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How to Conduct Competitor Research for Your Business

Business PlansKristin RumianComment
conduct competitor analysis

Every business has competitors, especially if you’re in an industry that is saturated.  Researching your competition is important for every business and is even a part of writing your main business plan,  (Titled, “Competitor Analysis”) but why do we do this? Why is it important to research who your competition is?  

We need to research our competition in order to monitor their behaviors, their marketing efforts, their products & services, etc…  Knowing what your competitors are doing and what their next move might be will give you a competitive edge and let you stay ahead of them.  It will allow you to plan your launches, strategies and next move so you can keep your customers/clients and even gain new business. The point of competitor research and analysis isn’t to steal customers away from your competitors, it’s just to be aware of what your competition is doing and to ensure you don’t lose business by your competitors doing something that you aren’t.  

When you’re conducting competitive research or analysis you should record the following in a document or spreadsheet:

  • Business name

  • Business website

  • Products/Services/Prices offered

  • Strengths of the business

  • Weaknesses of the business

  • How is their on-site SEO?

  • How is there social media?

 

Do a simple Google search

It’s important to start your competitive research/analysis by doing a simple Google search and identifying your top 10 competitors.  If your business is further niched it’s important to find the competitors that are within your particular niche. (i.e. If you’re a business coach for service-based businesses make sure you find other business coaches for service-based businesses.  General business coaches will probably have a different strategy than you do.)

If you find more than 10 competitors you should comb through their websites to find the 10 that closely resemble your mission, target customer, products, etc…  Find the 10 that are most like your business.  These are the competitors that you are going to want to focus on.

 

Find their financial reports

Whether your business is a professional organization or a small business you should be able to find financial and income reports from your competitors.  These are important to read since you should know how your competitors are bringing in the majority of their revenue and what their most popular products are that are selling the best.  If you’re an entrepreneur or solopreneur you should look for monthly income reports that would be contained in blog posts.  Most solopreneurs publish these income reports on a monthly basis and this is a great way to find out what they’re doing to make money and can give you ideas of other avenues to pursue to bring in more income to your own business.

 

How is their advertising?

Next, you should do some research on their advertising.  Do they pay for advertising for their business? Is the majority of their advertising and marketing on social media?  Do they use print advertising for their business? How are they getting the eye of their customers and bringing them into their business?  You should compare their marketing efforts to your own but remember every business has their own marketing budgets and your marketing budget may be significantly lower or higher than that of your competition.

 

What are their customers saying?

Social media is a very powerful tool when it comes to finding out information about your competition.  You can do a simple search to tap into the conversations between your competitors and their customers to see what they’re saying and how they’re handling customer engagement.  You can also do a simple search to find out what issues their customers are having. Is there a way that you can improve upon your own products or services in order to answer their questions or address their issues?  Listen and analyze every mention that is addressed to your competitors and go from there.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conducting competitor research.  There is much more strategy that goes into analyzing what your competitors are doing but this is just a simple outline so you can begin your analysis and start to become familiar with your competition. 

If you want an in-depth competitive analysis done Infopoint Virtual Solutions can help!  We’ve done hundreds of in-depth analysis and we have our own systematic way of getting this done efficiently and correctly.  If you need assistance with your analysis please contact us to schedule a free discovery call. We can help you become much more familiar with your competitors and can help you get ahead of your competition.

Become an SEO Pro: Beginners SEO Basics

Get More BusinessKristin RumianComment
SEO Basics for beginners

If you're a business owner you've probably heard the acronym SEO which stands for Search Engine Optimization.  To further elaborate, the actual Wikipedia definition of SEO is:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.
— https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization

As you can see by the definition, optimizing your website and blog will help your site be found in organic search results.  Organic search results would be the results that come up when you use search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc...  The better you optimize your site, blog and back end, the higher you will rank in the search engines once they crawl and index your site.

What are the search engines looking for?

When crawling your site search engines look for a few things:

  • High-quality content - High-quality content is content that brings value to your reader, the titles, keywords, meta descriptions and everything else that is contained within your content. ( We will discuss these further down!)
  • The general look of your site - They will look for sites that are correctly coded, having easy to find navigation and a site that is organized and attractive.
  • Bounce rate - Do you have a high bounce rate?  If so, that probably won't work in your favor.  The bounce rate is a percentage calculated by the number of people who "bounce" on and off of your site quickly.  Do you have enough content to keep them engaged for a longer period of time?  Then your bounce rate will be lower.  Linking inside of your blog posts to other posts on your site will help to keep your bounce rate low.
  • Performance - Believe it or not if your site loads slowly search engines will rank you lower.  Your site should have no broken links when the search engine indexes it and your site should load as quickly as possible. (Tip: Compress your images or save them as PNGs to prevent image heavy loading times.)
  • Mobile Friendly - Google announced, a few years back, that it will rank sites that are mobile friendly higher than sites that aren't.  This means that your site has to have a mobile version in order to be ranked.  (If you're using Wordpress, most themes have a mobile version built in for you.  You can check if yours is mobile friendly by visiting your website from a smartphone.)

Keywords

Your website and blog should have a good number of relevant keywords within your text though there is no clear answer as to how many is best to use.  It's best to go with your instinct on that, however, don't overuse the keywords.  Overuse of keywords is called keyword stuffing and search engines really frown upon that.  Keyword stuffing is considered black hat SEO and can get you blacklisted from search engines. (Black hat SEO is using unfair means to "optimize" your site.)

When choosing the keywords for your site you need to think about what exactly you want to rank for.  This usually takes a little research!  You want to consider the following when choosing and researching keywords:

  • Search Volume - You want to know how many people are searching for the keyword that you are considering using.  You want to pick a keyword that is actively being searched for in the search engines.  If you pick a keyword that isn't being searched that much, you will greatly reduce your chances of being found in the search engines.  In order to find out this information, you can use a tool such as the Google Keyword Planner or (if you don't have a Google Adwords account) you can use SEO Book.
  • Keyword Competition - You need to figure out what your keyword competition is before choosing one.  You want to choose a keyword that has low to medium competition so you will have a better chance at ranking.  You can rank for high competition keywords but this may be slightly more difficult for a beginner.  (This information will also be contained within the Google Keyword Planner or SEO Book tools.)

On page optimization

The title of your site is extremely important.  This is the title that searchers will see in the search engines and also what they will see in the title bar of your site.  Your title should be less than 70 characters and include your keyword.  Using less than 70 characters will ensure that your title won't be cut off in the search engines.  

The meta description of your site is the description that will show under your title in the search engines.  This description will be implemented in the back end/code of your site.  If you're using Wordpress this can be done through Wordpress itself.  You can also use the Yoast plug-in for Wordpress to optimize the title and meta description of each blog post and page you create on your Wordpress site.  This plug-in is so incredibly useful!

When writing a meta description you should always use a description that is clear, describes the purpose of your site and also contains your keyword.  Think of this as a virtual version of your "elevator pitch" ...short and sweet!

Your URL

If you're using Wordpress or Squarespace it's very easy to modify your URL.  You should have a URL that uses your main keyword so you can further optimize.  You can find the option to edit your URL in Wordpress right here:

 Simply click "Edit" and edit your URL!

Simply click "Edit" and edit your URL!

and in Squarespace you can find it here:

 Edit Post > Options > Post URL

Edit Post > Options > Post URL

 

Internal links within your page

Internal links are links that are within the context of your site that link to other posts that are relevant to your topic.  Internal links will help to keep your audience on the site and will lower your bounce rate.  It will also provide your audience with further options in regards to the topic they are reading about at that time.  When linking to other relevant blog posts, you will basically be thought of as an authority when the bots crawl your site.  Those relevant links will be indexed as well as your post!

Tagged Images

When you add an image to your site you should describe the image the best you can. This will give your images a better chance at being found in Google Image Search!

i.e. If you have a photo of a beach you can tag it as "sunny beach with palm trees and sand bucket".  Your photo will then be able to come up in the search engines when anyone searches any related phrases or words.

These tags are considered alt tags or alt attributes for your images.  On Wordpress or Squarespace you will see an alt or image description when you upload an image.  This is where you would put that description!  If you are adding the alt attribute to the back end of your site you would have to add alt="your description"  between the brackets of your code.

Headers

These are the <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags for your page.  Let's go through what each of them should be used for.

  • H1 - Should only be used for the title of your site and should include the main keyword that you're targeting for that piece of content.  Only ONE H1 tag should be used per page.
  • H2 - Can be used as bullet points or titles of the separate sections of your page. You should include the main keyword that you're targeting for that piece of content as well.  The keyword should also be used within the paragraphs or points under the H2 tag.  You can use as many H2 tags as you need to on your page.
  • H3 - These tags will be used as sub-categories under the H2 tags and should also be keyword rich for the main keyword that you're targeting.  

You won't always be able to use your target keyword within the H2 and H3 tags.  Only use your target keyword if applicable for the bullet points and context.

Do you need help with optimization of your site?  Infopoint Virtual Solutions can help you out!  We're SEO experts and we would love to assist you in getting your site indexed in those search results!  Schedule your FREE discovery call today so we can discuss how IPV can help your business get found! 

If you found this post helpful please share it with your friends on Pinterest by pinning the image below!  Thank you!

beginners SEO basics

What Can You Write Off as a Small Business?

Business ProductivityKristin RumianComment
what expenses can you write off as a small business

Having to get your taxes done as the owner of a small business or entrepreneur can be extremely frightening.  The thought of how much self-employment taxes that you'll have to pay can be enough to keep you up at night.  Just know that there are many deductible expenses that you can take in order to lower the amount of self-employment taxes that you'll have to pay to the IRS.  

Disclaimer: I am a certified tax preparer and am giving you advice from the best of my 10 years of tax knowledge.  If you are unsure if an expense is deductible please consult with your tax preparer or accountant.

Automobile Expenses

You are able to deduct the cost of operating your vehicle for business purposes only.   However, you should have documents to prove the business use of your vehicle just in case of contact from the IRS.  When you use your vehicle for business purposes you should keep records of any cost of gas or any other automobile costs that you paid during that tax year.  If you decide to take the standard mileage deduction (53 cents per mile for 2017) you won't be able to deduct the actual costs that you spent on gas, oil changes, etc... for your vehicle but you must know how many miles you drove for business that year.  Your accountant or tax preparer can help you to decide which deduction will benefit you the most. 

 

Office Supplies

You are able to deduct any office supplies that you purchased for your business during that tax year.  These would be tangible items such as paper clips, ink cartridges, staples/stapler, pens, pencils, etc... Any furniture items such as a bookcase, filing cabinet, small desk, etc... can also be deducted under office supplies if the cost of the item is under $2,500. Keep all of your business receipts in that shoe box just in case you need them for the IRS. 

 

Office Expenses

Office expenses are usually confused with office supplies when filing taxes.  These are two completely different sets of deductions with their own rules.  Office expenses would include the costs of running your office such as website hosting, domain names, monthly costs for any business programs you use, accounting software, fees for processing credit cards, software and hardware.

 

Utilities / Home Office Deduction

You are able to deduct costs for your utilities such as electricity, cell phone charges, landline charges, rent/mortgage etc...  However, when you are deducting utilities such as electricity for your home office you will need to calculate the deduction based on the size of your home office in relation to your house.  You can calculate this with the formula below:

sq. footage of your home office / sq. footage of your home x 100 = % of your home office.

For example, my home office is 144 sq. feet and my house is 2,876 sq. feet so my home office would be 5% of my house.  This percentage will vary with the size of the room and size of your house. 

So to calculate how much of your utilities you can deduct you will take how much you pay monthly for electricity and calculate that for the entire year.  (i.e. $150 per month x 12 months of the year = $1,800)  Since my home office is 5% of my house I would take $1,800 and deduct 5% of that.  (1,800 x 0.05 = $90)  So, in that case, I would be able to deduct $90 of my electric bill on my taxes.

IMPORTANT:

The IRS states that, in order to take a home office deduction, you MUST solely use your home office space for business and nothing else.  There is a small exception - If your home office is part of your bedroom or living room you CAN consider that your home office but again, you must solely use that part of your room (home office space) for business.  If your home office is a part of another room you're going to have to do some math to figure out the percentage...ready?

You would calculate that by measuring the square footage of your home office "space" inside of the room and divide that by the square footage of your home. Let's say your home office is a part of your bedroom and your bedroom and your home office square footage is 24. (You just have a small desk and filing cabinet.)  24 sq ft. / 2,876 sq ft. (size of home) = 0.8% of your home is your home office. 

 

Health Insurance

If you're self-employed and you pay for your own insurance premiums, your health insurance costs are 100% deductible.  Keep in mind that your deduction can't be more than the net profit that your business brings in.  Are your children also on your health insurance policy?  Your dependents' premiums will also be 100% deductible!    

 

Travel

If you travel for business some of your costs may be deductible.  Deductible expenses would be considered hotels that you stay at and costs of transportation (plane, train, taxi/uber etc...) -- These expenses are 100% deductible.  

Unreimbursed costs of your meals, when traveling for business, are only 50% deductible.  You would pay half and you'd be reimbursed for half. (So don't go overboard on luxury business meals when you travel! However, I would stay at the best hotels and fly first class if I traveled for business! *wink*)  Make sure that you keep all of your receipts for business travel related expenses just in case you need them for tax purposes.

 

Legal & Accounting Fees

You are able to deduct any fees that you pay to lawyers, accountants, consultants or any other business professionals but these have to be related to your business. (Accountant fees include costs to prepare your taxes from an accountant or tax preparer.)

If you're just starting your business and have any legal fees (such as incorporation) you are able to deduct them as business start-up expenses.  (The first year you're in business) 

Things can get complicated when you own a small business and have to get your tax return done but an accountant or tax preparer can definitely help you to find out what you can and can't deduct.  I highly suggest that you take any deduction that you possibly can because this will help you a great deal when it comes to paying self-employment taxes!

Boosted Post vs. Facebook Ad - Which is Better?

Get More BusinessKristin RumianComment
boosted post vs facebook ad

When marketing on Facebook you have two options; a boosted post or an actual Facebook ad.  Which one is better?  Which one will yield better results? Which one should you use to promote your business? 

Boosted Post

When you write a post on your Facebook business page you will probably see a button on the bottom right of your post that says "Boost Post" .  

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 9.42.16 PM.png

Once you click the "Boost Post" button you will get a page with options, similar to that of a Facebook Ad. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 9.43.23 PM.png

These options include:

  • Objective
  • The option for a call to action
  • Audience options
  • Budget options

In general, the options for a boosted post are a little less complex than Facebook Ads and are great for those just starting to use paid marketing options on Facebook.  Your boosted post will show in a user's News Feed and that user will be determined by the demographic options you choose when boosting your post.  Basically, boosted posts are glorified Facebook posts that you pay for to extend your Facebook reach.  The reason most people boost a post on Facebook is to gain likes, shares, comments and occasionally clicks. 

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are the most common way to advertise on Facebook.  Unlike boosted posts, Facebook ads have advanced targeting options and allow reach a larger demographic of individuals due to the options that you can select when creating an ad.  Facebook ads will be found on the right sidebar of Facebook and will be static towards the bottom of the sidebar until that user refreshes their page.  Because the ad is static while the user is scrolling down their newsfeed, there is more of a chance for your ad to be seen and clicked on. 

Which Should You Use?

I've used both of these options to promote in the past and I think they're both great options.   Boosted Posts should be used when you either want more engagement on a post, want more engagement on your page or have a post that is regarding a class, event, opt-in or anything that may catch the attention of a user.  

Facebook Ads should be used when you want to actually promote your business and your call to action.  There is more of a chance for a user to click on an ad than click on a call to action on a boosted post.  

Do you need assistance with your Facebook promotionContact Infopoint Virtual Solutions today for your free discovery call!  We can assist you in creating and running your Facebook for the maximum results! 

 

How to Correctly Pitch a Blogger

Content MarketingKristin RumianComment
How to Correctly Pitch a Blogger

Many businesses are harnessing the power of influencer marketing by partnering with various bloggers.  Bloggers are a very powerful community because of their readership and the trust they've built with their readers.  Since they've built that trust and rapport with their community, their readers are more likely to listen to anything they endorse and are more likely to try and buy what they write about on their blogs.  

The one problem and one complaint among the community is that businesses don't understand how to correctly pitch a blogger and this can become very irritating to the blogger.  I'm going to share the correct way to pitch a blogger so your email doesn't end up in their trash.

Know your budget

Before you contact the blogger that you want to pitch you need to make sure you know the maximum that you are willing to spend for a collaboration.  If you only have merchandise to give in exchange for a review, that's okay, but that may limit the number of bloggers that are willing to work with you.  Remember that many bloggers do require compensation for a sponsored post because their time is valuable and their blog is their business.

 

Know the blogger you're pitching to

When you're writing the pitch for your blogger don't just write "Dear Blogger" as your salutation. Take the time to find the name of your blogger that you are pitching to and address them correctly. You can easily find this information on the About page of the blog or even the way they sign their blog posts; if they sign their blog posts.   Most bloggers will disregard a pitch if they aren't addressed by name because they feel that you didn't take the time to know who you are pitching to.

It's also very important to do your homework on the blogger that you're pitching to.  

  • Do they have a page where they give information about collaboration requests? If so, go to that page and make sure you read through it.
  • Do they require payment or do they accept merchandise?  It's important to see if they specify this on that page as well.

 

Always contact a blogger by email

It's always proper to contact the blogger by email because not everyone checks their social media DMs.  However, if the blogger has a page specifically about collaborations, see what they prefer by reading through that page.  Some may welcome DMs and some may have a separate email for pitches and collaboration requests.

 

Tricks to Pitching Your Product

1. The subject line of your email is important.  Clearly state what the email is about or your email may get deleted and trashed by the blogger.  Use your brand name and let them know that it's in regards to a collaboration or sponsored post request, that's the best way to get your email read and not ignored.

2. Know the blogger's niche/subject matter and let them know how your product or service could help their audience.  If you're pitching a weight loss supplement and the blogger posts about parenting, I doubt they're going to accept your pitch.  You need to make sure that your product or service matches their content. 

3. Make a personal connection with the blogger! When you write your pitch let them know that you've read through their blog and know what their website is about.  You want them to know that you made an effort to get to know them, this will help the blogger feel more connected to you and it will make them more inclined to accept your pitch. 

4. Let them know what you're willing to give them in exchange for their sponsored post. REMEMBER, NO BLOGGER WILL FEATURE A BRAND FOR FREE, so please don't ask them to write a sponsored post out of the good of their heart.  In fact, most bloggers will find this very insulting.

5. Let the blogger know how they can contact you regarding any questions they may have.  Make sure that you list all of your contact information so they can ask for clarification on anything regarding the sponsored post or collaboration.  Most bloggers do want to contact a business back and speak with them prior to accepting a pitch.

Just know that some bloggers may negotiate with you regarding price if they think that your asking price is too low.  This is why it's essential to figure out what the maximum you're willing to pay would be.  Be open to negotiating because bloggers know what their time is worth and all bloggers charge different rates.  If a blogger doesn't get back to you within two weeks it's okay to send a follow-up email.  Bloggers are usually busy and replying to you may have slipped their mind.  Be kind and polite in your follow up email and don't seem like you're pressuring the blogger to make a decision right then and there. 

If you need assistance with writing pitch emails, contact Infopoint Virtual Solutions for a free discovery call.  We can most definitely help you write a powerful pitch that will get seen and responded to by a blogger!  Let's talk!

 

How a Virtual Assistant Can Save You Money

Virtual AssistantKristin RumianComment
how hiring a virtual assistant can save you money

Virtual assistants are independent contractors who work for businesses virtually from their own home office.  They handle a variety of administrative, financial, social media, marketing and other tasks that businesses can delegate to them in order to free up some time.  What most businesses don't realize is that they can save thousands of dollars per year by hiring a virtual assistant instead of hiring an in-house employee.  These savings can equal an upwards of $24,000 per year, which is huge!

Virtual assistants don't require space in your office

Since virtual assistants work remotely from their own home office there is no overhead for you to hire them.  They have their own equipment, their own supplies, and their own tools.  You don't have to take up any additional desks in your office as you would if you had to hire an in-house employee.    

Virtual assistants only charge for time actually worked

Virtual assistants use various time tracking tools to track the time they spend working on a project.  Each week or month, depending on your preference, they will send you an itemized list of their time so you are able to see what you're spending your money on.  Since virtual assistants track their own time and are professionals who do this for a living, you don't have to pay for lunches, smoke breaks or personal calls or time spent surfing the web and not focusing on work.  Let's be honest, all employees spend time on nonsense every once in a while and you're paying for that time.  

You don't have to pay benefits or costs for onboarding

Since virtual assistants are independent contractors you don't have to pay onboarding costs or benefits.  VAs pay for their own insurance, their own courses, and their own training, you don't have to put in any more effort unless you have to train a VA on a program that your business uses.  

No extra expenses

You don't have to pay a VA for vacation or sick pay, you don't have to give them bonuses like you would a regular employee and there's no missed work due to inclement weather.  Virtual assistants will work even in a blizzard since there's no need for them to transport themselves to a job.  You can rest easy knowing that your work will get done no matter what! 

Hiring a Virtual Assistant is actually one of the smartest things that you can do for your business.  Let's chat and see how Infopoint Virtual Solutions can help your business!  You can click here to schedule a free discovery call/consultation and we can talk about the options to free up some of your time!

 

Tasks that Writers Can Outsource to a Virtual Assistant

Virtual AssistantKristin RumianComment
8 tasks that writers can outsource to a virtual assistant

Whether you're a professional writer, content creator or a business who writes their own blogs you will probably find that you don't have time to combat all of the everyday functions of writing.  A virtual assistant can help to ease the burden by taking care of essential tasks that you may not have the time for or desire to do on your own.  Instead of half-assing a project, you can ensure that you have all of the information you need to create amazing content and to get it out there to your audience.  Here are ways a virtual assistant can help with your writing:

Researching Topics

Who has time for researching topics while you're a busy entrepreneur?  Although researching is a long and sometimes tiring process it's still essential to your business and writing.  Instead of having to do hours of research on your own, your virtual assistant can handle that aspect for you.  Your VA can take on the task of researching any topics that you provide and send you an email, document or spreadsheet with their findings on your topic.  This will help you to get your writing done quickly and easily without the burden of finding the information yourself.

Creating an Editorial Calendar

Every business and writer should have an editorial calendar.  Whether this is for blog writing, article writing or planning your creative writing, you should know what you have to do each day in order to get to a final and finished product.  Your VA can help you to create an editorial calendar from any topics or deadlines that you may have!  We'll take on the administrative planning and you can focus on using that editorial calendar to pump out great content!

Assisting with Keyword Research

If you're writing to publish on the internet keywords and SEO are extremely important.  While you may not know what keywords may be the best for your content your virtual assistant will know exactly what to research and will send you a list of effective keywords for your content.  Most virtual assistants are experts in optimization and while you can write your content, we can make sure that content is found amongst all of the others on the internet.  

Correspondence & Email Management

Email management is important for every business and every industry and I can't stress enough how important it is for you to delegate this to your virtual assistant.  A virtual assistant is experienced in inbox management and organization and we can shave hours off of your day by taking care of this for you.  We can ensure that you see any important emails that may come through and weed out the rest.  We can even take care of correspondence for you so you don't have to compose an effective email while taking care of many other business functions throughout your day. 

Proofreading

It's suggested that you proofread a post yourself and have someone else proofread it for you once you're done writing.  To be honest, you can't have enough people to proofread a post, make sure it flows, make sure it's error free, etc...  Your VA, who is also a content specialist, will look over your post to make sure everything is ready for publishing.  If we catch any errors or feel that the flow of the post isn't  up to par, we will make suggestions or let you know what should be changed.  Having a second set of eyes on your writing will help to ensure that your writing is the best quality and ready to be published. 

Sending Drafts

Do you need to send a draft to a publishing company, client, etc...?  This can be a task that you may overlook or not necessarily have time to do on your own.  Your VA can handle this for you to ensure that those drafts get to the right people on time.  We want to make sure that all of your deadlines are met and we will do everything in our power to help you out with those time-based tasks!

Social Media Management

Social media is essential to your business but not something that you'll always have time for.  We can help to upkeep your social media, schedule your posts, keep your audience engaged and manage all functions of social media for you.  This is something we enjoy and are very experienced with, so let us take on the task!  We know how to market your content and your business so that you actually see a return on your investment.

Are you a writer who needs help with your business?  Infopoint Virtual Solutions can definitely help!  We've worked with many writers and content creators to make their business easier.  You can schedule a free discovery call and we will work together to free up some of your time!

How a Virtual Assistant Can Help You With and During Travel

Virtual AssistantKristin RumianComment
how a virtual assistant can help you with travel

One thing that a virtual assistant can do for your business is to manage your travel but that's not all.  What about your clients or customers while you travel?  Sure you may have every intention of working while traveling but traveling is tiring, especially if you are going somewhere where there is a change in time.  What if there's a delay?  I guarantee you the last thing you'll want to do when you finally get to your destination is work.  Having a virtual assistant can definitely come in handy during times of traveling and I'll give you some main reasons why.

Travel Research

Whether you're traveling for personal or business, there is so much that goes into the planning phase of traveling.  Primarily, you have to research different accommodations in order to make an educated decision about your bookings.  Trying to find the best value for flights, hotels, rental cars, restaurants or things to do when you get there, etc...  It's very involved.  While we all love to travel sometimes we don't exactly enjoy researching and planning in order to get there.

A virtual assistant can take on that travel research for you.  We can find the best prices for any accommodations you may need and can also research things to do when you get to your destination.  We can take away that frustration in order to give you the best options for your travel so that you can choose what works for you.  

Putting Together an Itinerary

Okay, so your travel is completely booked and you're a few weeks out from your trip.  Traveling can be confusing and if you're traveling for business you may have many things to do upon reaching your destination.  Your VA can put together a detailed itinerary for you from any business emails you receive regarding your trip so the only thing you need to do is show up.  This can free up hours from your travel planning and allow you to relax leading up to and during your trip. 

Rescheduling or Changing Plans

If an emergency arises and you have to reschedule or change your plans it's a very involved process that no one wants to do.  Your virtual assistant can hop right on this and reschedule or change your plans for you.  Your VA will sit on the phone with your airline or hotel so you don't have to listen to that elevator music for hours.  

Now, how can a Virtual Assistant help with your business during travel?

Social Media Upkeep

Even when you're traveling you still need to upkeep your social media.  Sure you can schedule and automate your content postings while you're away but what about customer/client engagement?  It's just as important to keep the lines of communication open on social media as it is to keep up your marketing efforts while traveling.  Your virtual assistant can keep an eye on your social media to answer any customer inquiries, concerns, mentions, etc...  We can keep the engagement going when you're away so you don't have to focus on social media while you're gone.

Email Management

Organizing and managing your inbox is tiring and frustrating on a normal business day and especially tiring and frustrating during times of travel.  Let your virtual assistant manage your inbox for you so you don't have to go through tons of junk mail and newsletters while traveling in order to find those important email updates.  We can organize and categorize your mail for you including letting you know of any important or time-sensitive emails that may arrive. This will reduce your stress during travel and allow you to enjoy your trip

Appointment Setting

Just because you're away doesn't mean that your entire business halts for the time you're away.  You'll still receive emails regarding future appointment requests that should be taken care of immediately.  Your virtual assistant can manage and set those appointments for you when you're away so you don't have any missed opportunities.  

Call Forwarding

Taking sales and customer/client calls while away can be very important for your business but not always something that you want to do.  While you're away forward your customer service line to your VA.  They will take care of those calls, continue assisting with sales and keep up your customer engagement and satisfaction even when you're away.  

Expenses

Every business has many different expenses when they travel and when they get back from their trip they usually spend hours going through and categorizing receipts.  Who wants to do that when they return from a trip!?  Instead of going through your receipts on your own your VA will do that for you!  What I usually suggest to my clients is snapping a photo of a receipt when they get back to the hotel for the night.  Your VA will then organize and categorize those expenses into your bookkeeping program so you don't have to do it yourself.  

As you can see, a VA is extremely helpful during times of travel for business or leisure.  We can help make your trip smooth, seamless and relaxing so you don't have to concentrate on keeping your business going and customers happy while away. 

Do you need help with travel or any other part of your business functions?  Infopoint Virtual Solutions can help to make your business easier to manage!  Contact us today for a free discovery call and we can work together to come up with a plan for your business!  

 

Why I Would Make a Great Virtual Assistant for Your Company

Virtual AssistantKristin RumianComment
why im a great virtual assistant

While I don’t like to toot my own horn or shine the spotlight on myself I do feel like I should write a post about myself and my abilities.  I write so many posts about why you should delegate tasks as a business owner and how important a virtual assistant is to your business but what do you know about me exactly?  Not too much!  

I started my virtual assistant business back in 2007 when my eyes were opened to the industry.  In 2007 there weren’t too many virtual assistants and the industry was still growing, business owners were just learning about the advantages of hiring a VA and in-house employees were still the way to go.  Many business owners laughed at the idea of outsourcing tasks and projects to an independent contractor and in a way I understood.  People are frequently apprehensive about the unknown and things that are new but little did I know that the VA world would turn into such a wonderful place.  

While I worked my business on the side I worked as a Social Media Strategist and SEO Professional for a few different companies including LexisNexis and AdvanStar Communications.  I learned a lot more about the world of social media and optimization and soon excelled in my position.  I worked out of the house in social media and SEO for 3 years until I realized that my VA business was growing by leaps and bounds and made the difficult decision to leave the workforce to take on a job becoming my own boss full time.  It was one of the most difficult decisions that I ever made but I’ve always been a go-getter, I like to take risks in order to gain a reward and this was a risk I was willing to take.  

Having eleven years of experience as a virtual assistant has taught me so many important lessons and given me a sense of pride at what I’ve grown for myself.  I’m passionate about what I do and I love every minute of working with my clients.  

So why exactly should you choose me?

1. Passion and Dedication

I absolutely love what I do and am fully dedicated to my job, my business and my clients.  I love working to help make businesses flow easier and love the fact that I can free up more time for the clients that I work with.  Most clients are stressed beyond belief when they first contact me and I’m happy that I can ease that stress for them by taking on some tasks that have been cluttering their everyday schedule.  Helping others is my absolute passion.

2. Learning New Industries

I’ve worked with many different professionals in the past from bloggers to lawyers to doctors to real estate companies.  When starting with those clients I knew little to nothing about their industries but I did my homework.  I researched everything I could about those industries and became extremely knowledgeable so I could help them with what they needed help with.  I became so familiar with those industries that I was able to get those tasks and projects done quickly, efficiently and with excellent feedback.  One thing I can say about myself is that I absolutely love learning and researching.  

3. Organization

I am an organization freak and anyone in my family can tell you that as fact.  I work with three different planners and have everything organized in detailed folders on my external hard drive, Google Docs, Dropbox, phone, etc…  Some say it’s a problem that I’m so organized but I feel that the extent to which I am organized is necessary for the industry that I work in.  Organization is key to successfully managing clients and getting work done and I think that’s one of my glowing qualities.  

Extensive Skills

I have many past positions that have given me many skills that I use today in my business.  In the past, I have worked as an office manager, SEO professional, and social media strategist.  All of these positions have given me skills that I can continue to grow as I progress in my business.  All of my administrative skills have come from my years as an office manager and my social media/SEO skills have come from my years working with LexisNexis and Advanstar Communications.  I have a 30-40% conversion rate on social media and internet marketing and have amazing success with optimizing social media networks and websites.  

Infopoint Virtual Solutions mission is to:

  • Save your business money since hiring a VA will cut out costs of overhead, paying for time employees don’t put their all into working, paid lunches and benefits.

  • Work on the highest level of professionalism with our clients and offering grade A customer service.

  • Providing you with an extensive skill set and familiarity in many different industries since we have been in business for eleven years.  We’ve worked with many different clients over these wonderful eleven years of business.

  • Develop a great working relationship with our clients and build their trust as a valuable asset to their team and business.

When I first started this business I had no idea that eleven years later I would still be able to help businesses with their productivity and social media presence.  My driving force is when I see clients satisfied with my assistance and when they have less stress due to finally being able to delegate tasks.  

If you are struggling in your business and are thinking about hiring a virtual assistant, schedule a free discovery call with Infopoint Virtual Solutions.  Together we can work out a plan that best suits you and your business so we can relieve that stress and start delegating together!

6 Qualities of a Great Virtual Assistant - What You Should Look for Before Hiring

Virtual AssistantKristin RumianComment
qualities of a great virtual assistant.png

A virtual assistant is one of the best investments an entrepreneur can make for their business productivity and everyday tasks.  Due to many factors such as no overhead, only paying for actual productive time and no benefits, a business will save thousands of dollars a year utilizing a VA instead of hiring a full-time, in-house employee.  We are basically a second set of hands for your business that will get those mundane but important everyday tasks done quickly and professionally so you can focus on what matters most in your business.  The only question most business owners have is; “How do I know what to look for in a Virtual Assistant?”

Reliability

You want and need a VA that you can rely on.  You have enough going on in your business, you don’t need to be checking up on them hour after hour to ensure that your tasks get done on time.  Make absolutely sure that your VA can handle your task load, ask them their current turnaround time and make sure they can get your tasks done by the due date.  You need a VA that can take your task and run with it by themselves, someone who is independent and can work quickly and efficiently on their own.

Resourcefulness

Your VA should be able to find answers to simple questions on their own without having to contact you constantly.  While communication is important, you don’t want someone who is going to be asking you to constantly clarify technical words or directions.  Your VA should be able to conduct research on their own if they don’t understand something and only come to you if they have a specific question about a task or project.  

Confidence

This may seem like a hard one to figure out but you will know if your VA is confident in themselves by the first meeting.  They will project confidence by:

  • Sounding confident about their skills

  • Sounding confident that they can help you with your tasks

  • Knowing what they’re talking about when they are speaking with you

Are they confident in their knowledge of your industry? Task? Project?  If your Virtual Assistant isn’t too knowledgeable about your industry, ask if they will do research before beginning their work with you.  A good VA wants to learn more about different industries and will do extensive industry research before starting on a contract with a new client.  

If you feel like your VA is unsure of themselves, they may not be the best fit for you and that’s completely okay.  There is a VA for everyone and you’ll just have to shop around a little more.  

Enthusiasm

When you speak to a VA on their discovery call you should feel like they’re extremely enthusiastic and passionate about what they do.  After all, we become Virtual Assistants because we love to help others and want to help others.  You don’t want to hire a VA that sounds frustrated and like they’re obligated to help you just because they want a client, they won’t produce the best work.  Virtual Assistants who are enthusiastic and love what they do perform at an exceptionally high level on a daily basis for their clients and they’re proud of their work.  

Organization/Multi-Tasking

Two other qualities that a Virtual Assistant should possess is the organization and the ability to multi-task.  When you're a VA you will have multiple projects going at once and it's essential that a VA keep those tasks and projects organized and be able to work on more than one at once while still keeping quality and professionalism at a very high level.  To find out if your VA is organized, ask them their organization methods; ask them if they're able to multi-task and how their workflow currently is. 

Professionalism

A professional VA knows how to get the work done properly and knows that they need to get the work done in a timely manner.  You can definitely sense a VA’s professionalism by the first impression they make when they speak to you.  Do they sound professional?  Do they ask about your business as well as telling you about theirs?  Are their contracts and information sheets branded to their business?  

Every Virtual Assistant is different and every one of us handles tasks and clients differently but these are the main qualities that you should look for in a VA.  Just remember that some VAs are just starting out and may not have the strong branding but do have amazing skills and knowledge that can take your productivity to a higher level.  You have to go with your instincts and do what feels right for yourself and your business.

Infopoint Virtual has all of the above qualities as well as a high level of professionalism.  We have been in this industry for over 10 years and have helped many businesses reach their full potential of productivity.  If you’re interested in speaking with us regarding your business tasks, please schedule a free discovery call.  Together we can find the best path to get your tasks done right!

7 Best Practices for Working With a Virtual Assistant

Tips & TricksKristin RumianComment
best practices for working with a virtual assistant

Virtual Assistants are a valuable investment for any busy business owner who needs an extra set of hands.  A Virtual Assistant can be a huge asset to your company by taking on more time consuming and mundane tasks that you don't have the time to handle yourself.  Our job is to help your business stress less, get more done and succeed!  Here are 7 best practices for working with your Virtual Assistant. 

Let Go of Your Negative Mindset

No business owner wants to admit that they need more help in their business, I completely understand that, but sometimes you need to ask for help from a Virtual Assistant.  The main tip that I have for you is to let go of your negative mindset.  Asking for help is not at all admitting defeat, asking for help is actually a very smart move in your business and can definitely maximize your productivity.  You're only one person and each member of your company has their own important tasks to complete, they shouldn't have to take on more than their job description entails.  A Virtual Assistant will proactively take on those tasks that you need to delegate and they will help you get them done in a very timely and professional manner.  A Virtual Assistant will never think of you negatively, we're here to help - it's our job!

 

Be Detailed

When working with a Virtual Assistant it's very important to be as detailed as possible with any project or task that you delegate to them.  If you know exactly what you want you should communicate that to your VA and they will be happy to comply.  If you don't know exactly what you want, ask your VA for input.  They will be happy to have a brainstorming session with you to come up with the best plan for your task or project.  

 

Know What You Want to Delegate

Once you have a discovery call with your VA you should make a list of tasks or projects that you want to delegate to your assistant.  You want to ensure that your VA can handle the tasks, that they know how to handle the tasks and you want to make them aware of the workload.  Depending on the VA's pricing model, this may also help them to determine a price for you.  Knowing exactly what you want to delegate and communicating that to your VA will make the process go smoother and they will be able to get started on your work as soon as they get the list!

 

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is key when working with your Virtual Assistant.  There is no such thing as too much communication between a VA and a business owner.  You can check up on your project as much as you'd like, you can send updates that you might need and you can ask them for advice when you feel you need some advice.  Virtual Assistants are very open to communication and most use many different platforms for messaging their clients.  (Skype, Slack, IM, Text, Etc...)  Make sure you know what platform they use and get their messaging information before they start working with you.  That way, you will know the best way to contact them when you need to.

 

Avoid Micromanaging

Micromanaging is ok in a normal work environment but remember that your VA has their own business and is an independent contractor.  While you can communicate with your VA as much as you'd like, many VAs do not like micromanaging.  We completely understand that you want your work done a certain way and we are happy to do the work however you'd like, but we are professionals and very skilled at what we do.  We will definitely make sure that your work is done to your standards and very professionally.  If you have any concerns once a project is done, voice them to your assistant and he/she will be happy to tweak whatever you feel needs to be tweaked.  

 

Treat Your VA as a Team Member

Even though your VA is an independent contractor it's important to have a good working relationship with your VA and treat them as a valuable part of your company.  After all, your VA is helping to make your life and business easier by taking on tasks that you want to delegate to them.  Thank them as you would thank a regular team member and let them know how grateful you are to them for helping you out.  Most businesses are very thankful and sweet to their VAs, but this always should be said since there are some who treat their VAs as a few tiers lower than them. 

 

Understand Your VA’s Schedule

Most VAs have a different schedule than the normal 9-5 so make sure that you know your VAs schedule ahead of time.  Ask your VA if they accept after hour calls/texts and ask if they can work on emergency projects as they arise.  Make sure that their schedule flows with yours so you can work seamlessly together and get work done!  After all, that's why you're working with a Virtual Assistant, isn't it?

 

5 Business Networking Best Practices

Get More BusinessKristin RumianComment
5 business networking best practices

Networking events can be nerve-wracking, tiring, frustrating and boring.  You may get tired of repeating your elevator pitch over and over and handing out business cards may make your arm hurt.  Even though you may dislike networking events they can be very valuable to your business and getting new business if you know how to network properly.  There are a few best practices that I feel are very important to a successful networking event and I'd like to share them with you.

Introduce Yourself

It may sound funny that I added this to the best practices list but it's extremely important.  I've attended many networking events where I saw business owners just standing there, shy, not knowing what to do.  I can also be shy and occasionally I can have some social anxiety at networking events but it's important that you step out of your comfort zone.  If you stand in a corner and don't talk to anyone, what good is a networking event going to do you?

Become Friends & Build Trust

Networking events are usually professional atmospheres with many business owners exchanging business cards, pitching their business, etc...  Most conversations stay strictly professional and end with another business card for your collection.  Would you trust someone you just met and don't know very well?  I wouldn't.  If that person didn't make an impact on me I probably will forget about them and their business shortly after putting that business card in my pocket.  It's important to leave a lasting impression when you are networking and one way to do that is building rapport and becoming friendly with the other business owner.  If you trust someone you're much more inclined to think of them first when a business need arises.

Social Networking Daily

Again, this may sound silly but some people don't think of social networking as networking.  Social networking is just as important, if not more important, than actual face-to-face networking.  Facebook is a great tool for social networking because you can join groups related to your industry or just general entrepreneurs.  Within these groups you can showcase your knowledge and expertise by answering questions, starting conversations or even potentially finding clients through those groups.  This is a great option for someone who is shy or who struggles with social anxiety.  I like to suggest to spend a minimum of 45 minutes a day networking on social platforms.  This might sound like a large part of the day to a busy entrepreneur but that 45 minutes could translate to a long-term client.  

Ditch the Sales Pitch

You have five seconds to get the attention of someone you're speaking to at a networking event so why don't you make that first impression a lasting one?  Everyone and their uncle has their elevator pitch ready to go when they step into a networking event and most of them sound robotic, practiced and too professional for my taste.  When I meet someone at a networking event I don't want them to immediately try to sell their product or business to me because I might not need it at that exact moment.  I would rather the person describe who they are and what they do in a more personal manner.  Try to warm up your elevator pitch by being more friendly and less sales-y.

Be Enthusiastic About Your Industry

You don't want to sound like your boss forced you to attend the networking event by promising you a free cup of coffee the next day, yet many people do seem like they were forced to go.  I know business can be draining and networking events can be repetitive but be enthusiastic about what you do.  Sound excited and seem like you're really excited to tell the potential prospect about what you do and why you enjoy doing it.  If you're passionate about your industry your potential prospect will be more inclined to want to work with you in the future.  Those who are passionate about what they do will do work better than someone who works for the sake of working.  

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How to Use a Virtual Assistant to Manage Your Business

Virtual AssistantKristin RumianComment
how you can use a virtual assistant to manage your business

Did you know that hiring an employee for simple tasks can cost a business over $54,000 a year?  This accounts for the time that an employee is on lunch, messing around on their computer, taking personal calls and not really being present while at work.  Hiring an employee costs so much in wages, benefits, overhead and supplies -- it's insane!  

Hiring a Virtual Assistant will cost you approximately $28,000 a year depending on how many hours you need and what tasks you'd like them to do for you.  That's a huge $26,000 savings per year for your business.  The best part about hiring a Virtual Assistant?  You don't have to pay for overhead, you don't have to pay for sick days or benefits and you don't have to pay for supplies.  All you pay for is the hours that the Virtual Assistant actively does work for you!

We work closely with you to ensure that you have the best experience with your Virtual Assistant and we make sure that your tasks are done quickly, efficiently and correctly!  We can cut hours from your work week and give you the freedom to spend time with your family, relaxing or taking care of essential business functions.  When you hire a Virtual Assistant you can rest easy knowing that your tasks are being taken care of.  

So how can you use a Virtual Assistant to help manage your business? Here are just a few tasks that we can handle for you however there are many more tasks besides the following that we can take on.  

Financial Tasks

Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping is a painstaking and tedious task for any business and hiring a bookkeeper could cost a business thousands of dollars.  A Virtual Assistant who is well versed in bookkeeping can help you to take care of these tasks just as a bookkeeper could but, in the long run, you will save money with a VA. 

A Virtual Assistant can help you:

  • Categorize daily expenses into labels and an easy-to-read format
  • Pay bills on time so you can keep your business running smoothly
  • Collect payments from clients
  • Keep track of your revenue that is coming in versus going out
  • Run weekly reports to let you know where your hard earned money is going
  • End of the month reconciliation - so you can make sure all of your books are up to date and organized!  We even send reports at the end of the month reviewing the month financially so you have a clear picture of your income and expenses.

 

Creating & Sending Invoices

Every service based business needs to create, send and keep track of invoices but sometimes this can be a nagging task that you don't personally want to do.  A Virtual Assistant can take charge and get this done for you in half the time!  We can create invoices for your clients, send the invoices and make sure those invoices get paid.  If they don't get paid within a certain amount of time we will be proactive and send a reminder e-mail and second invoice if necessary.  Let us chase down your client for their payment so you don't have to!


Onboarding

Interviewing

Interviewing potential employees can be something that most employers dread doing, trust me -- I've been there!  A Virtual Assistant can help with interviewing potential candidates over the phone or on Skype to weed out the candidates that may not be qualified enough for the position.  Why waste your time interviewing candidates that might not be a good fit for your company?  Let us do the hard work for you!

New Hire Information

Once you hire a new employee there are many forms and information packets that need to be sent out.  You run a busy business and shouldn't have to do that all on your own.  A Virtual Assistant can send any pertinent new hire information or forms out for you so you don't have to take time out of your busy job to do the smaller tasks.  We also will collect the forms from your new hires and either send them directly to you or file them in the cloud or collaboration tool. 

Employee Management

Keeping track of employee information is essential but sometimes difficult.  Since you have many other day-to-day tasks, information changes, new hires or those leaving your business may get lost in the shuffle of the other information you need to keep track of.  A Virtual Assistant can easily and quickly manage your employee database and information for you so you can ensure that everything is kept up to date.  


Social Media

Social Media Creation & Management

Social media is an essential part of marketing your business but it could also be a task that could slip through the cracks when you have so much else on your plate.  A Virtual Assistant can create, optimize and maintain your social media presence and networks on a daily basis -- it's our specialty!  We can ensure that your brand stays consistent and relevant on social media and can ensure that you're marketing to the right people!  We do extensive keyword research to make sure that we are using the best keywords and hashtags to market your business and have you be seen.  

Social Media Graphics

Did you know that social media posts with photos or graphics are more likely seen over a text post?  Most people are very visual and are attracted to anything that has a visual aspect to it so adding a photo or graphic to your social media posts every so often is important.  A Virtual Assistant can create customized graphics for your business and post them to your social media platforms for you!

Follower Engagement

Clients and customers want to know that there is a person behind your business or brand and engaging with your followers is the best way to do this!  A Virtual Assistant can assist with answering questions, initiating engagement and replying to relevant posts for you.  We can start a conversation or keep a conversation going to attract potential leads into your business!  Engaging with your audience is essential to social media marketing, let us do it for you!

Social Media Strategy

Does your business have a marketing plan?  What about a social media marketing plan or strategy?  If you don't have a marketing plan, social media marketing plan/strategy or think yours could use some revamping, contact us!  We can most definitely help you with planning out a social media strategy that will attract followers, attract potential leads and give you a great return on your investment.  We've worked with some high-name businesses in the past and our social media strategies have converted 30-40% of followers into paying customers or clients.  We have a great track record with conversions and social media success!

Social Media Reports

At the end of the month it's important to run a social media report to see how your efforts are paying off.  This can be something that business owners don't exactly know how to do or don't even have the time to do.  A Virtual Assistant can run those reports for you, compile them in an easy to understand e-mail for you and we can also compare the current month to the previous month.  This way, you will see how your social media efforts are paying off and we can see if there is anything that needs to be tweaked or changed in our strategy for your success!

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a great way to attract potential clients or customers to your FB page or website.  A Virtual Assistant (like Infopoint Virtual) will be able to create a great, eye catching ad that will draw those potential leads into your business.  We will make sure that your ad is hitting the right demographic and is optimized enough to be seen by the right people. 


Content Management

Blog Posts

Every business needs a blog.  That's definitely one of the most important things that I tell each and every one of my clients.  One of the most common things I hear from clients is, "I don't have time to create content for a blog."  Well, that's where a Virtual Assistant comes in!  Virtual Assistants can create relevant, informative and entertaining posts for your blog so you can stay consistent.  We can compile a list of blog post ideas for you, we can research the topics at hand and create content that will wow your audience.  

Content Marketing & Optimization

If you already have blog posts but aren't getting the visibility you'd like, chances are your posts aren't optimized correctly to be seen in the search results.  A Virtual Assistant can review your content and optimize the heck out of it so your post will be picked up in the search results.  This will allow more people to see your blog posts, learn more about your brand and potentially turn into paying customers.  Optimization is our specialty!


Organizational Tasks

Calendar Management

Who has time to manage their calendar when they have other important tasks to take care of?  This is one of the most common things I see amongst clients that I work with.  They don't have time to continue to manage their calendar and it gets pushed aside.  The worst thing that could happen is forgetting to record an appointment on your calendar or recording your appointment on the wrong day/time.  It happens more frequently than you'd like to think!  Don't let this happen to you and delegate your calendar management to a Virtual Assistant.  A Virtual Assistant can set appointments for you, reschedule appointments for you and ensure that your calendar is up to date.  We can also e-mail or text you an upcoming appointment reminder so you never miss an appointment again!

E-Mail Management

Ugh, e-mail...We get thousands of e-mails everyday whether it be an advertisement, newsletter, invoice, client e-mail, customer service e-mail or order confirmation.  There are so many e-mails that clog up our inbox on the daily that sometimes we miss important e-mails that we need to address.  Don't let this happen to you!  A Virtual Assistant can take control of your e-mail inbox so you will be able to see the most important e-mails.  We specialize in inbox organization and making sure that you don't have to delete those pesky unimportant e-mails on your own.  Did you know that on the average we spend 2-3 hours a day in our inbox?  We can cut that more than in half so you only have to spend time on the e-mails that are most important to you and your business.

Managing Customer Database

Just like managing an employee database, managing your customer database is equally important.  You want to ensure that all of their information is up to date and that's where we come in!  A Virtual Assistant can help to manage your entire customer database so you can rest easy knowing that all of the information and notes in your database are current and completely up to date! 

The tasks above aren't all of the tasks that a Virtual Assistant can handle to manage your business and keep you organized.  We can do a multitude of tasks that aren't even listed above.  If you need help in your business and want to hire a Virtual Assistant please schedule a free consultation call with Infopoint Virtual.  We can help you keep your business organized and take on those tasks that you just don't have the time for!

Essential Online Tools for Business Productivity

Business ProductivityKristin RumianComment
essential online tools.png

Every business owner searches for their holy grail online business tools to maximize their productivity and make their business easier but it's so difficult with all of the apps and tools out there.  Through the 10 years that I have been in business, I've found many different tools that are essential to my business, my workflow and my ultimate productivity.

Skype

Skype is one of the main tools that I use to communicate with my team.  I hold video and audio meetings with my clients and team over Skype and find this online communication tool one of the most valuable tools that I could possibly have on all of my devices.  With Skype you can not only have video and audio meetings but also share your screen so your clients or team can see a presentation or for training purposes.  


Trello

I cannot say enough about how Trello has helped me with my personal and business productivity.  Trello is one of those must have tools for any business owner because it's so versatile and a completely blank slate for anything that you want to use it for.  I mainly use it for planning get togethers, to-do lists, my editorial calendar, workflows, business documents/functions, etc... 

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The above is a small snapshot of just one section of my Trello boards, trust me, there are more boards if you scroll down.  As you can clearly see, I use this tool for absolutely everything and I don't think I would be able to live without it.  To me, Trello is one of those holy grail business tools that make such a difference in my organization and productivity.  I definitely suggest you try it!


Evernote

This is another one of those holy grail business tools that I feel make such a difference in my organization and productivity. I mainly use Evernote for a ongoing working to-do list, daily to-do list, I forward all of my important e-mails to Evernote so I can organize them, financial and receipt organization, etc...  Evernote is my receptacle for anything important that I need to save in order to pull back up at a later date.  I actually wrote a blog post about Evernote the other day and explained the features and possibilities of how you can use this tool. 

evernote

I definitely suggest that you try Evernote if you haven't yet.  There is so much that you can do with this tool and I promise it will make a huge difference in your business.


Omnifocus

Omnifocus is an app that I just started using and absolutely love.  It does cost $39.99 for the desktop version for iMacs but the iPhone and iPad apps are completely free. (Though they do have in-app purchases.)  

Omnifocus is basically a productivity tool for task and project management.  I tried many other task and project management tools in the past (I used to use Asana) but I soon switched to Omnifocus after using it for just a week to try it out.  I love the ease of use, I love that you can see the progress you're making on a project and I love that you can put tasks into the Inbox to sort out at a later time when you're processing your Inboxes.  This app is really one that I don't think I can live without and will continue using for a very long time.  If you're looking for a new task or project management app, I think you should definitely try Omnifocus.


ConvertKit

ConvertKit is a great tool for e-mail marketing and is feature packed.  ConvertKit costs anywhere from $29.00 a month to $79.00 a month depending on how many subscribers you currently have, which I think is very reasonable for a great e-mail marketing tool.  This saves me a lot of time because you can automate sequences, schedule e-mails to go out, attach files that you want to send to your subscribers, create forms, etc..  


Canva

This is the holy grail of online photo editing and graphic creation.  I use Canva for absolutely everything and have kicked Photoshop to the curb for simple graphics that I need to create quickly and easily.  Canva has really outdone themselves with their features, ease of use and pre-created templates if you aren't too graphics savvy.  

You can use Canva for free but you can upgrade to Canva For Work ($9.95 a month) that includes team collaboration, importing your brand colors, logo, font, etc... and many other features that are very essential to business owners who create graphics for their business, clients or blogs.  


Hootsuite & Buffer

Hootsuite and Buffer are two of the best social media automation tools that you could possibly use.  I used to use Hootsuite but I switched to Buffer just because of personal preference, honestly.  With Hootsuite & Buffer you can schedule your social media posts, track analytics and make your social media marketing 100% easier.  Personally, I love automation and I jump at the chance to automate anything that I possibly can. 

Both apps are generally free for a small amount of connected social media accounts.  If you want to connect more than the allotted amount of accounts you will need to upgrade for a minimal monthly payment.  These two apps are extremely affordable, very reliable and automation tools that I couldn't live without.


Calendly

I found out about Calendly from a client and have been using it ever since.  Prior to using Calendly I was using another scheduling app that I wasn't too much a fan of.  Calendly allows you to integrate with your Google or Apple calendar for ultimate organization and productivity.  It also allows clients to schedule blocks of time for meetings, consultations, etc...  This is a great tool that I highly suggest if you're looking for a new scheduling tool for your business!

The Guide to Using Evernote for Business Organization

Tips & TricksKristin RumianComment
The Guide to Using.png

I'm sure everyone has heard of Evernote, especially if you have a business, but do you know what it is and just how powerful of a tool Evernote can be for your business?  I have been using Evernote for years to organize my life and my business, it's really made a huge difference in my productivity and organization.  Many business owners have been singing the praises of Evernote for many years and I'll show you just how you can put this tool to use for your business and life. 

The Fundamentals of Evernote

Stacks & Notebooks

In Evernote, stacks are where you keep your collection of notebooks within a category.  Think of a stack as a shelf in a bookcase that holds a certain category of books.  Take the below for example.  In this example "Recipes" is the stack and the items below that are the notebooks.

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Notes

Notes are exactly what they sound like, they're notes that are within the notebooks.  Evernote now has a feature that organizes your notebooks alphabetically so they're easier to find if you are browsing through and know what letter your note begins with.  Take the below for example.  These are the notes within the "Breakfast Recipes" notebook, notice how the notes are categorized within the notebook by letter.  

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Tags

Tags are ways that you can find notes quickly and easily by searching on Evernote.  You simply create a tag and organize your notes by tagging them with the appropriate tag.  This will make them searchable so you can quickly find them when you're looking for them.  These are some of my tags, excuse the fact that I haven't finished tagging all of my notes as of yet

If you notice, some of the tags have a number and arrow next to them...the arrows will then take you to sub-tags that are categorized under that particular tag to organize them even further.  I find this feature of Evernote to be one of my favorite features.  The tags and sub-tags make my life and business 100% easier and allows me to find exactly what I'm looking for within seconds.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 10.30.36 PM.png

Organization

To be honest, everyone has their own system of organizing but I will let you in on my Evernote organization secrets.  

The first thing I suggest doing before even jumping into Evernote is to write down the main categories that you want to organize in your business, these will turn into the main stacks that you are going to add first. Once you write down the main stacks that you want to organize, you can go ahead and create those so you can further organize.

The second thing I suggest doing would be to take each stack and brainstorm notebooks that you would want to keep under it.  These would be anything that would be branches of the main category.

Tip:

I would highly suggest making the following notebooks:

  • #Inbox - This notebook would be where you put all notes that you haven't yet categorized.  Every business owner is incredibly busy and on occasion, you have just a few seconds to write a note.  This will where you will come first when you have the time to organize your notes into the appropriate notebooks.  I use the "hashtag" in front of Inbox so that this stays on the top of your list of notebooks for easy access.  
  • To-Do - This notebook would be where you dump your running to-do lists.  Every business owner has many, many to-do's and categorizing them into running to-do lists on Evernote has been such a Godsend for me.  I can easily find my to-do lists because they're all in one easy-to-find place and from there I know what I have to do every day, every week or every month.  

What Else Can Evernote Be Used For?

Receipts

Organizing receipts with Evernote is incredibly easy.  I use Evernote to organize my business and personal receipts so I can easily find them and pull them up if I need to reference them or use them for tax purposes.  I simply take a photo of the receipt (or you can scan it) and I import it into Evernote.  I tag the receipt with the appropriate tags and voila! Organization.  If you have a place that you frequent more than others, I make that place into a notebook and organize my receipts under that particular store.  This makes it even easier to find the receipt that you are looking for.  

Tip:

When tagging a receipt I do use the date of purchase as one of the tags.  That way, you can easily find the particular receipt if you can remember the date of the purchase.  I use this if I have to find the receipt for returns or if I need to send this receipt to a client or associate.

Voice Recordings/Notes

Evernote allows you to create voice recordings or voice notes within the app.  This is great if you're on the go, don't have time and need to create a note or a reminder.  I use this frequently if I need to create a quick note or reminder to reference at a later time.  You can also add actual reminders to your reminder so you can be notified at a certain time. 

Filing Important Emails

I use this feature of Evernote every single day because it's such an important and useful feature to me.  Once you sign up for Evernote they will assign you an email address that you can use to send notes or forwarding e-mails.  Once you send anything to this particular email address it will automatically send it to your Evernote account.  I use this to save important emails that I will want or need to reference later.  

Tip:

You can send a particular note or e-mail to a certain notebook by using the @ sign.  You would simply type @_________ and after the symbol, you would type the name of the notebook that you want it sent to.  If you don't type the @________ then your note or e-mail will be sent to any notebook that you set as primary.

If you want to tag a note or email that you are emailing to your Evernote email address you would use the # sign.  You would simply type #________ and after the symbol, you would type the tag or tags that you want on your note or email.

You can forego all of the above and categorize your notes/emails at a later time, but this will help you to quickly organize them on the spot and not have to worry about cleaning out your primary notebook at the end of the day.

 In Conclusion

I hope that this has helped you to understand the wonders of Evernote and what it can do for you and your business.  Go ahead and download Evernote on all of your devices (Yes, it's cross platform!) and start organizing!

How to Create a Marketing Plan for Your Business

MarketingKristin RumianComment
businessplan.png

I'm sure that every entrepreneur and small business has created a business plan for their business but what about a marketing plan?  A marketing plan is equally as essential as a business plan because it contains important strategic information about the business's marketing strategy. The entire focus of a marketing plan is how to continuously draw customers in, how to retain customers and how to market to those customers as well.  

Before you start writing your marketing plan you need a very clear idea of where you want your business to head.  You should take a look at your marketing options: Do you want to market mainly on social media or do you also want to market offline?  Do you have any funds in your budget for paid marketing or will you fully focus on free marketing tactics?  It's also important to know who you're marketing to so you'll be able to alter your marketing strategy to fit the customer and the platform on which you're marketing on.  You need to have clear business goals and objectives so you will know what goal you're working towards by marketing.  Sure writing a marketing plan sounds complicated but once you know what to include in your marketing plan it isn't as hard as it sounds.

What should you include in your marketing plan?

The Why? (Called the Executive Summary)

Why are you creating your business?  What's your mission?  What do you want to accomplish?  What main functions does your business do?

The Who? (Called Target Market Analysis or Summary)

Who are you marketing to? Who is your ideal customer for your business?  Who do you envision will buy your product or use your services?

Goals & Objectives

You need to be clear on your goals and objectives in your business.  What do you wish to ultimately accomplish?  Now break those down, what goals do you want to reach monthly?  Some people just list their yearly goals and objectives but personally, I feel that breaking them down further into monthly goals will help you stay motivated and on track with your business.  

Your Current Marketing Situation

This consists of a few things:

  • What platforms or forms of marketing are you currently using? How are those forms of marketing working for you?
  • What are you doing on those platforms to market? What is your promotional strategy?
  • What is your strategy to convert followers/fans into paying customers? How is that working for you? What is your basic conversion rate?

SWOT Analysis - Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

You would use your SWOT Analysis to outline your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, as it suggests.  I would suggest writing at about 3 bullet points under each of the categories but no more than 5.  You don't want this to get cluttered and hard to read and understand.  This section will help you to see what your strengths are, what you need to work on, any opportunities that you may have and any threats that you foresee possibly being an obstacle for you.  This is something you could look back on in a few months and see how things have changed for you and your business. 

Marketing Strategy

This section would outline how you plan to market your business in the coming months.  What are you planning on doing to better your marketing?  Be detailed and outline every strategy that you have worked out for your business.  This will help you in the future if you ever need to look back on it to see what your plan was.  

Marketing Budget

How much can your business realistically spend on marketing at this current time?  What about in 6 months? One year?  You can always alter this as time goes on but if you're just starting out in your business, chances are you won't have too much extra money to invest in marketing your business.  If you don't, don't worry!  That's what social media and internet marketing is for.  There are plenty of online venues where you can network and market your business online for free.  

Competitive Analysis

Most people list three major competitors and analyze what they are doing right in their business with their marketing efforts.  You can include a SWOT Analysis if you wish to do so, but that is not necessary.  You could basically list some bullet points of how they are marketing, what they're doing and how can you try to integrate some of their working tactics into your marketing.  You should definitely know the three major competitors who are selling a product or service that is identical or closely related to yours, even if they don't have the exact same ideal customer.

Action Items

Under this section, you would list the action items that you will need to accomplish in order to successfully market your business.  This could include: hiring a marketing manager, hiring a marketing expert, come up with a good call to action, optimize social media accounts, etc...  This will be specific to you, your business and the way that you are going to be marketing it.  Seeing these important action items will allow you to see what the most important tasks are that should be done first and foremost so you can get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Desired Results

Desired results would be an outline of how your ideal marketing efforts would go.  What results do you ultimately want out of your marketing efforts?  How do you foresee your marketing efforts impacting your business?  How long would you like to take to achieve those results, realistically?  There is a lot to think about and remember: This is just an outline and what you hope will happen.  Your marketing efforts could completely exceed any goals that you have set for yourself or it could fall short.  

If you would like an expert to help you write your marketing plan, please contact us for a free discovery call.  We would love to help you on your road to marketing success! 

How to Be Healthy When Working From Home

Work At HomeKristin RumianComment
how to stay healthy.png

Working from home and owning your own business is definitely a rewarding experience but staying healthy when you're working from your home office can be a challenge.  Between always sitting at your desk and being tempted by delicious foods in your kitchen, sometimes we have a hard time fighting temptation.  Here are some ways that you can be healthy while working from your home office.

Choose a Good Chair

If you work from home, odds are that you'll be sitting in your desk chair a lot and for long periods of time.  Sure, it's easier to choose the cheapest desk chair from your office supply store but you might be hurting yourself, your back and your posture.  It's important to choose a chair that:

  • Has lumbar support for your lower back or (better yet) has an adjustable lumbar support to fit the exact shape of your lower back.
  • Are adjustable in height and position and a chair that has adjustable arm rests.  This will help you to keep your monitor right at eye height and will allow your elbows to rest comfortably at a 90 degree angle from your keyboard.
  • Is fabric - While this isn't a necessity, fabric is preferable.  This will allow your chair to stay comfortable at all temperatures.  Leather (or pleather) chairs can occasionally be too hot or too cold depending on the climate where you live.

Get Up Occasionally

While it's so easy to sit in your comfortable and ergonomic chair all day it's also very important to get up every so often to stretch your legs.  The general rule of thumb is to get up and walk around at least one hour a day but I say to get up once every two hours for a quick stretch or walk.  This will keep you energized and will keep your body moving and therefore blood pumping throughout your body!  Go ahead and take that one hour lunch break as well, go for a walk, exercise or just spend an hour doing something for yourself.  Sitting at your desk all day isn't good for your body or your mental health!

Create a Relaxing & Inviting Environment

Since you'll be in that office all day every day, it's important to create a relaxing, soothing and inviting environment that you will want to be in.  While creating that environment for yourself, remember to use soothing colors, reduce distractions and keep your desktop uncluttered!  While it's easier said than done, keeping your desktop clean and uncluttered will allow you to focus and concentrate fully on your work than the clutter on top of your desk.  

Healthy Snacks

When you're working from home it's so easy to go to the kitchen and grab a quick and unhealthy snack but too many of those quick and unhealthy snacks aren't good for you.  Make sure you stock your kitchen with healthier options that you can quickly grab to take back to your office. Portion out healthier snacks into ziploc bags for easy grab and go, stock your fridge with veggies or fruits that are easy to grab and be mindful of what you grab when on a snack break.  Healthier snack options will help you to keep your energy up and they will allow you to feel better throughout your work day.

Have a Support System or Accountability Partner

Working from home can sometimes be lonely and it's something you can get accustomed to very quickly.  It's important that you have a support system or accountability partner that you can vent to, ask for advice and someone who can keep you on track when you're having one of those less than motivated days.  Some simple ways to do this would be to join a forum dedicated to those business owners who work from home, join a Facebook group for your niche or industry or join some LinkedIn groups.  These will allow you to be social while still working for yourself.  

Another great option would be hiring a Virtual Assistant.  Your Virtual Assistant can not only help you with office tasks but can also be a sounding board for those days when you need someone to talk to.  A VA can help you stay accountable and on track; they're much more than just office assistance!

If you want to book your FREE consultation with Infopoint Virtual Solutions, please contact us today!  We can work together to find the best fit for your business.

How to Find the Perfect Virtual Assistant for Your Business

Virtual Assistant, Tips & TricksKristin RumianComment
How to Find the Perfect Virtual Assistant for Your Business

Owning your own business is hard enough without having to burn energy on smaller tasks that can be outsourced.  If you feel burnt out, stressed out and feeling like you don't have enough time to complete all of your tasks, it might be time to find a Virtual Assistant for your business.  

While you may be tempted to hire an overseas Virtual Assistant who charges $2-$5 per hour, please be aware that those Virtual Assistants may not be the best choice for you and your business for the reasons noted below:

  • English is not their first language, so it will be hard to communicate with them
  • Their skillset isn't as extensive as United States Virtual Assistants
  • Your work will (most likely) not get done as quickly and efficiently as if you hired within the US

But where do you find Virtual Assistants and how do you find that perfect Virtual Assistant for your business?

Honestly, in order to find the perfect Virtual Assistant for your business, you need to do some homework and research.  There are tens of thousands of Virtual Assistants in the United States and each has their own areas of expertise, niches, and personalities.  You're going to need to find a Virtual Assistant that:

  1. Has the expertise and knowledge to complete tasks for your business
  2. Has a personality that works well with yourself and your business
  3. Can get your work done in a timely manner 
  4. Have rates that fit within your budget

Where Can You Find Virtual Assistants?

Twitter - Virtual Assistants constantly hang out on Social Media, so tweeting that you are looking for a VA can yield many results for you and your business.  Once you get a few responses back from VAs you can begin the process of visiting their websites, reading about what their areas of expertise are and asking the potential VAs the questions you need to ask them.

Facebook - Facebook is probably one of the best places to find a Virtual Assistant because of the groups.  There are tons of groups out there that focus both on Virtual Assistant networking and job postings for VAs.  Groups will allow you to read through some threads to see if you can find a VA that fits your business or you can post a thread stating that you're looking for a VA and weed through the responses that way.  Facebook is a much quicker process than Twitter and a place where businesses and VAs both find success.

LinkedIn - LinkedIn is similar to Facebook in that you can join VA groups and post that you need a Virtual Assistant.  LinkedIn is more geared to professionals, so you may want to use it in conjunction with Facebook in order to get more options and possibly find a better fit. 

Virtual Assistant Sites - There are some websites such as VA Networking and IVAA that have listings for Virtual Assistants.  There you can see photos of potential VAs, read about their past experience and expertise, and figure out from there which VA will suit your business the best.

Google - Another option is doing a simple Google search for VA's in the specific field that your business falls into.  You will be able to see results from all Virtual Assistants that match your search, view their websites, read about them and their experiences and contact the VA(s) that you feel fit.

Networking - If you know any other business owners who have hired a Virtual Assistant, ask for recommendations. Your colleagues would have worked with their VA for an extended amount of time, they can give you honest feedback about the way they work and you can know, first hand, how their services are.  

UpWork & Similar - Websites such as UpWork can help you to find a Virtual Assistant but be aware that a lot of VAs on this website are international.  As stated above, it's much better to hire a VA from the United States to prevent any language barriers, misunderstandings or the VA not understanding the work that needs to be done.  Yes, international VAs can be cheaper, but the quality of work will be very low.

What Happens Once You Contact a VA?

Once you contact a Virtual Assistant they may either want to schedule a phone consultation or they may send you a questionnaire via e-mail.  Make sure you tell them important details about your business, the specific tasks that you are looking to be completed and ask any questions that you feel fit.  

If the Virtual Assistant's rates are too high for your budget, you can try to see if they will work with you.  There are some VAs out there who are willing to work with a business's budget and tweak their rates while other VAs have their rates 100% set in stone.  Be respectful of the Virtual Assistant and their rates, VAs price themselves the way they do because of what they can offer their clients.  A beginner VA might have lower rates because they're just starting out while a well-seasoned VA will have higher rates since they can offer more to their clients.  

Make sure you ask the VA about their availability because you don't want to be blindsided if they can't complete a task within a deadline that you need something to be completed.  Some VAs work with many clients at a time while other VAs limit themselves to just a handful of clients at any given time.  If your tasks will take more time to complete, you will want to find a VA that doesn't have too many other commitments so your work can get done on time.  

This might sound pretty cliche, but you will just know when the right VA comes along.  Their personality will work very well with yours, they will have enough time in their schedule to complete your tasks and they will have the right area of expertise in order to complete your tasks correctly.  

If you are currently looking for a Virtual Assistant, why not set up a free consultation with Infopoint Virtual Solutions?  I have been a VA since 2005 and have successfully helped many clients with business tasks that they needed outsourced!  Contact us now!

Website Mistakes You're Making

Tips & TricksKristin RumianComment
website mistakes you may be making

No Clear Navigation

Having clear and user-friendly navigation on your website is key.  You want your visitors to explore your website and not get frustrated that they can't navigate to what they're looking for.  The best way to do this is to put your navigation at the top of the page or in the sidebar so it catches their eye when they first happen upon your site.  Remember, not only internet savvy individuals are using your website!

Hidden Contact Information

Your contact information is the most important part of your website.  You want your customers or clients to be able to see your location (if you have a brick and mortar location), your phone number and your e-mail address.  You don't want them to have to hunt for your contact information that is behind a "Contact" link.  Contacting your business should be easy and straight forward.

Not Having Enough White Space

If your website is too cluttered it won't be appealing to the eye and will probably make most people click right off.  It's important to have a very aesthetically pleasing website with enough white space so that your website doesn't look cluttered.  Your website should also look clean on mobile and other browsers too, so test them out!

Not Linking to Social Media Platforms

There are two parts to this one.  Firstly, you need to link to your Social Media platforms.  You want your website visitors to follow you on all of your platforms.  Secondly, you should have social share links integrated into your posts so that your visitors can easily share a post right from your blog.  Social Media is one of the best ways to get exposure, so you have to make it easy for others to share your post if they find it interesting.

Not Having a Search Box

This is up there with not having clean navigation.  Certain visitors might want to find a specific post, service or product that you offer without having to look through your entire blog or website.  If you have a search box on your website, your visitors will be able to easily search what they're looking for and find it quickly.  

Not Updating Your Blog

Having a blog is very important to your business and having a consistently updated blog is even more important.  You want your posts to be interesting and informative to the reader so that they leave your blog with the value that you provide.

Poor Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important since that is what gets you organic search traffic.  Some main aspects of SEO that can make a big difference is adding keywords into your blog URL's, adding keywords into your H1 tag, using carefully researched keywords in your blog posts and also in the title of your blog posts.  Those small changes can make a difference in the amount of organic search engine traffic that you receive to your site.

Long Load Times

If your website takes longer than 5 seconds to load, it has a long load time.  While some people might allow the page to load in one tab while they work in another tab, this is not typical.  Personally, if a website takes too long to load, I will leave that website.  Believe it or not, Google takes load speed into consideration while ranking within their search engine.  You could have the best-optimized website that loads slowly and Google will probably rank you lower than another website with amazing load time and less than perfect optimization.

Do you want a free website audit and consultation?  Please contact us and we can chat!

 

 

 

How to Achieve Inbox Zero

Business ProductivityKristin RumianComment
how to achieve inbox zero

Everyone knows that when emails pile up in your inbox, so does your stress level.  Trying to take control of your inbox or finding an important email in your thousands and thousands of e-mails can sometimes feel like a job in itself.  The trick to reducing some of your stress and the first step to getting your inbox organized is clearing out your inbox; which I know is easier said than done.

I finally started to tackle my email inbox a few months ago and have been able to achieve Inbox Zero every day since.  I will let you in on a few tips that helped me to begin to get organized:

 

CREATE FOLDERS

Creating folders within your email box will allow emails to have a place.  I create folders with categories that most of my emails fall into.  I also create the following folders: (Note, I use the exclamation points because this will allow these important folders to show up at the top of your folder list.)

!IMPORTANT - This is where all of the important emails go that don't require immediate attention but that I still need.

!REPLY NEEDED - This folder is for emails that I have to reply to as soon as I get the chance.

!AWAITING REPLY - This is for emails that I am waiting for a reply from but I still want quick access to.  Once I receive a reply and once the email communication is closed, I will move the email to the appropriate folder.

Once you create your category folders and the other important folders above, you will begin to realize that every email in your inbox can easily be organized. 

 

CHECK YOUR EMAILS MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY

If you're anything like me, you continuously get both random and important emails throughout the day.  If you plan to check your e-mail in the morning and then again at the end of your work day, you will get overwhelmed when you see the amount of mail in your inbox.  Since I started to get organized I now check my emails at least 3 times a day.  This will allow you to quickly organize the emails that you receive throughout the day into the categories/folders that you have created.  This will allow you to have less mail to check at the end of the day.

 

UTILIZE EVERNOTE

Evernote is a great tool that can definitely keep you organized, but one of my favorite features of the app is the fact that you can send an email directly into Evernote by using the email address that they assign you.  Within Evernote you are able to create Notebooks (folders) that you are able to send an email directly into.  The best part is, you don't even have to open the Evernote app to organize your emails.  You can easily tag them with a hashtag (i.e. #business) and by using an @ sign to designate what notebook (or folder) that you want the emails to be organized into.  Evernote can be a very helpful tool to use within your business or even to use to organize your life.

 

UNSUBSCRIBE IF POSSIBLE

If you're like most business owners, you probably subscribe to more than a few newsletters that you thought would be useful at the time you subscribed.  You may realize now that you either:

  • Don't have time to read the newsletters
  • Don't feel that you need to actually be subscribed to that newsletter anymore

If either of those two describes you and some of the newsletters that you subscribe to, utilize the unsubscribe button.  I used to be the one that kept the newsletters around just in case I need the information contained in them one day.  Doing this will just add to your clutter and will continue to stress you out.  Just remember that you can always re-subscribe to the newsletter in the future if you feel that you need it again.

If you don't have time to weed through and categorize your inbox, let's talk!  Infopoint Virtual Solutions can easily clear through and categorize your inbox for you in half the time it might take you to do it!  Go ahead and contact us for a free consultation!