Smart content marketing tools and tricks

By Eric Bradford

be yourself positive sayingWe’ve reached a point of content oversaturation. According to Statistic Brain, approximately 190 million Tweets are made each day, over 1.3 billion people are active on Facebook each month (the vote is still out on what percentage of these users are “real” people) and a whopping 92 billion YouTube views are made each month.

Standing out in the crowd

That’s a lot of text, images, videos and shares. We are neck deep into the data age. Another shift that we are seeing is a greater movement from manufacturing to service oriented business initiatives. The right content marketing strategies could spotlight your company’s services and introduce your products to thousands, millions or billions of consumers.

During the Internet’s early days, you could publish a dozen or more articles or blog posts a week, enhancing this content with press releases and one to two weekly business videos. Today, that could very easily equate to a weak content marketing strategy. Why? It’s the same strategy that thousands of other companies are taking, which is what has brought us to content oversaturation.

So, how do you distinguish your business from the crowd?

Business Insider puts it this way, “Branding, among its many traits, is also about differentiation. That doesn’t mean you should start wearing bow ties, but positioning yourself so that you do stand out.” The American Bar Association tells its student attorneys that, “It’s important to build your own personal brand and your “unique selling proposition.”

Have you ever walked down New York’s jam-packed 7th Avenue on a Friday evening, the time of day when employees are just leaving the office? Pedestrians look like one big mass of people until your gaze catches sight of a woman dressed in a sharply designed brightly colored skirt suit, the silky fabric causing you to wonder if the suit is imported.

Clearly, this isn’t a suit that came off a mainstream store shelf. The fact that the woman is walking with her head erect, confidence boosting her mood, doesn’t hurt. Before long, you’re coaching yourself not to stare at the woman, her suit, her stride, but you stare anyway.

Upgrading your content marketing strategy

Your business content marketing efforts should set your content apart in similar fashion. Pulling this off requires nothing less than the best content. You have to genuinely care about your readers. Instead of focusing on what readers can do for you (i.e. more ad clicks), focus on how you can use content to teach, inspire, guide or encourage readers.

Tips to consider while upgrading your content marketing strategy include subscribing to popular news feeds, digital business periodicals and blogs. This will help you to develop a keen eye for what’s trending in the business world. You could also use mobile apps developed by companies like Electric Web Marketing, FIKSU and Appency.

Marketing app companies should identify your target audience, determine that you are a good fit for the services that they offer and use a multi-platform (i.e. social media, SEO, press releases, public speaking) marketing approach. A multi-platform marketing approach can get your products in front of more members of your target audience. For example, if your products target recent college grads, you could build and offer a free download of a new, unique and exciting app to each person who purchases your new novel.

Include hard-to-find statistics in videos and written content. Consider adding infographics to your content marketing strategy, as infographics help you share loads of valuable data in short spaces. Videos that appeal to human emotion, thought, sound and vision are great. Check out these 10 tools that American Express shares that you could use to create and market videos.

Regardless of the video creation and marketing tool that you use, focus on being unique. A great way to pull this off is to create the videos of yourself, your team, events your attend, etc. Not only will your videos be unique, you’ll own the rights to them. As with any other tool, avoid over-using videos. It might not seem like it now, but in a few years, consumers might tire of having one video after another pushed out to them online or on their smartphone.

Absolutely avoid copying content from other sources. Even if you cite other sources, it’s a good idea to steer clear of rewording or rewriting existing content.

Ask yourself if the content that you develop fascinates, educates, inspires or intrigues you. If it doesn’t, there’s a chance that readers won’t be fascinated or intrigued by the content either. Some experts advise business owners to steer clear of automated content management systems. However, if you combine automated systems with real-time posts, you may be okay. Great posts may qualify for press release attention, especially if the posts include quotes or interview material from industry leaders.

This isn’t often shared, especially in the age of social media, but it’s a damn good idea to build your own content management systems and databases. You could do this by creating a customized newsletter database (one that you own) and direct email database (to send information about coupons and discounts). Why is this important?

Should social media networks close or slow down (think MySpace), you’ll still have the consumer contact data that you own. Be patient. Even if it takes you two years to build 5,000 contacts in your private business database, that’s 5,000 more than 0. Also, encourage shares. The more shares your content gets, the high value search engines place on the content, which equals higher search engine rankings.

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Stop worrying about your small business

By Rhonda Campbell

It’s an illusion that worry leads to success. To grow your small business, find out which action steps lead to a stronger bottom line. Make those action steps a part of your daily habits, not stress and late night floor pacing.

small business worrying

It’s not a stretch to say that, after being in business for six months, you found something to worry about. It happened despite your best intentions.

Remember how you worried whether or not you’d filed legal business documents correctly? After all, there are enough details in operating agreements, company bylaws, patent and copyright applications, real estate purchasing or leasing agreements and state and federal tax forms to keep the most resolute person up at night.

Give yourself a pat on the back. You scaled the “paperwork” hurdle. You can scale the hurdles that you are currently facing too.

Mary Kay Ash said, “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” 

You can lower your small business worries by taking the right action. AOL co-founder, Steve Case, hit the nail on the head when he said, “In the end, a vision without the ability to execute it is probably a hallucination.”

Chief of these actions is reading up on action steps that you lack experience in. If you read a reputable tip or take a 20 to 30 minute training in a specific area (i.e. marketing writing, effective landing page design, bookkeeping), don’t be surprised if your confidence increases.

When your confidence increases, you’ll take on challenges that you used to shy away from. The Small Business Administration (SBA) Learning Center, Skill Path and the OCC are some places that list business training programs.

After you implement action steps, measure the results of your efforts. What’s the benefit? It reduces the level of unknown that you deal with as the owner of a small business. Measuring tools include:

  • Surveys
  • Opinion Polls
  • Visitor Stats
  • Social Media Shares
  • Call Tracking
  • CRM Platforms
  • Google Analytics

Tweak marketing and sales efforts as needed. Follow changes that you make up with another ROI pulse check.

Also, keep the lines of communication open between other business leaders. This includes executives who work for shareholders at large corporations. Don’t go it alone.

Be vulnerable enough to ask the best questions. Be prepared to give the best answers when other leaders hit you up for advice. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn shares that, “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”

Work with top notch It pros. Secure your tech systems. Regularly communicate to your team the importance of protecting customer and business data. For example, you could send an email to your team that alerts them about phishing and other scams that target email addresses and telephone numbers. Government organizations like the FDIC provide more phishing examples and insight.

Don’t assume that you’re getting it right. Test your IT systems in real time.

Stop worrying by investing in your small business future. Set 10 percent or more of your earnings in a growth account. Build money reserves that will cover your small business expenses for 9 to 12 months at a minimum. More is better.

If you still find yourself worrying about your small business, write down what’s keeping you up at night. Be specific. Create a list of three to four action steps you can take in the short and long term to address the concern. Remember. If the problem exists, so too does the answer.

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Find real business success as a solopreneur

By Erica Simpson

successful solopreneur“Go it alone,” is an oft felt sentiment that you probably feel as a solopreneur. But, you don’t have to go it alone if you take the right approach. In fact, “alone” might be the last thing that you find yourself.

The term solopreneur came into vogue during the 21st century. Independent spirits have been starting their own enterprises for much longer. Early inventors and solopreneurs like North African cosmetics architects, Nero Claudius Caesar (created with inventing ice cream) and Cai Lun (noted for inventing paper) didn’t realize the far reach of their works. Over the years, these free spirits have impacted the lives of millions.

Does your business benefit enough people?

Some aspired out of need. Think Madame CJ Walker, America’s first self-made woman millionaire. Others like Henry Ford and Garrett Morgan were led by curiosity and a rich appetite for newness. Similar to your products, or services the products and/or services that Ford and Morgan developed were meant to be used by masses of consumers.

You’ve heard it before, so here it is again – to succeed as a business owner, you must have a product or service that benefits others . . . a whole lot of “others”. Do this and you could enjoy tremendous word-of-mouth sales. Stories about your products and/or services could also get splashed across the front page of major media outlets, leading to more sales.

This one might catch you by surprise. Develop a product or service that benefit masses of consumers and you’re confidence about what your business can soar. You  need that.

Don’t let your confidence get shattered

Dr. Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal says that high confidence helps you to “persist in the face of ambiguity and failure, and remain confident in meeting challenges as you pursue business success. You recognize opportunities and initiate action.”

If you market products or services that you know are less than top notch, your confidence can erode. Ever find yourself second guessing a business decision? Ever find yourself spending hours weighing potential outcomes of new opportunities you’ve been presented?

These are symptoms of low confidence. Your chance to avoid this setback is to seek the guidance and advice of other successful solopreneurs, inventors and business owners. Get help from experienced attorneys and patent filers when registering your inventions with patent and trademark offices.

Only work with reputable marketers and advertisers. A rouge marketer or advertiser can definitely introduce your business to hundreds of thousands, potentially millions, of people. That’s no doubt. They can also ruin your reputation, leaving you to pick up the pieces after your come crashing down off the highest of highs, after your business goes from selling thousands of products a week to selling zero products a month. . . . All because your reputation was ruined.

Developing top-notch products and services that truly benefit masses of consumers, maintaining high confidence and smart marketing are parts of success as a solopreneur. So too is building and managing good, clean financial records.

More steps that lead to success as a solopreneur

Intuit shares that “bookkeeping is the core of any business.” Don’t have rock solid bookkeeping skills? Consider taking an online course, signing up for a low cost bookkeeping course at a local community college or hiring an experienced bookkeeper. Just make sure that whoever you hire is passionate about your business, wants to see you succeed . . .  really succeed.

To get (and keep) word about your business in the public, design a fast loading, content rich and visually appealing website. Create awesome landing pages and link them to press releases, digital catalogs, postcards and other marketing materials.

If you’re just starting out as a solopreneur, try carrying business cards, a foldable brochure and product samples with you everywhere (and I do mean everywhere) that you go. Hand your business cards, brochures and samples to everyone you meet. Forget worrying about how many of those people will end up actually doing business with you.

Focus on spreading the word. Because you’ve already knocked out the first step of becoming a successful solopreneur (developing a top notch product or service), spreading the word should be a cinch.

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College business degree or corporate work experience?

By Rhonda Campbell

business degrees and startupsWhich of these two, a business degree or experience working a corporate job, help you most to launch and operate your own successful business? Both come with challenges, including time and financial challenges.

Daniel Boorstin said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” If this is true, getting a college business degree is invaluable if you’re starting a business.

That could be why the master’s in business administration degree has not lost its luster. About a quarter of all master’s degrees in the United States are a MBA, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Accounting, marketing, leadership foundations, technology and operations management, strategy and international economies are courses built into prestigious MBA programs.

Learning on the job could cost you years

It could take you years to learn how to create budgets that help you manage cash flows, the one thing that has sunk many a startup. A college business degree helps you to think about issues you might otherwise not consider until it’s too late.

For example, a college business degree teaches you the importance of managing human capital, assessing and managing risks and taking advantage of tools that advance your marketing efforts. A business degree also teaches you how to weigh options before making hard decisions and how to make the most of time. Entrepreneur reports that one business owner used his MBA to “reduce the time it takes him to consider potential transactions from two weeks to a single day. ”

Lifehacker‘s Thorin Klosowski said that networking is a real plus associated with a MBA. Specifically, “Grad school is often about meeting people more than it is advancing your education. So make sure you take the time to meet people, spend time with different people, and, for lack of a better word, network with as many people as possible. You will tap into them at some point for postgraduate projects, and they’ll do the same with you.”

Another college course isn’t going to give you everything you need

Yet, school can’t teach or prepare you for everything you’ll encounter as a busy entrepreneur. It’s this sentiment that may be behind Oscar Wilde’s declaration, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

Sitting through challenging graduate business courses won’t show you different leadership styles in action. Pouring over thick textbooks won’t let you see how prospects respond to different types of sales letters that you write. But, working a managerial corporate job could.

Selena Cuffe, Heritage Link Brands’ CEO, shares in Inc. that a corporate job, “provides you with critical training and baseline skills that can serve you well as an entrepreneur.” Honing your emotional intelligence, how to communicate with people from different backgrounds, dealing with hard downturns without emptying  your bank accounts and what to look for in teams and leaders of organizational streams aren’t learned in the classroom. A corporate job can help you to pick up these skills without spending tens of thousands on college degrees and without exposing your company to undue financial and legal risks.

Work at a sustainable and powerful company and you could also gain the tools to keep your business growing decades after you launch it. Jeetu Patel tells Fast Company that, “Well-run large companies inherently teach you how to build a lasting business.”

Get the best of both worlds

Other advantages of working a corporate job are operational discipline, including how to manage innovation smartly. If you work a corporate job in a new division or department, you can also get a real feel for what it’s like to start a business (howbeit a line of business) from the ground up.

You could gain the advantages of a college business degree and experience working a corporate job if you start your company on a part-time basis. This will give you financial security, not to mention provide you the resources to grow your savings. You’ll need this extra money after you start your company on a full-time basis.

Instead of earning a college business degree, consider earning graduate business certifications (i.e. project management, innovation and entrepreneurship) in areas you don’t currently have experience in. If you do decide to get a business degree, see if your employer will pick up the costs via their tuition assistance program.

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The guy I met at the gym

By Rhonda Campbell

lifting weights to get fitI was proud of myself for taking off for the gym as early as I did, especially considering the fact that I stayed up late last night watching The Vow and All Is Lost on DVD. Little did I know that a great lesson was waiting for me at the gym.

Getting in a good workout at the gym

Treadmill, jogging on the gym floor, riding the exercise bike and pumping iron were on the agenda, in that order. As I was nearing my jog, a guy entered the gym. By appearances, he was in his mid-60s with a head full of salt and pepper hair. He  had on sneakers, sweat pants and a sweat jacket. Like everyone else, I assumed he had come to the gym to get in a rigorous, healthy workout.

Three wide screen televisions broadcasts current news and sports at the front of the gym. Not keeping with tradition, on this morning, music didn’t play on the loud speakers overhead. Instead ESPN sportscasters recapped the Packers vs. Seahawks game, scarcely giving attention to the Patriots win over the Colts. A CNN anchor talked about the tension in Yemen on the other television screen.

My attention averted from football playoffs and the upcoming Super Bowl contenders to Middle East conflicts. But, I couldn’t stop glancing at the 60ish guy. Oh. Did he have a lot to teach me.

He’d gone straight to a nautilus machine and sat. He too watched the television screens.

A surprising workout lesson

Despite the desire to run faster, my pace slowed. I lifted my thighs higher and picked up the pace, but I knew that my morning run was winding down. That’s when I hopped on the exercise bike, but not for long. I’d forgotten my seat cushion. I wasn’t about to ride the bike for 15 minutes or longer and make my butt sore for one to two days. Once is enough.

The first weight machine I used created a burn in my shoulders, just what I was looking for. The burn let me know that my work was paying off.

I couldn’t help glancing at the guy with the salt and pepper hair. He looked fit, like he worked out regularly.  But, he just sat at the nautilus machine, people working out around him.

Three weight machines into my toning exercises, I looked at the guy and was surprised to discover that he was sleeping, mouth open and head titled slightly back. If someone had bumped into him, it may have startled him, shifting him out of thinking that he was napping on his favorite living room recliner.

Finally ready to workout at the gym

It took a few minutes for the guy to wake. He roused himself away from sleep with a shake of his head. Then, taking hold of the nautilus machine handles, he pushed up two reps, paused and pushed up another four to five reps.

Less than a minute later, he was gone, having grabbed his jacket and exited the gym as pretty as he pleased. From the time he entered the gym to his exit, it all took about 20 minutes.

I couldn’t help wondering why the guy had even bothered to travel to the gym. Why had he gotten dressed in workout clothes only to take a nap?

working out at gym

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before I knew it, I was thinking about times when I got prepared to start a project, meet a challenge or step away from a comfort zone. During those times, I’d enrolled in a course, searched for information online, uttered a series of positive affirmations and developed a plan of action so that I could achieve a personal goal.

But, that’s as far as I’d gotten. That’s as far as I’d pushed myself.

Result? A lot of thought, planning and preparation with ziltch result.

You have to do more than just show up

I can’t thank the guy at the gym enough. He taught me that just showing up is not enough. He taught me that preparing to start and finish a task is not enough. He taught me that desiring comfort over the possibility of being met with (and having to do what it takes to overcome) resistance (internal and external) won’t get me over the hump.

To win requires consistent, persistent action. It may not always feel good, but if it’s the right action, it will produce rewarding results.

What  about you?

quote to get going at gym and abroadHow about you? What are you busy preparing to do but not actually doing? What have you signed up for but not taking enough action to complete? Are you always between projects? Are you always in school but never applying what you’ve learned at a paying job (or as the successful leader of your own company)?

Do you often talk about replacing negative habits with positive thoughts and actions, but you never get around to making those changes? Instead of taking advantageous action are you often just making excuses?

If so, I encourage you to revisit what you truly want. Let positive desire propel you to act for the first time. You’re going to need it. As the guy at the gym clearly taught me, dressing up, planning and preparing to do something is simply not enough.

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Find out if you’re resilient enough to freelance full-time

By Rhonda Campbell

stop making excusesFreelancing is becoming increasingly popular, but the gig is not for the faint at heart. You’re not going to get a regular paycheck simply because you spent eight hours sitting in an office. Land the wrong clients, and you burn through 16 hours of back breaking work only to hear “Can you do one more revision?” from the client, followed by, “We’ll pay you after you do another revision.” Yet, those downsides aren’t taking the sexy out of contract work.

Already, about one in three Americans freelance. If employers continue to send jobs offshore and acquire other firms then lay workers off to recoup some of the associated purchase costs, don’t be surprised if the number of people freelancing increases.

Types of freelancing jobs skilled and confident professionals like you take on include contract work and consulting jobs. Think marketing consultant, contracted happiness manager (yes! there are happiness manager jobs), outsourced recruiter and offsite insurance agent.

Why do employers find freelancers attractive? Most labor laws don’t require employers to pay freelancers’ benefits, including health insurance, worker’s compensation or unemployment insurance. Employers also generally don’t have to provide freelancers with a place to work. (Note: If you think you’re an employee who’s been misclassified as a freelancer, check out the Bureau’s Wage and Hour Division.)

Freelancing successfully doesn’t come to everyone
Employer advantages aside, there is little as empowering as being able to decide the type of work you’ll take on and when and where you will work. Imagine telling your boss “no” when she ask you to perform a task you don’t like. Imagine having a dozen or more bosses, and having the ability to decide which bosses you want to let go, should one or two of them start making unreasonable demands on you.

Experienced contractors have the power to call those types of shots. They also have concerns that employees don’t have to deal with. For starters, whether you compliment the salary that you earn from a traditional full-time job with one or more freelancing gigs or contract full-time, to be successful, you’re going to have to build a reputable client list.

It could take months, sometimes longer, to consistently generate enough income to cover all of your expenses. (Looking for guidance with expense tracking? This might help.)

If you’re short on resilience, contract work may not be for you. To build your client list and start earning money, consider attending local networking events. Chamber of Commerce, eWomen networks, industry membership organizations and college alumni associations hosts networking event that you could attend and distribute business cards and introduce your services to paying members. (You can find information on the National Chamber of Commerce and upcoming events here.)

However, attending networking events doesn’t drum up business for everyone. If freelancing proves to be a good fit, you may have to try different strategies until you find a strategy that works best for you. I encourage you not to stop trying if being an independent professional is the right fit for you, that’s a big IF.

Be honest with yourself when answering these questions
To find out if freelancing is a good fit, research trends for freelance jobs you want to work. Also, speak with people who are already doing the type of freelance work you want to do. Get clear and ask these people about steps they took to build their clientele, where they go to source for open gigs and how they manage their cash flows. Hear the downsides and the challenges that they share with you as much you hear the advantages and benefits. Don’t put up blinders, as these could come back to haunt you.

If the feedback that you receive from experienced freelancers doesn’t scare you off, you could be on the right track. Other signs that you may be ready to freelance full-time include a desire to get out and network with business owners. Working as a freelancer is similar to owning your own company. It’s not the time to be shy.

You’re going to need the confidence to step right up to business leaders, including executives at the helm of Fortune 500 firms, and tell them about your services. You’re going to have to become comfortable with selling yourself. It should only take you 30 seconds to get your point across.

Success as a freelancer could also be yours if you possess a willingness to take more control of your taxes and the ability to focus and work 8 to 10 hours a day 5 to 6 days a week from home. Additional signs that you may be ready to freelance full-time are:

• For you, business acumen is as strong as your talent or craft.
• Marketing your services appeals to you.
• You have a minimum of eight months of gross income saved.
• Inner beliefs that limit the amount of money you’ll let yourself receive aren’t a part of your experience.
• Only networking online is not for you.
• Talking with other people feels natural.
• The quality of your services is unsurpassed.
• Continuing to learn is right up your alley.
• You know what a job contract looks like and you understand contract legalese.
• Should you need it, you know where to go to get legal support.
• You’ve done your research and understand tax deductions that you can take advantage of as a freelancer.
• You have the space and the lifestyle to support a full-time freelance career.
• Managing a budget effectively is something you have been doing for years.

If you have a history of working in sales and also have strong administrative skills (you’ll need those to organize paperwork, file important documents, etc.), a freelance career could prove perfect. Why? You’re going to have to keep detailed records to accurately track your expenses, understand which client relationships are profitable and stay abreast of legal filings. Don’t go it alone. Seek out a mentor, someone who doesn’t feel threatened by your future success.

Ask questions and be flexible. After all, what works for you during the first few months of your freelance career might not bring in the dough should market changes occur. Above all, should freelancing prove right for you, commit to regularly marketing yourself and your skills (not to mention be consistently confident and uncommonly resilient) to gain clients. The rewards could be huge.

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Save your hard earned money during snowy winter travel

By Rhonda Campbell

winter scenePlans to stay indoors on snowy, winter days don’t always pan out. After several days, not venturing outside starts to bring on feelings that travelers feel while they’re stranded on a deserted island. Despite the best intentions, it’s not easy to limit yourself to the living room sofa, basement recreation area or den for a week or longer. As any submarine sailor knows, cabin fever starts to set in.

Tracking winter weather conditions before traveling

Client meetings, faraway visits home to see family and face-to-face management discussions could also pull you outdoors and onto snow covered roadways. Head outside during winter and you’ll have to devise a way to deal with rising hotel rates, airline prices, rental car fees, winter skin treatments, car accessories, medicine and clothing gear.

One of the biggest ways to save money while you travel during winter is to plan all winter trips in advance. Weather forecasters communicate expected temperatures and precipitation several weeks out. Stay in tune with winter weather forecasts until the day of your trip. For some trips, you’ll want to check in on weather as far out as possible.

Reserve airline tickets six weeks in advance. According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation, you might save more money if you book international flights as far as 20 to 23 weeks in advance. International flights to the Caribbean might need a 12 week advance reservation to get the best savings. Also, be willing to reserve a flight that has one to two stops built into it.

More about flights and what to pack

flying during winterShould you have to cancel a nonrefundable flight, you might be in luck. Contact the airlines you purchased the nonrefundable ticket from and tell the representative why you are unable to travel. If you can’t get a cash refund, see if you can use the ticket on a future flight. Don’t just assume that you’re out of the money. This tip applies to anything travel services that you pay for.

As you’ve probably learned in other sales exchanges, you never really know how price discount and refund negotiations will turn out until you pick up the phone and call the travel organization’s customer service line. Build a relationship with the customer service representative who answers the phone the same as sales reps build a relationship with you to make a sale. Explain your situation to the rep, clearly outlining why you need and deserve a refund.

Other ways to save money while traveling during winter focus on packing. If you pack the following items during winter, you could avoid dry itchy skin and colds, events that lead to pharmaceutical or doctor’s bills. So, be sure to pack:

  • Vaseline
  • Vitamins
  • Lotion or body moisturizer (ceramide helps to treat dry skin)
  • Long johns or thermal underwear
  • Hat and gloves that do not soak thru when they get wet
  • Winter boots
  • Extra socks
  • Batteries
  • Flashlight (for road travel)
  • Cell phone and cell phone charger
  • Winter coat
  • Laptop and laptop case
  • Two to three extra blankets if you’re traveling by car
  • Enough perishable food to last one week (again if you’re traveling by car)

Hotel prices and other ways to save

To save money on hotels, book hotels in warm locations early. Snow birds will be looking to grab up rooms at the same time, enticing hotel owners to raise prices to yield a bigger profit. Use applications like Kayak and Hotel Booking App to compare hotel prices. Got a friend who works for a major corporation? Ask her to search for great hotel deals for you. Corporations contract for low price deals with hotels.

Take advantage of membership discounts (this is when your AAA membership could save you 10%). Also, book hotels, flights and rental cars as a package deal. You could also save money by booking travel to off season locations. Be sure to ask about group discounts.

If you have friends who travel for business or pleasure, ask them to suggest winter travel deals to you. While traveling through airports, keep a close eye on your laptop. After all, laptops are the number one stolen item at airports. No need to have to put out money to buy a new laptop.

By creating and sticking to an agenda, you could avoid spending extra money on clothes, food and entertainment. Consider bringing a journal to capture memorable events. Your cell phone is also a good resource for picture taking. Track how much you spend on your winter trip in case you return to the area. This way you’ll have an idea of when you’re getting a good price on flights, hotels and/or rental cars.

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