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Taking Care of You|SpeakSocialI went to yoga this morning. The reason I am mentioning it, is because I haven’t been in a while. I could give a million excuses as to why I didn’t go but the truth is I just didn’t try hard enough to make the time. So many of us are guilty of this aren’t we? When we get busy, we put ourselves second. If a client calls, we cancel gym to make their meeting. At the end of the day we are so exhausted, it is easy to skip the run. We get so caught up in our business that we decline dinner dates with friends.

 

We are all guilty of it. Taking a time out, however, is vital for the success of your business. Building a business is exhausting and can be all consuming, which is why it is even more important to make time for yourself. 

 

It is something I struggle with. It always feels like there is something that needs to be done. An email that needs to be replied to, content that needs to be created, a home to be cleaned, kids to be fetched. Finding the time in a day to be selfish and do something just for you seems impossible but if you aren’t doing it then you need to start today.

 

Going to yoga twice a week isn’t just about staying healthy, it is about taking the time out to do something I enjoy. I don’t think about anything or anyone else during that hour. It is all about me and when I don’t make it a priority, I feel it. 

 

If yoga isn’t your thing, that’s ok, find something else that is. Something that you can do just for you. Maybe it is waking up an hour before everyone and enjoy a cup of coffee in silence. Maybe it is going for a run or doing something crafty like scrap booking. It could be something as simple as taking a long bath every evening. 

 

If you are, like me, a mom who spends a lot of time in the car fetching kids use that time as me time. It’s not conventional but it works. I download audio books and use my time in the car to listen to them. It is a chance for me to shut out my to do list for a while and focus on something else. My best friend calls it escapism. 

 

Taking the time out can be beneficial to your business. It allows you to recharge which is gives you the motivation and inspiration to carry on building your business. 

 

How do you recharge?

 

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Social Media|Speak Social

You have the business idea. You have the product. You have the website and your email. You even have a business plan and have received your first order. You just need to set your Social Media accounts but aren’t sure how or where?

 

I have the answers for you to make it simple and easy to get started.

 

 1. Set your goals and know your audience.

 

Align your social media marketing goals with your company goals. Setting these goals early on will help make sure that you aren’t just randomly shooting into the internet hoping that something lands where you need it to.

 

Ask yourself if you want to increase sales through your Social Media presence or create awareness? Or maybe stimulate conversation? Maybe it is a combination of all three?

 

Define who your audience are so that you know how to speak to them. Knowing who your audience are, where they are and how they engage online will help you create correctly targeted ads and campaigns.

 

2. Figure out WHERE your audience is.

 

Generally speaking it may be true that everyone is on social media but it is not true that everyone is on all platforms. Find out where your audience is and focus on those platforms.It is also important to remember that each platform works differently which means the content you create needs to be altered to accommodate this.

 

If you aren’t sure where your clients are you, you could ask them or spend some time searching your key words on each platform. What are people saying about your industry/service/product? Will your business be able to join in those discussions?

 

3. Manage and monitor.

 

Using a social media management tool is a good idea, it makes the process much easier. There are a few free tools available like Hootsuite and Buffer. Play around with them and decide which one will work best for you and your business. Using a social media management tool makes the process so much easier because everything is in one place and they allow you to schedule content easily.

 

They also allow you to monitor your activity easily. This is important because you want to be able to see what is working and what is not. 

 

The most important thing though, is to just get started. You will learn as you go and you can change and adjust your strategy along the way. 

Social Media|Speak Social

 

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Coffee Shops Pretoria|SpeakSocial

 

I love working from home but there are days I need to get out and be around people. I am lactose free which means my choices are largely dependent on whether or not the coffee shop offers a soy milk option or not. 

 

Woolworths Cafe. It has to be said that Woolworths makes the best soya milk cuppacinos and their vanilla-cinnamon lattes are out of this world. They are also one of a few places who offer a BIG cup of coffee. They recently introduced 2 hours free wi-fi in their cafes (although I think it is more) and they do have plug points, including 2-point plugs. The cafes can get pretty busy, so you could end up waiting for a plug point spot but it will be worth the weight.

 

Starbucks. I love the novelty of Starbucks but their coffee’s haven’t ever really wowed me but they do have plug points and don’t mind if you chill in the store. There is nothing worse than trying to get a bit of work done and the waiter keeps asking if you want to order more. They also open at 6h30 which is awesome if you need an early start!

 

Doppio Zero Hazeldean. This particular branch is close to Cameron’s school and they make an ok cuppacino. They don’t have plug points but they do have wi-fi and their food is pretty good. It can also get crowded but they have an outside area if you are looking for some fresh air. 

 

Mugg and Bean Atterbury. I love this restaurant. The staff are so friendly and often go and buy me soya milk for my cuppacinos. There is wifi (but only inside the restaurant) and they do have some plug points. 

 

What are some of your favourite coffee shops to work from? 

 

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One of the most challenging things to deal with as a solopreneur is rejection. It is incredibly hard not to take rejection personally when you are the only one in the business. It is also hard not to get caught up in the negative self talk that inevitably follows a client deciding to no longer work with you.

 

There isn’t an entrepreneur out there who hasn’t had to deal with this. We all develop our own ways of managing it. The important thing is to deal with it constructively and not let it control you and your business. 

 

Try not to take it personally. This one is tricky because many of us are our business so when someone fires you or complains, it is almost impossible to not feel like it is aimed at you. Remember that you are in a business relationship, they are your client, not your friend. 

 

Learn from it. Every client interaction is a chance to learn. Find out why your client is leaving or why they are unhappy. Use their feedback as an opportunity to learn.

 

Don’t get too caught up in. It can be devastating to lose a client, especially if the financial impact is large. Allow yourself to feel the negative emotions but then move on. Dwelling on the negativity will not help you at all and will probably end up doing more harm than the lost client did.

Focus on the positive. There is always something positive to focus on. Perhaps the client was taking up all of your time, now you have time to focus on building your business and finding your ideal client. Maybe you weren’t doing work you enjoyed and now you are able to go back to doing what you love.

Do you have anything to add?

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I have been uuummming and aaahing about whether or not to get gifts for my clients for the end of the year. It is an expense I never budgeted for but I think it would be nice to do something for them this year. They are a huge part of my success and I appreciate each and every one of them.

 

Searching for the perfect Corporate gift, however, is like heading down a bottomless rabbit hole. The possibilities are literally endless. 

 

I really love this idea. It is so pretty and should last longer than a plant right? Succulents are easier to look after aren’t they? These could also be personalised and each one made with a different succulent. 

 

Corporate Gifts|Speak Social

 

Boxes like this are so visually appealing and can be personalised for each client. I put a hamper together like this for a gift for friend and it came out so nicely. Something like this does work out a little more expensive but if done right it can have a lot of meaning. 

 

Corporate Gifts|Speak Social

 

Mugs aren’t particularly unique but they can still be pretty and are, at least, useful. You can add some nice coffee, hot chocolate or tea to make them a little nicer. 

 

Corporate Gifts|Speak Social

 

There is obviously also the usual diaries, calendars and notebooks. I know I appreciate these but I am not sure that say thank you adequately to my clients.  

 

Stationery|SpeakSocial

 

Are you buying anything for your clients? If you are what have you decided on?

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Lady Boss | Speak SocialA few months ago we signed up to Netflix. I was pretty anti the whole thing at the time. We hadn’t had any TV other than downloads for years. I just didn’t see the need for this to be honest. I am so glad I relented though, I am slightly obsessed and am busy working my way through every series they have. I have found some really great UK and Australian shows with some amazing characters.

 

Just for fun I thought I would put together some of my favourite lady bosses from TV shows.

 

Lesley Knope from Parks and Recreation. You can’t not love Lesley! She is so completely crazy but so dedicated to her dream and her plan that she just doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. Lady Boss | Speak Social

 

Jessica from Suits. I am not sure if I admire Jessica for her ruthlessness or for her amazing wardrobe. What I love about Jessica though is her sense of loyalty to Harvey. He messes up but she stands by him, possibly out of misguided loyalty but loyalty non the less. Lady Boss | Speak Social

 

Sophia Amoruso from Girl Boss. If you haven’t watched this you must. It is a pretty inspiring story about how Sophia built something from literally nothing purely because she refused to give up even when she wanted to. 

Lady Boss | Speak Social

 

Olivia Pope from Scandal. I have the biggest girl crush on this character. The way she dresses, the way she carries herself, the way she just does not take shit from anyone. She takes on everyone and anyone. She knows what she wants and she goes for it, without question or apology. Lady Boss | Speak Social

 

Last but not least Claire from Modern Family. Claire is so ditzy and all over the place but I love how she re-enters the work place and totally owns it (most days). She raises her kids and then starts doing something for her. Lady Boss | Speak Social

 

Who is your favourite lady boss?

 

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Why you need a newsletter|Speak SocialI encourage all my clients to send out monthly newsletters. They can be such a powerful tool to use to make contact with your clients and potential clients. There are so many great programs available that make the process of collecting emails simple and sending newsletters out easy and hassle free. 

 

If you aren’t sure about whether or not to start a newsletter, here are 7 reasons I believe you need a newsletter.

  1. A newsletter helps you connect directly with your clients. We all know Facebook lets people see what it wants them to see not necessarily what they want to see, so often posts are not even seen. A newsletter is delivered straight to someone’s inbox means they definitely see it. Make sure your heading is strong enough to make sure they open it!
  2. A well written newsletter with links can drive people to your website, which is ultimately what you want. When you send out your newsletter, make sure the links direct people to exactly where you want to them go.
  3. You are able to become an authority in your field. If your newsletters ad value to your audience they will come to expect the newsletters and look to them for information. 
  4. Newsletters allow you the opportunity to build brand loyalty. If you offer your newsletter list specials or free goodies, they will feel special and valued and more likely to purchase from you again or remain a client. 
  5. They allow you to educate your audience. A newsletter allows you the opportunity to delve into topics and educate your audience on certain topics or products. You can also ask your audience what they would like to know more about for future newsletter ideas!

 

If you don’t already have a newsletter, I can help you set one up and create the content for you!

 

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Being an entrepreneur can be lonely|Speak SocialWhen I left corporate life I was very happy to get out of the office. The cubicled floors were depressing, each cluster the same except for the pictures the person had pinned to the pin board. I hated that when you made a phone call everyone could hear. I never made many personal phone calls but nothing is sacred in an office like that. Everyone knows everyone’s business from what you for dinner last night to how many millilitres of milk your baby drank at their 11h30 feed. It is the nature of office life and many people thrive in that environment. I did not. Working for myself in an environment that I control is where I thrive. It makes me happy, it is where I recharge and draw inspiration from. 

 

Working from home, by myself can get lonely though. As much as I am happy to be on my own, I do miss interaction with other like-minded people. I do, now, get out of the office and force myself into situations where I have to interact. Those interactions have become important to me and vital for my business and personal growth. 

 

How do I beat the loneliness that comes with being the only person in my business?

 

Coffee shops are great spaces to feel like you are a part of something without actually having to talk to anyone. Woolworths now have 2 hours free wifi and they have, according to me, the best lattes and cuppaccinos. So I head out there at least twice a week and plug in to the energy of their bustling cafes. Because I am a creature of habit, I see the other freelancers there and when we make eye contact there is an understanding there that says  “Yes I am here for the same reason you are which means we don’t have to acknowledge one another.”

 

Networking is, despite my initial reluctance, a great way to get out of the house and get results. My weekly BNI meeting has become a big part of my work life and is adding to my client base each week. There are other, less formal, networking events, which I have written about as well.

 

Last week I was invited by a group of freelancers to join their office space as and when I need it. We are probably going to be working together so they are happy for me to sit in their boardroom for a few hours if and when I need it. Ask your clients if you could spend some time in their office, it is a good way to understand their business a little more and feel like you are part of a team for a bit.

 

Exercise! Yeah I see you all rolling your eyes and saying “when??” but it is something I have neglected and now I sit with a sore back and my body screaming for yoga. Get active! You don’t have to go to gym, you can run or walk the dog or find a private club to join. Not only is it good for your well being it is also a great way to meet new people and you never know who may have opportunities for you. 

 

Join online groups of people in your industry. This can be a great source of support and learning. Facebook has countless groups on pretty much anything and everything you can imagine. You might need to try a few out and see which ones work best for you.

 

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Facebook Ad|Speak SocialFacebook Ads can be a little bit of an enigma on a good day. Just when you think you have the formula worked out, something changes and nothing works like it used to. You have to be on your toes constantly, learning and adjusting the way you do things.

 

I have never been a fan of paid for ads and encourage my clients to follow the slow and steady route of organic growth. Unfortunately you do need to spend some money on ads but there are ways you can do that will get the right people to your page.

 

One of those ads is a CUSTOM AD and when I do have to run an ad for a client, I always suggest we start with this ad. It makes the most sense to me and works better than hoping you have your targeting right. 

 

So what is a Custom Ad? Well in short it uses the email addresses from your mailing lists to find people. The reason this makes the most sense to me is because the people on your mailing list are either your current clients, old clients or want to be clients. They are the people you want to like your page. 

 

How do you make this happen?

  1. Go to Ads Manager, log in and click CREATE AD
  2. Decide what the point of your ad is – do you want to grow your likes (this is the ONLY ad I suggest running if you want to grow likes), increase engagement etc.Custom Ads | Speak Social
  3. Then click on CREATE NEW under Custom AdCustom Ads | Speak Social
  4. Click on Custom File.Custom Ads | Speak Social
  5. I generally pick the first option here but if you do have a mailchimp account you can import your details from there.Custom Ads | Speak Social
  6. Click the copy and paste option or the CSV file (make sure your file is formatted correctly or it won’t upload correctly.)Custom Ads | Speak Social
  7. Once you have added the emails, click upload and create.Custom Ads | Speak Social
  8. Then you are DONE 🙂 Continue on with the rest of the prompts to complete the ad.Custom Ads | Speak Social

It is that simple. Once you have set this ad up, your ad will be targeted to those people who have used the email address you have to sign up to Facebook. Depending on the size of your mailing list and your budget, consider running this ad once a month.

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It is a little pointless asking where has the time gone or exclaiming “Can you believe it is November” because well that’s life isn’t it? This year has been a ride and a half, so I am going to say it “Time flies when you are having fun.”

I am taking some time in November to regroup, plan and get organised before our national shut down in December. I have been trawling the interwebs for all the pretty stationery. It is a bit of a rabbit hole that is so easy to get lost in!

I love notebooks and have so many sitting unused on my desk that I have stopped buying them but I really feel like one of these personalised ones from Love Letter Stationery is a must have.  

Stationery|SpeakSocial

I am not actually a list writer but I have little notes written all over so note pads on and around my desk, in my car, in my bag are vital. These little ones from the Hello Pretty store are super cute, they have a magnet on so great for the fridge.

Notepad|SpeakSocialI really need these pens from CNA. Aren’t they so gorgeous? CNA actually really has some very pretty stationery and it is reasonable priced.

Pretty Pens|SpeakSocialMillamae have stunning diaries every year, this year is no different. You can order your 2018 one now! I am eyeing out the unicorn one, which one do you like?

Diary|SpeakSocial

I couldn’t pick just one thing from Origin Stationery, so head over there and browse all of their awesome goodies. 

What are some of your favourite online stationery stores? Have you started planning for 2018? 

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Julia

Your accountant is a vital part to the success of your company. He/she is an advisor and a partner in business. Your accountant will help you to keep your business in line financially which frees you up to get on with the business of running your company. Meeting with an accountant can feel intimidating but rest assured, when you are prepared, you are laying a foundation for a highly successful business relationship.

Here are some questions that you can ask your accountant:

1.How often should we be in touch and what is the best way to contact you

This might seem like a silly question but in order to have a successful working relationship, boundaries and rules need to be established.  Establish early on how you will connect/meet (i.e. telephonically, physically, facetime, skype etc.) as well as who will set up the meetings. Decide together how often you will meet.

2. How should I prepare for tax season

Dealing with the horror of tax season is often the catalyst for a business hiring an accountant. Ask your accountant which tax credits and deductions you should claim. Talk to your accountant about specific ways to organise your records. Perhaps work with your accountant throughout the year to gather the necessary documentation for tax season so that it’s available when tax season rolls around.

3. How can you help me better manage my cash flow?

Ask your accountant to help you understand your cash flow, analyse problems or areas to improve, and make plans to better manage it. Your accountant can point out cash-flow tendencies in your business that you might overlook.

4. How is my business really doing?

Your accountant can help you make sense of all the data and show you how to properly analyse your figures so you can see how healthy your business really is. 

5. What information/documentation do I need to retain?

You need to hold onto certain records for the purpose of tax, to measure your profitability and to possibly secure outside funding.  Your accountant will advise you what records you need to retain and it will likely include things like revenue, operating expenses, purchase and sales records of assets.

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Julia

Speak Social is just over a year old. It has been a crazy year, one that has gone better than I ever imagined. I have learnt so much not only about Social Media but also about myself and what I am capable of. 

These are a few of the lessons I have learnt that I think everyone who is starting a business needs to seriously consider.

Get an accountant! I cannot stress this one enough. I put it off for months and months and eventually a year. Eventually after spending an entire day trying to get my tax done and then doing it incorrectly I enlisted the help of a qualified person. She sorted it all out for me and will be helping me with it going forward.

Ask for help. Your business will reach a point where you simply cannot do it all yourself. GET HELP. Don’t try and cope with it all, it will not end well. Outsource what you can, even if it is something as simple as hiring someone to take over cleaning your home.

Organise. Being an entrepreneur means you are the one who has to make sure everything is organized. It can be rather challenging in the beginning, or at least it was for me. It has taken me months to figure it all out and work out a schedule, filing system, invoicing etc.

Get out the house. If you work from home, you HAVE to get out of the house. I don’t mean you must get an office, you just need to get out of the house. Go and work in a coffee shop one day a week. Schedule coffee dates with fellow entrepreneurs or work at a client’s office. I love working from home but I also need to get away from the monotony of the same space every single day.

Set boundaries. This is probably one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn but so important. Boundaries help prevent things from spiraling out of control. If your office is in your home, set specific times when you physically leave the space and shut your computer down. Set boundaries with your clients, let them know when you are available and when not. Try, where possible, to not break those boundaries.

 

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Julia

One of the mistakes we make when starting a business is to try to do everything ourselves. This is understandable, as cash flow is often very limited and one is tempted to just save costs wherever possible.

 

Having said that, there are some functions that are best left to the professionals, and spending a bit of money on certain services can only enhance and improve your business. Spending money upfront will save you a huge amount of money in the long run. Some examples of things you need to pay for include the following:

  1. Graphics Designer

Quality speaks for itself. Potential and current clients will see that you have brilliant, eye-catching graphics and this carries over into how they view your business, because beautifully designed and properly executed work will give you a more professional image and instill confidence in your target audience.

  1. Social Media Strategist

If done properly, social media can enhance and improve your brand, thereby drawing in and increasing your target audience. Your Social Media Strategist will make sure that there is regular and relevant content on all your social media channels – content that aligns with your business and brand. Instead of hurriedly posting anything for the sake of posting, rather pay someone to do this – someone with the necessary skills and expertise of all social media channels.

  1. Accountant

From business plans to loans to audits, an accountant can make your life easier at each step of your business. You may feel that you can’t afford it, but look at how long it will take you to do certain tasks like taxes or payroll or your creditors function. Is that really good use of your time?

  1. Web developer

Web developers are familiar with many software programmes, web applications and web programming languages. If you want a beautiful looking website that navigates properly and is free of errors and bugs, then it is best to pay someone who is qualified to do the job instead of attempting to do it yourself. If clients struggle to navigate your website, then they will just go on to find another one that is easier to navigate.

  1. SEO specialist

Sometimes your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be done by your Web Developer, but more often than not, you would need to pay an SEO specialist to do this. The function of the SEO specialist is to analyse, review and implement changes to your website so that they are optimised for search engines like Google. This means increasing traffic to your website by improving page rank within the various search engines. This is definitely something worth paying for, rather than spending endless time trying to figure out and learn the skill.

While it is tempting to DIY the above functions, it really will benefit your business in the long-term to pay the correctly sourced professional to assist. After all, would you pay your dentist to fix your car? Or your child’s teacher to sort out your plumbing problems?

 

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Website Must Haves|HarassedMomYour website is very often the first impression that customers and clients get of your business. It is so important that when a potential new customer arrives at your site that they do not leave.

 

If they visited to make a purchase, you want them to complete the purchase. If they visited to book their holiday, you need them to book and pay the deposit. This needs to happen before they leave your site.

 

In order for this to happen you need to make the experience for your clients as easy and simple as possible.

 

It is possible to make a stunning website yourself, I have clients who have successfully done it. Jen from Holly Molly built her website from scratch herself, she had no prior web experience. So, you can do it.

 

Whether you decide to do it yourself or to get someone in to help, these are the top 5 things you need to ensure that you have on your site. They don’t only need to be there, they need to be clear, visible and easy to find.

 

Contact details. This is a personal hate of mine and I cannot believe there are still websites out there with no contact details on them. Ideally you want your contact details to be visible on your home page. Even if you just have a phone number or email listed. Make them easy to notice. If you have a contact me page, don’t hide it under another menu. Make it clear. If I have a question and cannot find a contact number or email I leave the site.

 

What you do. This may sound like a completely ridiculous one to add but I have seen many sites that have been beautifully designed but I struggle to make out exactly what it is they offer. Be clear. Be concise. Remember your audience. You understand what it is you do, don’t assume that your audience does. Ask for feedback on your content. Is your offering clear.

 

How to buy. If you are selling a product, make the purchase now process as simple as you can. People want to be able to click one button and buy something. I understand there are certain security requirements, don’t still add on to that process by making people register here and there. Make it clear where they can buy the products, don’t make people search for how to add things to their trolley.

 

Your site must be mobile responsive. This is not really an option and if your theme does not translate well to mobile, you need to redo it. People use their phones for pretty much everything, if they can’t navigate your site on their phones they will leave and you will lose the sale. Test it on both Apple and Android.

 

Testimonials. These are always great to add to your site. It allows potential clients the opportunity to read first hand experiences of your service or product. You can add in forms that will allow clients to add their testimonials directly to your site or you can add them manually when you receive them.

 

These aren’t all that a good website needs but if you have these 5 things, you are well on your way to creating a positive experience for your clients.

 

Download my free website checklist here, it includes these 5 things and more.

Website Checklist

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I love when a new month starts on a Monday. It makes sense for me. New week, new month. It is nice and neat.

 

I thought we would start May with some motivation. These are just a few of my favourite inspirational posters. 

Motivation|Speak Social

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Motivation|Speak Social

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Motivation|Speak Social

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Motivation|Speak Social

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Motivation|Speak Social

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Motivation|Speak Social

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Motivation|Speak Social

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Which quote is your favourite?

 

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Common Questions Blog| Speak SocialI get asked a lot of questions by client, more often than not there is a lot of overlap. Even if when they are in different industries, the questions are the same. While some of these questions could be blog posts on their own, I have tried to keep the answers short for the sake of this article. 

 

What platforms do I need to be on? This question does depend on what your online strategy is and what industry you are on. Facebook is a must have though and then you can decide, depending on your time, budget and industry which of the other platforms you want to be on. I always suggest clients choose 3 platforms and focus on those to start with. Videos are hugely successful at the moment so I would suggest considering a YouTube channel.

 

How can I improve my SEO? We have discussed SEO before, there is no quick fix here. A few suggestions though would be to make sure your website copy focus on your keywords. Adding a blog section can also help with your SEO. Remember when you blog, not every post has to mention your product or service. If you sell jungle gyms, you could write a blog post on “Why outdoor play is important for gross motor skill development”. If you are a lawyer you could write a post titled “5 Things to check on your new employee contract”.

 

How many times a day should I post? I have done so much reading up on this and everything I have read and everyone I have spoken to has a different take on this. I have pages that do well with 6/7 posts a day but others who do really well with one post. So my advice is to post a minimum of twice a day. If you are running your page yourself and that is too much, start with once a week. The key is to be consistent and make sure you have good quality content. Each platform is different though and you could post 6 times a day on Twitter and no one would probably even notice. Your Instagram account can be run successfully with one image a day if you use the correct hashtags and make the content engaging.

 

Do I really need a newsletter? YES! The answer to this will always be yes regardless of what industry you are in. Newsletters are a great way to get in front of your clients. 

 

How much money must I spend on Facebook ads? I have such a complicated relationship with paid for Facebook ads. I am a firm believer in organic growth over paid for ads. There is a need though, sometimes, for paid for ads. If you are promoting an event or launching a new range, then work out your ad strategy and attach a budget according to what you want to achieve. I have had some positive results from ads with a R150 budget. 

 

Do you have any questions regarding your online marketing?

 

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Don't use FB Boosts|Speak SocialOne of the most frustrating things for me as a community manger is paid for Facebook posts. People see results, the engagement increases, the likes start adding up and your stats appear to be shooting the lights out. If you don’t set these ads up, however, your money would be better spent standing handing out flyers at the robot.

 

The “Boost Post” option is so tempting. It is there for every post and so quick and easy to do. As tempting as it may be do not boost your posts, here’s why. 

 

When you decide to put money behind a Facebook post you should always have an objective. This could be getting more likes to your page, sending people to your online shop, website clicks etc. Boosting a post allows you to set audience, budget and duration. It does not allow you to set an objective for the ad. Facebook decides this for you when you boost a post and it defaults to Page Post Engagement objective. This means people will like, comment etc on your post but if you want them to buy or attend an event you will not reach these objectives if you boost a post.

 

Basically you are wasting your money!

 

Posts that are boosted have limited targeting options and will default to “people who like this page”. You are able to do choose people through targeting but this option is limited when you boost. You are not able to exclude or include your fans or Custom Audiences and you can’t chose behaviours. Once again limiting your reach. 

 

Should you decide to boost you will have no choice over the ad placement, it will be done for you by Facebook. Their default option is Desktop News Feeds and Mobile News Feeds. Facebook will chose the cheaper option regardless of which one (desktop or mobile) gets your more leads/interaction. 

 

So how should you be running your Facebook ads? Use either Power Editor or Ads Manger. Yes it does take a little bit longer to set up than a simple “Boost” but your money will be much better spent. Remember your goal when you put money behind a post should always be an ACTION. You want people to actually do something. Spend the time planning your ad objectives carefully before publishing.

 

If you need some help setting up a Facebook ad I will be happy to chat to you about it and offer some tips and guidance. 

 

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Business lessons from motherhood|SpeakSocial

When you become a mom, you don’t just learn how to parent, you learn a valuable set of skills that can help you in your business as well. I know having kids has helped me to run my business better.

 

  1. Time management. Moms underestimate their ability to manage their time effectively. There is nothing more productive than a mom during nap time or while their child is at school. A mom who works from home probably gets more done while her child is at school that people who are in an office get done in two days.

 

  1. Logistics. If you thought managing the diary of a CEO or working distribution centre schedules was tough, think again. Managing the diaries of children takes logistics to a new level. This has been particularly useful for me when I am planning client meetings or trying to assist clients with projects that require logistical planning.

 

  1. Multi-tasking. It is very seldom that you will find a mom doing one thing at a time. Yes, she may be working on your report but in between she is scanning her child’s class WhatsApp group, replying to emails and probably cooking dinner. This skill is particularly useful when you run a business, it means you can get more done than most people.

 

  1. Crisis Management. If you are a mom reading this you will know all about this. You are sitting in a meeting and the message pops up “Mom I left my science project on the table” or your husband “Forgot about my meeting, can’t fetch kids” (the latter is usually sent 5 min before the school is about to close). Being able to crisis manage is a vital tool for running your own business.

 

  1. If you have a toddler you will know all about how parenting provides you with some of the best negotiation skills in the world. Toddlers teach you pretty much every negotiation skill that is known to man. These will come in handy when you are negotiating with new clients or trying to negotiate the terms of a contract.

 

  1. Moms can budget better than any finance minister in any country. We know how to handle un-expected expenses, which are pretty much a monthly occurrence. Moms learn how to stretch pennies and make sure everyone has everything they need when they need it. When you start your own business, there is often little cash flow so you must make it work with what you have, moms know all about this.

 

While we can’t, as moms, put any of this on to our CV’s. These skills all help us to run our businesses and run them well. Most moms probably don’t even realise just how good they are at these things because it becomes such a big part of who they are.

 

What else would you add moms?

 

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Working with kids around|Speak SocialI work from home. My children all go to school but when holidays roll around I have them at home. On the days they are sick, I have them at home as well. I don’t have to stress about putting in leave days when this happen. The downside is often I need to still work. Having little people running around your office can get challenge and seriously hamper productivity. For many of us though, the show must go on.

 

It is possible to work from home with your kids, these are the tips and tricks that work for me.

 

You need a schedule. This schedule needs to include time with the children. This is easier to explain to older children but share the plan with your children. For the younger ones, you can say “After you have watched Frozen we will play for a bit” or show them on the watch what time you will be taking a break.Work with kids around|Speak Social

 

Get help. I have Jane three times a week. During the holidays, I schedule as much work as I can for those days, including meetings. You don’t need to have someone daily but if you know you have a crazy deadline looming, call in some help.

 

Work where the kids are. When the children are at home I move my computer to the lounge. That way I am working with them. This does make a difference, they feel like I am part of what they are doing. The interrupt me a lot less when I do this.

 

Maximize nap time. If you have a little one who still naps in the day, use those times to get all the important things done that require concentration.

 

Get up a little earlier. This works well for me. Every Sunday I am up at 4h00 to get a head start on the week. By the time everyone is awake I have done what needs to be done and can spend quality time with them.

 

Be flexible. Some days will be better than others. On the bad days, instead of constantly trying to fight against your kids, let it go. Take a time out with them, even if it means working a little longer at night.

 

Do you work with kids around? What can you add to this list?

 

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Toxic Clients|Speak SocialWhen you decide to start your own business, the initial focus is on growth, growth, growth. Customers mean money, which means you can grow your business. The idea that you can (or should) fire clients may seem counterproductive but letting go of toxic clients can be the best thing you do for yourself and the growth of your business.

 

When I started Speak Social I was so focused on getting as many clients as I could to be able to pay the bills, I accepted every client who showed interest in working with me. I never had my ideal client clearly defined initially but even when I did, I was ignored it and just accepted every new client. What resulted was that I lost a few clients along the way. This wasn’t because they didn’t need my services or didn’t like me, it was simple we were not the right fit.

 

It took a toxic client to make me realize that it is ok to fire a client sometimes. A toxic client is very different a difficult client. You will always have difficult clients but you can still have a positive working relationship with these clients. Over time you will learn how to manage the relationship and from experience, it is the difficult clients who are often the most loyal.

Toxic Clients|Speak Social

A toxic client, however, brings negativity to your business and your life. These are the clients who don’t treat you with respect. They attack you personally, threaten you and behave unprofessionally. These are the clients, who when you see their emails you feel a very deep sense of dread. You can read this post on some of the signs that you have a toxic client.

 

These clients bring unnecessary negative energy to your business and this will start to filter through to other parts of your business and ultimately affect your other clients. It is ok to let these clients go, in fact it is beneficial for you to end the relationship. The longer you allow this client in your space, the more damage they will do. You will start to doubt yourself and this will ultimately negatively affect your ability to grow your business.

 

When you decide to end the relationship, make sure you do it professionally and politely. They may not treat you with respect but being anything but professional will negatively affect your brand. Be polite but direct and ideally do it in person, this posts covers 3 possible scripts you can use.

 

Have you had an experience with a toxic client before?

 

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Twitter Chat| Speak Social One of the advantages of Twitter is that you are able to host Twitter chats. These chats are a great way to connect and interact with your audience. I follow a few people who run regular twitter chats and they are informative for both the person hosting and the audience following the discussion.

 

What is a Twitter Chat?

 

A Twitter chat is a conversation you host on your twitter profile that centers around a certain topic and unique hashtag. The unique hashtag is important so that people are able to find and follow the discussion.

 

Travel Opulent is a South African based travel blogger who hosts regular successful Twitter chats under #TravelChatSA. 

 

Why host a Twitter chat?

 

There are many benefits to hosting a Twitter chat

  • You can get instant feedback from your audience. You are can find out what their needs and concerns are and address them immediately.
  • Twitter chats allow you to build an online community who are also brand advocates.
  • By chatting to your clients or potential clients you can find out exactly what they want. This can be used to conduct informal market research.

 

How to host a Twitter chat

Start with a unique hashtag, this is important because you don’t want people to have to search through hashtags to try find which chat is yours.

 

Make the hashtag as short as possible and something people will easily remember.

 

When setting the date, make sure there is nothing important happening at the same time. It is not a good idea to host your Twitter chat the same day and time as the State of the Nation address for example. If a major event falls on the time and day of your regular chats, reschedule or, if possible use the event in your chat.

 

The best way to get interaction is to start promoting your chat a few days, even a week before the time.  It is a good idea to set a weekly time and day for your chat. That way people will know it is happening and can make sure they are available.Twitter Chat| Speak Social

 

Give your audience the details of what the chat is about so they know in advance what will be discussed.

 

Make sure that you are available during the time allocated. You need to be present and engaged with your audience. You can schedule the questions you want to ask but make sure that you are online and involved.

 

What to do during the chat.

 

Welcome everyone who is participating. Encourage them to do a short introduction.

 

Make sure the discussion stays on topic

 

If you are asking a series of questions – mark them clearly Q1, Q2 etc. This encourages people to replay with A1, indicating their tweet relates to Question 1Twitter Chat| Speak Social

 

Retweet any relevant answers or questions.

 

Share any links that are related to the discussion or could be useful.

 

Share a summary of the chat so that anyone who missed it can see the highlights.Twitter Chat| Speak Social

 

Announce when the next chat will be.

 

Twitter chats can be useful for your business and they help to establish your Twitter presence.

 

Do you run regular Twitter chats? Leave the hashtags in the comments so we can join in.

 

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Business Blog|HarassedMom

I encourage all my clients to add a blog to their website. Apart from being a blogger myself, there is such value in adding this to your business website. You do not need to add new content daily but adding regular good quality content can help you to grow your business and build your online presence.

 

A blog can help build your SEO if you use your keywords effectively. We briefly discussed SEO and why it’s important. Good quality content is favoured by search engines and will help your ranking. Focus on writing relevant content that allows you to use keywords relevant to you and your business. 

 

Blog posts are great to use for your Social Media content planners. You can add them to your relevant accounts to create engagement and share information. It is also a nice opportunity to encourage people to share your content, which builds up your social media presence.

 

A blog post drives traffic to your website. Once you have them on your website, the ideal is for them to visit more pages, browse your services and products and ultimately become a new client. Add links in your blog post that lead readers to other blog posts or pages on your website.

Make sure that all links open up in a new tab and do not take your reader away from the post they are currently reading.

 

It also builds trust and confidence with your audience and clients. By sharing information that your audience find value in helps you to build trust with them. If your audience trusts you, they will feel confident to start doing business with you or continue their relationship.

 

Having a regularly updated blog allows your website to become a resource for your clients.If your clients trust you and have easy access to information you have shared. You will become their “go-to” resource.

 

Having a blog section on your website allows you to personalise your brand by telling your story. It is a great opportunity to allow your clients to have a look behind the scenes and find out more about how your business works.

Does your business have a blog? 

 

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Business Networking|SpeakSocialI work from home in an office we have created for me. I love being able to work from home but it can get very lonely. I have no colleagues to make coffee with or talk about what series we are watching. It is just me and Lucy (our staffie).  My job is also not really client facing. I don’t need to meet with my clients regularly and I don’t actually need to meet people to get new clients. Getting out the house, however, is vital for my personal growth and for the growth of my business. Recently I have started actively attending networking events and these events have become something I really look forward to.

 

I will admit I never completely understood just how important networking was until recently. I am also learning that networking is not about simply attending an event, giving everyone your business cards and leaving. There is more to it than that.

 

These are a few of my suggestions for when you do attend any form of networking.

  1. Put yourself out there. This was one of the toughest ones for me. When you arrive, interact with the other people there, even if it is just a simple introduction to start with.
  2. Work on your elevator pitch. Most networking events encourage everyone to share a short description of what they do, work on this so you get the most out of your 30 seconds.
  3. You don’t need everyone’s business cards. Listen to everyone’s introductions, chose a few people who you think will benefit from your business and work on connecting with them afterwards.
  4. Don’t sell. Don’t try to sell your services to everyone. Work on building connections and a network, it will make it easier to get the persons buy in if they trust you.
  5. Set meetings. Suggest one-on-ones with the people you do connect with, if possible bed down a date and a time at the event. If you don’t, send a meeting request or a follow up email as soon as you can.
  6. Make your business cards awesome. Design business cards that will allow people to remember who you and your business are. Add a checklist, make them a bright colour or a different size so that people are encouraged to keep them.
  7. Don’t serial network. There are loads of networking events happening in your city right now. Find one or two that you feel most comfortable with and attend those. Avoid attending every event that there is, it is almost like human spamming.

 

I started out attending the Hirsch’s networking events and these are a great place to start. They are free to attend and are relatively small groups, so it is not so overwhelming. Contact your local Hirsch and see if they run them.

 

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Guest Post|Speak SocialI have been reading some futuristic novels recently and really struggled with them as the future being described in these books, seemed so much closer than I was comfortable acknowledging. In a brief discussion with the author of one of these novels, the concept of Moore’s Law was brought to my attention. What is Moore’s Law you ask? Well it essentially is an observation that technological advances are taking place at an exponential rate – in fact, doubling every two years or so. When you consider the technology that is common place today, that wasn’t in existence just 10 or 20 years ago, it becomes easy to imagine that the technology of tomorrow is coming at us at warp speed (think nano-technology, cloning, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, social media algorithms, laboratory printed meat and the list goes on).

 

This led me to consider what all this rapidly developing technology means for us in terms of our jobs and the work we do and what this means for remaining competent and employable in the face of change. 

 

Well I am not alone in that line of questioning – the World Economic Forum published an extensive study in 2016 on the future of jobs. You can read the entire report here. Basically the report concludes the following:

  • We have entered the 4th Industrial Revolution – this builds on the 3rd industrial revolution (electronics, IT and automation) and is characterized by the fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

  • The speed at which this revolution is evolving is unprecedented and is disrupting almost every industry in every country – with implications for how work is done now and in the future.

  • Drivers of change are many and varied – at the top of the list are changing work environments and flexible working arrangements and mobile internet and cloud technology, data processing technology. These drivers fundamentally change who (or what) can do the work, and from where. 

  • New jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago are emerging, while other traditional jobs are becoming redundant.

  • Jobs and functions that can be replaced by automation and robotics, in all likelihood will be – let’s be honest, they are being replaced right now.

  • The greatest losses in jobs are probably going to be in ‘office and administration’, ‘manufacturing and production’ and ‘construction and extraction’, while the greatest opportunities for growth of jobs, are in ‘business and financial operations’, ‘management’, and ‘computers and mathematical’ areas of work.

 

The report goes on to say that the top 10 skills that will be required to remain competitive and employable are:

  1. complex problem solving

  2. critical thinking

  3. creativity

  4. people management

  5. coordinating with others

  6. emotional intelligence

  7. judgement and decision making

  8. service orientation

  9. negotiation

  10. cognitive flexibility

 

Bernard Marr, in his article The Future Of Jobs: 5 Options Everyone Must Consider accurately suggests that in the face of as he calls it the “Robotic Apocalypse” – we have five options:

  1. step aside (let the robots take over automated tasks while we focus on work requiring creativity and empathy),

  2. step narrowly (develop a speciality where there is no automation involved),

  3. step up (take on responsibility for management and oversight of AI and computers),

  4. step in (to troubleshoot where algorithms lack humanity), or 

  5. step forward (in identifying the problems that we need AI to solve for us).  

 

So what does this mean for you and me?

 

We can either embrace change or we can run from it. I don’t think running from this kind of change is going to help… so here are some things to ponder and perhaps take some action on:

  • How are you creating space for yourself to think, to be creative, to be cognitively agile?

  • How many of the above 10 skills do you have and which of them are you using and making known to others?

  • Companies definitely need to be proactively contributing to the re-skilling of employees – but so too do we as individuals. Are you waiting to be re-skilled or are you taking the lead in your own learning and development strategy?

  • If the inevitable is that robotics, AI, computers, technology are the way of the future (let’s be honest they are the way of the present), what are you doing to make sure you are as tech savvy as possible?

  • What steps are you going to take to remain relevant and employable?

  • What are you doing to distinguish yourself and your skills and competence from the functions that can be automated?

  • What are you doing to future-proof yourself?

This guest post was written by Briony from Think Action Coaching.

 

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FB Ads mistakes|SpeakSocialFacebooks ads can be so useful but they are also one of the things that are very easy to get wrong. This leaves people very frustrated, especially because there is a cost involved. It is never a good idea to run a Facebook Ad without first doing some research about how they work. If you have run an ad and it has not worked out, perhaps you were making one of these 5 mistakes.

 

You aren’t clear what your goals are. You are able to run a variety of different Facebook ads, each one is targeted to achieve a different goal. Before you set your ad, you do need to be clear what you want to achieve. Are you looking for page likes, website visits, engagements or leads? Each ad is set up differently, you need to clear up front what it is you want to achieve.

 

Your call to action is unclear. Create a call to action that makes people want to like your page or click through to an article or sign up to your workshop. Play around a little bit with copy to make it as engaging as possible. 

 

Your target audience is too broad. This depends on the product or service you are selling but it is a good idea to rather keep your audience more specific. If, for example, you are a Joburg graphic designer who likes  to meet each client then it will be a waste to set your area to South Africa. It is better to keep it more specific to the Joburg area.

 

Your image has too much text. Facebook will notify you if this is a potential problem. They discourage images with too much text on.Try to make your design eye catching but with as little text as possible. Make sure that the text you do use is relevant. If you get a notification saying there is too much text, stop the ad and edit the image. 

 

Your image is not optimised for Facebook and a good quality. Use a good quality image that clearly shows your product or is relevant to your service. Make sure that your image is the right size and that it will capture the attention of your audience. 

 

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful please share it. You can also follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn and don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter.

 

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Power of Collaboration|SpeakSocialI recently saw the real power in collaboration. I don’t think people, especially entrepreneurs full understand or appreciate the power of collaboration.
 
Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce something.
 

I attended the opening of a gorgeous baby boutique called Oh My Baby in Brooklyn Mall. This store is a very powerful example of just how powerful collaboration can be. The store is made up of a collection of local brands, all female owned. Everyone involved benefits from this venture. The success of the store, ultimately is up to every brand involved – so basically the marketing is done by the store owner AND every one of the brands. Isn’t that extremely powerful?

 

I have seen collaborations work more and more, especially in the entrepreneur space. People come together to work on projects and campaigns where everyone benefits.Power of collaboration|SpeakSocial

 

So why is collaboration important?

 

Collective creativity. If you connect with people outside of your business you are able to leverage off different ideas and different forms of creativity. This is particularly useful if you involve people who are left brain thinkers and those who are right brain. Entrepreneurs, especially solopreneurs, can get “stuck” in the same way of doing things, collaborations offer the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

 

It helps you perfect your elevator pitch. When you approach someone to start a collaboration you essentially need to be able to sell what you offer and how you can add to the collaboration. This helps you to identify where your business strengths are, which of your products and services work well. This helps you as business owner to grow, it also helps you as a business owner to grow.

 

Continually learning. Collaborations open you up to learning from like-minded people. By engaging with other entrepreneurs offers the opportunity to learning how they do things which could benefit your business. It could be something as simple as discovering a new app on how to manage your finances better. 

 

Collaboration has so many benefits and should not be viewed as competition. Used correctly collaborations can be really powerful for your business. 

 

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful please share it. You can also follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn and don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter.

 

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Why you need a Business Coach|SpeakSocialI will admit that I was one of those people who assumed business coaches were for rich people. I did, however, start doing some research on the subject a bit more last year. A few fellow entrepreneurs mentioned how their coaches had helped them, so I started to think it may be something I need to really consider. I started working with Taryn almost 3 months ago and it has been the best decision I have made for me and my business.

 

Last year while I was researching coaches I read about a women who had literally used the last money she had to pay for a coach, she now runs a successful business as a result. I am mentioning this because I know many of you are thinking “I can’t afford a coach.”. I thought the same thing but the difference a coach makes means you will be able to afford them sooner than you realise, so make the investment. 

 

So back to the point of the post, why do you need a business coach?

 

A coach provides focus. I struggle sometimes to keep my focus on one thing, or things that are important. I also work on my own, which means that I don’t have a boss or a colleague to help me regain my focus. My coach helps me with this, she checks in with me and reminds me about my goals. This helps me to keep focused on what is important.

 

They provide accountability. Having someone that holds me accountable motivates me. When you are a solopreneur you often find yourself negotiating with yourself and often justify why certain things don’t get done or are put off. A coach holds you accountable, they won’t set your goals but they will help you to set them and then hold you accountable.

 

A coach forces you to face the hard truths. A good coach is not going to sugar coat things for you, they are going to make you face the problems in your business. These are hard conversations and you will probably question if having a coach is a good idea. Push through, get over yourself and start working on fixing the problems.

 

You have a cheerleader. My coach is one of my biggest cheerleaders, she believes in me and tells me I can do it. It is so important to have a person/people like this in your life.

 

They offer an impartial perspective. A business coach is not emotionally involved in your business so they see things objectively. I have had many discussions with my coach where she suggests things that I would have never thought of because she is able to see the business from the outside.

 

A business coach will push you outside of your comfort zone. When I started working with my coach she encouraged me to attend networking events. I really did not want to do this but I did it. I still find them challenging but I am getting better at them. Thanks to these events I have made some solid connections and I look forward to going now.

 

A business coach will help you grow your business. This is the main reason a business coach is a good idea. Their goal is to help you grow your business and be the best you can be. 

 

If you don’t have a business coach I highly recommend finding one. Do some research first though because you need to feel a connection to your coach. Initially I did consider working with Ashley who I think is an amazing person but she is in a different city to me which meant we would Skype. This works for a lot of people but I needed the physical presence of someone I could have coffee with and meet in person. We are all different and we all work differently, find someone who will work for you.

 

Do you have a business coach? How have they helped you?

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Tips for working with Bloggers|SpeakSocialBloggers (or influencers) are great to partner with for specific campaigns or to help you get your product exposure. There are a few things you need to keep in mind though before deciding to work with bloggers.

 

Do not expect them to work for free. Do not contact a blogger and suggest they write a post for you in exchange for exposure. Instead ask them for their rate card and then open up discussions with them around what can they can do for you. If you do not have a large budget rather work with one blogger, pay them what they are worth and get the maximum you can for your campaign. 

 

Build a relationship. Focus on building a relationship with the blogger over a once off blog post/competition. This has benefits for you both. If the blogger believes in you and your brand, it will be easier for them to share authentically. 

 

Do your research. Bloggers, by nature, share about their lives. Take some time to research the blogger so that when you email them you can personalise the email. I appreciate it when brands contact me saying “We see Emma has just turned 3, she would be perfect for our xyz product”. This means they have taken the time to get to know me and are not just randomly emailing a list of bloggers they have.

 

Trade exchanges can work. Bloggers are open to trade exchanges that are worth their while and will add value to their audience. Offering to send a blogger your product valued at R100 in exchange for a review and a Facebook share and an Instagram post, probably isn’t going to get you very far. Engage with the blogger and find out what would be the best way to go about the trade exchange. Many bloggers have a minimum value for reviews and some also do charge an admin fee.

 

Likes don’t mean as much as you think they do. Once again, do your research on the people you would like to work with. Are their posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc getting engagement? Are people sharing and commenting. Ten thousand likes don’t mean much if no one shares posts or even comments but a page with 1000 likes that gets a lot of engagement has more value to you.

 

Make your expectations clear from the beginning. Be clear what you would like from the blogger from the beginning so that you and the blogger are able to both manage them correctly.

 

Blogger campaigns can work really well if managed correctly. If you would like to look into working with bloggers contact Mandy who will guide you through the process from start to finish.

 

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful please share it. You can also follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn and don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter.

 

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SM Break|Speak SocialIf you are running your own business then having a Social Media presence is very important. Even if you have someone helping or managing your pages for you, you still need to be on top of what is happening and what people are saying. It can get overwhelming, when it does it is ok to take a social media break and shut the noise off for a while.

 

How do you know when you need a Social Media break?

 

Your accounts are the first and last thing you check. If you wake up and check your phone before you have made a cup of coffee or if before you close your eyes you check your page, you may need a break.

 

If it starts to consume you, a break is definitely in order. This happens before you realise it. It is so easy to get caught up in checking each and every notification you receive, even if it is just a like. It is also very easy to get carried away with sharing content on every social media platform out there, which is often not necessary. 

 

Your pages are causing anxiety. If you are starting to find it stressful to be on Social Media, then you need to take a step back. Anything that adds unnecessary stress or anxiety to your daily work life should be avoided. 

 

How do you break the cycle?

 

  1. Schedule your posts. If you don’t do this already, schedule your posts so you do not need to be on your pages all the time. 
  2. Put a time limit on the time you spend replying to messages and queries. Set aside an hour once a day to reply to any queries or messages you receive. You can add automated replies to Facebook messages which does also help. 
  3. Switch off notifications. Get those little red numbers off your phone or laptop, even if just for a few hours. I highly recommend doing this on your phone as it prevents work creeping in to family time.
  4. You don’t have to be everywhere all the time. You don’t have to post to every platform out there every day. Pick the platforms that your audience love the most. Find the groups that add the most value to you and your business and focus on those.
  5. Put everything OFF. Sometimes you need to shut your laptop and put your phone away and just focus on everything else for a while. If you run a business that requires you to be available , get someone you trust to stand in for you. You can also put a notification up that you will not be available for 24 hours.

Social Media is important in your business but it should never be all consuming or something that causes you added stress. If it does, you need to take a time out and reconnect with the “real” world.

 

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful please share it. You can also follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn and don’t forget to sign up to my newsletter.

 

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Business Boundaries|SpeakSocialThis was a hard topic for me to write about, because as a new business owner it is something I am still trying to figure out but I do know how absolutely important it is to have in a successful business. Often when we are starting out we feel we have to say yes to every opportunity, every client and every request clients are making when, in fact, this can be more damaging to your business.

It is ok to sometimes say no but the key is to set the boundaries early on with yourself and with your clients, so that everyone knows what the expectations are. 

  1. Be clear on your working hours and availability. This is often dependent on the type of business you are running but be clear with your clients from the start that you are available between these times and days. This is so important, especially if you work for yourself because it is easy to be available all the time, but this is not realistic and probably not why you started working for yourself. 
  2. Say no. It is ok to say no to a client. If you are no able to attend a meeting at the time they requested or they contact you after hours, it is ok to say no. In fact it is better to say no from the beginning if the relationship. If you don’t you could end up finding yourself suddenly at the beck and call of one client, to the detriment of your others who respect your boundaries.
  3. Be clear and put it in writing. Send each client a breakdown of what they can expect from you and what you expect from them. Make it clear that if they don’t send abc, you can’t do efg as well as your time frames. If anything changes, update them in writing to make sure that everyone knows the expectations.
  4. Be honest. Honesty is always the best policy. If you initially said yes but realise you are unable to complete the project or need longer or it will cost more, be up front and honest with your client. 
  5. You don’t need to work with everyone who asks. This is why working out your ideal client is important, it makes it easier to say no to the ones who aren’t. You don’t need to work with every single person who wants to work with you. If someone asks for your services but they don’t align  with your business or brand, you can say no. 

It is not always easy to implement this but it is so important for the growth of your business. Know your worth and make sure that your clients know it as well. 

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Image Mistakes|Speak SocialAdding images to your articles and Social Media posts is so important. All the stats show people respond better if their is a related image to an article or a Social Media post. Adding an image is, unfortunately, not as simple as googling your topic and grabbing the first image you find. 

 

I have been guilty of some of these mistakes but now I am more intentional about the images I take and how I share them as well as what images I use and how.

  1. CREDIT CREDIT CREDIT! This is the most important point to mention. Ideally googling the image you need is not a great idea unless you set your google search to include only the images with permissions to share. It is better to use either a free stock image site or pay for one. Either way it is always a good idea to credit the source. If you do need to use a photo someone else took, CREDIT THEM. A while ago I was looking for an image of the Gautrain for one of the kids and came across this image taken by Jeanette, she is friend so I was pretty excited that it came up in the search. If you do want to use it in a post, make sure you credit her as the source and DO NOT remove her watermark or try to crop it out. It is not a good idea to use images of people from photographers though, use stock images for that rather. Image Mistakes|SpeakSocial
  2. Create your own quotes. Many people share quotes onto their Social Media pages, spend  a little time creating your own images. This is a great quote right? But if you share it you are going to need to credit the source. If someone shares it from your Facebook page, it has all of the sources details on.Image Mistakes|Speak SocialThis is the same quote BUT it has all my branding on. So now when it gets shared, it fits with my brand and has all of my branding details but still credits the actual author of the quote. Canva is SO great for this, find the template you want and simple change up the images and wording.
    Image Mistakes|Speak Social
  3. Don’t use paid for images if you haven’t paid for them. I was in a presentation the other day where the speaker used an image like the one below. A few thoughts crossed my mind but I cringed a little on his behalf. Not everyone cares about how stuff looks, so he possibly thought I need an image of x, this is x so I am going to use it. Fair enough.Image Mistakes|Speak SocialMaybe he is ok to be associated with but it is still not professional and a little lazy, because a simple search on Pixabay comes up with a free image, like the one below. Image Mistakes|Speak Social
  4. Don’t share bad photos! We took this family selfie at an expo recently. It is a terribly photo. The lighting is bad, my son looks terrible, Kiara’s head is cut off and the main focus of the image is completely obliterated by the lighting. It was a fun photo for us as a family and I won’t delete it from my phone but I won’t share it (apart from showing you a bad image). Sometimes it is better not to share an image. Sometimes the light is not right or you realise the photos you took are all blurry, rather try re-take them or share without the image. Sharing a bad image can damage your brand.Image Mistakes|Speak Social
  5. Check the background. If you are taking your own images be sure to check the background before you post them.Your desk may look amazing but is the overflowing washing basket in the background our your sink full of dishes. 
  6. EDIT your images. Sometimes with a bit of editing you can turn improve an image. I took this image on honeymoon a few years ago.Image Mistakes|Speak SocialI edited it on my phone to this image and ended up being a finalist in the iPhoneography competition that year. My images were in one of the iStores for a while. There are so many apps out there that allow you to make simple edits.Image Mistakes|Speak Social
  7. Be consistent. If you look back across my blog posts and images on the website, there is a distinct look. I try to make sure that all the images I share are relevant to the post but also in line with my brand look and feel. This is important to keep in mind on your Instagram feed especially. People may see one image in isolation but if they look at your profile there should be a consistent look and feel to the page.

 

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Persistence |Speak SocialToday’s post is of a personal nature but hopefully it is a message that resonates with you and pushes some of you to keep going. Once a month I attend a networking session, it is a great way to get out of my house (also my office) and meet other entrepreneurs and potentially find some new clients. Each month there is a different motivational speaker, which is probably my favourite part.

 

Yesterday Thuli Sithole spoke to about rising up and being who we were meant to be. It was a long talk but what I want to focus on today was persistence. Her story is, obviously one of success, but it is also one of persistence. She shared how her father, one of 18 children born in Apartheid South Africa went on to become a respected surgeon. He worked extremely hard for this but also persisted against incredibly odds. 

 

Before I carry on, let’s just look at the definition of persistence.

The fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Some days I think this could also be the definition of an entrepreneur because we all face daily difficulties and opposition when we decide to become our own bosses or pursue a dream. The key word for me in the definition is “CONTINUED”. It is those who keep moving despite the hurdles and the challenges and the road blocks that succeed.

 

Two of the ladies in the group shared their journey. Both of them faced obstacles, one considered closing her business two years ago and now she has an award winning product that is doing amazing things. 

 

The other one started with nothing, literally and now 8 years later she employs 3 permanent staff and 9 temp staff. She said something that stuck with me and speaks to persistence. She said “I learnt everything I could in my field and irritated people until they eventually gave me what I wanted just so I would go away. Now I am not advocating irritating people but this speaks to her persistence to gain the knowledge she needed. She now supports her three children on her own.

 

Some days it is incredibly hard to stay motivated to keep persisting because you climb over one rock to find a mountain, you just reach the top and suddenly there is a swamp you need to cross. It can feel relentless and often it IS relentless but I believe if we persist we will achieve the successes we want. 

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. Bill Bradley

 

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Yoast | Speak SocialDoes SEO confuse you? Do you even know what it means? Is it important?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is important.

Google defines SEO as â€śIt is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.” This is the simple version and for the sake of this post we will leave it at that, but it is a more complex issue than that.

There are a few tools available to help you manage and optimise your own SEO. The one that I use across all the WordPress websites I manage is called YOAST.

 

 

It is a pretty simple to use Plugin that will help you to get the most out of your key words.

Step 1

Go to your website dashboard and click on Plugins on the left hand side menu bar. The click ADD NEW.

 

In the search bar type in YOAST SEO and chose the one shown below. Once it has been installed, you can click on Activate

 

Yoast | Speak Social

Step 2

When you are adding a new post or a new page, the Yoast info will appear at the bottom of the post as per the below screen shot. When you write your post, the aim is to turn all the red lights to green.

Yoast | Speak Social

Step 3

Once you have written your post, add your focus keyword into the focus keyword field and see what happens. If the little circle is still red or orange it will tell you why.Yoast | Speak Social

Step 4

Work through the list and change what you can to make sure that you turn the red and orange items to green. It is possible to get two overall green circles but still have some orange/red items. Try to “fix” what you can though, even if it is overall green.

Yoast | Speak Social

It is always a good idea to have your key word before you start your post so that you can make sure that you use it throughout the post and in the headings.

 

You do also need to make sure that you are using relevant keywords in all the content you are sharing on your website. You may not use it in a specific post as your keyword but you can still make sure you use relevant key words in all your content.

 

Like I mentioned before though, SEO can get very complex and even if every single one of your posts has all the green lights you may not be featured as high up in searches as you would like. If you are looking for additional help with this contact Sheldon at 247 SEO.

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If you have a business that shares content, whether it is on social media, newsletters or a blog you need to have a content calendar.

 

A content calendar is simply a plan of all the content you want to share with your audience across the various channels you have chosen to use. It is a vital tool for your business for a few reasons.

 

A content calendar prevents last minute scrambling for content

 

A content calendar allows you to always have content. It eliminates last minute scrambling for something to post to your social media channels. Having content to post also means you have content that is relevant, especially if you are creating content for blog posts or articles on your site.

 

Tracking content with a content planner prevents repetitive content. If you can see all your content laid out in advance you will be able to see what you have shared already and avoid over sharing types of content.

 

The most obvious advantage of a content calendar is that it saves time.  Once your basic calendar template is set up, adding content because easier and ultimately saves time.

 

A content calendar helps you to keep track of important dates, like public holidays and awareness days  that are relevant to your industry.

 

Now you know why you need it, but how do you go about setting a content calendar up?

 

There are a variety of ways you can set up a content calendar, there are templates you can download. Most of the templates are basic exel spreadsheet that lists the platforms you want to share, what content you want to share and to which content you want to share it. I have set up a very basic one on Google Docs that you can start with. Make any adjustments you may need to make it work for your content.

 

Once you have the template you want to use, start by completing all the important dates you already have. This includes public holidays, awareness days, launch days, when you want to host a special. 

Add all relevant public holidays and awareness days

Once those days are completed you can start work on the rest of the content you need. Use your analytics on each platform to gauge when is the best time to share your content, focus on those times. Re-evaluate this every few months to make sure that you are still sharing at the correct times.

 

You will need to different template for each platform, the times may be different and the content you share will differ slightly. For example you may only share once a day on your Facebook page but you can share up to 6 times a day on Twitter.

 

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Facebook Page Audit|SpeakSocial

Setting up a Facebook page is pretty simple, Facebook has set it up in a such a way that all you need to do is follow the prompts, add some images and off you go. In theory it is that simple but in practice you do need to put some thought into your Facebook page and make sure that you are use of all the tools that are available to you.

 

Take a few minutes to check your Facebook page for these 5 things. 

 

1. Cover Photo. Your cover photo is one of the first things people see when they arrive at your Facebook page, make sure that you make the best impression possible.
Your Facebook cover image displays at 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall on computers and 640 pixels wide by 360 pixels tall on smartphones. It is important to make sure that whatever image you are using fits into these dimensions. Canva has a few layouts you can use but it also allows you to see if your image will work or not.

 

Make sure your branding is on the cover photo so that people can clearly see who you are and what your business is. In the “Add a description” filed when you upload your cover photo, add a short description about your business with a call to action with a link.

 

2. Contact Details and About Section. This is a very important section of your page. Can people find out what exactly you offer on your page and if they want to contact you, are your details easily available. Add a valid email address that is monitored regularly and if you are going to add a phone number make sure that the phone is answered.
Most pages have a short about section and a long about section, complete both sections. Use the longer section to add in as much info as you can about what you offer and end off with a call to action. Add your other social media links into your About page

 

3. Profile Picture. Chose a picture that works well as a smaller image and is clear. The dimensions for your profile picture displays at 170×170 pixels on a computer, 128×128 pixels on a smartphone. The picture will be cropped square, bear this in mind when you are deciding a what picture to use. Using your logo, if it works as a square is a good idea.

 

4. Vanity URL. Think careful about this when you are setting up your page, if the name you want is taken already, adjust your name in a way that makes sense. Avoid adding random numbers or letters to the end of your name. Try to abbreviate your name, add an SA or ZA to the end if you are South African based.

 

Facebook allows you to change this name once. If for some reason you do have a name change, make sure to change the Facebook URL as well.

 

5. Call to Action Button. Set a call to action button, test it to make sure that it works and takes clients exactly where you want them to go. Avoid sending them to a basic website, people don’t want to look around for things. If you have a shop, take them directly to your online shop. If you want them to sign up to a newsletter, take them directly to the newsletter sign up form.

 

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Who doesn’t want to work from home? Avoid the traffic and set their own hours?

 

One of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs don’t plan for is how to effectively manage their time. When you work in an office job, there are set hours and a set list of things you need to get done for that day. You have a boss who monitors those hours and tasks and colleagues who remind you it is time to leave.

 

When you are sitting in your home office it is very easy for 17h00 to become 19h00 which turns to 2h00 just quickly. It is also easy to get distracted, especially if you have children who are also at home. You walk to the kitchen and notice the cupboard you store your coffee in needs to be reorganised immediately or you spend all morning moving stuff around on your desk but very little work happens.

 

It happens to us all. Learning to adjust to working for yourself in a home office environment is a process and it takes some time to find your routine. Hopefully these tips can help.

 

You need a schedule. Find something that works for you, maybe it is printed planner or maybe you find a Google Calendar useful. It doesn’t matter how you set that schedule, just set it. Start by adding in the things that are non-negotiable in your day like school pick-ups or your daily yoga class and then add in the rest of the activities you need to get done. Schedule things like email time and time to check your social media pages so that you don’t get caught up in scrolling through Facebook all day.

 

Find your productivity time. Are you a night owl or an early bird? Figure out what time’s work best for you and take advantage of that time. Schedule your most important work for those hours. Avoid setting meetings or other activities during this time, use it to get through your most pressing tasks.

 

Break it down. If you try and do everything in one day, you probably aren’t going to get much down. Break your to do list down into more achievable smaller goals, list the 5 most important items that you have to get done and focus on those first.

 

Time it. Using a timer can be very effective in getting things done. Allow yourself a reasonable amount of time though, don’t make the time too short or too long. You know how long it should take you to get something done.

 

Get up and walk around. Taking a break is an important part of your work day, it helps you clear your head and recharge a little bit. If you have children who are at home with you, use this time for them. Set a time for the break though, so you don’t lose focus.

 

Turn off notifications. It is so easy to get distracted by all the notifications popping up everywhere. There are notifications for emails, Facebook comments, a new tweet, a connection on LinkedIn. It may take a second to check each one but by the time you have checked them, there are a whole lot more to check. Switch them all off, close pages you aren’t working on and turn the notifications off.

 

Set meeting days. Meetings can be disruptive to your day but they are necessary. Scheduling all your meetings on one day means you disrupt one day instead a few days in the week. 

 

Get help. It is easy to get bogged down with stuff that you don’t enjoy doing or don’t want to do, outsource those activities. Hire an accountant or a Virtual Assistant to take away the tasks that you are preventing you from being productive. This could even mean hiring a domestic helper or a nanny to help you at home.

 

Say no. When you are starting your new business, it is hard to say no but it is vital. Saying yes to everyone who needs your help (whether they pay for it or not) isn’t the best idea. It is ok to say no when you already have a full plate. Decide what work you really want to say yes, what you can do realistically and then say no to all the rest.

 

High Five yourself. When you achieve the goals, you have set for yourself, give yourself a reward. It can be something small

 

If you found this article useful, please share it. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

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Everyone has a set of tools they use to make their life easier. I have tried out a few different tools over the last few years but I keep coming back to these, they just make sense for me and work for what I need to be done.

1. Hootsuite. I use Hootsuite daily to manage all my clients social media pages. It allows you to link your Facebook page, Google+ and LinkedIn account, Twitter, and Instagram. It also automatically schedules posts at the best times for your audience. I love that I can see all my different accounts on one page. It is free for up to 3 accounts but the monthly fee is pretty reasonable.
2. Outlook. I used to have all my email addresses forwarded to gmail but it just got messy so I moved everything over to Outlook and it makes it so much neater for me. I can see all the inboxes at a glance, it is easy to combine all my meetings from each different email address.
3. Canva. I would be lost without Canva, I use it for everything because they have a template for everything. It is also so easy to use, simply upload your image or add your elements and you are done. It is a nice way to create a cohesive look for your brand.
4. Messenger. This may be a strange one to add to the list but it is how I primarily communicate with some of my clients. It is easy to send videos, images and with if you have the app on your phone you can access the information all the time.
5. Google Drive. Dropbox and I have not had a great relationship but I Google Drive is so easy to use and it is more affordable. A while ago I was travelling and had some laptop issues, I was able to borrow a laptop, login to my Google Drive account and all the documents were there, so I was still able to work.

 

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I am so excited about my new look. It makes me happy to be on my website and see my new brand. Lizelle did so well in managing the process and helped me bring my vision to fruition. To be honest I didn’t realise just what a difference having a brand I LOVED and not just liked, would actually make. 

To celebrate all this awesomeness, I have partnered with some amazing brands to put together a great giveaway for you. 

     

So what can you win?

 

Lizelle from The Royal Elephant Designs is giving away a logo design.

Janelle from Beloved Interiors has added her stunning golden bull dog clips to the mix.

My coach, Taryn-Lee Kearney has offered a free coaching session (which will change your life).

Sheldon from 247seo will give you one month free SEO management.

Michelle from Interiors Etc is giving this stunning Ipanema vase, which I personally love. 

Lizl Burger from sanserif is giving you an awesome A3 Calendar Desk Pad.

 

And I am going to be throwing in a free Social Media Audit.

 

Please don’t forget that leaving a comment is the only mandatory entry mechanism. 

 

The competition ends on the 17th March.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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