I work from home. Let me repeat that: I WORK from home. That comment is usually followed by responses like, “Wow, what a dream job!” or “Must be nice.” It is; except for when it’s not. Let me explain, I love the perks – like getting to wear my pajamas to work or going to the office without makeup. I savor the opportunities to run to the grocery kid-free while my friends are hustling to pick up a rotisserie chicken at 6pm with a starving toddler in tow. At the same time, I have pitfalls, like jumping on the computer at 8pm to finish a 15-minute task that, in reality, takes 3 hours.

Over all, working from home has been a huge blessing for our family. I’m able to attend mid-day school musicals and quietly turn off alarm clocks when we get the Snow Day text at 5:30am, not worried about where my kids will spend their day. Working from home has enabled me to finish my work day when the kids are off the bus so I can feed them a healthy snack, help with homework, and prepare dinner before our evening activities start. I’m also able to cut an hour commute time off my workday.

But like most wonderful things, there are some downfalls, too. I have to be extremely diligent with my time. If not for my iBloom Life & Business Planner, I would be lost. I’d be wasting time doing laundry, housework, and other things that are distractions while working from home. Fortunately, I allot my time similarly to how I would if I were in an office outside the home. My day begins at 8am, after getting the kids off to school and quiet time with God. From 8am until 4pm, I am working on projects, with a midday lunch break. At 4pm, I am usually able to greet my kiddos, feed them a snack, and get them started on homework.

Now, there are occasions where my work isn’t complete by 4pm or we have a work project that requires additional time. Those occasions are balanced by days when I choose to run midday errands, help at my kids’ schools, or have lunch with my husband or a friend. I value the flexibility of working from home, for precisely those reasons.

Obviously, the positives FAR outweigh the negatives to working from home, but it takes steadfast time management, family support, and diligence to maintain a healthy work/life balance. What are some ways you’re able to balance your work and personal life, whether you work from home or elsewhere? Share in the comments section below some of your favorite strategies or ways you could improve your time management skills.

With computers so abundantly available, it’s easy for small business owners to create their own logos, flyers, websites, and marketing materials. In this computer-saturated world, who needs a professional graphic designer? Answer: YOU DO! Here are 7 reasons you need professional (design) help.

1. Quality. Don’t get me wrong, free software is great! Especially when you can color pretty frames around placed images and add 30 different fonts to one document, but is that really your area of expertise? I’d reason to believe it’s not. The quality of work you’ll receive from a design professional with $2,000 design-specific software will radically differ from the quality of work you’ll receive with the free Paint program you got with your new laptop.

2. Time. Chances are, you’re not a design professional (or you wouldn’t be reading this blog article.) Your passion and purpose lie elsewhere. That is where you should be investing your time. While you pay a design professional $550 to provide killer social media graphics, chances are you’ve been busy working in your sweet spot to create much more revenue.

3. Expertise. Design professionals who have spent 4 years of college (plus two summers) learning about typography, design & color fundamentals, image manipulation, illustration, web design and design software can do these things in their sleep. (Trust me.) That free software program that came with your new laptop may take you 3 hours just to learn how to rotate an image. Just as you are the expert in your field, it’s important that you use an expert in design to satisfy your marketing needs.

4. Uniqueness. Professional designers can make your brand stand out. They can create a unique logo that will represent you and enable your ideal customer to find you. Professional designers will offer custom design, not clip art that anyone else can use. It will ensure that you are uniquely placed in your niche and that’s what will make your brand stand out.

5. Consistency. It’s important to stay in contact with your ideal customer. You will hopefully reach them on multiple levels: printed material, your website, social media, direct sales opportunities, trade shows, webinars or online events. Each of those pieces must be branded so that your ideal customer knows it’s you that will be offering exactly what they need. Your branded materials must be consistent to get that message across. A design professional will ensure that there is consistency among all platforms.

6. New Ideas. Most design professionals are creative. We love looking at books, magazines, blogs, storefronts, etc. for inspiration. We see new ideas everywhere and can’t wait to apply them to our client’s designs. When you invest in a professional graphic designer, you’re investing in their new ideas that will enhance everything they produce for you.

7. Pride in Your Materials. When you’re excited about how your marketing materials look, you’re ready to show them off. You can’t wait to hand out that business card, or post a new Facebook tip. The more visible you make your work, the further you extend your reach. And that is how your ideal customer will find you.

Are you excited to show off your marketing materials or do you need a professional makeover? Share some of your biggest concerns about your current marketing materials and how I can help make them look their best.