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Caitlin McDonald and Amber Irwin Social Speak Network

Amber and Caitlin are now the center of our interview series.

Though the stories how how we started freelancing differ, the key takeaways are the same. They start with us taking a leap of faith, knowing our values, listening to our target market, and focusing on our strengths rather than trying to tackle everything.

Our ability to run full-force into our new endeavor certainly paid off as we quickly built a six figure freelance agency and even last year experienced a 40% increase in business.

Today, Caitlin and Amber teach freelancers across the world to grow and thrive.

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Mompreneur Series-Casey Smith

Mompreneur Series Interview

I love being able to interview amazing mothers from all over the world! These women have a corporate background and have either left their corporate job to follow their dreams, or others were pushed out of corporate and doors of opportunity came a knockin and changed their lives forever!

In this interview, I am speaking with Casey Smith owner of Wild Liberty Design Co, she left corporate knowing she wanted more to life, even though she was making great money and had amazing benefits, she was her kids growing up without her being able to be apart of their growth. Learn more about how she started a local and online T-shirt business and is building connections both locally and nationally.

If you are ready to take a leap of faith and start your own business, sign-up for our “Start a Business” series here

Interested in learning more? Take a look at the following videos:

How to Tell Your Story

Creating the Right Mindset as an Entrepreneur

Internal and External Goals

Interview with Casey Smith – Wild Liberty Design Co.

What is it like as an entrepreneur? How have you found ways to keep your life organized?

Behind the scenes

I know I feel like each and every day I am running around like crazy. Taking my daughter to school, client work, networking, videos, errands, letting the dog out, house chores, you name it! I have been an entrepreneur for 10 years now, WOW time flies! It can be hard to balance work and life, some nights you are working late, some mornings you are up early, trying to fit everything in in one day! To be honest with you I have really been an entrepreneur at heart since I was 5 years old. I would travel back to Michigan each Summer and started helping my grandma and grandpa in their H&R Block office in Oscoda, MI. I helped make coffee, answer phones, once I learned how to read they had me filing paperwork, getting forms, speaking with the customers and from that moment I knew I wanted to own my very own business. The joy of having my own clients, my own desk, my own business name it was so exciting to me!  Once I set out on my own in 2007 I have been like the energizer bunny who just keeps going and going! I really don’t know how to STOP! I love working, I love having a busy schedule and learning new things. I feel that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to keep yourself busy with the right things, set your goals, be organized and set boundaries.

Who’s with me as a female entrepreneur we wear many different hats during the day. I can be on a conference call while changing laundry or letting the dog out.  We have to organize the family schedules, work schedules, and fun schedules. People have NO clue what goes on behind the scenes of your day to day life!

Being Organized

I have always been organized in life, ask my mom! I love things neat, clean and organized. I have realized over this past year, life is NOT always like that. We have been going through a remodel of our house and it has been a bit challenging. We have contractors in and out all day, trying to organize their schedules is like trying to find a taxi in New York!

I try really hard to remain ORGANIZED, but sometimes I feel like I am just overwhelmed. I am shifting my schedules and my day around to find time to write blogs, make videos, and take calls. It’s easy for calls because they CAN’T see my office or lack of space for an office. When I do my videos I NEED a nice clean background, that can be hard to find right now. So, what I guess I am trying to get at it, it’s ok to be disorganized once in awhile. It has shown me the importance of setting that foundation early on in my career of being able to adapt to different situations and know what I need to get my work done each day. You just have to be a little creative some days.

A few tools I found to keep my family and business organized:

Google Calendar – Everything I do is on my calendar! I can invite my husband to family functions or my business partner Caitlin to team calls. I can color code each of my calendars, from networking, personal, writing, videos, etc. It keeps me on my toes. I love when things are color coordinated, so this is perfect!

Google Drive and Google Pictures – these allow me to share documents with my family and business life.  I can have different folders for personal and business. I have my daily task sheet on Google Sheets for everything I need to get done each day, our client information, social media posts and more. I am able to share documents or folders with the people I want. The thing I like the most is I can access the items from any device I own! It makes my life SO much easier.

It is important to find these systems to put in place to help you stay on track. As an entrepreneur we can get lost in creating our own schedules so staying organized and setting boundaries is key!

Putting systems in place and being able to delegate

One thing we have earned over the past 10 years is we can’t do EVERYTHING! In order for our company to grow we needed to find people to help with daily tasks, maybe twitter followers, Facebook Likes, Content writing, etc. We wrote down one day things we LOVE to do for our clients and things we know we need to do, but not in love with it. We then reached out to the local colleges and found interns to help!  We have been able to put systems in place for each client on what needs to be done and when. how much time it should take and when the project should be complete. We were then able to implement these systems with our interns and now contractors. By putting these systems in place it allows us to be able to create a schedule for what we want to get done and the flexibility for our team to work when they can.

Don’t get me wrong this did NOT happen overnight, it took us awhile to find the right people and what the right tasks were for them, we have had about 7 people work for us and some didn’t work out, some went their own ways but still keep in touch and for our interns they all ended up getting awesome jobs, thanks to us!

It’s like that motto, “You have to spend money to make money” well in a way it is true. If you try to manage everything in your business you will limit yourself. Start making lists of the things you love to do in your business and the things that you don’t love. Maybe like your books, calls, networking, social media, etc. Then start looking for other businesses that offer those services. Ask friends or even post to Upwork.

It is scary taking the first step to delegating something, trust me coming from a control freak, nothing is the way you do it! HAHA Once you find the right person or company it takes a BIG weight off your shoulders that is one less thing you have to worry about and you know it is getting done.

What should every entrepreneur have in their business-

We are so excited to have had Russ Barnes on our radio show August 12th, 2017. He is such a remarkable person! Here are just a few topics we covered:

1) Customer, customer, customer – without the customer you are out of business.  Listening to the customer will help you improve your product or service.
2) Message, message, message – in order for customers to find you, they must believe that you can solve their problem in such a way that they are willing to pay for the solution.
3) Value, value, value – the more value you can deliver, the less resistance you will experience when acquiring customers.
4) Target market – be a big fish in a small pond. The idea that EVERYONE can use your product or service positions you as a tiny fish in a huge ocean.  When you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.
5) Decision making – successful business is certainly what you do, but it is more effectively achieved by how you think about what you do. Resource management is critical.
6) Progression – understand what it takes to get from where you are to where you want to be.  This is your growth strategy.
7) Advisors – build your team of advisors carefully.  No one develops a successful business alone. Cooperate and collaborate, but compensate. No one wants to work for free.
8) Earn money to hire experts. Focus on what you do to make money and then pay experts to do what they do best to help you maximize your time and rapidly achieve outcomes.  Know the calculation that will tell you whether you can hire an expert and when you can hire the expert.
9) Don’t get complacent. Never stop learning.  Perhaps we can talk about books, magazines, webinars, libraries, incubators, or other educational resources that business owners can access for little to no money.
10) Love, love, love what you do or find a way to transition into something that you do love.

Here is a little bit more about who Russ Barnes is:

Russ Barnes, USAF Colonel (retired), MBA, MS

Colonel Russ Barnes is the CEO and Senior Business Advisor to Entrepreneurs and Executives at Systro Consulting, an organization design firm specializing in small business development.  He has more than 30 years of experience in organization development drawn from military service, franchise ownership, academic programs, and strategy consulting, specifically with small businesses.

As an aviator, Russ flew combat missions during Desert Storm and later held senior leadership positions in several higher headquarters staff organizations which include Air Combat Command Headquarters, the Pentagon, Strategic Command Headquarters, European Command Headquarters, and Central Command Headquarters.   He has received the Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and more than 20 other peacetime and wartime decorations.

After retirement from the military, Russ grew his franchise territory from zero to profitability in less than three years.  His growth was based on a clear vision, building an effective network, consistently delivering a quality product and maintaining a relentless focus on customer service.

Russ is a graduate of the Referral Institute Certified Networker program where he received extensive training in referral marketing. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Manhattan College (NY), his MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and his Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies from Air University.  He is currently pursuing a PhD in Organization Development at Benedictine University.

Contact Info:
Email:
Russ@systro.org
Website: www.systro.org
Social media: www.linkedin.com/in/rcbarnes
Phone number: 813 520-5770

From the suburbs of Denver, Colorado to the beaches of Palm harbor, Florida, working from home has been an adventure! Being able to spend time as a family and raise our daughter Allisun who turns 5 in September has been such a blessing.

Managing a company was easy, being able to manage a company, a child and life, now that takes some skill!

Since the day Allisun was born she came to networking events, meetings, one-to-ones and much more! Our clients loved it! We moved to Florida in 2015 and once we moved she started preschool 3 days a week, which is a great for me to get work done and for her to learn!

Meet the Florida family:

Allisun:

She is 4 ½ , turning 5 in September, but what’s that saying 4 going on 16?? Yeah that’s what I deal with! I love my daughter she is funny, smart, caring, sporty, fearless and such a DIVA! She has such a good personality and I love to watch her grow each and everyday! 

My Hubby Charlie:

He is the reason I wanted to move to Florida, to be able to give him a chance to get out of corporate, spend more time with his girls (Me & Alli of course) and enjoy life! He worked 12-13 hours a day in Colorado, loved his job, but the commute was very hard! Money was great but didn’t buy our happiness! He is my rock!

Charles Irwin

Our high-maintenance PITBULL Bodhi:

He is 6 years old, we rescued him from a puppy shelter in Colorado when he was 3 months old, we just fell in love with him, he is such a baby! He likes for us to stand outside with him when he does his business, his food needs to be a certain way, and certain distance from his water bowl, oh the list goes on with this little boy! I have raised a high maintenance, spoiled, loving dog!

Oh let’s not forget our two tortoises:

G.G. Emily (named after Allisun’s Great Grandma who passed in 2014) and Mavis who is named after the turtle on Dolphin Tale 2! These were our “Black Friday Special” in 2015 a month after we moved to Florida. They will be in our family for along time!

 

 

Thank god I am an AMAZING multi-tasker, because there is never a dull moment in our household! I truly enjoy most days HAHA! Being an entrepreneur and having a business of my own (with business partner Caitlin) has been amazing! I wouldn’t trade this adventure for any other!

Over the past few years, to say social media has exploded would be an understatement. Members of social media sites have discovered it’s the easiest way to find, learn about, and share information that directly influences their purchasing decisions. It is this reason alone that every business should be on multiple social media sites in an effort to reach as many people as possible.

Below are the top 11 reasons to use social media in business:

1. Build relationships – personal and professional; connect with all types of people – past and present coworkers, current clients, prospects, vendors, competitors, and marketing professionals to build your network

2. Share information – share your blog posts; share interesting and useful articles, other blogs, webinars, podcasts, presentations, and poll/survey results with your fan base

3.Gather valuable information – research similar products/services, competitors, prospects, marketing tips, blog ideas, create your own poll/survey – the amount of information available is endless

4. Join a social network of like-minded individuals or start a new interest group where you can further brand your product/service, build relationships, and share ideas and information

5. Stay current with the latest trends – write a blog or join a discussion on a trending topic; become aware of new social media sites that might fit the needs of your business

6. Land a great new job – using your new connections on various social media sites, you can get the inside scoop on companies that are hiring, as well as resume and interview tips

7.Discover a new passion in life, become a volunteer, or start a fundraising event

8. Get found by prospects by using inbound marketing tactics – spread the word about your product/service through social media sites; to form a complete marketing plan, combine this with outbound techniques (interruptive marketing)

9. Build business reputation and brand – constantly add value to all your posts and become a trustworthy leader in your industry; to quote Bob Burg, “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust.”

10. Build a marketing department inexpensively – for start-ups, employing inbound marketing tactics is a cheap way to start marketing your product/service; most social media sites are free to join, while others have a minimal monthly or yearly fee

11. Help increase conversion rates – use social media and inbound marketing to steer more organic traffic to your website and convert more leads into sales; the average

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7108746

This is a great article:

With over 750 million users globally on Facebook, Facebook marketing is a popular way to reach a wider target audience. Since Facebook marketing is totally different from any other type of marketing previously done on the Internet, it is important to learn how to use Facebook properly for business. Otherwise, it will cost you money, time and effort.

Tip #1: Keep it Social Before Selling

With the thought of millions of customers in short reach through Facebook, many businesses make the common mistake of pitching their product or service directly to the users.

The most crucial factor to remember is that people on Facebook are there primarily to socialize with other users. They are not primarily there to shop and purchase products. If you attempt to sell directly or hard sell to members of Facebook, you will not be successful.

However, if your business is serious about using Facebook as a tool to market your product or service, the first step is to create a Business/Fan page on Facebook and invite people to like the page. Use this page to create buzz around what your business has to offer. Your product or service should offer solutions to your target audience.

The next step is to post value driven content to the people on your page. You can post pictures, videos and other commentary that provides some kind of benefit to your target audience and fans. Urge your fans to take action by posting comments and queries pertaining to your post. The key here is to get them to engage with your page, and develop relationships with them. Since Facebook is an online platform where people go to socialize, ensure that it is an exciting experience for them to go to your page.

Tip #2: Increase Your LIKES or Fans

Why is it desirable for your business for people to click LIKE on your page? Every time you put fresh information on your page, each person who LIKED your page will see the post on their newsfeed.

Therefore, if two thousand people LIKED your Facebook page, there is a potential of up to two thousand people to see your post, and potentially create a viral effect.

Tip #3: Use Facebook Advertisements

You can spread the word of your page and increase the number of Likes to your page by using Facebook Advertisement (Ads). Facebook Ads are quite different from Google AdWords. With Facebook, it is easier to target a specific demographic audience. A crucial feature of a Facebook ad is the graphic or picture used in the advertisement. It is essential to select an image that will draw the attention of people, which encourages them to see your advertisement and click on it.

To achieve success with your ad, you should target your possible viewers, and you can use the services of a website like Quantcast.com to access the demographics of the types of people who may be interested in your particular product.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6656830

Why use social media marketing?

Many of today’s successful businesses have been around for years, long before the internet was a viable option in marketing a product. Although billboards, TV commercials, and radio and print advertisements have been successful in the past, they will not have the impact they once did in today’s market. Many people no longer check the newspaper for movie times, they reference online venues. Many people no longer hand-write letters, they electronically draft emails. Many shy away from garage sells when they can utilize Craigslist. While some may resist the facts, this country and the rest of the world relies on technology more and more every day. This is not something to dread or dwell upon; it is something to take advantage of!

For anyone born after 1980, it is easy to notice the growing popularity of social networks and it does not take a genius to identify the direction in which our world’s social media market’s popularity will continue to move. People from the age of 20 to 29 use social media more than any other age group, with 41% spending 11+ hours a week on social media sites. Age 30 to 39 is the next most frequent user base of social media, with 37% of them spending 11+ hours a week on social media sites as well. While the younger age groups on these networking sites will be more interested in social status, the older groups will focus on marketing and advertising. Understandably, most people have heard of Facebook, which has become the largest social networking website to date. Facebook has over 500 million users, half of which log-on at least once per day. Among the US internet populace, 72% are members of Facebook, with ages 18-24 seeing the most rapid growth. That is 36% of this country’s internet users visit a single website each day! It would be exceptionally hard to find another channel with that kind of impact. Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs are just a few of the other popular social networks available today, all providing remarkable accessibility to a large group of people.

Social media is the fastest growing marketing tool, and any business not capitalizing on its numerous capabilities could be at a disadvantage to its competitors. Waiting around and not taking advantage of this vastly growing marketing tool is an opportunity that companies are missing. Business is ever evolving and so must marketing campaigns in order to keep pace with the competition. So then why wouldn’t someone immediately get involved with social marketing? It cannot be money, as most of these networks are free. It cannot be experience, because anyone can outsource their social marketing for dirt cheap. Most people just do not know. They do not know what it is, nor understand its capabilities. But most importantly, they are unaware of the positive economic growth it will potentially have on their company.

Social media marketing is the attempt to broadcast various forms of media over social networking technologies, plain and simple. A few perks of social media include increased exposure, increased lead generation, gaining of new partnerships, increased traffic, and marketing cost reductions. On average, 88% of marketers using social media have reported increased exposure for their business. Almost half of these individuals who employed marketing tactics through social media for 12 months or less reported new partnerships gained. Users who spent 6 hours or less per week saw their lead generation increase, and 58% of small business owners using social media marketing were more likely to see marketing cost reductions.

The internet is providing this world with new products, capabilities, and tools that have never before been possible. Social media marketing provides the ability to potentially influence hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people for a fraction of the cost of outdated marketing methods. It is the responsibility of today’s businessmen to focus on the future of every market and the direction it is heading. Social media is a wise investment for almost any company and will be more beneficial the earlier it becomes integrated within a company’s strategic initiative. Social media networking is only going to grow, and my best advice at this point is to establish your brand as soon as possible through these means.

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-marketing-industry-report-2011/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6602049

Most of us have used social media at one time or another. Not only is it a good place to find old friends from school, but it can be used for online marketing strategy. You probably have heard of Facebook©, Twitter©, and LinkedIn©, with the latter being geared more towards business people in general. I am going to show you how to use these networks to benefit your business.

Here are some amazing statistics about Facebook© alone.

  • In 2010 a 207% over 2009 in searches.
  • It was the most searched term in 2010.
  • A record-breaking 750 million photos were uploaded over New Years weekend.
  • 71.2% of all U.S. internet users are on Facebook©.
  • Ad revenue for Facebook will top $2.2 billion in 2011.
  • 700 million active users on Facebook©.
  • 175 million users on Twitter©.

 

Using social media can be very advantageous for businesses worldwide. I know myself I use all of the above mentioned social media companies for my business. Your contacts that you acquire by finding someone you know or who might join your network can become a social media tool for you. What I do occasionally on my own Facebook© page is drop a link to one of my websites. I will either have someone give me a comment about the link which opens me up to extend conversation with that person more on a personal basis. Below I have listed what I consider the best free ways to use social media to improve your business.

  • Be your self– What I mean by this is to engage in conversations online like you would in person. Tell the person a little about yourself and what your goals are. Build a relationship and later they could become your customer because you have gained their trust.
  • Place a link to your website on social networks– My placing an occasional link to your website or an offer you may have that would benefit someone you can also receive comments back from people and tell them more about your business. Sites like Facebook© and Twitter© permit links as long as you keep from spamming. Do everything in moderation and you can be rewarded.
  • Create a page for your business– Another free way to gain exposure for your business is to create a page on Facebook©. By creating your own business page you can reach thousands of people.

 

We just covered a few free ways to get your business seen using social media, now let us look at paid advertising on these networks. As I told you currently 700 million people use Facebook© alone and another 175 million use Twitter©. It only makes sense to target your advertising campaigns on these social media networks. Using social media advertising you can target your audience my age, income, and demographics. Pin-pointing your advertising is more cost-effective and will give you a bigger piece of the pie.

My advice to you is not to overlook the power of social media. Indulge frequently with your contacts and reap the rewards of trust.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6578589