Weekly Round-Up by VA Creatively.com 11-02-14

Here’s a round-up of some finds from around the web this week. Just some things for creative entrepreneurs / solopreneurs about social media, working at home, living a creative life, and other things you might find helpful or interesting.

How about 5 free creative business card templates RIGHT HERE? And check out the cool “X” WordPress theme while your there.

Do creatives make their own luck?

Have you MET EDGAR? Seems like a nice, helpful guy. {This is something a virtual assistant could set up for you . . . hint, hint}

I want THIS BOOK so badly! Every business needs a blog, especially creative ones. I’d love to take my blog design skills to the next level.

Hope you enjoy your week!

So I Went to a Kindle Publishing Seminar and . . .

. . . I learned that there is A LOT involved in book sales on Amazon. But of course it’s all completely do-able and it’s something I’d love to help you with – and do for myself!

The seminar was part of a writer’s conference and it was called “12 Steps to Becoming an Amazon Bestselling Author”. The instructor was Brian Schwartz from ePubConversions.com, whose tagline is “Digital Publishing, Consulting, and Top Quality eBook Conversions. Fast & Affordable”. If you hire him, you retain all rights to your book (VERY important!) and, for a very reasonable price, he helps you convert it to a Kindle-friendly format (also ePub etc), and can also you guide you in making your book a bestseller.

Brian has been in e-book publishing since the beginning and he clearly knew what he was talking about. I took 13 pages of notes. {What can I say, I’m a compulsive note-taker . . .}. But I didn’t want to miss a beat of anything he was explaining, with excellent detail and great examples of how to make your KINDLE book a bestseller.

Brian’s company has launched many bestsellers on Amazon and he graciously shared all the steps they routinely follow to accomplish this. The seminar was directed (obviously) toward writers and, as a virtual assistant who works with authors, I felt like it was directed right at me, too. One of the things I love to do in my VA business is help authors succeed.

I love to read. I love to write. I have a huge admiration for writers, especially those who publish. What’s so great about today’s publishing world, as Brian explained, is that ANYONE can publish a book. If you do it via Amazon, you have access to a massive audience right off the bat and that’s so awesome. Did you know there are currently almost 3 MILLION Kindle books on Amazon?!

The challenge is doing all of this well and getting a bestseller in as short a time as possible. Brian said the smart self-publishers are doing it the way the big publishers do. The Kindle publishing seminar taught me how to do just that. The 12 steps were laid out, we just have to follow them. For example, he broke the steps down into 3 main phases:

Phase 1: ARC Campaign
Phase 2: KDP Campaign
Phase 3: Countdown Campaign

I’m a HUGE reader of Kindle e-books and walking through the steps felt like home to me. It’s all the things I’ve watched unfold via Amazon, book review sites, and free/cheap e-book advertisers. You can’t just write your book, list it on Amazon, and expect it to sell. There is a lot of groundwork to lay down first and I’m so happy I learned how to do that. Brian also taught us how to take the next step: Publishing and selling a hardcover and/or paperback version of your book. It was all so exciting!

If you have a book (or books?!?) that you want to publish or re-publish on Amazon, I highly recommend Brian and ePubConversions.com. If I can assist in any way, I’d love to – just Contact Me or find me here on Twitter :)

What Can A Virtual Assistant Do? Create a Spreadsheet for Blogger/Podcaster Outreach

Virtual Assistants (VAs) like me can do so many different tasks to help you. Here is one example:

Create a spreadsheet for blogger/podcaster outreach

I’m working on a spreadsheet right now for a client who is starting a service-oriented health business. She needs to get the word out and one way to do that is to be seen and heard by the audiences of others in her same space.

To that end, I created a Google doc spreadsheet that we share – so she can make additions or changes. It has columns for the following information:

Topics they cover
Guest blogging
Social Media Reach
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Instagram
– Youtube
– Pinterest

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 3.47.52 PM

I started the task by finding 10 well-known bloggers/podcasters in her niche. I filled in the blanks for each person – their name, links to their main website, topics, blog, and podcast. I also included whether they accept guest blog posts and, if so, included that link.

Finally, I checked each of their social profiles and added how many Likes, Followers, etc. they have on each. The Notes are mostly blank for now, although I did include details if she has already been in contact with the person.

Having this “bloggers/podcasters outreach” spreadsheet will be very helpful to the client. She can see at a glance who is out there, what their reach is, and easily click over to their site, blog, podcast, or guest blogging page without having to Google and then navigate each individual site.

As she progresses through making contact with each person, we can add notes, checkmarks, more columns, etc. to keep track of whatever information my client needs.

To start the list with 10 entries took me about 1.5 hours and cost her under $40. Her time and energy can be much better spent doing things for her business that ONLY SHE can do, like determining which services to offer, how much to charge, etc.

Using a VA (virtual assistant) for easy but time-consuming tasks like this makes perfect sense and that’s why so many entrepreneurs are using my services. It’s just plain cost-effective and smart.

Weekly Roundup by VA Creatively.com 09-07-14

Here’s a round-up of some finds from around the web this week. Just some things for creative entrepreneurs / solopreneurs about social media, working at home, living a creative life, and other things you might find helpful or interesting.

– OMG, there are some EXCITING NEW CAREERS for Creatives!

– Check this “TRENDY” THING out! Uber cool social media tool.

– Here are some great ideas to organize your office.

– Need some eye candy to read? The “Beautiful Mess” girls have a NEW BOOK out!

– And this, from NatashaLester.com.au:

Have a great week!

A Day in the Life of a Virtual Assistant (VA)

The concept of a “virtual assistant” or “VA” is pretty new to most people. I thought I’d give an example of a day in my life to give a better idea of exactly what we do :)

Wake up, get myself and kids ready, start some laundry, etc.

The kids are off to school, I’ve had a cup of coffee, and it’s time for my commute – from the kitchen to my office. I get settled at my desk, open about a jillion computer windows, and start my work day.


As you can see, I kinda’ like Starbucks :) And candles and crafts and pretty colors and twinkle lights. Hey, I’m at this desk around the clock – may as well make it comfortable, right? I do pretty much everything on the computer but I can’t seem to let go of a hard copy day planner and I *live* for sticky notes.

7:30am to noon
I check my e-mail and put out any fires that I or my clients might be having, i.e. deal with anything that’s time-sensitive. Another cup of coffee, say “hi” to the dog through my office window, and it’s time to get into the meat of the day. That might entail any of the following:

– Transcribe medical/psychological notes, podcasts, videos, etc. for clients
– Do tech-y stuff on WordPress sites for myself or clients
– Perform bookkeeping for my VA business
– Network with potential clients and with other VAs via phone or social media
– Write, edit, and schedule posts to my own 6 blogs (yes, 6!) or clients’ blogs
– Make travel plans for a client’s book tour

Noon to 12:30pm
I take a break, eat something, take a quick walk, put some laundry in the dryer . . . Oh, the benefits of working at home! Wait, is doing laundry 24/7 a benefit?

12:30 to 2:30
I continue working as above, especially transcribing as it’s usually due in the afternoon. Other duties might be:
– Make business calls via phone, Skype, etc.
– Research various topics for clients; today it’s graphic designers, pet-related podcasts, and time-tracking software
– Learn new skills with software to serve client needs (e.g., Asana, Hootsuite, Harvest)
– Post to social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) for clients and for my own business

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 10.09.49 PM

2:30 to 4:00
Pick up kids from school, run errands while I’m in town, pick up the mail, etc. Any time I’m waiting, my iPhone is in hand and I’m doing social media, responding to e-mails, texting clients, etc.

4:00 to 6:30
Hang with the kids and maybe work some more on the laptop until dinner time.

6:30 to 9:30
Eat dinner, family time, get ready for the day ahead.

9:30 to midnight
Finish my work for the day after everyone else is in bed. I like to have work-related videos or podcasts playing in a window on my computer while I work, to learn new things I can apply to my virtual assistant business, blogging, affiliate marketing, etc. I check e-mail one last time before shutting down the computer.

Okay, truth is . . . I’m a night owl so I often work or blog until 2am (or later, whoops). Midnight is the bedtime goal but it rarely happens. I can’t sleep if I’m thinking about work to be done, things I want to blog about, e-mails to write, etc. It’s a “bad habit” to most but I think it makes me a good VA :) I sleep in on the weekends to make up for it.

So there’s a day in the life of this VA. I hope it’s shed some light on what exactly virtual assistants do.

As you can see, I need to be very organized with my time. I have a wide skill set and enjoy the variety that this line of work provides. I’m deadline-driven while being proactive when time allows. I’m great at communicating and keeping my clients updated on my progress. I spend a lot of my own time and money maintaining a client base, time-tracking / accounting / invoicing, along with buying new programs and learning how to use them. When something goes wrong with my computer or internet, I don’t just call tech support, I AM tech support ;)

I absolutely love my job and feel very blessed to do it. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m very “social” and love to chat – online or otherwise!

Weekly Roundup by VA Creatively.com 08-31-14

Here’s a round-up of some of my finds from around the web this week. They’re geared toward creative entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, social media, working at home, and other things you might find helpful or interesting.

-You know those funny “som(ee)cards” you see on Pinterest and such? Look! You can make your own HERE.

– Here’s a GREAT READ for you bloggers, crafters, hobbyists, and creative entrepreneurs.

– Hey, come join me in class next Friday, 09-05-14! It’s FITNESS FOR CREATIVES and us types who sit at a desk all day. And it’s online and it’s free so no excuses. See you there ;)

– A new venture by a gal I’m very fond of: PERSONALIZE YOUR ART, baby!

– Some GREAT ADVICE from a successful blogger and editor.

– Wondering what work to outsource to a virtual assistant? HERE’s a great list of ideas by Entrepreneur.com.

– If you’re going to Pin images from your blog, make sure to DO THIS first.

– A PODCAST about creatives? I’m in!

Hope you enjoyed this weekly round-up from VA Creatively.com!

Free Online Summit for VA’s and Other Online Service Providers

There’s a cool event going on from August 4-15, 2014 called the “Virtually Successful Video Summit”.

You can find the entire schedule HERE if you’d like to join in.  It’s all free.  Of course, each presenter has products they recommend or sell but you’re not required to buy anything and, so far, it hasn’t been a “hard sell.”

On Day 1, I listened to organizer TINA FORSYTH‘s presentation on how to “Create a Business Around Your Brilliance & Get Paid What You Are Worth.”  It felt good to be validated as what she calls an “online service provider” – whether that be a Virtual Assistant, Online Business Manager, Copywriter, etc.

One takeaway:  We are Implementers.  We get things done.  We self-educate.  We want to help and we excel at being “behind-the-scenes” but are oh-so-important to businesses.

On Day 2, I enjoyed hearing from  BOB THE TEACHER on “Secrets to Becoming an Indispensable (and Well-Paid) Virtual Assistant”.

One take-away:  Don’t get so busy with clients that you have no time to learn new things – the hot new program LEADPAGES, for example.  It’s a service many businesses are looking for.  Use it in your own business to demonstrate to potential clients your expertise.  {Check out how Bob uses Leadpages himself at the link above}.

Also, I listened to MICHELE PW about “3 Keys to Writing Copy that Attracts, Inspires, and Invites Your Ideal Prospects to Become Ideal Clients.”  She has a new book coming out as we speak and it’s free right now for Kindle, only $2.99 regular price.  You can find it here: Love-Based Copywriting: How to Write Copy that Attracts, Inspires and Invites Your Ideal Prospects to Become Ideal Clients.  I downloaded it for free and look forward to reading to see what other copywriting tips I can put into my rotation!

*Her cute doggie Nick tried to get in on the video class :)

One take-away:  A lot of today’s direct response copywriting targets people’s fear but she contends we should use love-based copywriting to instead instill respect and hope.

I have a lot of transcribing and online work to do tonight (I multi-task!) so I’m hoping to get all caught up and also listen to Day 3 – KIM DEYOUNG talking about “The Top 5 Product Launches You Should Know How to Leverage for Your Business.”

What I find so great about participating in these kinds of events is that they’re cutting-edge classes and a pep talk all rolled into one.  For FREE :)

I always learn so much, have current knowledge reinforced, and enjoy hearing directly from those who are rockin’ the online business world. I also appreciate the free gifts that tend to be included, like a copywriting template, etc.

Thanks Tina and “Virtually Successful Video Summit”!!

Social Media Manager: It’s a HUGE Job . . . But Somebody’s Gotta’ Do It

As a virtual assistant, I do social media management for my clients. So, of course, this infographic from the Magnet Media Labs blog really caught my eye:

{You can click on the 4 arrows in the bottom right to see it better}

Yes, a social media manager sure earns her pay, don’t you think? Because the “Land of Social” is worldwide and literally 24/7, there’s not much time for sleep!

As it works out, I’m connected to my computer and/or iPhone around the clock and don’t sleep much. That’s one reason social media management is a great job for me, and why I’m an asset to my clients. Don’t worry, I don’t cost anywhere near what the chart shows ;)

I’m not one for over-sharing personal information on social media but I *DO* enjoy helping solopreneurs and entrepreneurs use social media to grow their businesses. I love to watch the metrics and see how we can most effectively use all of these free tools at our disposal. It’s like a challenge for me to increase followers, get more engagement, and make sales for clients.

Making Facebook posts here, sharing Instagram pics there, sending out the occasional newsletter with a coupon is one thing. Any business owner can do that, sure. But being a social media manager is much more.

An SMM has only 1 job {not 1,000, like the owner does} and they focus on it wholeheartedly. They’re educated in the various social media platforms, blogging, and e-mail marketing – and know how to use them to their fullest advantage. Social media managers find YOUR “ideal customer”, analyze the data, figure out what engages/sells – and then does more of it.

And that’s why it’s so beneficial to hire virtual assistants like me to manage your social media. We know what we’re doing and are worth our weight in gold.

Social media managers enjoy engaging, sharing, writing, talking, and helping. It’s fun but it’s hard work, too, if you’re doing it right.

Hey, it’s a huge job . . . but somebody’s gotta’ do it ;)

PS: If *you* need a social media manager or would just like to talk about what we could accomplish together, please contact me HERE or on Twitter @VACreatively!

Need to Jumpstart Your Business? Check Out This FREE Online Class and Kindle Book!

If you’re a CREATIVE LIVE junkie like me – and you’ve been watching the 2-day course by BARRY MOLTZ called “25 Ways to Jumpstart Your Business” – I thought I’d share something. I noticed that his Kindle book “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” is FREE right now.

So not only can you watch his awesome training sessions for free on CreativeLive but you can also get his Kindle book for free. Both will revert to paid status soon, so hurry!

That, my friends, is called a win-win. Or something like that.

Just thought you’d want to know …

Ask VACreatively.com: “I Need a Virtual Assistant. Where Do I Find A Good One?”

I’ve heard this many times from small biz owners: “I really need a virtual assistant to help with my business but I don’t even know where to start looking.” And there it stalls. They continue to be overwhelmed with the daily tasks to keep their business running, rarely having time to move it forward, spend time on special projects, or just relax.

Sound familiar?

Yep! And that leads to the question I’ve been asked repeatedly:

“I need a virtual assistant. Where do I find a good one?”

Sites like Elance and ODesk are options, sure. But they’re not where you should be looking, in my opinion. There’s a real battle for work there based on the “low bid” system. Is that who you want working with you – the person who’s clawing with the masses to accept the least amount of pay? When that’s the criteria for hire, I don’t understand how they can possibly have your best interest at heart and provide top-of-the-line service for you.

I think you’ll have much better luck with virtual assistants (like me) who have their own website, their own established business, years of demonstrated experience, a sound education, and expect a decent rate for their hard work.

The problem is, it’s hard to find virtual assistants of this type with a simple Google search. For instance, I just Googled “virtual assistant” and did not find a link to a “solo” virtual assistant until page 4. Prior to that were: Books on how to become a virtual assistant, blogs about becoming a virtual assistant, ODesk and Elance listings, VA forums, etc. (Yes, indeed, there is a whole industry based on BECOMING a VA that’s making a lot of money in itself, LOL).

So you need a virtual assistant but don’t know where to look? Please let me suggest VirtualAssistantville.com. {If you need to come back later and find the link, I have a clickable icon in my right sidebar ->}

Not only can you browse a huge listing of available virtual assistants, but you can submit an RFP or Request for Proposal detailing the services you’re looking for. Then VAs will submit bids and you get to choose the best fit – pretty cool!

VirtualAssistantville is run by Tess Strand who also administers VirtualAssistantForums.com.

“VAF” – as we VA’s call it – is an EXCELLENT resource for new and experienced virtual assistants to ask questions, find free resources, and take paid classes. I’ve been lurking there for years and have been an active member since November 2013. (HERE is my VAF profile).

Both VirtualAssistantville.com and VirtualAssistantForums.com are excellent places to look for a virtual assistant. These 2 sites are loaded with experienced, solo-business owner virtual assistants ready to help with whatever you need done.

It can seem like a big risk to hire someone online who you’ve never met – and may never meet – in person. One of the things I like about VAF.com is that you can check out the virtual assistant profiles to learn a lot about them. In addition, check out the forum posts they’ve made and maybe you’ll like what you see. A virtual assistant whose posts are friendly, inquisitive, business-like, and helpful would be a great one to hire. You can also tell by how long they’ve been posting at VAF.com whether they’re a “fly by night” VA not taking it very seriously or one who’s been around for a while and is a stable business owner herself with more on the line.

So if you or a fellow business owner would like to hire a virtual assistant (VA) but don’t know where to start, please check out those 2 resources. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them in Comments below!

PS: If you’re a virtual assistant yourself, come on over and get yourself listed at VirtualAssistantville.com! As you now know, that’s where all the SMART business owners are looking for virtual assistants ;)