How Do You Know Your Virtual Assistant Is Working?

Given the fact that virtual assistants work remotely, how do you make sure your virtual assistant is working? It’s in the sense that one is doing job-purposed tasks during your work hours. Although this is an issue of trust normally occurring on newly-formed and hourly-based relationships, there’s always a gut feel to be assured of your virtual assistant’s reliability.

Of course, you cannot actually have a time to time inspection. Since virtual assistance is conceptualized out of technological availability, the best monitoring methods are through available technologies as well. To get started with removing those doubts of yours, let’s explore these tools:

A. Project Management Software

If you prefer a more analytical approach to your project task system, there are many project management software available (See Project Management Software Comparison). These kinds of software make it easy for you to schedule and track your projects. As seen in the image below, TeamworkPM has several features such as Overview, Tasks, Milestones, Messages, Files, Time, Messages, Resources and several other sub-features with more of its own functions.

Getting things done with your virtual assistant is made easier through these tools. One key feature is scheduling the task with set deadlines. Once completed, you can be notified in various ways you want. Plus, time reporting is logged on how much time is worked on a certain task and in the project all in all so you may check if he/she is being efficient or not. More than that, it’s a central tool for collaboration.

B. Screencast and Screenshot

Screencasting is recording the activities on the computer screen and mouse movements. It also allows playback with live audio. On the other hand, screenshots are captured images taken by the computer to record the visible items displayed.

If you have more time to check out the videos and images of your virtual assistant during work hours, you can enable these two with the use of some software. It is advised to have it intermittently rather than continuously. You may not want to look at all the continuous captures.

C. VoIP

Examples of Voice over IP (VoIP) are Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Gtalk and AOL messenger. Check up on your virtual assistant on task updates and reports through these channels. Some simply requires their virtual assistants to be online on work hours. This is just a supplementary monitoring tool though and the real purpose of this is for communication over the internet which is usually cheaper than regular phone services. It removes the geographical restrictions and accessible as long as you are connected to the internet.

Other than just the technology, here are additional tips to clear your doubts:

  • Take into consideration a virtual assistant’s experience and recommendations from his/her past clients for credibility.
  • A company offering virtual assistant services monitors their own employees saving you trouble of initiating your own monitoring system.
  • Monitoring should be agreed upon by two parties so don’t forget to introduce and mitigate your system to the virtual assistant.

This is not an issue about trust and integrity. It’s for having a backup of tracing back any negative and positive future occurrences. In the present, it’s a quality evaluator, motivator and a control measure just like most companies enforce with their employees.

What other monitoring software do you use?

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The Twitter Marketing Invasion

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging site enabling users to send and read text-based posts composed of up to 140 characters to which are called “tweets” (as defined by Wikipedia). Twitter primarily wants to make communication as easy as ABC. It was used before as a personal messaging service because it’s accessible to consumers. As long as you have an internet connection on your computer or phone, you will have no problem with your twitter marketing.

Twitter can be compared to an alien invasion that has taken over the world within months. Let’s take a little time to know what Twitter is and what twitter marketing can do to your business. Mass media is now struggling over Social Media. Instead of an inanimate object like a television talking to a mass of people, Twitter makes it more personalized by involving real people.

What is Twitter Marketing?

Twitter Marketing helps entrepreneurs relay their business to the public through the internet. How? By communicating with the clients and using the featured services of Twitter mainly by Tweeting and Following. By clarifying whom we want to reach out, or targeting a specific group we will know what are the clients’ wants, or needs and what they are looking for – the things that they prefer to do, and the things that they dislike. Twitter Marketing is all about two-way open communication of business owners and clients.

How Can Twitter Marketing help your business?
First: By updating the products and services that you offer.
If you are always updated, the clients will see that your business is “Real” not just spammers. You can prove to them that you are working hard to improve your product and services. They will feel assured that your business is optimally running.
Second: Twitter may be a room for negotiation purposes.
As you build relationships, you gain loyal customers. To take care of them, you may offer private discounts. You can also do sales announcements and special promos. This will allow you to build a loyal community and fanbase in Twitter.
Third: In Twitter, clients can also communicate with each other.
They can recommend what the nice and bad brands are for a specific thing, what’s applicable in this type of promo and what’s not. They can suggest services to each personality that fits in it. Some may have an idea on a specific product but doesn’t know more and wants to go deeper. All of these can be discussed as long as you tweet and follow.
Start Up with your Twitter Marketing:

  1. Sign Up to Twitter: There are many Twitter How To guides in the internet.
  2. Follow Interesting people for your Business.
  3. Connect with your real friends. Invite them to join Twitter and follow you.
  4. Build up your Twitter Profile.
  5. And write your first Business Tweet.
  6. Followed by the second, third, so on and so fourth.

I suggest that you separate your personal Twitter Account from your Business Twitter Account. In that way you wouldn’t be destructed or mislead. These are just simple tips on twitter marketing yet this may bring you and your business to success.

10 Tips in Becoming a Better Virtual Assistant

How do you keep up with the virtual assistance industry? The demand of virtual assistants started out with a humble history. Who would ever think that secretarial services would evolve to a worldwide, diversified virtual profession now called virtual assistance? With the increasing demand and popularity of such profession, gaining a competitive advantage is starting to become a “must” more than a “could.”

To start with, you have to be an experienced virtual assistant yourself of course. Despite the fact that it’s not a regulated profession, anyone can claim to be a virtual assistant. That is why most clients trust more those who can show and prove their experience. From there, your skills are evaluated if you had some experience in different kinds of tasks. Now you have a base of skills and experience, how can you get a boost to your career?

The following are ten tips to get ahead in the virtual assistant industry:

1. Train and utilize training resources.

If you want to improve on your knowledge base and skills on some areas, you can search online for free training resources. Downloadable e-books, audio, and videos are normally available in virtual assistant websites. Training programs are also provided by several organizations like AssistU. Some are free but some are not. Being trained lets you network with other virtual assistants and mentors. These people have the experience to equip you with the necessary skills for your career.

2. Be certified.

Remember that virtual assistance is not a regulated profession, but at least you can get certified. Training programs do offer certificates after you finish them. Tell more to your clients. What you have is an indispensable proof that you are a better virtual assistant especially when you are compared to other virtual assistants. The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) can get you certified.

3. Know the latest

Do you know the latest tools used out there? How about trends on virtual assistance? An example is the fact that Facebook can be used as a “Page” which you can use as a strategy for your client’s Facebook business page. It’s just simply reading the news and keeping yourself updated with the latest trends in your profession.

4. Participate in the Virtual Assistant community

Another way of building networks is participating in the community. In what community should you join? Forums are good channels to build one. Knowing the latest and training with their resources are bonuses. Also, m embers willingly provide support when you need them the most. Attend conferences and events like those listed in IVAA. By the way, contacts can refer you clients too.

5. Do the pledge of ethics

Well, I don’t mean literally putting your right hand over your heart and say “To my clients, I promise…” Virtual assistants are expected to observe ethics. Only trusted VAs out there protect sensitive information about their clients. Always be honest about your credentials with your colleagues. Always do your best.

6. Get recommendations.

Have you ever worked or are you currently working with a client? When you have established a relationship already, it’s alright to ask for recommendations. It’s considered impressive when a client reads your recommendations and learns how you are valued by your former or current clients.

7. Track your work records

Similar with recommendations, only that this is for your resume. Never miss details of tasks you have done, goals you have achieved and skills you have developed. The more accomplishments you’ve had, the better the chance at landing a new client. Just make sure to leave out unnecessary information.

8. Build your online resume

This is especially useful for independent contractors. To further expand your presence other than participating in the community, consider putting up a website dedicated to telling potential clients about what you do and did as a VA. Joining organizations and VA directories makes you more searchable. Make it as a channel to share resources and tips too. If you can’t do that, at least create a blog or join social networks. How about creating a visual resume in a presentation or video format? That way you can share your work records through a much more understandable medium than a paper resume.

9. Are you well-equipped?

If yes is your answer, congratulations! You have the basic tools in providing quality services to your clients. Even though some clients provide software/hardware for you, it’s a plus when you have MS Office, Google apps, call and messenger apps, and several other applications essential for the job at hand.

10. Be the best in what you do

To sum it up, you make your client happier as you keep growing to become a better VA. No matter what perspective you see better; leverage your career by following these tips.

Make yourself competitive. It’s time to step up to the plate and become a top class virtual assistant.

Virtual Assistance 101: Link Building

What is Link Building?

Link building (LB) is an SEO strategy that aims to improve a site’s search rankings by increasing the number of inbound links to your site. This is done through various methods, some of which are now considered obsolete (will be discussed later).

Before, when search engine algorithms were still very simple, LB concepts were also pretty simple – The more links pointing to your site, the better your search rankings.

But as Google and other search engines keep updating their search algorithms; LB strategies have also evolved throughout the years. This is why link building is dynamic – link builders should continually be updated with the latest trends in the industry to become particularly effective.

What kinds of strategies should link builders use?

There are several LB strategies. So many, in fact, that Google and other search engines have seen a lot of these strategies being abused by link builders everywhere in the Web. This has caused lots of sites who abused these strategies to drop in ranking whenever search engines re-tweak their algorithms.

To answer the question, link builders should always use strategies that are currently effective – according to news, research or experimentation. Several resources, such as SEOmoz, are available in the Internet that could help link builders decide on what strategies are most effective in the present.

Should you as a client do link building for your site’s SEO efforts?

It depends on how much you value this as an SEO strategy. Some people say that this strategy is dead; while others profess that it has produced great results on their SEO strategy.

If you do decide to start optimizing your site, make sure you hire professional who offer link building service to do the job. Don’t try to do the link building yourself, especially if you haven’t had any experience doing it. You might mess up your site’s ranking even more with improper SEO technique.

Hire a Virtual Assistant and Rank Higher in Search Engines

One of the greatest goal of a website is to be in the first page and rank one in the search engine results page (SERP). The location in the SERP will affect traffic to a site/page. The process of making a website to rank higher in search engines is called search engine optimization (SEO).

Optimizing a site or page requires expertise so if you are not good in SEO, then you might consider outsourcing this task to a virtual assistant or a VA company. There are three ways that a virtual assistant can help you rank higher in search engines (but is not limited to) are keyword research and analysis, content writing and publishing, and link building.

VA’s can do Keyword Research and Analysis

Keyword research is the process of finding the appropriate keywords to use for content. It is important in SEO marketing because finding the right keywords can land a site in the first page of a SERP. Choose keywords that are popular and with low competition. Keywords will signal the spiders to pick and index a site/page.

VA’s can do Content Writing and Publishing

Content is the most important in SEO and it should be of good quality to rank better. To obtain better rankings, the content of a website must be crafted or designed in such a way that spiders or crawlers will be able to rate it as both important and relevant.

For search engines, relevance would simply mean that the searched keyword/s can be found in the page, while importance is the popularity of the site/page. Popularity is the number of other sites linking to yours.

Contents must be published to be useful in SEO. Publishing your content needs special skills to make it visible to search engines. It must be designed in a way that keywords are in places where spiders will easily find them. Many virtual assistants have the necessary training to do just that.

VA’s can do Link building

Link building is the most tedious and crucial part in SEO. Proper link building is one of the factors that makes websites rank higher in SERP’s. The more quality links you have the higher your websites ranking is.

Link building demands that the link builder must be swift in creating links to surmount competitors. In order to build links you must have the right link building tools. Virtual assistant companies have the right tools for the job. Aside from that virtual assistants were trained for link building.

SEO is an ongoing process. It does not stop when a site/page ranks one in SERP’s. Search engine spiders were programmed to scan the web regularly. This is done to check for changes in a website/page. The changes that they detected will affect the ranking of your website, that is why it is important to update your website. Outsourcing the task of maintaining and updating your website to a virtual assistant company will help you maintain on top.

Top Virtual Assistant Companies In The Philippines

Eastwood City in Metro Manila, one of the BPO hubs in the country

The Philippines’ BPO industry has been growing annually since 2006. One key highlight was last year’s 26% growth to $8.9-B, overtaking India’s revenues and making the Philippines number one in the world according to the Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPAP). Based on the Tholons Emerging Global Outsourcing Cities report of 2010, 6 cities in the Philippines namely: Metro Manila, Laguna, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, and Davao – belong to the top 100.

Formerly, it’s the call center sector that dominates the outsourcing industry in the country, but it’s now replaced by the non-voice sector making the revenue and employment increase possible. Between voice and non-voice, it’s the latter that grew the fastest with a rate of 30% just last year based on BPAP data. One contributing sub-sector is the so-called virtual assistance service as the back office support of any type of business.

The 6 cities mentioned are actually where some of the top virtual assistant companies are located employing thousands of virtual assistants in the Philippines. They are not just independent individual contractors; they are employees of well-established businesses providing services exclusive to virtual assistance alone. Being on the top does not only mean about offering virtual assistant services to clients, but also about providing training to aspiring and fellow virtual assistants worldwide.

Here are the top virtual assistant companies in the Philippines:

  1. Virtual Assistant Inc.
    Just by the name, it is dedicated in business support services with delivery offices located in Iloilo City, Philippines and South Carolina, USA. It’s also a hub for finding virtual assistant jobs and community-based support for those who seek training and resources as found in their website.

  2. Live2Care
    European-owned private company based in Cebu City, Philippines, Live2Care primarily provides call center services but also offers virtual assistance.

  3. MyEmployee Solutions Inc.
    A US-owned company also offering BPO services as well as Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), fit for small to medium-sized businesses(SMB).

  4. SupportSave Inc.
    Similarly, SupportSave was founded in 2004 to meet the needs of SMBs.

  5. RemoteWorkMate
    Headquarters are based in Australia with their operations offices located in Manila and Davao City, Philippines.

As outsourcing continues to grow, it speaks a lot in terms of work quality, ethics and reputation. If you’re a client seeking virtual assistant services, it is still important to take a look at a company’s credibility and track record of providing these services whether onshore or offshore. As a virtual assistant employee, doing your best for your client is the best way to taking your career, the company you are working for, and the nation you are living in to a higher level.

Virtual Assistant and Social Media Marketing : A Great Duo for Business Success

“Social media essentially is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online. Most social media services encourage discussion,

As a virtual assistant and a web professional, when we talk about social media marketing (SMM), our job is not only to drive traffic to the site that we optimize but we also encourage visitors to visit the site frequently. The main concept of social media marketing is to optimize the site in order to gain popularity and visibility in social media searches.

Why should a virtual assistant use social media to help their client’s business?

1. Social media marketing helps the client’s company increase brand awareness.
2. Social media is a great tool for the company to know the needs of their customers. A simple way to respond and discuss about the customer’s concern, thus getting them closer to the company.
3. SMM is an inexpensive way to advertise a client’s business. The Internet is a powerful tool to let people know about their business.

Here are the different kinds of social media platforms that virtual assistants use:

1. Social Bookmarking – is a way wherein a virtual assistant posts blog articles and other contents that relate to the client’s business to a site that organizes and manages bookmarks. Social bookmarking is an effective method to market the client’s business in a viral manner. It increases the number of visitors to the client’s business site which translates to sales growth and higher ROI..

2. Social Networks – A virtual assistant uses social networking in order to build trust and authority on a selected niche. As of late, this has been one of the major factors in search engine ranking. Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most popular sites for social media marketing.

3. Forums – A virtual assistant participates in forums in order to increase site traffic, build links and build relationships. It is vital to have a clear understanding of the topic before getting into a thread. Appearing as an expert in the chosen niche helps build trust towards the brand. Knowing the proper online forum and identifying which is related to your brand is beneficial in getting a hold of your target customers.

Virtual assistants know that social media marketing has a role to play in increasing business revenue and profit from the Internet. With the help of SMM, thousands of visitors are driven to the website and increase in sales leads, and online business profits are evident.

Overall, virtual assistants plan an effective social media optimization strategy that is helpful in business branding and increased website ranking in major search engines.