Welcome To Relax Consulting's Blog

Transparent thoughts and ideas from Administrative Consultant (aka: Virtual Assistant, Crystal Casavant of Relax Consulting.

Relax Consulting - Let Us Help, So YOU Can RELAX!

Phone: 920.645.7529

Email: Crystal@RelaxConsulting.com

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Running a Giveaway on Your Blog

Here's a question asked of me often:

"How do I run a giveaway on my blog?"

I'm not the expert, but one of my blogger friends told me to check out Rafflecopter and the best part is, she told me it's free! Within moments I created a free account and was up and running with my own giveaway. There is a help menu to install the widget into either a Blogger or Wordpress site and so far I haven't had any problems with the free version so I haven't had to sign up for any of the monthly add-ons.

Here is a link to the Rafflecopter site: https://www.rafflecopter.com/

I was also told that a great tip for installing with Wordpress is this: **Be sure to install in html editor instead of visual editor

If you're curious what the widget will look like, here is a link to a raffle I am currently running:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope this was helpful?

Leave your comments and suggestions below!


Friday, July 26, 2013

What Will Become of All This?

Maybe it's a morbid thought - but what will become of all this if something were to happen to me? I've got a plan for the children, my friends might divvy up my clothes, my daughter will no doubt take all my autographed books, I'm sure some organist somewhere will be happy to have my music, but what about my business? Who is going to update my blog? What about my business FB page? What about my website?

I guess what prompted this thinking is a stop at a blog. It was a nice blog with some great material, but nothing has been posted since 2009 and I found myself wondering "what ever happened to _______" and then I realized this could easily happen to me if I don't put something in motion.

If you have a big business you likely have a succession plan. Why not have something similar for your small business?

I don't expect my husband to update my blogs, continue reading and reviewing books, and I wouldn't expect him to do much of anything with my novel ... although I might sell more copies after death than before, but that's an artistic conversation we should be having over wine, right?

I would recommend at the very least, having someone you trust who has access as an administrator or who has all the passwords for your various 'accounts'. They would be able to put a final post on your blog about the circumstances surrounding your death and possibly let people know about the funeral arrangements or how they might be able to donate to a certain cause in your honor. It doesn't have to be a formal plan, just something...

What do you have planned? What would be best for your business?

Night all -


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WOW! Blog Tours Crystal is Booking NOW

As you know - Crystal (that's me) is a Blog Tour Manager for WOW! Women on Writing. Here's what's going on with the tours this summer:

Want to host one of the WOW! touring authors?

WOW! Women On Writing Blog Excellence AwardUpcoming Author Tours: If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our authors below, we are still accepting a few choice blogs to participate in our Partnership Program. 

Come and join the fun! Please e-mail us at blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com and put "Blog Tour Partnership" in the subject line. Please tell us the author you are interested in and your available dates. We'll get back to you with the details if you are accepted. We look forward to hearing from you!

Content for your blog: All of our touring authors are available for interviews, or they will provide a guest post on a topic related to the writing process or their book.

A Southern Place 
Tour Dates: August 19, 2013 - September 18, 2013 

Title: A Southern Place

Author: Elaine Drennon Little
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Genre: Southern Fiction   
Synopsis: Mary Jane Hatcher--everyone calls her Mojo--is beat up bad. She's in the ICU of Phoebe Putney, the largest hospital in South Georgia, barely able to talk. How Mojo goes from being that skinny little girl in Nolan, a small forgotten town along the Flint River, to the young woman now fighting for her life, is where this story begins and ends.
Mojo, her mama Delores and her Uncle Calvin Mullinax, like most folks in Nolan, have just tried to make the best of it. Of course, people aren't always what they seem, and Phil Foster--the handsome, spoiled son of the richest man in the county--is no exception.

As the story of the Mullinax family unfolds, Mojo discovers a family's legacy can be many things: a piece of earth, a familiar dwelling, a shared bond. And although she doesn't know why she feels such a bond with Phil Foster, it is there all the same, family or not. And she likes to think we all have us a fresh start. Like her mama always said, the past is all just water under the bridge. Mojo, after going to hell and back, finally comes to understand what that means.
Participate! Please e-mail Crystal at crystal@wow-womenonwriting.com with your blog's URL and your available dates. We schedule 2-3 stops per week. You will receive a copy of the book! We look forward to hearing from you!
Beyond Belief
Tour Dates: August 26, 2013 - September 25, 2013 
Title: Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions

Authors: Susan Tive & Cami Ostman
Publisher: Seal Press
Genre: Anthology  
Synopsis: Beyond Belief addresses what happens when women of extreme religions decide to walk away. Editors Susan Tive (a former Orthodox Jew) and Cami Ostman (a de-converted fundamentalist born-again Christian) have compiled a collection of powerful personal stories written by women of varying ages, races, and religious backgrounds who share one commonality: they've all experienced and rejected extreme religions.

Covering a wide range of religious communities--including Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Calvinist, Moonie, and Jehovah's Witness--and containing contributions from authors like Julia Scheeres (Jesus Land), the stories in Beyond Belief reveal how these women became involved, what their lives were like, and why they came to the decision to eventually abandon their faiths. The authors shed a bright light on the rigid expectations and misogyny so often built into religious orthodoxy, yet they also explain the lure--why so many women are attracted to these lifestyles, what they find that's beautiful about living a religious life, and why leaving can be not only very difficult but also bittersweet.
Participate! Please email Crystal at crystal@wow-womenonwriting.com with your blog's URL and your available dates. We schedule 2-3 stops per week. You will receive a copy of the book! We look forward to hearing from you!
Loving the Missing Link 
Tour Dates: September 9, 2013 - October 10, 2013 

Title: Loving the Missing Link

Author: Julia Asel Thomas
Genre: Romance/Coming of Age 
Synopsis: Loving the Missing Link is a fabulous tale about love, success, hope and music. 

During the 1970s, young Cheryl Simpson feels trapped in her small Missouri town. As her mother tries to help her find a way up and out, Cheryl begins to feel that it is all an impossible dream. She sees herself living a boring and dismal life for the rest of her days. Just at the moment when she is about to give up on happiness, she gets the opportunity to join her high school band. The band promises a connection with the world outside her town, but Cheryl does not see any future for herself in music. It is just a tool to get where she wants to go. However, Cheryl's mother arranges for Cheryl to take private lessons with an accomplished musician, who helps her realize the beauty and awesome power of music. 

Still, Cheryl feels that small-town inferiority and finds it too hard to believe that she could ever be anyone special out in the "real" world. On the eve of a music contest that could help her earn a music scholarship, Cheryl begins to panic. Scared and feeling alone, Cheryl runs off with her high school sweetheart and gets married, leaving the band behind. 

During the next years, Cheryl and her husband make a life for themselves. Cheryl meets friends along the way who help guide her to becoming the woman she wants to be. She becomes interested in the arts again. All the while, Cheryl and husband Jerry face the challenges of homelessness, miscarriage and an extra-marital affair before an unexpected disaster brings Cheryl's life crashing to the ground. Cheryl survives with the help of her extraordinary friends and her life-long love for music.
Participate! Please e-mail Crystal at crystal@wow-womenonwriting.com with your blog's URL and your available dates. We schedule 2-3 stops per week. You will receive a copy of the book!  We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Taking the MysterE Out of Facebook Marketing

Do you ever wonder what it's like to wake up next to me? Probably not, but I'm going to tell you anyway - as sort of the entrance into today's catchy blog about Taking the MysterE Out of Facebook Marketing. I don't have a traditional alarm clock that's plugged into the wall. The last time I had one I was in college and didn't have a cell phone. Now, I use a cell phone (in my case a smart phone/iphone) to ensure I will not oversleep. Unless I've forgotten my charger, my phone is the failsafe way to ensure prompt waking. Even if the power goes out, the time in my time zone changes, etc... I am getting up because my phone does all the work for me. It's always in the right time zone and as long as the battery has power, it's going off. My smart phone has made me as reliable as the postal delivery person "come rain, sleet, hail and snow...blah blah blah"

Why does this matter if you are marketing your business (or yourself, you authors) on Facebook? Well... back in college, my marketing wisdom would have told you to spend your marketing money on radio ads that aired between 6-7:15 in the morning. That was because homes across the country were filled with people waking up to the clock radio who would hear your jingle and/or listen to your ad and start their day thinking about how your product or service could benefit them. Now...highschoolers, middle-agers, and yes even my mother who is an AARP member, wake up to a little ditty on their smart phones. I personally blink a few times, take a drink of the water on the nightstand and head for social media land. I allow myself 5-10 minutes each morning to check emails, catch up on Facebook, find out what's trending on LinkedIn, check out the latest 'buzz' on Twitter, maybe pin a few ideas for the day on Pinterest, etc...

Then it's time to toss my legs over the side of the bed, head for the bathroom, and then my day officially begins. I won't bore you with more of those details unless you're curious about my great looking skin and then all I can say is MaryKay has done wonders for me ... but that's another subject for another day.

So...your job dear Facebook Marketing Friend is to following the three E's so you can get my attention and then remember to post early enough in the day so you catch my attention when I wake up and then have a post that is popular enough that it keeps coming to the top of my newsfeed all day (because people are interested in what you have to say). And don't forget to post 3 times each week - Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are best in my opinion and add Sunday to make it 4 if you are in retail...people are looking for deals, sales, and coupons on Sundays!

Here are the three E's that will take the MysterEEE out of Facebook Marketing:

As far as Monday/Wednesday/Friday go - here are the EEE's to make it E-Z!!!!!

Monday - I want to be Educated; they are getting back into their "business" routine and some sort of information piece is most appreciated/shared/talked about!

Wednesday - I want to be Engaged - ask me a question or give me a call to action and you'll get my attention and my response!

Friday - I may just be at work but I'm checking out Facebook because I go into weekend mode on Thursday night or early Friday morning. I'm already thinking about cocktails, what band is playing, which of the children have a baseball game, etc...I'd like you to Entertain me, a funny post a cartoon, a picture, etc...those will all get my attention. Don't be offended if I don't comment though, because I may not want everyone knowing I'm in weekend mode...but trust me, you'll catch my Eye if you Entertain me!!

So - for what it's worth you now know what it's like to wake up next to me and you know what to do to get and keep my attention. Give it a shot and let me know what you think. Things may differ in your business ... for example, if you're a restaurant offering fine dining and evening cocktails, you may want to post early in the morning and then again right before the evening rush? Share your thoughts and ideas, they're likely to help others and isn't that what it's all about? Sharing ideas?

Hugs ya'all!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Marketing Your Book (Traditionally Published or Self Published)

If you are planning on writing a book, it's never too early or too late to think about the marketing side of writing. Ideally, you would put the wheels in motion before the book is published, but none of these steps are too terribly time consuming that you won't be able to do them after publication. Remember, this is no time to be shy; you've accomplished something incredibly amazing - get out there and show it off!!!

1) Become a household name (and not just in your own household)
  a-Start a Twitter account or polish up your existing account (ie: add that you are an author/add a headshot)
  b-Create a FB page separate from your personal page and make sure it reads John Smith, Author
  c-Create a Goodreads profile and then upgrade it to an author profile (or if you had one, polish it up with
      your latest biography information and your adorable head shot)
  d-If you have a blog, make sure you are posting things of value as well as self-promotion about your book
      if you don't have a blog - create one (wordpress or blogger are fine)
  e- If you have a website, make sure all your information is easy to find and that it is accurate (if you don't
      have a website, you could make this work without one, so this isn't totally mandatory)
  f- If you have a google account, upgrade to Google Plus so you can share with your circles (if you don't
      a gmail account it's free and takes moments - create one using your most professional author name -
      meaning 'I<2Skittles' is probably not the one you want to be using full time right now

2) Get yourself out there - write a few Amazon reviews for other authors, follow a writerly blog or two (if you need suggestions, let me know) and definitely join in on some Goodreads conversations on Facebook

3) Plan a launch party in your town

4) Plan a virtual launch party on Facebook (by creating an event and inviting everyone you know and asking them to invite people you don't know)

5) Create a buzz by offering your book to early readers and asking for reviews and help with promotion

6) Contact someone about doing a blog tour (of course, I would recommend WOW! Women on Writing: http://wow-womenonwriting.com/, but I'm sure there are others)

7) Start writing your press release

8) Ask for help - get a second opinion about your head shot ... your husband may think you look amazing but ask someone who has the guts to say: "I bet you can look better" and definitely find a good photographer at a reasonable price ... no one wants to look awful and you are going to use this for your online presence, on your book cover, on your blog, etc... so it should really be a reflection of you at your best!

9) Register your book hashtag and then start tweeting about it! (not sure how to register? check this out: http://bookhashtags.com/ )

10) Ask people who have been there ... it's really not hard ... "hey Lisa, I remember you did that fun virtual launch party last year - what worked and what didn't? What do you recommend?"

That's my 10 down and dirty tips - it's okay to start building on these as you start your first chapter, or after the box of books has been delivered to your front door. Please don't be shy and remember you have accomplished something awesome - get out there and toot away at your own horn. And remember - I'm proud of you!!!


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Being Thoughtful while Saving Time

This is totally NOT a sales pitch. I do happen to be a distributor for SendOut Cards, and I won't even give you a link to my site ... because I don't want you to buy something. I just want you to think about something.

That was my disclaimer - now onto business.

Do you wish you could be the person who sends a thank you for each lunch date? coffee date? to your seamstress for a job well done? to your hairdresser for the fabulous neck massage while your color was doing whatever color does?

I had always wanted to be that thoughtful person, but I didn't think I had time. I would send an email, a text, or make a quick phone call. (That was on the good days) Most days I would simply say to myself "your grandma would be incredibly disappointed - and so would Miss Manners". Now I don't really even know who Miss Manners is, but Anne Landers comes into play somewhere in the mix - but the truth is, I was raised with old-fashioned values. As a child, I wasn't allowed to open my presents, wear my new sweaters, etc... until the thank you note was written, sealed, addressed, and headed off to the post office in the bag of our friendly postal carrier.

Then I grew up ...

I had children ...

Started working ...

I started making excuses and rationalizing. What really happened? I stopped showing my appreciation in the way that I wanted to. My half-assed text may have been sort of acceptable in a better than nothing way but in my own heart and head, it was just a feeble attempt at doing the right thing. Then ... along came SendOut Cards. It's not terribly expensive and I could send cards right from my computer. I could send birthday cards, party invitations, thank you letters, and I could even send my husband a travel mug and an apology letter for my snarky behavior. That was a pretty good solution and I decided to sell the products because that gave me the best deal.

Now ... I have something even better! I have an app - kid you not, they make an app for sending cards. I no sooner left a play date this afternoon (at 1:23 which was already 8 minutes later than I had hoped) and before I got out of the car, I was able to grab my phone and send a thank you card. If my husband is driving somewhere, I can even send a card as we travel down the highway (another disclaimer: do NOT try to send a card while driving ... it's no safer than texting and driving). This entire process allows me to be thoughtful and kind and I can do it when I have a spare minute or two. You could time me, but I swear it takes no more than 90 seconds to touch the app on my phone, choose the type of card, personalize it, and choose the contact from my list.  I am now the mother who helps my children send out thank you cards as soon as the birthday guests walk out the door. I am now the customer who remembers to send a note to the Manager when I receive stellar service. The program also has a calendar feature so I never forget a birthday or anniversary either.


The reason I'm sharing this is that some of my clients have called and said something similar to:

"I had this great meeting this afternoon, and I wanted to send a thank you ... but I'm already half way to the cabin up North and I really just want to get out on the lake fishing. Would you mind picking up a card and sending something for me? I'll text you the address."

I have been able to complete this task while waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting in the lounge at the Dr. office, watching the children play at the park, and at times I've been in the barn with my sleeves rolled up stirring milk replacer for the calves. People ask how I am able to get so much done in a short amount of time. There's really no secret, we all have the same number of hours in a day and minutes in a year. I simply choose to have time on my side. When time is working with me, it can't be working against me, right?

On that note - it's off to finish some editing and do some more reading.

Have a fabulous evening and if you're interested in hearing more, you know where to find me!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Reading a Word Document or .PDF on Your Kindle

Happy Friday from Relax Consulting. The office is closed today, which means my primary function is farmer and mommy, but I wanted to take a moment to write a quick blog that will be helpful to many friends and clients. Today's blog post answers the question:

"How do I read a word document or PDF on my Kindle?"

Obviously, if you don't have a Kindle, this may not apply to you ... BUT ... if you happen to write content that others want to read on their Kindle, you should take a moment to book mark this page or skim over the ideas so you can pass them along.

This topic comes up quite often within my circle of writing friends. They'll want me to edit or review a book, short story, or blog post, and I want to do it in a place that is convenient for me. I can easily download their content onto my Kindle which makes it accessible for me on not only the Kindle, but my Ipad, Ipod, and Iphone as well. Now, I have their document available to me when I'm waiting at the Dr.'s office, sitting by the pool, waiting for my husband to come to bed, or while enjoying my morning coffee. I am no longer tethered to my computer and the best thing is I'm not carrying around stacks of paper, using countless dollars worth of ink, and there seems to be much more room in my purse/bag.

There's the plan and simple history of the post. Now for the solution:

If you have a Kindle account, you need to know your Kindle address (it's device specific) and there are instructions if you follow this link:


and scroll down to the section that looks like this:

now that you know your Kindle address, save it as a contact in your email. Kindle has some precautions in place to make sure that you aren't getting spam sent to your device, so there is also a device setting that only allows content to be received from a trusted source. I found that the easiest way to make this work for me, was to save my own email address(es) as the only approved contact(s).

What this means for my friends and associates is that they cannot send documents directly to my Kindle. They need to first send them to my gmail address: crystaljotto@gmail.com and then it's up to ME to forward them to my Kindle address (which happens to be iamagemcrystal_37@kindle.com). In the simplest terms:

Approved Contact = crystaljotto@gmail.com
Kindle Address = iamagemcrystal_37@kindle.com

By simply emailing a word document or PDF from my personal email to my Kindle email, I can read content on my Kindle device. It's really just that easy once you get used to it. The first time may be a little tricky, because you have to find your device email and set up your approved email, but after the first time, it's pretty simple. Depending upon which Kindle device you are using, you'll have to get comfortable with WHERE on the device the content is downloaded (for example, it may land in a 'cloud' section of the device or a different section for 'my content') ... but you'll find it and the link above is very helpful in answering all of your questions.

Hope this has been helpful - have a great weekend!