Starting A New Contract

Got a contract to provide customer support via telephone for a  non-profit organization. It is a rather easy project and provides me with a steady stream of income each week. Having this income will also help me set up a marketing campaign that will target potential clients.

I have started the task of writing my marketing plan. Not the easiest of tasks. I think I have my target market figured out. Trying to figure out the past way to  reach my market in the most cost effective way. I know I want to utilize social media as best as I can. Not sure if I want to just let things grow on their own or use promotional tools like Facebooks promote.

My other decision to make is if I want to focus on local small business or go with a larger market area. Trying to figure out how much local competition there is in the virtual assistant services. That will be a large factor in how I make my decision.  It may be easier to set myself apart from everyone else in a larger pool if I can figure out a unique perspective to focus on.

Small Business Owner Weekly Review (Week of April 22, 2013)

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization. — Where to begin?

Search Engine Optimization

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Sounds rather complicated to me. Wikipedia defines it as the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In other words, where in search engine ranking your website is listed in relation to searchable keywords.

There are A LOT of factors that go into optimizing a website for search engines. The amount of information I have found so far is overwhelming. Inbound links, outbound links, PageRank (PR), choosing keywords, and much more.

Where does a small business owner like myself with little SEO experience begin? Well a nice article to start with is “10 SEO Tips For Beginners”. This article takes you through the basics of SEO and explains each aspect for you to understand. Having a proper understanding of how SEO works goes a long way in preparing your website for the search spiders (web crawler).

SEO is going to be an ongoing process for any small business owner. It seems the way websites are ranked change on a routine basis. Knowing the latest information is key to keeping your website “search friendly”.

I’m no expert on this. Just passing along information as I find it. Being a small business owner is difficult task. Having a little help along the way is always a good thing.

Key Points In Marketing Your Small Business

I have been doing research on marketing my virtual assistant services. There is a lot of information out there on the web. Can be rather overwhelming. But I did find 1 good article on About.com (my old stand-by for research). It was titled “101 Small Business Marketing Activities” by Alyssa Gregory.

She talks about some key points in developing a marketing strategy.

  • Marketing Planning
  • Marketing Materials
  • In-Person Networking (something I constantly overlook)
  • Direct Mail (not on Saturdays pretty soon)
  • Advertising
  • Social Media/Internet/Email Marketing
  •  And much more

The 2 major points I took from this article is creating a marketing plan and attending a conference.

Creating a marketing plan helps you to understand your target market. By understanding your target market, you can better reach your potential customers. You also can plan your marketing efforts while keeping within your advertising budget. The hard part is doing the research and pulling it all together. As I delve into my own marketing plan I am seeing not only how important a good plan is, but also that it is harder than it looks to complete.

The second point of attending a conference is a strong point for me. Especially cause I spend all my time working with clients “virtually”. I forget that there is an actual business world out there. Attending a conference gives you a way to connect with people face to face. I see how building a strong off-line network can be a key part to building a successful business. No advertising is better then word-of-mouth. Most people will trust a friend or co-worker opinion over any type of advertising you can develop.

Hopefully I can pull this all together and develop a plan that works for my business.

3 Ways Make Sure Your Marketing Promotions Matter

Some great questions to ask yourself while creating your marketing path

Windows 8 …..what happened?

Purchased a new laptop over the weekend. Great little machine by Acer. Very quick compared to my old unit. Webcam works great even in low light and the quality of sound from the speakers surprised me.

Problems is Windows 8. What a solid disappointment. The tile system may work great on a phone (I use Android) , but on a computer, no Microsoft, just no. And what is with having to use a Microsoft account to use everything???? Talk about shoving Microsoft products down my throat. Whoever came up with that bright idea should really be fired (or worse).

Microsoft better come up with a better alternative soon, cause this is not their best work. I’d use Windows 98 over Windows 8 any day. They have gone from a leader in the operating system arena to a follower. A poor follower at that.

National Small Business Week

National Small Business Week (http://smallbiztrends.com/2013/04/small-business-week.html) is in 2 weeks. Brings to mind on how  to take advantage of this national holiday in your marketing campaigns.

The number of small businesses has grew 49% since 1982 (http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-trends) That is a huge market to target. Especially if your in the business of providing services to small businesses as I am. But how do you target them effectively?

Today’s technologically advanced world gives us so many variables to create an effective marketing campaign. You have social media, online ads, blogging, tv, radio, print, and most recently cell phone applications. Where do you begin?

Most important is to know your target market (http://www.dosomething.org/u/how-to/how-to-find-your-target-audience). If you do not understand their needs and wants, then you cannot effectively target your advertising campaign to them. Research is very important in this aspect. A good starting point on how to do this is an article by Inc. titled “How To Narrow Your Target Market“. They provide a nice overview with links to other resources to help you on your way.

So be sure to take advantage of this opportunity. Let your small business clients know how much you appreciate their business and offer them the support they need to succeed in today’s economy.

Why Most Social Media Strategies Are Not Destined To Work For You

I fully agree with this post. What works for 1 business owner may not work for you.

Busy Week

It has been a very busy week for me. Not only got my first project from Elance. But also got a chance to speak with 2 other potential clients. One of these clients I have a very positive feeling that it will turn into another contract for me.

It brings about a great sense of satisfaction when you put in hard work and get a positive response from it. As most people know, starting a new business is both an exciting and scary experience. Especially when your doing it with a limited budget and as a pivot point in your life. I’m making the switch from being in the healthcare industry as an EMT to the business service industry. All while trying to get back into college. But I am determined to give it my all and try to make it all a success.

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