Don’t let the holiday music and parties get you off your game. Here’s how to enjoy the season while keeping things together!

I live in Colorado and as I’m writing this we are gearing up for our first snow day…even though the weather has been near 80 degrees for the past couple of days. Weather whiplash is a very real thing and so is decreased productivity during the holiday season and colder months.

This year has been epically crazy, so a lot of people will probably be caught off guard by the fact that the holiday season is just around the corner. OMG. You’re probably having a minor panic attack as you read that sentence and I’m right there with you. I’m freaking out because the holidays have historically killed my productivity if I don’t have a well-thought-out plan.

Let’s plan together and stay on top of things.

Work your schedule.

First, spend some time reviewing your schedule from October through January. Why those four months in particular? They are the four months where people begin to shop more, celebrate the holidays, and have a substantial uptick in personal plans.

Those plans may include: trips to visit relatives or friends, holiday parties, going to the theater, or hosting an event at your home.

Grab your planner and write down as many of those events as possible so that you have a clear idea of what’s coming up. Then, remove any event or activity that isn’t 100% necessary from your schedule. By taking the action of removing unnecessary events from your schedule you’re creating a buffer in your schedule and freeing yourself from obligations that will ultimately distract you from taking care of the things that are important.

Fall in love with the word NO!

The holiday season tugs on many people’s emotions. As a result, people may find themselves saying “yes” to activities that are a distraction. People may also need to say “no” when asked to participate in activities with emotional vampires.

You’re probably wondering how an emotional vampire affects your productivity? Well, they suck your energy dry. If drama ensues (and it typically does) with an emotional vampire, you’re getting sucked into calls recapping and discussing whatever imagined drama that the emotional vampire is upset about.

Saying “no” will be one of your most powerful productivity tools this holiday season. You’ll thank me later! On the flipside of this, say “yes” to activities with people that will lift you up and fill you with joy.

Shop from home.

In the age of Amazon Prime, Hello Fresh, Thrive Market, and Safeway grocery delivery, why on earth do you still insist on going to the grocery store several times a week? On Saturday or Sunday take some time to review your upcoming week. Create a meal plan and order your groceries or a meal kit service.

If you’re needing new clothes, order them instead of going to the store, and if you’re feeling especially focused on embracing systems to make your life easier, you may consider scheduling someone to help with cleaning during weeks when you have a ton of guests or just an especially hectic schedule. Don’t clean before the cleaners arrive – that’s a waste of your time!

Spend time getting ahead wherever you can. Here are some personal and professional examples:

  • If you celebrate Thanksgiving and plan on having guests that weekend, begin planning NOW. Start picking up non-perishable items such as: condensed milk, extra aluminum foil, the baking pan for the turkey, or canned cranberry jelly. Or, you could order a pre-made meal and save your time for spending time with friends and family.
  • Work backward on your projects. What do I mean by this? Look at the projects you’re currently working on and spend time getting ahead of those projects by looking at the end result you’re working towards. Figure out the deadline for those tasks and then work backward from that deadline. You’ll most like complete those projects faster and you’ll also create a time buffer because you’ll be ahead of your schedule.
  • Digital content creator? Blogger or Podcaster? Spend some time scheduling your content ahead (building a content buffer) similar to what was mentioned during the previous point.

Part of managing and maintaining your productivity is acknowledging that you can’t do everything and that the holiday season is a constant process of balancing:

  • Your expectations
  • Other people’s expectations
  • Social Commitments
  • Work

Maintaining your productivity during the holidays ultimately requires you to give yourself some grace, focus on one day at a time, and have realistic expectations of what you can do for you and what you can do for others.

Do you have any good tips to share? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Entrepreneurs play by their own rules and are living the dream – and then reality sets in.

I love my job. As a freelance writer, I have the time and freedom to travel, exercise and pursue hobbies whenever and wherever I want. If I have to finish an assignment, I can do it just as easily from a hotel lobby in Bermuda as I can from my home office. It’s a gig that I wake up every morning grateful for.

But sometimes, it can be a real bitch.

Freelancing, for all its allure, is a risky and stress-inducing career path. It forces you to manage every aspect of your business – and face all the consequences for your mistakes. Working for yourself will make you appreciate aspects of an office job you never even thought of.

Basically, I’m trying to tell you that freelancing has a dark side.

It’s isolating.

As an extrovert, it’s not surprising that one of my favorite parts of my old job was chatting with coworkers. I loved gossiping about other people in the office, discussing the latest “Game of Thrones” episode, and fighting over the leftover bagels.

Now I work at home. The only other living creatures are my husband and two dogs – who are great company – but don’t offer the same opportunities for varied opinions and perspectives. I miss the camaraderie of the office and being part of a team. When I have a problem with an editor or want to complain about something I saw on Twitter, I don’t have other people to do it with.

My situation is even more frustrating because I moved to a new city at the same time I quit my job. I have friends here, but it’s not the same as seeing a consistent group every day. Making new friends is always hard, and even more challenging when you work at home all day.

In some ways, freelancing is the job that’s least compatible with my personality. I love being around people and still dream about the good ol’ days when I could vent to a coworker in person. Even though I love making my own decisions, I miss holiday office parties and big staff meetings.

It’s all on you.

When I had just graduated from college and was looking for a job, a friend asked me if I had considered becoming a freelance writer. I was trying to find a job in the magazine industry, which is as competitive and difficult as “The Devil Wears Prada” makes it out to be. Months after graduation, I was still unemployed.

I told her I didn’t want to freelance full-time. It’s too unstable, I said. I knew a few freelancers, and most of them were seasoned journalists who had written for Esquire or The New Yorker. I couldn’t even land a gig at my hometown newspaper.

It’s ironic that I became a freelancer when I spent so many years vehemently opposed to the idea. While I’ve gotten used to paying quarterly taxes, buying my own health insurance and working on vacation, I still don’t enjoy the instability.

Unless you have regular retainer clients, you have to drum up business every month. Most of the time, I land more than enough work to cover my bills, entertainment budget, and savings goals. I’ve also had several slow months, where I’ve had to dip into our emergency fund to cover the bills. Some days I feel rich – other days I feel jealous of my friends who still have regular 9-5 jobs.

It’s all-encompassing.

At my last “regular” job, I never had any problems leaving work at the office. I didn’t check my email on the weekends or during vacations, and I didn’t feel guilty for it. My job was not my life.

Now, my job makes up a bigger part of who I am and how I define myself. Since my personal email and my work email is the same, I often check it when I go to bed and when I wake up.

I’ve heard the same from others who have started their own business. I once read that being an entrepreneur means working 80 hours a week for yourself instead of working 40 hours for someone else. I’ve gotten used to this new mindset, but it’s not for everyone.

It’s unpredictable.

Even when I was working in the unstable field of journalism, I never worried about losing my job. If I got laid off, I could collect unemployment and move back home until I found something else.

Now I’m always in fear that my freelancing clients will dry up, that my luck will run out or that robots will learn to write articles better than me.

To combat my fear and anxiety, I save a lot for retirement, have a substantial emergency fund and remind myself to enjoy being self-employed. I can travel when I want to, take on work that I enjoy and get to see my friends and family more than I ever did before.

Are you an entrepreneur who has experienced the dark side? What are some other tough things that people overlook? We’d love to hear about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Unpaid internships suck. Make the most of a shitty situation.

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One of the common themes of the college experience is the internship. So often, it’s required to graduate. And, even if it’s not, many people feel like an internship is necessary in order to get practical work experience.

But just because an internship is necessary, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually useful. In recent years, controversy has surrounded unpaid internships, thanks to some shady practices by some companies.

Before you decide to go for an internship — especially one that’s unpaid — listen to this week’s episode.

Concepts

  • Advantages of some internships.
  • How to make good connections with an internship.
  • Drawbacks to internships.
  • The problems with unpaid internships.
  • How to make the most of your experience, even if the situation isn’t ideal.
  • A look at the federal guidelines governing internships.
  • Tips for managing an unpaid internship when you really can’t afford it.

This week, DO NOWs are about deciding whether or not an internship is worth it, and then taking steps to get the best possible position.

This week’s listener question deals with weighing the pros and cons of different types of internships. When does it make sense to take an unpaid internship over one that’s paid?

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Resources

Useless unpaid internships.
Are unpaid internships exploitive?

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Not getting the downtime you deserve? Here’s how to ask for a vacation.

If you’re like me, you work to travel.

You can’t travel, though, unless you can get away from work. Even if you don’t have the travel-bug, staycations are worth it. But getting vacation time is necessary if you plan to get away at all.

Studies suggest that men who don’t take a vacation at least once a year are 32% more likely to die of a heart attack. It’s miserable to die for work. For that reason alone, you should vacation as much as you can.

The problem is, it’s easier to get a child to stop saying “no” than to get a boss to start saying “yes” to more time off. Here are ways to go up, up and away and far and away (yes, that’s two movie references in one sentence).

Negotiate vacation time before taking a job.

The absolute best time to arrange adequate vacation time (read: more vacation time than you’re offered) is to negotiate the amount of vacation you want — or think you can get — before you accept a job offer.

Before you sign the employer/employee contract, you have the leverage to negotiate more of what you want. The more the hiring manager wants you, the more leverage you have. Sure, you could negotiate yourself out of a job. But, in most cases, by the time negotiations start, the hiring manager has usually made their decision and put in the time to extend the offer.

If, during the negotiation, you feel like you’re starting to lose, stop. Just remember that negotiating before you accept an offer is optimal. Negotiating afterward isn’t impossible; it’s just improbable.

Negotiate vacation time before taking a promotion.

If you’re reading this article after you have a job, all hope isn’t lost.

Getting vacation time isn’t a matter of applying to another company, either. Just ask for a promotion within your current company. A job promotion often comes another opportunity to negotiate for more. You’ll already be talking about a pay increase, so you might as well throw in talk about a vacation increase.

It’s likely that your company has salary and vacation policies established by its human resource department, but everything is negotiable — especially for the right person for the right promotion. The better your current job performance and the better you interview for a promotion, the more likely you are to get the pay and vacation you want.

Swap increased pay for increased vacation time.

All salary negotiations run the risk of stalling. All businesses have budgets. Maybe the person hiring you doesn’t have complete control over what they can offer you. They probably have a range to stick to.

If you’re not satisfied with the salary or pay offered, negotiate your other benefits. Along with vacation time, you can ask for more sick time or the ability to work remotely on a regular basis. Everything’s on the table, so create the full-employee benefits package, commensurate with the job, you want.

Be awesome enough to request more vacation time.

Good companies do what they can to retain good employees — and keep them happy. If you’re not up for a job promotion and you don’t want to leave, you can still negotiate a vacation increase by being so awesome they can’t deny you one.

Being awesome isn’t enough, though. It also helps to be smart. Wait for the appropriate time and circumstances to ask about getting vacation time. If it’s a recession and your firm has frozen salary increases or is laying off employees, it’s not the time to ask for more vacation. If your boss is having a bad day or your team is overloaded, don’t bother asking for more time off.

If your company is performing well, your team’s firing on all cylinders, and your boss has a grin on their face, that’s a good time to ask for more.

Propose a remote work/play vacation.

Thanks to the internet and computers, more jobs can be performed any time of day from anywhere in the world. As time goes by, more businesses are acclimating to letting their employees work remotely, if only on a limited basis.

Studies show that providing employees with even limited remote-working flexibility can boost performance. Just this year, my husband’s employer approved employees working remotely to extend vacation time. Therefore, we can fly somewhere for a week-long vacation, and he can continue that “vacation” another week by working while we’re away.

To be fair, this is more of a perk for me than for him. But, he enjoys taking me out to dinner in an exotic location after I spend the day at the beach and he spends the day working pool-side (sarcasm off).

Take unpaid leave.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you aren’t getting vacation time as desired, you can always take unpaid leave. Unpaid leave isn’t always available, though. But, if there’s that option, it can be one way to get in some downtime.

Unpaid leave is just what it sounds like: time away from work without a paycheck. Remember, the more unpaid leave you take, the less take-home pay you end up with. Be sure your budget supports such a move and don’t sabotage long-term saving and investing goals.

Buy vacation time.

The option of last resort is to buy vacation time. Again, not all businesses offer this choice. Buying vacation time means your company will take money out of your regular pay in exchange for time off.

I didn’t know this was an option until I read my human first employer’s human resources manual a year after I was hired. It’s just as well because I started buying vacation time, thinking that it was incredible.

I sure did enjoy getting vacation time, but I didn’t love the smaller paychecks that followed. Unlike taking unpaid leave, vacation time that’s bought continues to plague you after your vacation ends.

Taking vacation is a good and necessary part of working. Too many of us (Americans) take too few vacations. While I’m doing my part to raise the average, make sure you do your part, too. If you need or want more vacation than you have, these seven tips will point you in the right direction.

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Job interviews can be really tough. Interviewers are looking for someone outstanding and asking the right questions can make you stand out.

Have you ever sat down and created a list of all the jobs you’ve worked during your life? The number may astonish you. My number astonishes me when I look at my list!

But what also astonishes me is that the approach to finding a new job and getting hired has its own set of unspoken and somewhat complex steps that one must follow in order to be successful.

For the purposes of not driving readers and job-seekers crazy who are reading this post, we’re going to focus on only one of the parts of your interview: asking pointed and targeted questions during your interview that communicate three things to your potential boss:

  • You’re actually interested in the job and you’ve done your research on the role that you’re being interviewed for. This is important to show your potential employer because there are many job seekers who forget to research the roles that they are applying for.
  • You’re motivated on a professional and personal level. No one wants to hire a person who lacks motivation. They are annoying to work with.
  • You’re actively engaged in your interview. Basically, you’re not going to sit in the interview and say nothing to the interviewers.

There is an art to asking the RIGHT interview questions and not alienating or freaking out a potential new employer. Before you begin asking questions, remember that each job has its own specific set of questions that you should ask.

Questions for a leadership role.

If you’re applying for a leadership role, then the questions you ask should also include things such as:

What leadership style are you looking for?

How many people would the person in this role be supervising?

But, to keep things simple, in this post we’re going to assume that everyone is applying for mid-level administrative/management roles without supervisory duties.

First, be aware that there are some questions that you do need to be cautious about asking when speaking with your potential new employer during an interview.

If you’re aware that you’re interviewing for a role that you consider to be a short-term opportunity, and only have plans on working just for 2 or 3 years in that role, don’t let it slip that you’re not going to be there for the long-run. Most employers expect potential employees to leave within two to three years, but they like to pretend otherwise.

Questions for entry-level positions.

If you’re applying for an entry-level job here is a list of questions that may be appropriate to ask your interviewers. You do have to feel out the energy of the interview before asking them. Each interview has its own dynamic so you will have to play this by ear.

Examples of questions to ask include the following:

How do you see the person in this role supporting the overall mission of the department that they are in and the mission of the organization?

This question is important to ask because it helps you know where you stand in the organization AND it helps you know how the tasks you may work on are viewed by your potential colleagues.

What opportunities are there for advancement for the person in this role?

There is nothing worse than being hired for a job and there is nowhere to go in the position. If that’s the case you as the interviewee may make the decision that this is not the role for you OR that it’s a short-term opportunity until you find an opportunity in another organization.

How do you evaluate people in this role?

Job evaluations are a huge part of how you get raises, promoted, and get the feedback needed to better your job performance.

If the organization gives feedback in a way that you’re philosophically opposed to, such as having your colleagues’ give input on your performance evaluation or a scoring system, you need to know so that you can strategically work in such a way to earn positive reviews because you understand how you will be evaluated.

By the way, I absolutely hate having colleagues comment on your job performance because more often than not, you may have a colleague who can’t stand you. And, if a colleague can’t stand you it makes sense that they may be less inclined to give you a fair job assessment.

Do you know your non-negotiables?

What benefits do you offer?

Is flex-time important to you?

Life insurance, health insurance, etc?

What’s your maternity/paternity leave like?

Be careful with this question because potential employers may worry that you’re about to have a baby. Is it the type of organization where there may be the potential work from home? If the interviewer hasn’t answered these questions, it’s reasonable to ask them.

What is the company culture like?

Do you have to wear suits/dresses?

Have casual Fridays?

Are there events after normal business hours and do you have to show up?

But, before you begin asking these questions make sure to do your due diligence and research the organization as much as you possibly can. Then, be honest about what you’re looking for in any future role you may be interviewing for. What is a non-negotiable for you? What are you willing to compromise on?

Knowing your non-negotiables will create a framework for which questions you should be asking during your next interview.

Have you used any of these questions in a job interview? Do you have any other good ones to add? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community

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Social media is a great way to land a job. But you’ll be empty-handed if you don’t know what you’re doing. Learn to how to make social media work for you.

During one of my previous job hunts, I found a gig that seemed pretty much perfect. They were located in a great area, offered a competitive salary and benefits package, and seemed like a fun place to work. The only problem was their complete and utter lack of interest in me.

The only problem was their complete and utter lack of interest in me.

I tailored my resume for days, poured my heart into a cover letter, and had a nice phone conversation with the hiring manager, but after a few weeks I realized they weren’t biting. I needed to try something else before the opening was filled.

So rather than pining away for a callback, I got proactive. I did some deep diving on LinkedIn and Facebook, found an alumnus from my alma mater who had worked at the company several years before and asked them out for coffee. We talked about college, our careers and eventually, the position I was seeking. They promised to call the CEO that afternoon and put in a good word for me.

The next day, they called me in for an interview. The day after that, I received a job offer.

The job market in 2017 rewards those who can navigate their way around a news feed. Social media has complicated job hunting, but it’s also opened up a wide world of possibilities for those bold enough to embrace its utility. Here are some ways you can harness that potential.

Reach out to people.

Before social media, you could only contact someone if you had their phone number or email address. Now with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can find almost anyone you’re looking for.

Instead of issuing a blanket statement on Facebook that you’re looking for a new gig (where your current boss might see), reach out to people individually. If possible, ask them for a specific favor, such as introducing you to their friend who works for your dream company. Think of it like planning a party – inviting people to a Facebook event won’t get people to come out, but sending individual texts will.

Create job alerts.

LinkedIn is the premier social media network for landing a job, but only if you’re strategic about it. When I was job hunting, I would create a LinkedIn search alert for journalism, marketing or PR jobs in Indianapolis. Every morning, LinkedIn would send me an email notification with any new jobs that matched my search terms.

Usually, I’d get results for jobs I wasn’t qualified for or interested in, but every week or so I’d find something perfect. Job hunting is a game of numbers, so be prepared to scour through hundreds of jobs to find one you actually like.

Become a subject matter expert.

A few months after graduating from college, I attended an alumni mixer at my journalism school. I was still unemployed and desperate to get job advice from the newspaper and broadcast veterans. When I asked one lady for her best job-hunting tips, she told me to start blogging about my passion. She said I could use that as a way to set myself apart from the other applicants.

I dismissed her advice. “Who has time to start a blog,” I thought to myself. I was certain it would be a self-indulgent waste of time.

But she was right. Starting and maintaining a blog proves that you have commitment and dedication to your work. It was because of my blog that I launched my career as a freelance writer.

If you don’t have the inclination to start your own blog, at least use social media platforms to prove your subject matter expertise.

Post articles on Twitter and LinkedIn that are relevant to your industry and comment on them. Showing that you care about your trade will make you more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers when they inevitably look you up on social media.

Nowadays, I use Twitter to post about personal finance and freelance writing. I don’t know if my editors and clients look at it before they hire me, but I hope they do. I’m proud of my social media game.

How social media can hurt your prospects.

During my last 9-5 job, my boss asked me to help him find my replacement. After I scanned over their resumes, I would look up candidates on social media to gauge what kind of people they were.

Most of the time I’d find nothing out of the ordinary – brunching with friends, traveling to Europe, spending time with family, etc. – but sometimes I’d find a profile gushing over their love of smoking weed or recent photos of binge drinking.

It’s not that I judge people for drinking or using drugs, but I do judge their decision-making skills when I see them publicly posting about private affairs. If I see that you liked a post about hot college girls on Spring Break, I’m probably going to judge you.

Ask your most old-fashioned friend to look through your accounts. If they find something that makes them uncomfortable, you should either take it down or make it private. It may hurt to censor yourself, but there’s a time and a place to exercise your free speech – job hunting isn’t it.

Has social media ever helped you land a job? Do you have any social media tips that could be helpful. Share with us in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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You have something to share. And it just might make you money.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Today, Harlan and Miranda are joined by Monica Louie to talk about it can change your life to be your own boss, and how to build up the courage and strength to make the change. What does it take to leave the everyday world of working behind and make it on your own?

We’ll take a look at Monica’s journey, and what you can do to be your own boss. Plus, Harlan and Miranda share a little bit about their own journeys as well.

If you want to conquer Facebook Ads, take a look at Flourish with Facebook Ads, Monica’s new course. Monica helps Adulting.tv with our own advertising, which has been very successful.

Monica Louie is a Facebook ads coach and strategist who helps ambitious online entrepreneurs grow their impact and their profits with the power of Facebook ads. She has worked on more than 100 Facebook ad campaigns, including several traffic campaigns with cost per click as low as $0.01 and conversion campaigns with cost per result as low as $0.30. Her online journey began in 2015 when she shared how her family paid off $120,000 of debt in two years on a single, middle-class income. When she’s not playing in the Power Editor, she can be found hiking in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, dog, and two kids.

https://www.facebook.com/FlourishwithMonica/
https://twitter.com/MonicaRLouie
https://www.monicalouie.com/
https://flourishwithfbads.com

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Being a solopreneur is pretty great. Except when it’s not.

We hear a lot about starting a business online and becoming your own boss. In fact, this trend is so prevalent now that it’s got its own term: solopreneur.

Most of the time, I love working from home. I also making money (mostly) on my terms. Before you decide that being a solopreneur is the move for you, here are some of the realities involved.

You set your own schedule.

One of my favorite things about being on my own is the fact that I get to set my own schedule. Since I started working for a company as a W-2 employee again there are a few more restrictions, but I work from home and still get to set my own schedule much of the time.

As a solopreneur, you have freedom and flexibility to work when you want — and from where you want. It’s freedom, and one of the things I treasure most.

Sometimes you have to work even when you don’t want to.

Ok, this is true whether you have a real job or whether you’re a solopreneur. You just have to suck it up and work sometimes.

But when you have a real job, the assumption is that you can clock out at some point and take a break. When you have a business, that’s not always the case. You might be up late working, even if you want to sleep. I can’t tell you how often I work on the weekend.

You have to force yourself to work sometimes, even if it’s the last thing you want to do. And sometimes, especially at first, you find yourself working more than you ever did while holding down a regular job.

Get ready for the self-employment tax.

One thing you don’t think about when you’re working for The Man is that your company is paying half your payroll taxes. When you’re working for yourself, you pay both parts of payroll taxes.

It’s important to be prepared. You could see a higher tax bill when you quit your job, just because you no longer have an employer subsidizing part of your taxes.

Set aside money each month to go toward taxes. I like to set aside about a third of my monthly income to go toward taxes (you might feel more comfortable adjusting this amount). And remember: you should pay quarterly to reduce the chance of problems with the IRS. Plan ahead of time to avoid money problems down the road.

Sometimes it feels like you have several bosses.

Be your own boss! You’re totally in charge!

The reality for many solopreneurs is that it can feel like you’ve got multiple bosses. There are days when I’m wrestling with multiple deadlines for different clients. I definitely don’t feel like I’m my own boss in those situations!

For freelancers, it’s common to feel as though you have more than one boss. The bright side, though, is that you have the chance to fire an unreasonable client down the road when you start seeing success.

Making money online takes more than just setting up a website.

Online entrepreneurs make it look so easy. Just set up your website and boom. The money rolls in.

But does it, really?

Sure. After you’ve put in the work. And it can take years to find success with your website or store. It can happen faster, of course, but it takes work. You need to market your website, services, and products — just like any other business.

You need a plan. You need to do the work. And you need to be realistic. If you build it, they aren’t guaranteed to come. You have to entice them.

It can get lonely cooped up in your home office.

I love working from home. And part of the reason I started doing the online thing was to avoid having to people on a regular basis.

But even introverts get lonely. We need to talk to people sometimes, too. As a solopreneur, though, that human contact might not be as frequent as you’d like.

You can ease the pain a bit by heading to a co-working space or a coffee shop. Meetups, conferences, and video calls can also help. Plus, if you have a life partner who works from home, that can provide you with support as well. Of course, having your life partner at home all the time with you can have its own drawbacks.

Your friends and family just don’t get what you do.

Working online as a solopreneur is hard to explain to friends and family. I’ve got people assuming I can just drop everything and do things for them left and right.

And my IRL acquaintances think what I do is a quaint hobby. Um, no, I support my family.

Trying to explain what I do to my grandma? She didn’t think I’d “made it” until she actually saw my name in the newspaper.

Luckily, as the internet becomes an increasingly acceptable way to make a living, and as the gig economy becomes a Thing, it’s easier to explain what I do. But sometimes it can be truly maddening.

It’s possible to go to the spa on Thursday.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a flexible schedule?

This is my favorite reality of being a solopreneur. I love going to the spa on Thursday. I can almost always get an appointment, there aren’t many people there, and I can truly relax while my son is at school. It’s perfect.

Maybe the spa isn’t your thing. Maybe it’s golf. Or going to lunch with a friend. Perhaps you just want to go for a hike or play paintball. Whatever it is, go wild.

Just realize that you might have to make up for it by working on Sunday afternoon.

All your friends are working when you want to play.

It’s nice that you can go to a matinee movie on Wednesday afternoon. But you better like going alone. Because your friends with real jobs are all working.

This is a tough reality for many solopreneurs. They’re so excited that they can set a schedule to their liking, but what happens when everyone else is still on the 9-to-5 grind?

I get around it by meeting friends for lunch near their workplaces so we can enjoy a little time together. You can also find other friends to do things with, or even learn to be your own best friend.

You are responsible for your success.

This is the biggest, scariest, harshest reality of being a solopreneur. It’s also the most liberating aspect of being out there on your own. The fact that you are totally in charge of your own success is a huge deal — and it can make you or break you.

I love thinking that I can chart my own course. Even if you are still working your real job, and your solopreneurship is mostly in the side hustle stage right now, you are still taking control of your future success.

To me, even though there are hard realities associated with doing what I do, the biggest reality is also the most encouraging reality.

Are you a solopreneur? Tell us your story in the #Adulting community on Facebook

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You can learn the hard way, by making more mistakes, or you can learn an easier way, with the help of a mentor.

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One of the best ways to get ahead in your career and in life is to learn from someone else. If you can find a mentor, you have the benefit of wisdom and experience.

But how does one go about finding a mentor? And what can you do to maintain a good relationship with a mentor?

Concepts

  • How it can help your business and life to find a mentor.
  • How a mentor can help your career.
  • Advantages of an outside view.
  • The importance of learning from others and benefitting from their experiences.
  • Tips to help you find a mentor.
  • How to get referrals from your networ for a mentor.
  • How to use mentorship to network and find new opportunities.
  • Tips for developing a good relationship with your mentor.
  • What you need to know about choosing the right mentor for you.

As you prepare to find a mentor, this week’s DO NOWs can help. Start by identifying one area of your life you want to work on, whether it’s money, career, or your health. Pick one area of focus. Write down the names of people in your network who can help in your area of focus. Ask one of the people on that list to lunch or coffee.

This week, our listener question deals with concerns about using a mentor someone else picks out for you. We talk about taking a chance, and how to identify if the mentoring relationship is going to work early on.

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Your blog is great but no one knows it. People need to know about your work. Get your social media game up.

This blogger makes $111,000 a month. This guy makes $17 million a year. She makes a good six-figures a month.

Blogging is fun and a great way to make money if you do it right, but the path from $0, or from being in the red because of start-up costs, to three figures per month can be elusive.

What should a new blogger consider to go from red, or flat, to black? A critical component of a blogging strategy is social media strategy.

The blogosphere is part of the virtual world. Therefore, it’s important to use virtual marketing in a way that lets the virtual world know you exist and how you help your readers.

As personal finance bloggers who talk to the LGBT community, what’s worked for us and the bloggers above have been different. Based on your blog’s focus, personality, and audience, you will also need to develop a unique social media plan.

You may need to nuance what I write below to better target your demographic. But, this will give you some direction from my personal experience.

Social media is plain marketing.

At its simplest, a social media strategy is just marketing. It’s different (but not much different) than when businesses pay for advertisements on the radio or television.

But, this is why I love the new gig-economy so much – the barrier to start a business today is so much lower than in the past. Unlike the old economy when you needed a lot of money to advertise on the radio and television, which could take all your revenue or savings, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars into advertising today. You can start with a few advertising dollars and then scale up as your business grows.

Besides cost, compared to traditional advertising, another difference lies is in the name. Social media lets you be social with your readers, listeners, followers, or whatever you call the people you connect with and serve. The ability to engage with your audience is HUGE. You can talk one-on-one with them. You can follow them on social media, as they follow you, and it’s not creepy.

Engaging on social media is great because it lets you learn about your audience, how they talk and what they need. Learning about your audience helps you create the content, products, and services they need.

Rather than investing thousands of dollars in market research about a product or service you want to provide, a simple poll on Facebook or Twitter with an $100 Amazon gift card is all you need.

So, what social media strategies do you need? That depends on who you are, what you blog about, and where your audience is.

No matter what, you probably need to be on Facebook.

There are two gigantic players in the virtual world and no matter your feelings towards them, you need to learn to live and work with them. They are Google and Facebook.

To work with Google, you’ll need to learn or hire someone who is good with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For this article, we’ll focus on Facebook.

Yes, there are reports that Facebook usage is down and even lower for younger people, but to some extent, everyone is on Facebook. My 77-year-old mother and father just joined Facebook this summer. While they still don’t get it, they’re on Facebook, and they’re at least stalking people.

To promote your blog on Facebook, you’ll want to create a business page. For many reasons, I’d advise against mixing your blogger profile on your personal profile. However, the first people who will follow your business page will be your friends, family and colleagues. So, don’t be afraid to invite them from your business page to like your business page.

It is, however, okay to share some of your personal life on your business page. Personal updates as they relate to your blog topic are significant. The occasional quirky or non-blog topic related updates are engaging. Being too off topic too often, though, will confuse your audience.

For your lead image, so the virtual world knows you’re a human, it’s ideal to use your image. You can superimpose your blog or brand logo over your image, so the other humans learn your brand.

From your business page, hook and link to your latest blog article. Provide enough information on your Facebook post about your latest blog article that’ll capture your followers’ interest, then provide the link to your article followed by a period (.) so Facebook doesn’t make your link disappear.

Likewise, you’ll want to include an image on your Facebook post that ties with your latest blog article. The image size should be 940px x 492px and include zero to minimal verbiage. Facebook now owns Instagram and images with too many characters aren’t permitted on Instagram. Consequently, Facebook’s algorithms also won’t promote posts with images that have too much verbiage. This throttle will slow traffic to your blog.

Add Facebook Pixel to your blog. Just like social media allows you to engage with and learn more about your audience, Facebook Pixel lets you learn even more by capturing demographic information about who visits your blog. This additional information will help when you create ads with Facebook Audience to target your blog articles, products and services to specific audiences.

Every Facebook post on a business page can be boosted to reach a bigger audience. There’s a blue button at the bottom right of each post that says, creatively, “Boost.” This feature lets bloggers choose high-level demographic information (location, interests, age, etc.) to promote their post to particular audiences. This is ideal for getting started and requires a minimal investment of money.

That said, it seems that once Facebook learns a business page owner will pay to promote posts, it does whatever it can to incentivize more paid post promotions by that business owner. Keep that in mind before you start paying and make sure you’re prepared to pay more money more often.

Facebook Audience complements Facebook Pixel in that it lets bloggers drill deeper into the demographic information (income, the number of lines of credit, zip codes) of a blog’s audience captured by Facebook Pixel.

This level of information is helpful for all businesses, including bloggers, because you can target the right content, products, and services to the right audience, even more so than television advertising, and convert more traffic to your blog or sales of your goods and services.

Since you’re on Facebook, you may as well be on Instagram.

As I said, Facebook owns Instagram, and that’s why your images must be conducive to both social media platforms. Therefore, it makes sense to be on both. Consequently, there’s renewed interest in Instagram.

Instagram is where you share pictures and videos. This is especially ideal for food bloggers because who doesn’t love to look at or watch food? Instagram’s also good for fashion, photograph, and lifestyle bloggers. Essentially, any topic or niche with a good visual component is good for Instagram.

I’ll be honest, as a personal finance blogger, I’m still figuring out Instagram. Capturing the lifestyle component of being and living debt free seems to work. Also, appropriately using hashtags is important. For example, “#LGBT, #GayPride, #Homosexual” targets my images to people who use similar hashtags.

Twitter Is great for B2B.

Twitter is struggling to monetize itself, and it can feel like drinking from a fire hose, but Twitter is still relevant. A nightly news segment doesn’t go by that doesn’t include a tweet from some politician or celebrity, our current president notwithstanding.

For my business, Twitter has been great for connecting with other personal finance bloggers, investment firms, banks and financial publications, and influencers and celebrities. The relationships that I’ve built with investment companies and banks have been valuable to my business because they let me create brand ambassadorships that have made me good money.

Connecting with my fellow personal finance bloggers and celebrities has been icing on the dough. The connections I’ve made with financial publications have built my most consistent stream of income as a personal finance freelance writer.

Create a Twitter profile for your blog. Provide a brief profile description of who you are and what you do and, again, use a personal picture as the profile picture, so the Twitter-sphere knows you’re a human. Then, follow other bloggers in your niche, businesses you have an interest in and might be able to partner with, and other humans who you think may be interested in your blog.

For us, we frequently search “#LGBTQ or #gay” to find other LGBTQ people who may be interested in living successful financial lives.

After you follow people and businesses, engage with them. Like, comment on, and share their content. When you’ve engaged enough, occasionally tag them on a tweet that promotes a blog article of yours. Whether you tag anyone on a tweet or not, if you link to a blog article, write an enticing hook to your article in 140 characters or fewer.

Images, again, are necessary. Horizontal and clean are best.

Pinterest wants to be Google, so you may want to be on Pinterest.

Pinterest is investing a ton of money to be the alternative resource to Google and to appeal to men. Currently, most people on Pinterest are women. If you’re a women blogger blogging about any topic traditionally appealing to women: cooking, fashion, beauty products, home organization, etc., then you must be on Pinterest.

You may wonder why a gay personal finance blogger, who blogs for the LGBT community, has a social media presence on Pinterest. In 2015, Pinterest invested $15 million to connect specifically with men. Surely to holy Mother Nature, two to four percent of those men Pinterest reaches are gay.

Pinterest is uniquely more helpful to bloggers than any other social media platform because every other platform tries to keep its users on its platform. While the other social media platforms are essential in building an audience and traffic, the hoarding of traffic is a constant challenge for bloggers.

Pinterest, on the other hand, wants to lead its users to the content that’s most useful to its users with the long-game plan of being the alternative to, or replacing Google to its users.

Create a business account on Pinterest. Create up to ten boards that cover different topics related to your blog. This way people who visit your profile can see what you’re all about and then look and share your pins. For example, I have “Best of Debt Free Guys,” “Gay Travel,” “Money Podcasts” and more.

Describe who you are and what you do. Again, use a personal image on your profile. If you’re a straight man, it’s ideal if you include a picture with your wife or girlfriend and kids, if you have kids. The reason is that most Pinterest users are women and they typically think a Pinterest page by a man may not appeal to them. It’s branding, not sexism.

Post pins on your various boards as appropriate. Your pins should be “rich pins” – high-resolution images that relate and link to your blog article and are 1,000px x 2,000px.

This article includes enough information to start your social media strategy. One of the six-figure-a-month bloggers above has nailed the Pinterest strategy. So, click here, here, here and here to see what the pro is doing. That’s what I do.

Honorable mentions: LinkedIn and YouTube.

That’s my primary social media strategy. If your blog is more corporate-like or career-focused, you might try LinkedIn.

I dabble in YouTube videos but haven’t had the time to perfect them. I do okay in part because reading about money can be dry sometimes and videos let me inject even more personality than my writing. If you’re a beauty blogger/vlogger (video blogger), for example, YouTube may be the platform for you. Follow and learn from other vloggers.

Starting a social media strategy can feel daunting. I tried to start everything at once and failed several times. I’d recommend choosing one platform to start and then adding another platform once you get better with the previous platform. You may eventually learn that a platform you tried doesn’t work for you and that’s fine.

I’m glad I didn’t waste too much time on Periscope, even though when I saw U2 use it on their Denver visit, I was very tempted.

The important thing is that you start a blog because a blog is an excellent way to diversify your income stream or even replace the income stream you already have.

If you have a blog, how has social media – or the lack of a social media presence – affected your blog’s success? What is your favorite social media platform! Please share with us over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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