5 Email Systems

5 Email Systems

There are so many different newsletter services out there, how do you choose one to use for your newsletter? How can you be sure it’s the right one for you?

Here is a list of a few features of five very popular services, to help you make your decision easier:

1ShoppingCart – 1SC is a great all in one solution for all of the things you will need as a VA, but it has levels of service for different prices that make it affordable before you need everything they offer. For just $29 per month you can get a basic email service that allows you to send HTML newsletters and set up auto responders (messages that are sent automatically when someone signs up for something that you have them opt in to). It’s easy to use, and allows you to set up templates to make sending emails a breeze.
You can also set up multiple lists with 1SC so you can keep your marketing projects separate when necessary. I always recommend 1SC when you start out simply because you can grow with it as your business grows – and then you can use the shopping cart and the affiliate software make up the professional package for $99/month, when you start selling things and working with partners and joint ventures.

Aweber – another very simple and popular email and autoresponder service, Aweber also allows you to set up separate lists for different events. Their templates for newsletters and opt in boxes are just great, and easy to customize. Aweber’s basic price is $19 per month, and I know many of my clients and colleagues like it because it is so simple to use. it doesn’t require a whole lot of technical expertise to send your own newsletter and that’s a big selling feature! It also integrates with your Facebook and Twitter easily, so you can reach your whole audience when you send out your newsletter.

Vertical Response – Vertical response is another good newsletter service that has an interesting feature – you can pay for it monthly or you can pay per email sent. It also offers great templates to build your email and is very easy to use. It supports multiple lists as well which is helpful if you work with events or if you work with partners. You also have the option to run surveys through Vertical Response, and it integrates with Facebook and Twitter as well. Vertical Response pricing starts at $10 per month or around a penny an email if you choose that option.

Constant Contact – many of my clients and colleagues started off using Constant Contact as their email provider. Some still use it and some have moved on to other systems (usually to a shopping cart system). Constant Contact is famous for being user friendly and they now allow you to set up autoresponders with your basic email marketing service. They also have optional add on services for online surveys and event marketing as well, which look very interesting. There is great functionality in using these services as they are designed precisely for what you need to use them for. They have a huge inventory of templates for each of their platforms and they really require very little technical skill to set up professional looking correspondence. Pricing starts at $15 a month for their basic services.

Mailchimp – I have not used Mailchimp in a very long time, but they have become very popular again lately due to their new list of features. I have heard great reports lately from people who are using it. It is also very simple to use, provides many templates, has a great deliverability rate (!) and also has some great ‘power features’ that you will want to check out. One of the features I would love to look at is the Google Analytics integration (I’m a Google gal, after all!). The coolest thing about Mailchimp… it’s free for up to 500 subscribers. Sounds like a pretty easy decision to me!

Whichever email service you decide to go with, be sure to try out a free trial. Most services offer a 30 to 60 day free trial along with tutorials so you can learn how their features work, and if they are the right fit for you.

Be Honest About Deadlines

We all know what it’s like to have a deadline looming over our heads.  We spend most of our time feeling like we’re being pushed, often unwillingly, toward the goal line of one project or another.  We also all know what it’s like to miss a deadline.  However, with time and effort you can reduce your stress and meet deadlines more efficiently.

The first part of meeting goals is setting them.  This part is far more important than it seems.  When setting goals, you need to be realistic.  Not only with whether or not you can meet a timeline, but also with whether or not you have the ability to get the job done - period.  Once you have an overall goal, set smaller goals and a calendar for achieving them.  Assign specific goals and duties and make sure everyone not only knows their part, but everyone else’s as well.  

Even if you’re setting realistic goals and deadlines, that doesn’t mean you’ll always meet them.  When setting up your plan of attack, it is important to realize that sometimes things go wrong.  One of your co-workers may call in sick, the copier might break down in the middle of a large print job, or bad weather might trap your supplier out of town.

You can’t prepare for every eventuality, but you can set up a Plan B in case of common problems.  This is often as simple as having alternate companies’ phone numbers on hand or making sure someone knows how to do a task if someone else is sick.  Occasionally, something is going to happen and you won’t meet a deadline, but you can still make this a rare occasion.

When managing a team, always set their deadlines well before the deadline for the final project.  Even if someone does exceptional work, you may end up with a bad final product because you were in a rush to get everything together.  If the people you work with spend a lot of time procrastinating, you may just want to set a deadline they need to have it done by and leave it at that.  If they don’t know the final project deadline, it may get their part to you sooner.  

For a team to meet a deadline, the leader needs to be involved in the entire process.  No, they don’t need to check up on everyone every step of the way, but they do need to see if everyone is on schedule and if they have any problems.  Often people will try to handle it themselves when they hit a snag, delaying their part and possibly the whole project.

When you’ve met a big deadline, reward yourself and your team with some kind of treat.  Depending on your options and on the importance of the deadline, it could be something big, like a group outing, or something small liking bringing in bagels one morning.  If you have something to look forward to, you’ll be more likely to get things done on time.  Plus, this will give everyone the energy boost to get started on your next big project.

Just Do It!

Steps to your Goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a wish list of things you want to get done in your business?

If you don’t, you should. You should have a list of short term and long term goals, and an even bigger strategy for your wish list.

If you do have a list, stop now and have a look at it.

How are you doing with developing or implementing the things you need to get done?

If you’re like me, you probably have a lot of things on the list. Maybe you don’t even know where to start.

I say, start at the beginning!

Just pick something … anything (something small would be best to start!) and get it
done.

Maybe you want to set up a blog.

Maybe you want to start a newsletter.

Maybe you want to update the content on your website.

Maybe you want to sign 3 new clients over the next month.

Whatever it is, just do it!

Set a workable plan in place. Give yourself deadlines and then make a list of what you will need to do to get it done.

If you’re not sure what you need to do, get help from someone who knows.

You will not believe the excitement (and relief!) that you will get by finishing something
that will make your business better.

And once you do one little thing, and bring it to completion, you can move onto the next
thing.

Here’s a little checklist for you:

1. Decide what you want to do.

2. Decide when you need to have it done.

3. Put that date on your calendar.

4. Determine the steps you need to complete your goal.

5. Determine when you need to complete each step so that you can do it in the proper order, or in the proper stages.

6. Put those dates on your calendar.

7. Look at your deadline dates and make sure that they are reasonable and logical, and that you have time to do the pieces you need to do.

8. Make sure your deadline dates are short enough to create some urgency, but not so much that you are working intensely (or you may find that you will drop the ball if you miss one!)

9. Tell someone what you are doing, and ask them to help you stay accountable to complete it.

10. Hang your calendar where you can see it, and work towards your goal,

Getting things done is just a matter of making them a priority on your calendar, and then knowing the steps you need to go through to get them completed.

It’s a process each time, and once you go through it once, you will find that it’s easy, and you will be able to implement the same procedure for everything you do. Just do it!

Fear Is Good ... Here's Why.

Guest Post by Tina Forsyth
www.OnlineBusinessManager.com

Fear is getting a bad rap.

Fear is often the reason a virtual support professional does NOT do something … versus the reason for them TO DO something.

Would you agree? As a Virtual Assistant, freelancer or other virtual support professional, you likely experienced some fear when you decided to officially open your business doors.

For me, fear is a big indicator that I need to do something. If I’m scared, it means I most likely need to go in that direction.

My personal believe is, that as human beings, we are meant to grow. We are meant to take on new stuff. Learning new things, supporting clients in new roles and new challenges – it’s natural to feel fear when you step into these areas – especially when you haven’t explored them before.

Fear itself can take many different forms, and will vary by individual and situation. Here are a few fears that many virtual support professionals face”: 

  • fear of looking like a fool 
  • fear of losing money 
  • fear of not making money 
  • fear of upsetting people close to you 
  • fear of not knowing if you can do what you want to do… etc.

Which of these can you relate to?

My previous mentor David Neagle calls this the “terror barrier”. The “terror barrier” is a natural part of life and growth.

We all come up against our own terror barriers – especially in business. And we have to decide whether we want to work through them or run away.

A word of caution - even if you run away from those terror barriers, they will follow you. And the longer they follow you, the bigger they get – darn them!

So, you may as well face the fear … right?

I’ve done my fair share of having to ‘stare fear in the eye’ and put plainly, it can suck at times.

For example, a few years ago when I decided to sign up to work with a mentor, that was a HUGE fear moment for me. I was terrified to take that step, as I knew it was a commitment to me and my business to play a bigger game. Quite honestly I didn’t know if I could do it.

Want to know what thoughts crossed my mind? You might be able to relate

  • Who am I to create a super cool and thriving biz?
  • What if I fail and lose oodles of money?
  • What if I suck at it and people point and laugh at me?
  • And many more other crazy thoughts

Here’s what I believe: Fear is an invitation. It’s an invitation for us to learn a lesson.

Whatever it is that we fear, there’s a gift waiting for you on the other side … but only if you’re willing to step into it. If you don’t step into it, you don’t get the gift. It’s as simple as that.

Facing fear is like building a muscle, the more we do it the more we are able to do it.

Fear doesn’t always get easier as there is always a s-t-r-e-t-c-h required when facing fear (and it can be uncomfortable!). However, I do believe that half the battle is actually resisting our fear – running away takes a lot of energy! If you stop resisting fear and instead step into it then the entire process could be much less painful in the long run.

Fear acronym positiveNow, when I reach that that “eek!” moment – that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach – I know it’s something that I need to do. This is the main indicator for me of what I need to do next in my business.

When was the last time you did something that scared the pants off of you?

What is it that you are most afraid of doing right now, in this moment, for you and your business? Please share your comments … I really would love to know.

How To Prove You Are the *Right* Person For the Job

Guest Post By Tina Forsyth www.OnlineBusinessManager.com

Over the last years I’ve spoken with a lot of business owners who are searching for a new virtual team member. One of the questions I get asked all the time is “Tina, how do I know if the person I’m hiring can actually do the job.”

Young Woman Working at Home, Small OfficeToo often, business owners jump into a relationship with a new virtual support professional after just two brief conversations. After a few short weeks, things start to crumble – leaving the business owner (1) unsure of how and why things started to crumble and (2) feeling a little ‘gun shy’ about working with virtual support professionals moving forward.

So how can you, the Virtual Assistant, freelancer, virtual support professional of any kind, prove that you are the BEST person for the ‘job’ and are worth hiring? If you feel confident in your skills and abilities, you know you’re great at what you do AND you can clearly and concisely communicate this – you will make it super easy for clients to make a decision to hire you.

Here are three things you can do that will help you prove that you’re “the one”:

Get Testimonials

Most virtual support professionals don’t do this enough. When you do great work for your clients, ask them for a testimonial that you can post on your website and use in other marketing materials.

Here’s a tip to make it super easy: Draft the testimonial on behalf of your client and give it to them to edit. Business owners will often have a tough time coming up with a testimonial from scratch … but if they have something to edit, they will realize what they really want to share.

Keep Track of Your Own Successes

What successes have you helped your clients create? Those are your own successes as well, and are proof of your contribution to the business.
Keep track of these successes so that you can share these stories/examples when talking to new clients. If you offer visual/graphic services, create a portfolio of your work so people can see what you do.

This exercise is also a great confidence builder for YOU. You will likely be surprised (and very proud) to see how much you actually contribute to the success of your clients.

Date Your Clients First

There is no better way to prove yourself then to actually jump in and do some work for the client.

Offer to help out with a project before you commit to a longer working relationship -- I call this ‘dating’ the client. Make it clear that in the dating stage there are no strings attached – either you or the client can decide to discontinue at any time during the dating stage without any hard feelings.

If things go well, you can both jump into a longer term relationship with confidence.

By implementing these three simple steps, you will not only boost your own confidence, but also the confidence of the business owners you want to work with.

I’d love to hear from you – what else can you do or have you done to prove that you are great at what you do and are worth hiring? Please share your thoughts.

Ten Ways to Balance Work and Family

stressedBalancing a work life and a home life can be difficult, but with a little knowledge and planning, you can make it work for you.  Here are ten tips that will help you balance your work life and home life.

1.  Set realistic goals.  It's pretty much a given fact that if you want to achieve something big, you have to make some sacrifices.  While the select few can manage, most people can't become a CEO and run a successful household.  When setting your goals, be realistic and don't stretch yourself too thin.

2.  Make schedules.  Keeping track of work and your family can be difficult to plan.  Try to keep a set schedule from day to day and week to week if you can.  Always remember to make a written schedule and give everyone a copy.

3.  Take time for yourself.  It's a natural instinct of mothers to sacrifice themselves for the good of their family.  However, it's important to remember that if you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else.  Try to schedule in at least a few minutes of "you time", whether it be going for a run, watching your favorite TV show, or just sitting in a room by yourself to relax for a few minutes.   

4.  Work from home.  If you can do your work over the Internet or phone, you may be able to swing working at least part of the time from home, giving you more time to spend with your family.  Just remember that there are a lot more things at home to distract you from getting your work done.

5.  Get some exercise.  Working out is not only a great way to stay healthy and gain energy, it's also a great way to spend time with your kids.  Instead of hitting the gym, go play ball in the park or take them for a walk.

6.  Take advantage of leave.  Most jobs allow you a certain amount of leave, but a lot of us end up not using it.  Make sure you know how much time you have and take it, whether you go on a vacation with your family or just use it to take a well-deserved rest day every so often.  

7.  Prioritize.  When making your to-do lists, figure out the things that are most important for you to do and get them done first.  If there isn't enough time to do everything, you won't feel as bad about what you have to cut.

8.  Take classes.  As many people will tell you, there's no manual on how to be a good parent and have a successful career.  But if you search around your community, you can find classes and seminars from people that have been where you are and managed to do well.  They can give you inspiration along with helpful tips and tidbits to get through your day.

9.  Watch for burn out.  Even if you schedule everything, take breaks, and do everything else above, what you're doing may just be too much for you.  Watch yourself for changes in mood or physical problems.  They could be a sign that you're burnt out and need to make some changes to your plans.  Remember, your health is important too.

10.  Learn to say no.  If you want to have a successful career and family life, you will have to learn to say no occasionally.  If you try to do everything, you're going to burn yourself out and not be able to take care of anyone.  Being a good employee and a good parent doesn't mean you need to do everything you're asked.

LeadPages Step-By-Step Guide

Step-by-Step Guide to LeadPagesWorking with LeadPages for your clients? It's definitely not completely intuitive, is it?

Well, you're in luck!

We've created this step-by-step guide with screenshots, to get you quickly "in-the-know" about LeadPages: LeadPages™, LeadBoxes™, webinar pages, 404 pages, and more.

Table of Contents

Guide Table of Contents

A great guide to add to your VA knowledge library, ready to access as soon as your next client says, "I need a LeadPages opt-in form created!"

Buy Now

Creating an Editorial Calendar for Your Content Marketing

calendarBeing successful doesn't just happen. Success requires an enormous amount of planning, strategy, and action. To be successful with content marketing you have to know in advance what you're going to do, why you're doing it, how you're going to do it, where you're going to do it, and when you're going to do it. This is where an editorial calendar comes in. An editorial calendar will revolutionize your content marketing, positioning you for success.

To create an editorial calendar you need to look ahead to the products and services you wish to support, as well as your list of keywords that should already be developed. Around the products and services that you'll be marketing you also want to include standard keyword-rich content focused on the topics related to your niche such as guest posts, roundups of interesting blog posts and news in your industry, and infographics.

Your editorial calendar will also help you set realistic goals about how often you will publish content as well as determine deadlines for the content. Providing fresh content on a regular basis is imperative to your overall marketing success, but it's also important to be realistic about your resources in terms of both time and money. It is recommended that you post a blog post at least two to three times a week to keep your website and / or blog at the top of the search engine results.

Social media should be something that happens every single day from three to 12 times per day depending on the type of social media. For instance, you will post less on LinkedIn.com, and more on Twitter.com. These interactions will include not only posting your own content but your interaction with others on the social media. All of this needs to be planned out so that you ensure that you block out the time to do it, and all should be included in your content calendar.

Include all the types of content you plan to distribute into your calendar such as:

  • Blog Posts
  • Infographics
  • Guest Posts
  • Round Ups
  • Social Media Content
  • Article Marketing
  • Social Interaction

You can create a content calendar inside Google Docs by creating it in an excel spreadsheet or a Word Document then uploading it to Google Drive to share with others on your team. Alternatively, if you use a project management system like Basecamp you can share it there.

Everyone on your team should have easy access to the content calendar which should be kept accurate and updated at all times. Remember, just because a calendar is created doesn't mean it can't be tweaked and corrected as necessary. The deadlines on the calendar should be sacrosanct and whomever is in charge of the publishing calendar should also be in charge of ensuring everyone sticks to their deadlines.

By creating and maintaining an editorial calendar for your content marketing you will ensure that you have regular content to be published across all your blogs, social media and more. Creating a content calendar will also help you develop a strategy and establish goals while developing a way to make those goals become reality.

Professional Development Tips and Ideas for VAs

One of the best ways to grow your business and increase your profits is through professional development. As a virtual assistant there are many opportunities. And often, through professional development you gain personal strengths too. It’s a win win situation. Learn a new skill As the internet will undoubtedly continue to grow and change you [...]

Unfortunately your current membership does not allow you to see this content.

If you are already a member please login