BUILD YOUR BUSINESS DURING NAPTIME

Sometimes, the only time we have to get anything done is while our kids are napping. Check out the 9 tasks that will help you leverage this precious time, as well as 13 ways to keep older (or more stubborn) kids occupied.

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4 Business Lessons from a Crappy Amazon Review

Ever run across a bad review on Amazon? I don’t mean a poorly written review, but a review that shreds the product into pieces leaving it whimpering in the corner.

I ran across one of those reviews today. I didn’t set it out to find it. I actually started off on someone’s Facebook profile. They talked so much about how delighted everyone was by their book that I just had to check it out. It takes up most of their Facebook profile. Updates about their fans, and fan mail, and raving reviews.

So out of curiosity, I checked out their book on Amazon (which I suppose was the point of all of their posts, so mission accomplished). Imagine my shock when I saw that it only had 5 reviews.

Just kidding. I wasn’t surprised at all. When someone talks that much about their own stuff it often means they’re overcompensating.

Here are 4 quick takeaways from a crappy Amazon review, and how you can apply them to your business:

1. Don’t be the only one talking about your product/service

When you’re the only one talking about your stuff it diminishes your authority, and when your stuff is all you talk about, frankly it smacks of desperation. This is why testimonials are so helpful for your business. They help show that you’ve made a difference in someone else’s life.

2. Don’t just have reviews from friends & family

Okay so you may have read the line about testimonials and thought “but Amanda, you were reading reviews! Isn’t that like testimonials?” Sure. But it was very obvious that all 4 of the favorable reviews were from friends or family. One of which gave it a 5 star review after only reading the prelude.

When it comes to books it may be an accepted practice to get a round of reviews from friends and family, but if all they’re going to do is spit out an automatic 5 star review then you wind up with the written equivalent of someone who’s on American Idol because of all their family and friends said they were an amazing singer.

3. Nobody is above proofing/editing

I don’t care how good a writer you think you are, you’re not above proofreading. And it’s never a bad idea to get a second pair of eyes on your product. Make sure you pick someone whose grammar/spelling are impeccable. And if you’re going to put a book on Amazon, consider hiring an editor.

Fun fact: When I wrote this, I accidentally wrote “I don’t care how good a singer you think you are”, because I still had “singer” on the brain from the previous paragraph. That is exactly why proofreading is a must.

4. If you must respond to bad press, do it with integrity

Don’t get a friend to write a counter review. Don’t create a fake account and write a counter review. If you absolutely feel like you need to counter the bad press, do it under your own name on your own blog. Make sure that you’re not making a snap judgement. Bad reviews hurt, but it doesn’t automatically mean they’re wrong.

Ten Minute Tutorial: Periscope

Does people talking about Periscope leave you feeling more out of touch than your Dad trying to use “hip” slang?Periscope is a super new platform (less than a year old), so a lot of people are just now discovering it. And others are hesitant to jump on board to a new social media, in case it’s just a trend that fizzles out pretty quickly. The good news is that there’s plenty of room, and it’s the perfect platform for creatives!

I’ve recorded a quick (just under 10 minute) video for you, and I made it nice and simple, with no crazy jargon. 🙂

So one of the things that scares people away from Periscope is it’s unedited nature. Some people like everything to be super polished, and for those people Periscope isn’t a match. But if you like to be more spontaneous, or you’re unsure how to edit, Periscope can be a great fit for you!

One thing I forgot to mention: Periscopes were initially created to broadcast in a vertical/portrait format. People protested because it’s different than any other video platform, so now you can broadcast in vertical/portrait or horizontal/landscape.

Are you on Periscope? If you’re on Periscope, or you’re looking to try it out I’ve got a page of goodies just for you!

Weekend Roundup – Splintered, Fingerless Gloves, and Alcohol Markers

Lisa-Spectrum

Fun things I discovered online…

Go hover over her logo and watch it spin… I may or may not have done it numerous times

Video tutorials on using Copic markers

How to color eyes with Copic markers

I even found tutorials specifically for Spectrum  Noir markers (which is what I’ve got)

The latest in my arsenal for learning Spanish

Currently reading…

Splintered by A. G. Howard – it’s a totally twisted take on Alice in Wonderland… I got halfway through it, and then I misplaced the book, but it’s been re-discovered!

Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra – I haven’t started reading this one  yet, but upon finding out that I’m obsessed with TV (sshhhh no judging), a new friend suggested I look into screenwriting.

Winter by Marissa Meyer – The last of the Lunar Chronicles. I’ve been very good and refrained from reading it through NaNoWriMo madness, but now it’s fair game. But I need to finish Splintered first.

Currently watching…

Gilmore Girls – Would you believe that I’ve never seen it before? But I recently attended a CreativeLive class, and I swear I was the only there who’d never seen it.

Empire – Okay… I have a love hate relationship with this show. They definitely push it on adult content, but I feel like it’s pretty tame when you consider what “real” rap music talks about. But man oh man… every time I think they’ve hit the ultimate “what the heck just happened” they raise the bar.

Psych- Yup. I’ve seen it before. A lot. But it’s my go-to “I’ve had a crappy night” show. Nothing quite cheers me up like a bowl of suck-it soup.

Currently planning…

A Tumblr page for Ulysses

A video blog

Currently making…

Fingerless-Gloves-2

 

Does the word “Mompreneur” make you twitchy?

Mompreneur-Featured

We all have certain words that make us cringe. For Murdoc it’s “MacGyver”. For Edward it’s “Blade”. For some it’s the word “moist”.

I was talking with some lovely friends of mine last week, and we were discussing terms we hate. “Rockstar” = overused. “Fempreneur” = implies that a distinction between male & female entrepreneurs is necessary. ” I threw out that I dislike “girl boss”… shhhhh don’t tell Sophia Amoruso that. I’m sure it’s a lovely book. I just don’t enjoy being called a “girl”. I do realize the irony in this, given that I call people “chick” on a regular basis. I guess we all have our quirks.

One of my friends mentioned that she doesn’t like the term “mompreneur”. To my credit, I didn’t immediately revolt against her. I pondered for a moment. Why am I okay with the term “mompreneur”?

Girls-3.5

The girl on the left is my oldest. She’s one of the reasons I wanted to work from home to begin with. Like most home based businesses, there’s a lot of reasons I made that final leap, but one of the very biggest was the ability to spend time with my children.

 

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Just so my boys don’t feel left out, there they are too. 🙂

For me, mompreneur is the perfect term because my children are very young (my oldest is 10), and this is stage where I’m very cautious about balancing things. I never want my children to feel like my business comes first. My business is for them, as much as it is for me.

Sometimes it’s easy to drown yourself in planning, and making, and doing, and launching. Mompreneur reminds me to keep my priorities in order.

I’m Going on a Bit of a Blogging Adventure

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I’m going on a bit of a blogging adventure, and I’d love for you to come along! For a while now, I’ve been considering writing a blog post on the daily (ish). I say “ish” because we all know life happens, and I feel like adding an “ish” takes the pressure off, and makes this more fun. Which it should be!

I’m inspired by a lot of people who write daily blog posts, including the wonderful Modern Mrs. Darcy. Another favorite of mine, April Bowles-Olin, did a 365 blog challenge back several years ago, and it was great enjoyed by her readers.

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Don’t worry, I won’t send you an email every day (unless you want that, and then I’ll make it happen. 🙂 ), but I’d love for you to come hang out with me as often as you can.

Some of the things I’ll be blogging about are for your business: email, social media, organization, planning, etc.

But for those of us who work from home, our lives are more than just business. So other things I’ll chatting about include: recipes, reviews, and my personal creative endeavors. But more than that, I want share ideas for you to try too, and I’d love to hear back from you. What worked? What didn’t? What do you want to see me write about?

Leave me a comment if you’re coming along for the ride! (Also, if you have anything you’d love to see me blog about please share that in the comments too!)

The Cold Hard Truth About Veteran’s Day

8 years ago, I enlisted in the Air Force

I was 21 years old, and this was one of the biggest decisions of my life.

Amanda Sue in BDU's
Taken in a photo booth at the Lackland Air Force Base BX – Tech School 2007

During the enlisting process, I was told a lot of things by my recruiter. Some one could probably make a Tumblr page of crap recruiters say… cause there’s a lot of it. “You’ll see the world” is a big one.

Well. I was born in New Mexico. I was living in Texas at the time. My basic training was in Texas. My tech school was in Texas. And my first/only  base was in New Mexico. I didn’t get very far on that traveling gig.

I went in with every intention of being a lifer. I’m sure a lot of us did. Some didn’t make it through basic, due to health concerns. Some didn’t make it past tech school, because they just couldn’t make the grade. Some were removed for behavioral issues. But most of us made it to our first base.

They say that first base makes all the difference. I think it’s more than the base. I think it’s the squadron.

Every year, they talk about the suicide rate in the military… and in the Veterans. Today is Veteran’s Day, and this issue is still being discussed.

I have first hand experience with why the suicide rate is so high. It’s not for lack of briefings, although that’s the first thing they ask when something happens… “do we need more briefings?” Gosh no. There’s a briefing every other month on something. Maybe it’s suicide prevention, maybe it’s sensitivity training, maybe it’s sexual assault prevention… but there’s always a briefing.

The problem is that no one takes them seriously. People walk out of the assault briefings, and turn to their buddies, purple nurple them and say “nice rack bro…  hahaha it’s not assault cause you’re not a chick… chicks get offended too easily.” They walk out of suicide prevention and say things like “if you’re such a candy ass that you’re gonna threaten to kill yourself, do us a favor and just do it already.”

The military spends so much time hardening their people, and then wonders why so many of them are cruel. There’s a fine line between tough, and mean. And too many in the military cross it.

I was going through a terrible time. My ex-husband was abusive, so I got divorced. My daughter wasn’t living with me. I had no friends, and no family nearby. Before we got divorced my ex husband spent all of my money putting a down payment on a car, which he then totaled. So I had no vehicle either.

Amanda Sue in dress blues
Me in my dress blues uniform

My world was crashing in around me, and I wasn’t getting any sleep. Insomnia makes everything seem worse… so they tried to put me on sleep meds. Apparently sleep meds can mess with your head too. I was up at work, drawing lines on my arm with a pair of scissors. One of my supervisors walked by and saw me. Now at this point, I should clarify… I wasn’t suicidal, but I had every right to be, and the evidence was very compelling.

Rather than following procedure, which would have been to have a chat with me, and evaluate whether I should be put in a psych hold for my own safety… he squinted his eyes and said “whoa… you probably shouldn’t do that at the front desk.”

The meds were making me so loopy that I told my boyfriend about it. His response was more like a sane, normal human being… “you were doing what?! That’s not normal… you should probably stop taking them.”

So I did… I stopped taking them, and when my head cleared, I realized how scary that really was, and I called my doctor to tell them I wouldn’t be taking those anymore.

Everyone at my shop knew what I was going through. No one reached out to see how they could help. No one offered to sit and have coffee with me. At one point I was even sick, and put on quarters (basically you’re restricted to being at home, unless you need food, or to go to the hospital), and no one checked on me to see how I was doing.

The only people who checked on me, weren’t in my squadron. And they couldn’t figure out why my squadron was so terrible.

When I separated from the military, several people who knew me said that if I’d been in any other squadron, I might have felt differently about leaving. And it’s probably true… I sang in over a dozen on and off base events during my term. One sergeant from another squadron looked over my paperwork, and when he saw what I’d been graded on my last performance evaluation, he said “If the only thing I knew about you, was that you’d sang in 2 retirement ceremonies, I’d know this grade is wrong. Because they don’t ask dirtbag Airmen to sing for retirement ceremonies.”

But I had. I’d sang in retirement ceremonies, 2 3rd of July celebrations (yes 3rd.. they leave the 4th open for families to be together), 1 change of command ceremony, 1 squadron merger ceremony, 1 volunteer appreciation ceremony, and an assortment of sporting events.

Amanda Sue sings for Raptor Rumble
Me singing the National Anthem for our first on base boxing match

But the problem isn’t specific to that squadron. Yes other squadrons may have treated me better, but that attitude is pervasive in the military, not just my squadron, not just the Air Force.

And then our men come home, and things aren’t what they were promised to be either. You’re told “we’re your new family, we’re going to take such good care of you.” And then you get out, and it’s months before you have your appointment with the VA. Sometimes it’s over a year.

You get out, and all the jobs that you were told would be thrown at you by the virtue of you being a Veteran, now don’t want to hire you because your experience is more than they’re willing to pay for. My husband got out of the military, with 6 years of mechanic experience, and was on unemployment for over a year, because no one wanted to pay for it.

Life is hard for a Veteran. And we try not to be angry or bitter about it, because we didn’t serve for the benefits. But it’s heartbreaking to see how some of us are treated. And as annoying as it was to be on unemployment for so long, and to be waiting for our VA appointments for so long, I’m even more concerned for the Veterans who came home with a piece of them still overseas.

Amanda Sue & Phillip
Phillip & I on our wedding day – 2009

The good news, is that my story ends well. I’m happily married, with 5 beautiful children, and a business that I love. But today, I want to point out that unfortunately that’s not always the case. Many, many Veterans are stuck in crappy, thankless jobs. Or they’re disabled beyond the point of having a job. Many more are homeless. I can’t pass by homeless men now, without wondering if they were once a proud soldier.

I’d like to encourage you to look in your local area and see if there are any Veteran non-profits that you can help out with. There are ones that rescue shelter dogs and train them (alongside the Veterans) to be service dogs for Veterans with PTSD. There are art therapists, music therapists, dance therapists… someday I’d love to team up with my horse-crazy sister, and bring equine therapy to my local region.

I leave you with this video… the last part is a song that’s very special to me, and the first part is a little bit of the story on why it’s so special. Please enjoy!