Category Archives: Virtual Office Tools

Learn Anything You Want Online

Isn’t it powerful to know that you can learn pretty much anything online? Perhaps that’s a great overstatement.

How about this: Isn’t it amazing that you can grasp a basic understanding of almost any concept you could want to master online?

All we really need is a place to start and we can master anything… right?

Here are six of my favorite educational sites I’ve found quite useful for important subjects.

Foreign Languages

★★★★✩ Get started learning any language for free with BYKI. It’s similar to Rosetta Stone.

Free E-books, Audiobooks, and Reference Books

★★★★★ Public Libraries

General Studies

★★★✩✩ Self Made Scholar has some decent links that are nicely categorized. Just click on the Free Classes button.

Graphic Design Education

★★★✩✩ You the Designer is a Graphic Design Blog Featuring Graphic Design Jobs, Tips, Tutorials, Resources, Freebies and Much More.

Healthy Diet and Nutrition Education

★★★✩✩ SPARKPEOPLE is the largest online diet and healthy living community with over 8 million registered members. Create a free account today to get the tools, support, and motivation you need to lose weight and keep it off, the healthy way!

Online Marketing

★★★★★ Inbound Marketing University | Free Internet Marketing Training and Certification

How Do You Track Time?

I know there are several different programs available to use, but how do you track your hours?  I use to only accept retainer clients so this wasn’t an issue.  Within the last two months I’ve begun to take on hourly clients, so tracking billable hours correctly is very important for me as well the client.

I created an excel spreadsheet with client info, date, hours worked and tasked performed that I keep open all day and record as I go.  This has made time tracking much easier.  Then I transfer the specific details to the particular client’s invoice each billing period.

Just a few examples of time tracking software:

Would love to hear your comments and feedback on how you track time.

Happy Friday!

Skype for Small Business

Oprah has been skyping forever, or so it seems. I’m not really Oprah’s biggest fan, but I gotta love a woman who sets trends worldwide. ;) Is it time you started utilizing it too? On the very front page of Skype’s website it will tell you all of the things that their service will do for free.

  • Voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype
  • Conference calls with three or more people
  • Instant messaging, file transfer and screen sharing

What is so cool about it?
The screen sharing option I love. Of course, it isn’t as wonderful as remote desktop or Teamviewer where you are able to take over the shared screen to literally show guests how to do something on their computer. Let’s face it though, these options aren’t universal, and not everyone has cash to drop on a Teamviewer license for each client computer.

Think about it though, how often do you have to say: “OK, now what do you see?” when you are trying to walk someone through any task on their computer? And people often remember how and where to do something when they do it themselves other than have you take over their mouse and do it for them right?

How does it compare?
Many of you still use AIM pro for the desktop sharing which I would say isn’t any better or worse than the Skype version. If you don’t have either then you might as well jump on the skype bandwagon since you will likely find more businesses on Skype than you will AOL.

Skype Business Solutions
Skype’s business solutions offer more services like integrating with PBX operators (like if you already use Ringcentral for voicemail boxes and such) and if you have employees across the globe, you can set up an account for them.

You Need a Form, You Say?

Last week I was so excited to create my post!  But, something went awry.  You see, I had this brilliant plan (well, in my eyes anyways) to start post short interviews I conducted with various types of business coaches.  We all hear about them and we might even have a few as clients.  But, for the majority of us, what they actually, do escapes us!  Thus, the idea for the interviews.

Here is where my plan got derailed-my interview form!  I mapped out my questions carefully so that they would be generic enough for all sorts of different types of coaches, yet would allow for the differences to still shine through.  I organized the questions in the order that I wanted and then logged in to Google Docs.  I found a stunning, yet professionally done template to work off of and when it was completed, I was very satisfied.  So, I sent the first one off to a business coach I know (who also happens to be a client) and waited for his submission.  And waited.  And waited so more.  Nothing.  Still nothing.  So, I sent a follow-up email asking if there was a problem.  His answer-“I already submitted it.”  Hmm….where could it have gone?  My post was due and I had nothing.  I frantically logged back into Google Docs to see if I was just missing something.  Maybe I didn’t pull up the right form.  Maybe I didn’t send the correct link.  But, everything was as it should be.  What was I going to do?

First, I took a deep breath and just walked away from the situation.  That’s right, I walked away.  And yes, I missed my post deadline.  YIKES!  However, one of the first things I came to realize about working for myself was that it was better to just take a break from the situation and let it sit for a while than to continue to hammer away at something and become even more frantic and frustrated.  So, that’s what I did.  After coming back with a fresh perspective, I came up with a plan.  I started over.  But this time, I did a bit of research and found a few other options for creating forms.

The first option I came across was Wufoo-which is the one I chose for my particular form.  They offer a free account where you can create up to three (3) forms.  There are over eighty (80) themes and templates to choose from and they are very easy to customize.  The site is easy to navigate through and the Help section is great.  They even included screenshots to help explain what you should be seeing in certain situations.  However, that’s where the fun stops.  With the free account you can only create three (3) forms and these forms are allowed just ten (10) fields.  Not much if you have a detailed form that needs to be created.  In addition, if you want to send your form out to a mass of people at once, the free account allows for only 100 entries per month.  Then you have to upgrade.

My second option was JotForm-which I actually just used for a client of mine.  This too, is a free form site.  However, you are not limited to a few number of forms that can be created or on the fields that can be included on each form.  Both are unlimited!  The monthly submissions are the same (100) as with Wufoo, but if do need to upgrade; JotForm’s monthly rate is only $9.95 per month versus Wufoo’s which is $14.95 per month.  Not only that, you are still limited by how many forms you can have on your account (10 with Wufoo and unlimited with JotForm) and how many submissions are allowed per month (500 with Wufoo and 1000 with JotForm).  But for all its great attributes, I found that JotForm was not as customizable as Wufoo was.  There seemed to be a limited amount of templates available for use.  However, their Help section was very easy to understand and came with screen shots as well.

Whatever happened to my initial form in Google Docs you might be wondering?  Well, I had someone (Amber Whitener-a colleague on this blog) who knew her way around that program take a look.  What she found was some sort of rare glitch.  A new one was created and tested, thanks to Amber and now I am on my way again.  I’m just glad that it wasn’t something that I intentionally did or forgot to do.  :)

In the end, I may not have been able to post my first business coach interview today, but I did find a silver lining.  I was able to find other sources for creating various types of forms that I will now be able to utilize not just for myself, but for my clients, as well.

Social Media for Business

As a Social Media Virtual Assistant and a Marketing Manager, I’m constantly asked “Why use Social Media for my business?” and “Is it better than traditional marketing?” 

To answer those questions and many others, why not check out the statistics for yourself by watching this brilliantly put together video on statistics for B2B (business to business) Social Media. 

Social Media…could it be the biggest game changer for your business or company you have ever seen?

Wiki is Tricky!

Wikipedia is “a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 15 million articles (over 3.3 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site.”

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

What Wiki Is:

Too many entrepreneurs don’t understand the beauty of this particular information system. This website was created for us and is constantly being updated by us to share accurate information. You might even call it a “living” encyclopedia. All information that is edited there is to be referenced with verifiable sources and must meet Wiki’s high quality standards. To leverage the value of Wikipedia means contributing well researched information to it’s already vast library. Wikipedia can be a tool to prove that you are an expert on your topic or in your field of business. Sharing information and having others verify the accuracy of the information is a great way to show your expertise. They keep tabs on who has made what edits, and believe me when I tell you that there will be a wiki administrator who will either undo any information without a good source or delete the wiki page altogether if the it isn’t deemed “notable” enough. Of course, when you accurately and holistically contribute a good article, you should blog about it and be proud of sharing your piece of wisdom with whole world. ;)

May I use myself as an example? You all know that I am a virtual IT assistant right? But what does that mean? A little under a year ago you wouldn’t have found any information if you looked up “IT assistant” on Wikipedia. I am proud to say that I contributed the IT_assistant page. When an employer puts out a classified ad for an IT assistant, you can find out what the skill requirements are for an IT assistant’s position. Even if you have never worked under that title, you may have experience to fit that job well.

What Wiki Isn’t:


Start Quote MeNot just anyone can go to Wikipedia and create a wiki page about how fantastically interesting they are.Quote Me End

There are many of us “gurus” who have been quoted here and interviewed there, but that doesn’t make us wiki material. Maybe you have worked extensively in our chosen field. You might have a successful business or single handedly spun yourself an extensive social network and have become quite popular. You may have written articles for popular websites like Mashable.com or Monster.com, but you don’t have recognition on Wiki. Not just anyone can go there (or hire someone else go there) and post up a wiki page about how fantastically interesting you are. Until you are interviewed for your expertise on CNN or Time magazine wants to put you on its cover, you probably don’t belong in the encyclopedia. (Sorry, but it’s true.)

There are dozens of wiki articles deleted everyday because so many newbies want to sign up and use it as some kind of social media tool that grants them an opportunity to market themselves, create backlinks to their blogs, or to just get their name out there. It just is not what Wiki is for. I mean, it is social, but its not about networking its about information.

Wiki is not the place to validate or establish yourself; the quality of your work will do that for you. Maybe someday you’ll have your place on Wiki, but for now, let’s use it for what it’s good for: information.