Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year in Virtual Assisting

Well, I've been quite lax in maintaining my blog. However, it is a new year and I'm very excited about the prospects. My business is off and running. I have steady clients and not-so-steady clients, but clients all the same.

As I look back on this past year of starting up a new business, finding clients and delivering services as promised, I find that, though, it has been a struggle making ends meet, it has been a very fulfilling year.

I've accomplished my goals: never to work in an office (except my own) again; be able to choose who I work for (no more Devil Wears Khakis bosses); no more working long hours only to be layed off - unappreciated after years of dedication. I choose my own hours, work around my personal schedule and still have time for school (online degree) and family.

The work I do is enjoyable and satisfying. I've learned a great deal about other areas of business, particularly digital design (which is also the degree I'm pursuing) - such as designing book covers, logos and the like. I also have clients who are authors, non-profit organizations and small businesses.

My journey has taken me some time to discover the right path, but now that I have found it - I look forward to the many interesting people and places I'll meet along the way.

Happy New Year!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Benefits of Outsourcing

Have ideas for a blog but don’t know where to start? A website that you’ve been meaning to update but just haven’t gotten around to? These are the kinds of tasks that are made for outsourcing.

Just think: There are people out there that are more than happy to write a blog for you - for a small fee, of course. You give them the idea of what you would like to blog about and they, in turn, will research and write a blog just for you. In your blog, they’ll make sure to not only write a knowledgeable piece but one that subtly directs the reader to your website. Because, ultimately, that is the goal of a blog.

And once they get to that website, what do they see? A website that was hastily put together? One that needs updating? How about those little typos you’ve been meaning to fix? A website not only should inform a visitor of your business but ultimately turn that visitor into a buyer. A professional, well thought-out website is imperative to your business.

Outsourcing these kinds of tasks can not only save you time but bring the professional results you desire. Does it take money? Yes. A lot? No. There are many affordable outsourcing outlets to choose from. Most advertise their services on boards such as Craigslists, Virtual Assistant boards and many others. (Always make sure to ask for an example of their work before hiring.)

How much time would YOU spend doing these tasks? A couple of hours, at least, or more? A professional can pound these kinds of tasks out in an hour or two. And since time is money, this is cash well spent. While your outsourced project is quickly getting done by someone who does this for a living, you can spend quality time doing what you do for your living - building your business.

Since time is money, it’s a win-win situation all around!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant (or VA) is one who provides administrative services to businesses on an as-needed basis. Let's face it, most administrative services today can be provided virtually. No need to have that person sitting next to you in a cubicle when they are just a click away (how many times do you send an email or IM to someone in the next cube or two?).

In today's fun economy, cubicle jobs are disappearing faster than you can say, "Who's next?" Being one of those whispered about (on numerous occasions), I have been happily out of a cubicle, yet still able to do the same duties I did then - only without the walls (and that really annoying person three cubes down who walks by the copy machine only to drop off a 1-page document with a post-it note asking you to make a copy for her files).

VA's provide typical administrative duties such as typing of documents, presentations, data-entry, spreadsheets, mailings and the like. But most VA's also have a specialty: mine happens to be PowerPoint presentations. I can also build websites, design newsletters and brochures. My other specialty is proofreading and editing. Other VA's specialize in Real Estate, legal or the insurance industry, to name a few.

It's become more beneficial for employers, as well. Since VA's work on an as-needed basis, employers are only paying for what they need, not the lunch break or the phone call from the kids. Nor do they pay benefits, sick time or vacations.

Since any VA worth their salt is already well-equipped with the latest and greatest in tech equipment, software and their own work space, gone is the expense of training, office space and hi-tech upgrades.

Outsourcing of IT services has been going on for years, mostly being outsourced outside of the US. But when it comes to administrative services, most US-based businesses would prefer to keep their VA's close to home (virtually-speaking, that is). And that will only increase as businesses come to the realization that having an assistant doesn't have to mean the one sitting outside the door refusing to get your coffee because it's not in their job description. (Corporate-provided bagel WITH cream cheese, maybe.

Outsourcing is becoming the wave of the future. Virtual Assistants are in a prime spot to not only get on the surfboard but teach businesses to boogie-board right alongside them.