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3 Tried-and-True Ways to Get Your Small Business Organized This Year

4 Feb
Getting organized involves a lot more than just neatening stacks of papers and dusting off the clutter you have on your desk. Organization involves creating systems and procedures for all different parts of your business; this has the potential to help you become more productive and profitable.

The ideas below include some of the best ways you can become more organized in your small business. Try just one for slow and sustained improvement or make a plan to incorporate a new organizational process each month in your business this year.

Take Control of Papers and Documents

We’ll start with paper since that is the biggest disorganization culprit for most of us. What do you do with documents after you take action on them? How do you store papers for future reference? If you don’t have a filing system and/or a digital archiving system in place, now is the time to build one. Start by taking a look at the papers you have laying around. Make a keep pile and a discard pile, then shred or recycle all of the papers, magazines, newsletters, cards, notes, etc. that made it to the second pile.

Now that you have a better idea about the type of documents you’re working with, it’s time to create — or improve — your office filing system.

If you decide it’s time to start moving toward a paperless office, then you can start by scanning in and digitizing your receipts, using online invoicing and payment services like FreshBooks, moving to a digital signature program like DocuSign, and using the Cloud for data backup and archiving. If you collect business cards at events during the year, it may also be a good idea to invest in a business card scanner so you can digitize contact info immediately and ditch the paper cards.

Use the Right Productivity Tools

We all have our favorite apps and tools we use every day, although some are probably more useful than others. In fact, for every one productivity-enhancing app you use, I bet there is another one that is just not the right fit, but you keep using it because you’ve been using it for so long and you’re used to it. This is why it is so important to — at least once a year — take stock of the apps and tools you are using in your small business and decide if they still meet your needs. This is also a great time to consider if you have some gaps and find the right tools to fill them. Below are some of the top areas where many small business owners find productivity tools useful. These should give you a solid starting point for getting your productivity tools organized this year:

  • Contact management. From keeping track of your customers to remembering people you meet while networking, every small business owner needs a system for managing contact information. You can opt for a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system like Salesforce, or for smaller scale management you can set up your existing Contacts app to work for your business.
  • Meetings and communication. Whether you conduct meetings face-to-face, on the phone or via video chat services, there is a way to make the process more organized. You can use a service like Do to get your meetings more organized — before, during and after.
  • Accounting and bookkeeping. Organize and streamline the way you invoice, take payments, and manage cashflow with tools like Quickbooks Online, Xero and Wave.
  • Travel and expense tracking. You can use apps like Expedia and TripAdvisor to make travel plans easier. Then, once on the road, apps like Expensify help you track expenses and make reporting when you get home a lot more organized.
  • Social media management. We all know how much time can be wasted on social media if you’re not approaching it in a systematic and organized way. This is why tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can be invaluable for small business owners.
  • Email management. If you use Gmail in your small business, you have access to quite a few Google extensions that can quickly get your inbox organized. If you’re using another email app, try SaneBox for automatic filtering, reminders and more.
  • Project management. A good project management app will help you track tasks, share files and collaborate with teammates all in one place and it can be one of the best tools you can use to get your work organized. Try Basecamp or Asana for an all-in-one project management solution.

Productivity is a very personal process and the apps you need will be specific to you the work you do and the way you tend to work. Take time to explore what your needs are before incorporating a new tool in your process. You may not need as many as you think.

 

Get Your Computer Organized

This is a big one for any small business owner who does the bulk of his or her work on the computer. You probably know that it does not take very long for your desktop to become cluttered with icons, your Downloads folder to get so full of strangely named documents that it is impossible to find anything, or your email inbox to get so out of control you start to think it really might explode. Not only is this horrible for your productivity, but it can also slow down your computer’s performance significantly.

Here is a list of things you can do right now to get your computer organized and back into working shape:

  • Clean up your desktop. There are a couple of ways you can go here, and it all depends on your work style and how you use your computer. You can get rid of everything from your desktop except for your trash bin (remember that the app icons on your desktop are just shortcuts — all of your actual apps usually live in your Applications folder). Or you can add a few shortcuts to your most frequently used apps and files. I tend to err toward the first option, going as streamlined as possible, but often using my desktop for easy access to files I am currently working on. Then I move them to their permanent home once I am finished.
  • Set up a digital filing system. Speaking of giving your documents a permanent home, this is where you create a filing system that makes complete sense to you so you can find the documents you need when you need them.
  • Update software. If your computer is set to automatically install the application and operating system updates, great. If it’s a manual process for you, you should check for updates at least bimonthly since many include security patches. Then, once a year, review the current versions of software you are using and make the decision if its time to upgrade.
  • Scan for viruses and performance issues. Regardless of what type of computer you have, all of them can get viruses or malware (yes, even Macs!).  Set up a regular computer maintenance plan to keep everything always running smoothly in your business!
  • Verify the integrity of your data backup. You are backing up your data, right? If not, skip everything else for the time being and do this one first. You can either use a Cloud-based data backup service like Carbonite, Backblaze or CrashPlan or you can use an external hard drive that you plug into your computer (I do both). With either option, configure the service or drive to conduct continuous automatic backups so you don’t have to do anything manually. Then, once or twice a year, go into your backup service or drive and poke around to make sure everything is there and accessible should you need to pull copies to your local computer.
  • Wrangle your inbox. Many small business owners have a love-hate relationship with their email inbox. They love it because it’s a highly productive and efficient communication tool; yet they hate it because it can quickly get out of control causing unnecessary stress. There are things you can do to keep your inbox in line, such as using automation, streamlining what you receive on a daily basis, and limiting how often you check email during your day.

The tips above will help you get your small business more organized immediately, but remember how fast things can get out of control. Pair these activities with a resolution to conduct a quick and easy review of your papers, productivity tools and computer status a few times a month so you can stay organized and prevent things from reaching overwhelming levels of disorganization.

10 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

28 Jan

When most people hear about standard operating procedures, or SOPs, they often think about a large corporation with hundreds of employees and pages and pages of documented processes. Rarely does one hear the words small business and SOP in the same sentence and we think that is a BIG business mistake!

Regardless of the size of a business, establishing SOPs can make life simpler for everyone involved – the entrepreneur, staff, business partners, and ultimately the customers.

What Is a Standard Operating Procedure – or SOP?

An SOP is essentially a step-by-step guide for handling routine tasks and recurring events in business. Along with the sequence of performing an activity, SOPs also usually include a timeline for completing each step. Some examples of where you might use an SOP in your business include:

  • New Customer/Client Onboarding SOP: Steps you take as a business to add a new customer
  • Customer service SOP: Steps to handle common customer requests and complaints
  • Blog Management SOP: Instructions on how to post on your website, standard components of a post, frequency and time of posting, steps to promote new blog posts via social media etc.

As a small business, following standardized operating procedures can save you time, allow you (and your team) to be more productive, eliminate a lot of errors, and improve compliance with industry guidelines. Here are ten reasons why every small business should have SOP.

10 Reasons Every Small Business Should Be Using Standard Operating Procedures

1. Better Manage Your Team

SOPs are a highly effective tool for managing your team. Here’s how you can use them.

Train New Employees Faster
For new employees, providing SOPs allows them a start point to learn about the business. It helps them understand the frequency of each process, what is entailed in completing, and the responsibilities of each person in the business. This allows them to get up to speed much faster and relieves you, or another team member, from having to spend countless hours training.

Improve Employee Productivity
After the initial training, SOPs act as a guide for staff to ensure that they perform tasks correctly and within specified timeframes. The more they follow the SOP, the more confident employees become in their skills. Improved employee productivity means you save on work hours, and at the same time reduce chances of errors in performance.

Prepares the Business for Delegating/Outsourcing
Once you are confident that a standard operating procedure is working well, you can delegate the work to a newer recruit, or outsource to a virtual assistant. This frees you up to work on higher level tasks to build the business.

Useful in Writing Job Descriptions
It can be difficult to evaluate the contribution of employees in a small business. SOPs form the basis for listing critical business processes as well as daily tasks and assigning responsibilities for each.  Therefore, they become the baseline document for drafting job descriptions of each member of your team.

2. Maintain and Improve Quality

Ensure Product Quality
How do you deliver the same product quality consistently? One way is to have quality checks at different phrases in your process. The other is to ensure that everyone understands the specifications of the final product. Manufacturers, as well as service organizations, can use standard operating procedures to communicate effectively with their staff on how they want things done to meet desired product quality standards.

Create a Benchmark of Service
While your customers may never catch a glimpse of your internal SOPs, they will certainly know how professionally you run the business. Having ‘Service’ SOPs ensures that each member of your team has a clear understanding of the expected outcome of service interactions. This could include the way a customer is spoken to on the phone, the resolution to a customer problem, or the time it takes to complete a customer order.

Ensure Business Continuity
To ensure continuity of business, it’s essential to identify a backup staff for each task. In the absence of the key staff member, someone else can refer to the SOP, quickly get up to speed and ensure that the work is completed correctly.

Identify Areas for Improvement
Over time, SOPs becomes a source for identifying opportunities for improving your internal processes, which could save additional time and money and further improve customer experience. Ideally, you should review critical SOPs at least once every three or four months to assess if you need to make changes.

3. Reduce Business Risk

Improve Compliance
If you are in a business that is highly regulated (e.g., food business, medical billing, financial advisory), you need to ensure that you continually follow the laws and regulations at every step. Documenting these requirements in your SOP serves as an important reminder for both you and your staff on steps crucial for compliance.

Reduce Risk of Accidents
Compared to many businesses, restaurants and bakeries, and manufacturers are relatively more accident-prone places of work. As the employer, it is your responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and SOPs can help you achieve that. As an example, at a restaurant, you can create SOPs for cleaning the work area, handling and maintaining dangerous kitchen equipment, and expected handling of any accidents.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the notion of creating a massive SOP manual for every single process in your business, start small. We suggest you start by noting down the steps you take the next time you perform a work task. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate form or follow any special formatting – it’s just a recording of each of the steps that need to take place to complete the process successfully.

Alternatively, you could make a video-based SOP for sharing information with your employees or contractors on the tasks that you handle and want to delegate to others. From the video, they can take over the process and write out the steps as well, so you have an official written SOP and the video.

At Sala Social Marketing, we are BIG believers in the power of standard operating procedures for every business. Don’t get intimidated by the process, though. Just pick one task (heck – it could be how you order supplies!) and get started. You’ll be glad you did!

Should I Outsource My Social Media? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

22 Oct

With every other Instagram star being a social media guru these days, it’s common for businesses to ask themselves whether they should look into outsourcing their social media efforts.

The day-to-day tasks of running a business are generally enough for the average CEO, causing social media marketing to fall short on the priority calendar.

Social media marketing is its own beast and requires a special attention and level of creativity. Frankly, it isn’t for everyone.

If you’re going back and forth on whether to outsource your social media marketing, ask yourself the following questions first.

1. How Much Time Do I Have to Devote to Managing Social Media?

Time is the biggest reason businesses look to outsourcing their social media.

Social media isn’t just about scheduling posts.

You actually have to invest time in:

  • Tracking your brand mentions on social media.
  • Monitoring the conversations that are happening.
  • Trying new growth hack methods.
  • Responding immediately to any inquiries.

All of this needs to happen 24/7, too.

To say social media management can be done by setting aside 1-2 hours a week is really quite hilarious.

The time you invest in managing your brand’s social pages and image can’t be categorized into a lump one or few hour time period. It is something that requires constant attention and generally in small intervals.

This is especially true for brands that have large followings and receive question after question through their social pages.

For those smaller to medium-sized businesses who argue, “Well, I don’t have tons of followers, so I just post and I’m good,” I hate to break it to you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If anything, the brands that have smaller followings have even more work cut out for them as they try to grow their followers organically and through paid methods. Talk about overtime. 

There are tons of excellent growth hacking methods to get your follower count as high as Nike, but to execute those methods it takes lots and lots of time and energy.

Social media isn’t a one and done type of strategy. You need to continually be optimizing your followers and be social online.

2. Do I Know How to Be Social Online?

Social media isn’t an excuse to hide behind a computer and not actually talk to anyone. You still need to talk to your followers.

There’s truly an art to being a social butterfly online, and not everyone has the knack. Let’s be honest with ourselves.

If you just really don’t have the energy, creativity, or will to be a virtual social butterfly, don’t be.

If you have the time, there are tons of resources to teach you how to connect with people virtually and become this type of butterfly for your brand.

Maybe you do have the time and want to learn how to connect with your demographic socially, go for it!

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you though is to know your audience.

If your audience is just as introverted as you are they’ll most likely continue that introverting in how they communicate online.

Instead of being on flashy social media pages like Instagram or Snapchat they may be hiding in forums or casually browsing Pinterest.

Wherever they may be mimic your customer, go where they are, talk like they talk, create content they’re comfortable with. Don’t be an extrovert in an introverts world.

If the idea of this is making you cringe, it would be best for you to outsource your social media to an agency who has done work for another business within your industry.

This is someone who knows how to talk to be a virtual social butterfly to youraudience.

3. Have I Established My Brand Voice? If So, How Unique Is It?

Brand voice is everything on social media.

Again, know your audience but also know your brand before you even try to connect with your audience.

  • Are your posts funny and sarcastic?
  • Do they only have calls to action and demands?
  • Are you capitalizing on every big news story?
  • Or are you more of a DIY mom who has a 10-year old blog?

All of those voices are entirely different. Though most agencies will, not all agencies are great at mimicking your brand voice.

The first step here is to get your brand voice down. Once you have it, never lose it!

Then, document everything you possibly can about this voice.

  • What words should this voice use?
  • Which ones should it avoid at all costs and never ever ever ever use?
  • Who are other companies who have a similar brand voice?

The more you document, the more you’ll see if this is something you can trust in another brands hands to help manage for you or if you should hold onto this baby yourself.

After all, you’re the one who created it.

In short:

  • If you have a well-documented brand voice, a good social media agency will be able to send you example copies for your approval until you feel at ease that they get it.
  • If you’re still trying to find your brand voice and are at the beginning stages of this strategy, now isn’t exactly the best time to outsource your social media management.
  • If you’re going to outsource anything, hire a social media consultant to help define your brand voice for social media and then take it from there.

4. Do I Have Content or Do I Need Content?

One way to do social media is to be completely hands off and let a social media agency do all of the work for you, which can even include creating the content to share.

If you have your own content to share, I’m not saying it’s a deal breaker and you should just suck it up and manage social media yourself.

What I’m saying is that if you’re struggling to figure out which type of content to produce, or if you should reshare that ebook from three years ago, it’s worth outsourcing your content production to a professional.

This professional is going to need a good debrief about your business, how and why it operates, who it’s ideal and actual customers are, and what kind of content materials you already have.

From there, outsourcing content may be the best move for your business.

You can still manage the social media in-house, but without the worries of trying to figure out what kind of content your followers actually want to see.

5. Can I Afford to Outsource?

Social media agencies, independent contractors, and content creators all come at entirely different price ranges.

Sometimes, their price ranges are less expensive than your in-house social media manager. Other times not so much.

Outsourcing social media could cost anywhere from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars a month, all depending upon the following factors:

  • What kind of outsourcing: Freelance (least expensive), agency (middle), or enterprise (highest)
  • What the monthly deliverables are: More posts and content creation = higher price
  • How long the contract length is: Longer contracts = price cuts
  • Social media tool subscriptions: Sometimes agencies require you to have your own account
  • Social media advertising: Because organic is no longer good enough

Let’s not forget about the time it takes for you to email back and forth, edit, approve and review reports.

Here’s a look at everything that comes with in-house costs of social media management:

  • Employees (salary, benefits, etc.).
  • Social media tool subscriptions.
  • Content creation.
  • Social media advertising.
  • Strategy development and measurement (time and tools).

If you go the freelancer route, you’re certainly saving money on those benefit coverages, but it may not always be the right path. You’re still looking at investing:

  • Your management time.
  • Your communication time.
  • Content creation.
  • Social media advertising.

6. What Should I Do?

So, which one is right for you?

It depends on tons of different goals and factors, most which we hashed out above.

To put it simply, if you’re already head over heels with to-do lists and the idea of carving out extra time to do another task is making your other eye twitch, do yourself a favor and outsource. It will be the least time-invested resource.

Though, don’t forget, it will still require a bit of your time and movement in your budget.

6 new social media marketing tools the experts use

27 Aug

Social Media has grown gradually with both globalization and ingenuity spectrums. Today, as we know it, we are looking forward towards a digital age that has reformed our lives competently.

The advancements made by humans has created a single platform where everyone could gather and share their professional involvements into something much bigger, better, and business wise it really hits the chartbusting success.

Over the past few years the SM development has become a necessity in order to gain a virtual victory for your endeavors. Whether it’s your E-commerce involvements or a new brand you want to introduce on social media, you’ll be needing some essentials tool out of hundreds of them available. Though, there are hundreds of online platform utilities available and almost all of them have that particularizing nitty gritty wonders to give your digital ventures. But here are my top favorite 6 that’ll give you a head start towards a prolific career in 21st century’s cyberspace domain.

Buffer: Best social media managing tool

Here is one of those crop of the cream management tools you’ll definitely require in order to create a perfect pathway for your progression processes to follow on. What does it actually do is that it keeps your publications align in an accord synchrony. Your timeline will become more efficient in a timeline flow and give users a perfect timing of viewing your posts in a specific timeframe.

Buffer comes in both free and paid versions and creates an ideal analytics dashboard in order to give your social media streamers a spellbinding back to back streamline effect. Moreover, it lets you evaluate the performances of each and every post letting you direct your publications on specific niches and day to day conducts. In short, it also gives you an unswerving memo of what type of posts are trending on which days of the week. Hence, letting you know your users backgrounds and interests that keep them online for ours on various social media platforms.

Sprout Social: Customer relationship management tool

This one comes on the top of the list due to its dedicated diversities in offering various tools for your social media improvements. Founded in 2010 by Justyn Howard, Aaron Rankin, Gil Lara and Peter Soung and ever since it made its debut, is expanded just like ink on a piece of cloth. One of the best catalogue of SM tools for your esteemed customer care cordiality. A great management tool with proficient advocacy and an integrated analytics’ software for businesses.

Furthermore, Sprout’s summing up success acquires users the ability to assimilate with social media giants’ such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Google Analytics, Feedly, Zendesk and a few more as well. Alike Buffer, it also offers’ some great free to paid utilities alongside with its exclusive customers’ relationship management tool.

A few important features defined by SS in terms of cramming up E-businesses credibility for its employing consumers comprise scheduling abilities, social listening operations, analytics platform, and multi-purpose access for integrated coordination between teams. Likewise, Bambu by Sprout Social lets user curate content so that coworkers can access and share each other’s posts across different social networks. Astoundingly, Sprout Social allows managers to nurture associations via prompt replies to reviews and requests by respected clients.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the biggest social media utility brands that has come across user-management magnitude gratitude by about more than 15 million users worldwide. Created by Ryan Holmes in 2008 and since a decade it has superbly multifaceted to offer supreme analytics sophisticates to let you operate better online on plentiful social media platforms.

One of the best UI systems that assumes a preamble of tools adjusted dashboard that upkeeps your social network combinations comprising a revolving circle between SM sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. One of its best feature is the whole of it due to its free availability, and to add the treat twist to it, the paid features are relatively economical in costs as compared to its SM augmenting counterparts.

Feedly

One of the best auto organizers and a news aggregator application for your social media postings. This social media marketing tool keeps your content on autopilot mode with the best timeline preferences. It is better known as a great social media discovery tool like another popular one known as BuzzSumo, but has a bit different operational standards. All you have to do is add the RSS feeds of your preferred blogs and writers, and let Feedly create a composite magazine for you related to the niche and nature of subjects you’ve selected.

Feedly performs posts on up to date indexes and keeps you online UI neat and tidy. Besides, it lets you create the perfect social media scheme and a syncing chronology for your SM postings schedule. The best part of this feeds amplifying tool is that it always offers you something out of millions of publications and out there and keeps you socially active throughout the day with your online E-commerce endeavors. You always have something to share with your customers via the basic to boosting posting tool Feedly.

Bitly: Best content summarizer

Here you go with another amazing find that lets you keep your illustrated content into a proficient précis that really helps your business grow on a rapid pace. Simply put, it mostly shortens your URL address to keep your non-friendly URL social media apps like Instagram and Twitter on scope with business cycle unifications.

Besides, Bitly assists you in understanding which abridged web addresses are working more accurately to your desired e-marketing goals straightforwardly on a single platform without hitching out tool-to-tool analytics here and there. A great concept to let you keep up with single to multiple linkage CTA (call to action) persuasions by users as well as giving you significant insights. Hence, letting you optimize your online business efforts via statistics you’ve collected.

What makes Bitly so important for your social media ventures, is that it lets you summarize your website addresses for social networking websites to proficiently adjust on their in-mobile applications. Simply put, Bitly keeps your web pages well managed with short lengths. It lets you adjust them on a single page without the need of hesitantly distorting your written profiles into a mess that no one wants to land on.

Canva: Best visual content architect tool

Canva gives you the best consolation for your creative concepts. One of the wonderful visual amplifying tools for your social media E-commerce enterprises. The visual content is such an important aspect for your SM oriented e-commerce regulations that you cannot throttle around progressive online marketing grounds without it. Canva comes with a lot of options you can render graphic immersive gimmicks to your genuine content online.

One of the best suite of Productivity Apps and powerful editing templates with a better usability interface than Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. The best part of Canva is its minimalistic and has a rather easy-to-use palate to go with the best visual endorsed renderings for your content.

Tasks You Should Be Outsourcing to A Virtual Assistant!

4 Sep

When it comes to running your business, you have loads of tasks to complete each day. You are probably trying very hard to race ahead of your competitors and operate your business on a global scale, but, if you are thinking that you would manage it all alone, you are quite mistaken.

Shocked, right?

But, it is the ultimate truth of the modern world of business.

You always need an extra hand of assistance for achieving greater success. Moreover, you can safely trust a virtual assistant to carry out many important tasks for you while you concentrate on your next business meeting without any interruption.

But, why delegate tasks to a virtual assistant when you have your own office assistant?

The reason is very simple!

You do not have to pay to a virtual assistant for the office space, computer and the internet connections that they use to get your work done.

They are dedicated professionals who can provide the best administrative and business services to the offshore clients and meet their demands irrespective of their geographical location.

Just pay them as per the work to be performed and avail their service!

So, when your inbox starts flowing with mails and you need to juggle among multiple tasks, spare yourself some free time by delegating your tasks to a virtual assistant who would happily share your work load.

Not sure what to delegate or where to start?

Listed below are 12 important tasks that you can outsource to your virtual assistant.

Keep reading…

1. Online Research

The quickest way to find information on any topic, product or event is through online research. But, conducting online research can be daunting and time-consuming.

Delegate the research work to your virtual assistant who would look for any kind of information on the web for you.

Do not forget to share the important credentials, such as ids, passwords etc., along with specific instructions to get the best of their assistance.

2. Data Entry

It is one of the most repetitive and laborious administrative task which can be very well handled by the virtual assistants.

The work actually involves collecting data and entering into spreadsheets which require sitting at the computer for a long period of time.

Virtual assistants would assume the responsibility of updating your database entries for a prolonged period of time so that you can relax and enjoy some free time.

3. Data Presentations

When you are gearing up for a business meeting, making a power point presentation on it is one of the most essential task for you. But, these presentations take longer hours of preparation which means a waste of your productive time.

Assign these tasks of data presentations to a virtual assistant and utilize your valuable time for enhancing the prospect of your business.

All you need to do is to provide clear instructions to the VA about how to perform the presentation task.

4. Market Research

For an entrepreneur, market research is necessary to understand the industry, competitors and the customers. Without marketing knowledge, your venture will  always be held back.

You can ask your VA to conduct a methodical market research to find relevant marketing information about your business.

They would do an extensive study on your competitors and their products, and send you the findings in a very organized and systematic manner for easy comprehension.

5. Online Marketing

Online marketing is essential for you if you want to expand your business or want to get competitive advantage. But such virtual marketing needs implementation of efficient techniques and expertise from you which might make you think that you are just not the right person for it.

Stop worrying over it.

Make your online marketing endeavours a great success with the help of VAs!

With a wide range of online marketing tools and methods, virtual assistants can do online marketing on their clients’ behalf. Moreover, they hold expertise and profound knowledge in this area which would surely reflect in the financial outcome of your business.

6. Call Answering

In a business, you need to make calls either to your business associates or to your customers. Moreover, operating business activities on an international level requires you to keep your phone lines active all the time because a closed phone line might result in a loss of good business opportunities.

Share your work load and ask your VAs to make or answer calls on your behalf. They would make all the necessary calls, respond to any incoming calls and note down all the important information for you in a way which you find simple to understand.

The best part?

You do not even need to monitor the progress of the tasks. VAs would complete your work with amazing proficiency and keep your business running even when you sleep!

7. Social Media Marketing

In today’s media age, it is essential to increase brand visibility, boost sales and draw more traffic to a website. But these tasks are repetitive and need a lot of patience.

Hire a skilled VA who can appropriately and tactfully do social media marketing on your behalf. From generating leads to posting latest video files, these virtual assistants would never disappoint you.

8. Email Management

Sometimes, it becomes daunting to manage huge volumes of email that you receive in your inbox on a daily basis. In such a case, a VA can come to your rescue by managing your email, i.e. answering your mails on your behalf, checking promotional messages and deleting spam mails effectively.

9. App Development

Application development is quite a significant task in the business scenario. But, you  cannot always manage the time that each business application requires.

Just find a virtual assistant who comes with a specialization in application development. They can customize and enhance the performance of these applications without any external help.

10. Search Engine Optimization

It is the process of drawing in more traffic to your site from the search engine through search results. Here, it is important to mention that improper SEO practices can adversely affect your business and your online status.

Therefore, it is always better to seek services of expert VAs who can provide effective SEO services. They would search the relevant keywords for your articles and blog content, and perform periodic assessment on the search engine analytics to send you a comprehensive report on the virtual status of your business.

11. Web Development

Your website is the first thing that helps your visitors to build an impression on the nature of your business and your offered products/services. Therefore, if you cannot make good sales, it means that visitors are not staying on your webpage.

Opt for the professional help of VAs who can create as well as develop your websites using various website applications and tools such as WordPress, Dreamweaver, Joomla, etc.

Moreover, they would provide in your website just the right combination of graphics and content which is sure to fetch you more customers in future.

12. Content Writing

A content writer has to understand the nature of your business and develop a content which supports your ideas and expounds on them. Therefore, it is a task which requires not only expertise but also dedication to the content writing process.

You can outsource writing tasks to VAs who have expertise in the relevant field. Your skilled VA can write content for articles, websites, blogs and social media sites after doing extensive research on the topics and deliver results which is up to your satisfaction.

 

Are you ready to work with a VA? Contact Sala Social Marketing today for a free discovery call!  We’ve been providing stellar VA services to clients worldwide for over 6 years.

5 Things to Consider When Working with a new Virtual Assistant

31 Jul

It is now easier to hire and work with a virtual assistant than ever before because of the way that technology has been evolving and competition in the marketplace.  Because of globalization you are just one step away from freeing up your time, reducing costs and generating more profits than ever by learning to work with a VA.

You should be focusing on your high pay off activities, that generate revenue so you can reduce your stress levels and allow your virtual assistant do the repetitive tasks that hold you back from growing.

Here are five things to consider when hiring your first VA:

  1. Know what you want them to do.

You probably have an idea of what you would like to have your VA do for you on a regular basis, but have you written it all out?  Many people hire a full time VA and don’t know how to fill up their 160 hours in the month.  It is important that you invest some time before making the hire to have an idea of all of the task you would like them to do, this way they will constantly be working and not have to wait for the next task.  This list will forever grow; the key is to have enough for them once they get started.

  1. Know how you are going to communicate with them.

There are many options on the method in which you will be communicating with your VA, the key is to know that method before you get started.  You will want to have your system that works best for you and then set that expectation for your VA.  Skype, Google Docs and Email all are free and are a great system to implement.  Also know when you are going to communicate with them and what the expectation of response time should be.

  1. Crawl before you can walk

Many people hire their VA and give them a To-Do list that is extremely long.  Don’t worry, your VA will finish ALL of those tasks, but assign those tasks in bite size chunks.  They are like any other person working for you, it can be overwhelming if you give them everything at once.  So give them one task at a time or post the list online in a place where they can always see what the next task is, but what’s most important is that they are working on one task at a time.  When they get used to working with you over time, that is when they will be juggling many tasks at once, they will get there, but start off slow.

  1. The dollars are in the details

Most people just want to start telling their VA about the many things they need done, and just want to give the basic idea of what needs to be done and go on to the next task.  This can be dangerous if you do not provide enough detail about the task, you cannot assume that your VA knows everything about the task as you do, so it is better to give more details in the beginning then less about a task.  Over time you will find the comfortable medium as to how much you should explain each task.

  1. Encourage creativity

Your full time virtual assistant wants to make you happy and provide good work, so that is why it is imperative that you follow these last four tips.  You will also want to set the expectation from the beginning that perhaps you don’t know all of the answers and encourage them to get creative and come up with solutions also.  They very well may help you in a way that you never expected.  It is always best to have a second pair of eyes on your work especially from someone one who is so involved with it.

You are about to embark on a wonderful journey with your new full time virtual assistant, so be sure to make the most of it and start off on the right foot.  The possibilities are endless as to what you can have them working on, such as marketing, web design, customer service, bookkeeping, sales, appointment setting, internet research, data entry, web programming, personal tasks and so much more.  

How to Hire a Freelancer for Social Media Marketing

24 Oct

Advertising on Facebook and other social media sites requires time and expertise. But ecommerce merchants often lack one or the other; they sometimes struggle with optimizing paid social media campaigns.

The answer for many merchants is to hire a specialized freelancer. Marketplaces, such as Upwork, Outsourcely, and Guru, are good places to start. All have tools that allow you to search for the skills you’re looking for — such as “Facebook ads.”

You’ll likely see a list of freelancers with titles such as “Facebook Ads Master,” and descriptions of “All I do is Facebook ads. In fact, I love Facebook ads.” Each freelancer also provides his or her hourly rate, as well as other skills, such as email marketing.

Searching freelance marketplaces for “Facebook ads” will likely produce a list of candidates, such as this example from Upwork.

Moreover, most freelance marketplaces have a five-star rating system. Almost every project from every freelancer is rated in this manner. In my experience, if a freelancer doesn’t have mostly four or five stars, he isn’t worth your time.

Posting a Job

The first step in finding a suitable candidate is to create a post, on the marketplace, that lists what you need and how you want to pay: a lump sum or an hourly rate. For a larger project, such as setting up a Facebook ads account, I prefer paying a lump sum. That way I can budget for a one-time setup, a creative stockpile, and an initial strategy.

In fact, it’s nearly always best, in my experience, to hire freelance social media expertise with a lump-sum payment. Hourly engagements can sometimes lead to cost overruns or misunderstandings on the engagement’s scope.

The process of posting a job on a freelance marketplace is straightforward. For this example, I’ll use Upwork.

Create an account at Upwork and click “Post a Job” in the upper menu. This will take you to the job creation page. Start by giving your job a name, and then a description. Provide as much detail as possible — the success of the job depends on detailed communication as it lets the freelancer knows what she’s getting into.

Create an account at Upwork and click “Post a Job.” This will take you to the job creation page.

Then, attach any relevant files, such as non-sensitive business packets and style guides. Choose the project type, how your project is described, and the number of freelancers you’ve used previously and what they’ve done. Choose, also, the number of social media sites you’ll be targeting, which, for this example, is just Facebook.

Next comes a few more details, such as additional specifications for the job, your experience working with freelancers, the skills they need, and the price you will pay. Select, too, an experience level: Intermediate to Expert is best, though Intermediate will likely cover your needs.

Also, choose how you want to advertise your job. You can expose it to all freelancers on Upwork or, alternatively, you can just enter the name of specific people, and only they will be able to see the job. If you open it to all Upworkers, add further “Preferred Qualifications” to help narrow down the field.

Finally, you can ask a few questions that anyone applying will have to answer, such as “Do you have any experience with my industry” or “What do you find most frustrating with Facebook ads?” These questions will help you learn more about the freelancer, to make sure he has the expertise for your job.

Questions and Milestones

Once you’ve found a freelancer and have agreed on the cost, schedule a telephone call to get the project started. Remember, it’s your project. Ask questions, recognizing that you’ve hired an expert.

Most marketplace platforms let you set up milestones for each major step of the engagement. For a Facebook ads account, as an example, consider milestones of:

  • Account set up;
  • Ads created;
  • Conversion tracking added;
  • Account launched.

Beyond the milestones, keep tabs on your project. Establish a schedule of check-ins, such as every Wednesday at 5 p.m., but don’t send daily emails asking about the status. Send additional information to your freelancer if it’s beneficial and give feedback when necessary.

Of course, you can always save the hassle and work with a VA/Freelancer agency like Sala Social Marketing.  We have over 18 years experience in the field with many happy clients!