Tuesday, March 30, 2010

8 Hot Social Media Marketing Tips You Need To Know

This is a little different from my usual post, but today I want to showcase a free webinar entitled "8 Hot Social Media Marketing Tips You Need to Know."

This free live event is this coming Tuesday, April 6.  The webinar will feature social media experts Mari Smith (author, Facebook Marketing), Chris Garrett (author, Problogger), Denise Wakeman (founder, Blog Squad) and Michael Stelzner (founder, Social Media Examiner) , who will talk about what's new and what you need to know about social media marketing.

Social what?

The "in-the-know-marketing-guru" name for how to leverage Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Mixx, MySpace, blogs, mobile, and other platforms to grow your business.

Who cares?

The reason this matters to me, and I think it will matter to you, is that one of the things I have been doing over the last year to move my own business forward is to participate in a certification course through the International Social Media Association (ISMA), the completion of which entitles me to call myself a -ahem- Certified Social Media Specialist.

No kidding.

Anyone who is a friend on Facebook or follows me on Twitter has probably bumped up against my challenge of combining my personal and professional interests.  I joined Facebook to connect with my daughter and her friends, which quickly spread to friends from church, then youth ministry, then eventually politics, pro-life interests, old friends from a million years ago, and then marketing.

As an old MLM'er, I now had to figure out whether to continue to promote network marketing companies, or my newfound "legitimate" status as a social media professional.

I still have not quite figured it out. My marketing peeps still get their share of Bible verses and blog posts about homeschooling, and "my kids" get invited to opportunity meetings.

Whatever. I am who I am.

The last six months I have been so busy doing social media consulting, I have not had a lot of time for personal blogging, or network marketing either, for that matter.  Internet marketing has taken an exciting turn in the road, and social media is a big part of that.

The webinar is limited to 1000 seats, so if you have ever wondered how to take your home business/small business to the next level online, this is the event for you.

And don't think it isn't for you because you are a stay at home mom who is somewhat the other side of 40 (50?) with a little home business. Did you know that most social media marketers are aged 30 to 60 and have only been using social media for a few months?

In fact, even traditional businesses like Ford Motor Company, Clorox and State Farm Insurance are heavily focused on social media.  This is not some "young kids" phenomenon.
  As a matter of fact, most young people don't "get" Twitter at all. The most successful users of Twitter are over 40.  And the fastest growing group of Facebook users (at least it was a few months ago, not sure if that is still the case) is women over 55!  Go figure!

There will be a recording of the event for those who are registered.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the webinar is a promotional event for the Social Media Success Summit, for which I will receive a commission if you should decide to attend.

But I guarantee you, you will walk away with plenty of useful information even if you just attend the free webinar.  The four social media experts who are running the webinar are tops in their respective fields.

I will be there - if this sounds like something that will benefit you, join me.

If not, catch me later when I am talking about homeschooling again. I still have not addressed the "Titus 2" part of the question about whether homeschoolers ever really retire.

Because at the end of the day, I am still a homeschooler.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Homeschooled Teen Earns Top Spot In National Essay Contest

Today's Reno Gazette-Journal had a story about Cameron Etchart, a home-schooled junior, who earned an Honorable Mention prize and $250 in the fourth annual Being An American Essay Contest.  Start planning now for your high school aged student to participate in the contest next year.  The Being An American website has many wonderful resources to enhance your teen's study of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

In the spirit of showcasing some of my older articles - the ones I spent some time reviewing as I considered whether or not to abandon this blog - I have written before about how homeschoolers as a group surpass the general public in the area of civic responsibility.

Carnival Atmosphere was a post highlighting a homeschool "blog carnival", which is a virtual event based around a theme in which a homeschool blogger hosts a "carnival" of links to current topics in a variety of homeschool blogs.  But because of the theme, which was Women's Independence Day, I also talked about voting and used the opportunity to explore how homeschoolers are turning out to be politically active, well informed, engaged citizens.

Something that we need now, more than ever.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Do Homeschoolers Ever Really Retire? Part 1

Prompted by questions from my homeschooling author friends Cheryl Carter and Donna Spann, I have been pondering this question for over a week. Responding to my first post after a six month absence, in which I talk about the "end" of my homeschool journey, they asked me to explore two angles of homeschool "retirement":

Cheryl brought up the Lifestyle angle, and whether it is possible to retire from a way of life.  The question here became whether homeschooling was really only about "education" in the sense that most of us consider that concept, or whether even the word "homeschooling" carries within it the germ of many other ideas: political, theological, family values, freedom, independent thinking, close family relationships, imparting values, civic responsibility...right now I can't think of them all but I am sure there are others.

Donna mentioned the Titus 2 model of the -ahem- older women teaching the younger, and how this would have been so helpful for her at the beginning of her homeschool journey, and how it would smooth the way for new homeschool moms. The question became whether homeschooling moms and dads who are the repositories of a wealth of information about what it is REALLY like to homeschool should ever retire, or if they should continue to be active in the homeschool community in some sort of advisory capacity.

Both of these are very interesting questions - you can see why I have been mulling for a week! Over the last week have had an opportunity to go back and reread some of the older articles in this blog and remember how I felt at times in the past.

At the very least I have given up the idea of abandoning this blog. Going back into these old articles reminded me of just how much I love to write, and just how much I love writing about homeschooling.  I remembered our first homeschool conference in 2000 at Sandy Cove, where I met these ladies for the first time.

It was amazing to be in an environment where I didn't have to answer the questions,"Is that legal?" "Why do you do this?" "What about socialization?" "Are you one of those religious fanatics?" "But will your kids know how to get along with other kids?" There was an immediate sense of community, even family.  I know that idea is bandied about by every group nowadays - from internet marketing programs, to fans of sports teams, to my personal favorite - "Facebook family" - but there really was an immediate connection. It was a place where I didn't have to explain myself on any level.

Part of it may have been that so many of us at this conference were "pioneers" - not the REAL pioneers of the early 1980s, but the second wave, whose first year of homeschooling was in the late 80s or early 90s, who had a real sense of what it had cost to be a trailblazer, and remembered when it was not so easy to homeschool.

Part of it may have been that this particular conference is primarily Christian homeschoolers, and the instant connection was that bond that believers in Jesus Christ often experience that transcends every other difference they may have.  Probably the most special thing about this particular group is how Christians from every possible spot on the denominational and theological spectrum set aside our differences for a week and enjoy a time of fellowship like no other, as we focus on our shared love for Christ and our families, and our dedication to homeschooling.  This year will be our eleventh homeschool conference.

As homeschooling goes more mainstream, and more people that we once would not really have considered falling under the homeschool umbrella (like "K-12" online students, who I think are actually considered public school students) become part of the community, I wonder if this "family" feeling will continue into the next generation of homeschooling parents. How do we bridge the gap between the online charter school kids and the homeschool kids who live in the log house, bake their own bread with homegrown organic wheat and wear matching jumpers?

For me, and many of "my generation" of Christian homeschooling moms, homeschooling was really a mandate from God rather than a "choice". I wrote about that several times in earlier posts in earlier years, notably in "Except the Lord Build The House...". But homeschooling now for some families is more about convenience than sacrifice. This is not an indictment of those families, just an observation. I wrote about that a few years ago in a post called Outsourcing Meets Homeschooling.

What do you think? Nowadays there are as many flavors of homeschooling as there are homeschoolers. Is homeschooling a "lifestyle" for you? Or is it one of many acceptable choices? Do homeschoolers ever really retire?  I would love to have your comments!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Redeeming Email Forwards

After my last post,  I have been mulling the question posed to me by a couple of homeschool mom friends, which is "Do homeschoolers ever really retire?"  So quite a few days have passed, and I still really don't have a response clear in my mind.  So here is something else while we are waiting.

I get a boatload of email every day.  Since I have been marketing online for more than a decade, I am on many marketing mailing lists. 


I also have about a dozen email addresses where I receive hundreds of pieces of marketing mail of various kinds. Most of this mail you would probably consider spam. Most of it actually is. But there is some that you probably would consider spam that is legitimate mail for me. One person's spam is another's bread and butter.

Then there are the 477 notifications from Google Buzz, messages from Facebook informing me that people have liked or commented on my link or activity, or that someone has suggested that I become a fan of [insert name of fan page], or invited me to [insert event], messages from Twitter that someone has followed me, messages from Qwitter that someone has unfollowed me, requests for contacts from Linked In, and newsletters relating to social media.

I also receive a variety of newletters about health and wellness, and a fair number of political newsletters and emails. I also subscribe to a number of things via RSS that download into my Outlook.

I thought it might be fun to share a sampling of what I receive.

From my Digg feed (which now numbers 1184 unread):

13 Great Nerd Movie Scores by Folks Other Than John Williams
John Williams is obviously the Greatest of All Time. Everyone knows it. But there are some new composers and some old vets who also deserve their share of recognition.

View article...
From my marketing mail:
No Sponsoring Required, Residual Income, Join Free Today!!!
Susan, Our Marketing Plan Gives You A Unique and Powerful Way To Passively Earn A Generous $363 Without Referring and Without Having To Pay Any Monthly Fees!!
Six Phone Prospecting Phrases That Could Be Costing You A Fortune
From My Political Email:

Prom Ruling Affirms ACLU Agenda
Executive Order just "cover" for Pro-Life Dems
NY Man Arrested, Jailed for Praying
Hope and Change - The Constitution 

On the personal side, probably about 1/4 of the mail I receive consists of forwards of various things. Some bring tears to my eyes, some make me laugh out loud, some inspire me, and some I don't even bother to open.

I thought this one was worth sharing as we move into Holy Week.

'Excuse me, Are you Jesus?'
A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago.They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly-missed boarding.

ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath , got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down he r cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears.. He continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly."

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you Jesus?" Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church. It's actually living the Word as life unfolds day to day.

You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for our damaged fruit.

Please share this, {IF you feel led to do so}. Sometimes we just take things for granted, when we really need to be sharing what we know....Thanks.
I am glad he stopped what He was doing and picked me up and paid in full for my damaged fruit. I had plenty. I can only hope that people catch a glimpse of Him in me as I go about my daily life. My goal is that one day people would "mistake me for Jesus."

Do people mistake you for Jesus?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saying Goodbye After 4 Years of Homeschool Blogging?

Well, not exactly...

My homeschool adventure is drawing to a close after 20 years. Not sure how I feel about that.

My online persona for a number of years has been "Work-at-homeschool-mom". To a great extent I have defined myself by homeschooling.

But, let's face it. I'm so done with this. My son is 18 and about to graduate. More or less. This could be our last year at the Sandy Cove conference since we will technically no longer be homeschooling. If there are more homeschool families than there are rooms, we will bow out next year.

In the last year or so, this has morphed into a blog about homeschool freedoms and other parental rights issues more than a blog about either homeschooling or home business.

And I have been so busy with my business that I haven't even had time to post here in six months. Of course, that is probably because one of the things I was doing in my business was extensive blogging for clients. I could hardly stand the thought of one more blog post at the end of the day.

I am so grateful for my subscribers and readers, and thank you for the privilege of sharing my homeschool adventure with you!

So, while I am not exactly saying goodbye, I am going to be putting more of an emphasis on the home business side of things. Both my children have joined me in my business, and are finding that they are both cut out for working from home.
Not everyone is, of course. Are you?

I invite you to take a quiz on the subject if you have ever considered working from home.  While it is true that you need self-discipline, there are many ways to have a home based business - and most of them do not involve working your fingers to the bone 80 hours a week. The results of this quiz will help me figure out what kinds of things are your best option. You may not have time to have a "job" at home, but you may have time to get set up to sell affiliate products that will give you a passive income. 

You will receive your results instantly, and I will receive an email with the results. Then over the next few days you will receive emails from me with more information about your quiz.  And after about a week, I will reply with some questions for you so I can make a detailed recommendation about the best kind of business for you.  It may or may not even be something I am currently involved in.

I hope you will take advantage of my offer, whether you are a homeschool mom/dad or not.  With economic uncertainty affecting everyone around the world, now is a good time to implement a "Plan B" for yourself.

Who knows? It could work so well for you that it will eventually replace your "Plan A"!