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Tasks That Can be Easily Outsourced by a Virtual Assistant

Sometimes your workload as a virtual assistant can get quite heavy. One of the best ways to handle it is to outsource some of your work to other virtual assistants. But, where do you start with that? Let’s dig a bit deeper to get your mind wheels spinning. If we can get you out from under some of that heavy load of working all the time, life will be a whole lot sweeter, right?

What Jobs to Outsource
When you work with clients, there is a measure of confidentiality going on. Companies trust you with their databases, email correspondence, meeting schedules and legal documents. These can’t fall into the wrong hands. So, as the person who won the client and is responsible for keeping their information safe, you have a decision to make about what you will allow others to do for you.

The first important decision that you made was to hire someone else who can provide the same service that you have for your clients (more about that in a moment). Congratulations on letting go of the reins just a little bit. Now, what will you give them to do?

The jobs that you will probably be looking to outsource at first are those that don’t involve a lot of contact with confidential information. And, the jobs will be small at first so that you can get an idea of your new helper’s work style and ethic. Here’s a short list of tasks to help get the juices flowing:

  • Article submissions
  • Article writing
  • Creating reports and presentations
  • Creating newsletters
  • Internet research

Article writing can be used for website content or article submissions. Clients with websites like to keep it up-to-date with fresh, pertinent information and if you find someone who can help you whip out that content in a timely and top-quality manner, you’re in business.

Companies use reports to send to their clients and also for internal use. Creating reports involves knowledge of tools such as spreadsheets and databases as well as how to pull information together for presentations using PowerPoint. Depending on the information contained in the reports, this may be the perfect job to let go of and pass on to someone else.

Internet research is used for many things: writing manuscripts, articles, preparing reports and more. It is a unique skill to be able to entice search engines to give up their treasures. If you have someone helping you who doesn’t mind digging into research and possesses the skills to find what you need quickly, you’re on the right track.

Even if you don’t outsource any job that involves confidential material, it is wise to get any subcontracting virtual assistant to sign a confidentiality agreement. This way, as you get more confident and need more in-depth help, you don’t have to worry about anyone selling trade secrets. On that same note, you may want to consider having all your assistants sign and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) depending on the nature of your work. While we won’t go into detail about NDAs, this can help protect you should your assistant decide to leave and pursue his or her own career and become your competition.

Choosing the Right Person
Who you work with all depends on your personality and their level of proficiency with the task. First of all, no two people will do the same job exactly alike. Let’s get rid of that preconceived notion right now. If not, you will drive yourself crazy and nitpick over everything they do. What you are looking for is someone who knows what they are doing and can demonstrate the skills needed to get the job done correctly and on time.

Outsourcing is the perfect way to get the help you need from other competent virtual assisting professionals. Start with small jobs and progress to more delicate assignments as you see fit.

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VAs: Stop Trying to Do it All Yourself

Virtual assisting is an industry that has partially grown out of the need for getting important jobs done but with less overhead. To that end, virtual assistants take on a number of roles for the online business owner as well as large corporate companies. But, as you strive to achieve business success, beware of burnout.

A virtual assistant has to wear many hats. He or she is not a secretary but a fellow business professional that has developed a skillset that is in demand by other business professionals. You may start off with a few services that you offer: database creation, newsletters, word processing, creating reports. But, depending on your background you will add other services to stay competitive and also to utilize what you know: website design, Internet research, article writing and submission, event planning and etcetera.

While you are building a client base, you are going to be quite busy. As most virtual assistants work out of their home, that means many hours spent in your home office getting the job done. You make your money based on the number of hours you bill and the quality of your work. Burnout can severely impact that quality. No one wants that.

So, if you have to start turning down work because there are not enough hours in the day, it’s time to take a different tack.

Stop Turning Down Money!
The only way to keep growing is to take on more clients, but you don’t have to do it all alone. Many VAs, especially women, find it hard to ask for help. After all, you are the consummate assistant who provides all the needs of your clients.

Why does the assistant need an assistant?
An assistant with an assistant is not redundant. One person can’t manage their family life and business life by themselves once the business side experiences a growth spurt. You want the best balance you can get between both worlds and that won’t happen without help.

Take a Page from Your Clients’ Books – Consider Outsourcing
As a virtual assistant you know all about that. You are an outsourcing professional. Tasks that don’t necessarily have to be done in-house are farmed out to you. This lowers the cost of employees for the company and also frees them up to do other things. The same goes for you and your VA business.

Outsourcing can relieve the pressure of missing deadlines. With even one other person you can do double the work in the same amount of time. With less to manage, your business can continue to grow. Think about it, wouldn’t it be nice to profit more without working yourself to the bone? 

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How to Get Your Content Directly in Front of Your Target Audience

Article marketing is great. I'm not going to deny that. But, have you looked at EzineArticles.com lately? It's a beast! I don't know anyone these days who goes there to find content to publish on their sites. Do you? I sure don't. It's just way too massive, and, frankly, some of the articles on there are disturbing.

Yes, posting your articles at EzineArticles.com is great for getting incoming links to tell the search engines that your site is important. And, yes, you can get traffic to your articles by posting there. But, as far as getting your articles republished by big ezines and blogs? Either you've got to be sending people there to find your articles (which I certainly wouldn't advise doing because of the high level of distractibility on their site) or you've got to have one of the top articles in a category.

The only time I go to the article directories to find articles to publish is if I'm specifically looking for reprint articles by someone. But most of us don't have the name to have people searching specifically for us — yet.

I'd like to present you with three alternatives today to help you to get your articles directly in front of potential customers.

1. Include your reprint articles on your own site and invite your readers to publish them with your bio.
Who better to spread the word about you and your products and services than your fans? You can see how Nicole Dean does this at NicoleontheNet.com. She does it again at her help desk so that anyone wishing to contact her can find her content and spread it virally. Pretty tricky, eh?

2. Give Your Articles to your Affiliates and Others Looking for Money-Making Expert Content.
First of all, make sure you're adding at least some of your articles to your own affiliate center for your affiliates to publish on their websites.

3. Guest Blog at Hot Blogs in Your Niche.
Instead of submitting your articles at the article directories and hoping they get in front of your audience, why not place them directly in front of the people who you're trying to reach? You can accomplish this by guest blogging on relevant blogs. Simply contact those blog owners and offer them your original expert content. If you make your content and your offer good enough, they'll surely say "yes".

No matter whether you choose the options above or stick with standard article marketing, the important thing is to do some content marketing every single day if you want to continue to move ahead. Now get writing! 

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5 Elements of Building a Profitable List

"The money is in the list." Are you sick of hearing it yet? Well, brace yourself because you haven't heard the last of it. It's true. You start making easy money – literally while you sleep – when you have built a responsive list of people who know, like and trust you.

Notice I didn't say you need a huge list. Numbers help, but ultimately, your relationship with that list is what matters most. I've heard people estimate that you make $1 every month for every person you have on your list. On the other hand, I've also heard of marketers making tens of thousands of dollars from a list of under 1000 people. Now THAT is one responsive list.

Building, growing and nurturing a list takes time and effort. Don't let this scare you. 

Rather, let this motivate you to begin right now. This is the most important thing you should be doing for your Internet marketing biz.

Here are a few essential things to remember as you start creating your profitable list:

1. Your Attitude.
I want to get you started with the right attitude. I know you've been brainwashed with "the money is in the list." But I don't want you to see your list members as mere dollar signs or cash cows. I heard a wonderful statement the other day: "Your list is your community." That's a terrific attitude to have towards your list members or subscribers! Right away, you realize that you share a bond with your them. You don't have a mere seller-buyer relationship. Rather, you know and support and help each other. Sure, one of your goals is to earn money from this list. However, the premise is that you do so only to the extent that your list members BENEFIT from being in your community. This attitude is crucial for the success of your list.

2. Your Focus.
Once you start a list, it should be your top priority. This means promoting it every chance you get: on forums, your Email signatures, article resource boxes, social networking sites… everywhere! But, of course, make sure the list you're promoting is relevant to where you're promoting it. Being focused on your list also means always being on the look-out for how you can build your community, increase interaction, and give more. Which brings us to the third item….

3. Your Value.
Say this to yourself 100 times: "First I must give, before I can receive." What value are you giving your list? Before you can expect somebody to entrust you with their name and Email address, you must first offer something of value to them in exchange. This could be a free E-book, an E-course, a special report, access to an audio or video recording, a discount coupon – whatever you think your prospective list member would be interested in. Offer something that you would not be embarrassed to sell. In fact, they say you should give away your BEST stuff. Then your community members will think, "Wow, if his free stuff is this good, then how much better his paid-for stuff must be!"

Once you have a person opting into your list, you must continue to provide value. Don't embark on a pitch fest and send Email after Email just trying to sell them stuff. I've been on the receiving end of that approach and, let me tell you, it's really annoying! That's the fastest way you can get your list members to click "Unsubscribe". Every Email you send to your list should be helpful, useful, or informative. At the very least, be entertaining! And then, if you must pitch a product or service, make sure it's something that will help improve the lives of your community.

4. Your Effectiveness.
Unfortunately, Email marketing is no longer as effective as it used to be. Let me rephrase that: email marketing isn't as easy as it used to be. First off, you need to use a reliable email service that will deliver your messages successfully to all your list members.

I use and recommend Aweber. Then your email has to go through the spam filters of various email service providers.

And then, you have to get your subscriber to actually open and read your Email. Think about it: when was the last time you read every single one of your Emails – even those you subscribed to? We've all gotten way too busy, and our in-boxes too full, for us to pay attention to every single one. This means that your Emails are competing for your subscriber's attention. You need to learn the art of writing subject lines that attract attention and compel the receiver to open the Email.

At this point, your work continues – the reader must read your message – and carry out the desired action, usually to click on a link and buy a product. Remember, most readers nowadays skim through their Email messages (admit it, you do too), so you have to be able to direct their attention to your most important points and your call to action.

5. Your Offer.
You have to make an offer to make a sale. There are several ways of making an offer. Which approach is the best with your community members? Does a masculine, hard-hitting offer work with them best? Or are they turned off by it? Perhaps, they prefer a more feminine, subtle offer? It's your task to find out how your list wants to be sold to. And, yes, they want to be sold to; you just need to do it in a way that actually works with your community.

Does all this seem like hard work? It is, but the time and effort you put into it is worth it. And as with everything else, it gets easier the more you do it. 

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A Beginner’s Glossary of List Building Terms

List building is one of the most – if not THE most – important Internet marketing strategies. Beginners can find it daunting to even get started because of all the unfamiliar terms about list building. Below is a list of the most common words and phrases about list building, and their definitions:

Autoresponder – An autoresponder is an Email service that allows you to send messages to a number of Email addresses automatically and at a pre-determined schedule. For example, you could send a "Thank You" message to each new subscriber. An autoresponder also allows you to send a series of Emails: Message 1 will be sent 2 days after the "Thank You" message; Message 2 will be sent 2 days after Message 3, and so on. Autoresponders are used to automate an E-course.

I recommend this one: Aweber

Black List – Black list is the act of blocking an Email sender from your Email program.

Bounce – Bounce is when an Email is not delivered successfully. This could occur for several reasons, such as when the Email address is no longer valid.

Broadcast – A broadcast is a message that is sent to all list members at the same time. This is used for time-sensitive campaigns, such as special sales, or offers made specially for particular holidays.

Call To Action – The call to action is a specific behavior that you want your reader to perform as a result of reading your Email. Common calls to action are clicking on links, replying to the Email, or calling a telephone number.

Campaign – A campaign is a special effort to increase sales to a particular product or service for a specified length of time. A Black Friday sale is an example of a campaign.

Click-Thru – Click thru is when the reader clicks on a link in an Email.

Click-Thru Rate – The click-thru rate is the percentage of Email readers (meaning they received and opened the Email) who click on a link in your message.

Confirmation – Confirmation is when a person verifies that he or she has indeed chosen to become part of somebody's mailing list. After a person submits his Email address (and other required information, usually a name) to an opt-in form, a confirmation Email is sent to that address. By clicking on a confirmation link, the person verifies that he wants to be in the mailing list.

Conversion Rate – The conversion rate is the percentage of list members who bought a product or service as a result of receiving and receiving Email messages.

Delivery – Delivery is the electronic arrival of an Email message from the sender to the intended receiver.

Demographic – Demographic refers to characteristics of list members, such as age, gender, ethnic origin, geographic location, and others.

Offer – An offer is a seller's proposition to a prospective buyer. An example: "Try Widget A for free for 30 days. If you like it, then I'll charge you $99. If you don't like it, you don't pay a cent."

Open Rate – The percentage of Emails delivered that were opened (and presumably, read).

Opt-in Page – This is a web page that contains an opt-in form, or a form where a person submits his or her Email address and name. Some opt-in pages require other information, but the name and Email address are the most common. Your opt-in page should specific the major benefit of subscribing to your list (usually a free product), some bullet points highlighting additional benefits, and the opt-in form.

Permission – Permission is what your list members give to you when they submit their Email address and confirm that they have opted into your list. By doing these actions, they have given you permission to send them messages, including marketing messages.

Personalization – Personalization means adding specific details in an Email so that it sounds like you are speaking to that specific person. A common way of personalizing a message is by putting the recipient's first name in the subject line and in the message itself. For example, "Lisa, I've got bad news". Most Email marketing service providers will allow you to personalize messages automatically.

Squeeze Page – A squeeze page is the same as an opt-in page. Its purpose is to motivate readers to opt into a mailing list in exchange for additional information or freebies. Not all marketers agree on the definition of a squeeze page.

Subject Line – The subject line is the set of words in the "subject" field of an Email. Writing attention-grabbing subject lines is an essential skill in Email marketing.

Targeting – Targeting means sending messages to lists or list members belonging to a particular demographic, such as those who live in the United States. The ability to target depends on the amount of information you collect from your subscribers. Otherwise, targeting is done before prospects opt in, by driving specific types of prospects to the opt-in page.

Unique Click – A unique click is when one person clicks on a link in an Email message. A unique click counts such person only once, even if he or she may have clicked on the link several times.

White List – A white list is the opposite of a black list. It's the act of allowing an Email address to send messages to your Email. This is usually done by adding the sender's Email address in your address book. It's important to ask your list members to white list you, because sometimes, your messages end up in their spam box even after they have confirmed your Email.

I hope this glossary of list building terms helps you navigate your away around list building. Did I miss some terms? Or did I get some definitions wrong? Please let me know!

3 Article Template Ideas for Easy Writing

In another post, I told you about how article marketing can be highly effective in driving traffic to your site, increasing sales, and giving you the status of "expert". That said, article writing does not come naturally to everybody. And even writers can run out of ideas sometimes.

A great way to overcome article writer's block is by using templates. You can take a template and use it to churn out articles on any topic or niche. Below are three of the most commonly used templates used in article writing. Try them next time you're trying to write but you keep drawing blanks:

1. Magic 7

There must be something magical about the number 7 because article writers like to use it and readers like to read articles with the number "7" in the title. There are many variations of this:

  • 7 tips to…
  • 7 ways to…
  • 7 steps to…
  • 7 biggest mistakes in …
  • 7 reasons to…

Once you have your Magic 7 article, write one article about each of your 7 points. Voila! You've got 8 articles done!

2. The Review

Here's the kind of article that everybody can write.I mean, you always have an opinion on something, don't you? Do some keyword research to find out what specific things people are Googling reviews for. The outline for this article is simple: Introduce the item. Write what you liked about it. Discuss what you didn't like about it. Finish with your bottom line – do you recommend it or not? If so, who would benefit most from it? Before you know it, you've got another article all finished. You can write reviews for:

  • Books
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Gadgets
  • Courses

3. How To

The most popular books are those with the words "how to" in the title. Same thing with articles. It seems we're always looking for the easiest, the fastest, the best way to do something. So why not write a how-to article for your target audience? Some examples:

  • How to… (a step-by-step instruction)
  • How to avoid…
  • How to find…
  • How to choose the best…
  • How to get…

These are just a few of the templates you can and should use to make article writing easy peasy. And remember, you can use these templates for your blog posts and Email marketing, too. In fact, there are tons of ways to repurpose and reuse articles.