiet office.

Today’s subject is a little different.  I have talked endlessly about the time I spent reflecting last week and this topic actually came up.  I have wondered what direction to take my blog.  Do I want to focus on business topics?  Do I want to focus on life? Do I want to have simple solutions to life’s challenges?  Then driving home, it hit me……….

The picture above was posted by my daughter as we had a moment before we left North Carolina.  Being in the gray area of diagnosis for my MS and Addison’s has caused me to feel like I am my illness.  Crazy, right considering I am always saying #mswillnotdefineme BUT the truth is I was letting it define me.  I was letting it become a part of everything – the reason I was gaining weight, the reason I was emotional, the reason why I had aches & pains and the list goes on. In an effort not to own or be responsible for what was happening, I quickly and easily blamed my diagnosis.  The truth is I am a 59 year old who beat up her body for years.  The years of drug addiction, bulimia, abortion, playing hard and never thinking about my health.  I had aches and pains before I had a diagnosis or two.

As a people pleaser, I always listen to what others have to say then adopt my actions.  I think back to when I started blogging, nothing planned just sharing my strengths, hopes and experiences.  Over the years, yes 3 1/2 years to be exact, I have changed to fit into a mold of what others are doing or suggesting, simply trying to find a purpose.  Playing the comparison game.  Hoping for more readers.  Hoping to turn those readers into customers or followers.  Believe it or not, I actually have lost my love for writing.  YIKES!  Scary but true.  I have wondered if I should continue or give it a rest. I wondered if anyone would notice.  So many questions.

Then as I reflected on this simple post, I realized what I loved about my blog was I got to share and write whatever I wanted – business, personal, tips, recipes and I didn’t care because I knew somewhere it would touch the person who needed it.

So, I will continue writing.  I may share about my struggles with doctors and my health.  I may share about my amazing pink bubble and my business.  I may share recipes.  I will continue to share words of encouragement on Sundays.

I am owning my diagnosis, realizing it is just one part of me and what defines me.  I am owning my blog as mine to do with as I want.

Another ramble but I hope it has touched someone – whether you are struggling with a medical diagnosis, growing your business, finding yourself or just looking for something to read.  I would love to hear from you via comment or email at HopeWs31@gmail.com

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Creating A Kitchen Activity Center

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Looks like the perfect kitchen, right?  Are you thinking “my kitchen will never look like that”?  Honestly, I’m not sure whose kitchen actually looks like this everyday if they cook!

In my efforts to de-clutter the kitchen, I have learned one very important rule: tools that work together should live together.

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Living in a condo, we have that dreaded galley/alley kitchen.  Little counter space and even less cabinet space.  So if I am going by the “rule” to create activity centers, here are some ideas:

Most food prep begins with washing and cutting, right?  So, all the tools you  need for slicing, chopping, and cutting, should be close.  Here are some great ideas for storing those knives and it gets that wood block off the counter where there is VERY little space.

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Hang a paper towel dispenser on the wall or beneath a cabinet to save space. To encourage hand washing and hygiene, decant liquid hand washing soap into a pretty pump dispenser and assign it a home next to the sink.

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Cutting boards, grater, strainers, colander, mixing spoons, rubber scraper, garlic press, vegetable peeler, vegetable brush, melon scoop/melon baller should be in easy reach too.  Mine are all thrown in a drawer making it hard to find sometimes.  Again, counter space is limited but I do like these ideas:

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How about those measuring spoons you are always hunting for?

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We have about 2 feet wide of counter space between the sink and the stove which doesn’t really allow for a “cooking center”.  Pots and pans, are stored in a cabinet but if you have the space, here are some great ideas:

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I am grateful for my under-stove drawer that let’s me store those often used pans.

Herbs and spices need to be conveniently located for easy seasoning, but make sure they are in a cool place: they’ll lose their savor stored under hot conditions.

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Keep cereal, snacks and unbreakable dishes into spot for the kids. Place items on a low shelf for easy reach.

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Keep seldom-used serving dishes in the way-back of the cabinet shelf, while plates and soup bowls enjoy the shelf front.

My nemesis is those plastic food storage containers.  You can keep them nested and handy.  Corral lids separately in a basket to prevent fallout.

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How do you create “activity centers” in your kitchen to make life easier?  Share your ideas with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Half Anniversary

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Have you hard the Chinese proverb that says that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”?  That can even be a baby step as long as it is a step forward….

I have been blogging for 2 1/2 years every day.What started as a challenge from Vanessa Coppes, co-founder of the Entrepreneurial Think Tank for Woman has turned into a way to share my vision of empowering woman. My very first blog was personal about bullying  my daughter received in school.  Since that very first blog, I have learned so many things about blogging and growing my business.

So, if you are looking to blog, let me share some of the things that I have learned so far:

  1. Write about something you know.  It should be something that you like. Themes are great if they fit into your vision.  Just don’t write about things because you think it will generate traffic. Your readers will quickly figure out if you are writing a lot of fluff or if you are writing from your heart.
  2. Keywords or as the techies call them SEOs.  Basically that is “search engine options”. which is how you will be found when people are doing a search.  You’ve done a Google search right and the list of hundreds of things appear.  In that list will be some blogs with your keywords in them.  I write as thoughts come into my head – scary, right?  Then I go back and add links and figure out the keywords that can be used BUT that is after the post is done.
  3. Make sure that you proof read and do spell check before you schedule your post.  Bad grammar will take away from you message. Make sure the text is consistent and there are no typos.
  4. I have found that planning out my blog is important.  I may not write the actual blog but I do have ideas jotted down for the next month.  I jot down notes and ideas when I think of them.  I leave them as drafts and then I go back to finish them up or sometimes I will toss them.  Planning ahead will help you be organized.
  5. Organize your posts by category so that it is easy for your readers to find blogs with common subjects.  Use labels, and include a search box that will help readers find what they are looking for. A messy or too complicated to navigate blog will scare readers off.
  6. I like to include pictures that relate to my post.  Why?  Pictures and a catchy title will draw people in.  They get and keep people interested.  PLUS if you use other social media avenues to publicize your blog, pictures are great in news feeds.  Remember that a long text is hard for people to read.
  7. Be sure to include an “about me” section in your blog.  People want to interact with other people, not with machines, so they like to know who is on the other end. Include your photo if you have no problems with that.  I use personal as well as stock photos in my blog.

So, who is ready to start blogging?  If you already have one, post your link below so we can all check it out.  I look forward to adding lots of blogs to my reader board.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!