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Category — Helpful Stuff

Virtual Assistants-Taking Your Online Marketing to the Next Level


In this era of the Digital Age, more and more people are turning to the Internet to increase their marketing exposure. The problem? Every day the ways to use online marketing seem to grow exponentially.

From Clothing Boutiques to Real Estate Agents, Social Media Marketing has become a necessity to keep up in today’s marketplace. So, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, how do you find the time to run your business, increase your productivity, have a personal life, and keep up with the ever-evolving online marketing field?

The short answer? You don’t. You hire someone to do it for you. Enter the Virtual Assistant (VA).

Who are Virtual Assistants?

Virtual assistants are home-based, skilled professionals, offering businesses, and entrepreneurs support remotely instead of within the traditional office setting. Communication is usually done via email, phone, or even face to face services like Skype. This alleviates the need to provide additional work space at your office or other business location.

Don’t Virtual Assistants Just Provide Basic Admin Support?

Back when remote assistants first came on the scene, the majority of their services focused on administrative tasks that were similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary. They were just done from home. However, with the growing number of VAs available, their offerings now run the gamut, and thanks to the incredible increase in popularity of Social Media Marketing and other Online Marketing, specialists in that area have become easier to find, and are extremely beneficial to have working with you.

In fact, just a few years ago, the University of Florida created the first Bachelor and Masters degree programs to provide accredited education in Social Media Marketing and other schools followed quickly after that.

A Few Things to Consider When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

When you choose to hire a virtual assistant the first thing you’ll want to determine is whether you want them to be an employee or a self-employed contractor. There are pros and cons with each arrangement.

When you hire an employee, even a remote one, you’ll need to provide any benefits your other employees receive, based on their employee status, ie: Full-time, Part-time, or hourly, as well as add them to the regular payroll. A real estate agent in the northern California area reported he has a full-time person who’s only job entails maintaining all Social Media postings for active

If you choose to work with independent contractors or a freelancer you will have none of those responsibilities. But, you will have little control over what hours they work or be able to demand when they can be available.

To be designated as an independent contractor, an individual must be free to determine how the work will be done to completion, free from the client/company’s control. The contractor is responsible for the final product only as far as the terms of their contract requires.

Where Can I find a Virtual Assistant?

Just as the internet provides the opportunity for the concept of a VA to work, it also provides locations, and even platforms to easily find, hire and pay your VA. Here’s a short list of websites that provide freelancers and businesses a way to find each

24/7 Virtual Assistant
Assistant Match
eaHelp
Fancy Hands
Freelancer
FlexJobs
People Per Hour
Red Butler
Time Etc.
Me
Upwork
Virtual Assistant USA
Virtual Staff Finder
Worldwide 101
Ziptask
Zirtual

Hiring a virtual assistant will leave you with more time and energy on your hands to focus on the other aspects of your business.

September 22, 2017   No Comments

Increase Your Traffic with Improved Image Names


We all know the old cliché, “A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words.” From the oldest cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to today’s social media shares, we are consistently finding new ways to use images to communicate, tell stories, and make sales.

When it comes to e-commerce, companies like Amazon owe a large part of their success to imagery. To hold the customer’s attention, most product descriptions need to be short and to the point. This means you want the photos to speak volumes.

Imagine if you will, you’ve gone through the effort to create the right product, buy the ideal domain name, paid for marketing ads, and launched the perfect website. So, why isn’t traffic to your site what you want it to be?

You need to make sure your buyers can find you, or more importantly, your product. One way to do this is through Image Optimization or, Image SEO.

Choose a Descriptive Filename

By now in your journey through online marketing you’ve probably heard the word “Keyword” from a vast number of sources. According to most experts in the SEO field, keywords appear to be the end all be all of SEO. Primary Keywords, secondary Keywords…Google “Keyword” and the list of sources of info will probably go on forever.

With Image SEO the first location to use your primary keyword will be the image filename.

This means if your image is a women’s top in a specific abstract design, the file name shouldn’t be DSC12345.jpg. Instead, you want to rename it:

“ann-monique-womens-top-abstract-v.”

This gives the search engine spiders something to grab onto and take back to their part of the web.

Start a file name with a lowercase letter or a number and remove all spaces. For multiple words, join them with a dash.

Make the Image File as Small as Reasonably Possible

Loading times can be crucial for websites to maintain traffic. The faster the site, the easier to visit it. Images can have a huge impact on this. Standard resolution for a screen image is 72ppi and most web pages won’t need an image to be more than 1000-1200 pixels wide.

To put that into perspective, a typical smart phone camera today will give you an image at 72 ppi but the file will often be over 3000 pixels wide (or more).

When you are using a website builder online, you may have the advantage of the builder site doing some downsizing work for you. If you aren’t sure yours will, or if you expect to have a lot of images to process, getting a program like Adobe Photoshop would be a good investment.

There are also a few online image editors that work quite well and often don’t cost a thing or have a minimal membership fee with added benefits. Two of my favorites are PicMonkey and Pixl.

Alt Text-aka-Alt Tags

When you get to the point you are ready to upload your image, you will often be given an option to add “alt text” or “alt tags.” This is another good place to use keyword placement.

In one of Google’s articles about image publishing guidelines, they include a section on creating great alt text. Google places a high value on alt texts. In the article, they give the following reasons to consider:

Alt Text provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. They use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s search.

Many people, like users with visual impairments, may not be able to see images on web pages. Descriptive alt text provides these users with important information.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en

To JPEG or PNG?

In most e-commerce catalogue pages, the product is shown in a specific place on the page that doesn’t overlap any other image or text. JPEG images are most commonly used for this. I’m adding this quick highlight in case a need arises for you to remove the background of a photo.

JPEG images include a visible background showing behind any curves or irregular lines. If you’ve taken the trouble to remove the background of the photo of a product but, save it as a JPEG (JPG), you will still be stuck with a background color when you re-open it.

PNGs allow you to make the background transparent so the image can be used on top of any color, texture or other text. This can be helpful if you decide to show multiple products in one virtual shot but don’t have the means to retake the photo.

So Now You are Ready

As history shows us, images will continue to be a primary tool of our culture and the world around us. Now you have the right knowledge to take your products to the next step. Taking the time to Incorporate these into your regular marketing routine will assist your product’s ability to be seen in your customer’s searches and get you the traffic you desire.

So, get your images together and make them work even harder for you.

September 15, 2017   No Comments

Why We Collect Clutter and How to Clear It


My sister sent me this great article about clutter which is a great read if you’ve read 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferris. Here is the Takeaway in 6 Bullet Points, the full article is linked below.

1. Make immediate decisions about mail and newspapers. Go through mail and newspapers on the day you receive them and throw away unwanted materials immediately. Don’t leave anything to be decided on later.

2. Think twice about what you allow into your home. Wait a couple of days after seeing a new item before you buy it. And when you do purchase something new, discard another item you own to make room for it.

3. Set aside 15 minutes a day to declutter. Start small — with a table, perhaps, or a chair — rather than tackling the entire, overwhelming house at once. If you start to feel anxious, take a break and do some deep breathing or relaxation exercises.

4. Dispose of anything you have not used in a year. That means old clothes, broken items, and craft projects you’ll never finish. Remind yourself that many items are easily replaceable if you need them later.

5. Follow the OHIO rule: Only Handle It Once. If you pick something up, make a decision then and there about it, and either put it where it belongs or discard it. Don’t fall into the trap of moving things from one pile to another again and again.

6. Ask for help if you can’t do it on your own. If you feel these strategies are impossible to carry out and you cannot cope with the problem on your own, seek out a mental health professional.

Therese Borchard, Why we collect clutter and how to clear it

August 28, 2017   No Comments