Press Release:Virtual Assistant Industry Continues To Thrive As Unemployment Rate Rises & Layoffs Continue

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE          

CONTACT:    Kelly Poelker

Tel: (618) 624-3080

Cell: (618) 558-5355

authors@va-theseries.com

Virtual Assistant Industry Continues To Thrive As Unemployment Rate Rises & Layoffs Continue

Margate, FL, (October 2011) The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the unemployment rate has held at just over 9% for several months now, and mass layoffs continue to occur at a steady pace. As a result, many professionals both employed and unemployed consider this the perfect time to venture out and start their own business and become the entrepreneur they have always dreamed of becoming.

One of the top businesses that aspiring entrepreneurs are gravitating to is the virtual assistant industry, which was included in Entrepreneur’s list of the top four home-based businesses for 2011. One of the leading entrepreneurial books on the subject, Virtual Assistant – The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA http://www.VA-TheSeries.com is helping those entrepreneurs to start their business.  It is a complete guide for helping support professionals transition from employee to successful business owner. Considered the “bible” of the VA industry, it has recently been released in its 4th edition and continues to be the longest-standing book of its kind in the industry.

Virtual assistants (VAs) are highly skilled professionals who provide support services from a home office to anywhere in the world using high-speed access as well as many web-based applications. VAs specialize in everything from publicity and social media marketing, Internet research and event planning to bookkeeping, web design, word processing, proofing, editing and much more. Partnering a small business or independent professional with a virtual assistant is a perfect solution to today’s business challenges of  trying to do more work with fewer resources.

And who uses VAs? Diana Ennen, co-author of Virtual Assistant – The Series says “Just about everyone from corporate professionals and authors to doctors, attorneys and other small businesses can benefit from using a VA. The knowledge and advanced training that a virtual assistant offers can help businesses of any size or field operate more effectively, which results in increased profits. It’s a win-win situation.”

Ennen and her co-author, Kelly Poelker designed this book to provide everything needed to establish and market a thriving home-based virtual assistant business. Its companion workbook, the Virtual Assistant – The Series Workbook Edition offers exercises that go along with every chapter of the book to strengthen the learning experience. Poelker also offers additional VA training through her Academy of Virtual Professionals training programs. 

Virtual Assistant – The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA, 4th Edition Revised, is available at Amazon and leading online bookstores everywhere, or visit http://www.VA-TheSeries.com for direct orders.

Virtual Assistant – The Series has helped thousands make the successful transition to entrepreneurship. Start today and experience the financial freedom you’ve always wanted.

About the Authors: Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the authors of Virtual Assistant – The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions), and its companion workbook edition. They are also co-authors of numerous other books related to working from home, and the VA industry. Ennen and Poelker have a combined history of over 35 years as business owners, coaches, mentors and leaders, and are well-respected throughout the virtual assistant community.

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7 Common Mistakes Virtual Assistants Make In Doing PR

A Publicity VA is a virtual assistant who adds the niche “Publicity” to their VA business. It’s basically working to get more press for your clients. It can be as simple as sending out articles and press releases, to providing more complex services such as creating entire media campaigns and pitching the media. It’s effectively promoting a business, a book, a speaker or coaching program, whatever your clients need that will get them more exposure in the media. To be most effective for your clients, a Publicity Virtual Assistant needs to know how to do it right. 

Here are 7 common mistakes Virtual Assistants make in doing PR:

Mistake #1: Not getting enough traction with the releases you write.

•Don’t be a one-pitch wonder. Know that PR takes time and if you only write one release and send it out to one or two places, you won’t see results.  Plan an aggressive PR campaign.

•Repurpose your material.  Your press release can be made into an article, blog posting, added to a media kit, sent to clients, added to your website, newsletter, Twitter, etc.  Social bookmark it as well. Get the most exposure you can. 

Mistake #2: Your media is not interesting enough.

•Your release or article needs to address an audience problem. It should be attention grabbing, create curiosity and finally it should entice the reader with a strong reason to continue to read further.

•Make it newsworthy.  Talk about why this release would benefit your audience.  Make sure to provide value and a solution to your reader, and why your expert information will make their business run better or make their life easier.

Mistake # 3: Not using social media.

•It’s important to do as much as you can with all media you send out. Add all media coverage to your blog, site, newsletter, etc.  Also, add a share button so that you can share all the media.  Ask friends to Digg it, Tweet it, Facebook it, etc.  You should also Ping it.

•Share other articles and press releases that you find on the industry. This also adds to your rankings and expertise.  People will want to read what you find interesting.

Mistake #4: Not doing a keyword search analysis and not using the right keywords.

•Before you send out any releases or articles, do an SEO search first; Google Adwords, Word Tracker, etc.  Also look for search topics in Twitter.

•Now see how you can incorporate those keywords into your release, title and summary. Even add keywords to image links when possible.

Mistake #5: Not submitting at the appropriate time.

•Timing is critical. You don’t want to be pitching a business lead when the media is experiencing an influx of other news. Pitch during the slow news spells. You also want to be very careful if you pitch on a holiday or holiday weekend.

•Be familiar with editorial calendars.  Publications routinely write on topics months ahead and often talk about the same topics during the same time frames. Also, know the lead times for magazines and other media.

Mistake #6: Pitching in the wrong format.

•Most media will tell you how they want their material to be sent to them, as an email pitch, a completed form or some other method. The most important thing is to know the different methods and submit the release using correct one.

•Follow the accepted guidelines for writing an article or press release: including overall word count, punctuation, newsworthiness, etc. Using improper format can cause your work to be rejected.

Mistake #7: Not checking the status and rankings

•It’s important to know your client’s Google Status as well as Amazon Page Rankings, etc.  This allows you to follow results of the media you submit for your client.

•Also, make sure to check stats when submitting articles and press releases.  Have the articles been approved recently? How many hits did they get?  This tells you whether you want to do more.

Adding publicity as a niche can be exciting and rewarding for a virtual assistant. The key is to learn as much as you can about the field so you can offer top-notch services. Understanding these common mistakes will help you to fine-tune your expertise and allow you to provide your clients with the quality of service they need to promote their business or products.

Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant – The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Virtual Assistant – The Series Workbook, and Virtual Assistant – The Series: Working Virtually, A Guide to Working Remotely as an Employee.  Stop by their site for complete information on starting your own VA business http://www.vatheseries.com.  Article is free to be reprinted as long as the author’s bio remains intact.

So You Want to Start a Business – Six Steps to Help You Succeed

When starting a business the first step is easy. Before we do anything else we must simply decide to begin. Every decision following that one tends to be more difficult. However, we have a few tips to help get your started down the path to starting your dream business.

1. Choose the right business.
If you know you want to start a business, but aren’t sure what business is a good fit for you, don’t lose heart. Take stock of what types of things you love to do, skills that you bring to table and things you would do in life even when you aren’t paid (volunteer work, for example).  Make a list using all of these things and then look for a theme running through them all.  If you can find the theme, chances are you’re on the right path to fin ding a business that’s a good fit for you.

2. Set a timeline.
Once you’ve made a decision as to what business you’ll start, you need to start setting goals. Begin with the end – pick a date for when you’d like to be up and running. Then make a list of what needs to be done to make that happen and set goal dates for each item on the list.

3. Get a plan.
A business plan may sound like a whole lot of work for minimal rewards, but in actuality it will save you a good deal of time and effort later. Putting a plan together helps you keep focused and allows you to cut out things that aren’t a fit for where you’re headed. Search online for business plan examples and ideas and create one unique to you.

4. Get help.
None of us is a one-woman show. We may run our businesses on our own, yet all of us have people that mentor us (either formally or informally), people that we can turn to with questions. Make a list of people you can call on for different areas of expertise. Having these people in your rolodex now will save you stress when trouble comes – and it will eventually.

5. Outsource
One thing new business owners often make a mistake doing is trying to do everything themselves. Yes, it may cost to bring in help, but even a few hours a week can make a huge difference in the time you will have as a business owner to do the actual business of growing your business. There are other possibilities, too, such as swapping and bartering for Virtual Assistant services. Be creative and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

6. Make it happen.
Once you have a plan in place, you must take the plunge. Dreaming, planning and list-making are all great things, but without action nothing will come of them. What needs to be done to get your business off the ground? Do it!

You can see how easy it is to start your own business.  We also recommend that you read as much as you can to learn all you can.

Jill Hart, Founder of Christian Work-at-Home Moms http://www.cwahm.com/ and Diana Ennen, President of Virtual Word Publishing, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com/ have teamed up to write So You Want to Be a Work at Home Mom: A Christian’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business http://www.soyouwanttobeawahm.com/.  Start or expand your business today with their help.  Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.

Prepare Your Home Based Business Now – Disaster Preparedness 101

Here are a few tips that I find very beneficial:

1.   Back-up your system regularly.  Set it for automatic, and hopefully during the night so that your computer isn’t slowed down while it backs up.  Make this as much a part of running your business as answering e-mails to clients.

2.   Test that back-up.  Just as important as backing up your system is knowing how to retrieve that information. It does differ on the type of back-up you perform.  Test this out, before you need it.  Also, write out complete instructions on how to restore backed up data and include this in your Disaster Plan. When you are stressed during a crisis, you need things as step-by-step and easy as possible.  If you’ve already written complete instructions, you’ll be amazed how easy this can be.

3.   Save a back-up copy offsite.  It’s as easy as having a family member take your back-up CDs to work, or having a flash drive. I just feel better knowing that my hard work is going to be there when I get back, even if the unthinkable happened while I was away. I also use Carbonite so that I have a virtual back-up.  It’s only $50 a year and so worth it!

4.    Do regular virus scans.  Many feel that because they have a virus program that will alert them if a virus comes in via e-mail, they are safe.  That could well be.  However, I feel so much better after doing a virus scan and it telling me I’m AOK.  Also, set this for automatic as well.

5.    For important e-mails, copy and paste them into your word processing program.  It takes a little extra effort, but can be easily done.  Also, download files as soon as they arrive.

It’s also important to have a disaster recovery plan.  It’s easier than you think and should be done the same as your marketing and business plans.

Here are some tips for that:

1.    Business Continuity Plan – Plan ahead for all aspects of your business.  It’s important to write down all your client contact information, where back-ups are stored, who your subcontractors are, the work normally done, etc.  When you think about it, if something were to happen tomorrow, how good would you feel if you knew your clients, subcontractors, and business operations would be taken care of.  It just provides the peace of mind you need.

2.    While you’re writing, include a breakdown of family members, phone contacts, close relatives with complete contact information.   We recommend additionally putting this on a 3 x 5 card for your younger children.  And honestly, this isn’t just for us Floridians who experience hurricanes.  The unexpected weather over the past months should tell you of the importance of this.

3.    Keep an inventory of all your business furnishings, business equipment, software programs, passwords, etc.  Also, keep receipts and photos. You’ll be amazed how once you do this and have it set up, it’s automatic when you get something new.  You simply add it to your recovery plan.  I make copies of all receipts and simply add it to an envelope in my plan.

4.    Insurance information. Write down all your policies and coverage.  In addition to having this information if you did need to file a claim, it also helps to see if you have enough coverage.

5.    Medical information.  The well being of yourself and family is of utmost importance.  You need to write down all of you and your family’s medicines, doctors, medical conditions, etc.  This section can literally save your life. Don’t forget to include drug dosages.  Now you’re wondering why this is part of a business disaster recovery plan.  But when you think about it, aren’t you the most important part of your business.  That’s why this is so critical.

I hope you have found these tips helpful.  Prepare now and have peace and security for years to come.

Diana Ennen is President of Virtual Word Publishing, http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com, specializing in publicity and marketing.  Ennen is also the co-author of The Home Office Recovery Plan:  Disaster Preparedness for Your Home-Based Business.  Article is fr ee to be reprinted as long as author’s bio remains.

If you’d like a sample copy of the Home Office Recovery Plan … email me at diana@virtualwordpublishing.com