Last Updated November 26th, 2018

How Do You Balance The Holiday Rush With Your Home Business?

How Do You Balance The Holiday Rush With Your Home Business?

The holiday season is a hectic time for most of us. Not only are there all the usual things to deal with in terms of running a home business or otherwise working at home, there are all the extra delights the holidays bring. Extra shopping. More demands for family time, especially with extended family. Lots of events to consider attending. Traditions to follow.

All this makes it difficult to balance the holiday rush with your home business.

Sometimes the holidays really throw a wrench into your plans to follow a normal work schedule. There’s so much to be done, and you’re usually the one with the flexible schedule expected to handle it.

It gets even more difficult when you’re looking at the things you enjoy doing. You may feel more motivated to do the fun stuff and less motivated to work on the things that bring an income in, at least until you start thinking about the incoming bills.

This isn’t something that people who work outside the home always understand. They can work their usual hours and handle all the holiday stuff, no problem. Why can’t you?

It’s more challenging to deal with the holiday rush when you work at home because you often aren’t working standard business hours. You may work a part of the day, then again at night. You may work weekends. Or maybe you work when it fits into your schedule.

That flexibility means your work hours often take a hit when life gets busy. It’s so much easier to hit the store during the day in the middle of the week when more people are at work than it is at other times. You take less time on errands that way. The only problem is that you take away work time.

How Do You Decide How Much To Work?

It’s helpful to decide how much work you need to do to keep up the income you need to have at this time of year. There’s no one answer to that. If you have a lot of passive income, you may be able to let things go for a while. If you earn based directly on the work you do, you will need to work as usual, especially if your family badly needs the money.

This takes sacrifice if a lot of family events are at times you’d usually be working. That’s the life you chose when you decided to work at home. You may be your own boss, but that often means being a harsh taskmaster. Find a way to get that work done.

For many home business owners, working later at night or starting your day earlier in the morning may be the answer. You have 24 hours in a day no matter how much you need to get done.

christmas laptop

Know When To Take Time Off

We all need time off, and the stressful holiday season is no exception.

If you’re feeling tired or burned out, it’s time for a break, even if you have a lot more to get done. You will be more productive after you’ve taken a break. Don’t stare at your computer monitor, getting nothing done just because you’ve told yourself you need to get a certain number of hours of work done today. Staring at the monitor doesn’t count as work, it only counts as wearing yourself out.

Also, make sure you aren’t overdoing the holiday fun too much. If you’re stressing about decorating your home just right or baking all of the perfect holiday treats, it’s not so much fun anymore. The holidays, no matter which ones you celebrate, should be enjoyed by all. That includes you.

If you have clients, let them know as soon as possible what your vacation schedule will be. It’s a huge help for them if they know that you will not be available certain days.

When in doubt, give yourself a little extra time off from clients, rather than too little. You don’t always know exactly when life will be back to normal during the holidays – they’re hectic and rarely go exactly as planned.

And then there are all the little events you may need to attend, such as

  • School concerts or other performances
  • Family gatherings
  • Holiday events with coworkers – yours or your spouse’s
  • Getting together with friends and/or neighbors.

These don’t go away just because you didn’t clear time for them in your schedule. Take that time off to enjoy the fun and social side of the holiday season.

Consider Hiring Help

If you just can’t get it all done, this is a great time of year to hire help, whether it’s around the house or for your business.

Hire a housekeeper to get your home clean enough for company if you don’t have the time to do it. Hire someone to hang those Christmas lights on the house.

You may also want to hire someone to do the writing for your site, some research, or whatever else you need help with. You’re better off with this option if you’ve done it before and have either a regular assistant or know how to find good help. Otherwise, it can add to the stress. Teaching someone how to meet your expectations is not easy.

Don’t Hold Yourself To Unnecessary Deadlines

If you’re running your own business, most of your deadlines are the ones you set. You’re the one who knows if the deadline is necessary or just something you set for yourself.

If it’s not necessary to keep to the deadline, don’t! Give yourself a break.

I don’t mean give up and ignore all your deadlines. You still need to get things done and have productive workdays. But there will be times when it makes more sense to ease off on a deadline to get something ready for the holidays.

This takes planning well in advance. If you have clients, they need to know early on that you won’t be putting in as many hours as usual on their projects.

The first thing you should focus on each day is getting the things done that MUST be done. This will give you more flexibility to work on the things that don’t have to be done right away.

Can You Get Ahead Of Schedule?

One way to balance the holiday rush with running a home business is to get ahead of schedule. It’s tough, but if you can do this, you’ll have more time when fun things start happening.

Here are some of the things you can do to get ahead of schedule:

  • Work 1-2 extra hours a day
  • Brainstorm blog post ideas for the season
  • Create link roundups
  • Write extra blog posts and schedule them
  • Update old blog posts and repost as new (this post was originally written in 2010!)
  • Design social media images
  • Plan social media posts, including variations on titles and text
  • Schedule out your social media using tools such as Hootsuite and Tailwind
  • Schedule promotions for your email list
  • Repurpose content for marketing purposes
  • If you ship physical products, prepare them for shipping so all they need is a shipping label.

holiday decor

Get Your House Ready

Somehow, amid all the work you need to do in the holiday rush, you need to get your home ready for the holidays. This is something you should do outside of work hours, of course.

Sometimes that includes preparing your home office to be a guest room. It may be time to get that space company ready, not just productive work ready. Make sure you prepare an alternate space for those times when you need to work while your home office is a guest room, or be sure that your guests understand that you will be working in there at times. Just how well that will work depends on your guests.

Decorating your home for the holidays can be a break from work. Take the time to enjoy yourself and your family. Create memories.

Depending on the kind of home business you run, this may even be inspiring. You may be able to share some of your holiday preparations in a blog post, for example. Think of things you do for the holidays that relate to your niche and you’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Prepare To Work As You Travel

If you’re traveling to visit family or just take a vacation during the holidays, you may decide that you want to keep working while you’re away from home. There’s often downtime when you’d just be sitting around anyhow. If you want to use that time to work, make plans to do so.

If you don’t normally work on your laptop or tablet, make sure that the equipment you’re bringing with you has everything you need in order to be productive. Also, know when you’ll have wifi available and when you’ll need to use your smartphone’s data connection.

It’s a good idea to bring along an external battery charger when you’re traveling. This will keep the worries about having enough power for your tech to a minimum. Buy one that’s good for several charges on your phone or other devices. Some of the better ones will even have a plug for your laptop.

Don’t assume that you can do heavy duty work while traveling. You will have much less work time available to you, so whatever work you do while away from home should be things you can work on with distractions around you. Major projects can wait for when your work at home schedule goes back to normal.

You will also need to talk to those you’re traveling with or visiting. Make sure they understand what your plans are. If you’re at your parents’ house, you don’t want them upset that you keep disappearing into the bedroom to work rather than sitting and chatting for the entire visit. Let them know that you’ll need some of that time to keep your home business running.

And be sure you spend a good amount of time being social with the people you’re with. That’s the whole point of the trip, isn’t it?

Prepare For Sick Days

The weather is getting colder, and everyone around you is bringing cold and flu viruses home. While you can get a flu shot to cut down on the odds that you get the flu, or help shorten it if you do catch the flu, there’s nothing you can do about it if you catch a cold but deal with it.

Toughing it out rather than taking a sick day can be a big mistake. You may end up sick longer than if you had simply taken a day or two off. It’s hard to be certain, of course, as you can’t compare the two directly.

If you’re sick enough that it’s hard to work, take the day off and don’t feel bad about it. You’d do that if you worked outside the home, wouldn’t you? The smartest thing you can do is give yourself time to get over the bug.

enjoy holidays

Remember To Enjoy the Season

No matter which holidays you’re celebrating this time of year, remember to enjoy them. Don’t drive yourself crazy thinking about work when you’re supposed to be having fun. The work will still be there when you come back to it.

Step away from the smartphone as well as your computer. You truly do not need to be available to your business 24/7, especially during the holiday season. A 2012 survey found that many professionals keep in contact with their work by smartphone for 13.5 hours a day and 5 hours a day on weekends dealing with email. 51% of consultants in one survey checked email regularly even on vacation.

Take a break!

Spend time with family and friends!

Work will be there later.

Taking a break from work will help you enjoy your holidays more, and you’ll be more refreshed when you return.

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.

Last Updated November 15th, 2018

40 Home Business Gift Ideas For Entrepreneurs

40 Home Business Gift Ideas For Entrepreneurs

Birthdays and holidays are a great time to get others to help you improve your home business. It’s hard to know what to ask for sometimes, but even harder for others to know what gifts you want if you don’t ask. I’ve gathered some ideas to help you build up a list of home business gift ideas.

Education

Udemy – Udemy has a lot of online courses that could be very useful to anyone running a home business. You could learn to develop apps, improve your social media or writing skills, learn about digital marketing and more. The courses are reviewed by students, so you can see which are likely to be worth your time and money.

Conference Tickets – If there’s a conference coming up in your industry, wouldn’t you love someone to get you tickets? They’re a great way to catch up on what’s happening in your industry and make new connections. Events such as Affiliate Summit, BlogHer, Social Media Marketing World and more can make a huge difference to a home business owner who is looking for ways to take their business to the next level.

Books – Get on Amazon and find books related to your industry that you’d like to read. Add all of them to your wish list. Here are some selections to get you started.

The key to picking a great book to gift to an entrepreneur is to know what they’re struggling with or want to learn. If they’ve told you that they’re having trouble getting results from their social media, for example, a carefully chosen book in that area may be welcome.

Remember that some things change fast in business. A book on online marketing that is a few years old may be badly out of date, while one on motivation is still relevant.

Equipment

Microphone – If you have ever considered starting a podcast or posting videos, a good quality microphone would be a great investment. The Blue Yeti is a popular choice, but there are many to choose from.

One option to consider is whether a desktop microphone will be preferred to something that can be clipped on. This depends, in part, on where the person you’re shopping for works. If they’re at a desk all the time, a desktop microphone should work wonderfully. Some people, however, prefer the mobility of a clip-on microphone, especially when making videos.

microphone gift

Camera – How good is your camera? The ones in smartphones are pretty impressive these days, but if you want to get serious about high quality photography on your website, a better camera may be in order.

Consider whether they’re likely to use the camera to make videos as well. A camera that takes high definition video and can take sound input from a microphone will be a big help in that case.

Second Computer Monitor – I love having two monitors in my home office. My setup isn’t ideal, as one is attached to my laptop, but I’ve still noticed how much it helps to have a second computer monitor at times. The most useful setup is usually to have them side by side, which doesn’t work with keeping my hands at a good level with my laptop. Even with that disadvantage, having two screens is worthwhile so that you don’t have so much clicking back and forth to see different pages.

Tablet Computer – A tablet computer such as an iPad Pro can be very useful if you want to work on the go. It’s so much easier to carry around than a laptop.

Make sure you know which operating system the person you’re shopping for is comfortable with. Someone who has Apple everything isn’t going to be as happy about the gift of an Android something or other, and vice versa. In many cases, it’s much easier to share apps across devices if they’re all the same OS.

Laptop or Desktop Computer – A new computer can be a wonderful gift if yours is getting old. Something a bit faster and less cranky is always nice.

Performance is always key with computers. You don’t want to give someone a computer that isn’t as good as what they already have. More RAM and more memory are always good, as are faster processors.

Of course, if you’re the more technical sort, you may be able to buy parts to upgrade their old computer. This is cheaper, but not practical unless you know how to put the new part in. It is fun, however, to take an otherwise good computer from “adequate” to “amazing” with just the right new part.

Laptop Cooling Pad – A laptop cooling pad can extend the life of your laptop by ensuring that it is always well cooled, even when you use it on your lap with a blanket.

I bought one of these recently for my laptop when its fan was struggling to cool it. This problem came close to destroying my laptop.

A cooling pad won’t save your laptop if the fan completely dies or if something else goes wrong, but it can drop your laptop’s temperature nicely. Some of the reviewers on Amazon have shared the results of tests they’ve done on various laptop cooling pads, and the results can be significant.

I chose the Havit HV-F2056, which has a lot of great reviews. So far, I’m delighted by it. If you have a laptop, I strongly recommend getting one. Be ready for a cold lap, though.

laptop cooling pad

Smart Speaker – A smart speaker such as Amazon Echo or Google Home will be welcomed by many people. They’re a nice way to play music in your home, and they can answer questions for you. There have been problems here and there, and there can be privacy concerns, but those don’t seem to limit the interest much.

Whiteboard – A whiteboard is good for brainstorming or visualizing goals. It’s an easy way to keep ideas and goals in sight while you work.

This gift idea works best for an entrepreneur with an available workspace. It’s hard to use a whiteboard if it’s not hanging on the wall or otherwise readily available.

Don’t forget a variety of colors for the dry erase markers. It helps a lot if you can color code or sketch things out.

Sit-Stand Desk – I love my sit-stand desk from Autonomous. Appropriate heights can be programmed in, making it easy to change positions throughout the day. They say either sitting or standing all day is bad for you, but changing positions is better. You don’t have to get a full size desk – there are units that simply lift the keyboard and monitor on the desk you already own.

Office Chair – A good, ergonomic office chair is a must for anyone who spends long hours working in a home office. No one wants to be hurting at the end of the day due to a poor quality chair.

Proper back support is essential, as is a comfortable seat. You don’t have to get an office chair with a headrest unless that’s a preference. Most people don’t spend that much of their workday leaning back anyhow.

office chair

UPS Battery Backup – Having a UPS battery backup is a huge help for anyone who uses a desktop computer. There’s no worry about losing all your work if the power goes out. It’s less important with laptops, since they already have batteries.

Backup Drive/Personal Server – Having a backup drive or personal server can be a lifesaver if your computer dies. My husband’s computer inexplicably quit working recently – won’t even boot far enough to turn on the monitor. Fortunately, his hard drive was fine. Also, fortunately, we have a backup drive of our files anyhow. You don’t want to lose all your home business files because your computer goes kaput.

USB Flash DriveThese little drives come in handy so often. They’re great when you need to move data from one computer to another. They come with enough storage now that they can do some good work as backup too.

Alternatively, sign up for an online backup service. These can be very reasonably priced, and their data will be safe even if their home is subject to a disaster.

Portable Charger – I love my portable charger for those days when we’re on the go. It’s not necessarily just for work – they’re great when you go on vacation too. It’s nice not having to worry about running out of charge on my phone or camera while out and about.

Choose a portable charger that carries enough charge for multiple devices. It’s not at all uncommon for an entrepreneur on the go to have several devices with them.

Laptop/Messenger Bag – My laptop bag was one of my favorite gifts several years ago. I still use it any time we travel. It’s so nice having an easy way to carry my laptop.

When gifting a laptop bag, remember that more than a laptop will be in there. That’s why pockets, lots of pockets, is often a good idea. Make sure it’s big enough for their laptop and any necessary accessories.

laptop bag

Noise Cancelling HeadphonesNoise cancelling headphones are great if you have a lot of background noise in your home office. You can get ones that will work with your phone if you have to call people, or just use them to listen to music while you work.

Square Card Reader – Square is great for home business owners who sometimes take credit card transactions in person. Its small size makes it convenient to carry around, plus it can be connected to a mobile phone, so payment processing can take place anywhere they have a data connection.

Moleskine Notebook – For the home business owner who likes to take a lot of written notes, a Moleskine notebook is a great choice. They’re attractive and functional. You can step it up a little with a Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook. It allows you to digitize your notes, which can be a huge help when ideas really get going.

Fitness

Basic Exercise Equipment – Some basic exercise equipment to be kept in your home office makes it easier to get a quick workout in during the workday. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Some hand weights are a good start.

The one big catch with giving any exercise equipment is making sure it’s welcome. You don’t want someone to feel that there’s a hidden message in the gift.

fitness gifts

Exercise Ball – An exercise ball is great for core exercises. It’s also useful as an office chair.

Treadmill Desk – For those who are more ambitious, a treadmill desk may sound like a good plan. It may be more difficult to type while using one for some people. If you can make it work for you, it’s a great way to keep moving while you work.

Gym Membership – Not only will a gym membership help them get fit, it gives an excuse to get out of the house more often.

Activity Tracker – It’s far too easy to be sedentary with many home businesses. A good activity tracker can be that little bit of encouragement needed to get up and move.

Decor

Posters or Art Prints – It’s their home office – it doesn’t have to be plain. The kind of posters or other wall decor depends on what you like and how professional your office needs to look. If you have clients come in, you have to consider them. If no one ever comes to your office or sees it on video, it’s all about you!

Fun Stuff – What do they like? My office has dragons, some Harry Potter stuff, Doctor Who stuff, Star Trek stuff… you get the idea. Go to Think Geek if you need ideas.

For The Home

Smart Thermostat – A smart thermostat makes it much easier to control the temperatures in your work environment. You can set up the basic program for what you usually want household temperatures to be, and change if if needed using your smartphone.

Fire Safe – A fire safe is a perfect place to put all your important documents, both for your business and your personal life. You can even keep your backup drive in one. You may never need fire protection for these things, but if you do, there may not be time to think about how to save them at that moment.

Shredder – Having a shredder is a great way to take care of those papers which shouldn’t be thrown directly into the trash. Most are also good enough to shred old credit cards too.

Video Doorbell – A video doorbell, such as Ring, can help you decide whether or not it’s worth it to answer the door during your work hours. The ability to know who’s there is a huge help when you don’t want to be interrupted, but you’re also expecting a package.

Food & Drinks

Stainless Steel Water Bottle – I love my stainless steel water bottle. It’s one of the ways I make it easier to drink water throughout the day. The straw lid I use minimizes the chances for a spill, which is great.

water bottle

Travel Mug – A good travel mug will be loved by anyone who drinks their coffee or other hot drinks on the go. They help prevent spills, which is great for having your coffee in the office too.

Coffee – Some good coffee, or just some gift card to Starbucks or a local coffee shop, will be welcomed by many home business owners. A good source of caffeine is a great help most days. A good coffee maker is also worth considering.

Chocolate – For those who don’t drink coffee (me!) or who just love chocolate (also me!), some good quality chocolate is always a welcome gift. It makes a quick snack while working or taking a break.

Healthy Snacks – Having some healthy snacks available to grab and go is great for those busy days.

Help

Childcare – Whether you offer to take the kids yourself or pay a babysitter, having the kids out from underfoot can be a huge help to the home business owner. This is especially true when kids are small and clingy.

Relaxation

Slippers – Is the floor of your home office ever cold? A nice pair of slippers will help you deal with that in comfort.

Massage Equipment – At the end of the day, a massage will probably always sound good. It’s much easier to get one if you have the right equipment. Alternatively, a gift card to a good local spa would be a great idea.

Big Red ButtonFor those days when you need to pound something in frustration. We all have those days.

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.

Last Updated October 15th, 2018

9 Online Marketing Mistakes And The First Steps Toward Fixing Them

9 Online Marketing Mistakes And The First Steps Toward Fixing Them

We all make mistakes with our online marketing. It’s a part of the learning process. Some are pretty easy to fix while others are going to take some time and a good bit of education to improve the situation. Here are 9 online marketing mistakes and how you can start fixing them.

1. You’re trying to do it all for free.

Yes, a few people have managed to build a successful online business using nothing but free hosting and other free resources. They’re the exception. If you want the best chance at succeeding with your online business, you need to spend a bit of money. Just be careful about it.

My first recommendation is to pay for hosting and your own domain name. The trouble with free sites is that someone else owns the space and can delete all your work at will. That’s not going to help your business very much, and it’s not a risk worth taking. A2 Hosting is a great place to host your websites, reliable and very affordable.

It’s also smart to spend money on resources that will help you build your business, but this should be done very carefully. Don’t buy just because the sales letter told you how easy it would be to make money with their system. Do some research and find out what others think of it.

Be picky about the reviews you trust. If the review is an affiliate of the product, you hope they’re honest, but they may not be. The best reviews not only note what’s great about the product, but what isn’t so great. They may even warn you not to buy if the product isn’t good enough.

Some things can be had for free when appropriate. You can use free images on your website if you know how to find safe ones to use, but you can also take photos of your own. Your own images are the safest to use, but sometimes take too much time to create.

know your target audience

2. You don’t know your target audience.

So you decided to start a website on an interest of yours, but you really don’t know how to find people interested in what you have to offer. You know they’re out there, now how do you get them to your site?

The simplest way to do this is to start researching your competition. Figure out who’s selling to your target audience successfully and figure out what they’re doing that you need to do. They don’t have to be exact competition, and may even be somewhat complementary to what you’re doing.

If you’re selling dog training videos, for example, you can look at other websites selling products related to dogs. You should also look at forums about dogs and seeing what kinds of questions people are asking when they’re having trouble training their dogs. Those people are your exact target audience, after all, and you need to know what questions they’re asking if you’re going to attract them.

Don’t ever assume that everyone is a potential customer, no matter how broad the appeal of your product. Even grocery stores consider their target markets, and we all need food! But they know that some people do more of the grocery shopping than others and that they shop in a certain way. Knowing your target audience like that is a huge help.

3. Spelling and grammar mistakes are all over your site.

Maybe you thought at first that spelling and grammar don’t matter online. You look at how your target audience posts on forums and social networking sites, and they don’t seem to care that much about typos.

They do care, actually. Not necessarily for themselves, but they’d rather buy from someone who can maintain a professional appearance online, and that means few to no mistakes in spelling or grammar on your site or in your ads, as well as any other time you’re representing your business online.

There are a lot of great tools to help you catch such mistakes. They aren’t perfect, but they can help.

I like Grammarly and the Hemingway app. The basic versions are free to use. You won’t always agree with corrections they suggest, but they can help you think about what you’ve written. They may even give you suggestions that are completely wrong. But most of what they suggest will be accurate and useful. The basic versions are free to use.

4. You don’t know anything about your conversion rates.

You’ve gotten people to your site and that’s all you know about it. No idea where they’re coming from or how often they’re converting into sales.

While you don’t want to obsess over statistics to the exclusion of all else, you do need to know what’s working for you and make sure that you’re making a profit. That’s especially true with paid advertising, as you want to keep the ads that bring in more than they cost going, and to improve them over time. You can’t do that if you don’t know how they convert.

You should be constantly testing your ad copy to make it convert as well as possible. To do that you need to know what your goals are. It’s not always to make a sale right off. You might want people to get on your newsletter list first, so you can sell other things to them later.

Some kinds of testing are easier than others. You can usually have more than one ad running at a time in your pay per click campaigns, and they’ll be rotated, giving you some solid data on which is generating the most clicks. Just make sure that the clicks translate to income, as you don’t want to pay for extra clicks that aren’t going anywhere. Even changing one word in an ad can make a difference.

Testing website copy is more effort, but it can be worth it. Move things around, change what you’re saying, figure out the best colors and overall design.

work on your marketing

5. You never work on marketing for your website.

The internet is a really big place. Especially when you start out, you need to work on marketing your website so that your target audience can find you.

Backlink building is a good place to start. A well placed backlink isn’t just about search engines; it’s about making your site visible to your target audience.

You can build backlinks with blog comments, guest posting, content syndication and more. A mix is often a good idea. There are lots of ways to promote your online business that don’t take a lot of time.

Social media marketing is a good idea too. It takes time to build a good audience on social media, but it can be well worth the effort.  Some websites get far more traffic from social media than from any other source. Take the time to learn to market on the right social media sites for your target audience.

Paid advertising can go well too, but is by its nature more financially risky. You can buy ads on appropriate websites or do pay per click campaigns through the search engines, but be careful about how you spend your money. Many paid campaigns won’t bring in nearly as much as they cost. Keep tweaking things until you get it right or you decide to try something else. Don’t spend more than you can afford to risk.

6. You don’t understand how online business is different from brick and mortar.

Running an online business is very different from running one anywhere else. Online, your competition is often just a click or two away, and attention spans are usually short. If you don’t do something to catch your visitors’ attention, you’re probably going to lose them.

This leads to competition working rather differently. A person can be in only one brick and mortar store at a time, but they can have multiple tabs open at once online, and compare what you offer directly with your competition. So not only do you have to catch their attention, you have to keep it by being better.

An advantage you have online is that your site operates 24/7/365, which few brick and mortar businesses can handle. If you’re sleeping, your website can still be generating income. When things go right, this can be amazing.

7. You have a lot of traffic, but you aren’t earning much from it.

You’re doing enough right that you’re getting visitors, but they aren’t converting. It’s really frustrating, so what should you do? Traffic that isn’t converting can have a number of causes.

It may be that you aren’t targeting the right audience, and so your visitors have no interest in what you have to offer. In that case, you need to figure out what part of your marketing is bringing in the wrong sort of visitor and fix it, either by tweaking it or by dropping that part of your marketing.

It could also be that your site isn’t doing what it takes to make people buy. Do you have a call to action? Can visitors find it easily on every page of your site? Is there something about your site that’s driving them away?

A lot of traffic coming to your site is nice for your ego, but unless the visitors are doing what you’d like them to do, what’s really the point?

build a list

8. You aren’t building a list.

There’s a saying about how it takes about seven exposures to a product to get people to buy. That is, of course, an average, but it brings up a very good point. You shouldn’t rely just on getting sales from people who happen to come to your site. You should try to get their email addresses so that you can send them more information and give them more chances to buy from you.

You should not email pure ads to your list with no useful information. That’s a great way to train people to not open your emails, make them want to unsubscribe or to even hit the spam button. You want your subscribers to look forward to the information you’re sending them. That way they’ll eventually trust you enough to buy from you.

9. You’re sending all kinds of offers to your list, but no one’s buying.

You built a list because you heard that’s where the money is. But that hasn’t been true for you. Matter of fact, it seems like when you send out an offer, either no one opens your email at all or you get a bunch of unsubscribe requests. You don’t feel as though your list is worth the trouble.

You have to keep things relevant to your list. Keeping with the dog training theme, you should be sending out other offers related to dog care. You should also be sending quality information about training and caring for dogs to keep people interested in opening your emails. Most people don’t like reading constant ads.

Don’t let these mistakes ruin your online business. It’s super easy to make online marketing mistakes. What matters most is how you recover from them and learn from them. You can do better if you give yourself a chance.

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.

Last Updated October 10th, 2018

9 Mostly Useless Things You Can Do For Your Home Business

9 Mostly Useless Things You Can Do For Your Home Business

There are a lot of things you can do for your home business. Unfortunately, there are many things that sound as though they will help your business grow but are in fact pretty much useless, sometimes even damaging.

Most of these things you must spend some time on in order for your home business to succeed. It’s when you take them to extremes that they become damaging. Know your limits. You’ll do better.

1. Excessive Use Of Social Media/Social Bookmarking Sites

Social media use is a must for online businesses these days. It’s one of the best ways to bring attention to your website and what you have to offer. But there are limits to how much you should do with them.

The first reason for this is that a good social media website can be a huge time suck. The more social ones such as Facebook may tempt you into interacting with family and friends when you should be working, while sites such as Pinterest may catch your attention with ideas you may never use. They’re each useful in their own way, but you have to think about how you’re using your time on them.

Just plain social bookmarking can take a tremendous amount of time. There are literally hundreds of social bookmarking sites out there. Most of them won’t provide any significant traffic or search engine relevance and are a total waste of time. They may even be damaging, as Google sees them as low quality sites.

If you want to make the most of social media and social bookmarking, know which sites are best for generating traffic for your business and focus your efforts on them. The best sites will generate traffic for you, and if your shares are interesting, others will share them with their audience as well. It takes time to build an interested, involved audience, but it’s worth the effort.

Pinterest, for example, is a hugely popular site right now. It’s almost more of a search engine than a bookmarking site, but you have to submit your content for anything to happen, and that content needs some degree of popularity to drive more than minor traffic.

Use the right tools to simplify your social media use. Tools such as Hootsuite, Tailwind, and Buffer can make it much easier to plan out your social media use effectively. When you’re done, close them so they aren’t a temptation.

excess social media

2. Spending Too Much Time On Email

Email is another one of those things that can be vitally important to your business yet be a huge time waster. You need to be ready to respond to questions when clients have them, but you shouldn’t be spending large parts of your day reading your email.

You can consider handing off many emails to a virtual assistant or have response templates for the most common questions you receive. Either can save you a lot of time with your email, so you don’t have to take much time with routine questions and can focus on the ones that need a more carefully considered answer.

Another important thing to do with your email is to unsubscribe from all the junk. If you have tons of emails that just sit unread in your inbox, think about why. Is it a newsletter that doesn’t really interest you?

I keep some control over my inbox by using filters to sort out emails by type. This limits what falls into my main inbox. It also allows me to see which emails I’m tending to ignore and that I should therefore unsubscribe from. I sort out email from shopping sites, political emails, newsletters and so forth. Business emails are sorted by which site of mine they’re relevant to.

3. Working Too Hard

It’s easy to overwork when you work at home. You’re setting your own rules, and you may need to earn a lot to make it all worthwhile. You may have set some highly challenging goals for yourself. You tell yourself that the more you work, the more you’ll earn. But that’s not necessarily true.

Take a break and improve your focus and productivity. Working too long makes you less productive, not more. Many people find a break helpful to get past a mental block or to come up with new ideas.

One thing you may find helpful is to set up a work at home schedule for yourself. Give yourself the kind of routine you would have in an outside the home job. Do your best to stick with it.

Will there be times when you need to work incredibly long hours to make your home business a success? Probably. Just make sure that you take enough time for yourself that you don’t burn out.

mistakes

4. Doing It All Yourself

When you’re running a home business, it’s easy to feel that you have to do it all. It saves money, or so it seems. It saves the trouble of training someone to help you.

Hiring someone to help you with certain parts of your home business, however, can be worthwhile. It’s not always convenient and it’s not always cheap, but it can improve your profits. Why spend so much time on the things that don’t really earn money for you if you can pay someone else to do it? This allows you to focus more on things that will make money.

This is one of those things I don’t do enough of, and I know it. It’s difficult to change or give up a bit of control. It’s worrying that someone else won’t do the work right. Sometimes I’ve hired something out and it has gone well. Other times it has been a bit of a mess.

Take a look at hiring a virtual assistant for routine emails and other matters that don’t need your personal attention. Finding the right one and training him or her in what you need done takes time, but it should be worth it in the long run.

5. Doing Excessive Research

There’s so much to learn when you run a business from your home. It’s easy to spend too much time trying to learn how to run your business better, and too little time actually running it.

It’s much more important to take action than to keep learning things you aren’t ready to use. Don’t spend a lot of time reading up on things for your business that you aren’t ready to act upon.

This is also why you shouldn’t buy a course for something you want to learn until you’re ready to learn it. If the course is all that useful, it will still be there later. But if you buy now, you may well go onto something else rather than ever use the course.

Guess which path wastes money!

If I’m considering taking a course but I’m not ready for it right then, I bookmark it. I can then find it if I want it, but haven’t spent any money.

Another trap is browsing unrelated sites when you’re looking for information. It’s easy to follow links to things you don’t need to read during your work hours. Save the random reading for your spare time, not when you need to work.

My best suggestion is to set aside a specific amount of time for research. How much time depends on what you need to learn.

If you’re going to take an online course, for example, you might set aside an hour a day to work on it.

On the other hand, you might set aside several hours if you’re doing research for a highly detailed article. It takes time to find the highest quality information to write an amazing article, and you don’t want to skimp on the research when that’s the case.

6. Working For Free

Sometimes you will have people or companies try to get you to work for them for free. They’ll call it good exposure or something like that. Truth be told, it’s often not worth the effort to work for free.

There can be times that working for free is okay, but only on your own terms. You might volunteer for a cause you believe in. You might write a guest post for a website that will get you exposure to an audience you need to get in front of.

Where this goes wrong is working for free on someone else’s terms. They contact you and suggest you do something for them for free. For example, some companies will get bloggers to host giveaways for little to no pay, even though this can be a lot of work. Companies might ask you to promote the giveaway, maintain contact with the winner and ship the prize to the winner. You have to track entries, deal with problems relating to entries, and make sure the winner qualifies for the prize.

You can request payment for running a giveaway – it’s a great advertising opportunity for the sponsor too. Make up a media kit for your blog so that it is easier for advertisers to see your policies.

making mistakes

7. Striving For Perfection

This is a mistake so many people make when starting a home business. They want everything to be utterly perfect before they even get started, and continue on that path as they go.

I know someone who wants to start a resource website on a particular topic, for example. He has been talking about it for years, but nothing has ever happened with it. Why?

He wants to have a ton of pages ready first. His topic is huge and he wants his site to be fairly comprehensive right from the start. This is a mistake. He’s put work in on it but gotten nothing for it because he hasn’t published the site yet, so far as I know.

It’s better to start small and grow. This gives people time to discover you. It gives you time to make beginner’s mistakes while your business is small and few people will notice.

If you monetize from the start, it gives you the possibility of some income coming in as you build. This also limits the frustration of feeling as though you aren’t getting anywhere – traffic takes time to build, but you’ll always have something to work on, something to work on to make your home business reach the goals you have set for it.

You can also get caught by this in little ways every day. I’ve caught myself many times spending way too much time picking out just the right image for a post, then just the right font for the text on the image… the time all this takes adds up. Relax a little about these details. You want everything to look good, but when the differences are small, who else will know what options you considered, or judge you for it?

8. Working in the Kitchen

Lots of people who work at home don’t have a home office space. It’s a bit of a luxury to give over that bit of space dedicated to your work, and it may be difficult to make that commitment. But if it’s at all possible, it’s a very, very good idea.

Working at the kitchen table or in the living room, or even in your bedroom means you are surrounded by more distractions, and this impacts your productivity. I speak from experience here, having worked in all those spaces. The bedroom has the advantage of being a space where you can close the door, but it’s probably not that functional as a workspace unless you have a desk in there.

Having a dedicated home office space also means you can consider taking the home office deduction in your taxes. This is something you would want to consult on with your tax professional – don’t ask me if your situation is right for that because I don’t know. The money off can help if your situation merits it.

If you can’t dedicate a space as your home office, don’t despair. You aren’t doomed to failure.

Find the best place to work in your home that you can, the quieter the better. The fewer distractions you have, the more productive you will probably be.

If you have no choice but to work in a distracting space, make sure your family knows what you need from them. Cooperation from the other people in your home can help you beat such challenges.

disorganized home office

9. Being Disorganized

Being disorganized is a huge failing of mine. I’m working on it.

Make some time to organize your home office, whatever that space may be.

Even if you don’t have a dedicated home office space, you can take some time to organize all of the things you need in order to have a productive workday. Make sure all your work stuff is neatly stored and can be easily reached while you’re working.

Getting organized takes time and commitment. It’s not just getting organized, it’s staying organized. The good part is that once you have a good system down, it’s easier to remain organized. You’ll save time in the long run by taking time now to figure out what works 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.

Last Updated August 13th, 2018

What Does “Find Your Passion” Really Mean?

find your passion

One of the most common pieces of advice you hear when thinking about starting your own home business is to find your passion. It sounds like great advice, but how much thought do you really give to what that means? Is passion for your home business your ultimate goal?

Having a passion for your business means you have an emotional involvement. You have great enthusiasm for the project. The idea is that this will help you to succeed in a home business, as it means more to you.

But is that really how it all works out?

Not necessarily.

Can You Find Your Passion For A Home Business?

Finding your passion may not be as simple as “I love cats. I want my home business to have to do with cats.” That’s great, but is it something you can build a business around? You have to balance the practical with the passion.

Start out by thinking about why you really want to start a home business. There are all kinds of reasons, from wanting more time for your family to needing the additional income and so forth. However, keep in mind that your home business will likely take a lot of time and is a financial risk, so keep your expectations realistic, particularly in the challenging early days.

Don’t just go with the first business idea you have. Start brainstorming and write a variety of ideas down.

Some will appeal to you quite a bit and may be worth further development. Others won’t appeal at all as you give it more thought.

This brainstorming session may come up with some surprises for you. As you think of all kinds of ideas, both wild and serious, you’ll realize how many of your skills and interests could be marketable.

Where Are The Ideas?

You may have difficulty in coming up with ideas at first. Many people feel for a time as though they don’t have any good home business ideas.

You’re probably wrong about that.

There are lots of places you can get ideas from, ones that you can worth with and enjoy using. Here are a few:

  • Magazines you read.
  • Websites you visit.
  • Things you do for fun.
  • Things you keep doing.
  • Stuff you wish you could do but haven’t started doing yet.

For each potential business that appeals to you, make a list of ways you could make it into a business. Not all your ideas will be practical, and you want to weed the impractical out. Some may make great online businesses while others would do better offline.

This is one of the first steps to take in starting your own home business. It’s a wonderful challenge with a lot of hard work. If you don’t accept that challenge, the business probably won’t work.

If you don't accept that challenge, the business probably won't work.

Here’s where many people go wrong in this process: They expect that there will be passion for their home business. It will be fun all the time.

They don’t expect it to be work.

Any home business will be work at times, even if you mostly adore what you’re doing. There will be days that you’re slogging through it all, just getting things done because they have to get done.

No passion. No fun.

That doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the wrong home business, not at all. It might mean that you need to remind yourself that hard work is a part of the process.

Do You HAVE To Find Your Passion?

There is no rule saying you must find your passion before you start your home business. It may even be a bad idea. Passion doesn’t always outlast the challenges you’re likely to face when starting a home business. Sometimes going more toward the practical makes more sense.

The problem with relying on finding your passion is that it assumes you have that one thing that you will love doing. It can be a fixed mindset. A growth mindset, on the other hand, can be better for running a home business. That says you can develop a passion for what you do, even if you didn’t have one at first.

This is something they teach at my kids’ school. The teachers don’t assume that the child who struggles in a particular subject will eternally be bad at that subject. Instead, they spend more time teaching the things the kids have trouble learning.

The idea is that eventually, all of the kids in the class will learn to do well in all of their subjects.

This is why the students may be broken up into groups at times so that the ones that need help in a particular area can get it, while the ones who are ready to forge ahead may do so.

A growth mindset gives you much more flexibility as you grow your business. You take something that you’re willing to learn, regardless of previous interest or ability, and you do it. Passion develops over time this way.

Passion for your work doesn’t have to be inherent in you. What you need is a willingness to work hard.

What you need is a willingness to work hard.

Don’t Limit Yourself

One of the great things about running a home business is that there’s no rule saying you can only have one at a time. While you need to be realistic about how much time each business needs and how much time you can spend on each, it makes a lot of sense to do more than one thing at a time.

For one, you never know which home business will really succeed. Sometimes the idea you thought wouldn’t work out succeeds wildly. The idea you thought would be an easy money maker fails miserably.

In the long run, most people will take earning a good living over passion. If they combine, that’s wonderful. You’re fortunate. But that will not work out for everyone. So long as you are willing to do the work, you’ll be fine.

Here’s the thing: You can always work on your passion project as a side gig or even a hobby. It doesn’t have to be your main thing.

Of course, you can only take on so much at once. Don’t do so many projects at once that you fail at all of them. Start with one, then add things on as you figure out how much time each takes and how much time you are able to give them.

What If You Lose Your Passion For Your Home Business?

Losing your passion for your home business is one of the worst things that can happen in many ways. It becomes so much harder to work on a project that relied on passion, and then you lose that.

How does that happen?

It’s pretty simple.

The day to day slogging through, trying to earn a living from something can take a lot out of you. It really isn’t easy.

There are also some things that are fun to do just because they’re fun, but really hard to do as a business. Consider the following scenario:

You love to knit, so you start a home business selling things you’ve knitted. It gives you the perfect excuse to buy all the knitting supplies you’ve ever wanted. You make all kinds of beautiful projects to get started.

Then the problems start. Disappointed customers whose orders weren’t exactly as they pictured it. Other customers try to negotiate your prices to ridiculous lows considering the effort you put into your products. People demand custom orders faster than you can usually make things. Mistakes happen.

Now your favorite hobby is nothing but stress, stress, stress.

Some people can maintain their passion for their business despite the stress. Others come to realize that the thing they love to do for themselves or their loved ones really doesn’t make a great business.

Your interests will grow and change as you get older no matter what you do. What you love as a young adult may not be what you love later in life.

The real question you need to ask yourself if you lose your passion for your home business is “Can I keep doing this anyhow?”

Hopefully, the answer is “yes.”

That’s especially true if you have generally been having success with your business, but your passion for it has flagged. It’s a terrible thing to have a successful home business that you give up just because you’ve lost your passion for it.

The loss may be temporary anyhow. Don’t confuse temporary frustration with your business for a lack of passion or even interest in your business. Your love for it can come back with time and effort.

Give yourself that time. Figure out why you’re frustrated and what can be done about it. Solve the frustration, and the interest may come back.

Having a passion doesn’t mean you have unlimited motivation to work on that thing. If you assume that your motivation will never decrease, you’ll be incredibly frustrated when you go through hard times or find something difficult.

Avoid that trap. Understand that a change in how you feel doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path.

a change in how you feel doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path.

Don’t Confuse A Hobby With A Home Business

While it’s true that many people have turned hobbies into amazing home businesses, that doesn’t mean that will be the right choice for you. Consider what it takes to run a successful business as well as work on your hobby when you consider this.

Using the knitting example from above, you might decide to run an online store of some sort. That may not be too hard if you sign up with a site such as Etsy, although you will still need to learn to work with their interface and how to market your shop successfully.

You’ll  also have to:

  • Find your target market.
  • Learn which designs sell best.
  • Learn to track the costs of making your product.
  • Figure out prices people will pay which are still fair to you as a creator.
  • Figure out how to ship your product out efficiently and at a good price.

And that’s just the beginning.

It’s entirely possible that your favorite interest won’t suit you as a home business. There’s nothing wrong with that. There are a ton of things you can do for a business while still enjoying your hobby as a hobby.

Work On Your Growth Mindset

The more you live your life with a growth mindset, the easier it should be to work on your home business, whatever you decide it should be.

Know that your interests can be changed.

Know that if you decide to learn something, you can do it.

Be ready to work hard on whatever it is you decide to do in life.

If you do this, you’ll find your passion develops for the things you decide to focus on. It may evolve over time, but it won’t depend upon a fixed idea of what you want from life.

You might surprise yourself with the things you can do if you don’t rely solely on passion. Plan instead on doing the work it takes to make the life you want with the business you choose.

Do the work it takes to make the life you want with the business you choose.

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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