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As a small business owner I’m constantly searching for the best and most cost effective way to do business. I’m kind of stingy and don’t like paying for things if I can find it for free. In an eBook that I have written (releasing in Spring 2013) I have several recommendations for how to send proposals, quotes and track your projects.

For my web design business, I am creating proposals online daily. I tried them all. However, there was one that stood out from the rest of the proposal/quote platforms…Quote Roller was the winner.

Why Creating Proposals Online should be done using Quote Roller

Quote Roller Online Proposals

1. Free for all your Clients

Classy branded online proposals. Viewable online and by PDF. Downloadable & able to send a personalized email with their updated proposal from the program. Personal link to the proposal for your client!

All my clients can interact, ask questions, request changes on their proposal and it gets sent to me instantly. My clients LOVE this and my proposal acceptance rate has increased by 40%. True stats!

2. No Client Limits! Have as many clients as you’d like.

3. INTEGRATION – You can merge with Freshbooks Invoicing (if you want) and many other applications. I use PODIO for project management and it imports all my proposals so I can make tasks directly from the proposals.

4. Template Customization – I can create a template for web design, graphic design, project management, whatever you do, you can create a template for it. Also, you get access to other’s generic templates they use, so if you’re in the same industry and need some guidance on how someone else’s proposal looks for a similar project, it’s all here!

5. SAVED ME 80% – This is a TIME SAVER! Everyone knows time is precious, especially being a small business owner. Time is money and family time! It’s very cost efficient. On average, my small business proposal creation was taking 12+ hours a month. Now, I spend about 2-3 depending on the amount of requests.

6. ONLINE ACCESS 24/7 – Organized and in one place. I don’t have to sift through folders on my computer anymore for a proposal. It’s all online and if you’re away from your computer, but need to access it, you can. Simple!

7. PRICING –  I started using the plans when they were in beta, so they’ve evolved a bit and give you more options. For small business, I recommend trying it out for a month (no long term commitment!) and seeing what suits your best. The pricing plans can be seen here.

8. APP! I have to have an app today. I’m constantly on the go as a mom and so if a client accepts a proposal, I get notified right away. It’s Free to download here.

Now that I’ve basically sales pitched this to you, you’re probably thinking what’s in this for her? Well, I’ll be honest and say, I paid for a year upfront for Quote Roller services and wrote blog so I could test out their Professional version. There is no harm in promoting something I use daily and I get an incentive out of it. This review happened a long time ago and will be in my eBook that’s been written for months, but now, it’s officially on The Little Mustard Seed Blog. 🙂  Hope you find it as helpful as I do for my business. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them before you try the program out.

 Try QUOTE ROLLER, by clicking here <— (I get a little coffee $$ if you click this link saying I referred you!)

How to Use Reachli for Pinterest Campaigns

Hey all! I had to do a quick blog on this platform I use for Pinterest called Reachli. I’ve been loving it and actually started using it before it was Reachli (formerly Pinerly). I get a lot of questions from client’s about how Pinterest can be used to drive traffic and make money through blogs and pins. These couple of links will give you a glimpse into what Reachli is (basically it’s like analytics for the things you want to pin on pinterest from your site, or others!)

If you’re interested, here is their blog.

There are 3 things you can do right now on Reachli.

  1. Promote your pins and track how many people “clicked, liked and repined” that particular pin.
  2. Become a Publisher and gain smaller affiliate earnings through promoting different advertisers that work with you markets. Since my business is in web design and social media, I’m sharing this info and my take on it as a user for my business in hopes that it will help you with yours. Clicking a link might make me $.10-$.15, so basically if a lot of you do….I get a coffee! 🙂 
  3. Become an advertiser! If you want to promote your content, blog or products, you can do it here. It’s super easy to setup!


A few links I like and recommend to those looking into using Pinterest as part of their social media marketing strategy.

Who & What Is Reachli?

Going Beyond Pinterest: 500 Startups And Others Back Visual Advertising Platform Reachli

24 ways to monetize your website &  blog.

Happy Pinning & Tracking!

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A quick how-to tutorial on How to Upload and Activate a WordPress Plugin

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Working virtually requires understanding technologies that can make or break a client relationship or job opportunity. As a former Virtual Assistant, I get a lot of questions about tips on how to work virtually. Hosting the occasional Skype interview is something I get asked a lot and I know that the tips I’m about to share have been critically important to landing several of my clients.

While you don’t always need to interview via Skype to land a client, you should know that these things can keep you from failing an interview or losing a client. Here are some quick Skype interview tips that will help you land that client, job or new contract!



Important: Test your audio and video. Even if it’s worked in the past, make sure that there isn’t any feedback and that your microphone is working properly.

Eliminate Distractions or Malfunctions

  • Lighting: Make sure your room is well lit (especially your face)
  • Noise: Reduce any background noise that you can control. Babies, dishwashers, dogs, televisions, radio, etc. Turn it off!
  • Dress: Do not wear distracting prints, jewelry or have a crazy hairstyle. Dress in a darker, solid color and dress professionally. Girls, no cleavage!

Position, Diction, Cadence

Big words, but important one!

  • Position: Make sure you are close enough to the camera that they can see your facial expressions, but not too close so that you just become a talking head.
  • Diction: Speak clearly, fluidly, and look at the camera. It’s very easy to not look at the person on the screen because it’s a little awkward.

Virtual Assistant Secret: Don’t look at the screen, look at the camera. It will allow you to have direct eye contact with the interviewer or client and probably won’t make you as nervous since you won’t be looking at someone’s eyes.

  • Cadence: Breathe! Speak slowly and clearly. Be enthusiastic, but not peppy. Practice your answers before your interview, but don’t script them out. Have key points you’d like to make written on post it note (this is another secret! Since you’re not in the room with the client or person, you have this advantage!)

Follow Up

Just like an in-person interview, remember to follow up with a Thank You letter/email. Be sure to record the interview. Here are a few ways that you can record a Skype Call. If you need help with your thank you letter, here’s a great article.

One of my favorite resources to use is Amazon Associates affiliate program. It’s a great tool for moms who are thinking about product reviews for baby items, a life coach recommending specific books and other work at home things you might use. In my Social Media Audit, I normally recommend some form of affiliate marketing and Amazon is an easy go-to. It’s simple to set up, easy to use and easy to track.

How Do I Set Up Amazon Affiliates?

Amazon Affiliates Sign UpStep 1: Sign Up by Clicking Here. It’s free!

Step 2: Sign In with your credentials (login and password)

Step 3: If you’re completely new to Amazon, you’ll need to fill out some more information. If you have an account and are just new to Amazon Affiliates it will walk you through the steps to signing up (Who to send payment to, your website that you’ll use the links on, etc.) It’s a quick process. Maybe 5-7 minutes.


What Is An Affiliate?

An affiliate is someone who promotes a product or service to potential customers, in exchange for a commission on the sale when one occurs.

How Do I add an amazon affiliate link to my site?


Let’s say for example you wanted to link to a cool baby item that you just reviewed on your blog and also on your YouTube Channel. The first step is to search for that item. I searched for “diaper bag.” A list of bags came up (you can be more specific in your search). Then you see the “Get Link” button on the right hand side of the page? Click on that and a box will open up with the affiliate link. COPY this link and by clicking on the HTML tab (in WordPress)  PASTE this code into the specific area on your blog that you want it to be. There you will have your amazon affiliate link.

This link is specific to you and your account. Anyone clicking this & then purchasing this item will be credited to you. Pretty cool, huh?


What Are Tracking IDs?

Amazon AssociatesThe tracking ID is used to track who YOU are to amazon associates. It can be specific to campaigns you want to track. To add more IDs, on the Left hand side of your Amazon Associates dashboard you should see your ID listed and under that it should say, “Manage.” Click manage and you will be brought to a screen that looks like this.


Banners, Links & Widgets

AABe sure to explore and see all the features available to you. Did you know you can even set up an amazon store with all your favorites listed in one place? It’s under the “aStore” tab. Check it out and play around with the features.


What percentage do I make on purchases?

Here is the link to help answer all the “money” earning questions.


When I sat down to write tonight, the eve before the unveiling of this new site, I couldn’t help but think it’s so easy to say, “Look at me and how great this is.” So, I stepped back, grabbed some candles and sat in silence as I remembered a good friend’s generosity and creativity.

Here’s the short story of how my logo came to be. My logo is pretty stinking cool if you ask me. My friend and fellow creative, Ashley of thorn + sparrow and I, sat down and chatted month’s back about my vision for a new entity’s brand. I had the name, now I needed something to represent it. My request: To be structured and organic at the same time. Nothing like a challenge for my pal. 🙂

After a few designs and back and forth (she was patient with me!) I’m so very happy with the final product she created. You’ll also be happy to know you’ll find some more of her work on my site in the coming months. You know my navigation menu, with the bee and wheelbarrow and other cutsie items? Well, she did those too and they make me smile every time I visit the site.

If you’re in the market for a new logo design or branding elements, Ashley is your gal! She also does this really neat FREE giveaway every month that I adore. Here’s some of the past month’s giveaway items.

Go check her out. Her portfolio is one of kind.

A majority of my clients come to me a bit confused about how social media will truly benefit their business. As a social media consultant, I’m never offended by the comment I get 9 times out of 10 on an initial consultation call. In fact, I have come to expect it.

“I hate Twitter. I don’t get it. And I don’t want to learn it. But, I know I need to do it. Help!”

The feelings people get about social media are the same feelings they get when they venture out into a new territory for business or are embracing on a new marketing campaign. There are a lot of unknown outcomes that aren’t comfortable. We might be moving forward, but in our minds, we’re still skeptics. I’m here to shed some light on 5 of the most common things I hear when it comes to using social media in your marketing strategy.

Social Media is Simple.

This is the most common misconception. Since 1 in 9 people in the world have a personal Facebook, they think they understand the ins and outs of social media. Building a network for your brand and business takes more than just a “Hey!” on Facebook. Strategy, planning and implementation are key to creating new relationships and retaining you loyal customer base. It’s an investment!

Build It and They Will Come.

Another favorite. My favorite quote from Seth Godin sums this up in one sentence, “Social Media is a “build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.” It takes time to build a solid community, just like it should take time to make new friends. It’s not overnight and you have to invest completely if you want a specific outcome.

LinkedIn is for the serious business people. Facebook is for social only.

LinkedIn boasts about being the largest professional network with portfolio style profiles, the buck doesn’t stop there. Stopping at just one social media platform because you think this will solidify your presence online isn’t in line with where business is headed. It’s easy to setup a Facebook Fan Page for your business. Why wouldn’t you want your business on Facebook? With 71% of US web audience on Facebook, that’s a big customer base to dip into.

I need to gain 5000 friends and then my company will take off.

It’s not all about quantity. Yes, grow your base! Have a consistent stream of people flowing in. But, focus in our your 50 most loyal followers. Those people are worth far more than 5000 lack-luster followers who might be interested or they might have just been interested in gaining one more friend on their list. Either way, create your base, but do it in a qualitative fashion. Strategy is key. Now-a-days people don’t care as much about how many followers you have, but more about how your brand is represented and how you communicate with them. There are steps to doing this correctly and when you do, you’ll end up with far more followers than you anticipated. And…they’ll stick around and help you build your business.

I hate Twitter. It doesn’t make me money.

Sometimes, it’s not all about making money, it’s about cultivating your community and furthering your reach. Twitter is an instant access feed. It’s a way to create a soundbite that serves your community, continually drawing them back for more of an in-depth relationship.

I like to think of Twitter like a well stocked shelf at a grocery store. Why do they keep the milk and meat in the back of the store? To make you walk through the rest of the store, buying things along the way. Twitter is similar. Who you are, what your products provide, might not be something you want to sum up in 140 characters. That’s fine. Do you blog? Maybe you’re a business coach that hosts weekly seminars you’d like to invite new people to. You could be a recruiter that has jobs he/she needs to fill and needs a quick, free way, to advertise them  to a core demographic of followers. Shooting tidbits of information out over a broad scope will get people will start to notice your website, your products, your newsletters. All the while, you’ve been cultivating them, slowly using a 140 characters that are useful, disarming and image building. You now have a loyal follower, not just a random bystander that accepted your friend request.


Pinterest – the 3rd largest social media platform. It has become an overnight frenzy of virtual DIYers and small businesses owners creating boards and inspiration “hubs” as I like to call them that are leading people back to their blogs, their websites and their products.

What are people sharing? Just about everything. If you go on today, Pinterest has greatly expanded from where they first started. You can learn how to bake eggs correctly, “repin” inspirational sayings that motivate your workout plan for the week, and browse a variety of other categories like: fitness, food, and fashion. Around the world, people are pinning their most favorite of things. I like to think of it as a housewife’s version of Oprah’s Favorite things. Who doesn’t want to know the best way to do just about everything?

So, why are businesses throwing their hat in the ring?
When you “pin it”, meaning grabbing that image from your website, this allows you as a business owner to promote your products and establish your online brand in a tangible sense. People can actually SEE who you are, without even having to visit your site. It’s like a visual Twitter feed. All the things you want people to know about your company can be displayed and shared with others, effortlessly. When people click on the image you have pinned, be it a fitness drink you sell, a painting you are selling on Etsy, whatever the product, the image retains it’s original source link (to your site) and by clicking their interest in this product, they are brought to your site, shop or blog. Simple as that! Referral traffic is the key benefit of Pinterest.

This info graphic helps highlight some of the key features and I would hope motivate you to start “pinning” your business products.

Need Some Assistance? Have a Question about Pinterest? The Co. is here to help! Email us directly and we’ll be glad to get you on the right track. No sales pitch!

Marketer's Guide To Pinterest: Pin It To Win It [infographic by MDG Advertising]
by MDG Advertising


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