329 – Winners and Wisdom from the Small Business Blog Challenge

Business Blog Challenge winnersDid you catch episode #321 a few months ago? Well, that show got a lot of attention! That episode gives a deeper dive into the details and benefits of blogging for your handmade business.

At the end of that show, I presented a challenge to my listeners.

The Business Blog Challenge

The Challenge: Post a blog article dated after the airing of the episode and tag me over on Instagram. The first 10 people to do so would be the winners – including a prize.

This was all spur of the moment and two things were running through my mind.

First, maybe I should have only said 5 because would there even be 10 people to do this? I mean, it is a big challenge given blogging isn’t something typically connected with product sales.

And second – what would the prize be? But I knew I could wing that.

Much to my surprise, by the deadline date I had 8 people follow through. Which, I have to say, was completely impressive!

And I decided the best prize I can give is to get more eyeballs on their businesses.

Because after all, this is the big value of blogging – visibility to your business. And that visibility isn’t just for the day the article goes up, but ongoing. Evergreen content, if you will. Just like podcasts are.

I also want to note, this is in complete contrast to social media posts. Because those – if you see them at all – are only organically visible for a few minutes to maybe a couple of hours.

Blog Challenge Winners

So, today I want to present to you each of the winners, their business, and the article that won them a spot on this show.

Also, I’m going to share a little about the content in their articles because each one is so different and highlights a best practice or two.

My hope is that this will motivate you to start blogging (again, listen to episode 321 to understand why).

And if you’ve thought about it but aren’t sure what you’d write about, these examples will definitely get you inspired and your idea juices flowing.

8 Blog Challenge Winners

To my delight – 3 of these people decided to start a blog as a direct result of this challenge. That makes my heart so happy!

Business: Uniquely Made For More

Products: Handmade gift baskets
Owner:
Michelle James
Blog Post: Is Gift-Giving Challenging?
Highlights: Michelle chose to blog about one of the needs her business solves – ways to make your gifts memorable and significant to your recipients.

In doing this, Michelle offers value to her readers beyond what her business offers. This is also an article she can link to in emails or social media posts on how to pick the perfect gift.

Business: Ahh-Land Woman Herbals

Products: Handcrafted plant-based remedies for health and home wellness and botanical, organic skincare.
Owner: Gloria Brown
Blog Post: What’s the Tea?
Highlights: Gloria’s first article is a wonderful initial topic because she shares her personal journey to actually starting her blog. She writes as if it’s a letter to a friend – very personable and casual. You’ll see – she just draws you in. But she also sets expectations for her readers by explaining what we’ll discover when we follow her articles.

Gloria has laid the groundwork for so many topic options along a theme that relates to her products. Which, of course, she can link to text or photos within her blog.

Business: The Gunny And His Wife

Products: Modern, high-quality customized decor, accessories, & gifts.
Owner: Lynda Stephens
Blog Post:  Not Ready? Start Anyway.
Highlights:  After hearing the Google search advantages of blogging, the value of adding content to your website overall, and of course, the visibility – Lynda decided to go for it. Her first post is short and sweet but it got her going. She decided to just set a timer and write. She calls this post raw and honest for that moment. Because she wasn’t ready – but she started.

Lynda’s style is refreshing and fun and you get a true sense of her personality in these short posts, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Business: Ninn’s Crochetworks

Products: Crocheted items, both wearable and home accessories.
Owner: Lona Smith
Blog Post: Summer Accessories Pattern Round-Up
Highlights:  While Lona doesn’t have a website yet, she’s currently selling on Instagram and hosts her blog on Blogspot. This can be integrated into her website at any time when it becomes available. Lona shares patterns she’s discovered on her own search to accessorize her personal space.

Roundups, lists, best of – all of these types of articles highlighting other businesses is a wonderful pay-it-forward strategy. It gets you attention with these brands. And in some cases, they’ll share an article with their community, bringing attention back to you. Plus it helps your reader because you’ve done the work for them to find resources. By doing this, Lona positions herself as a go-t0 connection for crochet tips, resources, and advice.

Business: Artful Kreations

Products: Customized products of all sorts
Owner:
Margaret Esposito Kanakos
Blog Post: Don’t Worry About Those Gifts – I Got You!
Highlights: Her article is a short, uplifting “I’ve come to your rescue” piece. She brings up all sorts of situations where a gift might be needed. Her continual phrase throughout the piece is, “I got you.” She explains a challenge and says, “I got you.”

Something Margaret does so nicely in this article is present situations where her product can be a solution. Potential customers don’t always come with a problem on their own, so she suggests it. Using her blog to make the connection between problems and her products as the solution is a great move.

Business: Kris The Creative

Products: Laster cutting
Owner: Kristina Savasta
Blog Post: Learning Your Local Market
Highlights:  Kris’ article takes us through her back story of leaving a project management position to start her business. She walks us through her journey of understanding what her market wants, her offerings, and adjusting to the changes in the world of 2020.

By sharing her experiences, Kris shows she can relate to life’s opportunities, struggles, and shifts. Particularly for a customer who is a small business owner. Then, she presents what has been her ticket to getting sales and growing Kris The Creative.

Kris has been thrilled to receive comments about what she wrote, which is sure to keep her motivated to keep going. <— Tune in for an inspirational side story about Kris’ business!

Business: Linden Square Co.

Products:  Specialty Corporate Gifts
Owner: Amanda Klingenberger
Blog Post: Why Outsourcing Your Corporate Gifts Just Makes Sense
Highlights: Amanda is a pro at taking strategic action. She’s pivoted a couple of times to meet the demands of the market rather than sticking to her original idea. Her business might have looked very different today if she hadn’t adjusted to these cues. The topic of her post speaks directly to her newly defined audience – corporate. The gorgeous photo on the post is perfect to attract the right customer. Amanda is spot on – you can instantly see that Linden Square stands for quality and style. Her post outlines the many steps a person would have to take to prepare a gift like the ones her company offers.

With everything spelled out, it’s pretty obvious that outsourcing the process is much more efficient and cost-effective than doing it onsite themselves. Amanda’s first post is the perfect first step toward her goal of becoming a leader and authority in her industry.

Business: Cassie’s Country Cupboard

Products: Pantry Items for Homecooked Food
Owner:
 Cassie Menchhofer
Blog Post: Keep Your Kitchen Cool
Highlights: Cassie’s article covers 7 ways to keep your kitchen cool and still get supper on the table. It’s accompanied by the perfect image to get you in the mood for reading (or maybe eating, since she’s showing her delicious fiesta roll-ups).

In the article, she links to things she’s referencing – sometimes to an outside resource, other times to her YouTube channel where she shares recipes, and occasionally directly to one of her products. All of these links provide SEO strength, of course. But none of them are salesy. They’re helpful, which keeps the reader interested and involved.

Another thing I love about this article is her final call-to-action to watch her Facebook and Instagram accounts where she’ll be posting more tips. What a great way to stay connected with readers, build her social media following, and provide continuing value to her community.

Cassie gets an extra shout-out because she was the first one to grab a spot in this challenge. 😊

Listen to the full episode to hear more about what you can learn from each article and how it will help these businesses going forward! 

Resources Mentioned

 


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Transcript
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Gift Ms.

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Unwrapped episode 329.

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Today is a very special episode because I'm going to share

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with you the blog challenge,

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winners, Attention,

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gifters bakers,

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crafters, and makers pursuing your dream can be fun.

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Whether you have an established business or looking to start one.

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Now you are in the right place.

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This is gift to biz unwrapped,

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helping you turn your skill into a flourishing business.

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Join us for an episode,

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packed full of invaluable guidance,

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resources, and the support you need to grow.

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Your gift biz.

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Here is your host gift biz gal,

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Sue moon Heights.

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Hi there,

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and thanks for joining Me today on a variation of the

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traditional podcast format.

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As you may recall,

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a few months ago,

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I did an episode with Kate.

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Kordsmeier about the benefit of having a blog as a product

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business that was show number 321,

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and has gotten a lot of attention.

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Go back and listen to that one.

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If you haven't already,

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because it will lay the groundwork for what I'm sharing today.

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Now you can stay and listen to this first,

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but the other show gives you a deeper dive with the

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details and benefits of blogging for your handmade product business.

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Anyway, at the end of that show,

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I presented a challenge post a blog article dated after the

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airing of that episode and tag me over on Instagram,

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the first 10 people to do so would be the winners

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along with a prize that was all spur of the moment.

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And two things were running through my mind first.

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Maybe I should have only said five instead of 10,

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because would there even be 10 people to do this?

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I mean,

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it's a big challenge given blogging.

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Isn't something typically connected with product sales.

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And second,

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I had no idea what the prize was going to be,

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but I could wing that much to my surprise by the

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deadline date.

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I had eight people follow through,

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which I have to say was completely impressive.

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And I decided the best prize that I can give is

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to get more eyeballs on their businesses because after all,

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this is the big value of blogging visibility to your business

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and that visibility isn't just for the day,

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the article goes up,

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but ongoing evergreen content,

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if you will,

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just like podcasts are.

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And I want to note,

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this is in complete contrast to social media posts that if

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you see them at all are organically visible for a few

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minutes or maybe a couple of hours.

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So today I want to present you with each of the

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winners, their business,

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and the article that won them a spot on show.

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Also, I'm going to share a little bit about the content

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in their articles because each one is so different and highlights

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a best practice or to my hope is that it will

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motivate you to start blogging again,

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go back to that other podcast,

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to understand why,

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and if you thought about it,

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but you aren't sure what you'd write about this will definitely

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help you get inspired and have those creative idea juices flowing,

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because remember it's action.

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That brings results,

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not just thinking about it,

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right? Okay.

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Drum roll.

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Here Are our eight blog challenge winners.

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And to my delight,

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there are three people who started a blog as a direct

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result of this challenge.

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Oh, that makes my heart so happy.

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First up is Michelle James of uniquely made for more.

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Her gift basket business has been around for a long time,

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seven years to be exact.

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The article she chose to lead with addresses the need customers

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have that her business solves it's titled is a gift giving

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challenging. I'm sure you can answer.

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Yes. She then goes on to outline ways you can make

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your gifts memorable and significant for your recipient.

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So your gift doesn't come across as a last minute thought,

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which we all know results in a random gift in doing

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this. Michelle provides value to her reader beyond what her business

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offers, the final and what she calls ultimate solution is to

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buy one of her gift baskets while I don't endorse being

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directly self promotional in all of your blog articles as a

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starting point,

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and to acquaint people with your business,

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right from the beginning,

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I think it works nicely.

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This is also an article that she can link to in

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emails or on social media posts with content about how to

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pick the perfect gift.

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Our next first-time blogger is Gloria Brown of our land woman

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herbals her business plays off of her Caribbean roots as she

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handcrafts plant-based remedies for health and home wellness and botanical organic

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skincare she's led workshops to teach others how to craft their

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own products to Gloria sells at craft fairs on consignment and

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also holds her own vendor fair twice a year in collaboration

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with a fellow herbalist Gloria's first article is called what's the

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tea. It's a wonderful initial topic because she shares her personal

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journey into actually starting a blog.

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Gloria writes as if it's a letter to a friend,

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very personable and casual,

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and you'll see,

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she just draws you in.

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She also sets expectations for her readers by explaining what we'll

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discover. If we follow her articles,

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quote, tidbits and information on the wonderful world of plants that

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are growing all around us,

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but we tend to ignore then catch this.

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The plan is to take us on a tour of her

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backyard and neighborhood to enlighten us to the wonderful world of

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plants. I love this so much because we'll learn about plants

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that are accessible to us.

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I mean,

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we don't need to go to a Botanic garden to see

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these things they're right outside our front doors.

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Gloria has laid the groundwork for so many topic options,

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all along a theme that relates to our products,

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which of course she can then link to text or photos

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within her blog.

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Gloria says that the hardest part of this challenge was getting

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the tech down.

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But now that she's conquered that she's already published her second

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article and is even getting fancy with video.

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She's now on a roll and consistency is going to be

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key. Good for you,

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Gloria. Our next blogger newbie is Linda Stevens of the gunny

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and his wife.

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Isn't that a unique and curious company name.

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It tells you a lot about her,

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right from the start and comes from the combination of two

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lives. Her husband,

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Michael, a Marine now living in a civilian world and Linda

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who describes herself as a serial entrepreneur and maker,

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they provide modern high quality customized merchandise.

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So think decor,

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accessories, and gifts.

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The vision is to become a licensed us Marine Corps provider.

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Linda sells on Etsy,

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her own website and wholesale,

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and is in the middle of revising and rebranding her Shopify

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site right now.

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So her article titled not ready start anyway is perfect.

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She says,

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she's been thinking about a blog for a while now,

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but wondered if they were relevant anymore.

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After hearing our conversation in the podcast about Google search advantages

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and the value of adding content to your website overall,

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and what it can do for your visibility.

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She was in her first post is short and sweet,

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but it got her going.

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She decided to set a timer and write what a great

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idea she calls this post.

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Ron honest for that moment because things weren't perfect,

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but she was starting.

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And since then catch this,

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she's written two more articles with a very aggressive goal of

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weekly blog posts.

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Danes Linda's is very conversational and reminds me of how people

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wrote when journal blogging first came out,

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it's refreshing and fun.

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You get a true sense of Linda's personality in these short

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posts. And I'm looking forward to watching what comes next.

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Moving on.

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We have Lonna Smith of Nene's crochet works with an article

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titled summer accessories,

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pattern Roundup.

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As the name implies,

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she makes crocheted items,

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both wearable and home accessories.

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While she doesn't have a website yet she's selling on Instagram

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and currently hosts her blog on Blogspot.

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This can be integrated into our website at any time when

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it becomes available,

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she uses a fabulous approach of storytelling about how she accessorized

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her outdoor patio space.

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The color inspiration came from her outdoor cushions.

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And from there she's planned out.

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Her creative works from mug rugs to place mats and even

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a water bottle holder with a cell phone pocket,

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loaner sheers links to 12 pattern designs.

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She's discovered on her search to accessorize her personal space,

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roundups lists,

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best of all,

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these types of articles highlighting other businesses is a wonderful pay

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it forward strategy.

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It gets you attention with these brands.

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And in some cases,

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they'll share that article to their community,

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bringing attention back to you,

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of course,

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and it helps your reader because you've done the work for

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them in terms of finding resources by doing this Lona positions

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herself as a go-to connection for crochet tips,

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resources and advice,

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because she's been helpful since this article Lona has published two

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more. I think we've jumped,

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started her blogging program from the challenge.

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Yay. Now share with you Margaret Esposito.

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Canticos who has an online gift shop called artful creations,

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which offers customized products of all sorts.

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Her article.

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Don't worry about those gifts.

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I got you is a short uplifting I've come to your

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rescue type piece.

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She brings up all sorts of occasions where a gift might

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be needed and the anxiety that mounts,

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because let's face it,

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finding a gift can be overwhelming with everything else we have

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going on in life.

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Her continual phrase throughout the piece is I've got you.

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So she talks a little bit about a challenge and says,

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I got you.

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And then she shares a little bit more about what can

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be an obstacle and gifts it's giving.

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And then she says,

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I got you.

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And she can hear,

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can use this throughout her article and important thing.

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I want to point out here that Margaret does so nicely

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is present where her product can be a solution,

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potential customers don't always come with a problem on their own.

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So she suggests it.

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Yeah. Need a gift mailed,

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have an upcoming graduation,

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bridal shower,

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new homeowner that you need to acknowledge this kind of thing.

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Often trigger an idea that results in a sale.

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If options are ideas,

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aren't presented the connection between having a problem and your product

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being the solution.

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Most times doesn't happen using a blog to get this message

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out is a great move.

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Now, let me tell you about Christina.

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with her freelance design and illustration work.

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Chris, the creative her company started two years ago and now

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focuses on laser cutting,

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which has taken off for her in a big way.

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Her article takes us through her backstory of leaving a project

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management position to go off on her own.

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She walks us through her journey of understanding what her market

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wants to her offerings and the adjustments she had to make

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I'm not going to give you her whole story here because

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you can read it in the blog,

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but by sharing her experiences,

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Chris shows the reader that she can relate to life's opportunities,

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struggles, and shifts,

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particularly for a customer who is a small business owner.

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Then she presents what has become her ticket to getting sales

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and growing Krista creative.

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She's found that local business and selling through face-to-face connections by

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networking and in-person shows has paid off best.

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So she shares her tip around what has made her successful

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and brought in sales complete with a bullet list of important

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business. Building points.

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Since her post went up,

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Chris is thrilled because she seen people commenting on what she

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wrote. I'm sure this will motivate her to keep going.

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A side note that Chris told me is that when she

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was in high school,

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she failed art.

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Can you believe it?

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It had been her dream as a little girl to have

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her own business.

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And art was her passion and her love.

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She was told that she would never make it as an

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artist. Good thing.

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She didn't listen since Chris,

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the creative is a thriving business based on her original designs

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and creations.

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There's a lesson in here for all of us and Chris,

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maybe this is another blog post next.

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I can't wait to tell you about Amanda Klinger burger's story.

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This is one courageous woman with a solid eye towards strategic

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action. Before I explain Amanda is the owner of Linden square,

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a full service gifting company.

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and then took a short break after the holidays,

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smart move.

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Get those seals in during the best part of the year,

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then take a break,

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regroup and move forward.

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Little. Did she know so that when she reopened in February

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of 20,

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20 funny three weeks later,

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may ham would strike when it did.

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It could have been really easy for her to deliver or

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quit, but not Amanda.

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As I said,

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strategic, she pivoted from was going to be a strong focus

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on wedding planners and meeting pros to working with small companies

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and individuals on their client and virtual event gifts that got

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her through 20,

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20 fast forward to the present where she's pivoted again,

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as we reopen she's switching from working with small,

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primarily female entrepreneurs like coaches,

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speakers, and influencers to targeting larger corporate clients,

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to assist with their employee and client gifting challenge changes.

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What I want you to note here is the planned and

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specific approach.

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Amanda took with her business based on what was going on

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around her without taking in and adjusting to these cues.

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Her business might have looked very different today.

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If it existed at all,

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I know it has nothing to do with blogging,

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but it's a fabulous example of how to stay relevant and

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offer what's needed by your audience at any given time.

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In Amanda's case,

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she adjusted her target market as business activities and our world

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shifted. Okay,

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let's talk about her blog.

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It's title.

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Why outsourcing your corporate gifts?

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Just make sense.

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Notice that this topic speaks directly to her newly defined audience

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corporate. When you get to her article,

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you'll see a gorgeous photo,

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which gives an immediate impression of quality and style needed to

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attract her right customer.

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If her photo was blurry,

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the product mismatched to her topic or any gap in perception,

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it would affect the impression of her business in the eye

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of her reader.

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But Amanda is spot on.

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You can instantly see Linden square stands for quality and style.

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Her article tells the story of all the steps.

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Someone would have to take on their own to send a

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gift like what they can easily purchase through Linden square right

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now. And this is no exaggeration,

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but most don't know all the steps involved,

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specially a marketing or HR manager of a large corporation.

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She plays off all the decision points and action steps that

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need to happen.

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And once her perspective,

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corporate customer understands this.

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It's pretty obvious that taking an employee's time to do their

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gifting onsite is not the best choice,

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much better to job out and ensure a gift job well

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done. Amanda's goal with her blog is to her business as

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a leader and authority in her industry with her blog,

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she's definitely making that happen,

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bringing it home is our final blog challenge winner Cassie mento

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offer of Cassie's country.

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Cupboard. I have to say as a regular customer,

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her mixes are incredible.

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My hubby asks for the garlic and beer bread specifically,

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and I know I always have to keep it in.

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Stock goes great with homemade Despacito in the summer,

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by the way Cassie's business mission is offering pantry items to

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help you get healthy meals on the table without losing your

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sanity. And this positioning is working.

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She's celebrating 10 years in business and recently constructed a separate

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building on her property,

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dedicated to a production and order fulfillment.

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Cassie sells through farmer's market craft shows and online.

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She's also a vendor at the virtual at home craft and

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gift show.

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She tells me she was thinking about starting a blog after

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a recent podcast I did on Pinterest,

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not sure which one,

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because we've done two recently,

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number 2 81 and three 19,

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if you're interested.

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And then the blog challenge podcast solidified her idea and she

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made it happen.

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Cassie, you know how happy this makes me her article is

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called, keep your kitchen cool and covers seven tips on how

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to do exactly that.

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She also has a great image to get you in the

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mood for reading or maybe eating because she's showing her Fiesta

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roll-ups that include her Fiesta,

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seasoning in the tips.

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She links to various things that she's referencing.

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Sometimes it's a product from pampered chef.

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For example,

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other times it's her YouTube channel,

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where she shares recipes.

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And then on occasion,

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it's directly to her product.

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So you can buy it.

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All these links provide SEO strength,

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of course,

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but they're also not ever salesy.

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They're more helpful than anything else which keeps the reader interested

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and involved.

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Another thing I love about this article is her ending call

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to action.

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Keep an eye on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.

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I'll be posting more ideas all summer long.

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What a great way to stay connected with readers,

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build her social media following and provide continuing value to her

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community all at the same time.

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And Cassie gets an extra bonus shout out because she was

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the first one to grab a spot in this challenge.

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You have to go and check out her mixes seriously.

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Okay. There you have it all.

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Eight of our blog challenge winners,

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all our blog challenge,

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winners and links to their articles are in the show notes.

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I've intentionally kept this podcast a little bit shorter.

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So it gives you time to go take a look,

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read their articles and see the various styles and approaches.

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I'd also love for you to support these fabulous women comment

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on their articles,

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give them a follow on social or purchase one of their

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products. And of course,

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if you haven't started a blog yet,

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wait no longer take just a portion of time.

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You spend on social and dedicated to a project that will

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work for you.

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For years.

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Each article you post is like making a deposit into your

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visibility bank account.

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Remember if people don't know you exist,

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they can't possibly purchase from you up next week.

Speaker:

I have a very fun lighthearted,

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but value packed episode that you're going to have to just

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wait and see what the topic is.

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But what I will tell you is I was laughing at

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our guest and our guest was laughing at me all in

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good fun.

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Of course.

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If you found this podcast valuable,

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will you do me a favor go over to your podcast

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app of choice,

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subscribe to the show and leave a rating and review.

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That's so helpful and encouraging for me as a podcaster because

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your paying it forward,

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allowing other people to see the show as well and now

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be safe and well.

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And I'll see you again next week on the gift biz

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unwrapped podcast.

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1 Comment

  1. Margaret on August 2, 2021 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you!!!!!

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