What is a Virtual Assistant
According to the balance small business website, a virtual assistant (VA) is a person who provides support services to other businesses from a remote location. The term originated in the 1990s as the ability to work virtually due to technology improvements, such as high-speed Internet, document sharing, and other advancements, made working remotely a reality.
Virtual assistants are especially in demand by entrepreneurs and online businesses that need help but don’t want to bring on staff in their location. However, many small and mid-size businesses use virtual support, especially for specific tasks such as social media management.
Earlier in 2018, I decided to kick the corporate bucket and venture on a solo career path. I just didn’t know what I was going to do though. It wasn’t the first time I’d tried my hand at entrepreneurship either. No, I’m a sucker for pursuing my goals, hopes and dreams. Have I failed and bumped my head? You better believe I have. Has my confidence wavered? Oh yes, many times. It still does. I have days when I sit back and question my choice, but usually, it takes a drive during peak hour traffic to reaffirm my belief in what I’m doing.
I knew I had to change what I was doing. There were a few personal reasons for my decision but the main driving force for me is the fact that misogyny is still rife in the workplace. This is a global phenomenon and a topic not discussed openly for fear of reprisal.
Working hard, long hours has always been a trait I’m proud of, but, as I approach my 50’s, I don’t gel with the rules. Not that I really embraced these to begin with. Boundaries create security, this is psychology 101 – but micromanagement and a draconian, authoritarian management style is on another level. One I don’t tolerate. Perhaps it’s just my personality, but I have a visceral dislike toward those who deploy this management style. Nor do I take kindly to whipper snapper millennials boasting their degrees and exploiting others, especially mature women in the workplace. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the fact that people work hard to attain their degrees. Point is, it does not entitle belligerence.
I am pleased to observe on many company websites, particularly the UK based companies that the gender pay gap is being addressed. These modern companies are also addressing their menopause policy for their mature female employees. This is liberating and makes us ‘oldies’ feel appreciated and still worthwhile in the office and not maligned for being female.
As I was planning my exit strategy, I researched online work opportunities. I wasn’t overly enthused at the ‘genuine’ options I found. Seems there’s many a scam artist out there preying on desperate and vulnerable job seekers. Scrolling through Google I saw the term virtual assistant. Intrigued, I read on. Yes! This was for me and rest as the saying goes, is history.
Another important factor that influenced my decision is my teenage son. It’s reassuring for mums of small children to be at home. Unfortunately, there’s not too many half day positions available and mums are forced to either take a pay cut, opt to work from home or find full time employment and utilise the primary school after-care facility. The assumption is high school kids have it all figured out and cope on their own in the afternoons. This is not the situation and left to their own devices, teens tend to not be as studious as we’d like them to be. Boys tend to take advantage of this fact… To this I can attest.
Where to from here
Setting up shop is not easy, and it’s become a competitive work arena out there. If starting and running a business is such a simple feat, everyone would be an entrepreneur. When I started out, I floundered for a while and was startled at my lack of up to date techie experience. This from someone who completed their A+, advanced networking and MCSE in the early 90’s. A lot has changed, and it can be daunting!
I wasn’t and am not deterred to work for myself and on my own. As a Virtual Assistant, you cannot offer everything skills wise and there will always be other VA’s who offer more than you do and are better at a task than you are. It’s about streamlining your skills and finding your niche. If you don’t know something, say so. But, turn your not knowing into a positive and learn how to do the task. There are many online resources to be researched and honing your skills is do-able, without breaking the proverbial bank.
Be honest and upfront with your client and with yourself. It’s no use struggling to fulfill a task or commitment you know full well won’t be done correctly. The concept of working online requires open communication channels and engaging regularly with your client or clients. Learn to manage your time. When you’re on the clock and responsible for task management and key deliverables, you quickly realize how valuable time is. There’s no chatting with colleagues round the coffee station or checking your social media profiles. Accountability is tantamount.
Being on the cutting edge of technology and offering a bespoke service will ensure the global Virtual Assistant market succeeds. This is an exciting career path and the industry is set to grow, exponentially so.
Follow these great benefits to improve your blogging
Blogging can help drive internet traffic to your website. A blog gives you the chance to create original and relevant content to your customers, which can be a tactic to drive traffic to your website.
Blogging also helps your SEO or Search Engine Optimization. By consistently putting out new content in your blogs, you boost your rankings in different search engines, making you and your business more visible on the internet. You can also include various keywords, topics, and categories that you want to be found with your business when you write your blog. That way, when someone searches something related to that word or phrase, you will come up in earlier in search engines.
Blogs are no longer just an expression of an individual or a platform to share one’s ideas and thoughts. Blogs have started to be one of the most influential and useful tools in the market space. It’s an excellent way to showcase thought leadership as well as keep consumers updated on what’s happening in the company
Companies that maintain a blog seek:
- Brand awareness and visibility
- Authority and trustworthiness
- Site traffic and higher SEO ranking
- Leads and sales
The 4 benefits of blogging
Blogging drives traffic to your website
The content you create for your blog can be shared on all your social media platforms. If it’s good-quality, valuable information, people will be encouraged to click through to your website to learn more about your products and services.
Blogging can increase your SEO
If you use keywords in your blog posts, you can enhance your organic search results. Search engines use content to help them determine the subject of web pages. By continually adding fresh content to your site, you make it easier for these search engines to index your page correctly.
Blogging establishes you as an industry authority
Sharing industry information with your customers is the perfect way to demonstrate your knowledge and skills. It sets you up as a leader in your field while giving you the opportunity to market your product or service in a subtle way. With a blog post you can simultaneously educate your customers and provide them with useful information about your business.
Blogging helps you build a community
Your blog provides your customers with a place to ask questions, share opinions and engage with you. This makes it the ideal place to build a loyal following. All the comments remain on your site permanently, which means that new visitors will be able to see them. Compare this to social media where any posts or comments are quickly lost in the ever changing newsfeed.
A blog is much more than a way to share information and ideas. It is also a marketing tool and a very powerful one at that. If you have yet to start a blog, it’s never too late to get started. There’s really no excuse why you shouldn’t start one today, whether it’s a business, corporate, or a personal blog. Somewhere out there, someone is waiting to hear from you.
Where to start in writing a blog post? This is how
They say writing blogs are important in the success of your marketing. I get that… BUT I have not done this a lot. I wrote lots of stories as a kid, but since I grew up my imagination and creativity…went in hiding.
I have not been challenged in years to write, so I myself had to go back and learn. As I was doing my research I decided to write about it as I go and share it with you.
I hope this will help you 🙂
This is what I normally do to write a blog.
- Coffee is my breath, my “haaa”, it takes me to that place of ease. So I will make myself a warm cup of coffee, clear out my desk and sit back, close my eyes and think of the topic ahead or a topic.
- Once I am clear about the topic I will start with research, making sure I know what I am writing about.
- Get some images for the blog and some for inspiration.
- Craft your headline that is preferably both informative and will capture your readers attention.
- Type away! Just let it “flow”, remembering this is only a draft, it does not need to be perfect. Not even close.
7 other tips to help you write a blog
#1 Own your first paragraph and the title
Having good compelling titles and introductions will make your readers want to read more. It wil inspire them. Wishpond contributor James Scherer says, “recent studies show that while 80% of people will read headline copy, only 20% will read the rest. This is the hidden importance of great titles, and why getting them right is so vital to a successful blog.”
#2 Be the expert not the bragger
Build a trusting relationship with your audience, make it seem that you are a expert in this, not just bragging about it.
#3 Focus on a specific audience
When drafting your blog, think and focus on a certain audience. They say that good blogs are targeted to a particular audience.
#4 Be informative
Don’t just tell a boring story, tell your audience something that they can learn while they read your blog. Educate your reader.
Most great blogs will follow basic SEO (search engine optimization) rules, using relevant keywords and anchor text. Using SEO practices will make your blog more relevant to your targeted audience.
(Moz has some free tools which can help you with that)
#6 End your blog with a trigger
So this blog you are writing, you write it for a reason – mostly this reason is to connect with the readers.
Try ending a blog with something that moves or motivates the reader to action. In this case it would be to motivate readers to write a great blog.
#7 Be consistent
You will need to be consistent in writing, you will need to write blogs on a regular basis. This is especially important to grow your audience.
If your audience sees you writing a blog every week, you will get more and more website crawls which will improve your SEO.
In other words, blogging successfully takes a lot of work. But that doesn’t mean blogging has to be difficult.
Need inspiration? Who better than Mel Robbins to help you with that?
For this women’s month I have decided to feature a woman that truly inspires me in life and business. She has adopted a no-BS lifestyle that has brought her to where she is today.
If you haven’t heard about the 5-second rule, you probably don’t know who Mel Robbins is.
How Mel started out
Mel started out in a legal career at the Public Defender, left her job and moved to Boston so her husband could finish his MBA. She then worked for a law firm and hated it. After maternity leave she didn’t go back and worked in a couple of tech startups which she enjoyed. Even though she enjoyed her job she felt like something was missing so she started seeing a life coach which inspired her to become one herself. She started studying towards a certificate in life coaching, qualified and started her career. When Ink magazine did a feature on her business she got a call from a big shot at CNBC for a job and that’s how her media career kicked off. After having some issues with a deal with FOX everything came to an abrupt end. Due to her contract restraints with them she couldn’t do anything in the media business for a year. She felt like such a failure that she didn’t see it fit to go back to coaching. On top of that her husband’s restaurant business was going under. Her world was falling apart. One night she decided she’d had enough. That morning when her alarm went off she didn’t hit snooze ten times as she usually did, she counted 5-4-3-2-1, launched herself out of bed and started putting the pieces of her life back together. Today her achievements are awe-inspiring.
Where Mel Robbins is today
Through utilizing her own 5-second rule, Mel became one of the most booked speakers in the world. Motivating people across the globe to get up and show up. She’s the CEO and Co-Founder of The Confidence Project which is a media and digital learning company. She is the Creator and Presenter of the Audible Series Kick ass with Mel Robbins. In 2017 she published best seller The 5-Second Rule. It was named the number one audiobook in the world and the fifth most read book on Amazon. Her TedX Talk has been viewed on YouTube by over 14 million people. She runs an award winning YouTube series #MelRobbinsLive giving advice and telling people about her life as a travelling CEO, motivational speaker, wife and mother of three. On top of that she’s a CNN commentator as well.
The 5-second rule helped her to get her life back on track after she was dealt a bad hand and got stuck in a rut. It teaches us that everything is achievable if you have the right mindset.
I’ve been following her on YouTube and getting daily motivation from her talks and advice. I can recommend her to anyone that’s hungry for success or that needs to get back in the saddle and start kicking butt and taking names!
An easy guide to keeping your candle lit as an entrepreneur
“I have soo much to do, but I don’t want to do it”. This is a phrase I have used on many occasions, not just with work, but life in general. So, after much thought and countless cups of coffee, I have come to realise and accept that burnout is part of the modern way of life. This has gotten me thinking of ways that I can cope to ensure that I do not fall victim to this modern “disease”.
Do what you love
I have worked for many years and people always said to me “do what you love”, they were right! There is nothing more fulfilling than getting up in the morning to do something that inspires me. Now it is totally impossible to enjoy every activity that I do, however, I make sure that 90% of my day is spent doing something that I am passionate about.
Everyone has a time of day that they are at their best. For me, a nice brisk walk and a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, sets me in work mode. I have also found that stepping away for regular breaks, albeit lunch, cleaning or hanging washing, allows me to focus and be more productive in my work.
Walking for me has been a saving grace. There are many issues that have been dealt with, whilst I pound the pavement. Exercise is a good stress release and the happy nunus that run around after exercise make me feel great. To help avoid burnout, I have realised that I need to stay healthy. By eating a healthy breakfast I can think more clearly and provide my brain with fuel to concentrate. Looking after myself is key to avoiding burnout!
Now there are tasks that I cannot stand! For example, I am not a fan of accounting and I have had to learn that it is okay to take the task and break it up into manageable pieces, thereby managing my stress levels.
How burnout can manifest itself
Burnout can manifest in many ways. It has taken a long time for me to be aware and listen to the warning signs. If I am tired, I take a break, if I am hungry, I eat. In so doing I remain fresh and I am then able to concentrate on the task at hand. I have left jobs in the past that have drained me and left me feeling frustrated and unproductive. Why keeping working at something that is making me miserable.
I have also made it my mission to spend time with family and friends, this gives me time to express my concerns and get to the root cause of what is making me head on the path to burnout. My family and friends have always been able to help me see things from a different prospective.
Burnout is a real thing, be aware and look after yourself, so that you do not fall victim to a very serious case of burnout!
Look for these tell tale signs of burnout
Burnout is a term that gets tossed around often in the workplace, but it’s more than simply feeling tired or overworked. It’s a continual sense of pessimism about your present and future that can lead to a decline in your work performance.
Often triggered by extreme pressure, burnout is far from simply a buzz word for stress. Burnout is associated with symptoms such as exhaustion, depression, and the inability to cope with simple tasks.
Even the most driven people are susceptible to this sense of negative exhaustion. Because when you don’t take the time for self-care and evaluating your priorities, burnout is almost inevitable.
Burnout is a state of overwhelming exhaustion, mental, emotional and physical. It can be caused by work pressures, lifestyle factors, even certain personality traits. It’s more than everyday stress. Burnout is characterized by overpowering, unrelenting stress over a long period. The mind and body are so beaten down that simple daily functioning seems like an overwhelming burden.
Being burned out has a tremendous impact on both your physical health and mental well-being. As the extreme stress continues, the result is often life altering illness, depression, and a sense of extreme failure. Essentially, there is nothing left to give and the body starts shutting down.
One of the main reasons why this takes place is because the symptoms all consist of things that every one of us experiences, at some time or another. As a result, telling the difference between ordinary fatigue or illness and the chronic depletion that heralds a serious problem is tricky.
Some common signs of burnout might include:
- Having trouble concentrating or making decisions at work
- Experiencing relationship problems at home
- Talking negatively about your work performance
- Avoiding or complaining about interactions with coworkers
- Experiencing chronic stress and potential health issues
- A pervasive sense of failure and self-doubt
- Feeling helpless, incompetent and defeated
- Loss of motivation and interest in your job, hobbies or family
- A very negative, irritable and impatient attitude
- Lack of a sense of satisfaction and any feelings of accomplishment
- Feeling detachment and distant from the rest of the world
- Experiencing a vicious cycle of overwhelm while the world is crashing around you
- Frequent distraction and an inability to focus or be engaged in a conversation.
- A feeling of pushing yourself harder with no results
- A pattern of memory loss, forgetting where you put things or what you are doing
- Extreme exhaustion and lack of energy, feeling completely drained
- Loss of appetite, interest in intimacy or insomnia
- An increase in sickness or a general feeling of unexplained illness
- Frequent headaches, back and neck pain, muscle and joint aches
It’s easier to cure any condition if you catch it early, and that includes burnout. So don’t shrug off early warning signs just because they seem mild. If they’re ignored, far bigger problems could be lurking down the road.
Learning how to manage stress is critical when you’re on the path to burnout. It is much easier to avoid burnout, than to recover from it.