April 23rd, 2018

The Disadvantages Of Flexible Work At Home

The Disadvantages Of Flexible Work At Home

Many people who want to work at home are looking for something flexible. They picture being able to grab the kids from school, hit the gym in the middle of the day, or meeting up with friends. The disadvantages of a flexible work at home job aren’t fully considered. This can lead to problems at work as reality sinks in.

The simple truth of the matter is that even flexible work at home jobs rarely give you complete freedom to work when you want. There will be online meetings scheduled, for example. You may need to coordinate with someone on a project. There will be days when your flexible schedule isn’t so flexible.

Employers that let you work at home with a flexible schedule will have the same requirements of you as those who insist upon a regular schedule. They’re just more relaxed about which hours of the day you get your work done.

Your Employer Isn’t The Biggest Challenge – You Are

The worst of the disadvantages of flexible work at home jobs have much more to do with the employee rather than the employer. To put it simply, it’s hard for many people to keep to an appropriate work routine without a regular schedule.

That’s all on you as a flexible work employee. If you can’t handle the work required without someone else telling you to work certain hours, the job will not work out for you. You must prepare for productive work each day.

A flexible work at home job isn’t like high school or college where you can try to get the whole project done the night before it’s due. It wasn’t a particularly good idea then, but it’s an even worse idea in your job. Most projects at work are far too complicated to be done so quickly.

This is why no matter how flexible the job is, you should give yourself a regular work schedule. Don’t take advantage of the flexibility by working different hours every day unless you have a reason to keep changing. If you don’t work fairly regular hours, it’s much too easy to work too few hours overall.

Employers Aren’t Entirely Off The Hook

Much as the employees create many of their own problems with flexible work at home jobs, many employers create problems as well. They may expect “flexible hours” to mean that employees are available, practically on-call, at any hour. If that wasn’t in the job description, it’s a problem.

A good employer understands that giving employees flexible hours to get their work done doesn’t mean the employees have no lives of their own. To the contrary, employees usually seek out flexible work hours so that they can live their lives while earning a living. Employers must be realistic about how many hours a week they expect employees to work, and how much needs to get done during those hours.

Other employers have difficulty trusting flexible work at home employees. How do they know you’re productive and not goofing off? They need to track what flexible employees are accomplishing so that they know things are going well.

Communication Challenges

All work at home jobs have some communication challenges. It can be difficult keeping everyone up to date when you aren’t talking face to face. Tools such as Slack make this much easier, but it doesn’t suit everyone. Combine that with the many kinds of work at home schedules, and it can be difficult to keep up with each other.

Flexible hours make this into an even bigger disadvantage for people who work at home. Scheduling online meetings that everyone can attend becomes more difficult. You also can’t rely on the person you need to communicate with being available right when you need them.

Good employers will have plenty of options for keeping in contact, no matter how flexible your hours may be. A part of your learning curve may be learning how to keep up with everyone using these tools. Communication within remote teams has improved so much in recent years, but not every employer takes full advantage of the possibilities.

Friends And Family

Your friends and family can create their own disadvantages to your work at home experience, especially if they know your hours are flexible. Many will mistake that for you being available to them at any time.

They might think you’re available to babysit their sick child so they can get to work, or watch for a delivery while they’re at work. You’re home all day – why can’t you help them? Don’t you care???

If you have a flexible work at home job, teach your friends and family that there are limits to that flexibility. You will need to set many of those restrictions yourself. It may take time to teach them to respect your work hours just as much as they would respect the work hours of someone working outside the home.

The Fun Distractions

When you work in an office, coworkers and coffee breaks are acceptable distractions, within reason. When you work at home, there are quite a few more distractions that most people wouldn’t dare pay attention to in the office. Sometimes these may seem like they’re perks of working at home, but they’re as likely to be disadvantages.

Some people like to binge favorite shows on Netflix or other services, for example. It’s easy to get into the habit of streaming a show while you work. What many people don’t realize is how much time they lose to watching their shows rather than focusing on their work.

Kids and pets are fun distractions as well. One of my cats loves to get on my lap if she’s cold. She also sits on my head and chair headrest if she’s playful. It’s pretty distracting sometimes, even when it’s fun. Kids bring in homework questions or just want company.

Have a plan to deal with these fun distractions. Take advantage of your flexible work at home job, for example, and schedule yourself around when the kids may need you.

When you decide to work at a flexible work at home job, make sure that you’re ready to deal with the advantages and the disadvantages, especially the ones you have control over. If you aren’t committed to making the time for your work, the job won’t be a good match for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 18th, 2018

How To Use Pinterest To Market Your Blog Or Business

How To Use Pinterest To Market Your Blog Or Business

How hard have you tried to use Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog or business? It seems like a lot of people are having amazing success with it, but maybe it isn’t going that well for you. It’s incredibly frustrating. You’d love to use Pinterest to market your blog or business. What does it take?

The first thing I will warn you against is an excessive focus on going viral. If your content is good, and your pins are attractive, viral pins will come in their own time, so long as you’re also working on your Pinterest marketing.

Besides, the traffic from viral pins can peak suddenly, then disappear. You want consistency. You want to build regular traffic. Viral pins can help with that, but they aren’t everything.

Start With The Basics

Whether you’re just starting out with Pinterest or have been pinning for some time, there are some basic things you need to take care of before you do anything else.

If you haven’t created your Pinterest business account, do so now. This will give you access to analytics, which is a huge help in discovering how your pins are doing. It’s free. You can convert your personal account or start a new one to use entirely for business purposes.

Make sure you verify your website with Pinterest. Pinterest will give you a code for this.

A business account can also pay for sponsored pins, which can be a help in bringing attention to your pins. You don’t have to do this, but it’s worth considering.

Next, apply for rich pins. You will need some code on your site. If you’re using WordPress and have the Yoast SEO plugin, this is super easy. If you’re using WordPress and don’t use Yoast, I strongly recommend adding it. It’s helpful in many ways.

In the Yoast SEO section of your WordPress admin, you will see a social section. Select the Facebook tab and enable the Open Graph metadata setting. This will give Pinterest the information it needs as well.

turn on open graph

Once this is done, you need to validate one of your URLs with Pinterest. Choose any blog post and put it into Pinterest’s Rich Pins Validator. If everything comes up fine, you can tell Pinterest that you used HTML tags, then click “Apply Now.” If everything has gone right, your pins will now show up as Rich Pins.

Rich pins show more information from your site. They can pull recipe information if you share recipes, or article titles and a bit of text from articles.

Figure Out Your Best Pinterest Keywords

In many ways, Pinterest is more a search engine than a social website. This makes the right keywords in your profile, boards, and pins vital to your success. Take some time early on to figure out your basic Pinterest keywords.

Start out with your best keyword for your business. Put it into the search box on Pinterest and see what comes up. It should look something like this:

find keywords pinterest

See those colored boxes with words in them? Those are words other Pinterest users include in their searches for that term. You want to use these words in your profile, board descriptions, and pins whenever they’re relevant.

Do this often. You may find it worthwhile to check Pinterest keywords for most of your posts, especially when coming up with a description as you pin them.

Make The Most Of Your Profile

How does your Pinterest profile look? Is it clear to people who visit it what your business has to offer?

Take advantage of the space Pinterest offers to create an appealing description of what followers can expect from your Pinterest profile. If you do this well, it may also attract people to visit your website.

Use some of the keywords you discovered in the section above for your profile, but keep it interesting as well.

Pinterest now has a feature where an image of your pins goes diagonally across your profile page. Take advantage of this.

pinterest header

If you don’t have a board that has just pins from your website, create one now. You’re going to use this board to display your pins on your profile.

Click the little edit button on the image of your pins that go across the top of your profile. This will allow you to select which board is used for this image. Select the one that has only your pins. Save your changes.

change pinterest header

That’s all it takes. Now you don’t have to worry about which pins show up there. You’ve chosen to make it all yours.

Optimize Your Pinterest Boards

It may not be immediately obvious when you create a board that you can give it a category and description. You can, and it’s helpful to do so. This will give visitors to that board an idea as to what you pin there.

Go to your board and click the edit board button. This will give you a little popup to change the settings.

You can give the board a description. Make sure that you use some of the keywords you researched. This may help it appear in board searches.

You can also give it a category and a board cover. The board cover is a pin that will show as a larger image on the page that shows all of your boards.

If you want a consistent look to your profile page, you need to create board covers for all of your boards. Many bloggers like to create board covers that are consistent with their branding elsewhere. This is not something I have done so far personally, but many recommend it.

You can upload a custom board cover as a pin and link it to a relevant section of your website. You can create one that is at least 600×600 pixels. Board covers are square, but you can use a rectangular image if you want. Just consider which section will show up.

The idea behind branded board covers is that it gives your profile a more cohesive feel.

Finally, decide what you’re going to do with boards that aren’t relevant to your brand. You can delete them or make them into secret boards if you like. If not, at least make sure that they are beneath your business boards. You can drag and drop your boards on your profile to arrange them the way you would like them. Think about what will work best for your visitors.

Optimize Your Pins

Applying for Rich Pins is only the first step to optimizing your pins. There are a few other things you should do.

Start out by knowing the currently preferred image sizes. These change occasionally. As of this writing, Pinterest recommends pin images be no more than 600 pixels wide and will cut off pins longer than 2.1 times the width, which is to say longer than 1260 pixels long. Their preferred size is 600×900, but there are plenty of times when a longer image makes sense.

Longer pins will still show the full length when clicked. Many bloggers find that they perform better than other pins.

Create great descriptions for your pins. These will help them be found in searches. Remember to research your Pinterest keywords when creating your descriptions, and keep them accurate to the post they’re linked to. Don’t mislead your visitors – people hate that.

You can even have your preferred description show up when visitors to your site pin that image. In your blog post, use the Text editor tab rather than the Visual tab.

In this tab, the code for your image will be something along the lines of:

<img class=”aligncenter” src=”yourimageurl” alt=”alt tags for your image” width=”500″ height=”765″ />

You want to add a Pinterest description. This is done by adding data-pin-description=”your description here” so that it looks like

<img class=”aligncenter” src=”yourimageurl” alt=”alt tags for your image” width=”500″ height=”765″ data-pin-description=”Your pin description here.” />

Once you’ve done this, the description you put in the data-pin-description section will show up if someone clicks the image to pin it.

This won’t guarantee that your description will be used by everyone, as visitors can change the text as they like, but many will leave it as is.

You can go further by using data-pin-url=”URL you want the pin to lead to. Usually the URL of your post” data-pin-media=”URL of a different image you want pinned rather than the visible one. Very useful if you want smaller images in your post” and data-pin-id=”ID number of the post on Pinterest after you have pinned it.” These give you still more control over your pins. You can also control which images in your posts can be pinned to Pinterest.

Should You Brand Your Pins?

Many people strongly recommend keeping your images similar, so that they are all clearly a part of your brand. This makes it easier for people to recognize one of your pins when they come across them.

This can be as simple as using the same colors or fonts on all of your pins. Some people use very similar images on all of their pins as well.

The problem is that this gets very repetitive. Your pins are easily identified, but are they easy to tell apart?

This is where it becomes a good idea to make multiple pins for each post. You can have your strongly branded pins and have your pins that stand out.

It’s also easier to test pin styles when you have multiple pins for each post. You can compare and see which performs the best. If you find a new style performs better, you might even decide to change your branding to be closer to that style.

Pin And Pin And Pin Some More

If you aren’t pinning a lot, and pinning regularly, your pins aren’t likely to be discovered.

This also means you should pin content from other sites. You will see all kinds of advice – people telling you that the best results come from pinning 80% your own content and 20% of others, 50/50 yours vs others, or even 20% yours and 80% others. You’ll also hear that you should post 20 pins a day, 30-50 a day, or even over 100 pins a day. The advice varies widely.

I’ve never stressed about numbers. I pin a lot of my own, but also share pins from the various group boards I belong to. Most group boards require that you repin at least one other pin when you pin something of yours to the board. That ensures that I have a mix.

Group boards are a huge help in getting your pins out there. Request to join as many relevant ones as you can find, so long as they have a good number of followers. You won’t get much exposure if the board only has 100 followers, after all.

As much as possible, pin to relevant boards. Your pins will rank better if they are regularly pinned to relevant boards, rather than to general boards.

You will find a number of group boards that accept all niches. Some of these have excellent followings. You may find it worthwhile to try a few general boards, but don’t pin to many of them. Keep that focus so that Pinterest knows what your pins are about.

Manual Pins Or Scheduled Pins?

I’ve seen a lot of debate over whether manual pinning or scheduled pinning works better. There are some great tools out there. Tailwind is the most popular, I think, followed by Board Booster. Their features are slightly different, but each one allows you to schedule your pins, which can be a huge time saver.

Many people say they have seen huge traffic boosts from using these tools. At the very least, they make it much easier to be consistent with your pinning.

However, some people think you get more traffic if you pin manually. This is the method I currently use. It is often difficult to be consistent, but I keep working at it.

I track my pins using a spreadsheet. My boards are grouped by category, one sheet per category of board. This allows me to date when I do each pin. I mark when I’m using more than one image per blog post, as I don’t want to pin the same post on a board too close together, even if the images are different.

pinterest spreadsheet

I indicate group boards by putting their names in bold. This way I know which require repinning, and how many. Most only require a single repin, but some expect two or three for each pin placed on their boards. I always do at least a single repin – the more active the board is, the more attention pins on it will get.

Take a Pinterest Marketing Course

You may want to learn a lot more about pinning than I’ve shared here. A Pinterest marketing course can help you learn more than the basics. They’ll all start with the basics, to make sure that you aren’t missing obvious things, but go into more advanced techniques from there.

I recommend this Pinterest marketing course on Udemy. It’s well rated and has been updated recently. Read the reviews to see if it’s the course for you. You will learn a lot more about how to use Pinterest to market your blog if you take a good course.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 17th, 2018

When Should a Stay at Home Mom Consider a Work at Home Job?

When Should a Stay at Home Mom Consider a Work at Home Job?

While many stay at home moms do already work at home, others don’t. The reason is pretty simple: It’s hard to commit yourself fully to your family if you have to work all the time. And if your family doesn’t need the money, why use up all that time?

But things can change, and working from home may be a more pleasant option than giving up on the stay at home dream altogether. Fortunately, it may be manageable if you plan ahead and are realistic about your own capabilities.

So when should a stay at home mom consider a work at home job?

If Your Family is Carrying a Heavy Debt Load

For this, I generally mean beyond a mortgage. Most people carry a mortgage on their home for quite a number of years, and that’s not a bad thing so long as it is manageable. But credit card debt, student loan debts and so forth are more of a problem.

Working at home is a way to get some of that debt paid down a little more quickly. If you don’t need the money for other purposes, use the new income to pay off your debts.

Take a look at how much you pay out each month on credit card or student loan debts. Think about how much more comfortable your family would be if that money didn’t have to go there. If you’re dealing with these debts, it’s probably a good time to consider a work at home job.

If your family is struggling to pay the mortgage, it’s probably time for the stay at home mom to find a job. Working at home is one way to do that without entirely giving up having one parent at home. You may have to get help watching the kids while you work, but if the hours are flexible enough, you can manage pretty well.

To Give Your Family A Financial Cushion

Jobs can be lost for so many reasons. Layoffs and medical issues come immediately to mind.

If you don’t have several months’ worth of income saved up for such a crisis, your family can be in deep trouble if the only wage earner suddenly isn’t bringing in much money, or is bringing in significantly less. Unemployment benefits don’t pay the same as a job, and they don’t last that long, not when you consider how long many job hunts last. And there’s no guarantee that a new job will pay what the old did.

If you start working at home you can bring that cushion up. It can be protection for your family in case of difficulties. Much better than living month to month.

The fact that I work at home has kept us afloat many times. When my husband was laid off years ago, my income meant we could still handle many of the bills. Credit card debt still hit us, but not nearly as hard as it would have if I hadn’t been working.

Even with two incomes, it’s not uncommon to live month to month. Lots of families earn barely enough to get by with two incomes. Your work at home job may or may not be enough to keep your family from living month to month, but it’s better than you not working at all.

Just Because You WANT To Consider A Work At Home Job

Sometimes you just want more from your life than taking care of home and family. Especially as children get older there’s only so much you can do, after all. Working at home gives you the chance to still be there while pursuing one of your own interests.

We have a huge advantage over mothers who worked at home in the past. There are a lot more options. We can go beyond the traditional options of daycare and network marketing and follow still more of our own interests.

You can start a blog. You can be a remote worker for all kinds of companies, doing tech support, medical codingcustomer service, transcription or many other remote jobs. You can hire yourself out as a freelance writer, programmer, designer, whatever suits your skills.

Don’t give yourself a hard time if you find that you wish you had a job when you’re a stay at home mom. It’s perfectly reasonable. There are a lot of benefits to your family. The right job or online business will allow you to keep being the stay at home mom you want to be while you earn an income.

So What’s The Catch?

The catch, of course, is that not everyone will succeed in working at home. It does take from your day. It takes effort. It’s flat out difficult for many people to find opportunities that aren’t scams. And yes, if you start a home business you may even lose money. It’s not risk free.

If you decide you want to work at home, don’t be in a rush about it. Don’t allow hype to catch your attention, or worse yet, your wallet. Take your time and do your research. Ask other people about it. The work at home community is generally very willing to help new members figure out what is legitimate. While you can’t trust everyone you meet online, getting more eyes on what you think will be good can help you to spot potential problems before you’re paying for them.

The last thing you want is to fall for a work at home scam and make the situation worse. It’s hard enough to earn money from home for many people – you don’t need someone stealing away much needed money.

You should also be aware that many work at home jobs aren’t as flexible as some think. Some are very strict about work hours or work conditions. Pay attention to the requirements of the job as you go through the application process. A customer service job that requires a complete lack of background noise, for example, won’t go so well if you have a screaming infant nearby while you work.

Take your time as you consider a work at home job. Make sure you know what you want from it and what employers are likely to want from you. This will help you find something that is a good match to your financial and scheduling needs.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 12th, 2018

What Are The Biggest Dangers To A Healthy Budget?

What Are The Biggest Dangers To A Healthy Budget?

A healthy budget makes life much easier in many ways. It’s nice to not have to struggle to pay monthly bills or to wonder how you’re going to get groceries this week. It pays to know what the biggest dangers to a healthy budget are.

A healthy budget doesn’t just happen for most people. It’s too easy to make mistakes. Consider these problems and how to deal with them.

Credit Cards

Credit cards can be a blessing when times are tight, but they can quickly destroy your budget as well. The money you spend on them has to be paid back somehow, and the sooner, the better. The interest charges add up quickly, making it even more difficult to pay them off.

Whenever you have to build up credit card debt, work hard at getting it paid off. You may have to sacrifice in other areas to make this happen. That’s not easy on a tight budget, but your budget will have problems until that credit card is paid off.

Change your spending habits if you are carrying a balance on your credit cards regularly. If you rely on your credit cards to get by, you need to either reassess what you are spending or start to earn more. Possibly even both. You can also look into getting a lower interest rate on your credit card debt so that it doesn’t pile up so quickly.

Credit cards are good for one thing, although a debit card may be able to perform the same function. They provide a great record of your spending habits. Go over your records every month and see where your money went versus where you meant it to go.

If you use credit cards wisely, they can be beneficial. Some give points or airline miles when you use them. If you can earn these while paying the cards off each month, you can end up ahead. Just make sure that you stay ahead of the bills.

A Lack Of Planning

A lack of a planning is another danger to your budget. It’s easy to overspend if you don’t know where your money is going. Start thinking about the little things and the big things, and seeing what you can do to improve your spending habits.

Perhaps even more important is the ability to know when you cannot afford something. That means cutting back on some of the fun stuff. But it also means not having to worry about how you will afford the things you really need.

Figure out how much money you need for your basic monthly expenses, such as housing, cars, utilities, and groceries. You will also need to consider expenses that may not happen every month but are still important, such as shopping for clothes or gifts.

Plan out your shopping carefully. If you know exactly what you’ll buy when you go to the grocery store, for example, you’ll probably spend less on extras. You also won’t have to go back because you forgot something. Shopping lists can be very helpful that way.

It can be difficult to plan your shopping at some store. I have a dollar store in my area where I never know what I’m going to find, but its produce section makes regular visits worthwhile. Not everything is a dollar there, but the prices are still amazing. I rarely buy non-food items there, although I did buy my nephew’s Christmas present there for $20, with the same toy selling elsewhere for $75-150.

You should also make plans for those times when you will need cash. Don’t go to an ATM that will charge you a fee to get cash if you can help it. Many stores will allow you to get some cash back if you pay with a debit card, or you can make sure to go to a bank that won’t charge you for withdrawals at the ATM.

Don’t treat your cash as money to spend however you like just because it’s harder to track than spending on a credit or debit card. Treat all your money the same, no matter how you spend it.

Not Talking To Your Partner About Money

Communication is key in any relationship, and vital when it comes to having a healthy budget. Your budget will never stay on track if only one of you is following it.

Make sure you both know where the money in your budget is going. This is especially important if either person has spent extra on something.

Set aside time to talk together about your budget. Make it fun if that works for you. Just be sure that it’s enough of a priority that the discussion actually happens on a regular basis.

No Emergency Fund

Another major mistake people do is to make no allowance for emergencies. What will you do if the car needs a major repair or even just a new tire? Try to allow for saving at least a little bit of money every month. Your emergency fund can keep these little problems from turning into major financial crises.

If you don’t have an emergency fund already, you can start one by putting a little aside for one each month. The more you can put aside, the sooner you will have a solid emergency fund so that you don’t have to hit the credit cards when money gets tight.

How much should you have in your emergency fund? That’s up to you. Your first goal should be to have enough to handle a major car repair of at least $1000. Beyond that, try for an emergency fund that will help you keep going even in the event that a job is lost. Having enough money to handle the bills for a few months while a new job is found can greatly decrease the stress of such an event, plus it’s there for other emergencies.

No Room For Fun

Do your best to allow for some fun things in your budget. But if there just isn’t room, think up cheaper alternatives. If you want to see that newly released movie in the theaters, go to the matinee rather than in the evenings. Wait for it to come out on video.

But there are plenty of fun things you can do without getting into your budget. Watch for free admission days at museums. Go hiking. Go to the beach. Many fun things won’t hurt your budget much at all.

Think about the fun things you like to do when planning your budget. Can you make room for an occasional dinner out or going to the movies? What about time out with friends? If you can spare some space in your budget for fun but unnecessary things, you won’t have to feel bad when you do them.

old boots

Going Too Cheap

A mistake that can be a bit contrary is to go too cheap. If you buy excessively cheaply made items, in the long run they can cost you more than buying one more expensive but better made item. The right balance will save you both money and frustration.

I like the Sam Vimes “Boots” Theory of Economic Injustice from Discworld by Terry Pratchett:

At the time of Men at Arms, Samuel Vimes earned thirty-eight dollars a month as a Captain of the Watch, plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots, the sort that would last years and years, cost fifty dollars. This was beyond his pocket and the most he could hope for was an affordable pair of boots costing ten dollars, which might with luck last a year or so before he would need to resort to makeshift cardboard insoles so as to prolong the moment of shelling out another ten dollars.

Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet.

Via https://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/Sam_Vimes_Theory_of_Economic_Injustice

While you can’t always avoid going cheap, remember that quality can be more affordable in the long run. Whether you can afford to buy better quality up front is another question. But when you can afford to buy something that will last really well, do so.

Giving In To Temptations

Everyone gets tempted to spend extra money sometimes. There’s a reason why many people joke about how dangerous it is to go to Target, or that the minimum total purchase at Costco is $100. It’s also why you should never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. It’s too easy to buy more than you need.

One way to help is to make a shopping list before you go and stick to it. I mentioned this back in the planning section, but it bears repeating.

Think about the things that will tempt you to spend extra money, and figure out ways to avoid them. This way, you’ll be ready when they happen. And they will.

Looking At Money Saved As Extra Money

It’s great when you get an amazing deal on something, isn’t it? You planned on spending $50, but it was $10 off. That’s $10 you can spend elsewhere, right?

Not necessarily.

For one thing, the money saved can be something of an illusion. How often does the item really cost full price?

Stores know you like deals, and so they set them up so that you want to spend more to get the best deal. It’s why you have to buy at least four items for some deals or get a higher dollar amount off your total purchase when you spend more. It’s a trap. You might even end up spending more than you had budgeted for.

When the savings are real, you’re better off putting that money aside rather than spending it as though it’s extra. Don’t use savings as an excuse to splurge, especially if that makes you spend more than you saved.

One of the best things you can do is to know when to buy and when to save. A healthy budget will keep you and your family in better financial condition. Take steps so that you’re ready for emergencies or unplanned but necessary expenses, and you’ll have a better shot at keeping your budget healthy.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

April 11th, 2018

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

15 Common Social Media Mistakes Home Business Owners Make

Social media can be hugely beneficial to your home business, but you can also make huge mistakes with it. Mistakes won’t always be serious, but some may spread farther and stick around far longer than you’d like. Offend the wrong person, and your offense may be spread to many other people, and you can’t count on a net benefit from getting your name out there. As much as you can, you should avoid making serious social media mistakes.

I don’t mean little mistakes such as not posting often enough. Most people won’t notice that much if you rarely post – you just won’t get the benefits of posting regularly. I mean mistakes that get the wrong kind of attention or waste your precious time. Knowing which social media mistakes are common can help you to make a better social media plan.

Mistake #1: Friending or Following EVERYONE

A big list of friends or followers looks nice on your social media accounts, especially if they return the favor. The problem is when you aren’t focused on following the right people. If you just find a list and start following, you’ll probably follow a lot of junk accounts. They might follow you back, but they won’t become customers and will probably just clutter your feed.

Be picky. Follow people who are relevant to your business or are just plain interesting. Your list of followers won’t increase as quickly, but they’ll be higher quality and more fun to deal with.

If you’re looking for people to follow, look at who follows your competition. They might be interested in what you have to offer as well.

Mistake #2: Failing to Admit Mistakes

We all make mistakes, but if you make a mistake on social media, apologize or correct it the same way. It might be as simple as an incorrect link, or something more serious such as sharing inaccurate information. Take just a moment to correct yourself so that you aren’t just leaving the mistake out there unfixed. Admitting you’re wrong can sting, but it also can help to build trust.

Deleting your mistakes is always a possibility, but people do notice and may not approve of how you handled things if you delete something with no explanation. This is especially true if you insulted or angered people. If the mistake was merely funny, most people won’t be too upset with you.

Be willing to learn from your mistakes. We all make them.

Mistake #3: Being Rude

It’s easy to be rude online, even unintentionally. If you read much online you’ve probably seen it. There’s no tone to the written word, so a poor word choice can deeply offend someone else.

Then there’s the all too common deliberate rudeness. I don’t just mean the sort trolls use. I mean the rude way some people disagree with each other online. Name calling really isn’t necessary in an argument. You’re better off using facts and relevant opinions about the subject at hand, not harsh and possibly unsubstantiated statements about the person you disagree with.

If someone sees a social media post you’ve made as rude, don’t argue with them. You’ll do far better if you apologize and explain what you meant, being more careful in your word choice. Some people won’t accept the apology or explanation, but others will.

Mistake #4: Fail to Build Relationships

Social media is about building relationships, not pure marketing. Let your human side show at least some of the time. Reply to people. Participate in conversations. Be real.

As someone who is both shy and an introvert, this has always been a challenge for me, even on social media. It’s not always easy to join in the conversations. Do the best you can. You may find that it works for you.

Mistake #5: Ignoring Customers

If you want to look like a responsive business, you have to respond. This is really helpful in social media, which many people favor as a way to contact a business or comment about them. Keep an eye out for posts about your business name, and especially for any directed at you. Respond when you can, the sooner the better. This is doubly important when someone has a problem with your business.

Mistake #6: Using Too Many Abbreviations

Abbreviations are sometimes necessary in social media, especially on sites such as Twitter where you have a limited number of characters per post (although they now allow more characters than they used to). Unnecessary abbreviations can be annoying, KWIM? They can also obscure your meaning for those readers who don’t understand a particular abbreviation.

Mistake #7: Poor Grammar and Spelling

Most of us use poor grammar and spelling some of the time. It’s all too easy to make mistakes, especially if you have autocorrect on. Read your posts before you send them out to make sure that you’re saying what you meant to say and that it can be easily understood.

That said, don’t stress when you make mistakes in spelling or grammar. We all do it. Some people delight in calling such mistakes out, but they rarely contribute significantly to the conversation otherwise.

Mistake #8: Sharing Other People’s Posts as Your Own

People say and share some really neat things on social media, and being the originator of something interesting can get you some good attention. That doesn’t make it right to take someone else’s idea and pretending you started it.

Many social media sites make it easy to share where you got a particular item from. There’s the retweet button for Twitter, or the RT abbreviation if you want to do it your own way. There’s the share button on Facebook that shows where you got a post from. Pinterest allows you to repin interesting items. All these give credit to the source.

Most will also allow you to add your own comments when you share someone else’s post.  This way you can give credit while sharing your own thoughts.

Of course, you can share similar ideas that you’ve seen elsewhere, just make sure that the idea is better and uniquely served in your own words. You can build a great reputation online by sharing the work of other people if you do it honestly.

Mistake #9: Failing to be Relevant

This mistake happens most often either when you’re in a conversation or when there’s something big going on. Perhaps you’re participating in a social media event and you break in with something completely off topic. People aren’t going to appreciate that.

It’s also a risk of automating your social media posting. To a degree, this isn’t a terrible thing, but if it leads to inappropriate posts, you may have a problem. Think about what you’re posting if people are talking about major tragedies or other major events. If you share something online completely irrelevant to it, or worse, disrespectful to those involved, how will that make your business look? Pay attention to what’s going on before you post, and consider pausing automated posts if they might be inappropriate at a particular time.

Mistake #10: Overposting

You may only have so much time each day in which to do your social media marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to share all your posts at once. You can use Hootsuite or other services to schedule your posts for later, and check on responses briefly as necessary. A flood of posts from your account doesn’t look as good as you might hope.

The right number of posts per day varies tremendously from platform to platform. Facebook Pages generally perform best if you post only a time or two per day on your page. Twitter and Pinterest can handle quite a few more posts every day.

Mistake #11: Being Overly Promotional

When you’re using social media to promote your business, of course, you have to be promotional. Just remember that the point of social media is to be social too. Not everything you post needs to be a way to earn money for yourself. Sometimes you should post just to be a person or a good resource.

Have a little fun. If getting personal is appropriate to your business style, get personal. A look behind the scenes of your business can be a great way to bring in an appropriate amount of personality to your social media. Discuss your work routine. Share a picture of your home office. You can even share a little about your family or pets if that suits your business personality.

Mistake #12: Getting Too Personal

The personal touch is a good thing for many businesses, especially when you’re the only person running it, but there should be limits. Keep your personal and business profiles separate. This allows you to share things with family and friends that you don’t need to be associated with your business. You can still share appropriate personal things on your business accounts, depending on the kind of personality you want to show.

This is especially helpful on sites like Facebook where you’re more limited in the number of friends you can have on your personal page. It’s better to have people interested in your business follow your business page.

It can be difficult balancing the personal side of your social media sometimes. Remember that you aren’t besties with your social media followers, at least not most of them. They do not want to read about all the details of your personal life. Occasional anecdotes are fine.

Mistake #13: Expecting Too Much

Social media most likely won’t be the making of your home business. It can help build traffic, it can help build your reputation, but it’s just one factor in your business, not a miracle.

It takes time to build a loyal social media following. It’s a lot of work, and then the platform changes the rules and your posts may not reach your followers as well as they used to. I’m looking at you, Facebook, but you aren’t the only one!

Keep working on your preferred social media platforms if you want to see results. Despite what some people say, we won’t all see amazing results in just a few months. You will need to test different things to figure out what works best for your home business.

 

Mistake #14: Failing to Make it Easy to Share Your Content

Make sure it’s easy to share the content you have on your website. People will tweet, like, pin and otherwise share interesting content without buttons to make it easier, but more people will do so if it’s easy. Social sites usually provide code to make this easy, and there are plugins for WordPress if you have a blog, such as Shareaholic. Most will keep count of how many times your content has been shared, a wonderful social proof for your website.

Make it easy on yourself too. Use social media tools such as HootSuite, IFTTT, and the WP to Twitter plugin to automate parts of your social media marketing efforts. You still need to get in there and interact with others, but these will help you handle the routine side of things.

Mistake #15: Using Too Many Social Media Websites

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You can’t participate on all of them, and you really shouldn’t try to. It will take too much time and too many resources to do so.

Instead, focus on the bigger ones and any specific to your niche. Have a social media strategy. See where you get the most return for your efforts. If one site isn’t working for you, another may work better. Be picky. You only have so much time you should be spending on your social media efforts. Use it wisely.

Don’t let your social media mistakes keep you from using social media to market your blog or business. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process. As you figure out what works for you on each platform, you will get better results that will make it worthwhile.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.