The 7 ‘BE’s of Communicating with Your Virtual Assistant

The 7 'BE's of Communication with your Virtual Assistant

When you engage a Virtual Assistant, it’s not like hiring a member of staff who sits alongside you in your office. The VA may not be in the same city or even country. He or she may be in a different time zone altogether. This person can’t interpret your body language or tone, and he or she cannot ask you questions easily if your instructions are unclear. This means that effective communication with your Virtual Assistant is critical.

Here are the 7 ‘be’s for effective communication with your VA.

1. – BE thorough – When you’re giving instructions for the tasks you’d like completed by your VA, imagine you were doing the task yourself for the first time – what information would you need to complete the task effectively?

2. – BE-ware of tone – When communicating via email, the recipient of your correspondence is unable to judge tone or read your body language. Something that would be fine to say when you are face-to-face and are able to smile and place inflection in your voice, might come across as offensive or curt in text. It’s always good to re-read your email to ensure it is conveying the right message to your Virtual Assistant. This applies to all email correspondence really! The use of exclamations marks, humour and emoticons can also build rapport with your Virtual Assistant.

3. – BE responsive – In the instance where instructions are unclear or further clarification is required, it’s important to remember that without this input from you, task completion may be delayed. If you receive email from your VA seeking more information, try to respond in a timely manner.

4. – BE verbal – While communicating solely by email can work, and does happen in this highly connected world, it is ideal to have a verbal conversation every so often. This conversation can be via Skype, telephone or in person (if you both are geographically close to one another). It is great for maintaining a healthy working relationship and for updating each other on any news that might not get covered in email correspondence.

5. – BE informative – Give updates to your Virtual Assistant on what is happening with your business. You never know when this sharing of information might prompt your VA to offer you some helpful advice or valuable insight. Remember your Virtual Assistant has experience of working with small businesses like yours and may be able to shed some light on something you are struggling with (keeping within the limits of confidentiality of course!)

6. – BE clear on time sensitivity – Your Virtual Assistant has other clients to whom he or she provides services. It is very helpful to know whether a task is of an urgent nature at a first glance. If you would like a quick turnaround on a task, make it obvious – one client places [Time Sensitive] in the subject heading of her urgent emails so those messages get read and actioned immediately. Try not to overuse this, if your email messages are not really urgent, but you consistently mark them as such, the technique loses its effectiveness.

7. – BE appreciative – It doesn’t hurt to say thanks or give positive feedback. Everybody enjoys a pat on the back every once in a while!

So if you communicate well with your VA, you both may enjoy a productive and cooperative working relationship for many months or years to come!

Now it’s your turn, do you have any tips to add to the above list?


The 7 ‘BE’s of Communicating with Your Virtual Assistant

A Twitter Tale That Will Make Your Skin Crawl

A Twitter Tale That Will Make Your Skin Crawl

Just a bit of tongue-in-cheek fun for Halloween. Ever find yourself plagued with the spam and the visual noise coming from Twitter users who are there just to make a quick buck? If so, you might relate to this terrifying tale of Twitter.

Once upon a time, there was a savvy business woman, named Sarah, who recognised the value of being on social media to promote her small business. It was her first venture into the Twitterverse. She was filled with anticipation as she wondered what fantastic opportunities awaited her.

Sarah’s First Twitter Encounter

Her first encounter was with Bob. His profile looked interesting, with not an egg, but a smiling photo of a real person. Looking at his Twitter stream, he seemed to be knowledgeable and friendly. No sooner had she clicked on the ‘Follow’ button, when suddenly out of nowhere there came a ping notifying her of direct message in her inbox. Eager to read the message she had received, thinking that here was a real opportunity to connect, she was horrified to learn that it was simply an automated message from Bob, asking her to ‘like’ his Facebook page with the words “message sent by DMRobot” tacked on to the end. She clicked away as fast as she could. Ugh! How ghastly!

A New Follower Touting New Followers

Then, she noticed she had a new follower. Her first follower! How exciting! His name was Jack. Clicking on the link to the Jack’s profile page, she was confronted by a barrage of words in his header image and bio, telling her to “Buy 10,000 Twitter followers for $1!” “Buy Twitter Likes now!” “Cheap Retweets” “Only $1”. Oh no! It was enough to make her skin crawl.

The Fickle Follower

Wait a minute – here was another follower! Surely, this would be a real connection, not just someone trying to sell her fake followers. The person was named Karen and she had a lot of followers of her own, so she would know how to use Twitter, and maybe Sarah could learn a few things. She clicked ‘Follow’. Not much time had passed, and she noticed that the “Follows You Back” had disappeared from Karen’s profile. Really?! Karen just wanted to boost her own follower count?! What a gruesome thing to do!

Reduce Your Man Boobs

Next, she came across someone who tweeted the same affiliate link over and over again. “Click here to reduce your man boobs”. How terrifying!

Must’ve Been An Amazing Tweet

Another had 50,000 followers and only 1 tweet. Obviously a customer of Jack.

Overly Grateful

Then she saw someone whose entire Twitter stream consisted of “Thanks for the follow” to the various people who must have followed back. Utterly dreadful!

A Beautiful Twiendship

Just when Sarah wanted to run screaming from her office, vowing never to return to the Land of Twitter, she spied a notification alerting her to another follower. She looked at “Lisa’s” profile and saw that Lisa was engaged in conversations with a lot of different people. She shared amusing and useful things and seemed to be having a lot of fun using Twitter. Sarah clicked ‘Follow’ and tentatively sent a reply to one of Lisa’s tweets. A few moments later, Lisa replied back! Sarah and Lisa spent the next little while exchanging tweets, and it was the beginning of a beautiful twiendship.

Now when Sarah comes across people who use slimy sales tactics, sell Twitter followers and churn followers, she clicks past them and seeks out real people who want to connect, like what you’re meant to do on “social” media.

Capturing Hex Codes: How do I use that colour on my site?

How to Capture Colours on the Web Using Colorzilla

All colours that you see on the internet are represented by a six-digit/letter code called a hex code (e.g. white is #FFFFFF, red is #FF0000 and black is #000000) This code is how the browser knows what colour to render your web elements.

Have you ever come across a colour on another site that you really liked and would like to replicate on your own web page? Or perhaps you’re wanting to add some text to your blog post that is the same colour as other elements on your web page? What about in adding colourful text to photos?

You can capture the code of any colour that you see on your web browser using a free add-on called Colorzilla. Colorzilla is available for both Mozilla Firefox and Chrome browsers.

It is easy to install and to use. The following instructions will help you install it on your Firefox browser.

In your browser window, choose Tools->Add-ons from the top menu. This will open up the Add-ons Manager.

In the search window at the top right of the page, search for ‘Colorzilla’.

Find Colorzilla in the search results and click on Install.

Searching the Add-On Manager for Colorzilla

The add-on will install and prompt you to restart your browser.
Restart the browser and voilà, the add-on is now installed.

Colorzilla is now installed.


To use the tool, open up a web page where you would like to capture a specific colour.

Click on the dropper tool to the right of the browser toolbar.

Use the dropper tool to select the colour you want.


Hover your mouse pointer over the element on the page where you’d like to capture the colour and left-click.

Capturing the hex code of your desired colour.


The hexcode has now been copied to your clipboard and you can paste the code wherever you like. You can provide the hex code to your Virtual Assistant for use in email broadcasts or web pages, or if you are doing it yourself, you can use it in WordPress and most content management systems to colour your text with your chosen hue.

Colorzilla isn’t just for hex codes. In Microsoft Office software, if you want to use a specific colour for text you need to use RGB codes (e.g. White is R=255, G=255, B=255). Colorzilla captures RGB codes too.

If you found this post useful, please share it on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

How to outsource your social media management

How to outsource your social media management (1)

If you’ve been thinking about outsourcing your social media management, but have been uncertain how to do it well and how to make sure that it delivers results for your business, here are 6 important steps for making it work for you.

Have you been considering outsourcing your social media management, but have been worried about how exactly the person supporting you will know what’s best for your business?

How will what they post day to day on your Facebook or Instagram timeline be good for your business?

Hopefully, you already know the answer to that question because you have a digital marketing strategy in place, or at the very least a social media content strategy. If you’re embarrassed because you don’t even know what those two things are, then this post is for you.

Let’s make things really, really simple.

Social media is there not just to be social and look pretty, although that is one of its uses. Social media is primarily there to add value and profit to your business.

Social Media Outsourcing

When you decide to outsource your social media management to a virtual assistant make sure that at the very beginning you sit down together and work out:

1.What do you want to achieve? – and this may change over time – week to week, or month to month. This may also vary throughout the day, or week.

  • More sales?
  • More subscribers to your newsletter?
  • More people through your door?  (if you’re a bricks and mortar business)
  • More people attending your events?
  • More likes for your Facebook page (and if so, ask yourself why is that important to you?)
  • More brand awareness?

2. What kind of client do you want to attract?

  • Depending on the clients you want to attract you will post different content.
  • Do your research – Facebook Page insights will tell you at what time of day specific types of clients (age and gender) use Facebook. You can then time your posts to reach those clients.

3. What action do you want the client to take when they see your social media post?

  • Do you want them to call you?
  • Visit your store?
  • Admire your goods.
  • Subscribe to your mailing list.
  • Make an appointment.
  • Get to know you better.

4. What kind of posts do you want your VA to create?

  • How much input do you want into what is posted on a daily basis? Do you want to approve each post on each social media channel, or will you let your VA run the show as long as it’s within the strategy?
  • Will they consist mostly of images – how will they create them?
  • Will they have regular access to your premises if they need to take photos of your “behind the scenes” or products?
  • What kind of text only posts and links will they post? Will you supply them, or will your VA need to research to post relevant article links?

5. Which parts of your strategy will address the getting to “know, like and trust” you components of your marketing strategy?

6. How will you measure the results of your VA’s work?

  • You might want to ask your clients – how did they hear about you when they make a purchase or make an appointment and listen for mention of social media.
  • Do you have a measurable way of tracking sales from the date of the start of your social media strategy implementation?
  • Ask clients to share photos of themselves with your products, if appropriate, using a hashtag you’ve chosen.
  • Ask clients to share their experiences of your business/product or service using your unique hashtag. You can then track the use of the hashtag on a weekly basis across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Social Media Strategy

Once you have answers to these 6 questions, bring all the information together as your social media management strategy. This should clearly define the purpose, implementation and measurement of your social media management. It  should also contain enough information for both you AND your VA to feel confident that they are fulfilling your business goals when they are creating your social media posts on a daily basis.

Make sure you have a weekly check-in with your VA to see how things are going. Before you go into that meeting spend 10-15 minutes going over your business’s social media posts for the week so you know what’s been happening. Together, discuss what’s worked and what hasn’t.  Try to work out why. Decide on a plan for the next week, including any paid campaigns.

If you follow this planned approach, outsourcing your social media management should be a breeze.

A Masterpiece Made with a Photo of my Sleepwear

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ~Maya Angelou

I spent part of Saturday morning trying to figure out how to use my new iPad. I downloaded a drawing app, which was the whole reason I told myself I ‘needed’ an iPad, i.e. so that I could feed my current need for a creative outlet and hopefully use my creations in my business marketing. So while I was having a play with the app, I noticed that it had the ability to take a photo. So, I took a photo of the design on my pyjama pants.

Design on Pyjama Pants


I used the watercolour tool to colour in the outlines with a dusky rose colour and some green, went over the black lines with a pencil tool, added some detail to the centre of the flower, and removed the bottom layer, which was my original pyjama pants image. There you have it – a lovely watercolour image! How clever am I?!

Watercolour Flower made with Sketches drawing app by Tayasui

The name of the app is “Sketches” by Tayasui, and it’s free for basic functionality. You can try the Pro version for 1 hour to see if you like it, and if you do, you can get Pro for US$6.99. I think I’ll be getting Pro the next time I go to use this app.

I used Picmonkey to add in the fancy quote text, a museum matte frame and my logo.

What do you think? Please say it’s wonderful. I showed my family, and they just said, “Cool, Mum” and went back to whatever they were doing. They clearly don’t understand what I just did here: I made a masterpiece using a photo of my pyjama bottoms!!

If you like it, here’s a Pinterest-friendly version of the image. You know what to do!

You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ~ Maya Angelou