Monday, November 29, 2010

A touching VA story

It's been awhile since I last wrote a blog. I have been pre-occupied with a lot of VA tasks lately..Well anyway here I am..As I surf the internet today, I stumbled upon a very touching story of a VA who "survived" Ondoy. I admire his resiliency and dedication!! Whoever this Filipino web guy is - Mabuhay ka! Mabuhay ang mga Pilipino! =)

This story is just too inspiring that it prompted me to share it:


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ways to become a VA

Looking for VA jobs take some time, effort and careful evaluation. There are numerous VA job postings out there that may seem to be a good opportunity at first but only to find out that your time and effort is not worth the compensation you will get. There are various ways to become a Virtual Assistant - which can be any of the following:
  1. Freelancer: In being a freelancer, you can go to sites like Short Task, Cloud Crowd, Freelancer or Odesk. These sites offer pay-per-task agreement. I have tried Short Task and Cloud Crowd but I just find the rates rather small. A few cents can go far I know but I just didn't have the time and patience to watch those cents pile up.They remit payment promptly though.Freelancer and Odesk, are two popular sites to go to hook up a VA job. However, I have not figured out the art of effective bidding for VA jobs on these sites.
  2. Independent Contractor: I prefer to be an independent contractor. Offering my VA services as an independent contractor gives me the ability to set my rate per hour. All specifications like hours of work per day, a full description of the duties to be performed and the method of compensation is stipulated on a black and white agreement.
  3. Sub-Contractor: To be a VA sub-contractor, you have to look for companies or senior VA's open to this set-up because they already have an existing client database. Join their group by "applying" as a sub-contractor. If they find your VA skills fit to any of the skills that their clients are looking for then they "might" get in touch with you. Based from my experience though, this takes a lot of wait time and some are just not giving any follow up feedback after your "application".
On my next blog, I will share what sites have a wide-range of Virtual Assistant job opportunities especially for Independent Contractors.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Virtual Assistant Tools # 10: Express Scribe

If you are a Virtual Assistant offering audio file transcription services then Express Scribe is the perfect tool for you. Just download the software to your computer and you can start using it. What's great of course is it is completely free!

Here are some features of Express Scribe:
    * Variable speed playback (constant pitch)
    * Supports audio and video playback
    * Works with Microsoft Word and all major word-processors
    * Integrates with Express Delegate Dictation Workflow
    * Automatically receives and loads files by internet (FTP), email or over a local computer network
    * Automatically sends typing to those who dictated the work
    * Loads CD audio directly - start to work as it loads in the background
    * Can switch to 'mini' mode to reduce screen space
    * Integrate with dictation management systems

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Virtual Assistant Tools # 9: You Send It

Another very important Virtual Assistant tool is You Send It. A part of my task as VA is to manage a client's website. I often upload videos, documents and images. You Send It is a very effective way to receive large files which is usually a challenge when sent via e-mail. On the other hand, using this cool tool, I can also easily send large file by uploading it through a web browser, from my desktop or straight from Microsoft Outlook.

Here is how it works:

1. You upload your large file.
2. You Send It will  store your file securely and email your recipient a link to click on and download the file.
3. Your recipient receives the email notification, clicks on the link in the email and downloads the file. Done!

Start sending you large files using You Send It now!

Virtual Assistant Tools # 8: ZAMZAR

Most of the time, a VA needs to be resourceful and find ways to come up with a desired output. My client requires me convert .doc file to .pdf and what I used to do was to print the file and scan it as a .pdf. I realized that this is time-consuming and totally not an eco-friendly practice. Good thing I came across ZAMZAR, an online file conversion tool. Zamzar converts a wide range of different file formats. Zamzar is FREE and it's definitely a helpful tool for a Virtual Assistant.

You just have to follow these 4 simple steps:

Step 1:
Select files or URL to convert.
Step 2: Choose the format to convert to.
Step 3: Enter your email address to receive converted files.
Step 4: Click on Convert file and wait for an email from Zamzar including the link as to where you can download your converted file.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Virtual Assistant Tools # 7: Free CRM

A Virtual Assistant can have multiple clients and numerous prospective clients and to make sure I don't lose them, I use FREE CRM. Again, I use the Free version despite the name FREE CRM has a monthly subscription - the PRO version. For a VA like me I use FREE CRM and enjoy the following features:
  • Contact and Lead Tracking
  • Sales and Pipeline Management
  • Support Ticket & Service Management
  • Advanced Security & Uptime
  • Superior Technical Support
It is very much like Sales Force but FREE CRM has a free version while Sales Force due to its popularity only has a 30-day free trial period. I honestly do not use some features YET. But when I have enough clients (more than I can handle- that is) to welcome new team members in my Virtual Assistance business, I know the Free CRM software will be very useful. FREE CRM and sales team automation tools enable your Email Campaigns, Call Automation, and Group Calendaring all in one place and all for Free. Free CRM has the highest uptime and reliability and the highest level of security in the industry.

Virtual Assistant Tools # 6: TechSmith Jing

As a Virtual Assistant it is a challenge to explain concepts to your client especially if it requires a step-by-step procedure or anything that requires concrete details. At this point, a VA would need a very effective screen capture tool. I have tried Skype's screen capture but for some reason, the load time is just too slow for me. Good thing there is Tech Smith JING. It is a very simple screen capture tool. I am using the F.REE version because I don't see the need for me to upgrade to a pro version. Everything I need for online collaboration is provided by this FREE and very helpful tool.

Take a look at how JING helps me in my daily tasks as a Virtual Assistant. Here is a short video showing how JING works.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Virtual Assistant Tools # 5: Skype

A Virtual Assistant MUST HAVE. Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a nominal fee using a debit-based user account system.

Do amazing things for free
    * Voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype
    * Conference calls with three or more people
    * Instant messaging, file transfer and screen sharing.

This technology makes it easier and faster for Virtual Assistants to coordinate with clients anywhere in the world.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Virtual Assistant Tools # 4: Hour Guard

To charge my client for my VA services, I use Hour Guard - a FREE Time Keeper software. It helps me monitor my time  and compute for my hourly rate and generate invoice for my client.

All of the things that I do are listed in Hour Guard including a category for major projects – this has subheadings for each project that I am working on. As I work through my list each day every time I move to a new task I set Hour Guard to monitor how I am doing.

The Hour Guard interface is very easy to understand. You have five menus and five toolbar buttons that are pretty self explanatory. New Task allows you to create a new task and set its parameters, while new entry brings sub-entries to an existing task. Other than that, the user can generate reports or tweak the program’s parameters.Usage is very easy as well. Click start when you begin working on a task, and stop when you’re done. The application will store it as a time sheet entry.

The reporting feature provides an accurate view of how you need to charge for your time, will individual task break-ups. Not only that, but also it can be combined with the invoice generation feature of the program, present under the HourGuard menu. Invoices are stored as XML files.

Virtual Assistant Tools # 3: Remember the Milk

To keep track of my Virtual Assistant tasks, I use Remember the Milk. It's an effective time management tool that helps me handle my time and job effectively.

Here are a few things you can do with Remember The Milk..
Manage tasks quickly and easily.
An intuitive interface makes managing tasks fun. Set due dates easily with next Friday or in 2 weeks. Extensive keyboard shortcuts make task management quicker than ever.
Get reminded, anywhere.
Receive reminders via email, SMS, and instant messenger (AIM, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, Skype and Yahoo! are all supported).
Organize the way you want to.
Are you a list lover? Create as many lists as you need. Into tagging? Use the task cloud to easily see what you have to do. Want to store notes along with your tasks? You can do that too.
Add tasks wherever you are.
Adding tasks is as simple as firing off an email (even from your phone). See an important date on the web? Add it to your list with Quick Add.
Plan your time.
See what's due today and tomorrow, and the things you've missed. Prioritize, estimate your time, and postpone with ease. Set tasks to repeat every week or after 2 months.
Take your tasks with you.
Access your tasks on your web-enabled mobile device. Print your entire list or a handy weekly planner which shows upcoming tasks. View your tasks on your calendar with Apple iCal or Google Calendar. Subscribe to feeds with Atom/RSS
Search your tasks the smart way.
Find the tasks you want with advanced searching. Save your searches as Smart Lists, and easily see tasks that match your desired criteria.