CWAHM Devotional

Do Life DifferentDo Life Different
Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Author Archive

Oct
27

No More Excuses! Make Social Media Work for You

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Pebbles Jacobo - Social Media BloggerI LOVE social media. In fact, I log several HOURS per day on various social media networking sites. Granted, most of that time is for my clients. I figure it’s a good thing when you can turn something you are knowledgeable and passionate about into a service, which is why I decided to be a social media marketer, managing the social media profiles for clients.

Social Media MarketingOver the last couple of years I’ve heard all kinds of excuses from clients with regards to why they have decided to cut back on their social media marketing efforts. Here are just a few:

  1. It doesn’t work for me!
  2. I’ve seen no real increase in traffic to my website.
  3. It takes too much time.
  4. Facebook is just a place where people goof off and ‘act’ like they are working.

Social media is not a quick fix. Consider the fact that people are literally bombarded with hundreds of ‘buy now’ messages constantly – and that’s BEFORE we enter the buying season of Trick-or-Treat, Gobble-Gobble and Merry Christmas!

Consider all the fan pages you like on Facebook. Of the truly successful fan pages with loads of active followers (who like and comment on posts) how frequently are they posting “buy my stuff” updates and links? How much more often are they creating a relationship with their audience and interacting?

Social media marketing is social. It’s not posting then running off. It’s interacting and getting to know your audience, creating relationships with them and adding value to their life through your posts. A single post is not going to drive traffic to your website UNLESS you have already built up a relationship with your audience.

Here are a few tips on improving your social media marketing efforts:

Read More→

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va-seriesOffering social media management and consulting services to clients is one of those things I sort of fell into. When I started working online as a virtual assistant social networks were in their infancy. MySpace was dying with Facebook and Twitter quickly gaining traction. Facebook spoke to the extrovert in me; couple that with working from home and social media soon became close to an obsession for me. It was a client’s prompting that had me looking at my near obsession through a different lens and started making money offering my social media knowledge and experience to clients as a service.

As an entrepreneur and freelance virtual assistant it is important to keep up to date not only on the latest programs, software and, in some cases, social networking sites. It’s important to also be up to date on the latest trends and advances within one’s industry. The following is how continue my education regularly.

Online Groups – There are a few virtual assistant groups that I have connected with and regularly follow. Interaction with other virtual assistants is a great way of picking up other tips, tricks, and even skills. Facebook and Google+ both have excellent virtual assistant groups to join. One that I am a part of is Virtual Assistant Community. (Google+ calls their groups ‘communities.’) Read More→

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May
24

The Top Four Do’s of Successful Virtual Assistants

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lightbulbIn building my company from the ground up my skills and services went through tons of refining. From my experiences and education I have a lot to share which may help with your own virtual assistant business. These top “do’s” are a must in my book and should be in yours, too, especially as you push and plan for virtual assistant success!

Do Communicate With Your Clients: Communication ensures you and your client are on the same page, tracking with the same line of thinking. This goes a long way in building a rapport with clients which will have them coming back for more. Repeat clients are additional revenue that all too often is overlooked. In communicating with my clients the door was opened several times to other services I offer. In communicating with your clients you will learn of upcoming direction changes and opportunities.

Do the Social Media Marketing and Networking Dance:  Social media marketing, in the words of Diana Ennen, “is here to stay.” For the most part social media marketing is a free method of marketing and getting the word out about your virtual assistant services. When done correctly it also is a way of establishing your expertise in your field. Be sure to stay up to date on the social media platforms to get the most interaction from your efforts.

Do Schedule Your Time: Believe it or not, scheduling your time in regards to clients and tasks will not only reveals hidden pockets of time, but also help you stay on target. This will serve you well as the more on target you stay, the more productive and the more money you can make. Don’t forget to schedule time to complete administrative tasks in daily and weekly intervals to keep things from piling up in your office.

Do Continue Your Education: This can be in the form of classes, whether locally or online, webinars, online courses and more. Personally, there are a number of small business and virtual assistant blogs I visit regularly and keep my eye out for articles in which I might further my knowledge. Every little bit counts. Read More→

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Pebbles Jacobo, All Things VA bloggerpebbles-startLooking to start out as a virtual assistant but don’t know where to find any paying projects and jobs? Here’s a shortlist of my personal favorites when I’m looking for VA work:

Upwork
Freelancer
Guru

iFreelance

In addition, here are some of my favorite sites found to be most informative, especially when I was just starting out as a VA:

Virtual Word Publishing
Google (there were LOTS of times I didn’t know how to do what was being asked of me, so I simply looked it up…)

Depending on the specific type of work at home work you are looking for, there are loads of sites out there. Read articles. Join message boards and forums. Buy and download audio books and ebooks. Educate yourself and the top of the hill is yours for the taking! Read More→

Mar
07

My Virtual Assistant Toolbox

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What toolsis a craftsman without the tools of their trade? What is a carpenter without his saw? What is a chef without good food and the proper utensils, pots and pans?  As virtual assistants our box of tools and bag of tricks are seemingly endless. I have found the following tools to be the most valuable, no matter what you specialize in as a virtual assistant. Okay, so they are more ‘skills’ than tools, but hey, they’re still in my toolbox and they still get the job done!

Problem Solving.  No matter your position as a virtual assistant, be it a business owner, mentor, partner or subcontractor, your ability to problem solve and find solutions, in my view, the mightiest tool in your toolbox.  I don’t know about you but my VA business basically got its start by helping clients work through various issues and finding viable solutions. Even today, problem solving remains my bread and butter. Clients want to implement something new but don’t know where to start. That’s where the virtual assistant comes in. Your client doesn’t have the time to sift through research and how-to’s, that’s why they hired you! Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves, work through the issue or problem at hand, do a little (or a lot) of research and then make things happen. Your ability to problem solve and implement workable solutions will have your clients coming back for more, time and time again.

Organization. There’s more to organization than just putting the blocks in one tub and the pyramids in another tub. You can organize a client’s calendar for better usage of their time. You can organize their website for a better flow of information. I’ve even done this for a client’s devotional to ensure her devotions flowed in a specific manner. Sometimes it’s just a manner of organizing information in a spreadsheet for a better grasp of the overall picture.

Follow Through. This one can be a toughie but is important. First of all, think of contacts you have made. Just because your new contact CURRENTLY needs your services as a virtual assistant doesn’t mean that down the line they won’t need your services. In fact, I was at an event just this week in which I made multiple contacts. It wasn’t for the purpose of growing my business, but regardless, still follow through with your initial meeting of them with a quick email or note within a day or two of meeting. My services have been referred by clients and contacts alike, meaning they don’t have to use your services to know someone else who needs your services.

Secondly, the same goes for proposals, projects and tasks. When you submit a proposal to someone, be sure to follow that up by contacting them within a week if you don’t hear back from them. They could have been busy or just somehow missed your email. (I’ve actually had emails VANISH in the great vastness of the internet and never make it to its destination, so it does happen.) Don’t assume just because you have not heard back that it’s a no-go. Follow through and confirm before making assumptions.

Boundaries. Oy! So many of us struggle with the issue of not knowing where to set boundaries, I know I do. It’s hard to say ‘no’ when your bank account is low, but what good will it do if you work yourself into the ground? Decide on how many hours you can realistically work AND STILL HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK. Nobody expects you to work 24/7 just because you work from home. Okay, maybe some clients are out of their head and not always realistic, but those are the clients to step away from anyway. You are allowed to take a day off – even a weekend – so do it and do it regularly. Read More→

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Mar
01

Getting Your Ducks in a Row

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Pebbles Jacobo, All Things VA bloggercarnival ducksIn my last blog post I discussed assessing one’s skill set. Life, whether as a mom or office assistant, may have equipped you with the skill set necessary to be a virtual assistant. If you want to take the next steps towards the goal of working from home as a virtual assistant, there is a lot of work to be done in getting your ducks lined up.

You see, anyone can put up a sign and claim to be a virtual assistant.  The right way would be lining your ducks up before scrambling to convince potential clients your ducks are lined up. A little extra research, planning and preparation will make all the difference in getting started on the right foot. My goal with this blog series is to guide you through setting yourself up as a virtual assistant using my experiences as a trail map, knowing certain pitfalls to avoid.

At this point you may think you are ready to put out that sign and start taking on clients. I thought I was, too. Personal experience has taught me that the more research and duck lining I do, the smoother the transition. You seen there are so many things to consider, including your business name, your business and tax classification (i.e.:  Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Corporation, Incorporation), what account your funds are paid into and so on. All this can be completed while you prepare your resume and portfolio.

Your business and tax classification are important. Many virtual assistants are too eager to get started and neglect this important step. To their dismay they end up paying a higher tax rate on their earned income than they had to had they done their homework ahead of time and such is the case if you don’t protect your business by making it official either as an Limited Liability Corporations or forming your corporation as Incorporated. There are many factors to consider. As you consider what to do, read up a little on the differences, in fact, here’s where you can get started:  http://sbinformation.about.com/od/ownership1/Ownership_LLC_Inc_Partnership_Sole.htm. Read More→

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Pebbles Jacobo, All Things VA bloggerIn the last issue of this VA blog, I shared how various life experiences contribute to one’s overall resume with regards to working from home as a virtual assistant. Today I’d like to expand on that though and help you break down your experience and see how it adds to your skill set as a virtual assistant.

I want to begin with the definition of a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant (VA), through the medium of the computer, internet and phone, is one who assists clients with various tasks and projects. Because everything is done virtually there is no need for clients and VAs to work within the same office space. The client submits tasks and/or projects to the VA usually through emails or phone calls.

A few of you are probably shaking your heads, asking yourselves, “how do my work and personal experiences translate to a resume?!” Think of it like this, basically a VA is an assistant, many times an administrative assistant, who works from their own [virtual], remote office as opposed to the office of their client. Did you catch the key word, “…administrative assistant?”

There are many individuals out there who don’t have the time to accomplish all they want or need, whether personally or for their business, so they hire an assistant. Some assistants are administrative while others are more along the lines of being personal assistants.

Do you have administrative skills? If you have worked in an office, be it home or business, you have administrative skills. All of these are within the skill set of being a virtual assistant. You have many more VA skills than you probably realize. Read More→

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Feb
17

Work-at-Home Dos & Don’ts

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Work at Home Wisdom by Pebbles Jacobo

As a work-at-home professional, you will face a different set of challenges and blessings in your job. There are many tips available as you progress with working from home, but some are especially important to keep in mind. These include the following points.

Work at Home Dos and Don'ts, by Pebbles JacoboDO designate a specific time to work. Assuming that work will just happen because you are always home is a dangerous assumption. Instead, schedule yourself specific times to work and stick to those hours. This will also help you keep your work and home lives separate, according to Businessinsider.com.

DON’T mix your work and home areas. While working at home can make it seem easy to mesh the two, it is actually quite important to keep them separate. Entrepeneur.com states that this allows you to escape work at the end of the day and will help you preserve time and space for family.

DO take breaks. Of course, keeping these breaks to a moderate length is important. However, Businessinsider.com states that breaks in which you eat or exercise will help you focus better and ultimately get more done. In fact, Agmrc.org suggests that you spend 5-15 minute breaks doing something you enjoy that relaxes you. But stick to the time-limit on these breaks or they can eat away at your day. Read More→

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Feb
10

The ABC’s of Working from Home

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home-officepebbles2015Any mother can tell you how exhausting juggling family, home, and a 9 to 5 job. When spending too much time in an office job, your family life suffers. This is because you tend to miss out on the memories and your children growing up. In addition, some jobs require a lot from you in terms of long hours, out of town trips, and sometimes working on weekends and holidays. It is for this reason that a growing number of parents are all for working from home.

It is usually a terrifying experience leaving a solid source of income into a world of the unknown but you must look at it as a chance for growth and being your own boss. In fact, working from home trains you on time management. The great thing is that you now have the ability to juggle family life, errands, and your home office in a flexible manner. Working from home can have its disadvantages because you may be distracted by the kids when they cry or when company unexpectedly stops by. The trick to handling this is to train the kids to keep away from your home workspace within set hours and informing family and friends of days you can avail yourself socially.

The key to success in working from home is balancing work and home. It is not always easy but with time, you can definitely handle and enjoy both. One of the things you can do is to create a timetable for each day and how you intend to have family time, do your chores and errands and when to buckle down and get some work done. If you are doing work that excites you and requires flexible time to handle it, then it means you will have more time for other things in the home and about town. Read More→

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Pebbles Jacobo, All Things VA bloggerpebbles-reasonsFor a busy entrepreneur not to have a virtual assistant on staff, or at least on retainer, is for a king not to have his knights or a coffee shop not to serve coffee. Scratch that. It would be the same as a king CHOOSING not to have or make use of his knights, being a wayward traveler and lone ranger or a coffee shop CHOOSING not to serve coffee. None of those work out very well.

Simply put busy entrepreneurs are just that – they’re busy! A virtual assistant is akin to an off-site employee providing web and general administrative assistance.

1.      Versatile Skill Sets: Virtual assistants, like other employees, come in all manners of knowledge, experiences and skills. Often times their versatility enables them to easily switch gears, modes and even programs easily. Often times a virtual assistant you use for research and database collection might also be the same one you can use or web design or document formatting.

2.      Cost Effective:  You pay only for time spent on tasks as opposed to coffee breaks, late starts and vacations. Granted, you’ll want to check with your virtual assistant before you hire them to verify whether they round up their time ‘spent’ on projects to the nearest quarter hour, which is a common practice for freelance workers paid hourly.

3.      Excellent Resource:  Whether hiring directly or utilizing specific skill sets, virtual assistants are excellent resources, especially when used to manage off-site teams, no matter the project. Most virtual assistants, by nature, are capable of working remotely with very little input. This, in and of itself, reduces time spent on spinning ones wheels trying to complete specific projects and tasks. Read More→

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