Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Native Advertising: Mompreneurs can do it too! | Mom Boss Series

Native Advertising for Mom-owned Business | M2M Marketing
Native advertising, sponsored articles, recommended news - it goes by many names, but native advertising is very effective in getting your business out there and noticed - and mompreneurs can do it too!

Native advertising comes in several different forms.  It can look like a regular article in a magazine or online media channel.  It can look like "recommended news" at the end of an article you read.  It can be a blog post that talks about a certain product or service.  The point is, native advertising is just that, it is created to appear native, like it's naturally part of the article or media channel.

Large commercial companies have the money to pay the Wall Street Journal to write an article and mention their name with a positive spin.  Most small, mom-owned businesses don't have a couple thousand to spend on one article.  BUT, you do have native advertising options that are affordable.

The gateway to native advertising for small businesses is bloggers. Bloggers are a great resource for native advertising.  This is how you get native advertising for free or close to it.

1.  Read many blogs, and find one that would fit your niche.  Are you a make-up artist?  Find a beauty blogger that is located in your area or has a following in your area.  Are you an attorney?  Find a legal blog that fits with your personality.

2.  Write a post that would fit their blog.  Make sure to use the same "voice" as the blogger.  Be sure that this is a post that they would have written anyway.  Otherwise, the blogger will be less likely to publish your work.

3.  Write a query letter.  Write a letter introducing yourself and your article to the blogger.  Let them know why you think your article would be a good fit for them.

4.  Wait for an answer.  If you choose strategically - a small to medium sized blogger - you are more likely to get a yes.

There you go, free native advertising for the small, mom-owned business.

Did you know that if you join the M2M Premium Network, native advertising is included?  Check out the other benefits here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up | Flea Market Finds

Flea Market Finds and Weekend Plans | Sarah Smirks
This weekend was a grand old time!  Saturday was my H's 33 birthday.  We celebrated by having friends over and going to the Evanston Fountain Square Art Fest.

Sunday we went to the Wolff's Flea Market and got some amazing pieces.  We've been searching for stained glass forever and can never find any for less than a couple hundred - no thanks.  We happened to catch someone who was packing up to leave (the VERY best time to negotiate), and boom, we got a gorgeous stained glass for $70!  The stained glass find was a bonus, but we went to the flea market with the mission to find an art piece for above our bed.  We scored big time.  We got a wall sculpture that blew my mind by some artist that I can't read his signature (looks like cgve or cyve or cjve - IDK).  Lastly, we got a ammo box from some war for J's vintage travel room.  We chose to hang it on the wall as a cabinet.  Check out our pictures below!

I hope you all had an amazing weekend :)

Fountain Square Art Festival

Fountain Square Art Festival.  J throwing a tantrum.

Evanston Art Fest
Fountain Square Art Festival

Fountain Square Art Festival

Fountain Square Art Festival

Kyle's birthday in our backyard.

Stained Glass from Wolff's Flea Market

Wall Sculpture from Wolff's Flea Market

Stained Glass added to front window.

World War Ammunition Box repurposed into a cabinet.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

5 Easy Ways to Keep Your House Clean with Kids

5 Easy Ways to Keep Your House Clean with Kids a Guest Post by Kathleen Crane

Small kids and messes go together. You almost can't have one thing without the other. If you face loads of household chores on the daily and your kids don't make the situation any better, it's time to set some rules. Keep reading to find out how you can keep your home clean and clutter-free with small kids.

Image Credit:  http://pixabay.com/en/pillows-pile-of-pillows-textile-655239/

Have a place for everything

Both you and your children will keep the place tidy and clean if every item has a home. Everything from toys to towels, clothes, school stuff, accessories and others should have a designated place. Keep toys collections in large bins, hampers or shoe boxes. There are a multitude of storage organizers in stores. Stock up with some and organize all your family's belongings.

Add baskets

The next time you clean the house, make sure to put all items that belong to your children in a put-away basket. When you finish the job, have your kids put their stuff away (in the right places!) Instead of carrying individual items and wondering where to store them, just throw them in the basket and then let your children get the job done. That way your floors will be tidy and safe to walk on. No more tripping.

Establish rules

It is important to establish some rules that will keep your home less cluttered. For example, tell your children that they can only play with one toy collection at a time. And that they can take out another one only after they store away the previous items. If they get used to this routine, there will be less clutter in the house. You need to be patient. Your kids will find it hard to get used to this rule. Broadly speaking, kids are not into rules, so you'll have to think of a reward or a punishment if they don't follow your guidelines. This may encourage them to behave well.

When your kids don't want to obey, pick up their stuff

If your children don't put their stuff away after play, gather all the stuff and put it away. Tell them that if they want their items back, they will have to do something. Assign a task to them as in have them clear the table or fold clothes. If they do the task right, return one item only. If they want another item, they will have to do another chore, and so on and so forth until they get all the toys back. This will teach them that if they want something, they have to work hard to earn it. Plus, it may coax them into becoming more organized.

And finally, have a safety zone just for you

For all mothers out there... Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can't keep everything under control. Your children will make messes on the daily and as much as you want it, you will not be able to keep your home in tip-top shape. For this reason, select one spot in your home you can actually control. When everything goes wrong and your whole house looks like a battlefield, just head to that one place where the chaos cannot get to you. Your tidy, organized and clean safety zone will help you to keep your sanity. Just breathe. As Lawrence Welk put it, “There are good days and there are bad days, and this is one of them.” No worries. You can handle everything as long as you stay in good mental health.

TopDomesticCleaners SE18 hope these tips will help you to keep your home clean and your sanity intact. Good luck with that!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

5 Tips to Network like a BOSS - Mom Boss Series, Part 2 of 2

entrepreneur, small business marketing, networking, mom-owned business
Last week we talked about how awkward networking can be.  Making small talk with strangers and trying to figure out the Twittersphere can be overwhelming.  But, with our tips, you can network like a BOSS.

4)  Be personal - When you are networking with new people, building relationships, and a (hopeful) client list, it's easy to go the route of a mass message to everyone.  If you want to make an impact with those people and turn them into clients, be personal.  Send a personal message to each of your new contacts with information that shows that your message is just for them.  You'd be amazed at the connection you can make with people by treating them like people instead of prospects.
5) Network with Potential Clients Through Online Groups - You can meet new people that are great to network with by joining Facebook groups where your ideal client would be a member or answering questions in forums.  These groups are a great way to meet potential clients and build relationships.

What are your main networking missteps?  If you have any specific networking questions, feel free to ask in the comments section.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up

Father'd Day, Arlington Race Track, Weekend plans, making friends as an adult
Happy Monday!

This weekend was full of fun, family, friends, and too much sun! On Saturday, we went to the Custard's Last Stand Fest in Evanston and spent some time with new friends that we met through J's school. Doesn't it feel like dating when making new friends as an adult? You're all insecure, like, "Do I wait for her to call me?" "Do I ask for a second (play) date?" Isn't it weird how things change? In elementary school, if you're assigned to the same class, done deal, you're friends. As an adult, you have to really mesh - especially if you're parents. If you don't have similar parenting styles, it's usually a short lived friendship.

On Sunday, we went to the track for our annual Father's Day event. The H lost every race, by the way. It was fun though, all of our family came; it was a great time.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. You hold the power to teach your children how a woman should be treated and how a man should act. It's a big job, and you don't get the credit that you deserve. And, a special father's day wish to my husband. He's a teacher and spends all summer with our son. He is supportive and a great role model for out LO. We're both lucky to have him. Here are some pictures from our Father's Day. I hope you had a good one too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

5 Tips to Network like a BOSS - Mom Boss Series, Part 1 of 2

networking, online networking, social media networking, in-person networking
The key to building any business or career is networking.  In person and online - networking is the king of career opportunities.  Networking can be damn awkward though.  You don't know what to say, you start talking about the weather, an awkward silence comes next.  Blah.  Over time, I have learned how to network - without being awkward - and I'll tell you my top five tips (if you're nice).

I'm not naturally extroverted, but I have learned how to be when I need to be.  Once upon a time, I was teaching at a school where I'd have new students every two weeks.  When you have to form a bond with students and only have two weeks to do it, you learn how to have a comfortable conversation quickly.

Through teaching, blogging, and marketing - I have learned how to network in-person and online.  This is what I've learned.

1)    Focus the conversation on the other person:  Ask questions about them, try and find something in common to focus on.  For momtrepreneurs, kid-talk is a go-to.  It's something all of us can relate to.  If you're going to an event where you know certain types of people will be there, have some questions up your sleeve ready to go.

2)  Retweet, follow, reply, and favorite:  Twitter is a networking dream.  You can easily find your target audience and begin a conversation with them.  Follow anyone you think could be a potential client, and be kind and reciprocal.  Follow your followers back, retweet interesting Tweets, reply when people DM you, and favorite.  You'll quickly get some Twitter love back.  Use an app like CrowdFire to grow your network and see who is following your competitors (then follow them).

3) Use tech when networking in-person:  When I was at my most recent conference,  I chose not to bring my business cards. Everyone loses them anyway. Instead, when I would meet someone,  I'd say, "I'm out of cards.  Let's connect on LinkedIn." That helped us continue the conversation. I'd send a nice to meet you note later and we'd keep the communication going. In my opinion, that is much more beneficial than exchanging cards.

Next Tuesday, I'll bring you part 2 of this article.  Stay tuned :)

Join our M2M Networking group on Facebook - click here.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Vintage Travel Themed Room | Baby Boy Nursery

vintage room, baby room, baby boy room, travel themed roomGood morning, ya'll!  I am sharing with you my son's nursery (is it still considered a nursery when he's almost 2?).

We - unfortunately - had to create two nurseries for J in his 20 months of life.  One was an enchanted forest, and it was amazing, but we had to move.  I was so sad to see the trees being painted over in his room, but we got to make a room that was fit for his toddler-self.  This time, we made a vintage travel theme.

We knew when we designed his room, that certain items were a must.  Here's our list of must have items.

1) A fun, kid-friendly map
2) A vintage suitcase.
3) Globes
4) Postcards from places we've been
5) Adventure Awaits!
6) A styled shelf
7) Digital frame - it shows J the places we've been and it keeps him occupied when he's not quite ready to go to sleep before bed.

What are your favorite themed bedrooms?  I bought all of Jax's room d├ęcor from Etsy.  Where do you shop for your children's rooms?

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Weekend Wrap-up | Campin' and Parkin'

Happy Monday, ladies!  I have a little weekend wrap-up for you.  This weekend we spent a ton of time outside.  J can't get enough.  Even if we just came back inside he says, "out-side."  He was feeling real lucky this weekend.

Friday we did not much of anything.  I had my Fri-date with my girl Megan (next week is FEW!).  Then, Kyle and I re-organized J's room (see the post on his vintage travel bedroom on Thursday!).  Saturday, H, J, and I spent all day outside.  We went to the park and J climbed this giant rock and I almost threw up with nerves (boys and their danger....). 

Proud, after organizing J's room.

Fri-date with Megan!

Park time.

Me, almost throwing up because we were so high!

Then we went "camping."  You'll see me writing about this a lot this summer.  I'm more of a glamper than camper.  The H and I have a pop-up that we like to go to different state parks with and my parents just bought a camper at a seasonal RV park.  This weekend, we went to their camper to celebrate the inauguration.

It should be a fun summer - boating, camping, hiking, running around on golf carts.  H's last day of school was Friday, so cheers to the beginning of summer! 

What are you looking forward to this weekend?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Why does my size (or hers) matter to you?

body shaming, haters, women shaming, fat shaming, skinny shaming
I was reading a story on Scary Mommy about a man who publicly shamed a woman for breastfeeding in public.  He posted a picture of her breastfeeding in a restaurant on Instagram and Facebook, ridiculing her for breastfeeding in front of his young daughter.  The story was pro-breastfeeding, women’s rights and whatnot.  That’s great.  Until I reached the end of the story and there was a section for other stories you might like.  The first article was, “You Won’t Believe These Celebrities’ Weight Gain.”  It had a picture of Kelly Clarkson.  Is this not the most hypocritical sponsored ad placement ever?  The article tells us to not judge others and then we’re told to ridicule celebrities who have gained weight.  I am so tired of people being judged by their size.


I am skinny.  I’ve been called anorexic and bulimic.  I’ve been told to go “eat a sandwich (everyone’s fav skinny girl insult).”  I’ve been told that I look like a little kid.  I’ve been told I have no boobs.  People think its okay to judge me because I’m skinny.  It’s not.


I have heard people’s snarky side comments about overweight people.  They laugh.  They say, “Should you be wearing that?”  They say, “Should you be eating that?”  They laugh.  They laugh.  They laugh at people who have no idea they are being laughed at and I think it is terrible.  They are just people living their lives the best they can like the rest of us. 


Why, as a society, do we feel it is perfectly acceptable to judge other people based on their size?  It doesn’t affect anyone but the person living life at their size – why do they need to comment or shame them (or me.  Or you.)? 


My size (or hers, or yours, or theirs) does not have an effect on the world outside of my body.  Why should you care?  Why does anyone care about another person’s size?  As long as you’re happy, do you.  Be happy in your skin.  Ignore the haters. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

10 weird Things I Enjoy About Motherhood

motherhood, parenting, toddlers
There was a period of time when it seemed like J was sick ALL THE TIME.  He had the flu; pneumonia; RSV; ear infections; and hand, foot, mouth about a thousand times over a six month period.  During one of these bouts with illness, J was fussing.  His stomach was bothering him, so I picked him up and BAM – he projectile puked on me.  I said, “Oh, geez” (only a reaction a mother would have) and handed J to Kyle.  J then projectile puked on him.  Kyle and I look at each other with cottage cheese-style puke dripping off our faces and start laughing our asses off.  Not the reaction either of us would have given a year earlier, but when you have kids, that’s how it goes.  You get puked, pooped, and peed on and it’s just “eh, whatever.”  While I don’t enjoy being puked on, this did get me thinking of weird things that I enjoy about being a mom that I never would have guessed.  Here’s my top 10 list – because I enjoy a list.


1.       When J cries and actually lets me comfort him (far and in between as he charges into toddler-land).

2.       When we discover a new food that J really likes.

3.       When J grabs my finger and drags me somewhere.

4.       When J holds his hands out to me to pick him up (even though he weighs almost as much as I do – haha – hyperbole).

5.       When J concentrates really hard as he colors.

6.       When J colors on his toys (this one needs explaining.  I really do hate it because I have to clean it, but he really enjoys it and looks so pleased with this creation).

7.       When J tries to say I love you, but it comes out I La La.

8.       When I see J through the window at school, but he doesn’t see me.

9.       When I see J finally see me through the window.

10.   When I watch J interact with the little munchkins in his class.


What do you enjoy about motherhood that you never expected?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Weekend Wrap-Up

baby, toddler, smileHappy Monday!

We had a busy, busy, busy week and weekend that I wanted to share.  If you follow me on Twitter, you are acutely aware that I was at BMA15 (B2B Marketing conference) all last week.  I pretty much live tweeted it.  Sorry if I was annoying :-/.  The H is a teacher and hosted 8th grade graduation two nights last week.  Needless to say, our schedules were completely thrown off, and we're exhausted!

comedy show, date nightOur exhausting week didn't stop us from enjoying the weekend though.  We had tickets to the John Mulaney comedy show at the Chicago Theater on Saturday (anyone see New in Town on Netflix?  You'll die.  So funny.).  He's from Chicago and they were doing his special taping that night, so it was very cool.

We also got to see old friends at the bar beforehand.  The Blackhawks were playing in game 7, so of course we went to the bar before the show to watch.  There, we met up with a friend we've known for a decade.  He was in our wedding and everything.  But, as life goes, we probably only see him a couple times a year now.  So, it was fun to see him. 

grandpa, babysittingJ got to hang with my in-laws.  They were sending us pictures while we were out, and he looked like he was completely soaking up the attention.  He loves to socialize!

Well, there's my weekend wrap-up and some pictures.  I hope you guys had as much fun as I did this weekend.  Let me know what you did in the comments section :) 

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