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Francesca Schwarz: Divas of Direct Sales

Welcome to my blog series, Divas of Direct Sales.  In this series, we will be interviewing amazing women who are loud and proud about their businesses.

Francesca Schwarz, Ciao Bella Boutique LLC featuring Paisley Raye

Catch up with her:  Instagram & Her amazing Facebook Community 

Tell us a bit about yourself 
I am from the Pacific Northwest. Married the Navy and that brought me to Virginia. Mother to a 2-year-old male terrorist that for some reason I love unconditionally.
What is the one thing that attracted you to your brand/direct sales in general
LuLaRoe was actually my first step into the direct sales world. I was a new mom who needed a social outlet incredibly bad. Because the Navy had moved us to Virginia I was far away from friends and family that would under normal circumstances lend a helping hand/guidance through this new motherhood journey. I had always worked so staying at home with a new baby and not having my own money was extremely difficult for me to grasp. I saw the community and friendships that were being built around this clothing brand and I wanted THAT! I have now moved on from LLR to opening my own boutique as well as signing on as an independent stylist with Paisley Raye!
What is the one thing about life that the direct sales has taught you or reinforced for you
To be me. Unapologetically ME! I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that is okay! (because I drink coffee…so….) By being myself I will attract those that are like me and even those that are complete opposite (We are typically attracted to our opposite counterparts are we not?). You will never please everyone, so don’t even try!
What is one of our favorite products that your company sells, and something from another company?
 Paisley Raye has this incredible retro-inspired dress called the Dahlia and I seriously could wear this dress EVERY DAY! I drink Java Momma coffee every day (best coffee…seriously, you will throw your old shit out). I am obsessed with the R&F body lotion and sunscreen… have you tried it?!?! It does not smell like sunscreen!!! It’s heavenly! (I have to slather my sleeve tattoo in sunscreen to protect the vibrant colors from the sun’s damaging rays)
If you were able to go back and do one thing differently when you started your business what would it be?
Hmmmmm I don’t really think I would do anything different! I really like how things have played out and the lessons I have learned in the journey!
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?
Ummmm well sunscreen for that gorgeous tattoo sleeve of mine lol. Can I have my phone and Wifi? I mean…. all my friends live in my phone…. just saying 😉
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
…. Black…. it’s the new Black. 😉 Can’t have enough Black. We will rename it though…. “Queen of Darkness” ….hmmm let’s add some gold glitter flecks in that crayon too.
What is the one thing (technology, product, service) that makes running your business better/easier?

Ummm… does Brenda Ster and everything she has created count as a service? Because she is why I am here.

A penguin walks through your front door right now wearing a sombrero. What does she say and why is she there?
“Oh shit, sorry, I thought this was the arctic! Must be because you’re one cool bitch!” … she just wanted to chill 😉
Tea, coffee or other?
COFFEE…. seriously…. that is all I drink… it counts as water consumption right?

Favorite Motivational Quote / Song
Oh, well…. Meghan Trainor’s song “Me too” never fails to get me dancing and in a better mood

Side Note:  I had “heard” about Francesca from a great friend of mine, then started stalking her groups and other social media outlets – this really is one cool chick, and any penguin (or any of the rest of us) would be lucky to hang out with her for a couple of hours.

Make sure you check Francesca out, and if you are interested in being featured as a Diva of Direct Sales – send me a message, I would love to share your story.

3 Steps to Write Blog Posts in under 10 minutes

quick blog postAre you looking for tips on how to write blog posts quickly?

One of the challenges most bloggers have is to write blog posts quickly enough to keep up with trends and keep the fresh content on their blogs.  Many bloggers are not trained writers, so having a simple system is important in their workflow.  Here are 3 simple steps.

1.  Come up with your topic.  You will need to refine this into your title, but keep it clear and focused.  You are going to want to (on average) write 300-700 words on this topic.

2.  Now, write down 3-5 main points for that article.  These are important, as they will frame your article and basically for each of the 3-5 paragraphs.

3.  Flush out each paragraph.  Making sure to write approximately 100-200 words on each main point.  You may need to go back and create an opening and closing paragraph based on what your topic is.  But by doing all of that, you should have a nice quick blog to send out into the wild.

Other great ways to create a blog quickly

Do a “Numbered Post” like the one here.  “5 Top things” “3 Ways to” again – super easy, creating an opening and closing dialogue, then the points in between, and you are good to go! I also have a great app for Google Chrome called Grammarly, that works wonders in keeping my spelling in check!

It is important to write blog posts regularly.  You want to hit a minimum of 40-50 blog posts before Google really starts to recognize you.  It is always recommended that you try and be consistent with your blogging, so at the beginning look at adding between one to two blog posts a week.  Once you hit the magic forty, you can slow down and always remember to keep promoting posts that you have already written!  People need to read what you wrote.

Hope this helps!

Facebook Live Set up: Working from Home

Note: This post contains affiliate links. To see our full affiliate disclosure – click HERE

What is your Facebook Live set up?

So, recently I posted a picture of my set up for my Facebook lives.  It is kind of hacked together and inexpensive, but it works (and works well).  I run my little mini-empire from a 4×8 foot space in our family living room.  I wanted to have natural light during the day, but a lot of what I do, I do in the evenings, or on cloudy days (because I live in Eastern Ontario – and there are a lot of cloudy days.

So, here is my equipment list.  (Disclaimer – I make NOTHING off of any of the links on this page.  I am not currently an Amazon affiliate, so here, enjoy!)

My laptop stand!

I LOVE this stand.  It gets my MacBook off my desk, at a good height.  There is space underneath that I can tuck pens or notebooks.  I have to admit, I needed it up about another 1/2 inch, so I stuck a small book under it.  I am terrible at not using my mouse, so I still end up using the track Pag, and this fits it so nicely!

The Clamps

These clamps come in a set of 2, and I purchased 2 packages – they open to about 2″ to clamp onto just about anything. 
They have a pre-built in swivel, so I can manipulate where the light is pointed, or where the camera is!  The clamps have little rubber feet.  I have lost one, so then I went and glued the others on.  It just helps them be more sturdy.

 

The support for my phone

This was hard to find.  I wanted to something that would be flexible for my phone, my husband’s phone, and our small point & shoot camera.  It is very adjustable, but sturdy at the same time.  Opens up fairly wide.

 

The Lights (probably the most important thing)

Being a past professional photographer, I know that your lighting is everything, so I wanted something that had a good option for the amount of light, was lightweight to hold onto the clips, and was BATTERY powered (because I didn’t want extra cords running).  This thing runs off of 6 – AA batteries.  I have been using it fairly often for over a year, and still, haven’t had to replace the batteries.  I have 2, and if I am doing a longer video, I will get both up and angle point them at me.  They are also a great light for product shots because they are continuous, you can see where any shadows are.  They come with some filters, but honestly, I am not sure where they are!  The light intensity is adjustable, so you can adapt it depending on how far away you are from the source.  I tend to be about 2-3 feet, so  I keep the 1 light on the lowest setting.  If you were further away, just crank it up a bit!

Small Portable (and flexible) tripod

One of the things you didn’t see in the pictures, is my joby tripod.  I love this thing (and this one comes with the same phone clip as I am recommending above.  As a family, we take it all over – because I am a geek, a lot of time, I will throw one of those lights in, so I can get better pictures when I am traveling.  It means that I can attach a phone or light, in a lot of places.

So there you have it – my big advanced facebook live kit!  Investing in a few key pieces can really help the quality of what you do.

So, thanks for checking me out – if you want to know more about me – come and have a read over here or if you want to hang out with me in my facebook computer, come on over here!

Planners, planning, and plans: A review of the new Anthology Planner

Planners are very important books in so many of our lives.

I say books, but there are just so many different ways to keep track of life now.  You can use a phone hooked up to the cloud sharing with your computer, tablet and every other electronic device you own.  You can use pieces of paper from your kid’s school, that maybe aren’t the best choice, but you know where to find them.  Or you can use a traditional planner.

One of the reasons that I love a traditional planner is that I like to make lists, lists about things to do, to get, to make.  I need to be able to put my stickies somewhere, or my entire desk would look like a patchwork of chaos! Also, as a goal setter, it is proven that writing your goals down are better ways to visualize them happening.  So I use stickies and sharpies in my planners to make sure that I see them regularly.  And finding the best planner for my networking marketing business is hard.

I remember just a few years ago, the only option you had was the basic day-timer from the office supply store.  It was sturdy, did its job and everyone was happy, but were they?  In the last 3 or 4 years more and more pretty planners have come onto the market.  From Erin Condren, Plum Paper, Heidi Swapp, My Big Ideas, it seems that everyone has a planner now-a-days.  And all have great parts about them.  I have bought many many of them, and have currently been using one from Blue Sky.  And while it works, it isn’t perfect.

So, when this baby hit the market on December 1st, I was super excited.  Have a quick watch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH9Ufxuqfi0%5B/embedyt%5D

Lisa Bearnson is the creative mind behind Anthology, and does a beautiful job creating beautiful items, and this one is no exception.  The price point is amazing.  ($39US/$52CND)  And what you get with it is absolutely mind blowingplanner, anthology, daytimer,

• Faux Leather Album (6” x 8”)

• 12 Month Dividers • 12 Page Protectors • 96 Pages

• Calendar/Event Stickers

• Changeable Date Stamp

• Glitter Tape

• Designer Pencils

• Designer Eraser

• Decorative Clips

Things I love about this planner:  I love how easy it is to use.  It comes undated, so you can start whatever month you want.  But you have the pretty date stamp to fill in the dates.  I love the size of the planner.  It is substantial enough to feel like it isn’t going to get lost, but small enough to take it with you.  I LOVE that I can add and move pages around.  (see below for a great offer).

What I don’t love – the amount of space on weekends – but that is just me.  Some weekends feel super busy for me, so I need a bit more space.  But there are stickies for that.

In the world of planning, this is a great addition to the marketplace, and I am personally hoping to see the line expand.

If you would like to purchase one of these awesome, you need to have this pretty – buy now!!! – IF you are US Customer – buy here! 

PS – For every $75 you purchase, you can receive an additional item for 50% off!

PPS – anyone who purchases a planner from me in December 2016, will receive a complimentary download to print and use.  A choice between a “mom’s on the go” kit or a “direct sellers business on the go kit”.  Both have 10 great sheets to use with your planner!

So exciting to get 2017 off to a great start.  Keep in touch and I will be sharing other tips to wrap up 2016 and make 2017 awesome!

 

Politics and Business, when can they mix?

Is it ok to mix business and politics?

With the US election heating up and only a few weeks away, I have seen a LOT of posts for both supporting and criticizing the different candidates.

Now, here is the thing, I have seen a lot on both sides (or multiple sides if you throw in independents, or here in Canada).  And the problem is that about half of the people seeing your posts on social media agree with you and about half don’t.  And the more passionate you are, the happier, or more frustrated you are going to make those people.

In the last 3 days, I have personally unfollowed about a dozen people.  Some I have agreed with their views – others not so much – but it isn’t about their beliefs, but their overwhelming passion on social media is causing lots of positive and negative “drama” in their feed.  No matter who you are supporting, there is always that one friend who totally disagrees with you, and they feel that they should explain to the entire world why you are wrong.  This devalues your ideals.  And honestly, can effect your social media persona.

Recently, there was a speaker at one of the political conventions that spoke on behalf of the candidate.  The speaker was obviously nervous in front of the overwhelming large group of delegates and the national media.  They stumbled on their words, and while did a ok job, may not have been happy with their performance.  The issue came from the caption that placed with their title – it said “Vice President, Marketing” and the company name.  So, here is the issue – anyone watching that presentation who is outside of the direct sales world, would not understand that the speaker was an independent consultant – as the title listed Vice President.  They now believe that this person may (or may not) speak for the corporation as a whole.  And in fact that is exactly what happened.  There was a huge “hubbub” on Facebook that XYZ company would support such a candidate, and validated some peoples feelings about the organization, and disillusioned others.  When in actual fact, the company does not support either candidate.  The individuals of that company likely support someone, but they have been responsible and not publicized it.

My firm belief is that politics should never be mixed in business, and if you are an independent representative with a company and use social media as a way of promoting your business, politics should be left away from that too.  You may need to find another outlet for your politics and passion, but you don’t want to turn away potential customers or business partners because of your views. Because once a person unfollows up, they are not likely to return.

Just my two cents! If you want to follow my un-politicial facebook page – please join me!

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Everything I have learned in direct sales

My Four Year Direct Sales Anniversary and what I have learned.

You could say I have learned a lot in the last 4 years.  When I started, I was a full time child and family photographer.  I was working 20-30 hours a week taking pictures of other people’s families.  Then working another 40-60 hours a week editing, marketing, doing administration.  I had a part time assistant, a part time baby sitter (did I mention my children were 4 and 2 and still at home full time).  I was tired, burnt out and didn’t know what to do.

I had been out of the work force for 4 years, and really didn’t want to go back.  Then, I was doing a photo booth at a vendor event, and I spied “them” these awesome little pieces of jewelry – they fit so well into my photography studio… but I lied to the woman running the booth, saying it was for a friend that I took the information.  I loved them.  So, I went home, thought about it overnight, asked some basic “not for me, but for my friend” questions  – and took the plunge.  I didn’t tell my husband what it was “oh, just some jewelry samples for the studio” – he would have killed me if I had join ANOTHER direct sales company (in just the past 2 years, I had done a stamp company and a food company).

What was different this time – I made a decision that I needed to find some extra income, and I was actually going to work this business this time.  So, when the package came in, I took the time to read the materials that were in the kit.  I watched the (very few) videos in the back office.  And I started telling everyone, except my husband, what I was doing.  I got the “is it one of those pyramid things” my response was, I sure as heck hope so!  I shared what I was doing, I was shocked when people started buying from me, even more shocked when they wanted to start their own thing.  By the time we hit Christmas, our little “team” had grown.

 

Now what?  Well, now I felt responsible for these people – so, I went out and I started learning.  I watched every Youtube video I could find, read every blog I could find.  Asked leaders in my company who they read, and ordered books and videos from them.  I absorbed everything I could about the industry and how to make it work.

Did I make mistakes, FOR SURE.  Did I make the same mistake more than once, yep, maybe even 3 times.  But I kept doing it.  And because of that people started their own businesses with us.  Did all those people succeed, nope – but what I have come to learn over the last 3 years, is that it isn’t my fault.  I made choices along the way that have impacted my success.  I cannot be held responsible for what other people do or do not do.

I ranked up quickly through the company commission plan.  In 18 months, hitting the 2nd highest level, was in the top 5 in our company in all of Canada, and in the top 20 in the entire company.  Was riding a high – and then it happened.  On January 12th, 2016, we received an email that the company had to stop operations, and was closing.

Shock – total Shock.

 

My family had come to rely on the income.  My family had built our lives around this business.  I cried for about 2 hours, big ugly yucky tears.  (I had a bad feeling the night before, so had asked my husband to stay home from work “just in case”.  Then, I decided I needed to do something.  We called a video meeting with our team.  We talked about next steps, how to move forward, what we would do.

By some luck, within 7 hours of receiving the initial news, we heard rumblings of “something”.  A company was going to come in and support us.  Our teams would move over, they made quick promise and would do everything they could to make things right.

They didn’t have to do anything.  They could have let the natural progression fall apart and there be nothing left of my beloved company.
Has the transition been smooth – nope, not even close.  Those of us that have chosen to stay and work with the new company are just now beginning to see the rewards – almost 9 months later, but what I can tell you is that the rewards with the new company are going to be way better and bigger than they could have ever been with South Hill Designs.  What I learned while I was with the new company was incredible, but I also learned that isn’t the company I wanted to be with.  There have to be 3 things in any compny – good products, good people and a good support structure.  So, I went off looking, and now I am with another amazing company and look forward to some great opportunities.

 

So, what have I learned learned in direct sales in the last 4 years? Here is a summary

 

  1. If you want something, don’t worry about what others think.  The only person you have to answer to at the end of the day is you.  And if you can look yourself in the mirror at the end of the day, you have done a good job.
  2. If you want something, and don’t know how to get it, YOU need to find the answers and not expect anyone else to find them for you. My sponsor and I were learning at the same time, but we both have different strengths and weaknesses, she learned her way, I learned mine – but we have both been successful.
  3. Sh#t happens – get over it and get moving again.
  4. This is the best industry in the world. You can pick your own hours to work, your own timelines, and your own destiny – but don’t get me wrong, you still need to work.  I work a good 40- 50 hours a week, but I work WHEN I want to.  I might work on a Saturday at a vendor event, but then take a Wednesday to get my hair done.
  5. There is no better industry for rewards. I have figured it out, and in the last 3 years, between trips I have won, free products, other benefits – I have likely earned an extra $10,000K in “stuff”.
  6. This industry is not perfect, there are things about it that I don’t like – but nothing in life is perfect, and I have the power to fix the things that I don’t like.
  7. I would not do anything differently, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I have found my “home”.  Network Markets, Multi-level Marketing, Direct Sales, Party Plan – whatever you want to call it, I am home.  And I know that I am with the BEST company out there.  It has a mix of products  (no more one hit wonder products for me).  It has a comprehensive and varied compensation plan,  – so I can see that the company is stable.  So it is diverse, stable, and scalable – sounds like a darn good investment in my books.  It has an amazingly caring management team, almost ALL have been in the field, so they get what we do every day.  Is it perfect, nope – but that is ok, I am not perfect either.

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