Need Extra Help with your Business, and DON’T want an employee? How about Virtual Help?

9 07 2008

This is an article I wrote a couple of years back when I hired an virtual assistant.  I was active in my local chamber, and people just didn’t get it!  The chamber asked me to write about my experiences, and they published it in their newsletter.  Another great way of getting your company name in front of people by writing about experiences others may relate to! The chamber members just ate it UP!

I was feeling like I was working myself to death for a while.  My small Business was going very well.  But at times I could never seem to keep up with anything.  I know I had phone calls that needed to be made, but I also have 6 jobs sitting on the production table that people needed by tomorrow! Here I go again – try to catch up with people during working hours, and engrave again during family time. Go to bed exhausted and do it again tomorrow.  I needed help!  I needed  something!  When I purchased my competitor out in August that was a very good move on my part – but it seemed to make matters worse as far as my personal time goes.

I was thinking of getting someone here to help.  I had a lot of friends in town that did it.  I had a lot of friends in the industry that did it.  Some were working out very well, and others had major horror stories to tell me. I was looking around my basement.  Where the heck would I place another desk?  I would have to purchase another computer.  Do I really want someone in the house?  What about the extra taxes and everything else that goes with an employee – can I afford that?  What a major headache if I make a bad choice.  On the other hand, do I really feel this is the time of life in which I should drop dead from exhaustion?  My husband took the kids out somewhere for a little while.  I decided to read some business articles online for a while.  I came across an article in Home Business Journal.  It was about Virtual Assistants.  I really thought – what a crazy idea!  I was up for a good laugh.  Why not!  The article told about how people can help you via your computer.  It listed an organization that actually trained people how to do this before listing them for hire: www.assistu.com.  Okay – looks interesting but I need to know a lot more.  So I went to the website, and looked around a bit.  Then it mentioned an 800 number you could call and listen to people talk about how they use their VAs (virtual assistants).  They spoke with all different types of people from all different types of industries.  How these VAs organized not only their businesses but their personal lives as well.  Even when they were on the road!

Okay, I was done laughing at the whole idea.  I filled out the form online as to my needs for my business.  It said that I would get replies within 3 business days.  Within a day I was getting resumes from people!  It was their business to help me.  The way I read it, again and again, was if we don’t find a way to step into your shoes and be a part of your business – this won’t work out.  They also work for themselves so if they can’t find some way of being an asset, our relationship would be over.  Being a VA was their business so it would be to THEIR benefit to do their best for me.  The same concept with us for our customers.  A couple of resumes looked very interesting.  I responded and they told me that they would be giving me a call.  All of them had websites.  Like in the real world, some of them were definite NOs!  But I picked out two that really clicked with me.  Here is the killer – one was in Texas and the other was in Colorado.

I doubted the whole idea again.  Yeah, Helen what you save in taxes you are going to be paying in phone bills.  They had kind of a high hourly rate.  I needed more questions answered.  For example, how are they going to bill me?  Then I found out they have a ticker on the computer.  When they work on my company stuff – ticker goes on.  When they are done – ticker goes off.  No, you don’t pay for the lunch breaks or for them to watch TV. The whole entire time they are billing you – it is all related to what you need done.  You are given kind of an “Instant Message” program that you talk to them with.  And you upload your outlook program to yahoo (or your program of choice)  and they take care of your tasks and have access to a phone book in case they need to call your customer/vendors for some reason.  They don’t do anything without your permission.  Hmmmmmmmmm  Here I go again thinking about how it would be nice to have someone make phone calls while I was engraving.  And how it would be nice to have someone do the research for my industry, do the paperwork and forward to me for me to make decisions.  Do follow-ups when I’m going nuts here in the shop.

I took the plunge!  I hired LaShay from Colorado.  I figured the first two months were going to be a waste because I needed to get her familiar with my industry.  That was going to be hard, I thought.  Most industries people can jump right in for the most part.  But there are so many factors behind the scenes with my industry – people have no idea.  LaShay and I jumped in together in January of this year.  That is my slow month, and I felt that would be best before everything hits the fan in March.  She wanted to know as much about my industry as possible.  I forwarded some industry “rags” to her.  I sent standard catalogs and vendor lists that I use all the time.  I had her download my research program.  Next I needed to have her do what would make my life easier.  She had a form I had to fill out on her end.  She asked things like: What do you hate to do?  What are your goals? Where are your bottlenecks?  It was about a 5-page form.  She needed personal and business information to be able to jump into my shoes.

LaShay now helps me with more than I thought possible.  It is funny to know that I have a phone message on my machine, and a note on my outlook telling me the situation was already taken care of.  I do a lot of the engraving during the morning.  LaShay either retrieves the message on the voice mail or the phone is forwarded to her.  She gets the tasks at hand going and, if needed, gets my input on how to finish it.  Handles the vendor situations and follows up with them.    Makes the quarterly phone calls to clients to see if they need anything, and does research for the products they are interested in.  I have a little screen on my computer that beeps at me if she needs anything.  Most of the time she emails people, but in those situations where that would not be good, she calls the customer.  Sometimes my computer beeps at me and I will get a message from LaShay saying “on the phone with Sandy from XYZ Company, can she have 10 badges done by Friday?”  “Not a problem LaShay.  Have her fax me the list of names”.  We all forget things when we are busy.  I don’t know how many times I thought to myself  “Oh Gosh!  I forgot to call that company back – go to my outlook to retrieve the phone number – and have a ‘LaShay’ message telling me she had already done it.”  She reminds me about birthdays – she will even do the shopping for you.  LaShay made travel arrangements for me when I took a business trip this year.  I had lists of things that needed to be done this year like do a business plan, revamp the marketing plan, and things like that.  I get an email from her from time to time with small portions of the projects to be filled in by me – takes me less than 5 minutes to do.  She puts those pieces together for me, and I don’t feel like I have this large hunk of work that is sitting on the back burner.  Also, when you work at home it is nice to have someone to VENT TO!  And, yes, she can be like my mom sometimes by saying “Be nice, Helen!”  Most of the time, she giggles along with me.

My son now thinks I have a lady that lives in my computer, and my daughter likes to talk to her when she gets home from school.  I pay her hourly rate and know I have accomplished something for the better.  She even got an 800 number for my customers to call her on.  I don’t feel like I have someone here working to get beer money for the weekend.  She wants my company to grow and get better, and if you think about, it is to her advantage to do so. Otherwise what do you need your VA for?  That alone is a nice feeling.  My business is not just a job to her.  Everyone has worked with someone like that!  You have someone working as hard as you do.  I still work long hours at times – it is my busy season right now!  It is funny when I’m going thru the tasks at hand for the next day and I am sending her emails – handling things on my end – and an email message comes back saying “Helen, I will go to bed if you do!”  LOL

http://www.virtualexecservices.com  Here is her site – LaShay Canady.

Since I had success with this article I will know search places to submit it!  Wanted to give my readers an example of what you can do to promote yourself!  Of course I would need to end with:

Helen is married with two children, and has been running an engraving business for over 13 years.  She has now decided to expand her knowledge online!  Watch her blog Nice Used Clothes For Charity  as she speaks of her hills and valleys of online selling for her store that helps a Ministry!

Boxing Oval Award Resin Trophy Gift Resin with Gold Accents

Boxing Oval Award Resin Trophy Gift Resin with Gold Accents

Part Number 54509GS

Boxing Oval Legend can hang on wall, or use the desk stand – see picture. This trophy, award or gift will be well received by your recipient! They come in specially designed boxes!

These are approx 8.5” x 8”, and we will send you engraved plate

The highly detailed sports figures are handsomely framed in an oval shaped resin and gold plaque. Something new besides the traditional awards we may have received in the past. I always get comments of PRAISE from these types of products!

You have a group that you need to buy for? NO PROBLEM…we can do groups for you as well! Please let us know the number you need, and we will arrange to get your what you would like for your engraving





Advertisements




Find your NICHE on the internet!

17 07 2007

I read a lesson today on NICHE marketing basically on the internet!  Lets take my industry – Engraving.  Lets just say the chance of me getting to the top 10 on the internet JUST because of Trophies isn’t very likely!  I mean engravers or trophy house are plentiful aren’t they?  I can’t say that I’m someone in the middle of quality, because I don’t think I am!  We do a good job, but how many times are people willing to go do page 30 of the internet to find me?  People on the internet AREN’T very patience!  I know I’m not either at times!  LOL!  Its the same thing when you hear about people that sell baskets, children’s clothing, jewelry for example! 

I decided I was going to take this free SEO course that I found online.  SEO Training by GNC Web Creations is the name of it, and its all yahoo group based.  It has lessons that you do to learn.  I may not be able to apply EVERYTHING to my free website, but it will give me a good idea of what I need when purchase of webspace comes into the picture!

As you can guess the lesson today was about finding your NICHE!  One of the teacher’s examples was she does web design, and made a point of letting every one know just HOW MANY web designers there are!  She targets (for one thing) motorcyles websites!

She mentions that every page within your website is a door to people.  My example may not be as DYNAMIC, but I will give a try!  One page on my site may be dedicated to SOCCER TROPHIES, and another page BASEBALL TROPHIES.  If I have one page with all themes one page chances are good no one is going to stick around searching pass the cheerleader trophy, science club trophy, football trophy to get their SOCCER trophy!  She hasn’t said it yet, but I would assume you are to optimatize each page per theme!  It doesn’t matter if your customer comes to your site on page 2000 if that is where their product is!

Does this mean you leave out all those OTHER products that you sell?  Nope!  Just focus on the ‘special’ or ‘niche’ trophy in my case!  It may not even be TROPHIES for me.  I will have to see!

She had a good article on her site!

A Million Dollars   Check it out!

Baseball Flame Spinning Resin Figure Trophy Award or Gift

Soccer Trophy

Baseball Flame Spinning Colored Sports Resins Award. This trophy or gift will be well received by your recipient! They come in specially designed boxes!

With this charming design you have the weight of resin material, and comes with a ball that spins. Something new besides the traditional awards we may have received in the past. Get noticed by giving something different, and exciting!

They are approx 8″ tall, and accept 7/8″x 3 1/2″ plate approx.
Part Number JDS302
We will send your engraved plates separately!





GooglePages are FUN! You have one yet?

12 07 2007

Here is the “about” page for Google Pages

Google page basically allows you to make a couple of webpages for yourself.  You do have some access to the html, so you can dress them up a bit!  One requirement is to get the gmail (basically google’s email program) in order to do this.  I personally didn’t think it was all that big of deal!  You can still use your own email and passcode to sign into your google account.  My sign in name is the one I choose for gmail so don’t let it take you back when you see it after you sign in!  It wont’ show your email name that you opened your google account with anymore.

The more items you use OFF this program the more webspace you can use!  For example, I still use photobucket for my images.  My account as of now still has tons of space left!  The help section seems to be pretty active, and if you do a search for what you are looking for chances are you will find it!

I was reading the help section, and I came upon a poster that had his own googlepage with tips!  I went there and did some fast reading.  I learned that you can use templates from other places, and NOT use the ones avaiable!  That is all fine and great except you have to break the template UP and place in the separate sections of their TEMPLATE!  I found that out the hard way!  When you start playing around with it you see the button to edit the html, and so of course I did!  I erased all the html that was there, and then copied my template html that I worked on instead.  What I didn’t realize is that I placed my entire template within the header portion of the page, and it looked AWFUL!  You have to break up your template into the separate sections. 

The preview section isn’t all that helpful!  I found you must view it live in order to get a good feel for what it will look like live!  YES you can play around with it without it being LIVE on the internet, and if you decide to take it down off the internet it gives you that option also!

My page is still a work in progress!  Here is is!

Engraver For You

Now you can’t add meta tags or keywords into your html from what I have read.  You must make sure your page is keyword rich, and do this naturally!  Then make sure you get some of those one way links to drive up the page rank of your site!

Helpful tip page from another google page member

What I would LIKE to do is use this page for an entrance into my ecrater store!  I placed a note on my google page noting that if they click the ‘baseball’ button for example it will take them to the baseball trophy section of my store!  I will be adding additional sports trophies, and pages with time.   Remember to use your anchor text along with other items!

Car Magnet Full Color Design up to 72 Square inches

The Full Color Car Magnet images above are samples with approximate sizes. You may request the design or layout of any of these samples or describe what you would like and we will lay it out for you. Team sport magnets will be customized to your school colors (and mascots or logo if available).

Click on images above for larger view. 4″ x 18″ or 6″ x 12″ or 8″ x 9″ are popular sizes! Basically up to 72 square inches in a rectangle shape





How to Get Your Blog Noticed Quickly and Widely

10 07 2007

Below is an article I found that I felt was VERY useful! 

How to Get Your Blog Noticed Quickly and Widely
By Gregory White

1. Submit your blog to all of the directories listed on http://pingomatic.com/. Pingomatic will ping 15 services all at once.

2. Ping your blog after every post at http://pingomatic.com/

3. Here’s a real gem: Submit your blog to http://www.pingoat.com/ Pingoat will ping over fifty blog ping services all at once. So you don’t have to hunt for ping services and manually ping them. Pingoat pings over fifty blog ping servers (growing) with just one click.

4. Ping your blog after every post at Pingoat at http://www.pingoat.com/

5. Sign up for a free account at BlogExplosion.com and register your blog there: http://www.blogexplosion.com/

6. Submit your blog to all of the directores listed at http://www.rss-feeds-directory.com/blog_lists.html

7. Sign up for a “My Yahoo” at http://my.yahoo.com/ and attach your blog to your own “My Yahoo” account. This will get your blog included in Yahoo very quickly. This is worth the effort to stop what you’re doing right and do it, since Yahoo has a PR 9.

8. Use this code: “http://add.my.yahoo.com/content?url= http://www.yourblog.com/urblog.xml” in your blog to allow others to put your feed on their own “My Yahoo” account.

9. Sign up for a “My MSN” at http://www.my.msn.com/, and attach your blog to your own “My MSN” account. This will get your blog included in MSN very quickly. This is also invaluable because MSN has a PR 8.

10. Use this code: “http://my.msn.com/addtomymsn.armx?id= rss&ut=http://www.urblogfeedaddress.com/urblog.xml” in your blog to allow others to put your feed on their own “My MSN” account.

11. Place the link and description of your blog in your signature, so that any posts to Forums, Outgoing Emails, Autoresponder Courses, etc, will promote your blog.

12. Post a link and description of your blog on each of your sites.

13. Place your blog on all the major search engines. AddMe.com will submit your blog free to the top 14 Search engines here:
http://www.addme.com/submission.htm

SubmitExpress.com will submit your blog free to the top 20 Search engines here:
http://www.submitexpress.com/

14. Use Article Directories as a resource for articles to post on your blog. Here are a few:
http://ezinearticles.com/
http://goarticles.com/
http://www.knowledge-finder.com/
http://www.informit.com/articles/

15. Locate blogs with a lot of traffic and place useful comments in their comment box. Be sure the blog and your comments are relavent to both your blog and theirs. Senseless posts won’t help you, they’ll hurt you.

16. Once you get around 5 to 10 posts on your blog, start a PR campaign and announce it to all relevant channels.

17. Make a blog post as often as possible. More than once a day is not really necessary. Remember, if you can’t write that much, go to step # 14.

Greg White, Internet Marketer, Author, Consultant and Project Manager has been running successful web projects since 2001. His sites and blogs cover Blog Marketing Tactics, Internet Marketing Tactics and a variety of ‘Niche’ topics, in addition to starting and marketing profitable web project.

http://www.blogmarketingtactics.blogspot.com/
http://internetmarketingtactics.blogspot.com/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Gregory_White

Soccer ball Lighted Resin with High Gloss Wooden Base
lighted soccerball lamp
Soccer ball Lighted Sports Lamp. This trophy or gift will be well received by your recipient! They come in specially designed boxes!With this charming design that includes “AA” battery. It has an on/off switch on the bottom of the wooden base. The base is a high gloss finish. Use it as a trophy or a gift for that someone special!They are overall 4.5″ in height, and the engraved plate is 1″ x 3 3/8″ in size.
Part Number LTR102
We will send your engraved plates separately!





Do you Squidoo? Could help your Traffic!

29 05 2007

For the last couple of days I have been helping a partner from another site Emotional Abuse and Your Faith put up some Squidoo pages.  It seems to be fairly simple, and easy to do!  Its nice because they do have a blog going into more detail, and also a forum you can go to and ask questions!  Use your keywords, and you also need (at times) some basic HTML.

When you read the squidoo site they speak about ‘lens’, and basically all that means is a web page!  We took a couple of her pages, and a couple of new articles that she wrote and placed them on squidoo.  As we searched around a bit we found new ways of doing this to gain some income.  YES squidoo will pay you for being there!  They have adsense articles on your page, and you also can choose some advertisers as well. You have a choice of either pocketing the cash, donating it to a charity, and part of it to a charity. 

You can use up to 40 keywords, and like most other places you use visit some other pages to get an idea of HOW they format, and what keywords they use.    We used her articles to promote BOTH her blog (Emotional Abuse and Your Faith), this blog (Nice Used Clothes For Charity), and the store (Ecrater – Nice Used Clothes For Charity) we write about here.  I haven’t checked with her, but I have noticed that I got some hits from it already here!  Our ranking when we placed the articles on there at the beginning was +100,000, and it has risen to +20,000 in a couple of days.

We both figured out HOW to do the pages, and this morning I submitted them to search engines and blog engines as well!  I sent out a couple of emails to friends about it, and she is going to place her pages on her blog.  This week I plan on placing some advertising for the store on there.

Here are a couple of her pages:

Emotional Abuse and Your Faith – Introduction Page 

When Everything I do is not right!

Is this the Proper Form of Communication?

The Abusive Person

Jesus Heals Abuse Board – Domestic, Verbal and Emotional Abuse

 Head over to Squidoo, and gets your ranking to grow and traffic to your site!  We will write about this more later!  Let us know what you can learned!

 Jaclyn Smith Womens Sweater Gorgeous White w/ pearls crochet

Jaclyn Smith Womens Sweater Gorgeous White w/ pearls crochet

White to Light Ivory Jaclyn Smith Sweater with Pearls, Extra Embellishments in Stitching, and some silver metallic thread – Please see smaller portion in picture to see some of the detail!

It has a crocheted neckline with a pearled hoop closure in the back.

Tags states: RN 79286, Style NO 9373

73% Acrylic, 24% Nylon

Size Large

Hand wash with mild soap – do not twist or wring – reshape dry flat

Garment laying down flat

Armpit-to-Armpit 23”

Shoulder-to-Shoulder 23”

Inseam armpit to hem of sleeve 20

Shoulder to Hem at bottom 25.5”

This Jaclyn Smith sweater is in perfect shape – not a mark on it! I would be surprised if it was worn ONCE! The detail on the top of the sweater is JUST very detailed and very feminine! It’s hard to get all the detail in this beautiful Jaclyn Smith sweater!





Guaranteed Linkbacks – Here is HOW!

25 05 2007

As we have spoken about before linkbacks can help you in your quest for search engine rankings, technorati, and also traffic to your site!

Courtneytuttle.com  has a neat list on his site called, “D-list“.  This list is some blogs that have added some special HTML that states their blog will follow you automatically when you leave a comment on their blog – or linkback to you.  If you use this service – or actually major favor – they don’t want some crazy comments, spam, etc.  I would assume just like any other blog they will delete the comment!  They are truly looking for GOOD comments to keep the dialog going!  Just like you would wish for your own site!

Right now the site has a list of over 170 blogs to choosee from.  If you read a couple that seriously don’t do anything for you don’t worry about it!  The list has quite a selection to choose from!  Not only do you get a cool linkback, but you might learn something.  You might even find a site that keeps your interest so you keep coming back, and find new friends!

Pretty cool huh?

Billiards or Pool Resin Statue Trophy Award Gift Full Color

Billiards or Pool Resin Statue Trophy Award Gift Full Color

 Billiards or Pool Resin Statue Trophy Award Gift Full Color

Billiards or Pool Full Color Award is individually boxed.
They are approx 4.5″ tall, and accept 7/8″x 2 7/8″ plate approx.
Shipping is based off one item shipped.

PLEASE NOTE: If you wish to purchase more than one item at a time contact us directly because the system will charge you shipping per item, and not group the order together. We will invoice you directly (supply us with your zip code), and we will ship out the best way available.
With this charming design you have the weight of resin material, and you can see the details of the figures. Something new besides the traditional awards we may have received in the past. I always get comments of PRAISE from these types of products!

They are individually boxed and we will send you an engraved plate for it.

You have a group that you need to buy for? NO PROBLEM…we can do groups for you as well! Please let us know the number you need, and we will arrange to get your what you would like for your engraving.

Product is normally shipped out within 2 business days if not sooner AFTER payment has cleared!

We will do combined shipping, and you can order different items as well. For orders of 2+ please contact us for a shipping quote!


 





You are writing great articles, but is your topic over this head?

19 05 2007

Have you ever been to a website trying to understand a concept, and the writer is writing about it and you are left MORE confused than when you started?  I don’t mind a word here or there that I can easily look up, but if the article is about a concept……don’t go over my head okay?  LOL! 

At times its hard to realize that maybe POSSIBLY alot of your readers aren’t as advantaged on a topic as you are!  Could be why they are there!  They want to learn!  If you are going to chat about some concept – stop to think about the newbies at times!   

It just happened again.

I’m reading, but I’m not getting it. Maybe if I continue to read, all will become clear.

Nope.

I feel dumb.

Obviously, there is something I’m missing. It’s my fault. I’ll read it again.

Nope, still not getting it.

The pictures look great, nice web design. Looks like a trustworthy company.

Keep your money, Chris. Maybe somebody can explain it to me later (if I remember).

Sorry friend, you’ve just lost the sale.

Don’t let that happen to you!!

Writing copy even Grandma would love! is a good article from The Copy Blogger.

Wrangler Rugged Wear Men’s Jeans Shorts 48W – Very NICE Shape!

Wrangler Rugged Wear Men’s Jeans Shorts 48W – Very NICE Shape!
Details:

Up for sale is an authentic pair of mens Wrangler Rugged Wear jean Shorts. There are no holes, stains, fraying. Very Nice!

Condition:

These Wrangler Rugged Wear shorts are gently worn, and very handsome. They have been washed, and are ready to go right out of the box!
Very Nice pair of Wrangler Rugged Wear mens jean shorts, but check the measurements below for a good fit!

Waist – Top of Pants 46
Hips – Around Bottom of Zipper 54
Rise – Crotch Seam to Top of Pants 15
Zipper to Top Of Pants 11
Inseam – Crotch Seam to Hem of Pants 9.
Bottom of Pants – Length folded in half 14

Rips no
Holes no
Staining no
Fading no
Fraying no
Other n/a