Ah, the internet. It can be a wonderful place where people come together and unite over a common cause or it can be the stuff that nightmares are made of. I don't like being burned at the electronic stake any more than you do, so I made a short list of the top three things you might be doing online that people just don't do anymore.
Back in high school, we had a great message board that we used to keep track of all the local shows, bands, share information about cities or venues, and of course, troll each other. (Any PA kids remember Vocal Youth?) Anyway, today, we really don't use message boards all that often, and for good reason - we have Facebook groups, Linkedin groups, and well, most of us have grown up now and we really can't spend all day online burning each other. (Or can we?) The point is, any purpose we had for a message board was slowly replaced by actual social networks.
Messaging People that Follow Us
Okay, I know you're thinking - "Hey I do that all the time!"
But here's why you should rethink that if you don't know the person that just followed you or sent you a friend request:
If you must message someone to somehow thank them for following you, don't be weird about it. Take ten seconds to read about them in their bio and mention a common interest or ask them a question about something they're into. It's more personable and you don't come off like a weirdo.
I know, I know, you want to share every waking moment of your day with your friends because you live far away or you're on vacation or whatever, but here's the thing...don't. No one needs to know what you had for breakfast every day and some of us don't want to see your 50 million gym selfies. We love keeping up with you, but when you overshare like that, you become white noise, people unfollow you, or they just scroll by everything you post because they know it's a snoozefest. We love you, but seriously, we don't need the play-by-play of your day.
I'm sure there are MANY more things that you shouldn't be doing on social media anymore, so let me know what you really find intolerable on social media in the comments.
Want to keep the conversation going beyond the comments? Look up my group on Facebook - Healthy Workaholics!
If you're reading this, you're probably considering hiring a Virtual Assistant or you already did and the transition was a stinking hot mess and you're wondering how the process could go smoother so if you're ever in that position again that you're prepared. No matter where you are in your business, when you hire someone on to help you, you're never truly prepared 100% for that transition. Anything could happen, and that's even true for those of us that have iron-clad contract of steel. (Which we either have because we've worked in the legal field and have seen things or we've learned the hard way...)
So, if you're ready to hire a Virtual Assistant, what should be ready to handle when it comes to onboarding help? Here are some common problems as well as advice on how to handle it.
You're not prepared. At all.
I've had clients come to me with an idea on what they want, but they're not prepared at all for the information that a Virtual Assistant will need to carry out their desires for their business. When you're ready to hire a Virtual Assistant, you've got to be ready for what they'll need to jump in after the interview.
Common things that your Virtual Assistant will need are:
They don't realize how much personal information a Virtual Assistant will have access to.
As a Virtual Assistant, I know more about my clients than their spouses, their BFFs, their priests, and their own mothers. I often have full access to their email accounts, social media, and other platforms that may contain secrets. It is crucial that when you hire a Virtual Assistant, you hire someone that you trust completely with all of your secrets because they WILL come into contact with many of your secrets, even if they don't go seeking them out. A way to prevent leaks are to do a background check, or if that's not possible, get references.
This is a big one, and is the sole reason that I put everything into writing so that if a miscommunication occurs, I can refer back and see what was supposed to happen or what we agreed to. If you're not already using letters of acceptance for services and/or a contract right out of the gate, you should be because it protects both you AND your new Virtual Assistant.
Realizing that time is money.
Simply put, whatever I spend time on, I attach my rate to. Why? Because if working on something, such as responding to emails or setting up a new system takes me away from my children and family, it's only fair that I charge a rate for that. In the past, my employers have paid to train me and even send me to college, so yes, you may end up having to pay your Virtual Assistant a few bucks to learn your desired platform as they adjust to it and how to use it. You'll also be charged for video calls, email correspondence, and in-depth text conversations that correspond to the direct operations of your business, so be prepared for those charges.
Also realizing that mistakes will happen.
And yes, you'll still have to pay your Virtual Assistant when they do happen. If your Virtual Assistant was a normal, hourly employee that had to come in to fix something, even if it was their fault, you'd have them clock in and pay them. Otherwise, your company would be breaking labor laws, and that's not cool. So, if you would pay an hourly employee to do the job, you should probably pay your Virtual Assistant. In the real world, Virtual Assistants are still just people and from time to time, mistakes are going to happen and sometimes they'll even be out of your Virtual Assistant's control. When it comes down to it, when mistakes happen, as long as they're few and far between, a little grace can go a long way, and your Virtual Assistant will be so thankful - I know when I make a mistake I'm personally mortified!
Tara Glenn is a Digital Strategy Specialist with a concentration in photography, writing, ghostwriting, editing, and Virtual Assistance.
Join the conversation in Tara's Facebook group, Healthy Workaholics.
Follow Tara Glenn's photography work on Facebook at Tara Glenn Studios.
Follow Tara Glenn's Writing work on Facebook at Tara Glenn, Writer and Virtual Assistant.
The number one question I get when I tell people what I do for a living is how I got into working from home. The work I do online isn't hard, pays well, I enjoy it, and the best part is that I can do it from anywhere with an internet or steady data connection. Many people have told me that I am living their dream and look at me as if I have three heads when I tell them that they could be living their own dream too - that they could do what I do.
I got my start working online by cold-pitching submissions to write articles based on subjects I already had an interest in. It opened the doors to many other opportunities, but I didn't get here alone. I first had to convince editors that I was the real deal by pitching them ideas.
Pitching isn't hard once you get the basics down. There are also different styles as well as websites and online groups dedicated to getting the perfect pitch on social networking sites like Facebook and Linkedin. There are writers out there that also dedicate time to teaching others to pitch; it truly is a big deal!
(And let's be real, if you write a bad pitch that's full of errors or doesn't make any sense, you be assured that you won't be getting any freelance gigs anytime soon.)
So, how do you write a pitch? I've decided to detail how I pitch, which is a tried and true method I have been using for over a year, when I decided to get serious about freelance pitching and working from home - and it's all going to be right here in this blog so you can have access to the details without paying a dime!
1. Figure out the publication you want to pitch and find their masthead or contact information.
Most larger publications will have a masthead, which will list each position at the publication, their names, and usually an email address or way to contact that person by mail. This can often be the hardest part of the pitch, especially for the publications that have not updated their masthead or simply do not have one. In that case, you'll want to do some research and look for the editor on social media. Do NOT pitch the editor on social media. I can promise you that they're not on Twitter to read pitches in their DMs. It is okay; however, to tweet or DM them to ask how to contact them to pitch them.
2. Write a great subject line.
This should be straight to the point and include the word PITCH in there, so they know exactly what they're getting inside. If it is timely or urgent, that should also be noted in the subject line.
3. Address the editor by name in your pitch.
This seems simple enough, but it really shows you went the extra mile to find the correct email address AND their name, which is a whole lot more personable than "Dear Sir or Ma'am."
4. Introduce yourself.
If you're new to the editor or haven't pitched them in awhile, tell them about yourself. Try to give details that relate to the matter at hand and why you're contacting them. If I'm pitching a parenting publication, I'm sure to tell them that I am a parent, for example. You don't need to give them your whole life story, but give them some brief details about yourself that are interesting and relate to your pitch.
5. Spill the beans.
In the next paragraph, you'll want to quickly detail what your pitch is, how long you intend for it to be, why you should be the person to write it, and why you think it's a good fit for their publication. Keep in mind that editors can read hundreds of pitches every day, so you want to get straight to the good stuff.
6. Thank them and sign off.
Take a moment and simply thank them for their time in considering your pitch. Regardless if you get the piece assigned to you, a little gratitude can go a long way in building a relationship and a friendly rapport with that editor. Also, remember to sign off in your email so they know who you are beyond your email address itself.
7. Check over your work.
You'll want to make sure that there are not crazy grammatical errors within your pitch, that it makes sense, and the sentance structure flows well. If you need a second set of eyes, have a trusted friend that knows their grammar stuff take a look at it. If you need to find grammar friends, I've found that people are pretty friendly and willing to help within the writing communities that I've found online.
And there you have it. How to pitch in seven easy steps!
Tara Glenn is a Digital Strategy Specialist that loves writing and photography and how they can make or break your business! I'd love to chat with you about how I bring your business to life - check out my Work With Me webpage!
One of the best things that I am often called to do is photograph a family when they have relatives in town - often times, I do this for military families with young children that have found it easier to have the relatives come to them rather than travel long distances often with their children. So when I was asked recently at the last moment to photograph that very special moment for another military family because the grandparents were in town, I jumped at the chance because I love being able to show that special bond between grandparents and their grandbabies.
Do you find yourself spending a ton of money every holiday season or pulling out your credit card...and then paying on the things you bought for others well into 2017? I've been there. We've lived that game, and we're slowly digging ourselves out of debt and are finally to the point where it's not overwhelming anymore. BUT, that didn't stop life from happening either - in the coming week I'll be paying for new shoes for one of my kids AND a trip deposit of $499 for my eldest to go to a conference in Washington, D.C. next year and meet the new President.
Am I scared? You betcha. But I'm not letting it stop me. You see, I've brought my income from $0/mo to roughly $1500/mo while only working Part-Time hours, which are mostly worked from home. While I've made a Gofundme page for my family and friends to help be a part of this monumental trip that will shape Kurtis and help mold him into an even better young leader, I am confident that somehow, through my hard work and the stars somehow aligning for me just right in the universe that I will come up with this deposit in time to get the payment schedule that we desire. There are three things that are easy that I do to make extra money, and since this is the holiday season and some may be in similar financial situations, I've decided to share so that others can have a brighter holiday too.
I write. For money.
Okay, so my blog is free, but if you head over to my CV, you can see all of the articles that I've been paid for to write. I earn anywhere upwards of $500 or more a month just based on my writing skills. The first thing you need to do is learn how to pitch a publication, which is super easy and the process can be found on Google.
I make graphics.
I'm not talking about loading up Illustrator and pulling my hair out either. I'm talking about simple graphics that you can make in Canva. In fact, I just signed a new client that I will be making mostly graphics every week for to showcase new members to her site. If you're a Canva master, put those skills to use and make pretty things for your business-owning friends that either don't know how to use it or don't have time to make them! I typically make about $50-$100 each month by making simple graphics for people.
I edit blogs and newsletters.
One of the best things I ever did was that I paid attention all those years ago in English class because now I get to edit blogs and newsletters for business owners that are not so grammar-savvy. I typically make about $100-$200 each month by just simply editing.
How do I find these people?
I first decided to ask my friends that owned businesses if they needed help in any of these areas. If you put it out there, people will typically come or help point you in the right direction for the most part. I also joined numerous groups on Facebook and Linkedin, which were both really helpful in putting me in touch with my target market. If you have any questions or ideas to offer others, leave them below!
Within the military world, my favorite season has always been ball season. The commands are able to come together and celebrate what they've accomplished in the past year, remember the years and good times that have passed, and pay tribute to those that are no longer with us. It is an honor for me to photograph military couples during this special time and ensure they have beautiful images to always remember and cherish with their spouses.
There is only one thing I hate about being a photographer...
I want to share all the images!
The model featured in these images is Kimberly Moreno, and she is also phenomenal at doing makeup. (She did her own MUAH for this!) Also featured are earrings from Joyful Gypsy of Albany, GA!
Every day, I begin my work day with a list of all the things I am thankful for and end my day with a list of things I can do to make the next day better than today. Today's list of gratitude focused on Why I LOVE Working for Myself.
You see, it wasn't always like it is today - I didn't wake up one morning and find myself in a gorgeous home that I love with two nice vehicles, a career that I love, an awesome family, or a housekeeper and personal assistant. NO - I had to work for those things! It wasn't too far into my distant past that I was a single mom of two boys, putting myself through college, worrying about an upcoming deployment, and living in a 3-bedroom house with very little furniture. I hated going through the things I had to work through, but working through all the hard times really made me appreciate the good times even more so.
So here's why I love working for myself:
• I am in control of my own schedule - which is so important as a mom to four children...with each one having their own activities. Kurtis is in Civil Air Patrol and is a Junior Zookeeper at Chehaw, Ryan is a member of the Robotics and Lego Club, and they both play soccer and basketball. Mia and LC both do gymnastics.
• I spend more time with my family! Thanks to being able to work whenever I want to instead of having a set shift, I can schedule each day around my kid's activities, which means I'm making every game, going on evening walks with my family, and I'm there every evening and morning when they need me!
• Working vacations!!! Can I get a heck yes?! I can do my job from anywhere, which means my office can literally be the beach when the boys go to their aviation camps at the National Flight Academy in Pensacola!
• Financial stability! With my career, I'm in control of my schedule and my income, and it's only going to get better from here when it comes to my earning potential! I determine my worth, and how many hours I work each week. I work an average of 10-15 hours a week, and in that short amount of time, I'm making more money than I ever have in my life.
• I cook less. When my husband comes home from work, he takes over kid duty so that I can start getting some work done. By the time I'm done, he's got dinner on a plate for me, which I love and appreciate so much. After dinner, we go on our stroll through the neighborhood.
• I can finally hire help! My husband and I were running ourselves into the ground trying to keep up with the kids, the house, dinner, and everything else. I have recently been able to hire a housekeeper, editor, and personal assistant. Since I'm now helping to provide for them, it motivates me to keep my hustle pants on, and keep this thing rolling along smoothly.
If you'd love to learn how to run a successful business, you can check out our Virtual Ambition Academy, which is set to fully launch in early 2017!
Can I be honest for a second?
I really dread when people ask me what I do. I mean, it's complicated. When I tell people that I work from home, most assume that I'm caught up in some MLM scheme or work for a call center. If I tell people that I work for a zoo as a Membership Ambassador, they automatically assume that it's my full-time main-stay gig, and well, it's my side-stay!
So what do I say?
Typically, my answer goes something like this, "Oh! I work from home as a virtual assistant and freelance writer! I also work part-time as a Membership Ambassador at the zoo!"
Which only leads to more questions, of course! Some of the questions I get asked on a daily basis are:
• What does a virtual assistant do?
• How much do you get paid?
• What all do you offer your clients?
• People pay you for that?!
• Which job pays more?
• How do you find clients?
• How do you work at home with the kids?
• How can I do what you do?
The goal in writing this is to answer a lot of people's questions about what I do and offer my clients!
• As a virtual assistant, my job is to support my clients in their own businesses. I become their business bestie and work with them to ensure that every decision they make with me reflects positively on their brand.
• My current rate for virtual assistance starts at $179 per week.
You can read more about that here if you're interested in hiring me: http://www.taraglenn.com/work-with-me.html
• I specialize in writing and editing for my clients. I often do their blogs, newsletters, website copy, and social media scheduling. I also create graphics using Canva, transcribe their notes and then form them into useable content, business strategy and planning, branding, email and customer support services, light research, and more. In 2017, I will be adding stock photography options for my packages as well!
• Absolutely people pay me for that! Momma don't work for free and I help keep their businesses moving forward so they can make all the money!
• I get paid way more money working from home! But my dream has always been to work at our zoo, and I enjoy it very much so I'll be sticking around until we PCS from this area! (Gotta love military life!)
• I find clients mainly through networking events and groups online. I often get clients from word-of-mouth referrals as well.
• From babies, I have always encouraged a little bit of self-play each day, and it's no big thing for our younger children to go off and play with their own toys during the day. Typically, they drag whatever they're obsessed with at the moment into the living room and we play together, and then I work on a project for a short period of time, and then I play with them again. When my husband comes home, he takes over kid duty and starts dinner. Our older children will often play with the younger ones while they're home so I can work on projects as well. My entire schedule revolves around the needs of my family though: school pickup, medical appointments, sports, important events, evening walks, etc. They don't mind when I'm pulled away for the most part because they know that I'll be there when it counts.
• Anyone with an internet connect, business sense, and basic grammar knowledge can do a lot of what I do. I suggest that if you do want to be a virtual assistant that you work in a business related industry at the management level for at least a 1-2 years before starting your own business so that you can gain experience in customer service and working as in a professional capacity.
I hope that you enjoyed a little insight into my world! Do you want to be a VA or do you need a VA?
Let me know in the comments! I'd love to chat!
You're logged onto Facebook, just chilling and scrolling through your newsfeed. You see your friend's cute baby, your cousin's birthday, and then all of a sudden, your message notification lights up.
Your heart skipped a beat.
Your friends always send you the best stuff.
So of course, you click on it. When you open it, your heart sinks and you become angry. It's not your BFF. It's some random friend you haven't talked to in three years that wants you to buy leggings, or some really expensive workout thing you want no part of, or pills...something. Now your blood pressure is up, you're annoyed, and quite frankly, you really want to go tell your "friend" to back to the last time you talked and fly a kite. Sound familiar?
Of course it does - the same scenario plays out across social media every single day, and it's even worse when you don't even know the person - when they're just some random person that thinks they're God's gift to your needs as a client.
So what does this have to do with ME selling? I don't do that in my business!
Well, here's the thing - it has everything to do with you because your goal is to learn from the mistakes of those around you. If you're running a business, you're eventually going to talk to people about your business - it's inevitable. So the best thing you can do for your business is to avoid repeating their mistakes. Such as:
Soliciting via Facebook messenger/DMs/PMs/Email
Okay, so I'm not going to say that you should never message someone about what's going on with your business, but I will say there's a time and place for it.
You don't want to message every single person on your list on social media and tell them your newest cool deal going on. NO. That's what a newsletter is for! However, if your cool deal isn't getting the response it should be, think about the people you already have established relationships with and drop them a line about your awesome deal and how they can get dibs on it.
"Hey Marci, I just wanted to let you know that I put together this really rad PDF booklet of recipes a couple weeks ago. I noticed you've been drinking a lot of shakes recently, and all the recipes are shakes, so I thought you might really like it. The link is here - let me know what you think!"
See, if someone is trying to get me on their newsletter list or something like that, that's the way I would want them to talk to me.
Also - Not being able to take no for an answer
So, I'm going to go against what every MLM spokesperson has ever been taught as say that if someone tells you no that NO MEANS NO. When someone tells me no, I immediately make a note to never, ever, EVER contact them about business related things again. Why? Because it's common courtesy. I talk on my social media profiles all the time about what I do, so if they want in on whatever I'm doing, they'll drop me a line. Period.