Internet Marketing – Inbound Links, What They Are and Why and How to get some Quality Ones!

Any virtual assistant who has a little inside information on how the Internet search engines work will tell you that the most effective way to get your web site picked up and listed high within the search engines listings, and particularly in Google, is to have lots of high quality inbound links.

So what is an “inbound link” and what makes one high quality?

An inbound link is simply a link from someone else’s web site to yours. But the key is what makes that link high quality? Now I could bore you for hours with the intricacies of how a search engine spider reads and interprets the detailed visible and background information contained on a web page then decides, in its robot wisdom, the theme of what the page is about. The key is it will then leave that page by following one of the links it includes. That could be a link to your web site. If it has decided that the page it has just visited is all about the Virtual Assistant industry and then it ends up following a link to your web site and it sees that your web site is about the same subject, it will deem that your site is an important resource in this area as the first web site has effectively “voted” for yours by linking to it and therefore list it higher in the results it returns for associated searches. Have I lost you yet?

The crux of it is this, the more links you can get to your web site from web sites within the same field so much the better. Now this article could be seen as self-serving because an obvious connection here is the UK Association of Virtual Assistants web site. Become a Full member and your web site will be linked to from our Directory, thus making your web site look “important” to Google and the like. Of course becoming a Featured member puts you on the front page of the UKAVA website so the search engines will see you as even more of an authority.

More information about how to be listed in our Directory can be found here: UKAVA – Choose A Listing Plan

But think a little further on; who are your target clients and what industries are they in? How could you get them to link from their web site to your web site? Answers on a postcard!

Seriously, we will cover this neat little trick next time so stay tuned.

 

Internet Marketing – What Do You Mean You Dont Have A Web Site?

We all know that in order to work virtually, we need to have an online presence, a web site. But it’s amazing how many virtual assistants don’t have one. There can be many reasons, or should I say excuses, including “a web site’s too expensive”, “I want to see if I get any interest before I spend a lot of money on a web site”, “it’s too hard to get someone to update it”, “I don’t know anyone who can build me one”, “my brother/cousin/friend said they’d make me one, but they haven’t done it yet”, the list of reasons why a web site is missing from your armoury is endless. It’s also absurd when getting your web site up and running is as easy and inexpensive as this.

You need to have a web site to run a “virtual” business; it’s as simple as that. And now it’s just a simple to build one yourself, quickly and inexpensively. We recommend Create. as you can build your own web site, add your own images and text and be up and running in minutes. It’s simple and from £8.49 per month including hosting what more could you ask for? Once built you can update your pages whenever you want to, and if you want to add additional features later on, such as a shopping cart or additional password protected pages for your clients, you can upgrade when and if you want to.

What is more, Create. offers a thirty-day free trial so you can see what the package has to offer before spending a penny. Genius!

For more information and to claim you free trail, click the link below:

Create My Website

 

PostureMinder – My Saviour!

Anyone how knows me well will tell you that I spend quite a bit of time and money various treatments to ease my aching back and correct my appalling posture. There’s nothing particularly wrong with my back as such, it’s just that I sit at a desk for many hours a day working at a computer and as you will know, as a VA there’s nothing unusual about that. This month details of a new product landed in my inbox and as it struck a chord with me, I thought I’d give it a try. Boy, has it changed the way I work.

PostureMinder is a piece of software you download onto your computer that works in conjunction with your web cam. Once installed it takes you through a series of set up steps to help you sit in the best position possible and then captures the image of you sitting correctly on the web cam. Then the fun begins. Every time you hunch, slump or lean a witty little pop up appears to let you know you’ve slipped and immediately reminds you to sit properly. There are many, many features including break reminders that remind you to take a short break, which help to relieve eyestrain, reduce the risk of headaches and even RSI. You can set the intervals to suit you and during the breaks a window opens to reveal a series of exercises, all demonstrated by real people, that you can do in your chair to relieve aches and pains associated with working all day at a computer.

I’ve become an addict and with a fantastic 14-day free trial and a 15% discount for UKAVA blog readers, what could be better. Go on; treat yourself, your back will thank you for it!

For more information, visit: http://www.posturemindershop.co.uk

Online Book Keeping With Kashflow – Accounts Made Easy!

As a virtual assistant, we deal with many different customers, using varying systems and programmes to complete all sorts of tasks. If you offer book keeping services you will have come across everything from basic spreadsheets, to complex systems such as Sage, we’ve seen it all. My personal favourite has become Kashflow. It’s incredibly simple and designed specifically for small businesses.

Kashflow is an online system which has several overriding benefits, firstly your accounts are held online so you can access them from any computer with a browser (after entering your secure login details). This means several things; if your computer should crash you haven’t lost everything, you can give live access to your client and you can give access to your clients accountant to compile their required information. As there is one live copy of the accounts, the changes are available instantly to everyone given access so you don’t have multiple out of date copies everywhere.

Secondly, as you pay a monthly subscription for Kashflow, rather than a large upfront software cost, it is easier to budget as a small monthly fee. Critically within this fee the software upgrades are included. Anyone who has purchased accountancy software in the past will know that purchasing upgrades is necessary when you have several people updating your accounts at different locations. Generally the software is not backwardly compatible so as soon as one person upgrades, you all have to and upgrades can be very costly.

What is more, you get to try before you buy. You don’t even have to give a credit card number that you might later forget to cancel should you decide to use an alternative program.

Try it today completely free here

What Is Social Media and Why Is It Important to My Business?

We’ve all heard the phrase social media, but what actually is social media and how can you use it to help your virtual assistant business?

In short, social media is a term that encapsulates a number of online communication platforms which make it easy for people to not only publish their own news and views but also comment on that posted by others.

Why Is Social Media Important?

Social Media has provided everyone with a platform to air their opinions, views and grievances with anyone around the world. People who use Social Media often become highly influential and are seen as experts in their own sphere and can develop large audiences around their area of interest.

Communities of like-minded people are forming around common interests over the Web regardless of where they are based in the world because the regular restrictions of geographical locations do not apply.

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Six – Test Everything

As much as is possible, you should always test your advertising and marketing efforts. You might want to jump in and try a range of different ideas and formats and that’s great, but try and keep tabs on where each enquiry comes from, and which enquiries go on to convert into paying customers.

With this data to hand you can then look at has been cost effective and what has not. For example if you paid £500 to join a networking group and attended 50 breakfast meetings costing £10 each over the course of a year, and as a result you got one new client, that client would have cost you £1000 to source. If you put an advert in the UKAVA Directory for £49.95 and over a year that advert resulted in 5 new clients, each client has cost you less than £10 to source. In this scenario you may decide to drop the networking group and advertise more widely in the Directory.

The important point is that you can’t improve on what you don’t measure so if you don’t know what is working for you, and what is not, how can you expect to improve your results next time around?

Sometimes you may find that the lower cost advertising and marketing strategies are the ones that bring you the most business.

For a listing in the UKAVA Directory visit: http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/join_the_uk_association_of_vir.html

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Five – Online Presence

It goes without saying that as a virtual assistant you need a website. But have you really thought about the best way to use it? Some visitors will arrive at your website as result of you telling them about it or seeing the URL on your business card or marketing material.

What you really want though is visitors who have arrived at your website because they are actually searching for a virtual pa. These are not just visitors these are prospects. They have actually gone to the trouble of going to a search engine and entering a relevant term into the search bar and are busy looking through the results to find someone they want to work with. So how do you make sure your website ends up in front of them?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) companies charge a small fortune for ‘optimising’ your website in an attempt to make is appear at the top of that search engines results. And with good reason. The search engines constantly change their indexing criteria to keep out the spammers so the SEO companies have to consistently keep one step ahead. If you don’t have the budget to compete with the big players the best thing you can do is get listed on their websites. Visitors to their websites will then see your information and click through to your website.

There are several directories advertising virtual assistants and their services in the UK. Ours consistently appears on the first page of Google and can be found at http://www.ukava.co.uk

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Four – Press Releases

Press Releases are useful for generating a buzz about your  virtual assistant business. The business editor at your local newspaper will always be on the lookout for a good business story to fill the business news section of the newspaper.

Of course, the business editor understands the economics of running a paper and is more inclined to run your story if you buy advertising in his/her publication, but will still print stories for special events and openings. Think of an angle, could you offer a competition prize, could you help a local charity.

The important thing to remember about Press Releases is that it must be constructed in the form of a news story. Even if you are a sole proprietorship, quotes from you should be written in a third person format: John Doe said, “Your quote here.”

A Press Release should pack the most important information at the beginning of the copy, and leave extra details towards the end.

You should always provide the reporter who gets the task a simple and easy way for him/her to contact you directly. Often the reporter will want to contact you to get details that will enhance their take on your story.

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Three – Networking

If up until now you’ve been an employee, you might never have been to a networking event before. The whole idea is that everyone who goes along is a business owner or key decision maker in their business and is there, like everyone else, to promote their product or service. The beauty of networking is that if you attend groups regularly, people get to know and trust you and are happy to work with you if they need a virtual assistant or refer business your way.

Now I could write a whole series on the subject of networking alone but these are the basics. If it is your first time networking I would initially go to an informal group as this will help you get your confidence and see how they work. Do an Internet search on networking and you town and you should find a whole range of groups in your area. Have a look for one that takes your fancy and book on. Most groups will let you attend one or two meetings before asking you to take out a membership so make full use of all the free trails until you find a group that you like. Some groups are free but you will find that those that charge a membership fee are often more formal business networking groups and produce more clients and referrals.

Again don’t forget that anyone you speak to may know someone who needs a virtual assistant so don’t dismiss anyone on first impressions and also remember that networking is two-way so if you can put those you meet in touch with anyone they would be interested in, do it. You will be remembered for it and that’s the first step in getting referrals.

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Two – Referrals

Sometimes it’s not about who you know, but about whom they know. We’ve all heard the theory about the six degrees of separation, that you are only six people away from anyone you want to get to know. Well the same applies to business. The person you are talking to may not have any requirement for a virtual assistant but who do they know that might?

If you make an impression on the person you are talking to they will remember you and possibly refer on to you anyone who may need your services. This is particularly true at networking events, which we’ll cover next time. But how can you make sure that they will remember you and refer you when appropriate. How about offering a referral fee?

A referral fee can be a gift or cash and is usually related to the amount a referred new customer spends. You only pay out on the referral if the potential new client signs up so you have nothing to lose. You may want to offer a free bottle of champagne or gift vouchers for each new referral or perhaps 10% of the first invoice total. It’s up to you but it can be a very effective way of getting your contacts to refer their contacts to you.

Want To Be A Virtual Assistant?

ebook cover publishSetting yourself up as a virtual assistant is an exciting step but one which should not be taken without some serious consideration. Starting any new business, particularly one where you work from home, can appear either a stimulating or frightening prospect, or both, depending on your perspective and experience. Breaking out from the ‘employed’ world and into one where you are your own boss is an exhilarating prospect, but being responsible for that business and solely reliant on yourself to generate your income can be a very daunting reality.

We have published a guide designed to raise some points you may not have considered and pose a series of questions you need to ask yourself in order to decide if setting yourself up as a virtual assistant is really for you. If you decide it is, what follows is a list of steps to help you navigate your way through this new alien self employed environment and put you firmly on the road to success – all for just £9.95

Click here to get your copy today!

Tips For Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget

When you are starting out as a Virtual Assistant and no one knows who you are or what you do, one of the biggest challenges you will face is how to drum up new business.

You probably have already done some research and already know that there are people who need your services or you would not have started your business in the first place. But once you have spoken to those you already know who may need you, your next task is to find others who will help you make your business a success.

At this point most people turn to advertising. If I had a pound for every VA that has said to me, ‘There’s a little local magazine that comes through my door each month. Should I advertise in it?’ I wouldn’t have to run a VA business myself; I could retire on the proceeds. The answer, by the way, for many reasons is no. There are many better ways to spend your limited advertising and marketing budget.

It is a misconception that you have to spend lots of money to advertise your Virtual Assistant business. Unless you have some sort of financial backing, it is unlikely that you will have a huge budget so it’s better to get a little bit creative and use what you have wisely.

In this series, I will be letting you in on a few tips and some of the lessons I’ve learned on how to advertise your virtual assistant business on a budget.

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget  – Lesson One – Word Of Mouth

If you’ve just started out and you’ve done a piece of work for a client who is pleased with the results, they will talk about it. My advice in the early days is to under promise and over deliver. Think about how you can ‘delight’ your customer. What can you add or improve that would really ‘wow’ them? Could you deliver the work early, could you suggest some ideas that might improve it, could you put them into contact with a potential new client that you know? Anything that is seen as going the extra mile and helping your client within their business will be appreciated. When they thank you for it, ask them if they know anyone else who might need your services. Put it in their mind that you are looking for new clients in this way and they may send you referrals. More on referrals next time!

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course >>>

Virtual Assistants and the Importance of Client Consultation

With a large number of virtual assistants to choose from these days, how can a potential client select who they want to work with? How can you project a professional image and create synergy with someone you’ve never met? What can you do or say to make them think ‘I’ve got to work with this person’?

When I first started out as a virtual assistant, more years ago than I care to remember, there weren’t many other VA’s around and therefore not much competition. Nowadays, a sizeable proportion of the clients I take on have worked with at least one other VA in the past. When I ask what differences they notice between how we work and what they have experienced in the past, it is often commented on that what they like more than anything is that we work as a partnership with our clients, being proactive in their businesses and looking for opportunities for them and suggesting ideas, as opposed to those VAs that just sit and wait for work to be delegated to them.

So how do we achieve that distinction? Part of it is the mind-set. When you make the leap from being an employee to a sole trader or business owner you will quickly realise that if you sit around and wait for work to be delegated, you won’t get very much of it. At that point you learn to make yourself an active member of your clients ‘team’ very quickly or you will soon start to flounder.

To give a great impression straight away it’s important to ask the right questions at the first meeting with your potential client, before they sign up. You need to ascertain where you can be most useful to them. What are their weak points? What work do they have to do that they continually put off either because there is no time or because they don’t enjoy it? Find out what their plans are for their business. What do they want to achieve?

Once the client has come on board you need to maintain the momentum with scheduled meetings as an on-going process both with regular and ad-hoc clients. By having detailed monthly catch up meetings, either in person or by telephone, you can identify what is coming up in their calendar and how you can help them by sharing some of that workload.

For some really great documents to help you both with initial client consultations and on-going client reviews, take a look at New Client Pack and Client Management Pack

Expanding Your Virtual Assistant Business with Associates

When you have filled your virtual assistant business with clients, you will soon run out of time that you can sell to new prospects. After all, you only have so many hours in the day that you can work. So how can you expand and take on more business without the overheads of getting an office and taking on staff?

It’s time to introduce you to the Virtual Assistant Associate.

Working with associates is a very popular business model in several industries as it works in much the same way as working with a virtual assistant. When there is work you don’t have the time to complete, your clients outsource it to you. When you have an excess of client work you don’t have time to complete, you outsource it to an associate.

Associates work at a reduced hourly rate to that you have charged your client, as they have been handed the work ‘on a plate’ without having to do all the marketing and relationship building associated with bringing that client on board.

You also continue to manage the client relationship and invoicing, and the client remains a customer of your business rather than becoming a direct customer of your associate.

It’s imperative to have an Associate Agreement in pace so that everyone understand the boundaries of the relationship. For more information and a selection of templates you can download and adapt for your own business click here >>>

Virtual Assistant VIP Day

Put your foot on the accelerator to success with this fast track to success VIP Intensive Day.  The VA SUccess Group pack in months of worth of coaching, mentoring and learning into a one day intensive strategy session that focuses solely on your business – no-one else but you!

What would it mean to you if you could have a step by step blueprint and plan you can follow to really build your business to the level you know it can be and create your perfect VA business?

That’s exactly what will happen on your VIP Intensive Day.

You will leave with a clear plan of what you need to do over the next 12 months so that you can start taking action immediately.

Talk to us to find out more

Your Own Virtual Assistant Business – In A Box

Have you always wanted to start your own business as a virtual assistant, but have been put off by the idea of starting from scratch?

Not sure what you need to know, how to avoid all the pitfalls, what to charge or how to make it all a success?

How would it feel if you could just click your heels together and land in your very own successful business that is up and running with all the tried and tested systems and processes already in place? And wouldn’t it be a dream if your business was already a market leader, with a raft of very happy clients and an enviable reputation for service and professionalism.

Click here for your own virtual assistant business in a box

File-Sharing Made Easy

As a virtual assistant you need to share files in some way with your clients. Often you will find your clients are happy to email latest versions of documents and spreadsheets backwards and forwards and some even have a file-sharing system in place that you can have access to.

But what happens if your client doesn’t have their own systems and you will be both updating a ‘live’ file such as a contacts database or an expenses spreadsheet? How do you both have access to the same current version of the file? You can purchase file sharing software such as Microsoft’s Sharepoint, or you can use free software such as Google Docs which, not very helpfully, interferes with the formatting of some documents and limits the size and/or formats of the files you can upload.

Well now, there’s a free option that not only works brilliantly, but also has many other features including access to 30 days worth of back up copies, incase you accidentally delete or ruin a file. You can also access your files remotely when you are out of the office so there’s no longer a need to take that laptop on holiday!

Click here for more information and an extra 250MB of space free!

Affordable Web Sites for Virtual Assistants

It’s a bit of a given these days that in order to be taken seriously in the business world, you need to have a web site. When hearing about a company or service for the first time, how many of us head off to the “www.” to find out more? We all know that when work “virtually” in particular, we need to have an online presence, a web site. After all, we don’t have a shop front or an office building to impress our potential clients so our web site is our “shop window”, our opportunity to display our expertise and professionalism. Or is it?

It’s amazing how many virtual assistants don’t have a web site. There can be many reasons, or should I say excuses, including ‘a web site’s too expensive’, ‘I want to see if I get any interest before I spend a lot of money on a web site’, ’it’s too hard to get someone to update it’, ‘I don’t know anyone who can build me one’, ‘my brother/cousin/friend said they’d make me one, but they haven’t done it yet’, the list of reasons why a web site could be missing from your marketing armoury is as endless as it is senseless. It’s also absurd when getting your web site up and running is as easy and inexpensive as this.

You need to have a web site to run a ‘virtual’ business; it’s as simple as that. And now it’s as simple as it is cost effective. Web sites from the UKAVA cost from just £245 for everything you need. We even and include a years free hosting and an advert in the UKAVA Directory. Now there’s really no excuses for not getting your web site underway today!

Find all the information about virtual assistant web sites here

Writing Effective Copy for your Virtual Assistant Website

Initially writing the text copy for your website seems quite simple. You just tell them who you are, what you do and how to contact you, right? Err, no actually.

Many business websites drone on and on about when they started, what their “mission statement” is, what technology they use, blah, blah, blah. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but nobody cares. All that prospects and customers care about is “What’s in it for me”.

So the very first thing you need to do is put yourself in the shoes of your potential customer. What problem do they have that they are looking for a solution to by searching around the internet? If they have arrived at your website as part of their search they will look for confirmation that they have come to the right place. What solutions are you providing that solves their problem?

If you were the customer, what questions would you want answers to before parting with your cash? Make sure you answer those questions in your copy.

If you are selling an intangible or unknown service such as administration and business support services, how have you displayed your credibility? Have you shown testimonials or feedback from previous customers, or can you show case studies where you have made a real tangible difference to a former client?

If you are selling information, how have you established to them that you are the expert that they should listen to? Do you have any samples of the type of information you provide such as free downloads of tips?

How easy is it to contact you? Is there a telephone number for enquires? Have you got a proper mail address on your website or just a PO Box? Do you have a guarantee that will allow them to purchase a product or service without reservation?

Lastly, give them a compelling reason to buy from you now. Or if your product or service has a longer sales cycle, get them on your list by offering something in exchange for their name and email address.

If you need help with marketing your business take a look at the Marketing for Virtual Assistants online course from the VA Success Group. You’ll learn what works, and more importantly what activities you shouldn’t waste your time and money on! Find out more here:

 

Website Mistake 5: Missing or hidden contact information

Have you ever visited a web site that you think offers the ideal solution to your problem, but you’ve got one question to ask before mak­ing your purchasing decision? You go to the Contact Us page to look for the phone number or an email address, and all you find is a contact form to send your question. How annoying is that. There you were, credit card in hand, and already to buy and now you have to fill out a form and wait…

Web site owners are often reluctant to have their contact info readily available on the web site, as they fear having their email address harvested by spam­mers or having their phone number added to a telemarketing list. There are ways to lessen the likelihood of either issue by using an email spam filter on your computer and, if you a residential line for business, registering the number with the Telephone Preference Service.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

Website Mistake 4: Not Turning Your Website Visitors Into Prospects

Lots of virtual assistants complain that they get a lot of visitors to their website, but few of them convert into customers. Most marketing texts will tell you that it takes approximately 7 ‘touches’ for a prospect to decide to buy something from you. A visit to your website is just one touch. If you don’t have a system in place for capturing information about your website visitors so you can keep in touch with them, when they are ready to buy they will simply purchase from someone else they have got to know, like, and trust online.

The best tool you can have in place for this purpose is an email newsletter. You can create a regular publishing schedule to be in touch with your contact database, and you can easily demonstrate your expertise via the articles you write and resources your provide.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

Website Mistake 3: Nothing to demonstrates your expertise.

Virtual Assistant websites often boast about how profi­cient they are at solving their clients problems and I’m sure that they do, but where’s the proof?

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve got a good idea of the many problems your customers face, so providing relevant content that addresses these problems moves you into “expert” status. If you are an expert prove it by publishing articles, free downloads and resources for your prospects and clients.

Don’t think of it as giving away your expertise for free — think of it as developing a better educated consumer for your services and products. Will you lose customers because they read your information and implemented the solution without hiring you? It’s possible but unlikely because most prospec­tive customers are unable to do it on their own and will need your expert assistance to help them solve their issues.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

Website Mistake 2: A Lack of a clear call to action on each website page.

Have you ever been to a web site and been completely overwhelmed with all the directions you can go from the home page? There’s navigation buttons left and right and so many options you don’t know where to go next? Then in frustration you click back to the search results and go on to another website. Sound familiar?

Or perhaps you have found a website that had some interesting content or answered some of your questions but you weren’t ready to buy what you were researching just yet. You want to remember the site for future reference but you’re not sure if you’d find it again. You may bookmark it but if it had a newsletter or a free download of some kind you’d sign up just so that you know they’d contact you from time to time and you wouldn’t have to go looking for them next time.

The most effective call to action you can have on your home page and every other page of your website is to offer something for free, whether it’s an eBook, Newsletter, White Paper or Report, but something useful that’s attractive to your target market so that they’ll be eager give you their name and email address to receive your offer.

Many times the call to action is to telephone or email the business for a free consultation. That call to action is effective to some degree, especially if someone is shopping for an immediate solution to their problem. Overall, however, people want more time to make a deci­sion about doing business with you. They want to determine your credibility and make a decision about whether or not they trust you before deciding to have a personal conversation with you. Expecting someone to call you upon first meeting you (viewing your web site) is not very realistic. However, if they’ve seen enough on your site to want to know a little more, there’s a greater likeli­hood they will part with a tiny bit of personal info (first name and email address) to get a better sense of who you are while staying anonymous…and without making a commitment. Once you have their contact information, they then become a prospective client, and you can market to them as you would to any other prospect in your business.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

How to Avoid Fatal Virtual Assistant Website Mistakes

As part of running the UK Association of Virtual Assistants I spend a lot of time researching online and checking other virtual assistant’s website. Occasionally I see an outstanding website, but what I usually see is a whole range of similar sites, each one fairly indistinguishable from anther.

When a potential client is shopping around online to find a virtual assistant they want to work with, the last thing you want is for that person to be bored in their search from continually reading the same thing over and over again and leafing through the same old format as virtual assistant’s ‘borrow’ from each others websites! If you want to get more clients from your web site, what follows in this series are 10 common mistakes to avoid:

Mistake 1: The business appears as a nameless, faceless corporate entity.
People do business with people, not websites. This is particularly true when working virtually as your potential client may never meet you in person but will always benefit from ‘putting a face to a name’. Before doing business with you a prospect will want know, like, respect, and trust you in order to let you lose within their business.

I become very frustrated when I can’t find any information on the virtual assistant behind a company name, and it often leaves me wondering what they have to hide. Are they actually a full time VA or are they hiding behind a website so their employer won’t find them? I realise many VA firms employ this strategy to appear bigger than they actually are, but don’t you prefer being able to pick up the phone or drop an email to someone you can identify within a company, rather than trying to penetrate a faceless corporate facade. Guess what, so do your prospects.

Put a photograph and a bio about yourself on the website and if you still want to maintain the illusion of size, put yourself as the Founder or Managing Director of the company and use ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ in your text.

For more information about how to market your virtual assistant business, take a look at the VA Success Groups Marketing for Virtual Assistants Online Course

Online Book Keeping With Kashflow – Accounts Made Easy!

As a virtual assistant, we deal with many different customers, using varying systems and programs to complete all sorts of tasks. If you offer book keeping services you will have come across everything from basic spreadsheets, to complex systems such as Sage, we’ve seen it all. My personal favourite has become KashFlow. It’s incredibly simple and designed specifically for small businesses.

KashFlow is an online system which has several overriding benefits, firstly your accounts are held online so you can access them from any computer with a browser (after entering your secure login details). This means several things; if your computer should crash you haven’t lost everything, you can give live access to your client and you can give access to your clients accountant to compile their required information. As there is one live copy of the accounts, the changes are available instantly to everyone given access so you don’t have multiple out of date copies everywhere.

Secondly, as you pay a monthly subscription for KashFlow, rather than a large upfront software cost, it is easier to budget as a small monthly fee. Critically within this fee the software upgrades are included. Anyone who has purchased accountancy software in the past will know that purchasing upgrades is necessary when you have several people updating your accounts at different locations. Generally the software is not backwardly compatible so as soon as one person upgrades, you all have to and upgrades can be very costly.

What is more, you get to try before you buy. You don’t even have to give a credit card number that you might later forget to cancel should you decide to use an alternative program.

Try it today completely free here

Successful Small Businesses Keep a Close Eye on Cash Flow

Business advisors will tell you that one of the main reasons small businesses fail is cash flow. That is either they are not financed correctly in the first place, with sufficient funds to see them through the start-up phase, or that slow paying, or worse non-paying customers are destroying the financial health of the business.

When running a solo or small business there are two main reasons given as to why collecting payments from your clients can become an issue. Firstly it may be that you are so busy doing whatever it is that you do in order to make money, that you simply lose track of who has paid and which payments are late. Secondly, particularly if you are a solo business, there can be a level of embarrassment when the only person that can call the customer asking for the invoice to be paid, is the same person who provided the service.

Whatever the reason, it is imperative that you manage your cash flow effectively or you will soon be out of business. You should have a cash flow forecast that is made up of expected receipts and disbursements for the following 3 months (as a minimum) with some room for the unexpected factored in. With this information to hand you can easily see any potential difficult spots.

Once you have put together your cash flow forecast, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the expenses part of the forecast. Look for where you can cut some costs or find alternative suppliers, and think about what items are ‘nice to have’ but not essential to your business.

With the expenses under control you must make sure that the receipt part of the equation is taken care of with an effective collection system. Whichever system you use for issuing your customer invoices, set up a system for following up late payments. Get into the habit of issuing statements and following up by email, telephone or letter depending what is appropriate for you and your business.

For a selection of templates you can use within your virtual assistant business, take a look at the Finance Templates Pack provided by the VA Success Group here.

File-Sharing Made Easy

As a virtual assistant you need to share files in some way with your clients. Often you will find your clients are happy to email latest versions of documents and spreadsheets backwards and forwards and some even have a file-sharing system in place that you can have access to.

But what happens if your client doesn’t have their own systems and you will be both updating a ‘live’ file such as a contacts database or an expenses spreadsheet? How do you both have access to the same current version of the file? You can purchase file sharing software such as Microsoft’s Sharepoint, or you can use free software such as Google Docs which, not very helpfully, interferes with the formatting of some documents and limits the size and/or formats of the files you can upload.

Well now, there’s a free option that not only works brilliantly, but also has many other features including access to 30 days worth of back up copies, incase you accidentally delete or ruin a file. You can also access your files remotely when you are out of the office so there’s no longer a need to take that laptop on holiday!

Click here for more information and an extra 250MB of space free!

Virtual Receptionist Services

CSnotepad offers a range of virtual office services and telephone call answering services designed with the customer in mind. We are experts in professional and affordable virtual office solutions for businesses as well as inbound and outbound call handling services. The team wanted to put together services that stand out from the rest by providing unparalleled levels of customer service. Our virtual receptionist and address services alongside our telephone call handling and mail forwarding services show just what a dedicated team of enthusiastic staff can do; achieving high levels of customer satisfaction and retention.

For more information visit http://www.csnotepad.co.uk

Everything Every Virtual Assistant Needs To Know

Do you want all your questions answered about starting up your own Virtual Assistant business?

Would you like to fill your virtual assistant business to bursting point with clients you love to work with?

Do you want to network successfully to build your VA business?

The VA Success Group have now bundled together their three best selling online courses so you can find out everything you need to know to run a top class, successful virtual assistant business.

  • Start Your Virtual Assistant Business
  • Marketing for Virtual Assistants
  • Networking for Virtual Assistants

All three available here for a very special price http://vasuccessgroup.co.uk/virtual-assistant-online-courses/online-courses-bundle/

Virtual Assistants burning questions answered – FREE!

Have you ever wanted to ask an established virtual assistant business owner:
How much can I earn?
Where do I find clients?
What does it cost and what do I have to do to get started?

Well now you can hear the answers from two of the UKs top Virtual Assistants as they give away all the secrets to setting up a VA business! Download the interviews now FOR FREE at  http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/interview.htm

Virtual Assistant Marketing – Niche to Streamline Your Efforts

When you market to a niche you are targeting a very small select group of people. With research you can identify what that group of people have in common and in what areas where they will all be struggling. This way you can tailor your marketing message, the words that you use, to suit the target market. For example, if you were to target a group of individuals that were constantly away from home due to their line of work, you could say something in your marketing material like ‘Are you constantly away from home and worrying that the post is not being dealt with or you’ll come home to find that you car has run out of tax or the boiler has not been serviced?’ Do you see how someone who was away all the time would identify with that question? They may well have already experienced a situation like that or know that it will happen at some point.

More at: http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/inthenewssept09.html#niche

Virtual Assistants Earn Money In Your Sleep – Yes Really!

Hands up who has heard of passive income? If you’re not familiar with it, passive income is that lovely thing that happens when you earn cold hard cash from someone elses efforts. It’s so important it’s written in huge letters on my white board to remind me of this little gem every time I cast my eyes right to remind myself what I am actually meant to be doing! OK, so this sounds great in principle but how does it work, is it ethical and how can I earn some money for doing practically nothing?

More at: http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/inthenewssept09.html

Start Your Virtual Assistant Business Workshop

The VA Success Groups very popular one day workshop is back next month. Giving you all the information, tips and advice you need to get your Virtual Assistant business on the fast road to success, if you are looking to get started, this is the course for you.

Read what previous participants had to say here: http://www.becomeavirtualassistant.co.uk/

The last course sold out so don’t miss out this time. Book your place now to avoid dissapointment: http://www.becomeavirtualassistant.co.uk/

Freedom to Escape the Office

If you are anything like me, do you find that you get more done when you are sitting in a quiet cafe or hotel lobby somewhere with a pen and paper or bashing away on a laptop, than when trying to concentrate intently to complete the same tasks when you are in the office and being distracted by the telephone and constant ping of email alerts. I find that if I have a creative piece of work to complete, escaping to another environment helps me get everything done in record time. And now I’ve discovered how I can be in the office when I’m out of the office, and no, I don’t have a clone!

I’ve discovered Freedom, that is, Freedom4 Wi-Fi. Freedom4 Wi-Fi allows you to benefit from high speed wireless broadband wherever you are, using Wi-Fi hotspots. On the Freedom4 website you can type in details of where you are, be that at your home office or out on the road, and how far you want to travel, it will then locate the hotspots nearest to you. You’ll find it comes up with a whole list of cafes, hotels, bars, airports and stations where you can connect. It then gives you the addresses and a map of where they can be found and once you are there, all you need to do is enter your login details and you’re online. If you are already out and don’t have access to the website you can text for your nearest locations. So now you can be “in the office”, when you’re actually in the pub or cafe, genius!

For more information visit: http://clkuk.tradedoubler.com/click?p=64881&a=1264821&g=17222896

Do You Skype?

I’ve always tiptoed around using Skype for the simple reason that I have quite enough telephones to deal with already and when I first used it many moons ago, I would have the situation where I’d be on the office phone and during the conversation my mobiles would ring, followed closely by my PC speakers as someone else tried to get through on Skype. But recently I’ve thought it deserved a second look and now I’m converted. First of all I discovered that you can change your status so that you can appear busy or offline so no more multiple ringing telephones to raise my stress levels. When I’m busy or on another call I now just set the status to “not available”. Of course we all know that Skype to Skype calls are free, which is great when we are all feeling the pinch and trying to keep our costs down. Clients love it too, especially when they are abroad. Did you also know that for the minute monthly subscription of £1.95 plus VAT you can have free unlimited calls to all UK landline numbers? And with any subscription package you also get a free online number which means that anyone who doesn’t use Skype can call a normal number from their telephone and it comes through your Skype, so now you can go and work in your favourite coffee shop and still be contactable by telephone.Then I discovered all the other amazing other things you can do with Skype such as conference calls and video calling – great for client consultations. You can also forward your Skype calls to your landline or mobile. Now I’m asking myself, do I really need a landline?

 

For more about Skype click the link below:
http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/inthe_news_sept_08.html

Carbonite – online backup made simple (and cheap!)

Hands up who backs up all their data regularly? And as well as backing up everything onto another hard drive, memory sticks or CDs and DVDs, who also backs up online? If you don’t what happens if your office catches fire, or on a very topical note, if you have a flood? Aside from those catastrophes, how many times have you backed something up only to find that when your computer dies and you need those backed up files, the back has failed or you simply forgot to do it? Did you know online back up is easy, cheap and secure and once it’s set up you can forget all about it? Welcome to Carbonite, a genius little programme that backs up everything you need without fuss or drama. Install the software in minutes and tell it what files you want to back up and let it get on with it. Then once it’s completed the initial back up of everything you need, it just sits there in the background, updating files and documents in the backup folder as you update the files on your computer. You don’t have to remember to do anything, it does it all for you. And all this for just $49.95 per year, which at today’s exchange is a little over £25. Not much for complete peace of mind is it? Oh yes, and did I mention the free trial?

For more information visit:
http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-3154309-10544221

Who answers the phone for you?

Do you offer your clients call handling? And if you do, do you answer the calls yourself or do you use a third party? And who answers your business calls when you are not in the office?

Would your business, or that of your clients, benefit from a polite, efficient team of 3 receptionists?  All calls are answered in your company name, or that of your clients, giving you a professional look as well as taking away the worry of what calls you are missing while you are out of the office.

For more information visit: http://www.officefront.co.uk/

What a Palava – Your Event – Your Team

You have been given the task of organising the next gathering of important clients or colleagues. You rightly demand the highest levels of quality and service to create that special atmosphere that will impress every guest. It could take hours, even days, to source the caterers, flowers and many other services that are needed to create the right mood…and you still have your day to day responsibilities… but help is now at hand…

A new service has been launched specifically for Personal Assistants and Virtual Assistants, with the aim of making your lives easier when faced with the task of organising that important drinks reception or dinner. whatapalava is a service with a difference. You will maintain total control of your event, whilst having complete access to every member of the team. This allows you to be confident that your detailed requirements are being attended to by each of our specialist team members. This approach during the build up to the event enables any changes to your original specification to be incorporated, whilst the budget remains firmly within your control.
Leon Warner, co founder of whatapalava explains…

Throughout over twenty years of personally performing at high profile corporate events, it has become apparent that the unenviable task of organising the Summer drinks party or Christmas event usually falls in the lap of the assistant to the CEO or MD…and a major task it always proves to be. It can take hours of internet searching and dozens of phone calls to suppliers in a quest to obtain a quality of service that your company wishes to portray to its guests. And handing control over to an outside party may not always the best approach. Through many years combined experience of high profile corporate events, we have formed “Your Tried, Tested & Trusted Team” of suppliers that work as one unit to create your perfect event. Catering, Flowers, Music and Master of Ceremonies are all available. Our personal and dedicated team have joined forces and pooled their collective knowledge and experience to ensure that any event – your event exceeds all expectations.

Just one phone call gives you access to the whatapalava team who will work to your specification and budget. You will have access to each team member who will be available to offer advice to complement and enhance your ideas where appropriate. You will also be able to keep up-to-date with your project online through your unique iBusiness project folder. You will have secure access to every aspect of your event, including team members, financial matters and all communications.

Because of our unique position in providing our dedicated team…continues Leon…we know that there will never be an issue of one team member tripping over another if your plans unexpectedly change. We will provide a cohesive unit which will deliver results that go beyond your expectations rather than a list of random suppliers. Additionally, by giving you, the organiser, access from day one to each team member, you are ensured peace of mind when it comes to attention to detail that will impress your clients.

whatapalava have a special promotion throughout October and November – all bookings made during October and November for any event held before the end of 2008 will receive a free case of champagne for their event.

For more information, visit www.whatapalava.com/ukava_form.html or call 0844 800 2304.

Calling All Wannabe Virtual Assistants

Are you looking for a training course that will answer all the vital questions such as “is this virtual assistant thing for me and how much money can I make?”

Would you prefer not to be charged the earth for such a course?

Would you be more confident learning from those who are actually running their own successful virtual assistant businesses, those that have been there, done it, and are still doing it every day? We don’t claim to be coaching gurus, we’re real virtual assistants, running real businesses, teaching real strategies to help your create YOUR perfect VA business just as we have.

There is now no need for you to start at the very bottom and find out everything for yourself. We will give you everything you need to know to get started, simply follow the Action Plan you create during the course, use the resources and systems we will recommend to you and you’ll hit the ground running straight away.

To find out more visit: http://www.becomeavirtualassistant.co.uk/

VA Entrepreneurs Group – Your Last Chance To Find Out More

Tuesday 12th August is your last chance to take part in our free interactive group telephone call to find out more about the VA Entrepreneurs Group. This is your opportunity to hear all about this exciting and inspiring opportunity and ask all the questions you may have. In addition there is a special £250 bonus offer for everyone who attends the live call.

Do you:
Have big ambitions?

Want to have a 6 figure business?

Want more clients?

Want to work with a fantastic group of supportive people?

Register your interest now and we will send you the call info: http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/vaeg.htm

VA Success Group Launch Website Design and Hosting Packages for Virtual Assistants

Following the hugely successful launch over the last few weeks of their very useful Document Packs and the extremely exciting VA Entrepreneurs Group, the VA Success Group has this week launched another much needed virtual assistant product to their arsenal, Website Design and Hosting Packages for Virtual Assistants.

With an individually designed 6 page website from just £300 and hosting from as little as £6.99 per month it’s every start up virtual assistants dream. With none of the mystery and vagueness that so often surrounds website design, you get a great Internet presence with everything you need for one very affordable price.

Justine said “We wanted to offer an individually designed website at a reasonable price. So often when you are starting out as a Virtual Assistant the only options that are open to you are off the shelf template sites that are sold over and over again or a site designed by the friend of a friend who never really delivers what you want or simply takes forever. What we are offering allows the VA to have considerable design input so they can express their individuality and develop their branding, and with reasonable timeframes and an affordable price it’s a real winner.”

The hosting packages are scalable too, so when you want to launch your blog or add in a series of auto-responders you can. You can even add a shopping cart so you can have your own online shop.

 

For more information or to get your website underway please contact Emma or Justine on 0844 357 6279 or visit http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/products.htm

Create YOUR Perfect Virtual Assistant Business

VA Success GroupTwo of the Biggest Players in the UK Virtual Assistant industry have joined forces and this week launch the VA Success Group, a totally new and unique range of products and services to help you create the Virtual Assistant business you’ve always dreamed of.Justine Curtis, Director of her own successful VA practice My Virtual Assistant Limited (http://www.my-va.com/) and founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants (http://www.ukava.co.uk/) an organisation set up to raise awareness of the role of virtual pas, provide a Directory of UK Virtual Assistants and an information resource for both VA’s and their clients has teamed up with Emma Walker, another hugely successful VA and owner of CKPA Office Solutions (http://www.ckpa.co.uk/). A true entrepreneur, Emma also became involved with The Athena Network in June 2007 bringing the women’s networking group to the Black Country.

Emma said, “We are really excited to be launching such a unique service to new and established Virtual Assistants throughout the UK. We wanted to offer practical business building tools and services to help VAs create their perfect business without having to go through the steep learning curve that we did. It’s amazing that they can now benefit from our years of hands on experience”.

So is this just another training course? “Absolutely not” says Justine “this is unlike anything else available”.

The hub of all the activity is the web site at http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/ where exclusive products and services are being added as soon as they are released. Justine said, “The best decision you can make for your business today is to go over to the web site and sign up for the free newsletter. That way you’ll be the first to know what’s happening and be best placed to take advantage of some very special limited offers”. To sign up for the newsletter visit: http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/

Justine added, “We are also running a spectacular competition where you can win some incredible business development tools”. What are you waiting for? Visit http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/ now!

Spare Room Start Up by Emma Jones

 Spare Room Start Up by Emma Jones is a friendly and stylish, full colour guide which focuses on the specific issues that affect home business start ups.Have you ever dreamt of starting your own business? Dreamt of working from home, a ten second commute, the flexibility to work when you want to, and the joy of being your own boss? This book can show you how to turn those dreams into reality in just a few simple steps.

With serial entrepreneur and home business expert Emma Jones as your guide, you will discover just how easy it is to start and run a successful business from your spare room.

Organised by three key themes – business, lifestyle and technology – Spare Room Start Up provides you with simple solutions and demonstrates the ease and low cost with which a home business can be started. Find out how you too can enjoy the rewards of running a home business whilst leading a happier and healthier life.

Advice and suggestions are interspersed with quick tips, illustrations and real life case studies from successful home business owners. Uncover the lighter side of working from home as well as the benefits and rewards of becoming a Spare Room Start Up!

Get your exclusive discount here:
http://books.global-investor.com/books/254182.htm?ginPtrCode=22138

Offer Your Clients the Very Best with a Typing or Audio Certification

With the use of Virtual Assistants increasing rapidly in the UK, businesses looking to outsource are becoming ever more savvy as to what a VA can offer and what to look for when choosing a VA.  So how do you make sure they choose you?Your service list, experience and client testimonials are all good ways to demonstrate to a potential client, however, qualifications and certifications also show that you are measurably and provably competent in the certified skill.

With word processing and digital transcription being a core service for many VAs, it would seem that one way to get noticed is to become certified (if you aren’t already).

With that in mind, Tesla Typing was created to provide its customers with a recognised typing and audio certifications that the end user can take online and receive a professional certificate from, upon completion.

You can choose the type of test you wish to become certified in, have one free practice test, take three evaluated and scored tests and then choose the best one for your certification.

Tesla Typing, is the first online tester of typing and audio skills, of its kind, in the world, and can also guarantee the quality of their service with ISO certification. 

Not only that but the price for one test is just £9.95 – extremely good value for money considering the competitive advantage it will give you and the reassurance to your clients that they are working with one of the best!

To find out more visit: www.teslatyping.co.uk and register to take your test now.

Simple Inexpensive Legal Documents to Protect Your Business and Your Clients

It was such a relief when I found this resource that I though it was about time I let you all in on a little secret. If like me you have an incomprehensible but still very real fear of solicitors, not only because you don’t understand half of their jargon, but also because before you walk through the door you know its going to be expensive, this web site is a little gem. Clickdocs produce a whole range of business documents for use by businesses based in England, Wales and Scotland from Terms and Conditions and Confidentiality Agreements to standard formatting and detail of what must be included in your Invoices. If you’re thinking of setting up as a Limited Company there are forms for this as well as advice on the differing legal entities for businesses. You can find a whole range of other documents you may also find useful including standard agreements for property letting, wills, power of attorney and financial agreements. There is practically a form for every eventuality and when they start from less than £5 and are emailed to you instantly, what could be more cost effective and convenient.

For more information about the range of documents on offer visit:

http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/inthenews_feb_08.html

New and Improved Services from the UKAVA

At the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, our continued investment in Internet Marketing has meant that the UKAVA generates a large amount of pre-qualified traffic to our web site, which in turn results in leads for our members. If you have an Enhanced Listing in our Virtual Assistant Directory these potential clients end up on your web site. But now we have introduced a FREE service for prospective Virtual Assistant clients to look for the perfect VA to suit their needs.

Prospects can now complete a short online form giving details of the work they have available and this information is emailed to all our members allowing you the chance to pick and chose who you want to work with. This means that you will be able to put your proposals direct to would-be clients through out the UK and Worldwide, not just those within your local area – we do work virtually after all! It also means that that you can tender for work as and when you need it. So if you’ve just lost your biggest client, or you’re just starting up and looking for your first clients, now is the time to start putting in those proposals!

If you are already a member of the UKAVA keep an eye on your email inbox for these alerts and if you’re not already a member, click on the link below to find out all the benefits membership brings.

http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/join_the_uk_association_of_vir.html

Virtual Assistants Networking Like Crazy at New Google Group

UKAVA Google Group

Yesterday saw the launch of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants Google Group. A user group or forum was something that had been in the pipeline for a while here at the UKAVA but we wanted a group that could be open to everyone, newbies and veterans alike. The group is free to join and participate in and boy have you all grabbed it by the horns. There I was yesterday sitting in my Google Group all alone and today, BAM, virtual assistants are coming from everywhere and all crazily networking to find complimentary skills, telephone answering services, transcription services, holiday cover – you name it. What are you waiting for? Get over there and join in!

http://groups.google.com/group/uk-association-of-virtual-assistants