The Virtual Assistant’s Survival Guide to Saving Money

The Virtual Assistant’s Survival Guide to Saving Money

2Hello and Happy New Year from Writer’s Block Admin Services! I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas break and welcomed the arrival of 2015 in a suitably memorable way.

And with a New Year comes the inevitable resolutions. Things that you’ve been putting off over the last 12 months, but really should start abiding by.

For most of us, New Year resolutions involve lifestyle changes that serve to make us healthier. Losing weight, quitting smoking and going to the gym more are all classic examples. But Christmas will have undoubtedly involved some major spending and as a result, it’s our finances that could do with some TLC this January.

With that in mind, I’ve taken it upon myself to compile this virtual assistant’s survival guide to saving money. Hopefully, you’ll pick up some useful tips and get your New Year off to the right start financially.

Leverage Social Media for Exposure

Ever stopped and wondered why every huge brand you know encourages you to like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter? It’s because they want to leverage the superb advertising opportunities that social media affords.

Clicking ‘like’ or ‘follow’ means you are signing up to receive all their future updates and while many of those may be useful or entertaining, there will inevitably be sales pitches thrown into the mix too.

Traditional advertising mediums, like TV, radio and print, are expensive and very much one-way in their nature. Social media allows for proper audience engagement and is as cheap as advertising gets in today’s world.

Outsource Wherever Possible

There’s no denying that the lifeblood of every business is its employees. But people costs can consume a large proportion of a business budget and if you’re a start-up that can significantly affect your chances of growth.

It’s no surprise then that more and more businesses are looking to outsource their tasks to skilled freelancers and virtual assistants like me. You’ll only pay for the services you use and ultimately save money on recruitment costs, physical equipment and training, to name but a few.

By keeping just a core team of staff and outsourcing everything else, companies can free up their employees’ time to focus on the jobs that really matter and drive real business value in the long-run.

Take Advantage of Tools and Applications

Nowadays, there are tools and apps to help us with almost anything. And while some may involve a small investment, the productivity gains you’ll realise as a result far outweigh the cost.

I even wrote a post outlining some of my top productivity tools, all of which make my life a whole lot easier on a daily basis.

The beauty of tools and apps is that they are often very intuitive and you can start reaping the rewards right away.

One example, off the top of my head, is Skype. Traditionally, meetings involved travel costs, hotel costs and a lot of time. With Skype, you can hold a constructive meeting virtually and incur very little in the way of costs.

Go Green

Going green can not only save your business money but it’s also great for PR.

Now while many of us aren’t in a position to construct a state-of-the-art new building which incorporates the latest energy-saving innovations, we can make a few small changes that will all go some way to saving money and the environment.

Simple things like switching off computer monitors when they’re not in use, dimming lights or turning them off completely overnight and printing double-sided will all save you money in the long-term.

Reducing your energy consumption will in-turn reduce your energy bills, waste and pollution. It’s a win-win situation all round. Make 2015 the year in which you implement a greener mindset.

If you like what you’ve read then you should also check out my virtual assistant’s guide to saving time while you’re here.

How was your January?

The last day of January, how did 31 days pass so quickly? It seems like only yesterday that it was 1 January and everyone was talking about goals for 2013.

So, how is everyone getting on with their 2013 goals? I for one have made some progress, but not as much as I would have liked.

This month I have launched my Format your own eBook Template which so far has been selling well. It wasn’t something I had even added to my new products/services list for 2013, it was one of those ideas that spring into your head randomly, and I was very happy it did. I’ve given it an introductory price until my eCourse starts, which will hopefully be in the next couple of weeks.

Which leads me onto another of my goals, working on my business on Friday’s. I try not to do any client work on a Friday, although I have been answering emails if they need a quick response. I do need to communicate with my clients that Friday is a non-working day. So over the last few Friday’s of January I have mainly been working on the eCourse, which I have decided will be free. As well as the eCourse I have been doing things like invoicing, filing and admin for myself, rather than others. It’s nice to have one day per week to concentrate on my things, and not having to squeeze everything into an hour here and there during the week.

Learning new things has also been top of my agenda for some time now, so I have purchased a great eBook about formatting in html/css. I want to be able to design eBooks rather than just formatting them, so I am working my way through this for about an hour each day. Not only will it boost my skill level, it should hopefully put me in a different market where I can earn more for the work I am doing and give my author clients more choice about how they want their eBook to look – I have already learnt how to include audio and video into an eBook!

You may remember in my blog post at the beginning of January, Incredible Goal Setting for 2013 that I have been using Leonie Dawson’s great workbooks. Well I haven’t forgotten about them just yet, and have picked them up numerous times to check that I am headed in the right direction. Tomorrow, as it’s the 1 February I have set aside some time to go through them and write out my calendar for February. The written income goal each month is great, I hit January’s, and really hope that I’ll hit the increase I will be adding to February’s. Just by writing it down doesn’t work though, there are steps you have to take to make it happen…

January wasn’t an easy month, and I am sure for a lot of people January is a real struggle. What with Christmas, and then a 5 week month! With a trip to the vet last week (Hatchi was suspected of eating rat poison) and other expenses through the month, it’s not been easy, but I have made it and the rent will be paid tomorrow… I have a roof over my head for another month! 🙂

One of the things I didn’t manage in January was completing the blog challenge, I found it difficult to come up with blog posts for every day of the month, and also the time needed which took me away from earning that rent money! I have now set-up a new blogging schedule, which I WILL stick to… I will be posting to this blog on a Thursday, and on Monday’s I will be posting to my eBook formatting blog.

I hope the first month of 2013 has been kind to you, see you all in February.

How to Best Use Writing to Boost Your Traffic and Sales

Writing is still the most powerful marketing tool you can think of when promoting your business. You can keep reaping the benefits of your writing, in terms of traffic and sales – over and over again – for years, as long as it remains relevant to your market over time. It can also be used in maintaining your relationship with your clients or customers, and most importantly, it can be used to boost your reputation as an expert.

Writing online can be very easy, even though one can also easily get it all wrong. As an online marketer or business person, one should learn how to best utilize and seriously take advantage of this skill.

You can use writing as an effective tool for marketing your business by running a blog –and I really recommend that every business should have a blog, at least – or a website, on your social media and micro-blogging sites, on other sites – maybe in form of guest posts or comments, in your auto responder campaign, and also by writing promotional contents like web copies or sales letters – and email newsletters too. A lot can be done with this skill.

I will hereby do a quick review of the best ways you can use writing to boost your traffic and income, or leads and sales. I will be classifying them into ‘within your blog’ and ‘outside your blog’, and at the end, we’ll see how you can get the writing done.

Within Your Blog

Useful and informative posts: You should regularly update your blog with fresh and informative posts. Always make in-depth research when writing your posts and give out only the best. Make sure you provide real solutions often.

Let your blog earn the reputation of always giving quality, and it will never be ditched by your audience. Your readers will become your evangelists, and with time your blog will become the best option for search engines for your keywords.

Great copy/sales letter on website: Writing copy entails using the power of words to persuade readers to become buyers. A sales letter has the same purpose, but it is always more advanced and lengthier than a web copy. Your home page and/or ‘about me’ page(s) should practically be great copies or sales letters for your business. You can hire a copywriter to review these pages and edit or tweak to perfection.

You can easily learn copy writing freely with good research, or with little payment online and practice till you can produce compelling-enough copies. It will pay off in the end.

Freebies or paid products: This can be in form of eBooks and/or eCourses. Write an eBook you know everyone in your niche would love to have and let it be of high quality, or create an eCourse that would actually add quality to the life of anyone that subscribes to the course.

You do not need to be an expert to write an eBook or create an eCourse. Simple research skills are enough to make your products great. Writing in your area of expertise is a great plus though.

Market your freebies so much, as if you will make money on them, and support your marketing with a great copy too. Market your paid products more.

Encourage guest posts: You should encourage people to submit fresh and quality content to your blog. It helps to build relationships with other bloggers and marketers in your niche. On your own side, you gain more traffic as the writers share their contents posted on your site with their audience and social networks.

You should be careful of the posts you accept though; read through them and confirm they are 100% fresh and original. Articles must pass CopyScape. Write out your terms and conditions and make it obvious to anyone interested in submitting guest posts.

Outside your blog

Article marketing; this is the act of creating well-written quality articles that talk about your niche in a way that subtly promotes your company or brand, or products and services, and disseminating them throughout the web.

These articles serve to draw the attention of the readers to the company or brand, and make them want to know more, thereby, leading them to visiting your website.

The essence of these articles, though, is to create credibility and good image for the brand, and not to serve as advertisement or invoke sales directly.

Articles of this sort should be between 300 and 600 words (standard) – with smaller paragraphs, and should be posted majorly to as many article directories as possible. You should focus greatly on your headline and resource box, while still giving great content.

This is the most viral form of marketing ever and the best way to reach a target audience. One advantage of article marketing is that the same article can be used or published on several platforms as long as the authorship doesn’t change.

Guest blogging: this involves writing for other blogs with the aim of getting more exposure, traffic, and getting quality back links too.

This entails finding blogs in your niche that allow guests to submit articles and take full credit for it. This way, you take advantage of the host blog’s established online presence and you convert audience and subscribers to yours. You should therefore target big blogs in your niche – or other niches in some cases.

You can find the top blogs in any niche to post your articles to by using search engines, or by checking blog directories like Technoratti and AllTop. Just make sure your content is of great quality and highly informative, to enable acceptance and publishing of your post. It is reasonable to write 1,000 words and above, without sacrificing quality, when submitting to top blogs.

Finally before sending any blog a guest post, make sure you read through the blog. Read the terms and conditions to know what is expected, and read few posts to know the kind of writing accepted, and the way they are written. These will serve as a guide for formatting your post.

Press release:A press release is pseudo-news story, written in third person, that seeks to demonstrate to an editor or reporter the newsworthiness of a particular person, event, service or product.” – @PublicityGuru on Twitter

A press release is really just another term for (hopefully intriguing) content, and as a small business communicator, it’s your job to make every word count.” – PR News

I got the above definitions from PRWeb(.com), and I believe they are explanatory enough.

I’ll just add that writing and publishing a press release about your business is a proven traffic generator.

No matter how technical it might sound, writing and publishing a PR is actually easy to do but I can’t start a lesson on that here. Here are the fundamentals though;

– Focus on good and clean writing

– Headlines and subheads matter most

– A well optimized release will hyperlink keywords.

Apart from all these, when writing a PR, you just have to stick to the facts, economize your words and make sure every word counts. Limit jargon too.

Then the big deal; distribute to Press release sites – preferably the top and paid ones. PRWeb is great. You can simply get other PR sites through search.

BIG TIP: You can get all the press release training you want for free on…or you can hire an expert instead.

Getting the job done!

1. Personally: A lot of experts believe that content is king, and I think I support that notion too.

When you are writing your own posts or guest posts, it must be of the highest quality possible. Always give your writings your best shot; you cannot tell how far they would go. You should be concerned about your research, your headline – which must be very catchy, the body – considering your grammar, paragraphing, points, etc – and your ‘call to action’ where necessary.

Then you must be careful when distributing your writing to directories or PR sites. While trying to meet their terms and conditions is necessary, your copyright must not be compromised too.

2. Use article-posting software/freelancers: For your article marketing, or distribution to article directories or e-zines, you can easily find software to do the job, or articles directories freelancers through search. You can also visit freelance or micro-gigs sites to find these freelancers and get article-posting software on WarriorForum. You must only be cautious when using software, and be aware that most of the top article repositories block software from posting.

3. PR writers and distributors: You can easily find Press Release writers and distributors on freelancing sites like,,, etc, or through search engines. Just look for those freelancers with good reputation and maybe high ranks.

Your Press Release will be written and sent to you for preview, then distributed to PR sites on your approval. The links to your press releases would then be sent to you for confirmation. Most of the sites used by professional PR freelancers are paid sites.

4. PLR (Private Label Rights): This involves obtaining full rights on articles written by someone else and using it in anyway you like. These rights may include rights to publish, copy, edit, re-brand and claim authorship.

Personally, I am not a fan of Private Label Rights articles, but the truth remains that resorting to PLR has a good and right way of going about it.

The reservation I have on PLR is that most PLR providers make available rehashed content to numerous users at the same time. This leads to many others using the same content you are giving out to your audience, while branding it with their different names as ‘original author’ – just as you.

The best use of PLR, I believe, comes from buying PLR articles from the best PLR sites. You should avoid free PLR articles by all means. If you have to use PLR, then pay for quality.

5. Hire a freelance writer: whenever you feel you cannot do your writing yourself, or when you are too busy to write, you can outsource your writing to freelancers. But you must be careful when employing freelance writers for your writing projects as quality must always be maintained. Your freelancer must have the ability to do quality research and produce fresh, quality content. Rehashed or stolen content must never find its way into your business.

You can always go to freelance sites like, Odesk, Guru, etc, to get your job done. But when making use of sites like these, you have to be very careful as it might be very hard to find quality where services are so cheap.

You can preferably list your writing needs and requirements on freelance writing job boards such as ProBlogger Job Boards, etc. You can try LinkedIn’s job listing too or simply search for ‘freelance writing job boards’ on any search engine.

More preferably, to cut your long search short, you can hire me for your writing projects.

I believe planning and channeling your writing towards the methods outlined above will ensure a successful marketing campaign for your business online, as far as writing is concerned. Other minor writings, like blog comments, social media interaction, forum posting, etc, that are not covered here should not be neglected or underestimated though.

Improving your writing skills and applying it for, and to, the right marketing strategy will definitely boost your leads and sales.

P.S: Kindly tell us how you use writing to boost your traffic and income, and kindly show your support or disagreements with what I’ve written, in the comments section. And don’t forget to share with your networks.

Author Bio:

Yomi-Alliyu Oludami is a professional freelance writer and the founder of, a blog that teaches how to write for money and traffic. You can visit his website to learn more or hire him for your writing projects.

You can also follow him on twitter @oludami_LP.

The Vicious Circle of Self Employment

Being self-employed can be very empowering, no strict working hours, you can sit at your desk in your PJ’s if you like, you don’t have to answer to a ‘boss’ and many other benefits.

All these things are good, but what if you end up working more hours than when you were an employee? You can’t just walk away from work and forget about it until 9am the next morning.

I have been working for myself for nearly 18 months, when I sat down and looked at my bottom line a few weeks ago while writing down my 2013 goals, I realised that I am working more hours but earning quite a bit less than in my last job! I’ve managed, I had savings and living in France isn’t as expensive as England, but it’s got to the point where I need to think about how I am going to earn a reasonable income but not work so many hours.

Regular Clients

As my business has progressed I have been doing more and more one-off jobs, mainly eBook formatting. This makes me a reasonable amount of money, if I added up all the hours I spend on formatting and divide it by the income it produces I’d be getting my hourly rate or more, which is great. But having one-off jobs is ok, if you have regular clients to keep the money flowing in when you don’t have any one-off jobs. You end up in a vicious circle of one-off job, looking for work, another one-off job, looking for more work… In fact many self-employed people are looking for work for as many hours as they’re working, and it soon adds up!

Being a virtual assistant I do have a few regular clients, but certainly not as many as I’d like. Ideally I would be happy with 2 or 3 regular clients who pay me a regular retainer package each month, at least then I would know my bills were covered. I don’t want to be rich, I just want to be able to live within my means and not have to worry where the next job is coming from. 

Passive Income

So, in search of others ways I can work less hours and earn enough money to live on I decided I would go down the route of passive income. It’s something I have been thinking about for some time, and 2013 is going to be the year I put all my ideas in to practice.

Just last Friday I spent the whole day working on my first product which I am selling on my eBook formatting website. It’s a Microsoft Word template and it’s set-up so people can use it to type their manuscripts and use the various styles I have created to hopefully create an eBook which is suitable for uploading to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. I have kept the price low, and there are some extra incentives which go with the template itself, which I hope will appeal to the authors/writers that would like to have a go at formatting their own eBook.

Some of the other products I hope to be launching this year are:

  • an eCourse for authors (on eBook formatting website)
  • an eBook of blog posts
  • an eBook (and possibly a paperback) – topic yet to be finalised
  • possibly a paid eBook review service

So I have been pretty busy thinking of ways I can earn some money while I sleep, which means I won’t have to work all hours just to pay the rent.

I love being self-employed and I love the feeling when another client pays an invoice, I know that the money is all mine and I’ve earn’t it. What I don’t like are the times when there is no work and my hours are spent looking for work, it’s a very precarious situation to be in when you’re self-employed, but I wouldn’t change it now.

Getting the Best Deals on Your Home Office Purchases


Jamie Griffiths is a content writer for Approved Index – the UK’s leading B2B marketplace for buyers and suppliers of business products and services.

In the digital era setting up a home office to accommodate your new self-employment necessarily involves purchasing some new kit. Often these purchases go one of two ways: either you spend countless hours determinedly hunting around for the very best deals or you take the easier option of shelling out what is probably a bit too much money.

Neither of those is the ideal outcome for the cash-strapped and time-poor start-up business person. Some kind of compromise is required so that you’re not distracted from your core activities for too long while still getting a decent deal on your equipment. The following tips should save you time and money whether you’re looking for cheap photocopiers, a business phone system or a new PC.

1. eBay is your friend…

If you’re not scared of a lack of manufacturer warranties then eBay is the place to look for your home office equipment. As well as independent sellers off-loading their used hardware you’ll also find many businesses which offer refurbished and reconditioned multi-function printers, telephones, desktop computers etc. Sometimes these companies will even offer their own warranties to provide that all important peace of mind. Sticking to the eBay seller rating system will ensure that you’re not about to be ripped off by non-existent goods.

2. …but do your research first

Of course it’s all well and good recommending eBay as a place to buy your equipment, but that doesn’t answer the more fundamental question of which equipment should I buy? Google searching a type of product with ‘reviews’ only turns up pages of SEO-ed content which is usually of no help whatsoever. Instead, go to Amazon or another large online retailer which has a customer review facility. Search for the type of product you’re after here and use the star rating system and user comments to narrow down your search. Apart from general user experience keep an eye out for comments on the price of consumables (e.g. toner cartridges). Once you’ve found a suitable solution you can then try to find the same product for cheaper elsewhere.

(Reminder: Be a good citizen; when you’ve purchased your item, leave a review for future users)

3. Don’t be rushed

While you don’t want to waste days looking for your office equipment neither do you want to get stuck with the first product offered. If you are going to buy from a dealer and enjoy a manufacturer warranty you should still take the time to compare prices across several sites. Type the product name as precisely as you can into Google and then check out the shopping results (by clicking the ‘Shopping’ link under ‘Search’ on the left hand side) for a quick overview of prices.

4. Check the delivery rates

I may be stating the obvious now but always check that the delivery price is included and the time frame. Some retailers offer only their very slowest delivery options for free and these usually also have restricted delivery times (though if you’re working from home that shouldn’t be a problem).

5. Don’t be afraid to return

Phones not up to scratch? Copier not working the way it said it would? Vital PC components missing? Then send it back. Check before you purchase that the seller accepts returns (eBay Buyer Protection can resolve such problems eventually but it’s always best to ensure the seller has their own agreeable policy) and that they’ll cover the cost of sending the unsuitable item(s) back.

I hope you’ve found the above advice helpful. All that remains is for me to wish you good luck in kitting out your new home office and the very best of fortune in your self-employment!