Improve Your Earning Potential with an affordable Digital Marketing Nannodegree

Whether you own your own business or you’re employed by one, we all need to know a little bit about marketing to get ahead. Digital marketing is essential in today’s world and will be a requirement for anyone pursuing a career in marketing. Even if you’re not in the marketing department, you’ll eventually be marketing yourself (your personal brand) to your boss or other companies for raises or career advancement. There’s a variety of ways to sell yourself, your product or your brand, and fortunately, there are many resources and tactics that are available and very affordable – many are even free.

Although there are many resources available, technology changes at an ever-increasing pace. Just when you get comfortable with the latest and greatest tool, you learn that it may be time to upgrade, replace and change altogether. It can be hard to figure out what tools to use and how to use them.

As busy professionals, how can you find the time to learn what platforms work and what tactics you should be considering? It can be costly to re-enroll in college – especially if you’ve already paid for a degree and still have outstanding debt. Even if you can afford college, it can be challenging to find the time to attend classes on campus or online.

This is the problem I had. I’m in my late 40’s and had no interest in heading back to school to mingle with people half my age. Additionally, my mortgage and utilities leave little room in my budget for something as expensive as college. Lastly, I’m blessed to have a loving family and two dogs and spending my limited time with them is a high priority. In short, my limited time and modest budget kept me from considering higher education.

That all changed when I found and enrolled in, Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nanodegree Program. The Nannodegree program is very affordable and allows me to learn at my own pace. I have projects to complete just like college, but there’s no penalty for “late” submissions. My favorite part of the program is that it is hyper-focused and jam-packed with all things digital marketing. I’m not spending time on topics that don’t apply to my goals. The instructors are very informed, and the subject matter is up to date including trending platforms and best practice examples.

If you’re looking to improve your marketing skills, primarily utilizing digital, I highly recommend Udacity’s Digital Marketing Nannodegree program. You can learn more about the program here.

If you’d like to follow my journey or receive more tips like this, be sure to follow my blog. I’ll have a new post each week on Wednesday.

*Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

15 Ways to Make Some Holiday Cash

The holiday season is upon us! Like many people you might be wondering where you’re going to find the extra cash to purchase gifts for your friends and family members. Here are nine ways you can make some extra money to pay for those holiday presents.

Work retail
Most retail stores hire extra workers for the holiday season. Now is the time to apply if you choose this route to make extra cash. Working nights and weekends will be to your advantage.

Work overtime.
Don’t have the time or flexibility to take on another job? Maybe you can work more at your existing employer. This might be a great option if you really like your job, and you’re an hourly employee. Check with your boss and see if your employer is offering any overtime hours.

Sell crafts.
Are you creative? Do you make things in your spare time? Locally-made goods are increasing in popularity as gifts. Turn your craft hobby into a side craft business. Consider selling your items on Etsy or similar online sites. Also, look for holiday craft fairs where you can set up a booth and sell your wares.

Get rid old stuff.
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Clean out your closets, garage, attic, or storage area and sell it on Craigslist, eBay, or another site. Now is a great time to sell vintage or gently-used items because people are looking for great bargains on holiday gifts. Just because you never use your Xbox anymore, doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

Clean for the holidays.
Many people like to deep clean their homes for all the holiday company and visitors they’ll have, but they don’t have time to do it. If you know how to deep clean, offer a one-time holiday cleaning service in your area. Could be a great way to get some quick cash for the holidays.

Getting others organized.
Are you organized? You’d be surprised how many aren’t. If you believe everything has a place and there’s a place for everything, then hire yourself out as a personal organizer. Promote your service as a way to clean out old stuff before the new stuff arrives with the holidays. This is also a great side business to launch this time of the year because many people make “getting organized” a New Year’s resolution.

Help people get in shape.
Are you a personal trainer or nutritionist? The holidays are a terrible time to start a diet, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the holidays and be healthy too. At the very least, you’ll be getting your name out there so when everyone adds “diet” to their New Years resolution, they’ll have someone to turn to.

Sell your baked goods.
If you enjoy baking and making holiday treats, why not offer to make things for other people? Plenty of busy people buy baked goods at the grocery store during the holidays to save time. You could help people offer real homemade goodies instead of storebought ones.

Become a Task Rabbit.
Think about all the things you need to do to get ready for the holidays — decorate, grocery shop, and buy gifts. Everyone else is just as busy, so turn that to your advantage. Task Rabbit is a platform full of people willing to help busy people with a wide variety of tasks. Check it out and see what tasks you can help with.

Drive people around.
Have your car start paying for itself! If you’re available nights and weekends, you could make a lot of extra cash by driving people around in your area through as a Lyft or Uber driver.

Help others from your home.
If you’re organized and comfortable searching and using the web, being a virtual assistant could be an option for you to make some extra cash. I’ve used FancyHands for years, and they’ve helped me with various tasks, and I have yet to be disappointed.

Rent out a room (or two).
If you have spare bedrooms that aren’t be occupied, use Airbnb to rent them out to people who are coming into town for the holidays. It’s much cheaper than a hotel for them and quick cash for you.

Car Wash & Detailing.
Offer to come to people’s homes to wash and detail their cars. This would save them the time of bringing it anywhere. You’ll need to buy your own supplies, and because you’ll be using their water, you should charge less than the local car wash.

Babysit/Parents Night Out.
Offer parents’ night out to friends, family, and acquaintances who have children. You can do this for any number of families, but get help for larger groups of kids. Charge $15 — $20 per kid for a few hours of babysitting. Parents get a great deal while you make extra cash.

Do some yardwork.
You could offer to rake lawns, clean gutters or wash windows. Maybe even split wood for firewood. The work may not be glamorous, but it needs to get done, and people are willing to pay for it.

Whatever you do to make extra cash at the holidays, leverage your skills, talents, and interests. Who knows you may even launch a side business that makes you extra money year round!

What opportunities did I miss? How are you making extra cash for the holidays?

Weekly Cartoon: Black Friday opportunity?

Black Friday space for rent

There’s probably a few people out there who are actually doing this.

Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.  Now on to Christmas!

Being Thankful Can Be Powerful

Thanksgiving is almost here. It’s one of my favorite holidays for a variety of reasons. Lately, it’s been a time for me to reflect on thankful I am.

Have you ever asked an older person how he or she was doing, and the person responded, “Well, I got out of bed this morning.” When people respond like that, it may seem like they have set their standards pretty low. On the other hand, they may have just learned to be thankful.

There is power in being thankful. Opening your eyes in the morning and being thankful is a terrific way to start your day. Living in a state of gratitude can be humbling and enriching. It is also is a cure for stress.

The enemy of gratitude is taking things for granted, and every day, each of us does that. Let’s take a look at a typical first hour of the day and review some of the things we take for granted.

The First Hour
When you take a closer look at how you start your day, you begin to realize how much you have for which you should be thankful for.

  • You got out of bed.
  • The bed was probably comfortable. It likely had clean sheets, blankets and pillows.
  • You woke up in a room that was either heated or air-conditioned.
  • You may have taken a shower in a choice of hot or cooler water.
  • You have things such as shower gel, shampoo, and deodorant to help keep you clean and fresh.
  • You have fresh towels to dry yourself.
  • You have a selection of clothes and shoes to wear.
  • Odds are, you have access to some sort of breakfast or coffee or juice.
  • You probably checked in on social media on a computer or smartphone.
  • You may have tuned into your favorite morning show on the radio or your flat-screen TV.
  • You likely have access to a car or public transportation to get to work.
  • You have the ability to earn a living.

This is all within the first hour your day. Multiply this through the course of the day and the year, and you begin to recognize the magnitude of the many aspects of your life for which you should be thankful. It’s not something we think about all the time, but there are people in this world who don’t have the things, such as a selection of shoes, we take for granted.

Avoiding Focusing on Negatives
Humans have a way of focusing on the negatives. We may be driving a new car with a full tank of gas on our way to a wedding, but if we get a ticket along the way, it ruins our day. We could be going out to dinner at our favorite restaurant with a lifelong friend, and if the waiter is a bit slow, it can stunt our joy. Heck, most of us have the amazing technology of smartphones available right in the palms of our hands. Still, if a call is dropped or the Internet isn’t working as fast as we expect, our blood pressures rise.

If you want to change your life in a positive way, pay more attention to the people and things in your life and be thankful for them. Take some time and remember some of the moments in your life that have been special to you. Appreciate what you have and what you have experienced. Pay special attention to what makes you happy instead of what others think and you’ll realize you have much more to be thankful for.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if so, I encourage you to leave a comment or share it with someone else. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving and, Thank You!

Weekly Cartoon: Something’s up.

Farmer unfriended me

Sometimes being “unfriended” is a good thing.  Sometimes, it’s not…

Interview Tips to Help You Get Hired

You’ve submitted your cover letter and resume and received an invitation to interview for that job you really want. Next, you need to nail the job interview to get the job offer. Here are some job interviewing tips that will help you succeed.

Prepare Your Answers to Common Interview Questions

Think about the questions the interviewer will likely ask (“where do you see yourself in 3–5 years?” is common) and prepare your responses. If you were the hiring manager, what would you ask? Compose responses that are concise, and focus on specific examples and achievements. It’s best not to memorize your answers, nor should you have a sheet of paper to read from. Instead, respond with an engaging story that you can tell during the interview. A short story that conveys your skills, talents and work ethic can help paint a mental picture to the interviewers much better than a simple “yes” or “no” answer.

Dress for Success

Dress as professionally as possible while keeping the organization and its culture in mind. If the organization typically dresses in jeans and sweatshirts, a three piece suite may be overkill and send the message you don’t fit in. The opposite is true — showing up in jeans with a dress shirt in a professional environment may convey nonconformity. However, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Wear clothes that fit and are clean and pressed, and minimize accessories and jewelry. I recommend doing some research on the company attire before you even apply. Do your best not to smoke or eat immediately before the interview. If you do eat, stay away from offensive foods like onions or garlic.

Be Punctual and Prepared for the Interview

This is important — plan on arriving 15 minutes before the scheduled start of your interview. Being early will allow you to get settled and observe the workplace dynamics. Being late for your interview will almost certainly kill your chances of being hired. Afterall, if you can’t be on time for your interview, what will it be like if you’re hired? I strongly recommend mapping out your route (do a test run if you can) to the exact location of your interview — right down to the correct building, lobby or meeting area. You want to avoid getting lost and being late at all costs.

Before the interview, conduct research on the company by reviewing its website, internet articles written about it, and other published materials. Read background information about your interviewer if you know who that person will be. It is highly likely that the interviewers will ask you questions pertaining to the company. Being prepared and well informed will improve your chances of being hired. Over the years, I have been amazed how often applicants didn’t even take the time to review the company website. Bring extra copies of your resume and reference list, and organize your portfolio or samples of work if you have them.

Make a Good First Impression

Be polite and warmly greet everyone you meet, whether it’s the receptionist or the hiring manager. Some employers observe how you interact with staff members and will be turned off if you’re rude to the company’s current employees. I’ve even read examples of companies conducting their interviews in restaurants to examine how the applicant treats the servers. You’ll be working with other people and managers don’t enjoy employee conflict or drama so treat everyone with respect and dignity. Stand, smile, make eye contact and offer a firm handshake when greeting your interviewer. This initial gesture is key to demonstrating your confidence (not arrogance) and enthusiasm for the opportunity.

Be Yourself

Respond truthfully to all interview question while being authentic and upbeat. Your goal is to provide concise responses that showcase your skills and experience. Be sure to provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments. If possible, craft your responses so they fit with the job and employer. Avoid saying anything negative about a previous or current employer, manager or co-worker.

I can’t speak for all employers, but for me, I’ve always hired based on the applicant’s personality and how well I felt they would fit within the culture. Skills can be taught, but traits and character are hard-wired.

Ask Insightful Questions

Studies show that hiring managers determine an applicant’s interest in the job by whether or not they ask questions. Before the day of your interview, think about questions to ask using the research you’ve done. Because the interviewer may share information that answers some of your questions during the interview, it’s important to have several questions prepared. The questions you ask should convey your interest in the company and your desire to grow and succeed.

Close the Deal

As the interview comes to a close, ask about any next steps in the hiring process and when the hiring manager expects to make a decision. Thank each person who interviewed you as you leave, and follow up with at least an email sent that same day.

Pro tip: I would highly recommend preparing a handwritten card (for each interview) ahead of time, leaving space to customize, and carry them with you. Once your interview is complete, you can fill in names and some points from the interview and drop them into the mail once you leave. This one action makes a big difference and many other applicants don’t even bother with a follow up email.

The most qualified applicant isn’t always the person who gets the job. Usually, the successful candidate is the one most prepared for the interview and who best answers the questions to showcase his or her abilities and fit with the job and company. Remember the tips above to help you become the winning candidate for that position you really want.

Weekly Cartoon: Thank you, Veterans

If you think thats bad try going to war

I wanted to take a moment to thank all veterans who have made sacrifices for our country.  Let’s not take them for granted.

What You Need For An Effective Cover Letter

Your cover letter is your chance to showcase how your skills and achievements make you the best applicant for a job. Keep in mind the goal of your cover letter (packaged with your resume) is to get an interview with the hiring manager. Your cover letter will compete with many other applicants and each letter has only a few seconds to make a good impression. If you struggle with writing an effective cover letter, you’re not alone. Most job seekers find cover letter writing challenging.

Here are six tips to help you write the perfect cover letter.

Use an easy-to-read font
Make sure you use an easy-to-read font for both your resume and cover letter. Your cover letter is so much more about content and purpose than design. You are communicating with another human being who is very busy. Script and cursive fonts are hard to read and will annoy prospective employers. Let the words on the page communicate your personality, not the formatting.

Keep it short
Keep your cover letter short and no longer than one page. Cover letters that are longer than a page send the wrong message to recruiters and hiring managers. Be concise. Long cover letters suggest you’re unable to get to the point. They also imply that you may care more about yourself than about others’ busy schedules.

Include language from the job description
I see people get this wrong all the time. Your cover letter and resume isn’t about convincing a company to hire you, it’s about demonstrating why you’re a good fit for the role. Job postings describe what the company needs. Read the details closely, gain an understanding of what the company is looking for. They have a problem to solve and if you can align your skills and achievements with the language used in the job description it shows the recruiter or hiring manager how you can meet the company’s needs.

It’s common for hiring managers or recruiters to be juggling multiple positions so don’t forget to include the job title that you’re applying for. It’s likely that your resume/application will be processed by an applicant tracking system (ATS) so including keywords or phrases that are also found in the job description will increase your chances of having it end up on the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s desk.

Sell yourself and show your personality
It’s important to show you’re confident in your skills and abilities within your cover letter. However, be sure you don’t go overboard. You don’t want to come across as boastful and arrogant. Showing a little personality in your letter is fine. You won’t get a response if you’re stiff and formal, but don’t make the mistake of being too informal. Striking the right balance is tough. If you’re not sure what words to use, err on the formal side.

Focus on the content
Most job seekers struggle with what should be in the body of the cover letter. Here are some things to consider:

  • Share more information about certain parts of your resume that are very relevant to the job for which you are applying.
  • Mention if you have an interest or subject matter expertise that makes you a good fit.
  • Highlight your relevant experience and skills and explain how they will benefit the company.
  • If someone at the company has requested your resume, start your cover letter with that information.

Pay attention to detail
It may go without saying, but proofread your cover letter carefully and then do it again. After you’re proofread your resume and cover letter twice, do it again! I’ve been amazed by how often I’ve read resumes with poor spelling or inaccurate/irrelevant information. Make absolutely sure your letter is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Nothing kills your chances faster than demonstrating a lack of detail. Also, double-check to make sure all the following are correct: company name, contact name and job title, date (month and year) at the top of the letter. Invest the time in your cover letter to make it clear that you have researched the company, the position and who the hiring manager is.

As you create your cover letter, remember that it’s your personal introduction to potential employers. You only have a few moments to make a lasting impression so take the time to make it count.

If you liked this post, share it with a friend. If I’ve missed something or you have thoughts to share, would love to hear from you. Thanks!

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