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Advice for Starting a Business or Freelance Career

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed nearly everyone's work situation, whether you are laid-off, furloughed, working from home, or suddenly finding your job obsolete. I know this may carry a huge financial burden, but the 'silver lining' that I've seen is the opportunity that's emerged for passionate people to create what they've always wanted to create, especially when it comes to work. Personally, I have been overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the number of people in my wider circle who are starting businesses, or pursuing a freelancing career. I took baby steps over the course of a decade to get to the place I am now- year 3 of full-time self-employment- and here are some things I wish I had taken to heart when I was starting out!1. Put yourself out there. Ok, this seems obvious but also...

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Diversifying your Business Online

Well, here we are. . . week 2, 3 , 4 (I've lost count!) of isolation and pandemic pandemonium. How are you holding up? I truly hope that you are safe and healthy, and that you're finding some value in this unexpected quiet, slow-paced time that we find ourselves in. In my last blog post, I talked about ways to make the most of this time at home (if you have the luxury of extra time!) to start thinking about a more-online business model. This might mean that you are pivoting your existing business to be online, even though you are used to more face-to-face interaction. Or maybe you already have some sort of online presence, but are taking advantage of this time to revamp your website, social media, branding, etc. In this post I want to talk about some of these ideas in more detail. So...

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Making the most of this unexpected time at home

We are all being affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus, whether we are sick or not. For me, it's sort of business-as-usual (only in the sense that I always work from home), but for many (including some of my clients) this pandemic and the ripple effect it's caused have thrown "regular" routines into chaos. And though the nation-wide and world-wide economic impact is still unknown, many of us are already feeling the pinch in our wallets because we rely on face-to-face contact for our work, or our clients do. Well, in the spirit of optimism and "making lemonade" out of a shitty (pardon my French) situation, I say- How can we make the most of this strange time and use this situation as a reason to pivot our businesses towards a more online model, or boost our current online presence? ...

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Are you using Facebook to its full potential?

Most individuals and businesses are on Facebook, which still the most popular social media platform. So chances are, if you're a small business owner, you've created a business page. But are you using it to its full potential? Is it working for you as a way to drive traffic to your website and/ or to grow your online community? I know Facebook can be confusing (because they are frequently updating and changing its functionality), and advertising on it can seem really expensive and complicated, but here are some current (2020) ways to use Facebook for free, beyond your standard posting. Setting up your Facebook Business page: You probably already have a page set up for your business, but have you thoroughly combed through all of the "static" content on your page? It's important to check...

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What’s your 2020 Vision?

I don't know about you, but every time the calendar changes, I find it very useful to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next year. Taking stock of accomplishments, failures, hit and misses helps us to rearrange what's not working in our lives/ businesses and feel good about what is working. We can then refocus our energy and intentions on the year ahead with a clear vision of what we want to attain and how to get there.  So I have a gift for you, to get your brain started thinking about the year ahead, and how you can make it the best year ever! Here is my quick little 2-page worksheet- "My Vision of 2020" . Download it, print it, and fill it out in the next few days when you're feeling grounded and optimistic. Also, if you'd like something more in-depth that helps you...

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Pre-Marketing 101

So you've started a business, or maybe you have an existing business but you're not selling as many online courses, custom bicycles, jellybeans, etc. as you'd like. Is that you? Do you hear terms like "click funnel", "SEO" and "retargeting" and feel overwhelmed or confused? Are you wary of spending money creating Facebook ads, Google ads or hiring an SEO expert because you aren't sure it's going to pay off? Well, let's slow down for a minute and do a little pre-marketing work. *If you're a visual person, download and print this worksheet to fill out after reading this post!  Step 1: What is working/ not working on your website so far? If you don't already have a Google Analytics account, set one up now.  This is a free tool that will give you a comprehensive look at how many people are...

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Spotlight Article: The Jill of All Trades

No man (or woman) is an island and as a "solopreneur"/ freelancer working alone can be isolating. So I try to meet as many like-minded people as possible, attending networking groups, creating relationships with other small business owners & freelancers and join groups like the Jill of All Trades- A national organization based here in Madison that supports and promotes women in business. Recently they did a "spotlight" article on me and my business! Check it out. . . Jess Parvin fully embraces all the flexibility and fun that carving a freelance career has to offer.  After a successful experience as a museum curator at the Smithsonian, Jess now builds on her love of art and design by continuously educating herself and developing the latest skills to keep her on the cutting edge of...

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Is Your Site Secure?

Does your site have an SSL certificate? You will know if this is the case because your domain will have an https prefix (not http). SSL stands for "Secure Sockets Layer" and is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. If you don’t have the SSL certificate, a "secure connection" cannot be established, which means that your company information will not be digitally connected to a cryptographic key. Why is this important? Well, in the past I only suggested SSL certificates to clients who were asking for information from visitors, and especially e-commerce sites that accept payment online. However, this year Google (the Grand...

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What Makes a Great Website

Knowing when you need to hire a professional Ok, I'm probably a bit biased since I design websites professionally but I think anyone who is serious about their business needs to have a quality website that represents that. So often clients come to me who have built their own DIY site (usually with Wix or Squarespace) and after many, many frustrating hours, they hire me to build them a Wordpress website. Remember: your time is valuable and you should be using it to do the things that you do best to support your business. So most of the time, just hiring a professional off the bat can save you tons of time and money! Great Branding The first step to building a great site is great design, which starts with a logo and branding scheme (colors, fonts, etc). If you're not a designer and...

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Gaines & Wagoner

I love working with musicians. My partner, Josh, is a professional musician and we spent many years "on the road".  So even though I don't play an instrument or sing, I am intimately familiar with the lifestyle and the ups and downs of the profession. Chris Wagoner & his wife Mary Gaines are local Madison legends who have played with everyone, including being part of Josh's backing band on many occasions. They have also had their own bands, most notably the Stellanovas and the Moon Gypsies. Recently they came to me because they wanted to rebrand as Gaines & Wagoner- a duo project that features their original tunes as well as some classics with Mary on the cello and bass and Chris on mandolin or fiddle. As far as branding, we decided on a cool pseudo-retro vibe. We were lucky...

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