First steps to working with a VA

Virtual Assistants can help with anything from marketing to accounts; social media or blog writing; diary management to website design. Virtual Assistants can ease some of your business worries and take care of all those time-wasting jobs for you.

If you’ve heard the term Virtual Assistant but are not quite sure what that actually means, then read on!

Virtual Assistants can help with anything from marketing to accounts; social media or blog writing; diary management to website design. Virtual Assistants can ease some of your business worries and take care of all those time-wasting jobs for you.

What is a VA?

A virtual assistant (VA) works on a casual or freelance basis. They usually work from home, but might work from an office, and might charge per hour or per project. Each VA will have their own skill set and will specialise in certain tasks.

A simple way to think of it is it’s like having a personal assistant/marketing manager/accountant/designer/administration manager… except we don’t need to be in the same office as you!

We usually have qualifications plus extensive training in our specialised area. For example, I offer writing, proofreading and general admin services, and I have a degree in Journalism and Marketing plus experience working as Personal Assistant, so you can see where my skills have grown and developed. Other VAs might have worked for years as an accountant and now they offer freelance account services.

How to work with a VA

First, identify what it is that you want to outsource. It might be one specific task, such as “you want them to write blogs for you” or “manage your email account”. Or it might be that you want someone to manage your whole business, and this often needs a VA that has a team of other VAs to call on.

Next, spend time thinking about the investment. Yes, it will cost you on average $50p/h for an Australian VA, but think about all the time you’ll free up to go and make money doing what you are good at. If you’re a plumber, you are better off paying someone for 10 hours a week to manage all your appointments and coordinate your social media, then spending those same 10 hours a week actually working for whatever your rate is.

Plus, the VA rate is covering everything: you don’t need to pay superannuation, ongoing training, computer/desk, or insurances on top of that rate.

Also, identify how you will communicate with the VA. Do you prefer to email, or will you be wanting to have a skype meeting once a week? Good communication is crucial. When delegating any task, ensure you let the VA know the deadline you have in your mind, what outcome you expect, what systems you use and any other relevant information.

Where to find a good VA

There are freelancer sites with mostly offshore VAs who are considerably cheaper than a local, Aussie VA. But you get what you pay for in this world. For very repetitive or basic tasks then an offshore VA could certainly be a good option. If you are looking for a higher level of support and expertise then you will need to recognise that need, and be willing to pay Australian rates. For example, an offshore VA might be really good at data entry, but not so good at managing your events or social media accounts, as they just do not understand the local market.

I am part of an Australian VA network called Virtually Yours, where you can put a call out for a VA, you simply state the task or tasks you would like help with. https://www.virtuallyyours.com.au/submit-a-job-request/

We are all self-employed, business owners running our own VA businesses. So, we understand how to run a business and also the local regulations, business opportunities and so on.

Building the relationship

Working with a VA is slightly different to working with an employee. Yes, we often complete the exact same work as someone in your office might do, but we love working virtually and it’s a win-win because you only pay for the work agreed. So rather than paying a wage, and superannuation and providing a computer, your VA will complete all tasks and then invoice you for the time or perhaps agree on a package rate beforehand.

VAs work with multiple clients and this means we are constantly practicing our skills and learning something new. I do more training and up-skilling as a VA than I ever did as an employee. Each VA has a different way of charging – I usually charge by an hourly rate but some may charge a package fee or outcomes-based fee. As an independent contractor, I cover all my own taxes, superannuation, equipment upkeep and training, so when I quote my price, you know the value you are getting.

If you would like to chat more about what a VA does, then feel free to contact me at https://www.sbcreations.com.au/

Or https://www.facebook.com/simplysbcreations/

Lessons from a year in business

January this year, various circumstances led me to open up shop again, 50% confident it would work this time and 50% terrified I would fail again. I’ll share a few things I have learned along the way to help any of you out there just starting a business.

photo-1450221882353-ed6177a2ff23Yes, I know almost everyone is either sharing on social media or blogging about ‘things they’ve learned’… but these are mine!

This year has been a massive learning curve, as I re-started a business that I had dabbled in a few years ago. January this year, various circumstances led me to open up shop again, 50% confident it would work this time and 50% terrified I would fail again.

By March I still only had one client, but then I found another client – one that grew and grew and built my confidence. LinkedIn found me two more clients, networking found me another two and referrals yet another two! Suddenly I was busy and juggling all this wonderful, creative, interesting work into the few short hours my kids were at school or day-care 3 days a week. Soon I was working late nights, yet feeling very happy. I had a couple of massive downers when I lost one client and another turned into the job from hell. I picked myself up and without too much effort actually found two more clients that have turned out to be much better in so many ways.

However, after a few months, the glow dimmed a little and although I still love my work and all my clients, I realised I needed to “work smarter, not harder”. Thanks for reading my story so far… I’ll share a few things I have learned along the way to help any of you out there just starting a business.

Time tracking is more important than I thought

Honestly, I was adding up minutes and hours in my head or adding them up on paper. Once I installed Toggle on my computer and started tracking billable time as well as all the unpaid stuff (admin, marketing, networking, spending longer on a task than I had quoted for or billed for) I could clearly see where all my time was going, and where I needed to improve my efficiency.

Support network – family, friends and professional networks

I cannot stress how valuable these networks have been this year. From friends and family willing to lend an ear to give me free advice or encouragement, to professional networks I am signed up to.

Working from home, by yourself, means you need to make the effort to build a work-social life and some “teammates”. Going to networking events or being part of an online support forum has helped build my confidence and my skills.

Highs and Lows – oh boy!

Clients that turn into nightmares, a month where I hardly billed enough to buy lunch, or self-doubt creeping in… I’ve had it all this year.

But I’ve also had glowing client reviews that made me cry when I read them (happy tears!) to hitting ALL THE GOALS ON MY 2018 BUSINESS PLAN…!!! Yay! You need to learn to be a little more balanced in your emotions and toughen up quickly. Actors/artists etc often say they don’t read reviews anymore as you’re only as good as your last review and they can be fickle. I agree to some extent and understand that getting good reviews and producing great work for your clients is awesome but be prepared for things to not always be that way and plan for Plan B.

Holistic marketing

By this I mean make sure you are investing your time and resources into at least 5 different avenues of marketing activities (social media, blogs, networking, paid adverts, website etc). Social media is great as it’s mostly free but you cannot rely on that only. Spread out your wings and try a variety of complimentary marketing tactics. This not only increases your reach but also your authenticity

Do you know your ideal client?

Please take the time to think about your services and your audience. What benefit can you offer to a customer; what problem does it solve? What’s the gender or age of your ideal client? Do they want to spend money on this or is it more of a life necessity? How will you reach your ideal client? Where will they find you?

If you’ve had a great year in business, then well done – take time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. If you’ve had a rather challenging year, then don’t wallow – plan ahead and actively look for resources to help you next year.

Marketing made easy: 10 tips to squeeze the most out of your blogs

Are you writing blogs regularly? Whether you are writing them yourself, or engaging a writer to help you, each blog that you produce has so much value beyond just sharing on your website or social media and then forgetting about it.

pexels-photo-374074

Are you writing blogs regularly?

Whether you are writing them yourself, or engaging a writer to help you, each blog that you produce has so much value beyond just sharing on your website or social media and then forgetting about it.

Why blog?

Writing blogs gives you a huge platform to reach your audience. You can share tips, advice, knowledge or even just funny or interesting stories. It also helps drive traffic to your website and enables your site to rank higher in Google.
It can also double as an incredibly useful resource, for marketing or business development. It’s a great way for you to get your ideas and knowledge down on paper (or on screen!)
Obviously, getting oodles of value out of a blog assumes that the blog is of good quality, in terms of content and writing quality. So, take the time to ensure your blogs are of great quality and then you can leverage the quality into other areas. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.

How to re-purpose your blogs

Right, so you’ve read enough – you’re ready to get to work!
Here are 10 tips to squeeze every last drop of value out of your blogs…
1. Share in your newsletter, on your social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc) and share on your own personal page too. This one might seem obvious, but this is just the start and it is surprising how many people actually forget to publish their blog across all platforms!
2. Following on from point #1, don’t be shy about posting on your personal Facebook page too. You might think that you don’t want to ‘spam’ your friends and family on your personal page but it’s not spamming if you select carefully which posts to share. And surely your friends and family don’t mind, they probably actually like to see it and you can reach a whole new set of people who like to see what you’re doing.
3. Share within other networks. If you are a member or follower of any networking groups or local community groups, share within these too. Approach them to see if they can publish within their newsletter or on their social media pages. With a bit of research, you might be surprised how many networks are actually looking for good quality content to share with their audience.
4. Select one or two ‘tips’ from each blog and create some social media images. This is a golden tip! Taking a snippet of an 800-word blog and creating a short, sharp graphic for your social media page is a wonderful way to share some useful content with your audience. This is also a good tip for reaching those of your followers who don’t always want to (or have time) to read a whole blog. And it also helps key messages stick in their minds. Make sure you include a link back to the blog though!
5. Get interviewed
Let’s say you run a landscape design business, and you have written a blog about using native plants in garden design. Now see if you can find an architecture magazine, or environment magazine, and approach them to see if they would like to do an interview with you. They can link back to your blog in their content. Getting backlinks from other sites is very, very useful and will help your website rank higher.
6. Use keywords in your blog
Careful use of a few keywords in your blog can help it be found by people searching those terms. If your business is a physiotherapy practise, and you have written a blog about post-natal topics, ensure you include terms such as “female friendly” or “pelvic floor physio Perth”
7. Re-share a year later – just do a quick edit if it needs to be updated, and then share in a ‘Throwback Thursday’ series. You could include a few things you’ve learned or that have changed within your industry since it was first published.
8. Write a spin-off – most blogs get close to going off on tangents anyway! So, you can often take one of the themes from a blog and explore it further in a separate blog. For example, I once wrote a blog about Juggling all your Social Media Balls. I talked about creating a plan and how to get organised. One of my tips was to schedule your posts. This naturally led on to a blog called How & Why to Schedule.
9. If your blog contains a lot of data, you could turn the main points into an info-graphic to share on social media. Similar to #4, this is a great way take some of the key concepts and produce an easy to remember resource.
10. Finally, you could turn the content of your blog into a webinar or presentation. You already have the content, all you need to do is spend a little bit of time editing so it sounds and looks good in presentation form, and voila!
What other ways have you heard of to re-purpose blogs? There are many, many ways to do it, and of course you don’t need to do them all at once. You could pick 2 -3 to try this month, then do another few next month, and see which ones seem to work for you and your business.
If you would like some help in creating social media graphics, or want someone to proof read / write your blogs, feel free to contact us at SB Creations and make sure you check out our Facebook page for more tips.