Is Co-Working Right for My Small Business?

Is co-working right for my small business?


You know that you need to spend time working ON your business, but client work always takes priority. Revamping your website or finding innovative ways to market your products and services gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Read on to learn more about the way of working that has swept the globe, and is starting to become more popular here in Australia.

You sit down at your computer, and there’s a ding notifying you that you’ve got mail. Your partner rings up to see how your day’s going. The dog is placing his front paws on your thigh and looking up at you with adoring eyes, urging you to give him some attention. The distractions are endless.

What if there was a way to click your heels and transport yourself away from the distractions?

Have you tried co-working?

What is Co-Working? defines co-working as “the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge.”

Benefits of Co-Working

Co-working is popular in North America and Europe – all over the world. Here in Australia, you’ll find more spaces in the capital cities. These are some of the reasons it appeals to the solopreneur:

  • Creative environment
  • Community of like-minded entrepreneurs
  • Camaraderie
  • Someone to bounce ideas off
  • Access to people who’ve ‘been there done that’
  • Monetary motivation to be productive
  • Networking potential
  • Access to business equipment, high-speed internet and meeting rooms
  • Less cost than renting office space permanently
  • A place to work if travelling
  • Fewer distractions
  • Can get you away from distracting family members or renovation work

Co-working has many benefits and a few disadvantages. Here are a few tips for those wanting to escape the home office for a bit. Click To Tweet

A Taste of the Local Co-Working Scene

Opportunities for co-working are pretty limited here in Cairns. There is one main one that I know of; it’s called The Space. It’s located on the TAFE campus, within 15-minutes’ drive from my home.

I booked myself in with the coordinator via email. I tried to pick a day where I would be able to make the most of my time there – no major tasks due with clients, no appointments with the dentist, and ‘mum’s taxi’ was not required after school.

I rocked up on the day wearing comfortable casual clothing, armed with:

  • a packed lunch,
  • a travel mug of coffee,
  • a bottle of water,
  • my laptop and its power cord
  • my mouse – I am so not a touchpad kind of girl!
  • my monitor – because I had some images I wanted to create, and it’s always easier with a big screen
  • a light jacket in case the aircon was set to ‘Arctic’
  • my headphones – so as not to disturb others if there was a video I wanted to watch

When I arrived, the friendly receptionist gave me a tour of the place.

The Tour

There was one main co-working room that was a good size. It housed desks for about 18 people, but there were only about 9 co-workers there that day, including me.

There were other rooms that were rented out permanently to small tech businesses.

There was a meeting room with a soft cushy couch and stylish coffee table. I envisioned using this room to film video, should the need arise.

There was a kitchen with a fridge, a microwave and a place to sit and eat your mac and cheese or 2-minute noodles. You could buy pod coffee for a dollar or instant coffee or tea for 50c.

Forgot the Tools of My Trade

With the tour finished, I set up my laptop at an available desk and was dismayed to find that I had forgotten two important things: my keyboard and my USB modem. I needed the keyboard to work with the monitor, or else I’d have to use the keyboard on the laptop with its lid open, blocking my view of the monitor. I had also planned to use my own mobile broadband instead of The Space’s internet connection. Ah, “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

No matter. Onward.

The Cone of Silence

The people around me all had earphones in their ears. In the T&Cs emailed to me by the receptionist after the tour was finished, it explained that this represents “The Cone of Silence”. It means that those people wish not to be disturbed. Hmm, so not much networking would be done on that particular day. I was a little bit relieved if the truth be told.

There was a friendly-looking lady sat opposite me, sans headphones, but neither of us made the first move to initiate conversation. Maybe co-working is not the place for shy-ish people? I suspect that after a few days of co-working, the faces would become familiar, and the conversation would flow more freely. Incidentally, over the course of the day, I did witness the sharing of ideas and advice.

Getting in The Zone

I sat down and looked at the list I had prepared of all the things I wanted to do that day. It was as long as my arm. I chose one item and started on it.

A few hours later, I looked up and realised it was already lunch time. I had managed to do some research and also some creative work for my website.

I didn’t avail myself of the kitchen lunchroom, because I had to leave by 3:30 pm, and I was determined to make the most of my time there. I ate my sandwich and cup-o-soup at my desk.

Disturbing the Peace

After lunch, I received a phone call that I had been waiting on for days, so I took the call and tried to speak quietly. The space was so silent that every sound seemed to carry. If I cleared my throat, squeaked my chair or sniffled, the sound amplified tenfold. Earlier, there had been a man speaking on the phone, so it is allowed, it’s just that I didn’t want to disturb the others with my own phone call.

The phone call interruption set my productivity back, and it took me a while to get back into the flow. Eventually, I managed to do a bit more work, and before you know it, it was time for me to pack up my things and head home.

Disadvantages of Co-Working

So after having experienced it for myself, I can see that co-working does have some disadvantages:

  • Additional cost. The casual rate would be $99 per month for one day a week, $199 for three days a week or $299 for full-time. Very reasonable, but compared to not paying anything, it is an additional cost that needs to be worthwhile.
  • Possibility still exists for distraction.
  • Not a problem for me in my regional city, but in heaving metropolises (metropoles?), parking and traffic would be a challenge for those of us used to the 10-metre commute to our home office.
  • Less security – this particular feeling of paranoia could change after further co-working sessions, but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my handbag at my desk, as I visited the Ladies’ Room – a concern you don’t have at home. Having said that, the dogs might steal my lunch given the opportunity!
  • Less privacy – phone and person-to-person conversations can be heard clearly by everyone in the room (except for the ‘cone of silence’ people of course).

Alternatives to Co-Working

So are there other options you could consider if you like the idea of changing your working environment but don’t want to fork out the dosh?

The Library

I’ve worked in the library to avoid my family seek a quiet place to work during school holidays.

It has similar disadvantages to a co-working space, with less privacy, less security, possibility of distraction and the added requirement to be super quiet to avoid the wrath of the grumpy librarian (total stereotype – our librarians are super nice and helpful).

The upside is that it’s free, well-lighted and quiet. There is usually a library close to your home.

Tips: Bring your own sandwich, and don’t drink too much coffee, because packing up your stuff every time you go to the loo is a pain in the proverbial. I recommend using your own USB modem, or you can use the public Wi-Fi with a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Here in Australia, public Wi-Fi is never very quick, so I have my own modem.

A Café

I would feel weird taking up a table in a café and nursing a cup of coffee to justify my doing so. Unless of course, it’s a café that encourages such behaviour to put bums on seats, but I haven’t found one of those to date.

A Food Court

I have no problem with parking myself in the food court of a busy shopping centre to get work done while my car is being serviced.

Privacy, security and distraction issues still exist here, along with the noise factor, but you do what you have to do in a pinch. I would recommend using your own USB modem or a VPN.

Should I co-work or should I stick to doing it solo?

I think there’s value in getting out of your usual environment. Sitting amongst other entrepreneurs (and actually talking to them) would push me out of my comfort zone a bit, and that’s a good thing. However, signing up for a regular spot at The Space probably isn’t feasible for me. 

During school holidays, I can’t leave teen-aged boys in my house unsupervised for an entire day. That’s just asking for trouble!

So, I think for me, using The Space on a casual basis is the way to go. I can use it as a way to force myself to devote time to my own business, but I’m not tied into paying for a spot I’m not able to use.

Learn from my mistakes

  • Make sure you can send email using the outgoing mail server of your mail provider eg, rather than relying on your ISP’s outgoing mail server eg. When you use a different internet connection, if you fail to do this, it means you won’t be able to send email unless you change settings or wait until you get back to your usual ISP.
  • If you plan on bringing your monitor, ensure you also bring your keyboard – doh!
  • Bring change for the coffee jar.
  • Remember to put your phone on vibrate, or if you can get away with it, switch it off!

Co-Working Tips for the Work-From-Home Entrepreneur

It’s Your Turn…

Have you ever used a co-working space? What did you love about it and what could you do without?

4 Healthy Habits for Entrepreneurs Who Work from Home

4 Healthy Habits for Entrepreneurs Who Work from Home

For entrepreneurs who work from home, doing the right thing for one’s health can be a real challenge. Read on to learn how you can fit some healthy habits into your work-from-home lifestyle.

We all know that it’s important that we:

  • Get up and move around every so often. Studies have linked long periods of sitting with Type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity and premature death.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise isn’t just for weight control; it also releases endorphins, so it lifts our mood and it can be an excellent opportunity to ‘zone out’ and get our creative ideas flowing.
  • Drink lots of water. Our brain is made up of 73% water. If we are only a little bit dehydrated, it affects our mood, cognitive and motor skills and memory. As knowledge workers, having our brains working at their best is vital.
  • Eat healthily and limit the junk food. By eating well, we reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. We keep our weight under control, and our bones and teeth all benefit.

So, how do we incorporate more healthy habits into our day? I struggle with this also, but I have found a few things that work for me – when I’m being good; let’s not talk about the bad days!

Get up and move around every so often

Taking regular breaks and moving around can be achieved if you use the Pomodoro Technique. I use a website called Tomato Timer. I set the timer for 25 minutes, do some work at my computer, and then when the timer goes off, I set it again for 5 minutes, get up and do something around the house, like hanging out the washing or emptying the dishwasher. Repeat that for as many times as you wish, with a longer break for lunch. To make it fun and add some extra productivity to your day, make a game of it to see how many ‘Pomodoros’ you can fit into your day.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is one of those things that people find it difficult to work into their routine. I was off-and-on with my exercise up until three years ago. I’m no gym junkie, but now, I’m out there walking or jogging around my neighbourhood regularly. Here are some tips on making exercise your habit:

  • Believe that you are the type of person who exercises regularly. This is from James Clear’s book ‘Atomic Habits’. He says in the book, “The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”
  • Have an exercise buddy – this makes you accountable. My buddy is my son; I think three years ago is when he gained the endurance to join me on my walks without complaining, and he’s been out walking with me every day since.
  • Put your workout clothes/runners out the night before – make it easy for you to get started in the morning.
  • Exercise in the morning – it starts your day off right and then you don’t have to think about it again for the rest of the day.
  • Have a contingency plan for when you can’t do your usual exercise routine – raining out and can’t do your usual walk? Do some Zumba in front of the TV. I’m planning to set up a couple of steps in the garage, so I can revert to my twenties when I enjoyed doing step aerobics.
  • Mix it up a bit – it’s easy to get bored of the same old routine, so try some new forms of exercise; try weight training, jump rope, rebounding or bicycle riding. Sometimes, changing your environment does the trick. If walking or jogging is your thing, try a different route than usual, or if you usually walk in a circuit, walk in the opposite direction. It’s amazing the things you notice when you approach from a different perspective!
  • 5-4-3-2-1 – And if all else fails, and you’re tempted to turn off the alarm and go back to sleep, take some advice from Mel Robbins. Just count backwards from five and get yourself moving when you get to one.

Drink lots of water

You can keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day if you have a 1-litre jug available that you fill up at least twice. You know you’ve done 2 litres if you’ve managed to drink two jugs’ worth. Add a slice of lemon to flavour it slightly. The thing I don’t like about drinking cold water is that here in the tropics, the water always condenses down the side of the glass, ending in a pool on my desk. To overcome this, I use a large thermal coffee cup, which keeps my water cold, but doesn’t allow the water to condense. Mine’s 483 ml, so I drink about 4 of these each day.

Eat healthily and limit the junk food

Diet is a huge topic in itself, so I won’t cover it here, but I will share with you two tips and a few ideas for healthy snacks.

Tip #1 – Don’t have junk food in the house. If you feel like eating something that’s not so healthy on the weekend, make sure you don’t buy/make so much that it’s still hanging around during your work week.

Tip #2 – If you’re in charge of making lunches for the kids in the morning, take that time to make yourself a healthy lunch for later. When lunchtime rolls around, a salad will seem more appealing if it’s already made and waiting for you.

And finally, here are some ideas for healthy snacks for when your Pomodoro timer’s gone off and you’re raiding the pantry for a snack. Better yet, prepare your snacks ahead of time, so you don’t have to go looking for them when you’re at your hungriest!

When you work from home, you might be tempted to raid the pantry and avoid exercise. Here are some ideas for incorporating healthy habits into your work-from-home lifestyle. Click To Tweet


  • small banana
  • medium apple
  • mandarin
  • nectarine
  • cherries
  • blueberries
  • peach
  • cubes of watermelon
  • plum
  • pineapple pieces
  • strawberries
  • rock melon


  • 3 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 4 corn thins
  • handful of almonds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup edamame
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • carrot sticks
  • celery sticks
  • cherry tomatoes
  • spears of cucumber
  • sliced red capsicum
  • small amount of hummus, tzatziki, salsa or mashed avocado for dipping

Healthy Snack Ideas for Work from Home Entrepreneurs

Working from home doesn’t have to affect our health negatively

In summary, working from home can sometimes negatively affect our health, but it doesn’t have to. With some planning ahead, and making healthy habits easy, the right choice can be the obvious choice. By establishing the habits of getting up and moving around every so often, exercising regularly, drinking water and choosing nutritious snacks, we can reduce this risk of lifestyle-related disease, keep our brains functioning at their optimum, whilst lifting mood and fostering creativity and productivity. It sounds pretty good to me!

This article is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet or starting a new fitness routine.
“How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa).” ATOMIC HABITS, by JAMES CLEAR, RANDOM HOUSE BUSINESS, 2017, p. 33.

2 Ways to Tick Things Off Your Someday List

2 Ways to Tick Things Off Your Someday List

If you find yourself putting off those things you’ve always wanted to do to that imaginary day called ‘Someday’, read on to learn two ways you can start ticking those items off your Someday List. Unless we take action today, Someday never comes.

We all have a someday list. For our personal life, maybe it looks something like this:

Someday, I will learn how to play the piano.
Someday, I will learn a second language.
Someday, I will get fit and healthy.
Someday, I will learn how to salsa dance.

and for work/business life:

Someday, I will work on improving my own business.
Someday, I will learn how to use that software properly.
Someday, I will take that presentation skills course.
Someday, I will outsource some of these jobs.

But something always gets in the way of “Someday” and your Someday List becomes a ‘Things I Wish I Did’ list.

Yes, you’ve been wanting to learn a new language for 20 years now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start.

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." ~ Chinese Proverb.

Here are two ways you can start ticking things off your Someday List.

1. Embrace The Magic of Habit

Make that someday item into a habit. Do it regularly and before you know it, it’s no longer something you’ll do someday, it becomes something you’ve done or are regularly doing.

Take learning a language as an example. With the free Duolingo app, you can learn so many different languages. All you need is your mobile phone and a few minutes of your time each day. Easy peasy, right?

Not quite, the missing ingredient is your trigger. You need to have something that will trigger you to open the app and do your lesson. This is where your existing habits can help you to form new habits.

What do you do every day, without fail? For a lot of us, that would be to turn on your computer. If you have a lot of software, it can sometime take some time for everything to load up. That would be an ideal time to open your phone and do a 5-minute language lesson.

It can work with most anything.

Someday, I will work on improving my own business.
Trigger: Sitting down at your desk, before you start work for the day*.
Action: Do some action to move your business forward. Set up a new lead magnet, research a new product idea etc.
* This works like “Pay yourself first” when budgetting – instead of paying all your bills first and then seeing what’s left for savings, you transfer a set amount for savings before you allocate the rest of your income to bills and living expenses. When it comes to your work day, you know that you will always get your regular work done, but if you leave working on your business to fit in with your other work, it will never happen.

Someday, I will learn how to use that software properly.
Trigger: Sitting down on the train for the hour-long commute to your office.
Action: Open your laptop and read through tutorials on how to use the new software you’ve been meaning to master.

Someday, I will learn how to play the piano.
Trigger: You’ve set the pasta on to boil
Action: Go to the old keyboard that your children have abandoned, fire up JoyTunes on your iPad and do a piano lesson while you wait for the pasta to cook.

Someday, I will get fit and healthy.
Trigger: You’ve finished brushing your teeth before bed
Action: Lay out your trainers and workout clothes where you will see them, then set your alarm.

Trigger: When the alarm goes off.
Action: Say in your head, “five-four-three-two-one” (borrowed from Mel Robbins‘ 5-Second Rule) and get out of bed, put your clothes/shoes on and go for a walk.

Trigger: You’re making lunches for the kids
Action: Make your own healthy salad for lunch and leave it in the fridge. When lunchtime rolls around and you are hungry, you won’t go for an unhealthy option, because your salad is already made.

There are so many possibilities!

Here’s a Helpful HocusPocus I shared previously, that sums this idea up nicely.

Unless we take action today, 'Someday' never comes. Here are two ways you can start ticking things off your Someday List. Click To Tweet


2. Take the Next Action

The second way to make progress on your Someday List is to take one small step towards getting started. To borrow a concept from David Allen’s Getting Things Done®, identify your next action.

Someday, I will learn how to salsa dance.
Next Action: Google salsa dance lessons in your area.
Then, once you’ve done that, identify another next action you will take. It could be to call the dance studio. And so on, until you eventually find yourself in the arms of a handsome stranger moving to the rhythms of the latest Latin beats (or in the arms of your husband in the community hall, bumping into your neighbour, but who am I to quash your dreams?)

Someday, I will take that presentation skills course.
Next Action: Find out about the Toastmasters meeting in your area.

Someday, I will outsource some of these jobs.
Next Action: Contact that Virtual Assistant. What was the name – magic something? Oh that’s right, Magic VA Solutions! You see what I did there? 🙂

You get the picture. Now your next action is to pull out your Someday List and start ‘habiting’ and ‘next-actioning’ your way through it!

It’s Your Turn

Some of these examples I’ve used are actually on my Someday List. I’d love to hear about some of the things on your list. Please share them in the comments.

Should I be on Facebook? And what should I share?

Should I be on Facebook? And what should I share?

A conversation at the dentist’s office ultimately moved to the topic of Facebook. It got me to thinking that a question small business owners should be asking is whether Facebook is the right platform to market their business. Also included here, are some tips on what sort of content to share on this platform.

While my son was having a dental check-up, my dentist and I got to talking about various topics of conversation: the royal wedding (Did I watch it? No I didn’t), flossing (when is a good time for a young person to start? Now is good), and ultimately we ended up talking about Facebook. He said that his practice has a Facebook page, because it seems like the thing he ought to be doing. However, he was at a loss as to what he should be sharing on his page.

This brought two questions to mind:

1. Should he be on Facebook (or any social media channel for that matter) just because it’s the done thing?

With any sort of marketing, the focus should be on your target customer. Does your ideal customer hang out in that space? Chances are a lot of people do hang out on Facebook, but are they your target customer, and is it the right place to talk about your products?

For example, if you are a company that sells semi-conductors to electronics manufacturers, do you think Facebook is the place to market your product?

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are a company that has created a fun gaming app, such as Candy Crush, should you be promoting your app on LinkedIn – a place for busy professionals? Maybe some other channel might be more appropriate.

In this instance, it is a dental practice, and I think that Facebook is a useful platform for him to be on. Everybody needs to keep their teeth healthy.

Should your small business be on Facebook? This is a question worth asking before jumping on the bandwagon. Click To Tweet


2. If so, what sorts of things should he be sharing?

Remember that during the conversation we had while my 14-year old son was in his chair, I asked my dentist when my son should start flossing. See that right there? That is a question that I –his customer– had, and probably a lot of other parents have the same question.

Here are some ideas of what he could share:

  • A blog post talking about the various stages of a child’s dental health.
  • Share an image of a pre-teen with too much space between their teeth to warrant flossing vs someone who is ready to start that routine.
  • The benefits of flossing and the consequences of not doing it.
  • A video on how to floss correctly.
  • A quick tip on how to get your teen to floss.

Images are great to share, and video works even better. Facebook loves video.

The key is to think about your prospective customer and share content that will solve his or her problems. Be generous with your help and avoid being self-centred with what you share. People are not interested in sales talk, and they don’t care what you had for lunch (unless you are a foodie blogger, then that definitely should be on your list of things to share 😀).

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.

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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.