Connections

Short rant;

For those of you in need of someone to manage your social media accounts, I have a tip. Let the person who is handling your accounts know what you are doing. If you are updating them yourself, it is easy to add pictures from your day, dull or dazzling. If someone else is doing the updating though, unless they are on hand, keep them in the loop! Upload them pictures. Send them short accounts of interesting happenings. Advise them of changes in scheduled events. Give them notice of upcoming affairs. Let them know about things your audience might find interesting.

It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. More often than not, your customers just want to see you in action. They want to see the faces of the people they know and have interacted with. Candid photos always get more likes, shares, and followers. You can be unpacking a box, wiping a counter, or counting an order. This is what your business looks like. It isn’t always hanging high up in a tree, participating in a fun run, or receiving an award. And that’s business! There are plenty of mundane days when you need to get stuff done, but that is what keeps your business running. And it’s okay to show that side of your company too. A decent social media manager can create a picture of your company from all the pieces. That’s what you pay them for after all. When they don’t know what’s going on though, they cannot share.

So do yourself a favour. Whether it is once a week, month or day, think about what you want from your social media manager and ultimately your online presence. When you know what you want that to look like, get on the same page with your content curator and work something out. A good social media platform is a great base for customers to find you. And that’s just good business sense.

Rant off…

Take the time to connect with your social media manager so that you are all on the same page as far as your social media presence goes
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Communication: The Key to Social Media

One of my clients is a local tree services company. As much as I handle most of their social media and write all of their blog posts, I couldn’t do it without help. This week’s blog for them is a great example of that. It has received lots of positive feedback already, which I appreciate, but much of the content in the post itself came directly from them. And that is what a good working relationship looks like.

I can wrangle words til the cow comes home (Watch out, this be cliché country!), but the process is always far more productive and positive when I get support, suggestions and feedback from clients. What do they want to see written? Did one article work better for them than another? Have I missed the mark on the message I am trying to put across or is it just not in their tone? Tell me! I try to do my best, but always encourage guidance, so that what I put out there is reflective of my clients. If they don’t like it, or their audience doesn’t like it, then I am wasting all of our time.

Thank you to Pam, for taking the time to answer my questions and provide me with pictures on a regular basis. When I can catch you Calvin, you are a wonderful fount of information and the person I want to please most. Curt, you have been the voice in my head for years inspiring many blog posts. Your encouraging words mean a lot to me Christine. And if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. Your smile tells me I’m doing alright Anna Marie. There are plenty of other people at CLC Tree Services who keep their fabulous company hopping. I hope you know what a great company you have chosen to work for!

I will be forever grateful to you all for putting your trust in me. And for helping me put more trust in myself. I look to your company as proof that social media marketing works and that with communication all around, it can do wonders, especially for a small business.

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I might not have planted any of these trees, but I have seen more than one go into the ground at the side of CLC. They love their trees & their passion is contagious.

 

Spring Fever: It’s Time to Grow

Well, the cold that was threatening a month ago ran over me hard. I went from the flu to bronchitis (or something that involved body-wracking coughs that lasted for several weeks at the least). After being left with little energy and a mound of work to catch up on, my computer decided to get sick too. Ack!

Thankfully we are all now recovered (kids mostly too, minus all our lingering coughs). March Break is behind us and signs of spring are in the air. As much as I am enjoying the warmer temperatures though, I have had my head down and am still playing catch-up with work. I am helping a few clients revamp their images and websites. Another client has a play going on which I am helping to promote. Trade shows are filling another client’s world, which require shout outs to advertise. And I desperately need to see someone else just to touch base with what’s going on in their business’s world and update some pictures.

These are the moments that can get crazy, but what I love about social media work. I like when clients turn to me to help make their companies better. I thrive on full calendars with exciting events to showcase why the people I work with are great. Face to face meetings are often so much more productive and give an opportunity to delve into the important facets of what people’s businesses are all about. The perks come when I meet new people through existing clients, or when word of mouth has potential clients seeking me out.

So as spring slowly begins to bloom around me, I am sticking my head out and looking around. I have a few trade shows of my own I’ll be attending shortly and need to seriously work on polishing up my own social networking sites so that I can properly promote myself more effectively. It’s one thing to critique and improve others, but when meeting others you need to have something to offer as well. Time to brush off the business cards and breathe life into myself again. It’s spring and time to grow!

Like a groundhog in spring, I am sticking my head out and looking around

Vacations From Social Media: The Story of the Self-Employed

I am a single mother of two and work from home as a Freelance Writer. This works for my family, as I have the flexibility to work when the children are at school, but can still get some writing in when they have sick days. I can balance volunteer opportunities during the day with working into the evening when necessary. And if something big falls into the schedule, like the upcoming March Break, I can still enjoy the time off with the kids by working a little more beforehand, sneaking in little bits while they are entertaining themselves, or scrambling to make up missed pieces afterwards. I may not be looking at Freedom 55 anytime soon, but my children appreciate the time I get to spend with them, as do I.

The more challenging piece of working from home is usually Summer Break. There is no way I can schedule two months worth of writing in beforehand. And as much as there might be some benefits, I can’t exactly just drop clients for the summer while I go on vacation. They would go elsewhere to get their needs met and I would have a pretty skimpy budget to work with, what with the lack of money coming in.

Being self-employed means I don’t have the luxury of vacation pay. No work, no pay. Definitely a drawback of the job.

So how does one handle vacations when you are self-employed? The smart thing would be to set up a rainy day fund or fill a vacation jar with money to pay for and tide you over your holidays. Telling your clients you are taking a holiday usually goes over reasonably well too. Most of my clients are small businesses, so they get the importance of time away from business. If I schedule in the bigger pieces (scheduled Facebook posts and blog posts), then a small income still comes in despite the active time away, and your client’s social media profiles don’t dry up entirely while you are gone.

Unfortunately though I usually can’t 100% step away from the web. Invariably something big pops up in a client’s world as soon as I am offline. I can’t take the chance, so usually check my emails semi-regularly even while on vacation. My phone needs to be charged and I feel like I have to scan client’s social feeds, just to be sure I don’t miss an outraged comment, timely inquiry, or some other vital piece of my client’s online world. The web never sleeps. Hence, I need to keep half an eye on it.

That doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but again, it is the sacrifice I make to choose my own hours. I still mostly get a break, but have the security of knowing I have something to go back to. One has to pay for your vacations somehow, right?

If you are self-employed, how do you handle vacations? Do you walk away cold turkey, work throughout, or just never take one for fear of your world imploding while you are gone?

Vacations are a balance game; one eye on social media & the other as far away from it as possible

Blogging: Is It Still Relevant?

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BLOGGING |

I have been blogging since 2009. That might sound like a long time, but in the early days, my blog was more akin to a journal entry; I recorded daily happenings, thoughts, lists, and whatever else struck me. Many of the entries didn’t have pictures and visitors to my page were rare. Such was my start, but also a reflection on the still-morphing existence of weblogs.

While Justin Hall is noted as the first person to ‘blog’ back in 1994, many more have come after him. Hall’s early ‘personal homepage’, begat many blogging platforms within a few short years, and the growth of this new phenomenon has only grown from there. Blogger and LiveJournal launched hosted web tools in 1999, and WordPress, arguably one of the most popular blogging platforms today, joined the fray in 2003.

I happen to have blogs on both Blogger and WordPress, but there are plenty more sites you can turn to today, from Medium to Squarespace, Tumblr to Drupal, Type Pad to Weebly, and so many more. The platform might change, but the concept remains the same—sharing content with others in a setting where it can be commented upon and shared at will. It is a great medium for writers, people with hobbies or specific interests, and businesses who want to establish a voice for themselves on the web.

Changing Face of Blogging

Like anything though, the face of blogging is changing. Where people once shared stories of their personal days and challenges—Mommy bloggers are still a huge part of the blogging world—topics have exploded from there. Whether it be politics, journalism, art critique, travel, dating, or food prep, you can find a blog for that. But where some people avidly read many blogs a few years ago, nowadays the average person’s attention span is so torn by the constant influx of social media content, that the influence of blogging is changing.

No longer will your take on Grannie’s home remedies be relevant, when your humble blog goes up against trusted big-name websites. You have to have something relevant and unique to say, and it has to be presented in a visually appealing way, not to mention that it be well written. If you are touching on current events, they have to be timely too, not to mention accurate in detail. And even if you write a fantastic post that draws in readers, that’s still not enough. Today’s bloggers need to consistently create good content on a regular basis, promote it to the hilt, and interact with readers to make sure they are a part of the experience.

Tall order? Maybe, but that’s the name of the game, especially if you are a small business who is trying to get your voice heard in the echo-chamber that is today’s social media world. I have talked to people in person, discussed the relevance of blogs with folks on Twitter, read umpteen numbers of articles across the web (yes, I still read blogs), and pondered how best to get the biggest bang for your buck with blogging.

  • regular posting
  • quality content
  • maximize shareability
  • vary the style of posts (graphics, words, pictures, videos, lists, long posts, short posts, podcasts, etc.)

Are blogs still relevant? You bet they are. How you make yours relevant is the key though. It can be a lot of work, but still worth the effort, especially for small businesses looking for more people to find them amongst all the online chatter. Think smarter and reach out to those in the know. Ask questions, talk to experts, and don’t forget the darn SEO, headings, keywords and alt tags while you’re at it.

While this go viral? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. It helps me to write it down in a cohesive manner and understand it better myself. It also adds content to my stream. And hopefully it will strike a chord with my readers. Do you have anything to add?

I wish you good writing and longevity in your blogging endeavours!