A Paginated Post which is also a ‘Sticky’

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Tough Times, Small Businesses, Smart Marketing

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Small businesses worldwide are feeling the crunch right now. Tightening budgets, shifting consumer habits, an uncertain future…it’s a lot of stress for even seasoned entrepreneurs. The key is to change your mindset – and your marketing. Adapt your tactics to maintain your momentum, lean into the constantly evolving technology, and focus on building a loyal clientele.

Reassess Your Plan

Take a look at what you’ve been doing for your business. Have you adapted for current trends, technology, and tactics? Most likely, you’ve stuck with what was working – and now you’re wondering why it’s stopped. In the past few years, buying power has shifted from the Boomer generation to millennials and you need to make sure your marketing strategy reflects that.

Additionally, when households find that money is tight, the best thing you can do as a business owner is focus on your ROI (return on investment) when planning your marketing strategy. Make sure you’re tracking your past marketing strategies, both print and digital, and prepare a system to easily track those numbers in the future.

One of the best things about being an entrepreneur now is marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. Gone are the days of pricy television commercials and massive billboards. Instead, social media can be free or very inexpensive – with greater results. Build a comprehensive plan between email marketing, social media, and web content, and use that to promote your business.

Lean In To The Digital Age

If your business doesn’t have an active, well-structured digital presence, you are actively losing money. The internet allows you to build loyalty and connect with clients better than ever before, target your marketing towards your ideal client personas, and build momentum so that other people do most of your advertising for you.

This starts with your website. A gorgeous, modern, optimized website sets the tone for how potential clients view your business. Make sure your site is professional, clean, and fresh, and designate time regularly to update your on-page optimization to fit new search engine standards.

Enhance your SEO and your website with content. Regular blog posts that contain valuable information give search engines a reason to keep crawling your site, and give customers a reason to keep checking back in. Using keywords in those blog posts is also an excellent way to attract people who will actually want what you’re selling. Just make sure the blog posts are actually useful, not generic and exceedingly vague. People know what’s genuine and what’s a weak attempt to play the system.

Social media can help you get new customers, but it’s even better for keeping your old customers. Bite-sized information, peeks behind the scenes of your business, and bits of entertainment keep people looking for your posts – and that means they’ll also see when you mention a new (or old!) product or service. Social media and email marketing is where you’ll really build that relationship – but you have to make it engaging, or your clients will hit ‘unsubscribe’!

Drawing People Back In

If your marketing strategy is up to snuff, it’s time to take the next step in engaging people. Create a loyalty program to encourage clients to keep buying from you regularly. Start hosting a regular virtual event – I just saw a scuba community hosting a virtual trivia night every month. It’s a great way to draw people in, even when they don’t need anything or don’t have money, and when they do have some spare cash, you’ll have stayed at the forefront of their mind.

If you aren’t already, give people a look behind the scenes, even the embarrassing part. It helps remind your clients that an actual person runs the business. Additionally, authenticity is prized nowadays, and your clients might just love seeing a baker with flour in their hair from an errant mixer, or a carpenter frustrated when that carefully-measured table leg still doesn’t fit correctly.

Tough Times, Small Businesses, Smart Marketing | Jasmine Mastrolia

Adapt And Grow

The internet changes faster than we can keep up. In less than two years, decent AI has gone from nearly non-existent to ubiquitous, for instance. And this means your marketing strategy has to keep up, which can seem impossible. But you need to embrace it.

I’m not saying you should use every new technology. That isn’t the answer. Instead, consider them. Can they be used in a way that actually makes a statement, or do you just feel obligated to use the hottest new tool?

You can also experiment. Use A/B testing to see which tactics work the best for you and then build on that knowledge. Maybe a chatbot on your site is useful – for me, it would be a disaster. Maybe videos gain significantly more traction on your social media than graphics.  The key is to keep testing – your results may change in a year. This is why having one person designated to focus on your marketing, or hiring a social media manager can be useful – doing the deep dive into marketing strategy can eat up some serious time.

Even in times of economic downturn, your business can survive. Keeping your marketing flexible and reworking your strategy can make a huge improvement in your bottom line.

The Best Negotiation Strategy That You Need To Know

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I’m a firm believer that every person should be able to negotiate. It can be intimidating, but it comes in handy – in purchasing big ticket items, in working with people, and most importantly, in business. I’ve been an excellent negotiator since I was young (I learned from the best – my aunt is so good, she confuses car salesmen thoroughly, and once convinced them that her 3 year old broken car was worth more than a brand-new special edition of the same model), and I love helping people learn my negotiation strategy to advance in their own careers. Here’s how to get exactly what you want while making everyone involved feel like a winner.

Decide what you want.

I’m going to use an example of wanting a raise, but these steps can help you negotiate anything – a job offer, a new car, buying a house. The first step to getting what you want is knowing exactly what it is you want. You can’t just want a raise – you have to decide you want a raise of 4 dollars per hour and a promotion. Then you have to decide what is the minimum you will accept. A raise of 2 dollars an hour and a path to a promotion? The raise without the promotion? It’s up to you, but make sure it’s something you can happily settle for.

Prepare yourself for the worst case scenario.

I’ve never had to actually follow through, but I always have a plan for if I can’t even get my bare minimum. If your raise gets shot down, be prepared to look for a new job – once you lose a negotiation completely, you’ve lost all power in that circle. If you’re negotiating on a car, be prepared to leave the dealership. Another part of preparing for the worst is it keeps you from getting too cocky – confidence is good, but an overinflated ego is bad.

Prep your case.

You can’t just tell people they should give you more money and expect them to blindly agree. If you’re negotiating a raise, discuss areas you’ve excelled in your current role. If you want a promotion, talk about ways in which you’re prepared for the responsibility – or at least, how you will get there. Make a list of bullet points and memorize it, print off any proof of achievements you have.

Overinflate your request.

Whatever you want, add 20%. If you know you’re going up against a hard negotiator, add 40%. They are going to try to meet you in the middle, or even on the low side, and you want that buffer zone.

Set up a time and pick out a quiet space.

It’s worth it to arrange the meeting. I try not to give the other person too much lead time, but I do want them to block off the time. If you’re facing your boss, stop them the morning of, and ask them if you can steal a half-hour of their time when they’re free. That way, they won’t be distracted by phone calls and interruptions, or feel rushed (which will make them much more dismissive).

Enter Round 1.

Once you’ve entered the meeting, calmly and clearly state your inflated demand and lay out your case. You want to keep it short and brief. For example, in one raise negotiation, I said:

I wanted to discuss getting a raise with you, and being placed on track for a promotion to X role. I’ve been here for a year, I’ve recaptured XX in lost revenue, and I’ve taken on these three additional responsibilities. I strongly feel that I’ve earned a raise to (30% of what I was making – I really only wanted 15% and was prepared to accept 10%) as well as the option to enter the training program for the promotion, with the goal of entering the position in the next 8 months.”

Shut up.

This is the hardest part, but also the most important technique for any negotiation strategy. Do not say a word. Don’t flinch, don’t babble, don’t look away. It’s a common technique for the other person to stay silent for a minute, which makes you nervous so you backtrack and chatter to fill the quiet. Don’t. Maintain steady eye contact, don’t fidget, and don’t speak. They need to be the next to speak. I strongly suspect finding a friend to practice this with in advance, because it is harder than you think it will be.

Enter Round 2 if needed.

When they finally speak, they will come back with a counter-offer. Oftentimes, this will be acceptable to you, if you’ve followed all the steps up till now. For instance, in my raise request, my boss, a known tough negotiator, came back with an offer of 20% and the opportunity to revisit my payrate in six months.

However, sometimes the counter-offer is unacceptable. In that case, reduce your inflated request slightly. Say “I deserve this raise, but I understand that you feel my proposed number is high, just like I feel your number undervalues my contributions to the company a bit. Do you think you could meet me in the middle with a raise of (your desired number, uninflated) and putting me on track for this promotion in 6 months if I hit these milestones?”

And what if their counter-offer is at or just above your minimum? Don’t just accept it. The last offer on the table should be yours. In my case, the counter-offer was higher than what I was even aiming for, but I lost the promotion track, so I mentioned it again.

I can accept that payrate, but only if I know that I’ll be allowed to grow in the company. If you don’t feel X position is a good fit for me, I’d like the opportunity to take on an added responsibility doing Y to prove my abilities. If in three months, I hit Z milestones, I’d like for us to sit down again and discuss a potential promotion.”

Shut up again.

This time, shutting up will be even harder, because more is riding on them just accepting. It’s also all the more important. Show no fear, even if you have to bite your tongue till it bleeds.

Walk away.

If they accept your final offer, you’re good to go. Thank them and walk away.

If they don’t, give them your final offer – your bare minimum and a promise to revisit the issue in 6 months, and make it clear that this is important for you. If they can’t meet even that, thank them for their time and start looking for a new job. I’ve never actually had this happen, but it’s always a good idea to have a contingency plan in place.

Follow these tips and you can finagle what you want out of anyone. Just be sure to only use your newfound powers for good, not evil! And tell me your success stories using my negotiation strategy!

Review: Kafkai Writer – Can It Save You Time?

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Small businesses – or right now during the pandemic, most businesses – have to be careful of their budget and save money where possible. Sometimes it pays to pay out for better quality, and sometimes a solution comes along that can save business owners time, effort, and some green without sacrificing quality.

I saw an ad recently about Kafkai Writer, a website that creates AI-generated content for blogs, newsletters, and so forth, so I wanted to test this out. Were the articles grammatically correct and worthwhile – or at least close enough to be quickly adjusted and posted? Were they SEO-friendly? As a writer, did I need to explore other career paths?

Kafkai Writer Review | Jasmine Mastrolia

How does Kafkai Writer work?

AI technology is a little above my paygrade, so I can’t explain the technical process behind the scenes, but essentially, you give the website or app a general topic category (for instance, business, dogs, food) and the website will use that to create an article. If you have a more specific subject in mind, you can even enter in an opening paragraph – maybe one you wrote or one from another site covering the topic you are interested in. (Supposedly, the site won’t plagarize or use that paragraph exactly – it will just use it as inspiration).

Their website claims to have “a machine-learning algorithm that can write articles from scratch. Cutting-edge technology for marketers and SEOs”, and they continue on to say that most articles will be SEO-friendly and ready to post after only a few minutes of editing.

Are the claims true?

Ha. No. My job is safe. After having the site produce 25 articles in a variety of topics, some with a sample introduction paragraph and some without, I can confidently say – this is a service businesses should avoid. You just cannot get quality content from a machine.

Some of the articles – very few, but some – may have used keywords in a way that would help a site’s SEO, but this happened more out of luck than actual algorithm and the articles are, at best, poor-quality clickbait with no actual substance, so long term, your site would likely decline in search engine rankings. Most of the articles were incoherent, and while half of those could possibly be edited into something mediocre but usable (after a lot of time, in which case someone could just write the article from scratch), others were…trash. Not even fixable. For instance, an intro paragraph about Albania produced a travel article that placed Albania in East Asia and filled it with Sikh people.

Another article, from the business category, was titled “Five Little Words That Could Change Your Life” and not only never revealed those five words, but also consisted solely of staccato single-sentence paragraphs that made absolutely no sense. My favorite line in the steaming mess was “Our clients will live the Grapes of Joy as they benefit from the heart sent from the heart and gathered from the hearts of our employees.” What does that even mean?

My Conclusion

Please, please, hire an actual content writer. Quality content can do wonders to promote a business and increase rankings for a website, and the only way to get quality content is for an actual human to write it. Maybe you want to do that yourself, maybe that’s something you prefer to outsource, but it is one area that you simply can’t skimp on.

It’s important to find a writer that meshes with your brand and your company’s voice – and this isn’t always easy. You may have to try out several writers before you find the right one, but it is worth it in the long run. Well-written, quality content will not only boost your SEO but it will also draw people back in and help them connect with your business.

Anyway, I guess my job is safe.

Why Haven’t You Started Your Business Yet?

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Okay, sure, the middle of a global pandemic might not seem like the best time to take on a potentially-risky venture. You already have the idea for a new business, but you’re telling yourself that right now you need to stay in survival mode, focused on keeping your job (or finding a new one), and just keeping your spirits up.

You may be wrong though! A lot of businesses are struggling or even going under right now, which seems like a harbinger of doom, but you can also look at it like an opportunity. Right now, we’re seeing the market change, society change, as a new normal forms, and this is the chance to get in at the ground level of that. By starting now, your business will be better prepared to weather tough times and you’ll gain early clientele who are just dreaming of something new to occupy them as they’re locked down.

Why Haven't You Started Your Business Yet? | Jasmine Mastrolia

Make your business fit life right now.

I started my specialized pet care business by accident initially. I was working in a veterinarian’s office and had several clients asking if I could pet-sit their special needs animals. Since I’m fearless with furry friends, I developed a reputation for handling shy, aggressive, and ill pets. Then I had some health issues, and the long hours at the vet’s weren’t suitable – and I didn’t know when they would be again.

My first instinct was to find a different job, but a family member pointed out that pet care would provide the flexibility I needed right then – and I already had a few clients. I had one month before my surgery was scheduled, so I decided to take that month and figure out if I could make it work. I researched services offered by others – both locally and across the country to identify gaps that I could fill in the market, pricing, insurance, marketing, and more. I started designing marketing materials. I built a website. And I decided to unroll my marketing plan the day after my surgery, assuming it would take a few weeks to really start building a client list.

Boy, was I wrong. My first “real” client emailed me the very next day. She’d seen a Facebook ad, and needed a service that I was the only one in the area offering. From there, my business grew quickly, more quickly than I was really prepared for.

My point is, my business was suiting my life at the time. Right now, people want things delivered to their home, they want stress release, they want to be able to safely go out. Can your business idea be tweaked in any way to fit that? If you’re working from home at your regular job, could you work on your business idea at the same time? If you want to open a retail store, maybe you can work on handcrafted goods during breaks and sell online. For future restaurant owners, maybe you can start out of your home kitchen, cooking and delivering food during the day and taking advantage of a flexible schedule to work at night. Maybe being furloughed means you have the time to code the website you’ve been thinking of for a customized travel experience agency (travel will be back, and I believe it’s going to be better than ever).

Look at your life right now and adapt. Make your time work for you and make the pandemic work for you. Businesses designed for delivery and home service are going to be essential through 2021, and once people are used to that convenience, they’re never going to give it up, so keep that aspect in mind. People are bored – books, classes, and curated subscription boxes are all ways to fill that need – and can all be run from your home. I’m hungry – if you can feed me without me having to venture into a restaurant, I’m on board (I’m also in the country, where no one delivers to me).

Find financing.

Frankly, too many people worry too much about financing right off the bat. Controversial, I know, and I’ll probably get some hate mail over that. But my rule is don’t start too big – and when you start in bite-sized chunks, you can do a lot with a little.

That said, you may need an initial boost of capital to get your hustle off the ground. Right now, banks are going to be very conservative on loans, so save them as a last resort. Venture capitalists however…they’re risk takers. And with the internet connecting the world as it does, crowdfunding is a great option. Put together a great proposal, a creative presentation, and take to the web in search of financing.

If you want to follow my lead and try to do this without outside money, look at your current financial situation. Do you have income or savings? Can you cut your monthly expenditures in any way? How much upfront and how much per month would you feel comfortable losing? Then add 10% to that – that’s your budget. (The extra 10% will put the pressure on you to succeed without breaking the bank.) If you sell handcrafted goods on the internet, make them to order at the beginning so that you’re only spending money on supplies you’re actually using at the time. If you’re cooking, offer constantly evolving menus based on what’s fresh and cheap, rather than trying to find artichokes out of season (and paying through the nose for them).

Market wisely

When I started my business, I did a lot with community events. That won’t work for you right now. I hope your town isn’t hosting crowded festivals at the moment!

What will work for you is the internet. Ads on social media sites will be seen as people try to stay connected with loved ones. Videos on Youtube will get played as people fall down the YT rabbithole. Short video clips can play well on TikTok (particularly if you can find a way to hop on the sea shanty trend) and a link to your website in your bio makes it easy for people to purchase from you. Have a blog on your website to draw readers in, and then nudge them into your store.

From there, rely on the people. Gift a few of your products to friends or neighbors – if they like it, they’ll start spreading the word. Offer a great referral reward to inspire customers to talk about you. Maybe you can even network (online) with local businesses about cross-promotion opportunities.

Because here’s the thing. No matter when, I can promise you that I could come up with at least 15 different ways to get your business out there. You have to think creatively, and be prepared for some things to not work, but even right now, you can get your business, your products, your services out in front of people.

Know your limits.

The second part to “knowing your limits” would be “and know how to overcome them”. If you have no clue on marketing, figure out how to overcome that. Can you outsource this? (Marketing is one area where I strongly recommend at least some outsourcing – both because of expertise, and the time it takes). If you have no idea how to keep books, take an accounting class – you can do it for free online at Coursera, and since it’s your own business, you don’t need an actual degree in it. (Though you may want to hire an accountant for tax time).

I actually flipped it. I researched and took courses in marketing, and I’ve always done that myself (I mean, I literally make a career out of content creation now!). However, when I took a course in accounting…well, yes, I understood it, and I can do it, but the sheer amount of time it takes for me to keep books – I’m just better off outsourcing that to someone who enjoys numbers more than me. Acknowledging my limits and outsourcing that (I kept my daily books, but outsourced taxes and such) ultimately saved me money because I didn’t have to spend the time or pay fees when I inevitably screwed up my taxes.

Beyond the basics, you also need to set checkpoints. For instance, let’s say your business is in the making and selling of…gourmet dog treats. You can comfortably handle, working solo in your home kitchen, 10 batches of treats a day, making maybe 40 packages total. Make a rule early on that when you’re selling the equivalent of 35 packages a day, you’ll re-evaluate your business, consider hiring an employee, or expanding into a larger kitchen (or just getting a tool that will help you keep up!). Planning this in advance lets you stay ahead of your business growth and not get overwhelmed.

Right now, people want, or more, need, things to be delivered to their home, and that’s one thing that won’t be going away anytime soon. If you can structure your business to accomodate that, you will have better luck. In the future, however, new trends emerge. Not every trend will affect your business, but keep an eye out. One might just spark a new idea for expansion, or you might see the need to pivot your business a bit to accommodate (we’re seeing that now, as many small businesses have been scrambling to increase their online presence during lockdowns). Don’t just follow major business magazines – find a way to track the actual public’s demands – that will help you jump on new revenue streams before everyone is stampeding to do so.

Take this opportunity to start your business – don’t let fear hold you back!

Community Is The Word

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2020 was…rough. I think we can all agree on that. The pandemic, the election, wildfires, killer hornets…there was a lot going on.

Now it’s 2021, and time to start shaping this year into what we want. A few years ago, rather than make a list of New Year’s resolutions, I started choosing a word. One single word to use as inspiration.

This year, I’ve chosen “community” as the word for my professional life. After everything that’s happened, I think we all need to feel like we aren’t alone, that we all are working together to get things back on track.

It seems I’m not the only one who’s thinking of community. Zoom and other virtual chat services are booming, people have been figuring out how to see family and friends, even under lockdown restrictions. Even Pantone chose two colors for the year to “highlight how different elements come together”. Community matters, always but even more during times of struggle.

Vaccines for Covid are being rolled out around the world, so we can all hope that the pandemic will be over relatively soon. With that in mind, it’s important to think of what the next steps are.

Politically, suffice it to say that we’ve never been more divided than now. Coming together is something we need to work on.

For me, I want to network. I know I should be doing it, but I’m not the most social person under the best of circumstances, and the pandemic has only allowed me to retreat farther into my introvert shell.

I also want to expand my content writing. For the past few years, I’ve been focusing on bigger clients and varied jobs that allow me to build up a portfolio, but this year, I want to shift my focus just a bit. In particular, as businesses reopen and struggle to find their corner of the market again, I want to provide content for small businesses, who maybe think they can’t afford or aren’t big enough to need a professional writer. Well-written website content and quality blog posts and emails can help these businesses to connect with their clients – and right now, that feeling of community is gold.

I’m also going to reach out to a couple of non-profit organizations I like and offer my writing skills for free. I was fortunate to stay afloat in all of this, but there are so many out there in need, and if I can help communicate why a non-profit is deserving, maybe they’ll get more resources to pour back into the community.

Right now, beyond those few goals, my plans are vague, but that’s the great thing about choosing a word. Throughout the year, I can just keep an eye out for opportunities that represent community and maybe I will stumble on something life-changing.

What word is going to represent 2021 for you?

Take Care Of Your Employees To Take Care Of Your Business

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The pandemic has certainly changed the face of business – companies shut down, putting people out of work on a temporary or permanent basis, while others arranged for employees to work from home. People have been struggling financially as they sit at home with a lot of free time but no income. Essential workers, who also happen to include most of the lowest paid professions – retail and food service – had to make a choice of keeping their job but risking getting a deadly illness and bringing it home, or giving up their job to protect their health.

Now, after months of lockdown measures, businesses around the world are starting to reopen, trying to figure out how to navigate the new world and recoup their customers when things are so up in the air. Small businesses, in particular, have a tough road ahead of them, since they generally don’t have the financial cushion a conglomerate like Amazon has. In light of that, what I’m about to say may sound insane.

The absolute best thing you can do for your business is go out of your way to take care of your employees.

And yes, this means spending money. For the past several years, there’s been a social movement to support small businesses over faceless corporations, and that movement has had a resurgence with this pandemic – one of the reasons is employees are generally more respected for small businesses. If the general public gets word that your employees love working for you, they will be more inclined to give you their money. If your employees feel respected and appreciated, they will work harder for you.

Take Care Of Your Employees To Take Care Of Your Business

Right now, take a moment to evaluate what you are and can do for employees. Are they paid fairly, a wage they can live on, even if that’s higher than your local minimum wage? Do you offer health insurance that is affordable and comprehensive? Do employees have paid sick leave?

Paid vacation is another area to look at. Definitely offer a certain amount of paid time off, and encourage people to take it. Business culture in the United States right now encourages employees to either not take their vacation or to feel guilty about taking it, neither of which is good for their mental or physical wellbeing. Instead of allowing your employees to “buy out” their vacation at the end of the year, encourage them to take the time – it will pay off for you in the long run.

Once the basics are addressed, consider added benefits. Maybe you can arrange a tuition reimbursement program for employees studying topics that will help them in their work. Bring lunch in once a week or plan a monthly coworker night out at a local pub – trivia night provides a great bonding experience! Address birthdays or other major life events.

Consider any uniform policy you have. If employees are required to wear certain items while working, the company should provide those items free of charge to ease the financial burden on the employees.

Embrace Employee Appreciation months! Create a clear-cut and quantitative policy to evaluate performances and provide a prize for the highest ranking employee each month. Something like a gift certificate for a massage or an extra day off can go a long way towards an employee feeling appreciated. And to keep things fair, provide additional, optional training for employees in case they want to improve so they can win the following month.

Also, make sure your employees feel comfortable coming to you with issues and suggestions. An environment that feels safe and open is sure to build employee loyalty. Be prepared to work with employees through hardships, because even though work is meant to be a professional environment, it is such a massive part of life, work intersects with their personal life – a schedule change to accommodate childcare is a minor inconvenience to you, but solves a huge hardship for them.

While you prepare to reopen, take into account everything you can do to help your employees – the expense will definitely be worth the reward!

Self-Care For Entrepreneurs

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Entrepreneurs know how hard it is to start and maintain a business. It takes a lot of time – time working directly on obtaining and serving customers, time working on marketing, time working on accounting, and time trying to troubleshoot issues that have arisen – because there will be issues. On top of all that, for a business to be successful, it has to grow and adapt, which means its owner has to grow and adapt as well, which takes up more time. True, someday you may be able to delegate the bulk of the management tasks, but even before that’s an option, you have to make sure you take care of yourself on a personal level. And while self-care is recommended for everyone, it might look different for an entrepreneur. Here’s some ways to include self-care in your life.

Self-Care For Entrepreneurs | Jasmine Mastrolia

Skin Care Routine

This is an area where you have to find a precarious balance. Spending 10 to 30 minutes pampering your skin every day can help clear your head, but feeling like you have to spend an hour doing everything trending in the dermatology world to keep from looking like a hag – not relaxing.

Opt for what relaxes you. You may choose a routine as simple as a mild facial cleanser and slapping on some moisturizer, or you may go a bit more complex by adding in exfoliation, eye cream, and teeth whitening strips, but make sure it brings you joy and peace.

For me, I’m a big fan of the Yes To products, so I exfoliate, wash, moisturize, and toss on an eye cream. Once a week, I put on a fun face mask. Others have tried to get me to switch brands to Clinique or Lancome, but I prefer the feel of Yes To, so that’s what I stick with.

Spa Days

There’s a reason spas are popular – a day of pampering can do wonders for your sanity. If you can afford it, I strongly recommend visiting a professional, at least for a massage and body wrap, but you can mimic a variety of treatments at home with minimal trouble.

If you opt for a DIY home spa day, set the mood with candles, music, and refreshments. It may feel silly to make flavored waters and a fancy fish dish for just you, but it does wonders towards evoking that healthy, indulgent atmosphere. You won’t feel as pampered with a beer (nothing against beer! – just hear me out) and doritos as you will with a cucumber spritzer and ahi tuna.

Read A Book

And not a professional development book, either. Read for fun! Pull out the latest thriller novel, or a favorite classic, like The Count Of Monte Cristo, and sit down with a hot beverage. I read every night before bed to relax enough to sleep – I also read whenever I can carve out five minutes, but every night, it’s part of my routine.

Schedule You

Your schedule is probably pretty full, which only makes it all the more important to add some more appointments – with yourself. If you don’t block off time for yourself, you won’t find it naturally. Set aside a couple hours a week to do things for you- not chores, not errands, just self-care. Whether you decide to spend that time reading in a cafe or shopping for the newest fashions, a few hours can be just what you need for a reset.

On top of those few hours, periodically schedule an entire day with no responsibilities. Use this time to hit an amusement park, take a boat out on the lake, or embark on a day trip to explore a nearby town. It’s the best way to spend uninterrupted time with family and friends. For these activities, do not answer your phone for business calls. Don’t scroll through Instagram, don’t answer emails, just focus on living in the moment.

Talk Therapy

You don’t need to start seeing a therapist twice a week (or maybe you do?). Instead, set aside time once a week or twice a month to join friends for dinner and discuss what’s going on in your lives. You may opt to join a group of industry professionals who understand the stress of your work, or you may decide your current friend group can fill the need, but regular conversation, the chance to talk your way through issues and concerns, can be invaluable. It helps keep you from bottling everything up, and it can also help you strengthen relationships with others around you.

Work Better

I am a huge fan of block scheduling when possible, because it often does wonders for improving your productivity and efficiency. You can slide into a groove with your workflow and complete more tasks on your to-do list in one large chunk than you will by jumping from task to task.

At least that’s how it is for me. You may find you’re most efficient using the pomodoro method or another productivity tactic, but figure out what works for you and utilize it.

Telling you to work may seem contrary to self-care but working more productively can free up more time for you to take care of yourself on a personal level.

Exercise

This may be exercising in a gym for you – for me, it’s yoga and, on bad days, Krav Maga. But if you can, exercise outside. Hike a small mountain, run through the park, or otherwise include fresh air with physical exertion. Humans need vitamin D to survive so this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Make Meals Off-Limits

During your one-hour lunch break, don’t work. During dinner with your family, don’t answer the business phone. Make meal times off limits. Instead, use that time to enjoy refueling (which will keep you from overeating or eating unhealthy), and read, skim a fun blog, or watch a Youtube video to unwind. Meals are a great way to sneak mini-breaks into your day – the 45 minutes or so it takes to eat lets you engage in a relaxing actvity, and because you were going to eat anyway, the time isn’t wasted. And unless you’re an emergency room doctor, there’s very little that can’t wait until lunch is over.

Go Shopping

No, not just for fun. We live in an age of technology – take advantage of it. Make a list of regular, repetitive tasks in your professional and personal life, and use that list to find out how you can streamline. Replace your morning online news search with Amazon Alexa giving you an aural overview while you brush your teeth. Use a grocery delivery service or meal delivery service instead of spending two hours in the grocery store (also good for your waistline and bank account, since it cuts down on impulse purchases!).

If technology can’t help you, another person can. CEOs have personal assistants, but those are probably out of budget for small business owners. However, you can still outsource specific tasks. Hire a content creator to run your company’s blog. Hire a travel agent to plan business trips so that you dont have to spend hours searching for the best flight prices, a nice hotel, and potential things to do in town. Hire a lawn service to handle the mowing and gardening rather than spending a valuable day off sweating in the yard. Bring a cleaning service in once or twice a month to keep your home clean so that you only have to deal with minor, daily tasks.

This isn’t to say you should outsource everything. I actually enjoy booking travel, as it helps build the anticipation for me (and since I’ve been booking personal and professional travel for people for years, I’m quite efficient at it). If you enjoy playing in the dirt, hiring a gardener may not be the best option for you. But examine your repetitive tasks and think of what you would love to outsource if you could afford it. Most likely, you can find someone in your price range and the financial outlay is certainly justified by the mental health benefits when you have a bit more time to relax.

On that note, you can even outsource dating. Not the actual building of relationships, but finding someone to date in the first place. Online dating and dating services get a bad rap, but there are benefits. The people you meet will generally be looking for the same thing as you, and you’ll have access to people farther outside your normal range. If you’re hoping to carve out time for a relationship as you build and maintain a business, consider outsourcing the initial meet-cute.

Volunteer

Take care of yourself by taking care of others. Dedicate one day a month – at minimum – to donating your time to a cause you believe in. Whether you walk dogs at the animal shelter, make calls on behalf of a political candidate, or deliver meals to the elderly, helping someone else can do wonders for your inner peace and frame of mind. Plus, if, like me, you feel guilty not doing something work-related, you can wear a t-shirt with your company logo on it as you volunteer, and then you’re advertising through good deeds!

Self-care is the only way to maintain your mental health as an entrepreneur and it’s an area we often overlook. You may be busy but you still must take the the time to take care of yourself, even if how you do so is adjusted to fit your lifestyle as a business owner.

Business In A Post-Coronavirus World

Last updated on: Published by: jasmine 11

Italy is starting to lift lockdown restrictions, China is almost entirely free of COVID-19, most of the United States is looking to resume some business. We are starting to see opportunities to resume life as social distancing has an effect and lowers the spread of the first real pandemic the modern world has had. But what can we expect post-coronavirus?

Business In A Post-Coronavirus World

Well, to start, I don’t think we should be expecting anything post-corona anytime soon. Instead, I think the next year, until a vaccine is developed and put into play, and even the next few years while we see how the virus mutates, we’ll be living in a co-corona world. I think we’re going to see face masks become fashion, shaking hands get traded for more distant greetings, and other measures that incorporate health safety measures into everyday life.

What does this mean for the business world? There’s going to be a lot of changes. Now, until things actually happen, no one can really tell how this will pan out, but here’s what I predict.

An increase in digital nomadism

One of the biggest changes is going to be a huge jump in the number of people working from home. A lot of businesses opted to have employees work from home rather than shut down completely. It’s a smart choice, but it also goes to prove that all those times people were told “we need you in the office, your job can’t be done from home” were lies.

Additionally, companies are going to debate the value of paying for a giant office building, as well as the utilities and supplies that go along with that, when employees could simply work from home. Studies have already shown, that in general, people tend to be more productive when working from home, and the schedule flexibility is going to make it harder to draw a strict line between work hours and personal time, which benefits the company.

It’s not all bad. Working from home means employees will have more flexibility and independence – if you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment, you can do so without feeling guilty or obvious about showing up late to the office. It means parents don’t have to miss work to stay home with sick children. It means people who are already living paycheck to paycheck don’t have to worry about missing work because they themselves are sick – they can work from bed, in between naps, and at most, their productivity will drop for a few days. Most employees will welcome the opportunity.

Working from home also creates the opportunity to not have to be at home. You can work from your couch…or you could work from a beach in Bali – which would you choose? All the people who dream of traveling but don’t have the time because of work or the money without work – this is the opportunity. Digital nomadism is already a growing trend, so the idea is in everyone’s heads – we’re going to see a huge increase in the numbers, starting around the end of 2020 to mid 2021, in my estimation – allowing for companies to form policies, and the fear of travel to dissipate.

Better conditions for employees

We’ve all heard of the employee strikes various companies have had to deal with. For years, retail and food industry workers have been told they don’t deserve a living wage, and that their work isn’t particularly important, and now they are on the frontlines, they are considered essential workers! And it’s absolutely true, because the grocery stores need to be restocked, warehouses need someone to pack boxes and load the trucks, and someone had to cook your take-away order.

Additionally, there’s likely to be a period where people are sensitive to their health, questioning every cough or fever as they wonder if the pandemic has returned for round two. In response, people are going to demand better treatment from employers. They’re going to seek out positions where they make enough money to build savings in case of another lockdown, they’re going to seek jobs that don’t force them to come in or punish them for calling out when they’re sick.

We’ve already seen a shift with the millennial generation and Gen Z, as far as their preference to work for socially responsible companies, and I expect that’s going to escalate – particularly since the pandemic’s large effect on the boomer generation has, unfortunately, opened up some jobs.

If you already run a company, re-evaluate how you treat your employees. Are you making sure they feel valued? Are they paid well, and compensated in other ways? If not, you need to make some adjustments to retain your top talent before they leave for greener pastures – I promise it will be worth it.

New Business Opportunities

During the virus, we’ve seen people do their grocery shopping online for the first time. We’ve seen Zoom and other online video conferencing services become more popular. Video streaming is at an all-time high. Countries that never jumped on board the technological train have begun to embrace the convenience.

On top of that, big companies were caught off guard. Hotels almost universally shut down. Cruise companies and airlines are in trouble. Amazon got overwhelmed with orders and then employees went on strike – and the same happened at Instacart, Ubereats, and a number of other food delivery services.

Right now, the time is ripe to start a business and cut into established markets or get in at the ground floor of a burgeoning industry. Businesses offering convenience are going to become the gold standard, so starting your own delivery service right now would be smart – if you treat your employees well, so that they don’t strike.

Delivery services can also offer to deliver not just restaurant food, but also bottles from the liquor store, items from the gas station, and even pick up pet food from the veterinarian’s office or prescriptions from the pharmacy. That kind of all-encompassing personal concierge service will go a long way towards making people’s lives significantly easier, which will earn their loyalty and is a solid business model that could survive another pandemic

If you’re tech-savvy, now is the time to launch that app or website you’ve been dreaming of, particularly if it aids communication. Even as the threat of coronavirus passes, people who have only recently discovered the ease of online chatting will continue to do so – and the quality of Zoom has greatly upped expectations from laggy and fuzzy Skype.

One area I’m excited to see is real estate. As I said above, I predict a massive increase in digital nomadism, which means that all of those nomads will want a place to stay. Landlords with rental properties in interesting (not touristy, necessarily) areas are likely to see an uptick in interest, particularly for longer periods of time – digital nomads commonly rent for a few months rather than a few weeks. Added onto that, anyone who can bring conveniences of home to those areas is likely to build a profitable business.

You’ll notice most of the business opportunities predicted are virtual. There are options for brick-and-mortar companies, because people will always want to gather, to go out and have fun, to shop and touch things in person. The caveat post-corona, however, will be two-fold. One, overcrowding in a venue is a risk factor for another pandemic occurring, so people will be less inclined to attend. Restaurants and bars should consider making their spaces open and reducing the number of guests at a time, as well as offering extended take-away and delivery options. Two, as far as special events, I think we’ll see some prices drop. When people get a peek at Jennifer Hudson singing at home – for free – they are going to be less inclined to shell out five hundred dollars for seats yards away from the stage where you can’t even make out facial expressions – particularly since you’ll be crowded with other people! Smaller venues and lawn concerts may be more popular, instead, as they feel more intimate and generally cost less.

More crossover in business

Right now, we’ve already seen top restaurant chefs around the world, with the dining rooms closed temporarily, take to IGTV, Youtube, or Facebook Live with cooking classes. This is an area that can and should be expanded on – continue the virtual cooking classes and sell (even ship!) recipe kits a la Blue Apron to pair with the videos. People will love feeling like they are eating Emeril’s gumbo, with ingredients from the same suppliers his restaurants use.

This trend is gong to continue building in other businesses, where their offered services go beyond the traditional and expected. It’s an excellent way for all the owners who nearly lost their business in this go-round to have a fighting chance to survive if another pandemic sweeps the planet.

Have you checked your business for ways to adapt to life post-coronavirus? Or are you planning on becoming an entrepreneur now to take advantage of the new opportunities that are arising?

Web Browsers And Workspaces: What Works And What Doesn’t

Last updated on: Published by: jasmine 6

At the beginning of the year, I was overwhelmed, frustrated, and going a bit crazy.

See, I run two blogs of my own, I write for various clients, including a few bigger accounts, and I’m trying to get back into writing fiction. It’s a lot, and all of it was taking place in one web browser. I would end up with four windows open, each with 47 tabs, and I couldn’t close one without losing whatever was there, so my computer was running slow. On top of that, a lot of apps crossed over among different uses, so I was constantly logging in and out and in and out, and it would freak out the different security measures on the websites, so then I’d get slowed down even more because they want to verify that I’m me. It was frustrating.

So I figured there has to be a better way. I started looking into digital workspaces, and while I imagine I’ll need one at some point, for right now, they were more high-powered than I need or, more to the point, high-powered in ways that didn’t help me and lacking in what I actually wanted. I’d probably be better off by working with some smart techie person to design a workspace that fits the needs of freelance content creators, but I simply don’t have the ability right now (although, if you know a smart techie person looking for an idea, let me know!), but for right now, I just needed something where I could leave tabs open but close the program, where I could stay logged into the different accounts, and where I could really streamline so that I don’t get distracted.

I decided different web browsers might be the answer. I knew about a couple, but not enough for the set-up I was envisioning, and since one of them was Microsoft Edge, which I hate, I knew it might take some experimentation to get this idea fine-tuned, so I took the opportunity to review all the ones I tried.

Web Browsers And Workspaces: What Works And What Doesn't

Chrome

OK, Chrome is actually what I started in because I love it. It works well, lots of features, syncs across my devices – which is also why I left it as my core browser. If other browsers weren’t working, I could always bounce back to Chrome…or more commonly, I would sit and watch panda videos.

If you only need one browser, Chrome is the best choice, in my opinion – at least for now.

Firefox

I’m actually writing in Firefox right now – that’s the browser I shifted this blog into. Before I fell in love with Chrome, I was loyal to Firefox for years, so it came as no surprise that it’s just as good as I remembered. Sure, there’s a few things I don’t love – the download manager and history being two things that I find a bit awkward – but for the things I do around this blog, it’s totally functional. I can leave open tabs about a future post I’m researching, I can keep my blog email up, my RSS feed, etc. Plus, there’s plenty of add-ons and extensions so it’s easy to pin something to Pinterest, add it to my Tailwind feed, or save something to Google Drive.

Firefox is open-source, which is great, and it’s a really excellent browser. The only reason, for me, it doesn’t top Chrome is because, while on small files it doesn’t matter, on big files where there might be issues during downloading, I find the download manager to be an issue.

Opera

This is the browser I’m currently using for my freelance work. It had excellent reviews, and it’s lived up to most of them. There’s nothing really wrong with Opera; I just, for some reason, don’t love it completely. It’s absolutely usable, although the layout isn’t completely comfortable to me. It’s fast, although not lightning speeds, especially if I have a lot of tabs open. It’s just…fine. For a browser-workspace system, it can definitely hold its own, though.

Vivaldi

Vivaldi was one I hadn’t heard of that had excellent reviews. I have to say…they lied. I used this for my lifestyle blog, because it has built-in tab grouping, was supposed to be very fast (even with a lot of tabs), and was supposed to be extremely customizable, so I hoped I could streamline a lot.

The tab grouping was insanely sensitive, so I kept losing tabs. I found some again, but some were just released into the ether, and after about two weeks of getting frustrated, I turned off the feature. It just wasn’t worth the hassle.

More than that, though, was how after a few weeks, Vivaldi did something weird to the caching settings. I would open the browser and my site to add a post, promote a post, or respond to comments, and WordPress would look the exact same as it had 4 days ago. It would appear as if my last post hadn’t published, as if new comments hadn’t come in, as if I hadn’t managed previous comments. If I can’t see what’s going on in my site, every time, something has to change.

Skip Vivaldi. Even without the major, later problems, the browser simply was not worth the hassle.

Tor

Ok, I didn’t use Tor as a workspace. But, if I’m downloading browsers, I wanted a peek at the other side of the web.

I regret that now. I’m certainly not a rainbows-and-unicorns type of woman but…that was dark. And I didn’t even really see anything. When I opened the browser, the opening tab is a how-to guide for Tor, telling you how to navigate, providing popular links, and giving you a clue what you might find. I nearly turned around there. I did venture in a bit farther but I was so scared of clicking something I’d regret (a valid concern), and then having SWAT come banging on my door (a less valid concern), that I was very hesitant to do anything. Regardless, from the bits I did see…people are dark, far darker than I actually am, and there is just absolutely nothing I need from the deep web.

Plus, due to the very nature of the browser, there is no benefit to trying to work in it.

Flashpeak Slim Browser

They tout this browser as a “lightweight” option that won’t slow down your computer, which I guess is technically true. However, instead of slowing down my computer, it slowed down the browser completely. Plus, even after I adjusted the settings, new tabs would open at the end of the trail, and tabs would open for weird reasons, instead of just progressing to the next page. If I moved off of a tab to work in another window, that tab would freeze and not work or lose connection completely when I returned to it, and twice I gave up completely and closed out of tabs, opting to just work in a different browser. If you need a browser for the bare minimum – email, one or two tabs open at a time, average-not-fast speed – Flashpeak may fit for you, but there’s really just no benefit to it.

Seamonkey

I will admit, it was very hard for me to give this one a fair shot. I don’t like to judge on appearances, but Seamonkey certainly harkens back to vintage internet – like 90s and early 2000s style. Sorry, but no. I like how sleek and minimalist and comfortable everything has become. I wouldn’t buy a boxy old sedan (I know, there are a lot of vintage car lovers out there, but hear me out) and I don’t want a web browser that makes me feel like I’m going back to dial-up. I get that the sedan might be better made, but I want the modern, sexy, smooth convertible that I can just hop in and go.

Seamonkey was a project from the creators of Firefox, and I guess I can see some of the similarities, but Seamonkey comes off as a developers’ playground, while Firefox is a bit more layperson-friendly.

Ur

Ur is a European-developed browser that considers itself to be Chrome but more secure. I have to say, I kind of agree! The layout is the same or very close to it, so the user experience is extremely comfortable, and you have access to all of the extensions and add-ons in the Chrome Web Store. Plus, the browser has a VPN built in that you can flip on with a single click if need be! The browser’s ad blocker is pretty good – almost too good, since even at medium, it blocked everything I wanted and a bit more.

It also has ninja mode, which doesn’t track your search history, and you can even arrange for websites to load only in ninja mode – a handy feature for writers worried about the search history containing questions about killing methods (we’ve all been there!).

Honestly, this may be my new favorite browser. It was fast, comfortable, and…yes, I felt more secure in that browser. I didn’t have creepily accurate ads pop up, I didn’t have pop-up windows at all…I really just have nothing bad to say here. Whether you need one browser or multiples, consider UR.

Brave

This browser is another focused on security, which is great, since as I research posts, I can often stumble upon sites trying to get my information. The browser is comfortable – it’s basically Chrome again. Plus, it has a crypto-wallet for those trading in bitcoin, and a Tor mode, where you can literally use Tor right in Brave. I don’t know how that affects the security – is Tor at all compromised being used that way? – but I also don’t particularly care, since I won’t be going down that rabbit hole again.

The browser is certainly fast. I worked on six articles for clients in the browser – each involving probably 25 tabs open, all at the same time. I couldn’t even see the end tabs. Everything loaded so fast, so easily, refreshed, saved, everything, that I was able to knock out the six articles in…roughly two hours. That’s mind-boggling! Now granted, some of that speed is a level of pre-planning and the nature of the topic matter, but still that’s some impressive speed, and a lot of it was not having to wait for sources to load and reload. Honestly, I might just transfer my main, fun browser over to Brave. I need to play in it more, because it doesn’t feel as comfortable as Ur yet, but I think it could. I strongly recommend this as a great option.

Lunascape

This is another browser I wasn’t a fan of. It has three rendering engines, which you’re supposed to be able to switch between seamlessly, and is supposed to improve security. I can’t really vouch for either of these claims. I don’t know how to tell if it switched engines, and it didn’t seem more secure than Brave or Ur, but further reading indicates it’s not that type of security (with ads and such).

Honestly, I can’t provide a solid review and it’s because of how I use internet browsers. For me or people like me, who are researching articles, doing basic searches, that sort of thing, Lunascape was uncomfortable, unimpressive, and felt a bit outdated.

That said, I think (but don’t know) that where the browser could shine is web developers. I think what web developers need to work more efficiently is what Lunascape is offering, and I think people who simply understand the mechanics better will get more out of it. If you’ve used it and want to weigh in, good or bad, drop a comment below – I’d love the input.

Maxthon

The last browser I tried, and one I really need to explore a bit more. Developed in China, it supports two simultaneous engines, which probably matters, but I didn’t notice (see Lunascape). Beyond that, it has a built-in email management system that’s designed to reduce spam, a notes extension so you can document information while you browse, an RSS feed so that you don’t have to go to a specific website to find out what’s going on on the internets, and other features that are designed to make it easy to use, particularly for work.

That said, they’ve had security issues in the past, and honestly, even more than that, the browser felt slow. I want to toy with it a bit more to see if it improves, but it’s kind of like they sacrificed speed for some flashy accessories – not a good choice.

Avant

Avant is another three-engine browser – I don’t know why I kept playing with these. Regardless, it allows you to open multiple windows in the browser, so if you need to look at Tab A while working in Tab B, this might be the program for you. There’s also a built-in RSS feed, so you can stay on top of industry news while you work.

For once, the browser actually was fast with the three engines. It’s a minimalist-looking program, but not ugly or outdated (although the skins certainly did bring me back a bit!). I could definitely see me using the tiling feature, but I’m not sure it’s a big enough selling point. Trying to add extensions for customization proved to be more trouble than it was worth, and overall…the experience was meh, at best (and yes, that’s a technical, professional judgement).

For users like me, Avant is…not designed for what we’re looking for. This another browser I could see web developers enjoying, although at first glance, it looked like Lunascape had more features in that vein. It’s kind of like the developers tried to satisfy both sides of the coin, and managed to satisfy neither.

Conclusions: The Best And Worst Of Web Browsers

By the time I tried Avant, I was web-browsered out. The final results are:

What I’m Using

  • Chrome
  • Ur
  • Opera
  • Firefox

These are the four I’m using day to day right now. They’re classic, they’re fast, they’re reliable, they’re comfortable. Those are the things I’m looking for in a browser, and these hit those marks.

What I’m Uninstalling

  • Tor
  • Seamonkey
  • Lunascape
  • Vivaldi
  • Flashpeak

I’m deleting Tor because it scares me and I don’t need it, not because it doesn’t live up to the hype. In fact, it lives up to the hype too well – I’ve seen things now. And it’s far worse than the time I googled “old turkey” (I did it for a Thanksgiving thing – don’t repeat my mistakes!). If you’re looking to dabble in bitcoin or whatever, Tor is still the browser for you.

As for the others in this group, Lunascape is the only one I would say deserves further investigation by someone who maybe wants what they offer. The issues I had with Lunascape are due to what I’m looking for from a browser, not necessarily due to the browser itself. If you’re more technologically-inclined (and I’m no slouch, I just don’t want to have to engineer a basic tool if I don’t have to), this may be a favorite of yours. The others – skip them.

What I’m Keeping As Backup

  • Maxthon
  • Avant
  • Brave

I might replace one of my go-to choices with Brave, because I actually really like the browser. Or I may use it for my writing, since it does have security benefits that will keep me from getting arrested when I perform weird google searches. It is a really nice browser, and if you prefer Chrome browsers, it could absolutely replace Firefox or Opera in your lineup.

I’m keeping Avant and Maxthon for now, because I feel like both of those warrant further investigation. I definitely see potential there, but I can’t decide if one attractive feature can make the browser worth it. Both were late trials for me, when I was already impressed by some, disappointed by others, and tired all-around, so these two I think may have gotten the short end of the stick.

Regardless, after trying 12 browsers, I’ve narrowed it down to some seriously viable options for you! Have you used browsers as workspaces before? Have you used any of these browsers? Any recommendations for me?

Take Advantage Of Your Lockdown Time With LinkedIn Learning

Last updated on: Published by: jasmine 3

EdX and Coursera may not have caught your interest, but if you have LinkedIn Premium, take advantage of their educational platform, LinkedIn Learning! There’s some excellent courses there, and I’m particularly fond of their series options. The series consist of multiple courses in one area, which means you get a more all-around education. Future or new entrepreneurs can really benefit from that, or if you need a new skill for work, you might find what you’re looking for here. These aren’t college classes, but instead lead by top people in their fields, so expect a more experience-driven lesson.

Become A Small Business Owner

This series covers the basics of entrepreneurship from writing a business plan, managing the financial side, and even balancing a new business with a personal life (something I’ve never mastered!). With seminars from Guy Kawasaki, Dave Crenshaw, and Dana Robinson, you’ll get advice from people who have already been there and done that.

Become A Marketing Specialist

If you’re struggling to market your business and bring in customers, take this crash course in marketing strategy. You’ll learn about branding, market analysis, designing campaigns, and writing copy. By the end, you should be able to create a comprehensive marketing plan that’s sure to be effective and help you grow your business.

Become A Content Strategist

If you’ve dreamed of becoming a freelance content creator, this course can help you get started. You’ll learn about content marketing, writing for blogs, newsletters, and other formats, and what makes pieces go viral. It’s not as easy as just slapping words on a page! If you take this, I strongly recommend taking the marketing course as well, because they share overlap in practice that will come in handy.

Improve Your Web Design Coding Skills

If you don’t yet have the budget to hire a professional web designer, you can do a lot with a template and some good old-fashioned know-how. This course will teach you basics on how to edit and modify templates, or even build a simple website. You won’t be the most high-tech person around, but even a baseline knowledge can come in extremely useful.

Become A Product Photographer

For those starting a business selling crafts or other physical products, this course is a must. You’ll learn how to take great photographs for advertising, use lighting to your advantage, and edit photos for the best results. Bloggers may also found this course to be useful, if you’re struggling with getting great photos of fashion or food for your posts.

Use your new free time wisely to get ahead or build a new career and take some courses to help you along the path. There’s so many great options out there that you’re sure to find something that fits your needs.