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General

How Well Do You Really Know Your Ideal Client?

Creating the ideal client
We’ve all done the exercise. It’s the first thing you’re taught when you first start your business: Create an ideal client avatar.

This vision of your ideal client guides everything you do, including pricing (you can’t charge that single mum as much as you can the CEO of a FTSE 100 company), pain points (mum probably isn’t worried about shareholders), and even the colour of your logo.

So you spend a few hours considering things such as:

Age group
Income
Family status
Education
Lifestyle goals
Location

Maybe you even write up a nice little story about your ideal client. You give her a name, a couple of kids, a husband who just doesn’t get it, and a few thousand in credit card debt. You know quite a bit about her, you think.

But you would be wrong, and if you stop there, you may be missing a huge piece of the puzzle—and losing out on the best clients because of it.
Personality Mismatch
Here’s something that’s rarely considered in the “ideal client” equation, and it’s arguably the most important part: personality.

If you’re feisty, sarcastic, fun-loving and loud, then a quiet, middle-aged mum who spends her time volunteering at the church is probably not a good fit for you. Sure, she might need your help, and she might love your products or services, but if you’re going to work together, this match-up is a disaster. Either she will be uncomfortable with your style, or you’ll be miserable trying to reign in your natural exuberance.

Better to pass mum on to someone who is a better fit for her personality-wise.
Will they pay what you’re worth?
I had a potential client ring me because he’d found my website, admired what I’d done and was up to his eyes in admin. He sounded like the perfect client on the phone, so we met for a complimentary consultation. When he heard my prices, his face dropped a mile. Oh, he said, my last VA charged £10 an hour less than that! In that case I don’t want you doing just basic admin, I’d want something more complex for that price. I bit my tongue to stop myself saying that the price I’d quoted was for basic admin. I charge a higher rate for anything else.

We left it that he would call me before the end of the week, but if he hadn’t, I’d call him. He hasn’t called, and I haven’t called him either. I only want to work with clients who respect the value I bring to their business and are willing to pay for it. I’ve discovered that the ones who quibble over your rate are likely to be bad payers. And that’s no-one’s ideal client!
Look at their business goals
When I think about the clients I want to work with, one of the things I look at is whether they want to stay solo, or expand their business. If someone is looking to expand their business, one of the first things they need to do is outsource their admin, and that’s where I come in. Have a look at my blog on how to do this if that’s what you’re contemplating. Then contact me to explore how we can work together.
Build your ideal client profile
If you look at your current and past clients, you’ll begin to see patterns. You can easily look back and see what made some clients a joy to work with, while others were a struggle. Think about what those differences are, and add them to your ideal client profile. Then compare any new potential clients to this ideal profile, and you’ll never again sign on with a less-than-perfect client.

 

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
website under contstruction
Wordpress

Myths vs. Facts about the World’s Most Used Website Builder

Myths vs. Facts about the World’s Most Used Website Builder
For something so popular, there certainly are a lot of myths surrounding WordPress – the world’s most used Website Builder – its uses, and its viability in certain situations.

If you’re searching for a website solution for your business, you’ve likely heard many stories—both pros and cons—about WordPress that have left you scratching your head in confusion. Here are some of the most common misconceptions, and what you really need to know.
Myth: WordPress is a Security Risk
Fans of static HTML sites like to drag this out as the reason for remaining stuck with difficult-to-manage sites. While WordPress is definitely less secure than HTML (that’s just the nature of php-driven websites) it is by no means the security risk some people would have you believe.
Fact: Good Security Practices Greatly Reduce Your Risk
Driving a car increases your risk of having an accident but that doesn’t mean you don’t drive. It just means you takes steps to reduce your risk. WordPress is no different. You only need to add a few security measures and your risk of being hacked is nearly non-existent.
Try this:

Use strong passwords and change them often.
Never use “admin” as your user name.
Create user accounts for your staff and give them only the permissions they need. Don’t make them administrators if they don’t need to be.
Choose a secure hosting environment.
Keep your site and its plugins and themes up to date.

Myth: WordPress is Difficult to Learn
Most often heard when discussing drag-and-drop website builders such as Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly, this myth is the one that keeps many people from even considering WordPress.
Fact: Every Website Builder has a Learning Curve
Yes, WordPress can be pretty overwhelming at first glance. But here’s the thing: any software that offers as much flexibility and versatility as WordPress does is bound to have a learning curve.  And those other builders? They all have their own quirks and difficulties. The difference is that the WordPress community is huge and incredibly helpful. If you need to know how to do anything on a WordPress site, simply spending 30 seconds on YouTube or Google will reveal the answer.
Myth: WordPress is Only for Blogging
While it’s true that the developers originally designed WordPress as a blog platform, they have changed it over the past three years to make it the ideal choice for a variety of website needs.
Fact: Plugins and Themes Make WordPress Work for Nearly Every Application
Whether you want to build an e-commerce site, a business directory, a membership site, a sales page, or a simple “brochure” style website, WordPress is designed to handle it. Thousands of plugins and speciality themes exist that extend its basic blogging functionality to encompass nearly anything you can dream of.

WordPress is by far the most commonly used content management system online today. That alone should reassure you that these myths are just that…myths.
In conclusion
Your website builder could be the easiest to use in the world. But if you’re not regularly updating it, updating the plugins, writing blogs, checking SEO it will not work for you! As you can see from my list of services I can help build, maintain and apply SEO to your website. Call me on 07701 351686 or email me elaine.ross@freedom-solutions.co.uk to see how.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
sales funnel money automate
Howto

Quick and Easy Website Tweaks to Automate your Sales Funnel

Quick and Easy Website Tweaks to Automate Your Sales Funnel
When it comes to making best use of your time, you need to automate your sales funnel. It allows you to get more done in less time, and to move people seamlessly through your funnel.

I come across so many business owners who create a website, and it just sits there. They don’t use the website or automate systems to optimise sales.
Use Your Blog to Build Your Mailing List
Like any smart business owner, you likely have opt-in forms on your website. They’re in the sidebar or maybe the footer, and you might have a pop-up to capture attention as visitors are about to leave.

But do you have a solid call to action at the end of your blog posts? When a new reader is finished consuming your posts, they’re primed to learn more. Give them the opportunity by offering an opt-in at the end of each post.

Even better, make it a logical next step by creating a related offer for each post. Called a content upgrade, these offers typically consist of a simple checklist or worksheet. They capture attention by providing even more information about a topic they’re already interested in.
Keep Them Reading With Related Links
How often do you revisit old blog posts to link to newer content? This is an important maintenance job that will help provide visitors with the information they’re looking for by linking related posts together.

Not only is this strategy good for keeping visitors on your site, but Google approves as well. Posts that link to each other encourage search engine bots to crawl your site more thoroughly, and help boost the rankings of your most relevant posts.

[Hint: This is a perfect job for your Virtual Assistant.]
Make the Best of Your Download Pages
Whether you’re giving away a free report or paid product, your download pages can pull double-duty by offering visitors a “what’s next” option. For free download pages, a related, low-cost product is best. It gives readers the chance to learn more about you with a small investment.

For paid products, consider offering a complementary product instead. If you’re protecting your download pages with a membership script such as Customer Hub, you can even offer up-sells based on what they already own, making the choice even easier for them.

And if you’re using a double-opt-in mailing list, make use of that confirmation page too! That’s the perfect place for a quick up-sell or an invitation to join you in your Facebook group or weekly Periscope.

Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow on your website: Whenever a reader lands on a page, they should be offered the next logical step. When you write your blog posts or create your download pages, keep that in mind, and your funnel will practically fill itself. Check out my other blog on how to use systems to help you automate your business.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
Man pushing bike
Howto

How to work smarter not harder

So how does a small business owner understand how and when to work smarter? Let me tell you a story…

Last week I had an interaction with a man with a push bike.

I know what you’re thinking – it wasn’t the usual angry car driver or Lycra lunatic encounter. The man in question was middle aged and quietly spoken, and clearly a hardworking time pressed individual.

For a month now, I’d seen this man pushing his bike most mornings as I drove to my appointments. Occasionally I’d also see him in the evenings, walking slowly but purposefully and still pushing his bike. All weather, rain or shine, he was there making slow but steady progress to wherever he was going.

Last week I had some time and decided to pull over and speak to him. His name was Brian and he ran a small business on the trading estate. We chatted for a bit in a bus shelter because it was raining.
Why not just ride the bike?
I was curious and asked him why he was always pushing his bike. Why didn’t he ride it? Wouldn’t that make life easier?

Brian gave me a tired weary look. “Why don’t I ride?” he said. “Well I purchased this bike a year ago to make my life easier. It’s a lovely bike as you can see”

“Yes” I said, “but why don’t you ride it?”

He replied “Well I will one day, but I’ve always been so busy, I haven’t had time to learn how”
Help is at hand
Of course this is a story and Brian doesn’t exist. Or does he?

How many of you are struggling with administration which doesn’t enhance your business and is holding you back?

How many of you have huge periodic work loads which you would love to shift?

The great news is the resource exists, and the even better news is you don’t have to learn to ride a bike. Get in touch with me to discuss how I can help you to work smarter.

I can handle your admin, help with your overload, make you look great in front of your boss or save you the time to do something better.

Don’t be a Brian. Work smart.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
Blogging
Howto

Blogging Basics: How to Get More Eyes on Your Website

Why blogging works for your business
The internet has an insatiable appetite for information. Billions of searches are conducted every single day. For anyone who conducts business online, these searches represent a steady flow of potential customers who are looking for what you have to offer. Blogging is an easy, cost-effective method of being found by the exact people who most need, want, and are willing to pay for your services. But only if you have a good strategy in place first.
Know Your Keywords
These are the search terms your ideal client is using to find answers to their questions. When you know what your keywords are, you can easily create blog posts that will:

Attract the right visitors to your site
Position you as the expert in your niche
Make it easy for your ideal client to find—and get to know—you and your services

Write for People
While it’s important to know and use keywords in your blog posts, it’s even more important that you write your content with people in mind over search engines. Your blog should be engaging, informative, and even entertaining, but above all else it must be readable.
Be Consistent
Content marketing—and blogging, by extension—is very much a numbers game. The more content you produce, the greater your results will be. That means setting—and sticking to—a content production schedule is essential.

For most websites, a weekly schedule is both attainable and sufficient to build a steady stream of traffic.
Keep Long-Term Goals in Mind
Blogging is not a fast business-growth strategy but it is excellent for long-term sustainability. Those posts you write this month will continue to work for you many years from now, bringing in more and more traffic and potential clients.
Use Good SEO Practices
Aside from keywords, great bloggers know there are many techniques you can use to bring in more readers, including:

Links to authority sites from within your blog
Internal links to other, related content on your own sites
Use graphics and sub-headlines to break up long text passages
Take the time to write compelling meta descriptions
Create content that other sites will link to

Get the Word Out
Each new blog post is an opportunity to be seen, so take the time to share your content socially, and encourage your readers to do the same. Share your post on your Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and anywhere else your ideal client is likely to see it.
Mix It Up
Not every post has to be a 3,000 word article. Include other types of content as well, such as:

Video
Infographics
Curated content
Short opinion pieces
Audio

Have Fun with It
Above all else, have some fun. Inject your personality into your blog. Not only will you more easily attract your ideal client but you’ll enjoy blogging a lot more if you use your authentic voice. And the more you enjoy it, the more likely you will remain consistent as well. Once you have an idea of the content you want to publish, blogging is something you can easily outsource to your Virtual Assistant, leaving you free to concentrate on your core business. Have a look at my list of services to see what else I can take off your hands.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
productivity
Howto

Making the Most of Your Time: 5 Productivity Tips for Business Owners

Making the Most of Your Time
It’s not enough to dream of success. It’s not even enough to set goals. The only way to truly build the business you’re meant to build is to sit down and just do it. And that’s where many of us…well, fail is a strong word. But it’s the doing that trips us up more often than not. We overbook our calendars until today’s to-dos become next week’s past dues. We procrastinate on the things that are important while attending to things that are merely “nice to do.” And sometimes we simply take on too much—even when we know better. The answer? Embrace these five productivity tips that savvy business owners use to get more done in less time.
Rituals and Habits:
Simply put, a ritual or habit is a consistent way of doing something. You have a morning ritual (wake up, brush your teeth, work out, shower, and head to your office), evening ritual (check homework, tuck the kids in, watch the evening news, and hit the sack), weekend ritual (sleep late, mow the lawn, catch a movie, phone your mum), and many others.

The trouble is, if you’re not careful with your rituals, they can turn into productivity killers. Is checking Facebook or email a part of your morning ritual? Is turning on Skype a part of your work ritual? Distractions such as these can turn even your best intentions into hours of wasted time.

Take a good look at your rituals. What are you doing that you should not be—or that should be moved to another part of your day? Make your rituals more efficient and you’ll automatically get more done.
Calendar Management for greater productivity:
Want to know how much time you really have available for that new project? Try blocking off time in your calendar for all your existing projects. Fill in all your client calls, your business administrative tasks, time for meals and breaks, outside appointments, and everything else you’re committed to. What’s left might just shock you.

Make it a habit to block time in your calendar for every commitment, and you’ll never again over-promise or over-commit.
Learn to Let Go:
Here’s a news flash. You do not have to do everything in your business. You can (and should) hand off those low-level tasks to someone else. Hire a VA to create your documents and manage your calendar. Let your tech support person manage your blog and email. Turn over your bookkeeping to an accountant. The time you free up will allow you to work on what’s truly important—and that only you can do.
Work Hard, Play Harder:
You are not a machine. You cannot work all day every day and hope to be at your best all the time.

Take a day off. Get some rest, or relax on a long, slow hike. Take a friend out to lunch. Go shopping with your kids. See a movie or a play. Hand your admin over to your Virtual Assistant. Do something—anything—other than work.

Not only will you return to the office feeling much more refreshed, but you’ll find yourself more creative and productive as a result.
Focus:
Multi-tasking is impossible. You cannot efficiently create a new marketing plan while you’re simultaneously surfing Facebook, keeping an eye on the kids, and answering the phone every time it rings.

Instead, use your calendar to block time off for important tasks, then turn everything else off so you can focus. No phone, no Facebook, no kids or husbands or neighbours or pets demanding “just a minute” of your time. Tune everything out, and you’ll find your work getting done much faster.

Managing your time and turning up your productivity is not something that comes naturally to most people, but when you learn to master this skill, you’ll find your business grows right along with you.

I can help you with your time-consuming admin. Check out my list of services to see how I can help you be more productive, grow your business and make money.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
Howto

The Importance of Using Systems as a Business Owner

If you’ve ever looked at another entrepreneur and wondered how she manages to get it all done, the answer might surprise you. She’s got good systems.

It’s true. The most productive people all have one thing in common: they don’t reinvent the wheel every day. Instead, they’ve figured out the most efficient way to do every task, and create systems to do just that.

No matter what business you’re in and what projects you find yourself tackling, using systems will help you:

Work faster and produce more
Produce higher quality results with fewer mistakes
Easily outsource the tasks you don’t like to do

The Magic of Templates
How many times do you answer emails from potential clients? What about responding to customer complaints? Or mailing your JV partners about an upcoming launch?

All of these tasks and more become effortless when you create fill-in-the-blank templates that you can re-purpose for specific cases/people. Templates can be as simple as a “canned response” in your email client or help desk, or you can use software such as Text Expander (for Mac) or Phrase Express (for Windows). You might even create a template document in Dropbox or Google Drive to house all your templates for easier access.

While templates will save you time, the beauty is that once you’ve created them, you can easily outsource repeat tasks like email. Simply instruct your Virtual Assistant how to use your templates, and you’ll be free to do more important things.
Checklists Prevent Mistakes
It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you perform the same tasks over again, it’s easy to miss a critical step. You might think you paid your associates this month—you might even remember doing it—only to look back and see it was never completed.

But when you implement checklists, it’s suddenly much more difficult to miss an important task.

You can easily create checklists for all your common tasks and projects using nothing more than a text document. If you’re managing a team, checklists in your project management system allow you to see exactly what tasks are complete, and which are still outstanding.

Templates and checklists turn smart business owners into productivity superstars, and it’s easy to get started. The next time you answer an email you’ve answered before, save your response. The next time you set up a new product in your shopping cart or create a new opt-in page, take the time to record the steps. These documents will make future projects easier and faster to complete, and best of all, you can hand them off to your VA to do instead.  Check out my list of services to see the sort of things I can do for you.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
Howto

Seven Surprising Places You’re Using Copywriting (And You Probably Don’t Realise It)

When you hear the word “copywriting” do you immediately think of long sales pages, squeeze pages, and unwanted junk mail? You’re not alone in that thinking, but the fact is, copywriting is more than just sales messages. In fact, as a business owner, most of the content you produce could be called copywriting at least in some sense. After all, if you’re creating content with the ultimate goal of selling something, that is by definition copywriting.
Facebook
Sure we all like to hang out on Facebook and chat with friends, catch up on the latest funny videos, and enjoy a mindless “quiz” or two. But for business owners, Facebook is much more than that. It’s a place to connect with potential clients, and that means that when you’re sharing your latest blog post, event or course with your business friends, you have to keep good copywriting in mind.
Linked-In Profile
What makes you stand out from the other businesses in your niche? Your Linked-In profile is where you share what makes you the best person to solve your ideal client’s problems. It’s where you shout about your credentials and let your ego run the show. Think of your Linked-In profile like a CV, and be sure to list your most impressive credentials.
About Page
Here’s your chance to have some fun while blowing your own horn. It’s important to know that the about page is often the most visited page on a website, so it’s a critical piece of your overall brand and message. The purpose of your about page is to entice people to want to learn more about your services, so be sure to include a call to action on the page.
Blog Posts
All blog posts have a job to do. Maybe they’re meant to lead your reader to a sales page. Perhaps you’re asking for readers to subscribe to your mailing list. Maybe your blog post is designed to start a conversation. Or maybe it’s just sharing great content and inviting readers to learn more by clicking on related posts. Whatever the job, it’s copywriting that entices your reader to take that next step.
Twitter
One hundred and forty characters is precious little space for creating compelling content, yet that’s exactly what you must do if you hope to use Twitter as part of your overall marketing strategy. Think of tweets like email subject lines, and craft them to convey as much information as possible while still encouraging readers to take action.
Email
Whether you’re sending an email about a new product or service or simply letting readers know you have a new blog post up, your email definitely qualifies as copywriting. In fact, even the personal emails you send to prospective clients contain what we would call copywriting.

The fact is, copywriting is everywhere in your business, from your sales pages to your invoices. Whenever you ask a reader to take some action, you’re writing copy, and the more comfortable with the idea of it, the better (and more natural) you’ll become.

I love writing copy. I can flex my creative wings and enjoy spending time thinking about what to put to get maximum impact. And if you’re happy with your copywriting but still need help elsewhere, take a look at my list of services to see what else I can do.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
Howto

Build a business, not another job

Build a business, not another job
Many people dream of having their own business, being their own boss, and having the freedom to only take on clients and projects they love.

What they don’t realize, though, is that there is a huge difference between building a business and being self-employed.

Business owners scale their income. Self-employed people trade pounds for hours

Business owners leverage the skills and talents of others. Self-employed people rely only on their own skills.

Feeling discouraged? Don’t be. Every business owner started out self-employed. Just don’t stay there. These tips will help you build a sustainable business instead of just another job.
Don’t Try to Do It All Yourself
Building a sustainable business requires that you leverage the talents and time of others. While it might seem cost-effective to simply do everything yourself—especially in the start-up phase when you likely have more time than money—it’s a path to burnout and stress.

Instead, separate your tasks into those that you love and are especially suited for (such as marketing) and those you dislike and aren’t good at (such as invoicing). Then make a solid plan to get those that you aren’t good at off your list of things to do. If you feel like you can’t afford to outsource it all right now, start with what you tend to procrastinate the most on, even if it’s just a few hours each month.
Don’t Allow Yourself to Work All the Time
The trouble with working at home is that you live at work. And that means that there’s no clear line in the sand between your work day and your home life.

Since there’s always work to do, it’s easy to find yourself working every available moment—often to the detriment of your family relationships.

You can avoid this by:

Setting—and maintaining—clear work hours
Having an office with a door you can close when you’re done
Scheduling time for family and other activities
Taking time for yourself

Holidays and Downtime Are Important
Don’t create a business that requires you to be “in the office” every day. At the start, you may need to be available more, but you should definitely be planning for the day when you can be “off the grid” for extended periods of time.

Have trusted contractors who can handle things when you’re not available
Leverage automation tools such as autoresponders and autowebinar systems
Create repeatable systems so you’re not always re-inventing the wheel

While you might not be able to hit the road with no internet access for weeks at a time, at the very least you should be able to reduce your workload to a daily check-in.

Sound impossible? It’s not. With some forethought and planning, you can create a team—and the systems they need—to successfully run your business without becoming overwhelmed and overworked.

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603
News

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Freedom Solutions Ltd, Virtual Assistant Services.

I love a new year, it gives me the chance to reflect on the past year and look at the year to come. This January I’m focusing on strategy for my Virtual Assistant business. I’m sure thousands of other small business owners are doing the same.

This time last year, I had just found out I had the opportunity to take redundancy. A lot of people may have viewed this as a huge disaster. But I viewed it as an opportunity. I loved the idea of working for myself and had researched being a Virtual Assistant a couple of years previously. This was the opportunity I needed. I was excited, but also terrified of leaving my well-paid comfortable job to go it alone.

One year on and my fledgling business is starting to grow. I’m thinking about how I can get my business where I want it to be. I want to focus on doing the things I love, have time with my family and work when I want to. Let’s face it, that’s why we start our own businesses, isn’t it?

If you’ve found that owning your own business isn’t giving you these things, isn’t it time to work out why not? I would guess it’s because you’re spending more time on admin than you should be. Did you really start your business to end up doing admin? I know I did, but I’m sure the majority of small business owners did not.

If your business strategy for 2018 includes offloading some of your admin, why not consider hiring a Virtual Assistant? I can work when you need me so you only pay the hours you use. You don’t have the hassle of on-boarding me. I work from home so no need to find me space in your office or buy me a laptop. And you don’t have to pay PAYE or NI (or holiday/sick/maternity pay).

I’ll do your admin, and you can rediscover the reasons you started your own business. More time to do the things you love.

Happy New Year!

 

elaineross1603
Posted by elaineross1603