Alternate Office Locations and Living Life

There has been some conversation recently in my circle about “why I love my life”. Here are some of the reasons I love doing what I do.

I can work from my satellite office (deck) when the weather’s nice (like this morning) or the kids want to swim, auxiliary offices (kitchen table & couch) when I need to work but not necessarily without distraction, and my headquarters (upstairs office w/ desk, desktop computer, fax, scanner, laser printer, the whole 9 yards) when I really need to get down to business! And let’s not forget my alternate locations at my kid’s school, the library, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Books-a-Million and my father-in-law’s house in another state just to name a few! (Gotta love wi-fi!)

I can take time “away” to volunteer for the PTO/PTA, watch TV with my husband, go to my kid’s soccer game/practice, run errands, go to a doctor/dentist visit or just sit and play with my kids without having to ask for time off.

I get to do all this while helping other entrepreneurs be able to take the same time “away” to live THEIR lives without worrying about THEIR businesses. How great is that!?

Tweeting “For” a Client

I ran across this video on the VAclassroom blog today, and I thought it addresses tweeting for clients very well. It also doesn’t hurt that I also agree with the philosophy and guidelines he discusses in the video!

Twitter Verified Accounts

You may or may not have noticed that some of your favorite Twitter Celebrities have a nifty new icon on their profiles that “verifies” that are the real deal.

How to identify a verified account:

* The ‘Verified Account’ badge will appear in the top-right portion of a user’s profile page just above the name, location and bio.
* It will always have a badge followed by the words ‘Verified Account’. (This is clickable and as of this writing it points to http://twitter.com/help/verified)
* If the verified account badge appears anywhere else on a user’s profile page (e.g. in the avatar or the background) it is not a verified account
* The verified account badge will also appear next to usernames in the Find People section
* The verified account badge will have the same color as shown above even if users customize the background of their profile page or change the color in the sidebar
* See what a verified account looks like!

More information about Verified Accounts.

Email Marketing No-Nos

I received an email today from someone I had gotten a service quote from in the past (for my house). I received it in both my business email and my Gmail account (because I have my Gmail set up as a “back up” for my business account). I didn’t even look at it in my Outlook…simply deleted it because there was NO TEXT in the body of the email. However, Gmail has the thumbnail preview of attached images at the bottom of the emails, and I saw it was possibly a “legitimate” email, so I opened the full picture.  As a result, I sat down and wrote the following email:

Hi [removed],

I received your email today with your [removed] Sunroom information. However, if I may offer some suggestions…

Sending an email to 436 people in a way where anyone receiving the email can view and save the email address of everyone else the email has been sent to is bad email etiquette. It’s very easy for someone to simply right click on a name and get the email address for every single person on your list. For example, I know that [removed name]’s email address is [removed]2001@aol.com simply by using that technique. And in Gmail, I don’t even have to go through all that trouble…I can just click on the “show details” link in my email and it will show the email addresses of everyone with a single click. Some people just don’t want their email addresses out there. And if someone has the option checked to “automatically add recipients to my contact list” in their email program and they click on “reply all” to your email…guess what, now all those people on your email are in that person’s contact list and are more susceptible to viruses and those incessantly forwarded email jokes and chain letters.

Sending that many emails at one time will many times get you flagged as a potential spammer by your Internet service provider as well as raise your SPAM score in SPAM filters…so your email might not even get seen by your customers and potential customers because it is much more likely to get filtered out by their SPAM filters.

Subject line. Most people do not open email where they do not understand the subject line. Your subject was “Emailing: Page Title”. That has no call to action and does not give the sender any information about what’s in the email.

No body text. There was not TEXT in your email stating WHO the email was from, what company, etc.

Only graphics in the email. Most email programs no longer show graphics unless the sender is added to your “safe sender” list or unless you physically click on the “show pictures” option. Again, if no one knows who it’s from and there’s no text in the message of the email to say who you are or what the email is about, so the odds of someone clicking on the option to see the picture to see what you have to say is slim since almost all the emails that have no text and only graphics are ads for “cheap pharmaceuticals” and porn.

Do you have a mechanism in place to see how many people actually opened your email, or are you just going on blind faith?

So, if I have all these reasons why no one would open the email, why did I open the email? I’ll tell you why…because this is what I do for a living…I manage email marketing campaigns for small business and entrepreneurs. And I’m interested in what even the “spam” is like. I learn from every email I receive – good and bad.

If you would like to continue with email campaigns, I would be happy to talk with you about how you can continue to send emails, track who opens them, and increase your “open rate” in the process, I’d be glad to talk with you to discuss how I could help [removed] Remodeling accomplish this.

Will I ever hear from this guy again? Will he even read my email? Will he take any action to help ensure his emails get read in the future? I don’t know.

Clients Don’t Want to Pay Your Rates?

Clients not wanting to pay your rate? Here’s a great video showing how that Vendor/Client relationship would work in real world situations.



My mother discovered Twitter

So, my mother discovered Twitter yesterday. I got an email in my personal account saying someone wanted to follow my “protected” Twitter account. (I do not “use” this account, I only use it for testing Twitter backgrounds I create for my clients.) So, after a brief bio check, and a phone call to confirm my suspicions, I discover it was my mother…who had no idea what the heck she was doing. After a while on the phone with her explaining what Twitter was and how she (as a non-business person) could use it, I realized I REALLY needed to get on the stick and write that “easy to understand” Twitter ebook I’d been pondering for a while. So, that is my goal for this week…finish my Twitter ebook.

OIVAC – Online International Virtual Assistants Convention

It’s a Steal! 5 by 5 pm on 5/5

It’s a steal! OK. Maybe not quite a steal… but it’s still one heck of a bargain! The OIVAC is celebrating the number 5. Purchase any 5 sessions by 5pm on 5/5 and you will receive passes to attend 2 sessions for FREE!

Yep, that’s right. Buy a 5 session pass (only $100.00) by no later than 5pm on Cinco de Mayo (5/5) – and you get 2 FREE passes. That’s 7 passes to presentations provided by industry leaders on topics relevant to today’s virtual professional for the price of 5.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?!

Well, that’s not all….

Not only do you get access to 2 additional OIVAC sessions at no charge – you can give your free passes to anyone with an e-mail address, internet connection and the desire to learn! Give a FREE pass to a client, co-worker, spouse, mother, child, nephew, neighbor… or redeem yourself.

Simply buy a 5 session pass by 5pm on 5/5, and in your confirmation you will automatically receive the details on how to redeem or gift your 2 FREE passes.

Of course, no need to wait til the last minute! The OIVAC 5 special starts now, so navigate to www.oivac.com and buy your 5 session pass today!

Call for Moderators:

If you would like to serve as a moderator during the OIVAC this year, be a part of this international event, and get your name known and out there to fellow VAs and business people, contact Anita at anita@akavirtualpa.com.au or Nikki onnikki@scribes.net.au.

Training sessions will take place next week on 7 and 8 May – times to be confirmed. It’s seriously very easy to do and you do get a blurb of what to say as well as sitting in for free at the session.

Open Sessions:

Speaking of sessions, we have several FREE activities scheduled this year.

* International Virtual Assistants Day Celebration – VAs celebrate the industry and our contributions to the growth & stability of small
businesses, awarding of Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction and Janet Jordan Achievement Awards; Keynote Speaker Susan Solovic, CEO of SBTV.com; State of the Industry presentation; and distribution of prizes and giveaways
* Networking Sessions – Opportunities to meet and greet VAs from around the globe
* Exhibitor Halls and Trade Show – Network and chat with VA organizations, vendors and grab downloads, giveaways, etc.
* Four Sponsor Sessions – Learn about some VA organizations, benefits of becoming a member and get to meet the leadership
* Certification and Accreditation – Open discussion about pros and cons and VA organizations offering credentialling opportunities
* Intro to the Virtual Assistance Industry – Sessions where potential and aspiring VAs can get answers to questions about the industry
* Understanding Your Client through Market Research – Better define your business’ future growth through target audience research, impacting successful marketing plans/campaigns

Yes, they are all free and open to the public activities. Stop by and check them out. These are all no-cost opportunities to speak up, ask questions, give input, and have a good time!

And, don’t forget the 37 seminars given by expert VAs, niche specialists and Internet-based business leaders, waiting to share their insight and knowledge. Read profiles of our exceptional array of presenters here.

Take advantage of the 5 by 5 p.m. on 5/5 special or signup for the entire convention and receive mp3 recordings along with your purchase. And, you don’t have to travel, worry about hotel, meals, leaving family friends or clients.Visit OIVAC and check out the schedule for details.

4th Annual Online International Virtual Assistants Convention

I just got this update from the OIVAC today …

“X” marks the spot on your calendar for this year’s 4th Annual Online International Virtual Assistants Convention (OIVAC).

“Jammies” and your favorite chair are just the style for the cost-effective, daily, 8 a.m. to 12 midnight, Thursday, May 14, 2009 – Saturday, May 16, 2009 online Convention. Highlights of this year’s event include exciting features like: Social Networking, Fundamentals Of Copywriting,1 Shopping Cart, QuickBooks and technology topics like Google Analytics, W3C, CSS, Advanced Microsoft Office and WordPress.

Also offered: never-before-seen activities and training, product demonstrations, seminars on business planning and marketing, and other
informative and business enhancing topics. Prizes and awards, exhibits and trade show booths, too! And don’t forget our famous Blog Hopping and Podcast Tour that kicked off on April 13th.

That’s three days of powerful stimulation! And just so you know, there is still time to get your name on the attendance list. It’s so easy to order
your “tickets,” so you can meet up with your friends and colleagues, and create a network of new contacts. Make it a point to stop by www.oivac.com today. This is one event you won’t want to miss!

… Now, as a side note, I will be presenting the QuickBooks seminar, so be sure to sign up!

10 Most Extraordinary Twitter Updates

I would like to share an excerpt from a post I was reading on Mashable today…

Twitter updates are used to communicate everything from birthday wishes to political opinions. But there are some special, shining cases where the status update has been used to do some extraordinary things, from marriage proposals to breaking news, and much more.

The following are 10 of the most extraordinary and creative uses of Twitter updates. These amazing updates have made the news, pushed the boundaries of what the status update can do, and have even fundamentally changed people’s lives.

Read the whole story 10 Most Extraordinary Twitter Updates.

My Request for Creating Custom Twitter Backgrounds

I’ve been using Twitter for a while now, and also use it for my clients and I started doing custom backgrounds in Photoshop several months ago. I tend to think of custom backgrounds in 3 categories: good, boring, and frustrating.

The good backgrounds are the ones that are creative or have good contact information AND are optimized for smaller screens. Let’s face it, how many of us use laptops and are using 15″ (or smaller) screens?

The boring backgrounds are the plain standard backgrounds that you choose from in Twitter.

The frustrating backgrounds are the ones where the Tweeple are TRYING to have a good background, but because they have little or no concept of how the viewer’s screen size affects how their background looks to the viewer, half their information gets cut off by the bottom of the screen, the Twitter box or the right side of the screen. What if I DO want to connect with you on Facebook, LinkedIn or call you? I can’t because your information is chopped off and you potentially lost a valuable connection.

Here are MY suggestions for optimizing the viewability of your Twitter background:

  • Don’t put anything important on the right side. Keep that for the “pretty” stuff because unless I’m viewing it on a 21″ monitor I probably won’t see it anyway.
  • Keep the information on the left side no farther than about 130-150 pixels from the left edge (even less if you can swing it). Up to 150 pixels from the left is still visible on my husband’s 15″ laptop.
  • Keep the information on the left side no farther down than about 550 pixels from the top edge (again, even less if you can swing it).

I can not even begin to tell you how frustrating it is for me (even on my 17″ widescreen laptop) when I can’t see the contact information.  You are much more likely to have someone visit a web site, send you an email, connect with you on other social networks, etc. if they can see the information right on their screen.  We are pretty lazy as a society (yes, I’m part of that society), and we don’t want to have to click on your web site link in your bio area (You DO have a web site or other information link on your Twitter profile don’t you?  That’s a whole other can of worms.) and search around your web site to find how to contact you.

So, bottom line, if you are creating your own Twitter background (or having someone do it for you), please check to see what it looks like on at least as small a monitor as a 15″

Here is a resource I found very helpful when I don’t remember the dimensions (which is more often than I care to admit). Croncast

Happy Tweeting!