Tag Archives: Virtual Assistant

Work at Home Does NOT Mean Solitary Confinement

I have a “confession” to make. I live with a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as “Winter Depression”. Depression is a scary word isn’t it? Here in Indiana we have a wide variety of weather changes. Sometimes there are weeks of gray winter days, one after the next; and those days can seem to last forever.

Due to a brief break during the holidays, followed by four months of burying myself in my work and my studies, I wasn’t really affected by it as much this last winter. The problem with this “solution” is that inevitably ends in a period of “burn out“.

Most of my trouble with winter is the fact that it’s difficult to get out as much. I have found lots of tools that help me work more efficiently, and help me “get out more”. I hope that sharing them with you will help you get out more as well.

  1. One purchase this last winter that transformed some work at home to become work on the go was a smartphone. Check out these smartphone resources:
  2. If you do not have a smartphone yet, but do have a laptop, look into places with free WiFi.
  3. Even if you don’t have a laptop yet, you can go to your local library and find out about the availability of computers and the internet.
  4. Many Virtual Assistants have also found this new cellphone application called Foursquare to be a fun “excuse” to get out more.
      It’s really fun to get the badges and points, but I do have some important rules that I follow for safety. Seriously consider setting boundaries that work for you when sharing your location with the world.

    • Never “check in” until you’re leaving, especially if your going to be there awhile
    • And never check in to someplace you visit on a regular basis. (e.g. school, book club, work, or church)

I am the type of person who loves to be around people, I get sort of energized by it. Therefore, the decision to work at home was truly a difficult one. I knew that I wanted to be at home with my children, but they are growing more independent everyday.

In order to stay healthy and motivated, it’s important for us all to make sure that we live active and balanced lives. Even if you begin to practice working away from your home office once a month, it’s better than not at all. New places and environments can really stimulate productivity!

Exchanging the Flip-Flops & Cowboy Boots for High Heels (only for few hours)

For a few days in May, I’m trading the flip-flops and cowgirl boots for high heels.  I’ve been asked to speak at The Bob Proctor Matrixx Event (http://www.bobproctormatrixx.com/business-retreat-business-goals-wealth-accumulation/) in Canada.  Although I totally despise being called an expert, I’m going to run with it and be a guest as their Social Media Expert.  I’ll be speaking on using Social Media for Business.  Social Media is a never ending learning process.  There is something new to learn everyday and that is one reason I have a hard time with the term “expert”.

This is going to be a whole new experience for me and my family.  Mom (me) is always here to get everyone out the door.  Whether it is off to work or taking my boys to school with lunches packed, clothes ironed (or thrown in the dryer for wrinkle release ;) ), papers signed, homework checked or whatever it may be; it’s done by me!  Not that my husband wouldn’t help, it’s just never been an issue of someone else doing it.  Then I thought, “who’s going to water the garden or the flowers?”  When I approached my family about this adventure, there was nothing but quarter sized eye balls and wide opened mouths and a “are you serious”?  I stood firm and said I sure am. 

Q:  “But, Mom, who’s going to make sure all the soap is out of my hair?” 

A:  You’re planning on bathing while I’m gone?  I’m impressed.

Q:  “And who’s going to match my socks up?” 

A:  You or your Dad, or possibly MeMe?!  We’ll figure it out and y’all will make it just fine.  

Q:  “But, Mom you always take me to school and you’re the only one who drops me off at just the right time.”

After a big long discussion of who, what, when and where, my family agreed.  My boys gave me a hug and said “even though we will miss you, we’re very proud of you Momma and what you’re doing with your business and for other online business owners as well.”

I’m not a public speaker and don’t plan on starting now.  However, I do have some knowledge to offer, so why not just get up there and let it out.  I’ve been practicing on my grammar, as well.  I’ve also been trying to say “You All” instead of “Ya’ll.”  But, my husband pointed something out – “They asked YOU to speak and that’s just not YOU honey.” Oh man, he has a point.  Saying ‘Ya’ll’ is one of those things that’s just part of me being me ;)

I’ve always enjoyed being the one behind the scenes; making things flow for my clients online and obviously my family at home.  I never had any desire to “go anywhere” but after some serious thought, I decided I’m going to do this!  Yes!!  I’m going to Canada.  Am I nervous?  Hell Yeah, but I can do this for the industry.

So, here’s to all of us – entrepreneurs, online business owners, virtual assistants and small business owners for getting out there and letting it be known about what exactly we do and how important each and every one of us is.  I’ll be kicking off the flip-flips and boots for a couple of hours and wearing my big girl shoes!

Wish me luck –

Cheers!

When our plate is full, are we asking for seconds?

Do you ever stop to really notice the patterns of your work life? If you are a virtual assistants or small business owner and haven’t noticed these “bursts of opportunity” and “temporary dry spells”, don’t worry, the bigger you get the more obvious they are. The trick is to keep a medium pace and stay consistent. Sometimes this means sending business elsewhere. Start building an affiliate list now.

Where quality cannot take a back burner for small social business:

  • Always try to respond to blog post comments.
  • Check Twitter, email, contact form responses, and check in with Facebook everyday.
  • Strive to do your finest work on each task you take on because it represents the quality of your business. Word of mouth is even more important in today’s social media culture. Rumors and recommendations have a much further reach nowadays.

Even if our plates are full of good things, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when so many things are going on in our personal and professional lives. So, in conclusion, I want to mention an old email that I had forwarded (yes, one of those.) to me ages ago. It has long since been deleted so I can’t quote it directly. However the idea of the message stuck with me, and was something like this:

Be proud even if your kids are driving you crazy asking for one thing right after another, because they are healthy, bright individuals who are interested in trying new activities. (Variety is the spice of life right?)

Be grateful for the dirty dishes you are washing in the sink because that means you had the money to eat today.

✿ Appreciate the ability to attract lots of business at once because that means your skills are in high demand.

Be confident if you have some really difficult homework to do, because you have finally made it to the end of your bachelors program and you have done the work that has built up to a project you know how to do as long as you simply break it down into the usual steps and take one at a time. (OK, so this last one is just something I needed to write for me. :) )

Slow the Information Overload on Facebook

There has been much talk lately among virtual assistants regarding “information overload” and many of us battle issues like adult ADD (attention deficit disorder). Nowadays, if we don’t write our articles and emails with enough bullet points and well structured headlines, our readers miss important details.

If you are like me and most of my Facebook friends, you do a lot of work and play on Facebook. This article should help you weed out some of the junk in your news feed that doesn’t interest you.

First, I must make a confession: “I heart Farmville.” The fact that it’s a game of “make-believe” that really and truly provides no real benefit should queue me in on the fact that it’s really not worth playing at all. However, I play it almost every night, and I play it with my mom and about 30 ladies I used to go to church with as a child. It’s a fun way for me to stay connected.

In case you have friends like me, you can easily hide “Farmville” or “My Daily Luck” updates from constantly popping up in your news feeds.

Here’s How to Hide Some Unwanted Info from Popping Up in Your News Feed

1. See an app update from your friend that you don’t care to see anymore.

2. Hover over your friend’s post on your news feed until you see the word “Hide” in the right corner of the feed.

3. Click on “Hide Farmville” or “Hide Cafe’ World” or whatever.

4. Make sure you don’t accidentally hide your friend’s feeds! You might miss pictures or links that interest you too.

Use these links in case you:

You may need to be logged in to Facebook for these links to work properly.

My point is to encourage the use of these features of Facebook. It’s not being rude or uncaring. They are here to help us make sure we are getting the information we do want and cutting out the information we don’t want.

Are You a Tire Kicker? If So, Knock It Off!

 Wow, this has been one crazy week!  I’m helping a local client with tax preparations, not to mention the growing need for Social Media – clients inquiring everyday (new and current clients), a child with the stomach flu and the other child was in the school play this week.  I’M EXHAUSTED!  Did I mention the last minute project that needs to be finished by Friday night at midnight?

 Being a Virtual Assistant, you receive a lot of inquiries, such as, “Now what does a Virtual Assistant do exactly?”   That’s ok, since most VAs I know love to explain what a VA can do for you and how it works.  But, quite often you get these tire kickers – asking repeatedly how you can help with no real intention of using your service at that time.  Anyone else experience this?

In the middle of one heck of a busy Friday – I see a post from a prospect, potential client or tire kicker.  I had spoken to the prospect a couple months back.  They asked me how I did this, this and this and I told them.  Yea, I told them – They were inquiring about using my services and expertise to add to their list. Well, guess what?  They’re now using my services exactly how I told them I would do it, but, without me.  That’s ok though ;)

The saying, “You get what you pay for,” is oh so true in the virtual world.  It’s taken me awhile to learn this, but it always comes back to you.  Word to the wise for you tire-kickers…we’re catching on and we know your kicking several tires.  The Virtual Assistant community is a close knit community for the most part and yes, we do give warnings to our friends.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong in speaking with several Virtual Assistants to see which one (if one) is a perfect match for you; but not on a continual basis.  Our job is to help your business grow and that’s why we’re here.  So, no more tire kicking and let’s take your business to the next level!

Virtual Assistant Friends Learning from Each Other

photo by Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotosDotNetA few weeks ago Kena, Jen, and I all got an email from another virtual assistant, Darlene Victoria of A Virtual Perception. A Virtual Perception is the audio podcast that provides business resources (and more) to Virtual Assistants and other business professionals.

We were invited to do a podcast interview regarding our virtual assistant group blog! We were all so happy to be invited to share our purpose for writing about our work at home life!

To download the podcast and get links to the services referenced in this podcast, see A Virtual Perception’s latest blog post: Episode 57: 1 Blog + 3 VAs = Awesome Results

To hear the interview while reading this post you can play here:

This turned out to be a fun conversation among all four of us virtual assistants who shared the common bond of building our virtual businesses while balancing a home and personal life. We each have our own story and our own struggles. The highlighted point of this podcast was that even though we have never actually met, and in traditional business we should even be in competition with one another, the truth is that when we work together we can build so much more.

Darlene also asked each of us some targeted, niche specific questions:

Kena was asked for advice about Facebook fan pages for business. She also shared some really great advice for those of us who are working with clients who have us virtual assistants run their fan page.

Amber (that’s me! ; ) schooled everyone on keywords. I also wrote up a little virtual assistant keyword cheat sheet to provide a bit of visual aid and remind you of some of the most important places to use your keywords.

Jen was asked to share a bit about organizing your virtual office. She gave some great tips that anyone can use like how to go paperless!

The Work at Home Life bloggers are virtual assistants who came together to write a group blog to help other internet companies grow their businesses as we have. If you have a team of virtual assistants that you trust and know their quality of work, you may want to consider starting a group blog of your own. It’s amazing what we can learn from each other.

A special thanks to Darlene Victoria from A Virtual Perception for asking us to be a part of one of her professional and educational podcasts!

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller