Vegan Italian Wedding Cookies

Italian Wedding Cookies. Russian Tea Cakes. Butterballs. Mexican Wedding Cookies.

You can call them a dozen different names, but I call them delicious. These little delectable balls happen to be my mother-in-law’s favorite cookie, so I’ll definitely be making them soon for a Christmas gift. Perfect time to share the recipe!

INGREDIENTS

1 cup softened vegan butter (I suggest vegan Earth Balance)

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ¼ cup flour

½ cup finely sliced almonds (broken up a bit)

¼ teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar for coating

BAKE

Preheat over at 400 degrees

Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla. Then mix in flour, nuts and salt. With clean hands (hello, pandemic), form dough with your hands into 1″ balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart.

The dough will be stiff.

Bake 10-12 minutes or until the bottom turns light brown. Seriously, watch your bottoms – they can burn quickly! Cool on a cookie rack for 15 minutes before dunking them in a small bowl of powdered sugar until fully coated.

TIPS

  • These balls like to breath (don’t they all). Don’t wrap them up tight in plastic wrap. It makes them sweat and the powdered sugar gets moist. I put mine in a bowl and simply cover with bees wrap.
  • You can buy whole almonds and crush them in a Ziploc bag, but I’m lazy and prefer to buy them finely sliced.
  • This is a dry, slightly crunchy cookie, so don’t be alarmed that the dough seems dry and stiff. If biscotti and cookies had a baby – this would be it.

Go Small or Go Home

“Am I painting a dog or a bear?”

The thought ran through my head about a dozen times while attempting to paint Kutzu – an insanely handsome big boy who crossed the rainbow bridge. The painting was commissioned by a friend for her parents, so I wanted it to be perfect. I started painting portraits after losing my beagle, so I know how important these memorial pieces are to pet parents.

I went big for the first attempt despite my trepidation. Black dogs are typically more difficult to paint. They can easily look dull and flat if you don’t find a way to incorporate more color, texture and depth. I filled nearly every inch of the 7×9 paper, even including a big portion of his body, which I normally don’t do. Go big or go home, right?

If home meant trashcan, yes, I went big and it went home. Yikes. On to attempt #2. I focused more on the face – taking more time to sketch out shadows and changes in the fur. Success is in the small details with any pet portrait. It turned out well, but I still wanted to try again. I decide to go much smaller. It is a tip I’ve picked up and it really works. It forces you to abandon nuisances and conquer the basics. Painting Kutzu in just a little 2.5” x 4” portrait turned out pretty darn cute. To help fill the space, I included his sibling Bailey. Going small was a success!

When Going Small is Your Only Option

April, a former police officer turned small business owner, knows all about starting with the small stuff. I recently interviewed her for my “Wishes are for Wussies” book to learn of her devastating tale of loss and her path to redemption. After a violent encounter with a suspect, April was bruised and banged up. But she got the bad guy and booked him. She went home that night feeling numb, as she had for some time as a cop. She’d been trying to plan her way out of law enforcement. Despite working 13-hour days, she found time to get her nursing assistance certificate and planned on going back to school to be a physician’s assistant.  

“The universe took it upon itself to redirect me,” April said.

The day after the violent arrest, April was found on the office floor. She was rushed to the emergency room where she was told she had a traumatic brain injury. At hospital, she didn’t know where she was or who she was. April had to go back to basics. Small steps every day with a team of therapists.

“There were years that went by that I could only shower or get dressed with post-it notes of instruction,” she admits. “The hardest part was looking normal from the outside. When you’re standing in line and you can’t figure out how to count money and people are yelling at you.”

As she was starting to get stronger, the universe nudged her again. This time in the form of a bad bra fitting.

“Now is not the time for people trying to make me feel bad,” she joked.

The small seed for her lingerie business, The Perky Lady, was planted. She took manageable action steps over a couple years to launch a business that allowed her to control her environment and pace, which was still key to her recovery. She did research, interviewed experts, attended trade shows, and more to ensure she was proficient in lingerie and underthings. Perky Lady is now celebrating their 3-year anniversary and it all started with going small. April had to start over with the basics – relearning how to walk and function in daily life. Those small steps now have her running toward a second business venture (coming soon!).

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a career move, don’t be afraid to go small. Take little action steps every day. Take a free webinar. Talk to someone in the field you’re interested in. Practice your craft. Read articles and case studies. Like building a puzzle, just one piece a day is all it takes to build a beautiful picture.

April carries something for everyone at The Perky Lady.

Please join me in celebrating April and her amazing business that celebrates women of all sizes and shapes. I highly suggest you visit her gorgeous shop in downtown Apex, but if you aren’t local or practicing social distancing, April is doing virtual fittings. You can also shop their top 5 favs – I personally love the Grump Puss Hipsters. Added bonus for all my anti-wishers – use PERKYWISH at checkout to receive 10% off and free shipping on your first online purchase. 

The Perky Lady team believes in service practices of a by-gone era, positivity, fun, and dedication while providing you with captivating, beguiling, and sensuous selections that magnify the woman within.

Could Unchecked Perfectionism Be Holding Your Career Hostage?

Unchecked perfectionism is addressed in my upcoming book, “Wishes are for Wussies: Finding Success without Luck, Chance or Circumstance.” When writing the next chapter in your career, especially when moving toward a independent career (solopreneur, contractor, portfolio careerist, etc…), it is critical to understand who you are as the main character of your story. What are your strengths and what challenges have you experienced in the past? It’s up to you acknowledge character traits to build upon or keep in check before it turns into your biggest villain. Today, we look at one trait: being a perfectionist.

In the span of a week, I had two friends talk to me about how perfectionism may be negatively impacting their work and forward movement. It was resulting in sleepless nights, fear-based paralysis when applying for jobs, and overall dissatisfaction from their work. So, I decided to look into the matter and came across this article from Psychology Today that surprised me. 

If you don’t have the time to read it, I’ll get right to the shocking bits. People with traits of perfectionism often find themselves guilty of…

  • Giving up before you start
  • Feel anxious when not given enough praise
  • Not following routines as planned freaks you out
  • Doing things themselves to ensure it is “done right”
  • Making even simple decisions is difficult
  • You decline opportunities if you’re not 100% sure you’ll perform well

There were more examples listed, but you may already be thinking some of those sound familiar. I was surprised, because I related a lot. I’ve never considered myself a perfectionist, but maybe I should. Take the above watercolor scene from Game of Thrones. I painted it for friends in thanks for a kindness they had done for my husband and me. I wasn’t super proud of it, but it was just a big greeting card in my mind – something they would toss away, so I sent it. Months later, I find out that our friends bought a new, gorgeous home and HUNG THE PAINTING IN IT! My juvenile painting! Because I was focused on everything that was wrong with it, I didn’t feel honored rather than embarrassed. I realized that I have a lot to learn about perfectionism. So, down the rabbit hole I went…

There are three types of perfectionism according to Psychology Today:

  1. Self-oriented perfectionism: Imposing an irrational desire to be perfect on oneself.
  2. Other-oriented perfectionism: Placing unrealistic standards of perfection on others.
  3. Socially-prescribed perfectionism: Perceiving excessive expectations of perfection from others.

Do you identify with one? I think I’m a mix of #1 and #3. Left unchecked, a perfectionist can fail to celebrate victories (feeling it is never good enough or felt they didn’t get enough praise), procrastinate on going after that project or promotion (fear of failing) or work to unhealthy degree to avoid criticism or judgement. It can also impact your relationships at work. Putting your unrealistic expectations on others and being more focused on the wrong things (not celebrating wins) can make you pretty unlikable.

Alright, possible challenges identified. What are the possible opportunities for growth? I asked an amazing career coach Megan Myers for her tips on understanding and working with these tendencies*. While she believes perfectionism can be a challenge, she also believes it to be a strength to work with rather than against. Megan dishes out her top tips for dealing with perfectionism:

– Set clear boundaries. Set boundaries for your own work. Make sure you have “scheduled” time to relax. One way to do this is by setting clear project milestones (like mini goals), this way you can set it aside when you accomplish a milestone and avoid spending too long on it. Another similar option is try setting timers for how long you want to work on a task.

– Explore and develop your sense of self confidence. Be aware of past experiences and sense of self concept that might impact your views on your work. Perfectionism can impact us even more heavily when confidence is lower. If your confidence bucket is feeling full (not from accomplishments – just from being in touch with your inner self) then you may not be quite as hard on yourself with self-critical perfectionist tendencies

– Use your wise mind to hold space for your feelings. The wise mind concept originates from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. The idea behind this is that we have an emotional mind and a logical mind. The logical mind is rooted in facts, and the emotional mind is rooted in the inner emotions and reactions. Allow yourself a moment to feel the emotions associated with perfectionist tendencies, then try to look at just the facts. For example, perhaps you are upset that you did not meet a project deadline. When turning to the facts you can try to look at the situation objectively. Were you unable to meet the deadline due to quick turn around? The wise mind comes into play when an individual is able to acknowledge both the emotion and the facts. For example, “I feel really upset I didn’t make this deadline and it makes me feel less capable; however, the information I received from the team was incomplete and it would have been very difficult to meet this deadline.” Using the wise mind allows you to hold space for the emotions and facts, because they are both legitimate and part of the human experience. 

Open up. If you know you need detailed directions or get frustrated with a lack of participation, try to allow for honest communication to combat these challenges early on. The sooner you own these elements of your personality, the sooner you can use them to your advantage rather than to your disadvantage. We all have strengths and weaknesses and our strengths can be our weaknesses if we allow them to dominate our thinking patterns. If you are able to open up, and set clear expectations, then you may be less likely to be frustrated or disappointed later on.  

We all have strengths and weaknesses and our strengths can be our weaknesses if we allow them to dominate our thinking patterns.

– Megan Myers

If the perfectionism is a result of setting difficult goals for yourself, then open and share your feelings with a friend, family member, or professional. Be sure you are setting realistic expectations with others and yourself. Talking about the expectations you have for others, as well as yourself, can help you get a better understanding of how these tendencies are impacting you and ensure these expectations are realistic. It can also serve as a powerful outlet for these feelings.

Thanks, Megan! Whether you’re in the process of changing your career path, or looking for more direction on your journey, understanding your strengths and opportunities is a critical first step. Are you still working on being a thriving perfectionist? Maybe you’re still trying to overcome some career challenges? Reach out to Megan! She’s offering a free (that’s right, free!) 30-minute coaching session – just mention “Wishes are for Wussies” to snag the deal. Get started here.

*DISCLAIMER: While perfectionism is a title that helps identify personality traits, it’s not a diagnosable mental health disorder in the DSM 5. These insights and tips are unrelated to a mental health diagnosis and neither author of this blog post is a licensed counselor.

Vegan Stuffed Pepper Soup

Sometimes you have to think outside the box, or in this case, outside the pepper.

There are some foods from my childhood that are difficult to convert to a vegan recipe. My mom’s stuffed peppers are a perfect example. Consistency and taste of my past attempts never quite measured up to the peppers that my Italian mother would pull out of the oven. I went vegan in 2005, so it has been a long time since I ate them, but I can tell you with complete confidence that I finally have a plant-based recipe that measures up.

The key was to think outside the pepper. I’ve tried rice, quinoa, vegan beef crumbles and a combination of each IN the peppers, but never OUTSIDE the peppers. I stumbled across this stuffed pepper soup recipe from Cooking Classy that was definitely not vegan, but had good enough bones (bad choice of words) to be the foundation of my new recipe.

I was not hopeful that a soup would be nearly as satisfied as those huge meatballs in a shell of yesteryear, but I was wrong. This is life-changing good. It is also super easy and cheap to make. I’m eating it for breakfast as I type.

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup yellow onion (chopped)

1 cup red pepper (chopped)

1 cup green pepper (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (minced)

2 cans (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes

1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce

1 can (14.5 oz) vegetable broth

2 cups frozen vegan beef crumbles

2 ½ tsp dry parsley (or 2 ½ tbsp fresh parsley)

½ tsp dry basil

¼ tsp oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Dash or two of red pepper if you like a spicy sauce

1 cup uncooked rice (white or brown – I used instant brown rice)

Add chopped onion and peppers to heated olive oil in a pot (I used an enameled caste iron pot). Sauté for 3 minutes, then add garlic. Cook for another minute.

Add tomatoes, sauce, broth, frozen vegan beef crumbles, and herbs. Adjust to medium-low heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Cook your rice accordingly to the instructions on the package and set aside.

Start to get excited.

Check timer.

Start pacing.

Check timer.

Give the dogs a treat.

Ding!

Add the rice and serve.

COOKING TIPS

  • You can add more or less rice depending on how thick you want the soup to be or are just a carb-whore like me.
  • I prefer Gardein beef crumbles. I don’t think Beyond Meat has the right taste for this for this recipe, but to each their own.
  • You’ll be tempted to cook the crumbles first, but don’t. Add them frozen to avoid them getting too soft after cooking for 30 minutes.
  • There was enough to give me five servings, so you normal people should get at least 7 servings.

The Problem with Wishing

Have you ever been wish slapped?

When I worked in nonprofit, people would say, “I wish I had a job helping people.”

When I worked for a marketing agency, people would say, “I wish I worked in a cool office.”

When I started working from home, people would say, “I wish I could do that!” (pre-pandemic days)

Now that I have my own business, people say, “I wish I could be my own boss.”

That’s wish slapping. It stings a bit, because it makes it sound like you got lucky. For me, it felt like people assumed I won some sort of job lottery – not that I worked my a$$ off, often working two jobs, to gain the experience I needed. While I appreciate those comments meant as small talk or kudos, I knew the hearts of those who spoke those words with real truth. Many, many people do not like their current career situation. They wear those wish statements like a straitjacket. So, I decided that I want to turn those wish slaps into something less painful for all.

My friend (and frequent mentor) Pete Smith, told me the best way to hold yourself accountable is to broadcast your goal. With so many folks dealing with unexpected career tests and trials lately, I feel it is the perfect time to announce that I’m writing a book. Correction: I’m finishing a book by November 26, 2020. Insert sweaty pits. It is a self-help book titled, “Wishes are for Wussies: Finding Success without Luck, Chance or Circumstance.” I want to help people who are unhappy, stuck or lost in their career journey to write that next chapter of their story, so that they find fulfillment and success on their terms.

It will be a collection tips and interviews with badasses who ditched the wish for a new reality (specifically those working for themselves). Thanks to a writing contest I won, I already have an outline with a stamp of approval from a book editor. I just have to get to writing! You can help – I’m looking to hear more stories of those who struggled with something in the life (addiction, money, home life, career, grief, etc…) and managed to pull themselves out of a state of wanting into a state of doing. Reach out if you or someone you know would be willing to share their journey. Thanks for joining me on the journey!

Why Introverts Should Ditch the Label

I’ve been using the introvert label for years. I wore it like a sticker. Hello, my name is Introvert. You may see me smiling and cracking bad jokes, but I’m dying a bit on the inside. And not from the cheesy jokes. I struggle to keep up with a regular social pace. It certainly makes for a boring social life, but it has really impacted me at work. Here are a few examples:

Why are you against working in an open-office environment?

– I’m an introvert. Being forced to hold my facial expressions and posture in a socially-acceptable manner for 8+ hours is too exhausting.

Why do you have to freak out over this tough work meeting?

– I’m an introvert. I have a hard time speaking my truth or handling confrontation.

Why don’t you like to join team activities or after-work events?

– I’m an introvert. Socializing is a total drain on my emotional battery.

Do you see a trend? A problem is presented and an excuse is given. The excuse of being an “introvert” comes across as a negative characteristic. It also comes across as though you expect the people involved with the “problem” to accept this horrible thing about you.

Just in case you think I’m full of it, a quick Google dictionary search states an introvert is a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things. Ouch. Makes introverts sound like depressed narcissists.

It is no wonder I got in a habit of making excuses for myself or asking for validation to make amends for my “deficiencies.” I would often mutter phrases like, “Sorry if this sounds dramatic.” Or even, “Do you think I have a right to feel this way?”

The risk of using labels as lifelines.

When those I’m-an-introvert-and-here’s-what-you-need-to-know articles starting exploding on the internet, I grasped onto it like a lifeline. I thought maybe I would be able to work from home more if I showed my Introvert Badge. I thought people would be forced to have sympathy and understanding for me after a difficult work meeting. It took me years to realize it, but it did the opposite. It presented my decisions and reactions as destructive and damaging. The worst part — I actually believed I was shoddy and incompetent.

I’m ditching the introvert label.

After many frustrating conversations with my husband and an eye-opening chat with a dear friend, I had a brain switch flip. My internal conversation was completely rewritten when I really realized the source of my anxiety or unwillingness to go with the crowd. Take a look…

Why can’t you enjoy working in an open-office environment?

– I’m a workhorse. I care a lot about the work I do and the thought I put into it. I find open-work spaces to be distracting, which impacts my work. That is not ok with me.

Why do you have to freak out over this tough meeting?

– How I present myself is very important to me. I want to be helpful and supportive. However, tough calls can sometimes trigger negative feelings for all involved. You may have to explain deficiencies or reveal mistakes. I cringe at the thought of making others feel bad, even when done in the most professional manner. I care even more if the conversation reveals I had a misstep and let people down. That goes against my work ethic. I don’t “freak out.” I care. I care A LOT.

Why don’t you like to join team activities or after-work events?

– I keep work my work. I hope I enjoy it most of the time, but I will always enjoy my family more. I’ve been working since I was 15 years old. I deserve to spend my time doing what makes me happy, so I am…damn it. I will contribute to the team in other ways.

While it may look like my tendencies are all about my “own thoughts and feelings (eff you, Google dictionary),” it is more about owning and respecting who you are and what makes you a badass. The more and more I tried conform and act as expected, the more the results suffered. Instead of instantly agreeing to something that goes against my work style, I now try to offer an alternative…

Are you free at 3pm for a meeting to chat about the team meeting tomorrow?

– That’s a great offer. I think you should host the meeting if it is helpful to the rest of the team, but I won’t be joining. I’m going to be planning my talking points and solutions for the meeting, but I’ll keep Slack up if you want to ping me questions during your meeting.

Why can’t you just have a full-time job? / Why can’t you just work with one client for years?

– I love the challenge of tackling new things and I’m damn good at it. Like The Wolf in Pulp Fiction, I like playing the role of the cleaner. I’m awesome at discovering opportunities and showing a team how to make it work…then getting out. It works for me and I’m not compromising. Harvey Keitel wouldn’t sit behind a laptop for 8 hours doing the same job for 8 years!

So, while I recognize and love my fellow introverts, let’s ditch the label. Let’s just own what makes us confident, successful and happy. I dare you to replace, “But I’m an introvert” with “I own who I am and I know what works for me.” Ok, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but are ya with me?

4 Content Tips from Oprah’s Golden Globes Speech

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

The celebrated Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement during the 75th Golden Globes Awards. It is no surprise that she brought the crowd to their feet. The loud applause filling the theater and tears from those watching at home illustrates the power of her words.  As social media managers and content creators, the craftsmanship of her speech should inspire all of our copywriting in 2018.

Forget Simon Says, let’s play Oprah Says! Here are five content creation tips you can borrow from the master herself.

1. Make a strong opening.

Oprah says…

“In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards.”

Why it works…

The opening line of her acceptance speech immediately pulls you in. It creates a timeframe, a setting, and a feeling in one sentence. Scroll through Facebook right now and see how many brands are actually succeeding at this. I challenge you to write one-sentence stories and test them on your brand’s social media channels.

2. Don’t make it all about you.

Oprah says…

“In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and it is not lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.”

Why it works…

A common miss I see is brand’s making it all about them. By telling a story of her idol, Sidney Poitier, and the full circle moment she may be having with other little girls somewhere in the world is an emotional human connection. The fact that she is the first black woman to receive this award took somewhat of a second seat to the potent story she was telling (which is hard to do!). How can your brand subtlety show their achievements without making it all about them?

3. Be respectful and brave in the face of controversy.

Oprah says…

“I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this: what I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

Why it works…

No matter where you are on the political scale, the press has been under a lot of criticisms and scrutiny. You’ll notice, she doesn’t weigh in on the matter, she simply acknowledges it and uses it to make a powerfully positive statement. Sometimes going dark on social media is the smart move when controversial issues are trending, but next time see if there is an opportunity to inspire or inform your audience instead.

4. Say something familiar in an unfamiliar way.

Oprah says…

“Their time is up. And I just hope — I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth, like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented, goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’ heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery, and it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man — every man who chooses to listen.”

Why it works…

Oprah knew the Time’s Up movement would be the center of every red carpet interview and acceptance speech. Her award is given late in the show, so she couldn’t very well say the same thing that everyone had been saying all night. That just isn’t her style. And it should be what brands do either. How many times do you practically see the same tweet from 15 different companies on Taco Day or National Best Friend Day? They all start to sound the same. Instead, Winfrey took the opportunity to tell a story about Recy Taylor, then tied it into our past history and history in the making.

If you missed the speech, I encourage you watch it online. It truly was a message we should all listen to, and for more reasons than to be inspired by her speech writing.

Part Two: Interviewing Social Media Contractors

Missed Part 1? No worries, go here.

I immediately noticed the difference between interviewing for full-time and contractor jobs when I started Little Engine Social Media. For a full-time job, you usually have to promise your first unborn child. For a freelance job, you basically have to have a solid referral and the courtesy to show up wearing pants. (I tried it without pants once, it doesn’t work as well.)

Not that I don’t love the easy street of being hired as a contractor, but asking a few questions up front will make things easier and happier for both parties in the long haul. Here’s your go-to list:

1. What work makes you excited?

Contractors get the luxury of picking and choosing their clients. For me, I will never work for a company that harms animals, so I appreciate this questions from the start.

2. Have you had experience with XYZ industry?

Although not a deal breaker, it can be reassuring to know your potential contractor has experience with your client’s industry.

3. Are you comfortable with the following responsibilities?

One thing that is painfully clear as a contractor is that all agencies speak a different language. Don’t assume your terminology translates. Community management to one contractor may mean something completely different to another.

4. How many hours are you available per week and do those hours vary per day?

Contractors survive on having multiple clients. Signing an agreement with a contractor does not mean they are always as available as a full-time employee. Discuss what a typical response time is for email, calls, and texts to establish expectations from the start. The good news for you: great contractors are badass multitaskers and are able to reply promptly to your needs. (You can’t see me, but I’m pointing to myself.)

5. Do you charge by project or hourly rate?

Money can be an uncomfortable topic, but it is a necessary one. There’s nothing worse than both parties gearing up to collaborate on a project to only find out that the contractor’s rate doesn’t aligned with the budget.

I hope you enjoyed this two-part series on hiring a social media contractor. Have more questions? Leave a comment or reach out on Twitter or Instagram.

 

Part One: Why Marketing Agencies are Hiring Contractors

Agencies hiring contractors is a smart move. Think about it – agencies tend to take on a lot of short-term contracts, so why hire a full-time employee with full benefits to do a job that may not be around in a couple months. Or even worse, dump another FTE on your already exhausted community manager or social media strategist. Enter your friendly neighbor freelancer.

Here are 3 reasons you should consider a contractor for your next client proposal:

1. Experience without investment

I’m trying really hard not to compare myself to a lady of the night here. What I’m trying to say is, “Why put a ring on it when you can get the love for an hourly rate?” No, that isn’t right. How about, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk without a 401K?” Ok, these phrases may not be in Urban Dictionary yet, but I think you catch my drift. A contractor comes with the experience you need without the long-term commitment. No training or no dental paperwork. We are like the Ghostbusters – great in a scary pinch.

2. Expand your network

Contractors and freelancers know a lot of people in the industry. They have to in order to survive. Need a graphic designer at a great rate? They know someone. Need a photographer in a pinch? They have the perfect person.

3. Reliable as your childhood blanket

Your memorable childhood stuffed animal, blanket, or pillow (in my case) may be out of mind in storage, but you know where it is when you need something that feels familiar and comforting. Contractors are like your beloved one-eyed teddy bear. (Better than the lady of the night analogy, right?)

Stay tuned for part two of this series to know what questions to ask your potential contractor.

Holidays on Social Media: Celebrate or Skip?

Reading tip for this one, click the hyperlinks to see effective holiday examples.

Billboards with Christmas ads in November. Magazine print ads for Independence Day sales. Radio spots from florists for Mother’s Day. Holidays and marketing have been BFFs for decades, but social media (being the rebel child that it is) flipped marketing on its head when it comes to holidays.

From National Pizza Day to National Best Friend’s Day (Jane & Lily 4-ever), there is a designated day for almost every thing and every interest. Does that mean that your business should to participate in every trending celebration day?

nothanks

A brand interjecting themselves in a conversation, especially a trending one, that isn’t a clear and relevant fit is one painfully obvious way of looking desperate for friends on social media. Making the effort to create copy and images for a holiday is time consuming, so the ROI should be worth the time invested. Let’s do a pop quiz to illustrate the point, shall we? Number 2 pencils not required.

Question #1:

Should a fitness club participate in National Ice Cream Day?

Answer:

Nah. Is there an opportunity to talk about burning calories after indulging in ice cream or rewarding yourself with ice cream after a tough workout? Sure, but it isn’t worth the real estate. Instead of fighting for space among businesses that have a clearer connection, use that day to share a fitness tip or showcase one of your members. That will have far more meaning with your followers.

Question #2:

Should a pet food company join in on Taco Day?

Answer:

Ah, if it includes a wiener dog in a taco costume, then 100% yes. If not, hard pass.

Question #3:

Should a small, local retailer plan social media content for Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday?

Answer:

A tricky one! The answer depends on whether your marketing goal for the season is foot traffic or online sales. Pick a goal and pick a day. Don’t do both – it would be like wearing your Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve outfit all at once. It’s too confusing.

Question #4:

Should a non-profit organization chime in on Martini, Pina Colada or National Beer Day?

Answer:

No, no, and no. Social media content for non-profits should always show donors what their donations are funding, and it should never be alcohol.

Question #5:

Let’s turn the tables here. Should an alcoholic company participate in National Nachos Day (November 6th)?

Answer:

Oh, yes! Actually, we should move International Beer Day (August 4th) to November, so they can be celebrated annually on the same day.

Questions to ask yourself before joining any trending holiday…

  1. What does my audience want to see?
  2. Is this genuine to my brand’s voice?
  3. Would this content fit into one of my content buckets?
  4. How can creating content for this holiday support my larger marketing goals?
  5. Can I provide sound rationale for spending time and effort of this holiday post should a CEO, board member, etc… ask?

Feeling a little unsure of your answers or ready for next steps? Let’s talk!