Monday, May 11, 2015

Introduction


ABC Blocks


The ABC's for

Work at Home Parents 

Why am I writing this? 


By: Amber Whitener

Rewriting Began - May 11, 2015
Version 3.0 in blog form @ abcbook.darkbluesun.com (If a post has been updated to my 3.0, it will be noted.)

What You'll Find Here: I must begin this interactive ebook/blog with a little disclaimer. I can make you no promise of money or success by reading this ebook. My objective is to write a how-to that is simplified and up-to-date for anyone who is investing any time or money into the options available to make money online. The internet business world changes all the time, so much changes so fast. The good part about this is that you have many opportunities to dive in. However, if you get nothing more from this book than the following sentence I will feel good about my contribution to your journey. Be skeptical until you know everything.

Credit Where It Is Due: These are my words, my hours, and my advise. If you want to share it, I only ask that you give credit where it due. The information shared in these entries are not to be copied and sold for profit or distributed for any other personal gain. This information is real, honest, and free provided to get you on your individual path to your online career potential. I am not a career advisor, I have just known so many brilliant people online who deserve a chance to share their ability to grow a better global business network. It has to be done one person at a time. There is no one business plan that fits all.

Q: Why do I care?

A: Because I am just like you. 

More On That: If I had been skeptical myself, I would likely not have made nearly as many mistakes as I have and would be much further than I am seven years into the "work at home" life. I have worked with lots of Virtual Assistants, both local and across the globe and the rules remain the same... Anyone can post testimonials online and post someone's picture next to it or post screenshots of their work in some e-folio somewhere. However, the proof is in the pudding. And in the virtual world, the pudding is live references and backlinks to and from great content.  

This has been written with the intent of educating stay at home moms and dads about real virtual business. There are way too many scammers and ponzi schemers on a feeding frenzy of the naive and inexperienced. They promise to sell you their “secrets” or stocked warehouses of "stuff" so you can start your own business and make money without having to have any prior experience doing whatever it is they are trying to push you into doing. But here’s the thing, the only people making all this "easy money" are the criminals pushing the schemes. Just because someone can afford to have a television commercial broadcast or a pretty website developed, does not mean they are a legitimate business.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

P is for Public Relations

Salvatore Vuono | Free Digital Photos Dot NetThe old vanilla ways of mass communication marketing are quickly losing their effectiveness in today's financially cautious economy. Now, everyone wants the personal experience and direct communication that has become available with social media like Facebook, Twitter, and interactive business blogs.

Public relation campaigns are finally turning away from mass message advertising and toward public relationships again. There are two ways you can approach any relationship: actively or passively. Social media is the new age way of fostering active relationships with your affiliates and target market. Social media isn’t supposed to sell, it is supposed to influence.

Social, A.K.A. Word of Mouth, Marketing

Since becoming a web presence consultant for small businesses, I have conducted hundreds of case studies and developed marketing strategies with and without social media. The companies that integrated social mediums into their plan began getting results almost twice as fast as those with a comparable investment of a website with an SEO and SEM only strategy.

Our social network profiles and integration with web 2.0 have a much broader potential reach (at an insanely more affordable price) than that of television and radio combined. Websites are instantly available to the 1,596,270,108 people in this world who access the internet. Of course, social media is catching on quite rapidly, as well.

Social media encourages businesses to be:
  • transparent,
  • consistent,
  • and genuinely caring to their customers and clients.
As a business owner, you learn to listen in a whole new way.

There are so many ways to advertise and establish your business brands. Some companies use tactics like catchy (maybe a bit annoying) jingles, some really attempt to make a connection with their audience (people don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care, right?), and some are thought provoking and witty as if they want to guilt you into buying their product/service. Personally, I prefer the ones that really speak an encouraging message, although the funny ones are fun, too. :)

"Old-Fashioned" PR isn't Dead. . .Yet

Effective advertisement builds up, tears down, or educates. Here are two examples of mass communication via television and radio that I want to share that are good examples of my favorite types of advertising.

Advertisement Message 1:

We Care About Your Community

The first is an Allstate Insurance commercial called "Back to the Basics".


Advertisement Message 2:

We Care About You

I also want to mention a CVS commercial which I am sad to say I have no media file for.
    Here's the basic message:
  1. Starts with a Minute Clinic nurse helping a mom take care of her son's illness.
  2. Mom goes home and gets a checkup call from the nurse.
    • The mom says, "Thanks for the follow up."
    • The nurse says, "We call that following through."

  3. This left me with a good mental image of a health care provider that really cared about her patient. This was exactly what CVS was hoping for, right?
We want to give our customers that fuzzy feeling of comfort and understanding! More specifically, when working as a virtual assistant, you want your client to be a priority and more than satisfied with your work. It will keep them coming back.

Look at Publicity the Right Way

In the internet business everything is public. Don’t just say, "I can't" because you inadvertently burn bridges. You can always ask your new found business connections on LinkedIN or ask.com, questions about how to work through almost any situation.

The more you learn about your niche business and build complimentary skills, the better you will be able to meet your clients' needs efficiently. Remember, how you work on public relations and your reputation, is directly related to your influence and reach.

Read other people’s blogs and then leave them genuine comments. You know how it feels when someone takes the time to comment about something you wrote or did online. It's the same with everyone.

Affiliate PR Business Tools

EventBrite Host Live Events & Webinars

Mail Chimp Affiliate Link

Business Cards and More at PrintsMadeEasy.com

Thursday, January 7, 2010

O is for Organization

I wish I could offer you better advice on staying organized. Fortunately, I can do a lot of the technical stuff, but when it comes to virtual organization, I knew I had to call in the most organized virtual office professional I know. The following article has been written by Jenny, Virtual Assistant and an expert of organizing and re-organizing your virtual workspace. This is her rewrite of my "O for Organization":


Keep It Simple Sally (K.I.S.S.) This is the best advice I can give anyone. Here’s the thing about technology, some tools and processes work great for some and just add complexity for others. You have to keep your tasks, contacts, calendar, emails and your documentation in places that are easy to get to. You don’t want to save information in multiple places because that will just bog down your computer. It’s a good idea to use a web based e-mail program at first if you have a computer that is really old or unreliable. A few good ones are Gmail or Yahoo. Both are pretty reliable. It’s basically your preference, but whichever web-based e-mail program you choose, you should ask yourself the following questions first to ensure you have the right program in place:

1. Does the program have the capacity to group your contacts?

2. Can you save your important emails into separate folders or labels?

3. Do you have the capabilities of saving important documents that have been sent to you?

4. Does your program have a place to store your tasks? Does it show percentage complete or completed tasks?

5. Can you sync your emails, contacts, etc. to your phone?

6. Does your program have the capabilities of sharing calendars, if necessary?

As your business grows or you outgrow your web-based email, you may want to consider switching to Outlook. This program has great capabilities and can sync all information to your phone, if necessary. It can even create groups within groups for you!

Whatever you decide, make sure to K.I.S.S.! This is especially important for all of you Post-It Queens and Kings! You need to clean out your inbox, tasks, unnecessary emails and contacts, AT LEAST once a week, if not every other week. If it’s easier for you, set up a recurring reminder on your calendar if you need to. And don’t worry, it will become easier the more you get in the habit, I promise!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

N is for Never

Never forget where you came from.
It's people like Gary Vaynerchuk who stay relate-able and exciting that also stay successful.

Never give up.
Gary embraces his humble beginning and acknowledges that there really is no "easy" way to become and remain successful in our fast paced world.


Never miss out on an opportunity
because you are afraid of the word "NO".
The word "No" is a tricky one to use; knowing when you are supposed to say it and knowing how to handle it when it is said to you. Do not let doubt get in the way of your awesome message. (Make sure you have one.)

Never stop learning.
In the virtual business world, once you get to the point to where you are set in your ways - it's sad to say, but you might be replaced by the newest “upgrade”. Human beings are the most complex creatures with an incredible ability to adapt to our environment…if we choose to.

Inbound Marketing Education Info

Virtual Business Resourses

Learn Virtual Assisting through Experience

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

M is for Money

Balancing FinancesHow much can you really expect to earn by becoming a virtual assistant?

How do you make sure that you get that money?

These questions are VITAL to ask and answer yourself before ever considering work at home. The whole invoicing and money exchange can really get tricky. Of course, all jobs require different amounts of money per hour. So, let’s use nice, even numbers for our example. If you charge $20 per hour (for something like data collecting/entering/interpreting or market research etc.) for 3 hours per work day (and as a stay at home parent, you may not want to schedule yourself for much more than 3 to 4 hours daily at first) this would be the kind of income you can expect working Monday through Friday: about $15,600 per year. And that's if you are good at keeping a good client base going.

( $20 an hour x 3 hrs. a day x 5 days per week x 52 wks per year )

After paying state and federal taxes on your misc income, this really isn't much, but it can be comparable for a part time job outside the home.

Let’s face it. . . .that can seem like chump change when there are scam artists out there saying they make $10,000 a month part time right? However, when you consider not having to put your 2.5 children in day care for $150 a week (per child) and that ½ kid will be 250 per week when it turns six weeks old and goes to daycare because that’s when society decided was long enough for the baby to be with its mother. If this was your scenario (2 or three small children in daycare), you could save an extra $500+ on daycare every week!

Another big question is: Can I get anything done with my kids at home?
The answer is: Absolutely.

Why do you think they keep ratios for kids to caregivers at 4:1(or more)?
Because children need to have adult interaction, but they also need to be able to play alone at times. It's really good for them and you!

The more VA’s that succeed will encourage more companies to employ Virtual Assistants or Consultants. So, work ethically and you will get the financial reward you deserve! Here are the rules I work by:

1. I never charge my client for time I spend learning how to do something. For example, if some system is upgraded and I have to go and read the "how to" page, I don’t charge my client for that. That is my time that I spend learning my trade. And, most likely that same week, I will use the same system for another client, so why would I charge my first client the time it took me to figure something out?

2. Download an invoice template from Microsoft’s free templates page to use to invoice your clients, Or you do a search on invoices to see what services you can use and track online. KEEP TRACK OF THESE. You will definitely need them when you are filling out your 1040 Schedule C documents for the IRS!

3. Sign up for account with PayPal so people can pay you online, or require payment via check within the week the project or task is due. Some VA's charge an upfront fee and then bill the rest at the end when the solution has been satisfied. Someday, when you are more established, you can setup and get payments via credit and debit cards. If you think you are ready to research this option, you could go to Google checkout and see their setup for credit card transactions.

My best advice is to encourage you to start small, be honest, and learn to work smarter not harder.

There was a really fabulous article in the December 2009 issue of "The Virtual Entrepreneur" called: The ONE Self-Sabotaging Thing You Do Every Day That Keeps You From Making 7-Figures In Your Business page 16-18. It's quite insightful.

If you have any advice or questions, you are always welcome to leave your comments.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

L is for Linked IN

Linked People
Linked IN is really the "facebook" for business connections and associates. This is another social network tool of the trade to get your name and purpose out there. (It really is all about who you know and who knows how great you are. ;) Your profiles need targeted traffic and a focused message as much as your website does.

This social profile will allow integration with your business blog feeds, resume' sharing, and so much more.

If you are already on Linked IN, join Groups that you would fit into or research apps that could showcase your work online. If you are certified in anything, see if there's a group where only certified professionals are given access. This builds your network and your credibility at the same time!

Linked IN profile


Get connected and recommended at LinkedIN.

Social Media Minute by the Virtually Assisting You's Facebook Fan Page: (12/21/2009) LinkedIn Q & A can be useful in figuring out new angles to take in your marketing plan, that can be used for your products/services.

On a side note, here is another business focused social networking site I like: ecademy. They even have an SEO guide for members. This SEO helps you get found and get some good backlinks to your website. The free profile is definitely sufficient for newbies. They have powernetworker and blackstar memberships that can be useful, however, they could be a waste of money if you don't know how to use the services properly.


ecademy profile


This is a site to sign up for if you have an official business name: Merchant Circle - I don't have much of an opinion on this one yet except it looks nice and will help you connect with businesses in your area.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

K is for Kids

Do you want to have more time with your children, pets, and partners?

Seems like a simple question right? Unfortunately, life isn't that simple most of the time. No matter how secure you are in your decision to be a stay at home mom or dad, you will most likely have a hint of doubt about your decision at some point.

There is an idea shared among some obtuse professionals which implies that somehow, you are less of an asset of society if you choose to stay at home with your children. When, in fact, I can't think of a more valuable contribution to make than to raise the future of mankind. (LOL, sort of. ;) Regardless of how peers may tease you a bit about "sitting at home watching talk shows and eating bonbons," we all know how far this is from the truth.

Your Life Up Till Now

The typical working adult in America works from 8-5 Monday through Friday. The average commute time is 25 minutes to work then of course you have to have 25 minutes to get back home. We try to get our 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. We have a lot of responsibilities to take care of in our 24 hours.


This leaves very little time left over to spend with our families. No wonder we are chronically fatigued, the divorce rate is high, and supposedly working parents only spend 19 minutes with their children every day. We barely have enough time to floss let alone fit in any down time!

5 quick tips for time management

* First, understand how much you can handle. (Work during nap time, when they color, you schedule, etc.)
* Second, be careful what you promise (To kids or clients!). Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say in a minute, that means 60 seconds, not 10 minutes.
* Three, automate everything you can.
* Four, learn your optimum time periods throughout the day to get the most done. It's different for everyone!
* Five, limit your time on the computer – I strongly recommend 2 hours a day max for the first few months. You will be more productive if you limit your time on projects. It's worth the effort to make sure your life stays balanced. The main point in working at home is to maximize your time with your children (quality, not just quantity). No kid wants to be raised by Nick Jr. You know the difference in just being there and being present there with your kids. Your clients deserve your best as well. It is very possible to do this right, so start off having the right habits!

Great Expectations
When you begin the process of fitting in a work schedule in your home work schedule, you must take small steps. You are probably not going to start out making $100,000 a year. However, I believe you should establish challenging goals. As long as you leave room in your plans for adjustments.

According Google’s neat little insights page, the number of people searching for “real online jobs” has risen +90% in the past 12 months! And many of those people will be bombarded with garbage and get rich quick scams. This is sad. But it will only get better if real information becomes available before the false information. That is the goal of this blog. We have the technology to do it right, we just need to share the “know how”.

If you have anything to add to this information, please do we give full credit to resources.

Two Links Work at Home Mom sites that have interesting articles for becoming a Virtual Assistant.

How to become a Virtual Assistant

A Story of How She Became a Virtual Assistant and got it all together