post

More Reason’s To Love iThemes

ithemes-ad8-300x72

I love writing about things I love and one of the things I love is iThemes. There are many, many reason’s why I feel this way however the most important one is because they make the ULTIMATE WordPress Themes.

Honestly, I have worked with tonnes of WordPress Themes and can say without a doubt that iThemes ROCK!

Recently, iThemes was featured in the WordPress for dummies book, published some new customer testimonials on their site, and also James Dalman released a caricature of Cory Miller!

The most recent WordPress site I developed using the Flexx theme by iThemes is for the Forum on Virtual Assistance (FoVA 2009) conference. This event will bring together many of the virtual assistance industry leaders into 5 action packed days of education, fun, and networking. I can’t wait!!!!

post

Forum on Virtual Assistance 2009 Launches New Site!

FoVA 2009 Yes indeed, the Forum on Virtual Assistance (FoVA 2009) has launched a new WordPress based site. Personally, I think it looks pretty great as I was lucky enough to use my favourite skills to setup the entire site.

Although we did choose the iThemes flexx theme for the core, a lot of customization was done to mold it into it’s own unique FoVA style. Keeping with the yellow and black color scheme made it fun to design the graphics to really stand out.

I also took full advantage of the hot new billboard plugin designed by iThemes to generate the custom thumbnails along the bottom of the site that profile the FoVA 2009 Session Leaders.

The blog certainly enhances the event and will make it easy to post information and resources that will be of benefit to anyone who is attending or thinking about attending the event.

I am really excited to attend FoVA again this year and have been given the opportunity to do a WordPress Workshop – ya! I am so excited to package up and share information on “How To Offer WordPress as a Service“.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the event.

Oh, and all FoVA 2009 Attendees… Don’t forget to Map yourself please.

:)

post

What Do 8 Amazing Virtual Assistants Have in Common?

question markWhy did I choose the number 8 you ask?

I was inspired by a secret tip directly from Chris Brogan. Chris says, posts with numbers seem to work – especially weird or odd numbers. 27 is odd. Of course Chris didn’t directly tell me this tip however, he did post an inspiring article titled, “27 blogging secrets to power your community“. It’s really good you must read it!

Since a large part of my community are virtual assistants and of course my clients I wanted to point the spotlight on 8 amazing virtual assistants and take a look at what they all have in common. I enjoy following these VAs and have most of them captured in my Google Reader (thanks Google!) which makes it easy for me to keep up to date on their accomplishments and developments.

Are you ready?

8 Amazing Virtual Assistants:

  • Barbara Lang
  • Dawn Goldberg
  • Erin Blaskie
  • Kathy M Thomas
  • Michelle Jamison
  • Pam Ivey
  • Sharon Williams
  • Tawnya Sutherland

If you are a seasoned virtual assistant who converses online then you will most likely see where I am heading with this. Perhaps you are someone who is looking for a virtual assistant or even someone who is aspiring to be a virtual assistant. Regardless of your situation, the main ingredient that I feel these 8 amazing virtual assistants have in common is:

Each and every one of them have taken action to move the virtual assistance industry forward and inevitably pave the way for the future growth of this industry period.

It would take me a long time to write about all of their individual accomplishments (and a lot of accomplishments there are) so instead, I will provide a link to a few places where you can learn all about them just as I have.

Barbara Lang, Virtually Anything Administrative Services, Forum on Virtual Assistance, twitter.com/input2outputh
Dawn Goldberg, Virtual Angel, Blog, Write Well University, twitter.com/dawngoldberg
Erin Blaskie, Business Services ETC, The VA Coach, VA Training Club, twitter.com/ErinBlaskie
Kathie M Thomas, A Clyaton’s Secretary, Worth More Than Rubies, twitter.com/kathiemt
Michelle Jamison, MJVA, The VA Voice, twitter.com/mjva
Pam Ivey, My Creative Assistant, Visual Persuasions Canada, CVANtwitter.com/pamivey
Sharon Williams, The 24 Hour Secretary, Blog, OIVAC, Alliance for Virtual Businesses
Tawnya Sutherland, MediaMage Business Solutions, VAnetworking.com, Partnering With a Virtual Assistanttwitter.com/VAnetworking

There are thousands of multi talented and successful Virtual Assistants around the entire globe.  Help grow this list and let me know who you think is an amazing virtual assistant…

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

post

The Virtual Assistance Industry has Experienced Tremendous Growth in 2008

Cheers to Virtual Assistance 2009

______________________________________________________________________________

Virtual Assistants are Revolutionizing the Way Business Services are Delivered, Everywhere.

The Media’s Virtual Assistant Survey conducted by VAnetworking.com gives us a deeper insight into the virtual assistance industry, which has experienced tremendous growth in 2008. The mysteriousness behind the term virtual assistant has been replaced with intrigue and fascination. To professionals such as speakers, author’s, business coaches and online business owners – having a virtual assistant has become main-stream. Small scale businesses are able to achieve large scale growth and higher sales volumes simply by outsourcing to a virtual assistant. Business Services etc., a virtual assistant company in Canada was able to increase a clients’ subscribers list by 4,000 and generate $40,000 in sales over the same 4 month time period.

With the shift in the global economy and the pressing environmental issues facing the world, the general consensus is on conserving both money and energy. Not only does the virtual assistance industry contribute to the conservation of both of these global factors but it also allows professionals to leverage people and strengthen systems and resources.

In a localized business environment there may be one person who is responsible for the daily operation of the administration and marketing. What happens when that person is not seeking or given the opportunities to network with peers and enhance their skill sets? It is vital for businesses to be able to assess their options and participate in marketing activities such as social media marketing.

It is customary for a virtual assistant to explore multiple social media and traditional marketing strategies and implement these into their business successfully and those of their clientele. This practice is both extremely cost effective and yields noteworthy results.

The general mindset of a virtual assistant is typically technical in nature. Because they work virtually their whole foundation is built around technology. Every major breakthrough online contributes more and more to their success. The affects of social media tools such as blogs, facebook, and twitter have been profound.

The 3 key areas that have experienced significant growth within the virtual assistance industry in 2008 are:

1. Collaboration/Leadership/Professional Development

Take for example the milestones achieved by the leadership of Tawnya Sutherland at VAnetworking.com, with over 10,000 members worldwide this association reached its fifth year anniversary and won 1st place in the Startup Nation’s Baby Boomers Back in Business award. Providing training, mentoring, and networking opportunities for new, aspiring and seasoned virtual assistants alike.

And as stated by Erin Blaskie of BSetc.ca, “2008 saw the emergence of more multi-VA Teams”. Virtual Assistants that offer clients a “one stop shop” are building solid teams and implementing comprehensive project management strategies that enable them to effectively service multiple clients. Michelle Jamison, founder of MJVA.ca a multi-VA company in Canada has been in business since 1998 and authored a book titled, “The Virtual Assistant’s Guide to the Multi-VA Business” which shares everything Michelle learned and everything one needs to know in order to create a successful and fulfilling multi-VA business.

Seasoned virtual assistants and others who specialize in Internet Marketing are developing niche specific training and coaching packages designed towards educating newcomers to the profession and coaching them to success. Like Mary-Lou Ashton of Virtual Strategies, vatp.ca, who has been a pioneer in the Virtual Assistant profession in Canada since 1997. She provides coaching services to virtual assistants through her coaching business Vision to Action. Also, the VA Coach, Erin Blaskie offers a variety of solutions for new and seasoned virtual assistants in both group and self study training formats. And for those looking for industry specific training in Internet Marketing and Social Media the VAclassroom.com, founded by Craig Cannings offers an affordable and comprehensive certification program.

More and more industry specific Forums and Conferences are presenting hands on development opportunities for virtual assistants. Barbara Lang, of Virtually Anything-Administrative Services, started the Forum on Virtual Assistance (FoVA) in 2008, which presents virtual assistants with the opportunity to exchange ideas and information and gain valuable insight in facilitated discussion groups and workshop formats. This event was so well received that FoVA 2009 is a highly anticipated event within the industry.

2. Tools/Technology

Social Media Marketing and web based collaboration tools and software have totally transformed business. Having the ability to connect real time with such tools as twitter means that we are able to reach out to millions of people. Managing multiple projects with virtual work teams using web based project management systems such as Basecamp, Skype, and a variety of Google tools is a snap. Not to mention how productive and easy it has become to track time across multiple projects and give clients the ability to log in from virtually anywhere to view and pay their invoices seamlessly with tools such as Freshbooks.com.  Armed with the knowledge, passion, and desire for success entrepreneurs such as Kathie M. Thomas, an Author, Blogger, Speaker and Virtual Assistant Coach & Trainer, who founded A Clayton’s Secretary, vadirectory.net, in 1994, are able to achieve successes such as gaining a spot on the Top 100 Australian Blogs list. Also, Danielle Guérin owner of VADG, a fully bilingual (English/French) multi-VA company in Canada, won the Young Self-Employed Worker of Quebec award in the 2008 ARISTA Provincial Competition. This award celebrates Danielle’s talent and accomplishments. The winners were selected based on rigorous criteria and succeeded in impressing the jury with their professional achievements, creative spirit and involvement.

3. Clientele

A variety of people are now outsourcing multiple projects ranging from personal assistance to the management and operations of their entire business. It need not matter if you run a service based company, an actual brink and mortar store, are an entrepreneur, franchisor, or large corporation people are now keenly aware of the benefits that a virtual assistant will bring to their business. Seeking ways to overcome challenges, be innovative, save money, and participate in online collaboration and marketing are the common factors that the majority of clientele share. Like Terry Green owner of Fastype VA Services, Inc., a full-service multi-VA company with a team of qualified associates specializing in providing quality administrative and executive support to Professional Speakers and Coaches worldwide. Their clients span the globe from across the United States and Canada, to as far away as New Zealand, Antigua and Singapore.

The forecast on the virtual assistant industry for 2009 and beyond is remarkable. With the ongoing commitment, drive, and passion to provide extraordinary customer relations while presenting the best possible options to service their clients, virtual assistants are revolutionizing the way business services are delivered, everywhere.

Quotes:

The online world is evolving. Being simply a virtual assistant that offers administrative services is no longer enough. With the emergence of social networking and social media marketing, it’s vital to any online business to stay on top of these changes. For the growth of my business, I took the certification course to become a Social Media Specialist. I will achieve the certification in January. It’s not only internet marketers that need this service anymore. Every business, from Realtors to Entrepreneurs to Ebayers will be using Social Marketing to attract business. I heard an interesting quote recently. The Internet is a buyer’s market where sellers aren’t welcome. Sellers need to adapt. ~ Crystal Pina, Visions Virtual Assistance

Working virtually is not the future anymore, but an everyday reality that has now taken its rightful place! As a Virtual Assistant and owner of Virtual Managing Associates, working virtually throughout 2008 brought in many developments on a multitude of levels, may they be professional or personal. To some it all up in a few words I would only say: Working on a virtual basis is not only a frame of mind, but also a possibility to offer to your existing customers and associates your undivided attention, and a proactive outlook on the work at hand. ~ Christiane Jechoux, Virtual Managing Associates.

post

My Accomplishments to Date and Strategies for 2009

Success in 2009!
Success in 2009!

Wow, it’s already mid December 2008. I hardly can believe this year is coming to an end. I would like to take some time to reflect on what actually transpired throughout the year and actually since the whole concept of being a virtual assistant was introduced to me.

It all started about 5 or 6 years ago when my husband I decided we wanted to start our family. I was fortunate to have my Mom stay at home with my 3 Sisters, Brother and I throughout our entire childhood. I knew that this is something that I wanted to be able to provide for my kids as well. I also knew I had 10 years experience at that time in office administration and real estate administration and that I loved the Internet. I had a desire to be a webmaster. So, I started my research and came across VAnetworking.com and joined in 2005. I launched my first website (which is long gone now) and prepared all my marketing materials while working full time.

So, as you can see I knew for a long time that I wanted to be an entrepreneur offering virtual support services.

I officially opened my doors for business in January 2008. I had already launched my website/blog in August 2007 using WordPress. I came across Erin Blaskie’s WordPress based site in early 2007 and like she did, I found WordPress to be absolutely amazing.  So, from early 2007 until about August I took the time to teach myself everything about installing, working with, and tweaking WordPress for my own site. Once, I felt totally confident working with it, I then starting to create and maintain sites for my clients.

Back in August 2007 a message went up at VAnetworking.com that said they were looking for someone to write a book about “Finding and Working with a Virtual Assistant”. So, I volunteered for that and as a result there is a free downloadable ebook available to everyone titled “Finding the Ultimate Virtual Assistant for your Business“. I put a lot of time and effort into this project. First, I generated the table of contents and then wrote each section accordingly. I don’t think the final title was decided upon until the whole book was finished. I used my years of experience working as a CEO’s and Director’s assistant, and ultimately as a “remote” team member for a large corporation over the course of  5 years to compile the information for the book.

In January 2008, I submitted my first press release and attracted my first client, a local author.

By the end of May, I had completed the Internet Marketing Virtual Assistant certification program at VAclassroom.com plus, The VA Coach’s 6 Week Skyrocket Your VA Business Coaching Program, and had attended the Forum on Virtual Assistance (FoVA) and was feeling very confident with my new found skills and development.

By the end of June, I had built up a good client base of about 24 clients ranging from authors to Internet Marketers.

By end of July, I finished a 12 month entrepreneurship training program and had a solid business plan in place.

During July and August something started happening to me. I was not able to sleep at night and would lie awake visualizing all the great ideas I had for business development. I was very excited about the opportunities I was being presented and very eager to implement them. Out of everything, I implemented one – an online family news magazine portal for my City called, The2Beagles.com. I spent hours and hours working on it.

Then, I started putting together tons of templates. These templates were basically an outline/checklists/guide’s on how to process all these new services such as Affiliate marketing management, Keyword research, Competitive analysis, WordPress Blog Design, Newsletter management, Webinar coordination,Social media coordination, blog, article, PR and Video submissions, Video editing and optimizing, you name it I have a spreadsheet created a system to process it.

After that, I would start thinking about how to attract more and more clients, and I did I.

What I wasn’t aware of, that was actually happening to me, was that I was setting myself up for disaster…

I was taking on too much too fast while still feeling overwhelmed. This overwhelm left me feeling stessed out, and my confidence faded. I wasn’t able to processes everything on my own and had not setup my business to be able to run “without” me.

Not only did I not account for any of my accomplishments to date, but I also was blaming myself for not being able to keep up with everything. So, I spent some time over the last few months to reflect on what went wrong and figure out a plan on how to move forward successfully.

Today, it’s December – year end.

I have secured the services a wonderful business coach who specializes in helping virtual assistants succeed and together we will formulate an action plan for me going forward. She says I have to take baby steps and remember to celebrate my successes while having FUN!

Some of the area’s I was struggling with in my business where project management, bookkeeping, and saying NO! So, to start with I will be outsourcing all of my bookkeeping to a great virtual assistant who loves numbers, researching and implementing an effective project management system that works for me and my clients, and re-working my client intake processes with a focus on “setting expectations”.

I will certainly keep you updated on my progress as we move forward!