What great blogging can do for your business
Since it made its first appearance in the 1990s, blogging has come a long way. Blogging was first used as an online journal or diary to share a person’s own individual thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences and it usually attracted just a small following. These days, blogging is a platform used by individuals and businesses alike and can be read by thousands and even millions of people worldwide. Blogs are easy to set up and update regularly making them an important and usually a low cost tool for companies wanting to stay in touch with their customers and followers.
Benefits of a company blog
Increases traffic to a website using links
Inbound links in a blog will direct readers to relevant parts of a website, increasing overall traffic or increasing traffic to particular pages.
Improves a website’s SEO
If a blog is regularly updated and relevant to your business, it is more likely to be picked up in Google and other search engines which focus on a website’s quality of content and frequency of posts. Blogs create an opportunity for businesses to insert keywords that are likely to be used to search for your company or brand.
Promotes a brand and company as an expert in the industry
By regularly talking about a subject in well written blogs, your brand will become associated with and respected in its particular field thus encouraging readers to go to your site for valued information.
By providing high quality content and advice in a particular field, a blog can help give readers/customers the confidence to trust the brand. Comment sections in a Blog are often read and if monitored and updated regularly, this can further improve levels of trust with potential and existing customers.
Creates sharing opportunities
Including a sharing option in a blog creates viral traffic via twitter, email, Facebook or other platforms. Free marketing!
To increase your company’s online exposure and to establish yourself as an expert in your field, blogging is a must! And remember, it doesn’t have to be written by the company director himself, it can easily be outsourced and written by anyone as long as they do their research and create good quality pieces that are interesting to the reader. In fact, it is advised that a company’s blog is written by several people to vary the writing style and knowledge base.
Set up your company blog with a few launch articles and see just how easy it is! Use a Virtual Assistant to keep it updated and fresh with regular new content.
What to Expect When Working with a Virtual Assistant
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a person who works remotely – she can sit in an office down the street or across the world. Working with a VA is very different from having an employee sitting in your office. Most Virtual Assistants work for more than one person, splitting their day up between their different clients. Virtual Assistants can assist with anything from general admin, marketing, diary management to virtually anything. The concept of working with a VA is a relatively new idea and so there are things that people are not always aware of.
Communication is key
Communication in this working relationship is key, use emails, WhatsApp, voice notes or weekly meetings. Be mindful that the Virtual Assistant is not in your office and is unable to come into your office and speak to you face to face, should the need arise. When giving instructions to your VA, be sure to provide all the resources that might be needed for the task at hand, together with all the relevant timelines and goals that you as an employer will expect. There should always be an open line of communication.
Work out the process
Working with a Virtual Assistant takes time to perfect. It is suggestible that especially in the beginning, all the assignments that are given to your Virtual Assistant are reviewed and that constructive feedback is given to the VA. This process will allow her to grow in her position and for her to ensure that over time she consistently provides what you are looking for. Never under estimate the power of a few kind words or praise for a job well done. It will do wonders for her self-esteem and will make your VA strive harder to ensure her work exceeds your expectations.
Stay in touch
It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that your VA knows what is expected of her. Regular communication to make sure she is coping and on point, will eliminate unwanted surprises. Having said this, there is no need to micromanage her. This could lead to serious problems down the line and could very well disrupt the relationship between the client and the Virtual Assistant and blur the boundaries as to what exactly is expected of her.
Remember the human touch
Remember that your Virtual Assistant is a person, who also has feelings and emotions. Given that that many clients have never had a face to face meeting with their VA, they forget that she too is a person. When problems arise as they normally do, it is easy get upset and vent their frustrations at their faceless Virtual Assistant.
All in a day’s work
Having a well-balanced working relationship between client and Virtual Assistant is one of the best things a client can do for his business. By the general day to day tasks been taken over by someone else, the client is left free to focus on growing his business without the everyday mundane tasks to contend with.
5 Top Tips for All Your No-Fuss Black Friday Shopping
It’s already November, and the ads for the annual Black Friday 2019 specials are displayed everywhere! This day in the annual calendar marks spending of epic proportions and usually kicks off the holiday shopping season even in South Africa. Never one for shopping in malls or overcrowded shops, I’ve always favoured online shopping with delivery. It’s convenient, I’m not frustrated by long queues or afraid that my toddler might get lost, abducted or throw a tantrum for some toy or chocolate that is displayed right by the checkout line. I don’t have to drive so there’s no fight for parking close to the mall entrance or the constant buckling up of children when they must get in and out of their safety seats. Any mom would second me here that it’s a skill and a task best left to days when you are on vacation, relaxed and have absolutely no schedule or deadlines to keep in mind.
Shopping Online is an Acquired Skill
Despite all the benefits online shopping offers South Africans still prefer malls for their biggest shopping spends. I believe it’s because they are still a bit scared of being defrauded when shopping online. A type of fear of the ‘virtual unknown’. So, I decided to shed some light on this topic so that my virtual assistant colleagues who are planning to fill up on their technology during Black Friday can navigate any possible pitfalls successfully. Not to mention my clients shopping for their year-end gifts!
My Top 5 Check Points for Making Sure You Get the Best Deals:
Plan Your Purchases
I probably don’t need to say any more… or do I? You will be surprised how easy it is to overspend when the 60% discount banner is flashing in front of every website and online shop you open. That’s why it’s essential to determine upfront what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend on the day’s purchases. Especially if your thinking of purchasing expensive items like electronics.
The most important piece of advice when it comes to online shopping? Makes sure to buy only from reputable shops. Ask for recommendations from friends and family and choose well-known brands until you can identify new reputable online retailers for yourself. Avoid the stampedes by registering a profile on your online shop of choice. Try to do this at least a week before the actual day. The reason is that you still need time to search and compare similar products. Not all retailers offer the same discount and it makes no sense to buy the first discounted product you see just to realize afterwards you could have saved an extra R1,000 on that same product.
Make a Wish List
Use the retailer’s online option to put certain items in your checkout basket or if they offer the functionality, create a wish list to store your favourite items in during your week of research. Now remember many retailers only display their discounted merchandise at 12 am when the online shops open so you may not know which of your favourite products are on sale. What I did last year when I wanted to buy some of my favourite expensive sandals was to choose which ones I liked beforehand and I stored them in my checkout basket.
Set the Clock for Eleven Thirty pm
At this point it would be noteworthy to tell you that my husband just raised his eyebrows at me when I told him I would be getting up at 11h30 that night to finalize my purchases. Well needless to say, never has a man under-estimated the powerful attraction of shoes on sale more than at that moment. When my alarm went off, I ran to the kitchen for a strong cup of coffee and by the time the online shops went live at midnight I simply opened my basket to see which of my favourites were on special and which weren’t. The shoes that were still full price were deleted within seconds and my checkout and payment completed within the next 5 min.
Use Comparison Tools
At this point I want to impose a few words of wisdom on those of you not yet comfortable with online shopping. Just because someone flashes an ‘ON SALE’ or ‘MASSIVE DISCOUNT’ sign at you doesn’t mean the item is really a great deal. You need to shop around, know your prices – the normal prices and compare these with the ‘promotional’ price. So, if you’re not a seasoned online shopper, compare prices first. If it’s not a great deal – then don’t buy it! The numbers never lie, and you can eliminate any emotional spending before it rears its head.
Bringing it Together
There are really some amazing deals to be had every year, but the secret is to be a smart shopper. You can use Black Friday deals to purchase your family’s Christmas gifts, your holiday reading list or technology and electronics for your business. What you buy is up to you, but hopefully the ‘how to do it effectively’ is less daunting after reading today’s blog. Happy shopping everyone!
Being a VA is not for everyone, and that is okay
Question to a VA: What do you do?
Answer: I am a Virtual Assistant (VA)
Question: Okay and what exactly does that mean, what does a VA do?
Answer: a VA offers multiple PA and operational support to individuals and/or companies who are in need of these services but do not require someone to be physically present at a desk. In essence, a VA works for themselves, manages their own hours and invoices their clients on a monthly basis.
Question: Sounds like the perfect position. Would you say anyone can be a VA?
Answer: The simple answer is no, not everyone is cut out to be a VA. Being a VA takes a lot more dedication, time management, change management and discipline than one may think.
The so called “Perks” of the job, is that one works for themselves, has flexible hours, one does not need to rush in the morning to get dressed and out of the door in time to hopefully miss the traffic, there is no sitting in an office at a desk one does not like or with people that one doesn’t like either. This is called the “one-sided-glass” view. Here is an inside look into what being a VA is really like.
1. Mindset is Key
One may only need to dress the top half of their body, twist their hair up and you are ready to be seen via a PC camera, but one still needs to get into the VA mindset, ready to be productive and get tasks done. Personally, I always make sure I get up early, just like everyone else, get in a gym session, have a shower and get dressed as if I am going to sit at a desk with all the other VAs. Although one works from home, they still in fact work with someone else, and that someone is paying for a service. Therefore one needs to be on their A game, giving it just as much attention one would sitting in an office.
2. Always be switched on
One can never really switch off. All of those who don’t like emails on their cell phone, and when leaving the office at the end of the day get to switch off, a VA does not. A VA is continuously interacting with others, working on different projects for different individuals and/or companies. The hours in the day are filled with different tasks, in different roles. There is no time to switch off and especially for those who bill according to hours worked, time switched off is time not being billed.
3. Failing to plan, is planning to fail
As a VA, this is the most important part of the work. Every day needs to be planned out when one works on an hourly rate basis for a client. Hours need to be tracked and more importantly one needs to show that the hours put in have been meaningful and produced results. There is no room for excuses. One needs to be accountable and responsible for the tasks at hand.
4. Be a “Master Juggler”
A Virtual Assistants scope can range from being a personal assistant to one or multiple directors, managing HR, managing accounts, managing people, etc. therefore one needs to be able to juggle a number of tasks in one given day. The needs and requirements of the managing director, will differ from the sales director, the marketing director, etc.
Understanding this and understanding the different needs will allow one to be a better VA, and allow the juggling to be a mastered skill than a master disaster.
5. Know what you are good at
Being a VA means wearing many different hats but also in doing so one needs to be careful of biting off more than one can chew. I ensure that I never take on the responsibility of any task without full understanding and commitment. Faking it until you make it doesn’t work. One should be upfront about their strengths and weaknesses and rather concentrate on those strengths than filling the basket with all the eggs and never being able to finish one task to the best of their ability. Know who you are and what you can offer and stick to your guns.
6. Miss Independent
Being a VA means being independent, being able to work alone, and able to be alone. Being a VA can be a lonely job, so if you a person who doesn’t like to be alone, is easily distracted or like to be in your own space, then being a VA is not for you, and that is okay.
What drives me to be the best Virtual Assistant I can be
I’ve studied logistics for 4 years. During that time, I already knew that I loved project and production management and knew what I wanted to achieve in life…… the goal was to work for myself on my own terms in this field. While growing as student and young adult, I formulated the specifics of my goals. I became driven to provide client satisfaction and problem-solving methods to my clients so that they don’t have to deal with it themselves. I wanted to add value in such a way that clients should feel I am right there beside them, loving their product just as much. And them feeling satisfied with work delivered that they know they cannot do it without me.
I always wanted to have the luxury of a great home, amazing family, and being my own boss, but having all of this meant long days and sometimes nights and missing family time. I’ve always kept one thing in mind when the going gets tough, and it’s to succeed, building toward achieving my goals and having my own business. Easier said than done. I’ve learned so much in the time being a Virtual Assistant that the qualities expected of me isn’t always the easiest:
Updating your client on work progress and reporting back when work is expected, answering emails and calls. It does not always have to be straight away but as soon as possible. Being professional in every matter even if you feel you want to shout!
Good communication skills
Try to meet work progress and timelines at all time. If you know you cannot deliver on time, update your client.
Working for multiple clients at once isn’t always easy but setting a good time schedule that works for all is essential. Use apps available to you to manage this effectively.
Go the extra mile to succeed in the success of your business. There will be expected of you to do tasks that you would rather someone else do. But this makes your client look up, notice and see.
Always stay professional even if you have a difficult client. The way you talk, and act plays a big role in how you present your business. Your business is you. How you treat anyone in life is how you will treat your client. If you lack this skill, start immediately with courses. This is probably one of the biggest money adding value next to sales in your business. If you feel upset, take time to cool down and only then respond.
Providing the best work and keeping your eyes on goals can sometimes feel drained. When feeling like this, do something that relaxes you. Keeping your mindset positive and ticking off your achievements will feel like winning all the time. Balance is not always possible in this line of work but burning out has never helped anyone either. Sometimes you will meet people saying it is not worth it…but these are the people usually sitting in a job that frustrate them. At least I am doing something that I would love to do over weekends. Probably why I can work for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week and still be motivated.
Being able to do whatever is expected and being able to do the work that you have never done before is always a challenge, and ALWAYS rewarding. Never have I thought I would like to do tasks required from Personal Assistants. I am terrible at being a PA. And yet, my client always treated me with respect and consideration when I made mistakes. That said, now I love handling tasks that are out of my comfort zone. Just imagine this, I have not moved to a new house in the last 14years, and last month I planned a move in 2 days, in another country!!!!! And guess what, I freaked out and thought it impossible, but I made it happen. So yes ladies, you can do it if you put your mind to it.
To bring it all together
Working, Building and learning to be a Virtual Assistant helped me understand what it was that I needed to do to have a successful business. These goals became my life lessons: Delivering quality work and excelling in my performance to become the best in what I’m doing. Setting my goals and working towards it, creating my own values and expectations of what it means to be a Virtual Assistant. Being confident when dealing with clients. Overcoming obstacles that might have been mountains in front of me but going through it meant yet another option to learn every step of the way. Mind over matter!