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How to Write A Good Meta Description

how to write an effective meta descriptionThe other day, a friend of mine posted a link to an article that really got my blood boiling.

The link pointed to a piece from Mother Jones that had to do with the number of golf courses operated by the Department of Defense. The blurb included the number of courses and the US Golf Association’s estimate about the cost to maintain golf courses.

Like I said, it got my blood boiling.  As a military spouse, I know there are some pretty crummy locations for DoD personnel to be sent. While I think golf is one of the more boring sports out there (and I even went to the same elementary school as did Phil Mickelson), I realize it’s a favorite pastime of many people.  So – it seems a worthwhile form of recreation to have on military installations, especially since the courses are nearly self supporting.  Most young enlisted troops wouldn’t be able to afford to play at public courses, so it seems especially appropriate to have a low cost form of exercise and fun.

So – contrary to the efforts of the folks at Mother Jones to get me all hot and bothered about how much it costs to run golf courses for the Department of Defense, I can’t say that I give a flying leap about it. Instead I found myself rather irked that they would write such an article at all.

But – the description did what it supposed to. It got me to read an article I otherwise would have glossed over.

How can you use the decidedly unglamorous meta description to get more targeted traffic on your article?

How to Write an Effective Meta Description

1. Use your keywords in an intelligent manner

This means – yes, use your keyword in a way that is contextually appropriate. And no, do not stuff your keyword into the meta description ad nauseum.  Once is nearly more than sufficient, thanks to Google’s algorithm tweaks.

2. Make your meta description compelling

This is where the money meets the road. Using your keyword in your meta description for SEO purposes only gets people to potentially see your content in a search engine results page (SERP).  Google and other search engines also bold your keyword in the search engine results pages, so it really is a best practice to include your keyword in a tasteful, value-added way. However – once they see your article blurb, they have to click on it, otherwise all the SEO in the world is pointless.

Getting people to actually click on your post and read it is a result of your superior writing skills (effective SEO copywriting, really).  Your meta description needs to make it clear why someone would want to click on your content rather than the thousands of others that likely came up as the result of someone’s search.

One way to write a meta description that encourages readers to click through is to ask a specific question and then let readers know you’ll answer that question in your content.

For example, ‘Need to know how to write an effective meta description? Get the tips you need to create highly compelling meta descriptions for your blog content’  could be a great meta description for a post such as this one.

Writing Killer Meta Descriptions –  Quick Tips

  • Use keywords in an effective manner
  • Don’t keyword stuff
  • Use effective copywriting techniques to encourage click throughs
  • Give your readers the specific benefit they’ll get from reading your content

What are your tips for an effective Meta Description?  Leave a comment below!

How Google Plus Can Boost Your Blog’s Visibility

Google Plus might be the most important social media platform that has ever existed.

how to use google plus to boost your blog's visibility

Bold statement, right?  Especially since so many people aren’t using it!

But here’s the thing. Because of the way Google Plus is set up, this powerful social network has the power to give your blog more visibility than any of the other networks out there. And if you’re not leveraging its abilities, you are missing out on traffic from a number of sources, not just straight from Google.

Here’s how Google Plus can boost your visibility as a blogger.

Google Plus Authorship

Google Plus lets you connect your blog (Blogger or WordPress) with your Google profile. This is easily set up with a plugin.  This helps you a few ways.  For starters – you get an SEO boost when Google “sees” all of your content across the web that’s connected with your Google Plus profile. If this content is related in topic and theme, it starts to build your authority and relevance for that topic. Over time, this will move you up on search engine results.  Of course you must make sure your content is worth reading, too, otherwise you won’t get much of a benefit. People have to both find and read your content for SEO to help you.

Google Plus Communities

Google Plus became a much more interactive platform with the addition of Communities, and it’s a super easy way to connect with, learn from, and share information with people in your niche.  Search Google Plus for Communities related to your field – or get adventurous and start your own!  Note – if you start your own, you’ll want to stay involved with it. It doesn’t make you look like a thought leader if you’re never around to facilitate conversation in your community!

Google Plus +1 Social Proof

Just like the “Like” on Facebook or “Retweeting” or “Sharing” on Twitter, the benefits of social proof when people +1 your content can’t be overlooked.  Of course when other people see your content has been shared this way, it gives you the strength that other people’s approval grants. However – it’s also important because it’s also a signal that Google takes into consideration when delivering search engine results. If your content has a high number of shares, Google will naturally “see” it as more relevant and authoritative in your field. And this will give you stronger search engine rankings for your topics.

Speaking of Google…

Google Plus is important for bloggers for one key reason: It’s Google.  Like it or not, the name Google has become synonymous with search. And Google continues to favor Google-owned properties in search engine results. Once your blog is set up with Google Plus Authorship and connected to your Google profile, you will get the biggest boost in SEO if you are an active member of the Google Plus community and add content that is relevant and valuable to people searching for great content in your field.

QUESTION: What’s your Google Plus username? Leave a link below and let’s connect!

How to Get More Targeted Traffic To Your Website

All Website Traffic is Not Created Equal

how to get more targeted traffic me

Have you seen people on forums and in Facebook groups asking about how to get more website traffic? It’s almost funny to watch them, but wow, they can be pretty aggressive!

Don’t get me wrong – having website visitors is critical if you’re using the internet to market your business online. But I just have to say – it’s important to keep in mind that not all website traffic is useful to you!

Here’s what I mean. If I have 1000 people visit my website in a week, that might sound great. But if they’re looking for someone who does article spinning those 1000 people aren’t going to benefit my business one bit – that’s not part of my business model.

But if I have 10 new visitors this week who are interested in outsourcing the development of their coaching program materials, then these 10 visitors are exactly the kind of customer I love, and they’re going to benefit my business far more than the 1000 random people would.

Make sense?

When you want to attract more traffic to your website you want a specific kind of traffic. You want targeted traffic. If you just get any old kind of traffic through some sort of service you may not end up with the traffic that counts..the kind of traffic ready to read your articles, sign up for your mailing list and buy your products.

Are you wondering how you get that kind of targeted traffic to your website? Here are five sure-fire ways to get more targeted website traffic.

How to Get More Targeted Traffic To Your Website

1.  Fill Your Website with High Quality Targeted Content

I harp on this a lot, but it’s super important. Targeted content can be blog posts, articles, comments, forum posts, and even photographs and products that your market would enjoy. Of course anything that you put on your website should contain the right keywords within the descriptions, text, and alt tags. If you use a website building software such as WordPress.org you can ensure you have all the right search engine optimization done easily.

2.  Write Articles and Blog Posts that Speak to Your Market

You should know exactly who your audience is. What is their age group? What sex are they? What are their hopes, dreams and fears? What solutions can you provide them? What words can you use to attract them, keep them, and motivate them to act in the way that you want them to act? Know the keywords, lingo and acronyms that are common within your niche so that you can use them in all of your content.

3.  Offer Products and Services that Fill Your Audience’s Need(s)

If you have a website that is targeted to business owners who are bookkeepers, it would not make sense to offer them products or services that are directed toward spa owners. Be very specific about what you are offering them and do not stray from your market no matter how tempting it can be to sell a high commission product. It simply won’t work. They want you to offer them products and services that solve their issues for the topic you are claiming expertise in.

 

4.  Offer Freebies with a Twist

 

Don’t just give away free things on your website. Rather give away something of value to your visitors in exchange for something such as their email address and permission to communicate with them via email.  When you give them the freebie ensure that it always includes some sort of  offer  to pass on what they have gotten to others who they feel will be interested. This will further encourage like minded visitors to come to your website therefore gaining even more targeted website traffic.

5.  Always Have a Call To Action

In every blog post, every email, ever freebie, every eBook, every eReport and every other product or service that you offer should always have an additional call to action. Whether it is an invitation to comment on your blog posts, or submit a testimonial, or to do something else entirely, it is important to always ask for interaction of some kind from your website visitors. Not only will that create a situation where the visitor comes back, but if you’re interesting enough they might invite others that they know.

QUESTION:  Do you have all the targeted traffic you can stand, or are you interested in learning more ways to boost your traffic, loyal readers, and paying customers? Leave a comment below!

Are These 3 Content Marketing Mistakes Killing Your Profits?

Once upon a time, there was a myth that content marketing was easy. That anyone could churn out articles on nearly any subject, that they could be SEO optimized with just the right percentage of keywords at the right density, the search engines would find them, and we’d all be on our way to the bank living happily ever after. The End.

content marketing mistakes killing your profits

Except – that’s not what happened.  Google had to get in the way and insert those dang black and white animals into our fairy tale, and nothing’s been the same since.

The result? Content marketing has become a landmine-studded field of challenges. If you’re not careful and if you’re not successfully overcoming these challenges, you could actually be losing money!

Yikes!

What are the pitfalls that could be hindering your efforts?

1. Your content stinks

I wanted to write “sucks” instead of “stinks,” but admittedly, I’m still aware that my mother occasionally reads my blog.  Go figure.

But here’s the thing. If you’re buying your content from the lowest bidding writer who hails from another country and doesn’t write like a native speaker of English, it’s likely your content stinks.

If your content is a barely veiled attempt to sell your product, it probably sucks for that reason too. (I’m getting on a roll now, there’s no stopping it!)

If your content is so boring and dry that it has absolutely no personality and could have been written by any of your competitors, that’s another reason it could suck and be lowering your return on investment. ‘

What’s a good way to see if the quality of your web content needs improvement?  Check your social engagement. If no one is liking or commenting on your articles, either on site or via your social channels, chances are good that your articles – and their headlines – need improvement.

Solution: One of two things needs to change – you either need to become a better web copywriter, or you need to outsource to someone who is.  You can either contract with a ghostwriter for web articles, or consider joining a service that produces high-quality PLR articles you can add your own personal touch to and publish under your own brand

2. You’re producing too much content

I know that there are a ton of people telling you that you need to produce more content, and that if you just produce more, you’ll get more traffic.

This is flawed thinking, and here’s why.

Producing content every day challenges your ability to produce high-quality content (see point #1 above).  Low-quality content decreases your likelihood of engagement. And if you’re writing content that people don’t find useful and aren’t engaging with, you just about might as well not be producing it.

It’s also likely that too much content actually suppresses engagement just because there’s too much of it. People don’t have the time to read your site every day, and if you’re swamping them with too much information, pretty soon they’ll tune you out.

SolutionWhen you’ve started producing high quality articles either yourself or via PLR content or some kind of article writing service, experiment with your frequency of publishing.  See what interval gets the most engagement from your audience, and then stick with it.  Creating a content calendar can help you stay on target for producing quality content for your website on a regular basis.

3.  You have the wrong person producing your content

This can sometimes be a cause of the problem addressed in point #1 (do you see me emphasizing different aspects of creating crummy content here?!)

Whoever is producing your content needs to have the mindset of providing value, not making sales. Of course if you’re a business, you need to be profitable – I’m not arguing against making money.  But if your content is clearly a prolonged sales pitch because it’s produced by someone who believes that the point of your content marketing is to sell, sell, sell, it won’t convert. And honestly – it’s likely to push your readers away, causing your content marketing efforts to actually cost you money rather than giving you the solid return on investment that quality content been shown to do.

Another symptom of the wrong person creating your website content is that your articles are bland and boring. They read as if they could have come from Wikipedia or a textbook.  It’s important to have a writer who is confident about writing in your brand’s voice.  (Did you even know your brand had a voice?)  Writing in your brand’s voice is one of the things that makes your content interesting, engaging, and likely to be shared via social channels.

Solution: Choose your content creator carefully.  (I’ve always had a thing for alliteration.)  Make sure that whoever is producing the content for your brand understands what your target market needs, in terms of information and is able to provide it. Even better, make sure that your content marketing producer has the ability to “hear” your brand’s unique voice and produce content that is believably in that voice.

QUESTION:  What content marketing mistakes did I miss?  What are your other questions about why your content might not be yielding results?  Leave a comment below !

How to Write Blogs For Your Business: Keyword Research Demystified

One of the most important keys to learning how to write blogs for your business is doing keyword research. 

How to Blog Effectively

Talking to other bloggers, I think it’s also one of the things that mystifies people the most.

Keyword research has a little bit of a bad reputation in some circles. For a while, less than credible SEO consultants were using keywords to try to game the system with Google, stuffing keywords here, there and everywhere in an attempt to rank better.

While that’s become more difficult in the post Panda and Penguin world, it doesn’t mean that keyword research is less important. Far from it.

What has happened is that the practice of choosing a good keyword needs to be paired with creating quality website content that people naturally want to read and forward.  Your keyword needs to be set within the context of quality content. Keyword rich content in a meaningful, share-worth context is the key to Google magic.

Which brings us back to the first part of that equation…keyword research.

What is Keyword Research

I was just about to write that it’s the process of researching your keywords to find out which ones are most likely to generate the most qualified traffic to your website. And then I remembered that I shouldn’t define a term by using the term.

Silly me.

But in a nutshell, that’s exactly what it is.

You don’t want just any traffic – you want people who are interested in what you have to say and what you have to sell (products or services). And when you’re trying to monetize, you don’t just want one vistor a month (though if it’s the right visitor and it’s something that’s pretty high-end, I suppose it could work).

How to Blog Effectively For Your Business:  Conducting Keyword Research

  1. Think from your customer’s perspective

This is probably the hardest thing to do when it comes to keyword research. You need to know how to think like your ideal customer to determine what query he or she might Google and expect to find a website like yours.

When someone comes up with your website in a set of results, is it going to help them answer the question they searched under? Will they be pleased to come across your website for that topic, or will they consider it a waste of time?

Are the people who are looking for your website and find it likely to be interested in exchanging money for your products or services?  Unless you’re running a nonprofit, you have to be honest when you answer this question. A few ways to check this might be to see how books on your topic rank in terms of sales at Amazon, or to see if you get any Google ads when you search for your topic.

2.     Use a keyword tool to look at demand for a possible keyword

One of the most popular and free keyword tools is Google’s keyword tool.  Enter a possible keyword phrase in the search box and see if it is a highly searched term or not.  To be as precise as possible, use exact match keywords with this tool.

3.     Compare the demand for a possible keyword with the number of sites that already exist for it. 

Knowing how easy it is to rank for a given keyword isn’t just about how many people search for it per month, it’s also about knowing how much competition you have.

Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income has some great articles about keyword research – he has an interesting comment that he believes anyone can rank for any keyword – it’s just all about how many resources (time and money) you want to spend in the process.  If you’re just starting a business, you need to make money quickly, and you don’t have a lot of time or money to spend at the moment, it would be wiser to work with a keyword or words that don’t already have millions of websites trying to rank for those words.

Another website that has great in depth information about keyword research is Moz (used to be SEOMoz).  Actually, just about everything they have is fantastic, and I strongly recommend diving into their resources about SEO and content marketing.

How comfortable are you with keyword research?  Would it be helpful to have a template I use to keep my results organized?  Leave me a comment below!

How To Write a GREAT Blog Post Using Stories

My brand new iPhone 5 (less than a week old) is sporting a new set of scratches on the back of it

Can you believe looking at those scratches makes me smile?

how to write great blog posts using stories

This week my family and I are on the road to celebrate my youngest daughter’s first birthday. We decided to go camping at one of our favorite locations, Eureka, CA.

During the course of our drive, we passed many different kinds of cars and trucks, much to the delight of my 5 year old son who is a fanatic about naming the makes and models of each kind of vehicle we pass. We passed a variety of passenger vehicles, trucks carrying produce from one end of California to the other (lots of loads of garlic and onions), and trucks hauling gravel as well.

We had a full load in our own pickup, so we kept our speed moderate – 67 mph, to be precise, in an attempt to maintain the best fuel economy possible under the driving conditions we were in.

Of course not everyone likes to drive that slow, so on occasion we were passed by various vehicles.

One of the vehicles that passed us, a truck hauling gravel, had an unsecured load. And as luck would have it, upon passing us on the left, a rock bounced out of his load and hit the window next to my precious 2 year old daughter, shattering it in an instant.

Navigating off the freeway and into a safe area to park is somewhat of a blur in my mind, though I remember making at least one turn without being fully aware of whether the intersection was safe to enter.

Upon stopping and viewing remains of the window, I prepared for the worst as I opened the rear door.

And much to my surprise, though there was a substantial amount of glass on the floor, my sweet daughter was 100% unharmed by the experience.

I fought the urge to cry. My oldest daughter, a 9 year old, is old enough to understand the implications of what had just happened, and she started sobbing.

Before too long, we arranged a fix via the insurance company, and I had the fun of watching my husband man up, pull on a work glove, and knock out the rest of the glass as he rigged a solution to get us on the road again. And then, as I had my iPhone in my palm while trying to find an app to distract the kids just a few moments longer, my husband walked by and brushed my palm with his elbow, knocking it to the ground in a pile of broken glass, scratching the back of the phone but thankfully, not the display.

An incident that could have been so much worse, had the glass hit my sweet daughter’s face, neck, arms or hands, ended with merely scratches to my phone – to the back, no less – and with no true injuries to speak of.

I look at those scratches, and I am reminded of the miracle we experienced.

Glory to God!

From that perspective, I can live with a scratched iPhone, know what I mean?

*****

How to Write a Great Blog Post Using Stories

Using a story as part of your work how to write a great blog post can happen one of two ways.  Often it’s a matter of finding a story that illustrates a specific point you’re trying to make and telling the story in a way that is compelling and not just self glorifying.

But on the other hand – sometimes something profound happens, and in reflecting on the event, you notice certain lessons or themes emerge that are related to the valuable content you provide your readers on a regular basis.

When this happens – it can be magical.  It’s usually the result of having written over time, and it usually happens more often after you’ve written regularly.  Sometimes it happens daily, sometimes every few days. But the point is this – the more you create great blog content for your readers, the more you begin training yourself to notice these moments in your day. The moments that are ripe with the possibility of providing benefit for your readers if written in a compelling way.

The best way how to write a great blog post using stories is to pay attention.  Make a note to help you remember to write about them later (if you’re not able to write about them right away). The more often you develop the habit of writing about them, the more likely you’ll be to notice them in the future. It’s a cycle, really.

You’ll want to make sure that if you’re including information about other people that either they approve or you’ve kept the information vague enough so that you’re not embarrassing anyone now or in the future (especially if it’s about your kids). If you’re a mom blogger, especially, it’s important to know what your boundaries are when it comes to that.

What kinds of stories do you like to use in your blog posts and content marketing? Leave a comment – I love to hear from you!

The Zen of Creating a Kick-Ass Blog: How to Write Better Blogs

Curious – what’s on your to-do list today?

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If you’re like most bloggers or online marketers, it’s probably a mix – writing and promoting. You’re trying to come up with your next great idea – or maybe a bunch of them- and at the same time learn the social media marketing tips you need for your content to just maybe get shared (we won’t even hope for going viral any more). Maybe somewhere in there you’ll scan the internet for a quick tip on how to write better blogs. Most likely, though, that won’t even cross your mind.

Because you don’t have any time. Because you’re freakishly busy!  You’re focused on getting “enough” content out there “regularly enough?” And at the same time, you’re desperately trying to figure out the secret of what to say in 140 characters or less to get more retweets, how to phrase your Facebook updates to get more likes, and what the secret is to getting more +1’s on Google Plus.

I’m here to tell you that if that’s become your focus as a blogger, you’ve missed the boat.

And by simplifying your list of “must-do’s,” you can actually end up attracting more readers to your blog or website.  It’s almost Zen-like, really.

How to Write Better Blogs

If you truly want the kind of traffic that defines you as a “serious” blogger, you can cut the crazy, frantic marketing activity and do just one simple thing.

Learn how to write better blogs.

That’s it.

Corbett Barr of Think Traffic calls it “Writing Epic Shit.”  Apologies aside to anyone bothered by a 4-letter Anglo-Saxon colloquial term, but it’s the best advice I can give you about writing a blog as well.

Discover what it is in your niche that will really move people. Inspire people. Give them what they need to go forth and create epic stuff in their own businesses and lives. Give your readers content that is truly amazing – content that creates so much value they can’t believe you’re giving this stuff away for free. This is the secret for how to write better blogs, my friend.

And they’ll sing your praises from here to the end of the Twitterverse.

Why Learning How to Write Better Blogs Works

Here’s the thing. If you haven’t taken the time to learn how to write better blogs, how to create some truly kick-ass content, figuring out how to share it won’t really do a thing for you.

Sure – you’ll get a few of your followers dutifully sharing, since you’ve all agreed to share each others’ content.

But other than that – no matter how much promotion you do, it’s not going to help your traffic if your content simply sucks.

Think about your favorite blogs – do they have to ask you to share their content, or do you find yourself wanting to pass it along?  Some of the most popular bloggers there are have become that way for one reason alone – they create amazing content that people want to promote for them.

Creating amazing content means that you are creating content that in one way or another changes your readers’ lives. That’s it. Whether it’s short (think Seth Godin) or longer content, make it unforgettable.

How to Write Unforgettable Blogs

1.  Share personal experiences

There’s power in stories. People love to read them, and they tend to remember them more than dry factual content. Illustrate your point with a powerful story, and you’ve taken a step toward creating truly epic content.

2.     Get a life

If your life is spent totally in front of your computer writing about your life, your well will run dry. That’s not a Zen saying, by the way, I just made that up. It means that you’ll run out of things to say if you’re just relying on your own past experiences and you aren’t actively living a rich life. Make sure you’re reading in your field, and living a life with a variety of experiences – this is the fuel for being inspired to write better blogs write amazing blog content. If you’re doing amazing things, you’re more likely to be able to write amazing things as well.

3. Take your time

Blogging is that thing we all like to do as quickly as possible. Sometimes I’m guilty of it too – I know I write well, so I try to write quickly since I have a host of other income generating activities to do.

It’s a bad way to save time, though. The marketing power of epic content is so strong that cheating yourself here is the blogger’s equivalent of being penny wise and pound foolish.

Question:  What are you doing to blog better and create amazing content?  Leave a comment below!

How to Start a Mom Blog – Part 1

 

it works content plan

It’s occurred to me that I’m in a unique position, as a new mom blogger. I know how to start a mom blog and help tweak it to be found by search engines pretty quickly, thanks to my background in content marketing, SEO, and social media. So while I’m switching gears and changing focus from content marketing to more personal and spiritual matters, I thought I’d use my background and share how to start a mom blog for any other aspiring mommy bloggers out there.

Usually those just starting out asking how to start a mom blog aren’t exactly flush with all kinds of cash, right? So you want to know how to start a mom blog as inexpensively as possible, but at the same time investing in the resources you truly need (and only the ones you really need).

How to Start a Mom Blog

1. Invest in your own domain and hosting

This is one of the investments I think is absolutely critical if you hope to be found and to grow your blogging from a hobby into a business or a platform at any point in the future. I also think it’s a good idea to purchase domains for your kids’ names, too, but that’s a separate post!

But here’s the thing – if you own your domain and have your own hosting, there are two benefits you get that are priceless.

It just looks more professional to come to http://www.paulinemagnusson.com than it does to have words like blogger or blogspot or wordpress in the very title of the blog. Again – if you graduate from asking how to start a mom blog to having a platform with hundreds or thousands of readers and you are approached with an affiliate marketing deal to make some money, you’ll want to have your own domain at that point.

The other reason that you want to start your mom blog on your own self hosted domain is that you have more control over your content. If you have a free account, you’re more susceptible to downtime or even to having your account shut down if for some reason your blog host thinks you’re violating their terms. (And an accusation from a competitor is good enough in some cases to get your account shut down for at least a few days.)

2. Invest in a lead capture system (AWeber, Constant Contact, etc)

If you are marketing online, your list is your most precious resource. It is the reason you have a blog. It is your audience of people who are interested in your message, your mission, and from time to time – your products and services.

Lead capture systems like AWeber manage those contacts for you, help you create a little box to put on the side of your website to collect a name and e-mail address, help you stay within the regulations of the anti-spam legislation, and help you send targeted messages to your subscribers.

While you could go with a free service in the beginning, if you ever want to upgrade to one of the services with better features such as AWeber, you’re then stuck manually importing all of your addresses – it’s just a lot of work. So this is worth investing in from the beginning.

There are a lot of other things I’d recommend – Akismet for blocking spam affordably (free for personal blogs, reasonably priced for business blogs), plugins to help you enhance your posts for better performance in Google, plugins to make it easier to share your posts on social media channels, etc. I’ll cover more of those in the coming weeks!

What’s your favorite part of blogging? Leave a note below!

Working at Home with Kids: Tips for Productivity and Sanity

Working at home with kids might sound like an oxymoron. And I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not exactly as easy as it sounds on paper (or on screen for the techie types).  But even amid the juggling, it’s far better than the alternative, being away from them for 40+ hours a week.

Thanks but no thanks!

Still, it’s better to keep the chaos to a minimum, so I thought I’d provide some of the tips that have helped to boost my productivity and sanity while building a business and parenting 4 kids (including homeschooling the 2 oldest).

Working at Home With Kids: Tips for Productivity

1. Start with the end in mind

This borrows from the late (and great) Stephen Covey who talked often about beginning with your end state in mind, then determine what it will take to get there.

This isn’t quite that illustrious but equally important, in my book.

Begin with the end of your day in mind. Realize that at the end of your day, you’ll be tired, grumpy, and not wanting to do anything extra that you don’t have to.  So consider giving yourself a little gift in the morning – the gift of planning ahead to take care of what you can early on, before you’re quite so worn out.

Things like – dinner preparation.  Setting out clothes and needed items for the next day. Unloading the dishwasher so it’s ready to be loaded after dinner. And other similar tasks that just make your life easier when you’re exhausted.

Two of my favorite tools for this are a slow cooker and make ahead meals (such as Make 5 Dinners in One Hour).  Whatever tool you use, consider it a gift to your future self (even if the “future” is later today) to have a plan in place to make the end of the day smoother.

2.  Routines trump schedules.

Face it – the only constant in anything, especially parenting, is change.  Schedules are a great idea, but especially if you’re parenting very young babies or toddlers, schedules aren’t always possible.  On the other hand – routines are.  Create basic routines for each part of your day (morning, mid day and evening) to help yourself stay on track and focused.  That way, if something out of the ordinary happens, you’ll be able to pick up right where you left off.

3.  Give yourself grace. 

Juggling multiple roles demands much from you. Keeping your sanity demands that you cut yourself some slack and give yourself some grace in the process.  You won’t be as productive as someone without distractions, this is true. But the long-term rewards of being present with your kids are worth it!

 

What are your favorite tips for staying focused as a work at home mom?  Leave a comment – I’d love to hear!

Work at Home Mom Strategies When You Have to Change Focus

work at home mom change candle pic

What’s a work at home mom to do when an amazing new opportunity arises?

It’s so amazing to be in a place to have to answer this question!

I’ve had an incredible opportunity open up recently, but for several weeks I wasn’t at liberty to reveal it, which put me in an awkward position as a blogger!  On one hand, I wanted to stay regular with my blog; on the other hand – it’s tough to keep writing when you know your blog is about to need to change its focus – dramatically.

As many of you know who follow me on my social media channels (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn), I’m in the amazing position of having been offered a position with the Boom! Social team, headed up by none other than Kim Garst.  I’ll be creating and managing content marketing materials and processes.

I couldn’t be more thrilled – talk about the chance of a lifetime!

But by necessity, it means that my own content marketing services will be coming to a close.

As a result, I’m transitioning the focus of my website. It’s an effort that’s been in progress for a few weeks now, and yes, the rough look for a couple of weeks was the results of my attempts to modify it myself.  I’m definitely a word nerd and not a web geek!

I’ll be shifting gears to focus on some of the common concerns of work at home moms, adding in pieces related to spiritual matters (especially when it comes to raising kids in a faith tradition), and maybe even a few articles that don’t fit in to any one category very neatly.

Work At Home Strategies for Life Transitions

Whether it’s a happily anticipated change or a surprising – or devastating change, the strategies for keeping your life balanced during a time of transition are similar.

1. Decide what is essential – and what isn’t.

Not everything has the same urgency, and this becomes quite obvious when there’s an unexpected event – be it exciting or tragic. Make a prioritized list of the must-dos. This gives you a way to outsource anything critical when someone offers help.  (And when they do offer, pick up your list, give them a task, and let them help!)

2. Make a routine.

When you are overwhelmed with trying to learn something new or simply gather the courage and energy to get through the day, being able to function on autopilot is a merciful tool. It doesn’t require much thought – you just have to “do.”  After you’ve figured out what is essential to you personally and professional, write a short routine for each section of the day (morning, mid day and evening) to get it accomplished.  Don’t skip writing it down; there is no shame in it whatsoever. Pilots run checklists before every flight to make sure nothing is skipped – feel free to give your life the same careful consideration!

3. Break down complex tasks into manageable, 15-minute chunks

If simply getting started seems difficult, take something that seems complex and pick a starting point.  It doesn’t have to be the perfect place to start – it is just a place to begin.  Set a timer for 15 minutes and focus for just those 15 minutes.  You don’t have to get it all done, you just have to work for those 15 minutes.

You might be surprised with what you can do in that amount of time!  Be willing to give yourself a break at the end of that time too.  It makes it easier to try it again the next time when you know you’ll honor your need for breaks as needed and that you don’t have to finish it all in 15 minutes.

 

In my own life transition from building my own business to participating in a team building a larger business, I’ve had to figure out how to refocus my piece of internet real estate called PaulineMagnusson.com  I’ve decided to focus on my interest in the mix of working at home, parenting, marriage, and the spiritual life that’s my everyday existence.

I’ve renamed this effort The Mom-astic Life, because while life in a monastery sounds attractive from time to time (especially during a multi-kid meltdown), the truth is this – we are all called to recognize the holiness in everyday life, whether we live in the world or in a cloister.  These walls, my home business, the endless piles of laundry, and even the Lego blocks stepped on in the middle of the night are exactly the means that God has given me to bring me closer to Him.  This crazy, chaotic life stuffed full of love and laughter is my monastery.

And for that, I say, “Glory to God.”

If these topics might interest you, I’d love to see you stick around.  Grab a cup of coffee, post a comment, and let’s get started getting to know one another better. If this isn’t something that you’re interested in, peace be to you as you depart; know you’re in my prayers.

Be blessed!

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