Have you checked your Social Media lately? Part 2

A lot has happened between doing part one of this series where as a newbie to social media I started to explore the various social media outlets, and which one was best for me and new comers like me. In this second part I have a few thoughts on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Blogs.

Facebook is clearly the hands down winner for platform that has the most active users, and in allowing its users to truly use the site in any way they wish. You can use it to create your web presence, as a blog, to post videos or photos, or to network.  Because of the versatility Facebook is the most used social media application. If you want a site that is versatile, linkable to other social platforms, and good for your business, then Facebook is a great way to start. Just remember that Facebook is very social and sometimes can come across as a little unprofessional.

LinkedIn is a more professional site where users network and can do job searches, promote their services, businesses, websites and find partners that they wish to collaborate with. It is a great way, like Facebook to promote your business and brand. LinkedIn. With this social media platform it’s more of a professional sharing community and networking platform than the other platforms. Professional networking is the main focus of LinkedIn and so attracts many professionals for that reason. It is a way of promoting your resume, business, service or brand. To grow your circle you link with people you already know, and through those links you can get an endless source of links and build your network.

Blogs and Google+ are pretty much the same. They allow you to post pictures, videos, or just about anything to promote your business, site, or resume. You can use blogs and Google+ as your main website and promote it just the same. With Google+ your contacts become your followers, and you can join groups of similar interest to build your followers and get your content seen by more people.

The similarity with all these platforms is that they can be linked to the fast paced and popular social media world of Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and Tumbler if you do pictures. There are advantages and disadvantages with all these platforms, so look at them carefully to determine which ones will be best for your purposes. One thing to remember is you need to promote your sites, or profiles in order to get more eyes on your content. In many cases there are paid advertising options that you can use for this purpose.

Go out there and explore social media.

Have fun

Have you checked your social media lately? Part 1

I’m not a big user of social media, and when they started popping up and becoming popular, like everyone else I signed up to all the various ones. But lately I’ve been exploring just how social media works, and how it can help a business like mine. As a freelance professional finding your way around marketing and promoting is always an issue. Yes there are companies and other freelancers that are available to do the job and will most definitely do a very good job, but sometimes you have to learn what you’re paying for, and how to know if it’s being done right.

One of the things that I’ve learned from my exploration is not all social media is a good fit. For instance sites like Pintrest, Tumbler, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr are great for sharing things that are more visual like pictures and videos. If you work in any industry that does a lot of visuals, videos, pictures, these sites are great for Marketing, photography, retail, fashion and such.These sites are great as they use minimal words and maximum eye catching visual. All you need is a title, a great photo and off you go.

Industries that are more focused on things like administration, accounting, project management, writing, etc., then sites like Twitter will be great for you. With Twitter you can add links from your blogs, other sites or links to work that you wish to share with your followers. Twitter tends to be more versatile when it comes to sharing. You can add pictures only, or you can add write-ups to like to whatever articles or sites you’re talking about.

So figuring out which site is best for your type of business is the first step in looking at your social media. So take a look and see if you’re signed up to the right site for you.

As I continue my explorations there will be more to follow. So check out your social media. And I’ll keep you informed about hashtags, following people, and promoting. From one social media newbie to another don’t sign up to something before you check it out fully and see if it’s right for you. I’ll look at Facebook, LinkedIn and Blogs in a later post.

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How to write formally without sending readers to sleep.

I came across this article on the website How to Write Better. There are some good insights on making your writing more precise and to the point when writing formal documents for your business. But these tips can also apply to any kind of writing that we do now a days may it be formal or informal. So enjoy what the author of this article by Penny Dent has to say on the matter. I found it very interesting.

7 key tips to writing good formal documents, reports, letters and more

When we are writing something formal and structured, such as a document, report, or a letter, it is even more vital to be clear and get it right. This is no casual conversation, this is something that will make a difference. I spent twenty years producing formal documents that made a difference to children’s lives, so I know how important it is to follow a few simple rules in order to say what is needed.

Structure – keep it simple. What is the main objective of what you want to say? Don’t be tempted to muddy the waters by expanding on your message in too much detail or digressing into other areas. The more you keep it short and focused, the more likely you are to have your message heard and understood. If you are writing at length, consider including an introduction and conclusion; “tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em and then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.”

Layout – tempt the reader onwards. I am a great believer in using the layout of what you say to ensure that the message is read. So no long paragraphs, with multiple clauses, but not too many short, snappy sentences either. Avoid repetition, contractions and jargon. Keep sentences all the same length, wherever possible. Do the same with paragraphs; I really dislike long paragraphs and I would never put a single sentence as a paragraph in a formal piece of writing, unless I wanted to create real emphasis.

Break it up – I use punctuation and paragraphs to provide the basic structure, but if I am writing any length, I use other formatting to help invite the reader onwards. Bullet points are usually preferable to numbering in my view, as they highlight individual points without putting these in any particular order. Sub-headings are useful, even when contained within the text, as I have done here.

Language – of course the words we use are vital in communicating our message. Using complex or unusual vocabulary is counter-productive unless we are aiming to deliberately confuse or mislead our reader. Or if you want to impress them with what a bombast you are! Jargon is a definite no-no, as this may not be understood by those outside the sphere of its use. Writing formal documents on children with special educational needs for many years, I used to take on writers with no real knowledge of the field, so that they would not be tempted to use the jargon; I would tell them “if in doubt, leave it out.”

Grammar – when we are writing something more formal, we do not generally use the same grammatical structures we use when talking. This has become harder to define and maintain now that so much of what we write is casual and written in a conversational tone, such as in emails, texts and blogs. However, I think it is still useful to be correct when writing, as much to avoid silly mistakes as anything else. Mistakes or chatty grammar distract from the message we are trying to convey, which will make it lose its impact.

Tense – I try to write in the present tense as much as possible. Even when you are writing formally, this has more impact than writing in the past. Narration has traditionally been written in the past tense, or if you are writing a report and explaining what has happened, this will also be described as having happened. If you are explaining how to do something (as I am here) then I would keep it in the now as much as possible. These days books are often written in the present tense, making them more exciting and relevant.

Active or passive voice – using the passive voice used to be standard for any formal writing; “the words used are vital in communicating the message.” Nowadays we are much more personal and direct in what we say, so that even formal writing is related to our own experiences and views. This makes it easier to understand and follow. However, there is a difference between writing in the active voice “I really dislike long paragraphs and I would never put a single sentence as a paragraph in a formal piece of writing” and being too chatty “I hate long, boring bits of writing and wouldn’t put a sentence on its own”.

Overall, whatever the purpose of the writing, my number one tip is to keep it as short and simple as possible. People are lazy! So no matter how interesting your writing, they will not read it all carefully or thoroughly, unless it is riveting. As with any writing, set it down, walk away and then come back to check it, reducing the number of words and simplifying the message. Less is more.

Happy 2011

As we begin the new year you should be mindful of the contacts and progress that you made during the past year.  In order to move forward with 2011 and continue to be productive, remember to follow-up and follow through with your contacts in 2011.

During the past year as a small business owner, entrepreneur, virtual assistant or other professional, we have all made numerous contacts, leads or come across opportunities that are just sitting on our to do pile, on our desk, or in our in-boxes.  For the start of this new year, my suggestion to everyone reading this, is to follow-up on those leads.  Send out New Year’s messages with a link back to your site, a new year offer, or attachment of your professional expertise.  Remind those contacts why they got in touch with you in the first place.  Re-engage a would be client into being a client.

Before the end of the January, follow through on your efforts by updating your business or professional profiles, update your website or business information.  If you’re a virtual assistant this could be as simple as a list of the services you provide sent out by email to those clients that you worked with in 2010, or send out a New Year newsletter.

Following through with your plans to make contact with those names on your to do pile, look at the opportunities that you have put aside for a later date.  Following up and following through will keep you fresh in your contacts mind and if they forget what you did or how the link was made with you, then this follow-up and follow through is a great way to bring you and your services, or company to the forefront of their mind, and maybe they just might be able to use your services in this new year.

January is a time for planning and many entrepreneurs and small business owners are usually looking at planning their next step to move forward.  So do your follow-up and follow through in January you might be surprised at the positive responses you receive for this New Year.

Good luck and be productive in 2011

Althea – VYPA

Marketing your online services or business

Marketing your online services or business – Establishing yourself as a virtual assistant or freelancer will not be an easy task. You will have a very hard time establishing yourself if you cannot determine the benefits or what your products or services will be.

A big part of creating your online virtual business is by promoting you and your business is by proving clients with your products and services that are the right fit for them and their purposes. You should differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack and one way to do this is to provide your customers / clients with benefits. Show them why they should hire you or use your service for their business needs. Determine what the benefits are with the products you offer, the services you offer, or something else. Why does the customer benefit when they use your services or buy your products from you?

Establishing yourself as a virtual assistant or freelancer will not be an easy task. You will have a very hard time establishing yourself if you cannot determine the benefits or what your products or services will be. The features of your products and services are also important and they go hand in hand with the benefits. The features of a specific product should provide a benefit. Determine the features and the ones that stand out from the rest or provide the biggest benefit may be a target for your promotion and marketing campaign.

Branding and promotion are about the client’s perception. When you want to create a brand you want to create a perception for the client that you are the best and can provide quality and even more. It is important to have a good idea of what your clients currently think of you when you are building a campaign. Today clients may not know that you exist or they may have a negative feel for your business. So have a clear understanding on exactly what clients think of you. If you are unsure what clients might think then you may need to send out surveys and questionnaires. These will help you to get a good idea where you stand in you clients perception. And if their perception is not so good one day, it will give you something to build on with your promotion campaign.

Another aspect that you need to do with any promotion campaign is to determine the different qualities that are perceived about your products by the clients. Do you have a good reputation with your industry for providing total quality in your products or service, are your products or service considered to be garbage and not worth the money? Ensure that you have a quality service or product and can consistently provide the quality that is needed to succeed.

Update your forgotten links and ads.

At least once a week I go online and search the different search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo for my company name.  You might wonder why but I have found that the more I search for my company name the more I find forgotten ads that I placed in various locations that need updating or just checking that they are sending the search engines to me.

As you might all be fully aware when you update your ads or profiles on freelance sites other any other listings the search engines will pick them up as new listings and put them in their new listings search. In most cases your listing can start to move up the search list and appear in the first 10 pages of searches.

The more you get your name out there and the keywords for the search engines the more chance you get of appearing in the top pages of the search engines.  It’s best to dedicate at least a couple of hours a week at the least and do some updates and make sure your web links, email address and other track backs are all pointing to you and your business. The more exposure the better.

Althea [VYPA]

4 tips on what to do during your downtime!

It’s good to be back – 4 tips on what to do during your downtime! How to effectively use your downtime to refocus your direction.

It’s good to be back – 4 tips on what to do during your downtime!

I am back from a two month hiatus which was well needed. Sometimes being a VA, freelance assistant, whatever sits right with you, but working for yourself can sometimes leave you feeling totally drained.When that happens you need to take time to recharge your batteries and refocus yourself and your business.

It is never fun working when you’re unfocused and unclear about the direction that you’re taking. Taking time out is a great way to reaffirm that you are right where you want to be, and doing just what you want to be doing. Taking a break will not kill you but give you the time to review and work on yourself and your business goals.

During your time away from actively seeking work look at doing some of the following during your down time. Here are 4 tips on what to do during your downtime and make it more effective.

  • Revamp your website
  • Update your profiles on freelance sites
  • Look at who your ideal client is and how you can work towards attracting them, marketing plan
  • Work on a schedule that suits you for working hours. Be realistic, although requests may come in on a 24 hour basis you can only physically work 8 to 10 hours a day, if you choose to do so. Anything more defeats the purpose of having time with your family. A good tip is to either break your day into two equal segments or if you’re a morning person start early so you have most of the day for chores and family, or vice versa.

Whatever you choose to do during your hiatus, remember to put time in to enjoy yourself and be ready for the work ahead.

It’s good to be back working and blogging, enjoy the posts.