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About caroline@virtuallysorted.com

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  • Birthday 10/12/1978

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  1. Hi Annie Only just stumbled across this. As a UK VA you will be paying UK tax and therefore MUST bill and account in UK£. (You could put $ equivalent on there for the client, but the exchange rate will be calculated by HMRC at the date of invoice). UK VAs tend to charge between £15-£30/hour for their time. I would be tempted to be at the upper end of this scale for a non-UK based client as you have very little recourse if they decide not to pay you and at least having a higher hourly rate would compensate you if they did stiff you on payment. You won't be able to use the UK Small Claims Court and even if you could, you would find it incredibly difficult to enforce a UK court payment order in another country. I personally won't work with offshore clients for this reason. If at all possible get payment up front and via IBACS (not paypal which can be refunded!). Hope that helps! Caroline
  2. And VA clients are busy people by definition - it's most likely that they forgot and they will welcome a reminder. You could have your accounts programme set up to send automatic reminders if a bill is unpaid, making it less personal and with the disclaimer that if they've paid in the last few days to ignore this reminder.
  3. Mirroring what everyone has said about Michelle's book - it's ace! Additionally you might want to think about how you feel about being a business owner rather than doing the work yourself. Good ones for that are The E Myth by Michael Gerber and I always think The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. Okay these aren't specifically about the VA industry, but they do have some good lessons to learn - but skip the bit where Tim talks about using $4/hour VAs, it'll only upset you!!
  4. Kathy's said exactly what I would say! You've started having the difficult conversation about what you will/won't do at short notice. For me, we found that instigating a "rush job fee" where stuff only got jumped ahead of the queue for a hefty fee meant that suddenly work became less urgent. If they still have everything marked as "urgent" then you won't need any other clients (unless of course this one solitary client goes bust, and then you are REALLY in trouble!). Is that what you want to do really though? Work for one client? Most VAs enjoy the variety of their role, and I'm not sure what your tax body would think about being an employee vs. self-employed in this situation? (In the UK both of you could get hit with extra tax if it's deemed to be an employee/employer relationship). We sometimes inherit "spoilt" clients from other VAs and one of the things which amazes me is the lengths the VAs have gone to in order to accommodate them, and the fact that when you lay clear boundaries, the client understands them. We start off in a very straight forward way and one of two things happens: the client meekly goes along with how we accept work and is no problem OR the client decides that having a VA is not for them and hires a PA. That's okay - because not all people are suited to being a VA client. And I always explain that when we take one of these clients on so they know I'm not going to be offended by them coming to that conclusion themselves.
  5. Even counting the $-value of your time, the percentage will still vary wildly for say a start up business or one where the VA practice is totally full and doesn't actively recruit new clients because they get lots of referrals. I'd say early days about 30% of my income was going on marketing the business and I was probably spending 60% of my time on marketing activities. Now? Not so much - I pretty much let it all run and spend maybe £50/month.
  6. I think the reason the definition of "virtual assistant" is starting to shatter is that it's starting to be shorthand for cheap, low quality, call centre/cattle shed type outsourcing. People want to distance themselves from that and define themselves as high quality, good value, experienced freelancing. Should there be a definition of the term "virtual assistant" which includes a commitment to quality and certain standards? Certainly. Which is why www.VACertified.com is such a good thing for VAs. We can't stop the term from being used to describe these services, but we can make there be a standard which all VAs get behind that quality marks what we're doing.
  7. Hi Sherra How about a Powerball? http://www.powerballs.com/ Or maybe something like Oxfam Unwrapped who give really fun "presents" of goats, loos, and school books to charity on your behalf. One of my clients thought this was the funniest thing ever. Caroline
  8. Hi there, I used to work in music publishing and unfortunately there are two rights associated with music - one is the recording right (i.e. the musicians who perform it) and the other is the songwriter's rights (i.e. the person who wrote the track). This exists for ALL music whether it has words or not. What you are looking at is music where the rights have either expired (e.g. classical music where the writer is long dead - US copyright lasts for 75 years after the artists death - you may still need to buy the recording right though if it's a recent re-record). Or look for music where the writer and recording artist have waived their fee in return for a buyout (sometimes called library music or royalty free). ASCAP and BMI are the US equivalent of PRS/MCPS in the UK. PRS/MCPS also has a catalogue of library music which you can pick up for say £100-£200 per use. Linda is right that finding a local musician willing to create a track and let you "buy out" both rights is probably the cheapest route to go down.
  9. I think it would be tricky for a couple of reasons. 1) Because as Patty pointed out, getting clients is no easy feat. 2) Even if you had a really strong background in sales, being able to estimate and understand a VA task involves knowing how it would break down into the different steps, how long each one of those would take etc. It would be difficult for you to either estimate for the client or judge the work of the VAs unless you had done it yourself. E.g. I know it takes me about an hour to stuff 100 envelopes, but if I was quoting that job to a client and had never done it before I'd have to do some research and get back to them. Likewise I probably wouldn't question getting a bill for 3 hours work from a subcontract VA unless I knew the task well myself. 3) As the boss, you need to be available during business hours. It's not fair on the subcontract VAs to have to make major decisions on your behalf without any support. Whilst you want to work part-time or flexible hours, your clients probably will work standard hours.
  10. Make sure you are using a dark thick pen - something like a fountain pen or a felt tip for signing it. Make sure the paper is high quality and bright white. Then when you scan it in, scan it high res. Open it in Photoshop and use the magic wand button to cut the image off the white background. Paste this in a new file. You can also touch up any bits here and crop any extra space off the edges. Save as a jpeg. Next insert the jpeg picture into your document - you may find that the picture is too big for a signature, just click and drag it smaller. Great for marketing letters, presentations etc.
  11. My dad's a domain dealer so here's what he'd say: .coms remain the most searched for and most highly prized domains on the web If someone is looking for your site, they will assume it's .com unless they know otherwise, so the person who earns virtualassistantbiz.com will be picking up business from .co, .biz, .org, .net etc rather than the other way round. If you have been offered a similar domain where the .com is available and that you like, go for that instead. What you need to establish though is: who owns that domain and what are they planning on doing with it? So, look it up on whois.domaintools.com check the expiry date and also the registrant. It may be that this was a domain that someone bought speculatively and they might be quite happy to sell it to you for $50. Or perhaps it's about to expire, in which case it's possible to bid on it when it becomes available. Generally domains need renewed every 2 years. If it's a competitor, I'd probably choose a new name as it's not worth the hassle of everyone confusing you all the time.
  12. Just to let you know, the "Kindle" process is not cheap! I'm going through this with a client, converting her books to Kindle, and each one is about $1100. And she's got 3 books, about to be 4, and she'd like all of them available on Kindle, but the cost is enough to make her miserly heart stop beating. (She's not really a miser, she's one of the most giving people I know. She's just VERY CAREFUL about her money.) Ooof! I had no idea it was that expensive! But it does explain why the books are so expensive!
  13. Advantages for the client are: They get a highly skilled professional rather than someone who is doing this because there is no other work available. They get the same person and don't have to explain tasks repeatedly. They don't have a minimum hire time (most temps have to be there at least half a day or even a full day) so it saves them money. They don't need to have office space, furniture, phone line, equipment for them to use. In the UK long term temps have the same employees rights as other employees - so holiday, maternity etc. I used to work at a big ad agency and after a whole week of having to listen to the temp go on about all the VERY WELL PAID jobs she was applying for and then gab for hours on the phone to her boyfriend constantly whilst screwing up every single task we gave her, I refused to have another one in the office. For a couple of weeks, I can do my own filing!
  14. Amanda we hit the "paperless" problem when designing an ecourse. People almost always wanted to print out big chunks of material so they can read it!!! But technology is our friend.... Could you do a paid-for version as a Kindle download? (I know nothing about this, it just seems the logical step!) The thing about a step-by-step guide is that they do need to actually **DO** the steps in order to be successful - so a drip feed of bite sized chunks via email might be more effective. Just my humble opinion though!
  15. Well it depends a bit - if it's a small business and they use only the one business bank account and ALL purchases/expenditure goes through there and they download a CSV file which just needs uploading to an online accounts programme and checked then 1-2 hours is probably about right. All you'd be doing is coding expenses and raising invoices and making sure they got paid.
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