Exciting! Virtual VIP Days for Creative Online Entrepreneurs

It’s time for a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! I have an exciting new offering for creative entrepreneurs called a Virtual VIP Day. Wondering what the heck that is? It’s all laid out HERE on my Virtual VIP Day page!

Is There a Problem?

In my 10 years as a virtual assistant to creative entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed a clear pattern of good intentions getting sidetracked :) We start working together, assignments and questions are traded back and forth via messaging or calls, and sometimes a week or a month can go by before we complete a project that would’ve been so helpful for your business, like, yesterday!

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The Solution: A Virtual VIP Day

This is a full day where we’re connected via video or phone, we follow an agenda, and we Get Stuff Done! After the VIP Day, I include 1 extra hour of VA work to tie everything up. I also provide a summary of our work and some suggested next steps.

A Video to Explain More

There’s a lot of information to digest on the Virtual VIP Day page so I recorded a screencast video which you can view here:

VA Creatively Virtual VIP Day from Erika Friday on Vimeo.

It’s an 11-minute walkthrough that I hope addresses some of the questions and concerns you might have and explain things in a bit more detail. {I’m happy to do a longer video as well if you express interest in that}.

Interested or Have Questions?

  • Check out my exciting new offering – Virtual VIP Days – and let me know what you think at erika@vacreatively.com.
  • Schedule a free Virtual VIP Day Discovery Call via Acuity right here.
  • Thank you & I hope we get to work together!

Virtual Assistant: What Specific Tasks Can I Do for You?

If the concept of working with a VA is new to you, it may be hard to imagine what tasks you can turn over. I mean, what does a virtual assistant even do, right? You might hear “social media” or “WordPress” but what does that mean, specifically?

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Image courtesy of Feminine Stock

Here’s a list of some of the things I do for clients, to see if it triggers any ideas for you:

Note: A few of the links below are affiliate links; I may receive a small commission if you click on them and end up making a purchase from the site

  • Research: Blog post ideas, podcasts to appear on, guest posting opportunities, etc.
  • WordPress: Create blog editorial calendar (CoSchedule); draft blog posts with your text and images (or I can find/make images for you); add Categories and Tags; schedule posts to publish in future; create blog graphics to include in post then share across social media
  • Proofreading/copyediting: Anything written – emails, blog posts, e-books, brochures
  • Social media: Find like-minded people to follow/share; create graphics/memes in Canva; use a scheduler like Edgar or Buffer to pre-schedule social media posts; maximize your presence on social accounts (e.g., add hashtags to social media posts, improve your Pinterest boards, etc)
  • Transcribing: Transcribe podcasts or videos to provide transcripts to your audience or repurpose into a lead magnet; transcribe your voice notes to create blog posts, newsletters, or an e-book
  • Organization: Research/set up task management (Trello, Asana), appointment setting (Calendly, Acuity), and/or client management system (Dubsado*, 17 Hats)
  • Affiliate marketing: Find and sign you up for affiliate programs that align with your brand to generate passive income

*For 20% off your first month of Dubsado, use code ERIKAFRIDAY (all caps)

There are lots of other tasks I can do as well. I can’t possibly be experienced at ALL THE THINGS! However, I’m willing to learn new software, etc. (on my own time) and help you apply it to your business.

So don’t be afraid to ask if you have other areas you’d like assistance with. If I can’t do it, I usually have someone I can refer you to.

What Tasks Can You Outsource to a Virtual Assistant?

I’ve always meant to put a list together but tonight while cruising Pinterest, I found THIS lovely list already done – and it’s great!

It was put together by Heather Crabtree, a small business strategist for creative entrepreneurs. I’m glad I found her website because I’m a virtual assistant to creative entrepreneurs. I’ll be reading her blog for a while to see what else I can glean from her.

Photo by:  Craig Garner

Anyway, back to the list . . . of the 47 items she suggested you outsource, I was happy to see I could personally do 32 of them. Granted, I have to bow out of things like taxes, bookkeeping, and legal services, but I can help with a whole range of tasks such as research, transcription, and social media.

So if you’re thinking about outsourcing some of your work to a virtual assistant but you’re not sure what tasks to hand over, take a look at Heather’s list and see if it generates any ideas for you.

Medical Transcribing Gone All Kindsa’ Wrong

This older article came across my feed today and I had to share it.

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As a medical transcriber for many years, I cringed HOARD! These errors are an embarrassment to the profession. Aye yie yie!

I will say that I’ll bet many of them were made because of something transcriptionists use called “text expanders.” This is where you have a shortcut (like an Autocorrect in Word) for a word or phrase you use often; it’s an overall HUGE timesaver.

For example, I use text expanders for words like “hepatosplenomegaly” and often-used sentences like “This is a well-developed, well-nourished woman in no acute distress.” With text expanders, my typing speed could go from 80 words a minute to around 100 so they’re very useful.

But they’re dangerous, too. And I’m thinking (hoping!) expanders are what caused a lot of the embarrassing errors in this article. Another possibility is that the clinician just dictated that way and the transcriptionist either didn’t catch it or didn’t question and fix it.

Either way, it’s a fun read that will make you LOL – like, literally :D

Weekly Round-Up by VA Creatively.com 04-12-15

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.

I noticed that The Good Creative: 18 Ways to Make Better Art is FREE for Kindle right now.

From the description on Amazon:

You’re creative. You dream and plan and make stuff – all the time. And whether that “stuff” is a book, a startup, or abstract crayon art on the bathroom wall, you have a nagging feeling that you could take your work further. Do it better. Become more successful.

In The Good Creative, I outline the 18 habits of the world’s most respected artists. It’s a concise, invigorating manifesto for creative pursuits of every kind.

Happy reading!

I know we creatives love our Macs. Have you heard about the new Macbook Pro? I’m not a total techie but – in this review by Mashable – it sounds pretty impressive to me! For me, it would be hard to get used to 1 USB and also to the new keyboard – I type a TON as a transcriptionist. But those are risks I’m willing to take for something this pretty . . . oh, and functional!



I love this article by Olivia.co called “10 Introvert-Friendly Offline Marketing Ideas for Your Blog + Business” – great tips!



Have you been seeing these cool text masks around the interwebs lately? Me too! Wanna’ make them yourself? Me too! Check out PicMonkey’s text mask tutorial.



One last thing . . . do you have Testimonials on your site? As a service provider, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. I finally sat down and tested out a few WordPress testimonial plug-ins. My favorite and the one I chose is called Handsome Testimonials. I only had time to add 2 testimonials for my virtual assistant services so far but I think they look pretty good, don’t you?



Have a great week!

Virtual Assistant: Working with Authors

It’s funny. When you start out as a virtual assistant (VA), you think of all the services you’re capable of and offer them all up, kind of in a non-specific way because, well, you need clients! I talked about it a little bit HERE.

As time goes on and you start booking clients, you might start to see a pattern. I did and it surprised me. To date, the large majority of my clients have been authors. I couldn’t have asked for a better match, actually. You can tell by my business name that I was planning to work with creatives but, honestly, I was thinking more of crafters since I’m a crafter myself.

But I’m also a writer, I’m a voracious reader, and I was an English major in college with an emphasis on Creative Writing. Yes, I’ll someday write the Great American Novel – like all you other writers ;)

Photo by:  Florian Klauer

So I don’t know how it happened but I seem to have transitioned into largely being “a writer’s VA”. Who knows? Maybe I used the principles of The Secret and put it out to the universe that I’d really love to work with writers – but it was so secret that even I didn’t know about it :)

Maybe writers tend to be readers and researchers so they’re more apt to come across my site, interact with me on TWITTER, or ask other authors, “Hey, how do you get everything done and still find time to write?” Ohhh, you have a VA . . .

Either way, I’m very grateful for how things have worked out in my virtual assistant business. I love authors. I “get” them. I truly enjoy being even a tiny part of helping them succeed and helping them to spread the word about their writing.

If you’re an author and you’d like to talk about how I can be of help, please drop me a line HERE or say “hi” on Twitter (@VACreatively). Apparently, we’re meant to work together ;) Here are just a few ideas:

– You tell me what you write about, what you like to share, what’s important to you and I can load some posts onto your social media (while you’re writing). Selfies are still on you, sorry.

– I can transcribe the audio from your book reading so you can share it for free on your website.

– Let’s take some content you already have, make it fresh, and sell it as an e-book on Amazon.

– Making travel plans or arranging a book tour can be a pain for an author but I don’t mind doing it.

– I’m just gonna’ guess that JODI PICOULT had a little help researching elephants. What topic can I research for your next book?

– I hate to say it but most author websites I’ve seen could use some freshening up. Yep, I’ve got you covered!

Now, off you go. Get back to writing. I’m waiting to read your next piece!

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 :)

6:00am
Wake up, get myself and kids ready, start some laundry, etc.

7:30am
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.

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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!

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”!!

Ask VACreativelycom: “What is a Virtual Assistant (VA) and Why Do I Need One?”

As a virtual assistant (VA), I get asked a lot of questions. So I’m going to start a series here on my blog called “Ask VA Creatively” where you can ask anything you want about virtual assistants . . . and I will answer!

The most common question I get is: “What IS a VA and why do I need one?”

Think of a VA as an online personal or administrative assistant. We can do anything – and I mean ANYTHING – that doesn’t require face-to-face interaction. We can order dog food to be delivered to your house, we just can’t walk your dog, LOL. VA’s are so handy and I personally think everyone needs their own :)

{Did you read “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”. Just don’t get a VA like Manjula Kapoor, LOL}.

Mentally go through your day and think about all the tasks you do, especially the ones you hate, feel are a waste of your time, or annoy you in some way.

– Place Amazon orders for your coffee, toiletries, Kindle books, and batteries
– Make regular, interesting posts to social media to engage your customers
– Order concert tickets for that show you want to see this summer
– Make a website for your business, hobby, club, or non-profit
– Send birthday cards to friends and relatives
– Pretty much anything else you can think of

Now think about all the things you could do if you paid someone else to perform those tasks.

– Spend time with your family
– Exercise (like you always say you’re going to do but you’re “too busy”)
– Work on your product instead of trying to sell it (write that e-book, make crafts, develop your unique idea, etc.)
– Read all those Kindle books :)
– Put your time and effort into the things only YOU can do

Virtual Assistants are here to help you do whatever needs to be done. There are VA’s out there for every possible task, you just need to find the right one for you. Here’s an example of some specialities:

– Real Estate VAs: Maintain listings, take photos, follow-up client calls, etc.
– Social Media VAs: Create and implement your social media strategy, schedule posts, analyze engagement and provide you with reports, etc.
– Admin VAs: Transcribe meeting notes or seminars, typing/editing/proofreading, make business travel arrangements, maintain email inbox, etc.
– Blog Helper VAs: Take or find photos for posts, write copy, find PLR, affiliate links, blog design and maintenance, auto-responders, etc.
– Personal Assistant VAs: Make personal travel arrangements, online shopping, personal mail handling, sit on hold with the electric company, etc.

See what I mean? Virtual Assistants can do anything. Everybody needs one because they free up your time to focus on the things you want and like to do, the things that will move your personal and business life forward.

For example, I can do all of the tasks listed above (although real estate is not in my background, so I wouldn’t be your first choice for that). I’m currently doing social media for one client, helping with a book tour for another, and transcribing for several more. I’m always looking for new clients so please CONTACT ME if I can be of help.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have a question for VA Creatively? It can be about virtual assisting, social media, blogging, etc. I’m happy to answer!

Attn: VAs and Biz Owners – Should VA’s Specialize or Optimize?

Wow, THIS is a great article in THE GUARDIAN about how and why to use virtual assistants!

The article is geared specifically toward SME’s = small and medium enterprises.

The writer TINA NIELSEN has used virtual assistants in her business and found them to be a wonderful resource. {She also wrote THIS cool article about WAH’ers achieving work/life balance}.

Tina uses virtual assistants for jobs she doesn’t have time to do, doesn’t like to do, or doesn’t want to learn :)

Photo by:  Eutah Mizushima

I mean, why not? Why should you spend the time and have the aggravation of learning how to market your business on PINTEREST, when there are VA’s like me who already know how to do that?

It’s a no brainer, really.

The same goes for other small tasks that just suck up the time in your day. Your time is worth more than you’ll pay me, I assure you. With a VA doing these tasks, you can concentrate on what YOU do best, love to do, and will generate the most money for your company.

Ms. Nielsen did give me some food for thought. She talked about – having learned from experience – how she now hires very niched virtual assistants, as opposed to hiring one VA who can do a lot of different tasks.

I see what she’s saying: When that VA leaves, you’re adversely affected in a big way. Instead, if you hire one VA to do your social media, one to do your travel arrangements and schedule, and another to do your newsletters, you’re more diversified. If one VA leaves, it’s much easier to replace that cog in the wheel, and the entire wheel doesn’t stop spinning in the meantime.

So that got me thinking about the VA services I offer and whether I should pare them down a bit. My current list of services looks like this:

– Social Media Management

– Simple Website Creation

– Blog Posting and Maintenance

– Graphics Creation (Blog Header, Facebook Cover Page, Pinterest Graphic, etc.)

– Administrative Tasks including Transcribing

– Travel Arrangements, Online Shopping, and Other Personal Tasks

On the one hand, I need clients, LOL! So I hate to perhaps not to be hired by clients who need work done that I’m fully capable of doing.

On the other hand, I’ve now heard the advice several times from established VAs and from those who hire VAs that being very specialized is the way to go. Their advice is to choose the few tasks that you really excel in and market only those talents to prospective clients.

To the VAs benefit, you’ll be doing work you love and are great at. To the client’s benefit, they’ll be getting the best person for the job they need done.

WIN-WIN

So I’m thinking about all of that. If I were to eliminate anything, it would be the last task group: Travel arrangements, online shopping, and other personal tasks. While I’m fully capable of and experienced at those tasks, they’re not as challenging as the others. And I love to be challenged!

I get a charge from a work day well-spent, solving problems, finding the best way to do something, and making clients happy with the end product. I love working on blogs, writing, making things happen with WordPress, or posting relevant content to social media and watching interractions increase and numbers rise (eeeee!!).

I’m really good at transcribing, as that’s been my main work for the last 7 years. I’m a fast typist (about 90 wpm) and have a BA English = word nerd!! So those are the tasks I would keep.

As a VA or aspiring VA, what do you think about specializing versus offering ALL of the services you’re capable of?

As a potential VA client (business owner, blogger, etc.), would you rather hire a VA who specializes or one who has a broader range?

I’m really interested to hear your thoughts!