Online Business Information
So the desire for starting an online business is calling you. You have some great ideas; have a lot of enthusiasm you’re ready to start. You’re going to make a large amount of money and be your own boss. Acquiring online business information will help you to make some decisions before you begin.
Well, wait a minute regardless of the claims of how easy it is to get rich off the Internet. You will find starting an online business is no different than starting a business in the non-virtual world. Maybe you need to consider some things first to make this profitable and mistake free.
When contemplating starting an online business you need to take an honest look at yourself. What are your skills? What kind of interests do you have? Many people stared their online business in the fields that they worked. A graphic artist could start a web design company or produce custom graphics. You will also want to think about the type of jobs you truly enjoy.
Do your homework to start your online business. Do not make the mistake of putting all your efforts, money and time into a service you want and try and find a market for it. You can not make people like your service or product. Instead, find out what the consumer would like and then design a service or product to fit that need. Also just like a real-world business, there is a certain amount of risk. By doing your homework you can lessen that risk by finding something people will buy and for how much. This allows you to adjust your costs to make sure of a profit.
You also need to study your competition. Find out what they are doing and what works or what doesn’t work. The more online business information that you have in regards to the market and your competition the better chance of success you will have.
When starting your online business you need to have a plan and follow it. What will it cost to start? Where will you get that money? If you are going to ask for a loan you will need to have a business plan to present to the loaning institution. It is a good idea to have a business plan even if you are funding your online business yourself. This will give you some set goals to review.
To get your online business going you will need to make a time commitment and keep it. It will be difficult to keep a full-time job and work on your new online business. You probably will not be able to accomplish that unless you set a specific time to work on it. Starting an online business and making it profitable enough for you to work full time on it does take some time.
You have done the required research, taken the time and made the commitment for your online business. Now you feel that you have a great product that the world wants and price that they can afford and you make a profit. You have one more thing to consider marketing. Your customers need to be able to find your product so they can purchase it. This can be done online, offline, or a combination of them both. You will need to continually study what works and what doesn’t until you find what works for you the best. However, remember what works today, may today may not tomorrow and be able and willing to change your approach to marketing as the consumers dictate.
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When it comes to social media, boundaries are important. If you have too few boundaries, you could end up oversharing. This can lead to damaged relationships in real life and depending on what you’re oversharing, the loss of your reputation. This doesn’t build up your confidence either!
To stay comfortable and confident on social media, use these tips…
Set Helpful Limits
Regina liked to lie in bed and surf social media on her phone before going to sleep. But after doing this for several weeks, she noticed the habit was increasing her anxiety and making it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.
Try this: next time you’re on social media, take a moment to check in with yourself. Are you feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Getting a bit anxious? Or, are you comparing your life to someone else’s?
When it comes to social media, one of the smartest things you can do is to create limits for yourself. You may decide that you’ll only check in on social media once a day or you may want to set a time limit when you browse.
Definition of Confidence:
a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
“she’s brimming with confidence”
|synonyms:||self-assurance, self-confidence, self-possession, assertiveness; |
Your friends on social media are entitled to their opinions. But that doesn’t mean you have to hit like on every single one of Aunt Betty’s political rants or inform your sister that she shared a fake news story (again).
You can choose to hide status updates from people that are consistently negative or that bring you down. A good idea to follow is the three strikes rule. If someone is negative on social media for three posts in a row, hide them.
You can hide friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks without having to unfriend or unfollow them. The other person never gets notified that you’ve hidden their content. It’s a great way to distance yourself from unkind remarks and unnecessary drama.
Create a Separate Account
Natalie creates art that makes people think. She likes to explore controversial themes in her work and she’s not afraid to push the envelope. But some of her family members don’t agree with her views and aren’t supportive of her creations.
So, Natalie started a private Instagram account where she shares her art. This allows her to post about her hobby without dealing with negativity from her relatives.
Just like Natalie, you want each of your social media profiles to serve a specific purpose. You might have a Facebook account for staying in touch with distant family and loved ones. But you might dedicate another account, like Instagram or Twitter to sharing content privately.
Social media can be a wonderful tool for connecting and communicating. To get the most out of each network, keep your social feed positive and uplifting. Follow people who inspire you and share your own thoughts authentically.
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Thanks for reading the 5 articles on Social Media. Next week we’ll be moving to a new topic.
Connecting With Your People – Are you?
The people closest to you may not always be the most supportive. They might be too familiar with you to see what makes you special. Family and friends, who can be the greatest source of love and acceptance, can also be a great source of criticism and frustration.
Are you connecting with the right people?
With social media, you get the chance to connect with others based on your shared interests. People who ‘get’ you can do a great deal to lift your self-view and increase your confidence.
So, how do you connect with others and build your own supportive tribe?
Join Online Communities
Start by joining groups. Facebook has a group directory that you can browse. You can find groups based on hobbies, careers, or lifestyle. These are great sources to start connecting with the type of people you have something in common with or people you’d just like to meet.
Look for groups that have a few thousand members and are active with users regularly posting. Some group owners may have a form consisting of 2-3 questions that they’d like you to fill out. Answer as truthfully as possible. You don’t want to be deceptive and risk being removed from the group later.
Close your eyes and imagine an organization’s “community.” … You can define a community by the shared attributes of the people in it, and/or by the strength of the connections among them. When an organization is identifying communities of interest, the shared attribute is the most useful definition of a community.
Pay Attention to Privacy
Keep in mind that privacy settings can vary by group. On Facebook, an open group is one where anyone can see the posts, even people who aren’t members of the group. That means if you post in a discussion in an open group, your friends may be able to see it with a bit of digging.
But Facebook has another option called closed groups. Anyone on Facebook can see who the members are, but in order to see the discussions taking place, you have to join the group. This can be ideal if you want to participate in a group but you don’t want your posts seen by everyone on social media.
Respond to Posts
Once you’re approved to join a group, you can go ahead and dive in. Try to comment on three recent threads. Make your comments personal and don’t be afraid to share your unique perspective.
Aim to respond to a few threads throughout the next week or two. This lets the other members get to know you and learn more about your personality. Sounds simple right?
Once you’ve interacted on a few topics, it’s time to jump in. Start your own discussion by asking a question and seeking opinions. Don’t ask about something controversial just to get attention.
Instead, focus on asking a question that requires a complex answer. A simple yes-or-no question won’t allow you to start a deeper discussion. Instead, try to ask a “Why…?” or “How…?” question. These tend to invite more conversation and give you a chance to learn more about other members.
The great thing about online communities is that they expose you to perspectives from around the globe. This allows you to learn new things and broaden your own horizons by making new friends.
You can join our group on Facebook to connect with other likeminded Virtual Service Providers. Go ahead, we’d love to have you in our community.
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If you crave genuine connection online, you have to be authentic. Some people mistakenly believe that to be authentic, you have to share your entire life online with absolutely no filters.
But that’s not true.
You can be authentic and build lasting relationships without oversharing or annoying your community.
Though the people who preach its virtue often don’t understand exactly what the word means. Authentic is defined as: “not false or copied; genuine; real.” And, my favorite definition, “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”
Here a few ways to show your true self to your online friends and followers:
Share the Bad
Most people automatically share their good moments on social media. For instance, they take a selfie of their new hairdo or post about their vacation adventures or proudly display their sonogram.
There’s nothing wrong with publishing these details online. But if you only show the good side of your life, people may struggle to trust you.
You’ll appear more genuine if you post about your bad moments occasionally. This means you can go ahead and upload that post-workout gym selfie, broadcast a shot of your messy workspace, or share a snap of how your fuzzy your hair looks after you ran in the rain. (But this hair pic for me, NO!)
Present a Slice of Life
You know sometimes, being authentic can be as simple as posting about a common occurrence that other people can relate to. For example, Faydra Koenig, a crisis coach, frequently posts photos of her coffee cup from Starbucks.
She shares the images to show the unusual ways servers attempt to spell her name. And she does it in a light-hearted way without embarrassing anyone or shaming them. She simply has a laugh and lets her friends in on the joke.
Participate in Conversations
You wouldn’t take your friend to a crowded restaurant and spend the entire meal ignoring her. If you did, your friend wouldn’t feel very loved. She’d be upset and wonder why you bothered inviting her if you had no intention of spending time with her. And please, be present and stay off your phone.
It’s the same concept with social media. If you have friends and followers responding to your updates, take a moment to engage with them. You don’t have to write lengthy responses. When a friend comments, you can say something simple like, “Thanks for listening!” or “Hearing your perspective on this blesses me!”
Own Your Quirks
What do you geek out about? Maybe you love collecting Funko Pop vinyl figures and you’re always adding new ones to your collection. Maybe you live for cute shoes or you’re obsessed with trying different coffee flavors.
Sharing something you love and showing off your inner dork is a great way to be authentic online. You’ll attract other people who geek out over the same things and you’ll have a good supply of frequent content since your hobby is already part of your life.
You can be authentic online and still have your privacy. The key is picking which parts of your personality and life you’d like to showcase online.
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Selfie Love & Oversharing
Ok, now this is not big news. But, did you know that selfies are photos you take of yourself? Usually, people share their selfies on social media websites like Facebook and Instagram. Taking selfies can be a helpful way to track your weight loss, boost your mood, and even increase confidence.
Yet there can be a DARK SIDE to selfies. Taking dozens of selfies while searching for the right angle or obsessing over how various filters will make you appear can be warning signs that your selfie habit might be going too far. Ya think?
But, HOW do you know if your selfies are actually a bad thing?
Definition of selfie
a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.
It can be helpful to ask yourself four simple questions after you snap a picture…
- How do I feel?
- Why am I sharing this?
- How much of my life should I be publishing?
- Am I ok if this goes viral?
Now, I’m asking going to ask you these questions, what are your thoughts? Here are some ideas to take into consideration:
How Do You Feel?
Jennifer took a selfie and felt anxious. So, she changed into jeans and a cute sweater then took another one. She still didn’t like the way she looked so she picked out a different top and changed her hairstyle to go with the outfit.
Sometimes, a selfie habit is more about seeking external validation than anything. Jennifer had always suffered from low self-esteem so those pictures were her way of feeling like she mattered. When she realized this, she knew she needed to make a change.
Why Are You Sharing This?
Some people take selfies as a way to document a moment and remember it later. That’s why you might be tempted to take a selfie during a fun vacation or snap a picture during that beautiful sunset.
But before you share that picture on social media, ask yourself why you’re sharing it. Are you hoping to impress someone? Are you secretly wishing to make your ex-jealous? Or are you genuinely eager to record the moment?
How Much of Your Life Should You Be Publishing?
When you snap a picture, take a moment to review it. Pay attention to what’s in the background of your selfie, or you could accidentally put yourself or someone else at risk if you’re not careful.
If you’re walking around your neighborhood, is your street address visible? If you’re in a medical setting like a hospital, are there other patients in the background? If you’re inside the changing room at your gym, are people in the background exposed?
Are You I OK If This Goes Viral?
A tasteless selfie can seriously damage your reputation and even cause you to lose your job. So before you post, ask yourself if you’d want your employer or extended family to see this photo.
Don’t rely on privacy settings to save you. Anyone can take a screenshot and share your private photo with the whole world even if you’ve deleted the original image. Once a selfie is online, you have to assume that it may be digitally accessible forever. So make smart choices that won’t come back to haunt you.
Selfies can be a great way to make you feel confident or document a special moment. Just make sure you’re snapping and sharing for all the right reasons. Mmmmkay?
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Tracking Your Personal Time
Sue was a web designer who worked from home. She found herself very distracted and didn’t feel she was as productive as she could be. At a friend’s urging, Sue began using a time tracker to track her personal time. She was amazed to see how much time she was filling with minor tasks (like checking Facebook on her phone and surfing Pinterest). Tracking personal time is really essential if you plan on having a successful business.
If you haven’t done it before, you should try tracking your time, too. The results can be surprising and like Sue, you may discover you could be far more productive…
Tracking Personal Time Takes About 2 Weeks
Think of time tracking like a budget. Your hours are your dollars. By tracking them you can see where your money (in this case your time) is really going. Then you can make adjustments to your schedule depending on what you learn.
Plan to spend at least two weeks tracking your time. If you only track your time for a day or two, you’re not going to get a complete picture of what your habits and routines really look like. This can lead you to under-estimate the time you need to do certain tasks (like finish a big project).
Do Quick Check-Ins
Tracking your personal time doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Instead, you can check-in with yourself 3-4 times a day to make a note of what you’ve been doing. A good idea is to plan to check-in after every meal. This gives you a chance to think about what you’ve done and what you plan to do in the coming hours.
Record everything no matter what. You wouldn’t splurge on a huge purchase then not budget for it, would you? This could lead to financial errors and other problems. It’s the same concept with your time. Acknowledge how you’ve spent it, even if you’re not proud of it.
Use a Physical Notebook
There are dozens of time trackers online. These can be useful when you have to track time for client projects. But it’s not so great when you’re tracking your personal time. If you go to record your time and find yourself distracted by social media or emails, you could definitely benefit from using a physical notebook instead.
Make It Fun For Yourself
So, when Sue started time tracking her personal time, she asked her friend to join her. Together they both began tracking their time. But instead of sharing their logs, they’d take selfies and send them to each other every hour. Cool huh?
It made the experience more enjoyable and kept both of them focused on being productive. You can do the same thing—send a quick selfie to a private Instagram account every hour for a visual record of how you’ve spent your time.
Look over Your Log
After you’re done with tracking your time, plan to have a review session the next day. Look over your logs and make notes about what you’d like to change now. Do you want to spend more time playing with your kids? Would you prefer to cut out Facebook and use that hour to work on eating healthier meals?
Time tracking can be a great way to see where you’re spending it well and where you can make some improvements. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself becoming more intentional with how you spend your hours!
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Stay on Track: Scheduling & Planning
One of the best ways to stay organized and keep on track with your projects is to create a monthly plan. Your monthly plan can be filled with notes about when to do your various tasks so you can smooth out your workflow (no more rushing to write that blog post at the last minute!).
Here are a few pointers to get you started…
Make a List of Recurring Tasks
Take some time to think about what recurring tasks you have to do for your clients each week. Do you log in to their WordPress blog and delete spam comments? Do you schedule their social media content including videos and pictures?
There may also be tasks you only do once a month for clients—like backing up their website or assigning work to other team members. Add these tasks to your list, too so you won’t forget them.
Schedule Recurring Tasks
Now that you know what you have to do each week or month, make space for it on your calendar. You can use a physical or digital calendar, depending on what you prefer. Digital calendars do give you a slight advantage since you can set reminder alerts so you never forget an important task again.
As you fill up your calendar, think about how long each task will take and build in some buffer time. For example, if you think you can write a blog post in twenty minutes, give yourself sixty instead.
Now, you have extra time if you realize you need to research a fact or interview a source.
Create a Checklist
Some recurring tasks may be big and complex. Maybe you’re a virtual assistant who uploads products to her client’s website. There’s a whole list of things you have to do to make this happen. You need to upload the product to Amazon S3, add it to aMember, set up a form in aMember, create a pickup page in WordPress, add the official sales page to the website, create an autoresponder series, etc.
With all of these tasks, it’s hard to know where to start. Use a checklist to help you stay organized. The next time you’re doing this task, note down every step you have to take along the way.
Now, doing this task in the future will be easy since you just have to open your checklist and get to work.
When you schedule recurring tasks on your calendar, you’ll be more likely to remember them and impress your clients. You’ll also feel less stress since you know exactly what to do to stay on track each month.
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Contact me below if you need help with managing your time. I would love to help you with your time management.
Time Tracking for Your Clients
Casey was a virtual assistant who specialized in social media. She enjoyed working for clients but she was hired for a month or two and then let go time after time. After noticing this pattern, Casey reached out to a friend in the virtual assistant industry who had spent years serving clients. This article helps to explain time tracking for your clients. This is critical to your business’s success.
Dana, Casey’s friend, explained that often it’s hard for clients to understand exactly what their service provider is doing. “So, they paid you for ten hours of social media help but they don’t know what they purchased unless you tell them. At the end of the month, it’s hard to validate the money they’re paying since they aren’t sure what happened with it.”
Dana went on to recommend Casey do a few key things to improve her time tracking for clients.
Start with a Regular Report
Every week, send a brief email to your client and let them know what you did. Don’t say something vague like, “I spent three hours on your social media.” That doesn’t give the client an idea of what you were doing.
Instead, provide relevant details. You could say, “I spent one-hour uploading 15 posts to your social media scheduler. Then I researched popular Pinterest group boards. I followed the rules of each board then pinned your latest blog post so you can get more Pinterest traffic. I also updated the branding for your Facebook fan page with the new logo we discussed.”
After you share what you did, include any metrics that might be helpful. For example, you wrote a new blog post that resulted in two big sales for your client. Be sure to mention that in your week’s report.
Keep in mind that the results you measure should match the client’s goal. If the client’s goal is to become a social media influencer, then mention that their new video tweet got 103 RTs and 1.5K views on Instagram. If you’re not clear on what your client’s goal is, you need to talk with them. Figure out what it is they’re looking for and develop a strategy to help them achieve it.
Schedule a Review
As a service provider, you want to make sure that you’re spending your time on projects that matter to your client. It’s smart to request a 15-minute call every month. You and your client can use this time to review what you’ve been doing.
This monthly review ensures that you and your client are working toward the same goal. Your client might see what you’re working on and say, “Yes, do more of that please!” or she might say, “No, I want to change direction on this project.”
Tracking Your Time is Good
It’s not just clients who benefit from your time tracking—you do, too! Even if you’re doing an unpaid internship or bartering with someone, track your time.
Plotting how long it took you to complete a task can be helpful so you know how much time to budget for future projects. For example, tracking your time might reveal it takes you an hour to write a blog post but you always thought you could do it in 30 minutes. Now that you have this information, you can block off a full 60 minutes to write without feeling rushed or frazzled.
Casey took Dana’s advice. She started emailing her clients a weekly report and began getting more repeat jobs. This enabled her to spend less time marketing her business and more time doing what she loved—serving her clients.
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The Best Tools for Time Tracking
Time tracking is a great way to ensure that projects stay on track while giving your clients peace of mind. But manually tracking it yourself can be difficult. It’s hard to remember to do it every time you start working on a project leading to inaccurate time estimates.
The solution is simple: stop tracking your time yourself. Instead, use a tool that monitors your time use for you. Then you can simply review it at the end of each day and make sure it’s accurate.
Here are a few of the best apps and software for your time tracking needs…
Account Sight allows you to track time for 5 clients and 5 projects. The great thing about this site is that it integrates with PayPal and QuickBooks. This means that you can easily track your time, invoice your clients, and update your earnings with just a few clicks. There’s both a free version and a paid upgrade that unlocks additional features that you may want to use.
Toggl makes it easy to see where your time is going at a glance. You can color code clients and projects, which turn into colorful charts and graphs. It also integrates with other productivity tools like Asana, Trello, Basecamp, and more.
Toggl has a free version that you can use for as long as you want. If you choose to upgrade, you’ll probably do it for access to the accounting features so you easily invoice clients and track your profits.
And a couple more:
Rescue Time is another app for your time tracking. It works differently than most tools. With Rescue Time, the program tracks what websites and apps you use throughout the day. It then gives you a productivity score each evening.
The cool thing about Rescue Time is that you can set specific activities to be categorized as “productive” or “distracting”. This can be helpful if you’re frequently on Facebook to update a client’s group or page. You can simply set Facebook to “productive” so your daily score is accurate. The app has both a free and a premium option if you want more in-depth tracking.
Trigger is an app that combines the power of time tracking with project management, resulting in robust software that lets you see at a glance what you need to do each day to stay on track with your projects.
Along with time sheets, you can use Trigger for online reports and automated invoices. It also integrates with Freshbooks, Zapier, Basecamp, Slack and more. You can get started with a free account but it’s limited to just 5 projects, so you may need to upgrade to a premium account later on.
Don’t get discouraged if the first app or software doesn’t seem to fit your needs. It can take a few weeks of testing out different apps until you find the one that works best for you and your business.
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Evaluating How You Use Your Time
Tracking your time for clients is a good practice for service providers. But don’t stop by just tracking it for clients. You should also be evaluating and tracking time for your own personal use, too. When you do this, you’ll discover important insights about your business that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask after you’ve been tracking your time for a week or two…
Where Is My Time Really Going?
You’ve been working on launching your e-course for two months and you’re still nowhere near ready. But when you open up your time tracking app, you can quickly see that you spent 14 hours on Facebook or 9 hours tweaking the design of your website.
It’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t have any form of accountability. But a time tracker forces you to look at how you’ve been spending your time. This isn’t about shaming yourself. It’s about evaluating how you’re spending your time.
Instead, focus on being positive. You might say, “I spent ten hours on Facebook last week. What projects would I like to invest those ten hours into this week?”
Are These Tasks Giving Me a BIG Return?
You had a business coach tell you to make 10 Instagram posts each day and you’ve been following that advice faithfully. But when you stop and look at how you’ve spent this time, ask yourself, “Is this task giving me a BIG return?”
If you aren’t getting a good return on the time you’re investing, consider moving your attention to a project that will grow your business, like launching a course or hosting a webinar.
Do These Tasks Have to Be Done by Me?
Some digital business owners get bogged down in doing non-essential tasks that keep them from their important work. For example, if you’re a best-selling author then your most important work is writing that next book. But instead, you’re spending hours every week managing your Facebook group.
But what if you could outsource your community management? You could still pop in daily to stay connected to the group but you could focus all of your energy on that one thing you do well—writing your book. This is the right way you should be evaluating your time.
Is This Task Draining Me?
As you’re reviewing your time tracking, think about how you feel after you’ve completed each task. Did you feel energized and motivated after filming that Facebook Live broadcast? Did you feel frustrated and drained after working on your sales copy?
Pay special attention to tasks that take your energy. Try to find a way to avoid doing them. For example, you could hire a copywriter to handle your sales page or if your budget is tight, consider bartering with another service provider. Then you’ll both get to work in areas where you shine!
If you want to create more of what you want in your business and your life, tracking your time is important. The more you track your time, the better you’ll be able to manage it.
Find out which tools are the best for tracking your time when you download your free workbook!
Stay tuned for “The Best Tool for Time Tracking” on the next blog post.
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