Hey Tawnya, it’s great to be here today. Everyone is excited about the success of VATalkShow.com, your new internet radio show and blog. I know I’m excited just being here as well as am looking forward to our podcast scheduled for May 9th. But, let me stop talking about the future – let’s roll with our conversation today.
1.     What information should a Virtual Assistant put in their first press release to announce their practice?
Good question, Tawnya. The release should answer the five (5) “W’s”: who, what, when, where, why. It should essentially tell your story; who you are, why you opened your business, identify your product or service, your target audience and why they should buy from you.
Also, find a unique angle – answer the question why the readers should care (that you’ve opened your business). Express the benefits they will receive by doing business with your new company, i.e. save money or time, make life easier, etc.
Include a testimonial or quote from a reliable source (adds credibility) or use statistics in support of your industry or business (i.e., economic impact, ratio of new businesses opening, number of similar businesses offering similar services in the immediate community) and/or relate your opening to a recent news item and piggy back on the topic.
Whatever you do, don’t make your release sound like an advertisement – but be sure to “Grab” the reader’s attention. And always use the active not passive voice.
2.    How many more years do you think it will be until the term Virtual Assistant is mainstream?
Actually, I believe it will be sooner than you would think. With so many new and exciting things occurring in the industry, and the added publicity it’s receiving from events such as the upcoming convention, other industry conferences, and individual VAs promoting their businesses in their local communities, the word is spreading exponentially. I fully expect that within the next 5 years or so, it will be a widely recognized and understood mainstream term.
3.  Do you think a VA should have a blog and if so, why?
Definitely, every time someone posts an entry on their blog it creates fresh content for their site – and search engines love fresh content. And if the blog contains relevant information and is visited frequently, with individuals providing comments and back links, it will increase the site’s rankings. Blogging is a win-win-win scenario for any VA and an activity I highly recommend everyone in the industry perform. It is really a simple process that when done regularly, with relevant content, can increase credibility, enhance the blogger’s image as an expert, and standing among peers.
4.   How many billed hours per week can a Virtual Assistant expect to bill on average working approximately 40 hours per week?
There are several formulas and worksheets circulating throughout the VA industry that can address this question. Offhand, a virtual assistant can bill about 30-32 hours of a 40 hour week. The non-billable hours are spend on administrative tasks, such as billing (smile), blogging (smile again), research, communicating with vendors, testing new technology, updating your web site, writing articles, etc. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur – but it’s fun!

5.  Sharon, with everything you are involved in to help promote virtual assistants, how do you manage to have time to put together OIVAC with such success?
Fortunately, I’m not working alone and receive assistance and counsel from the OIVAC Steering Committee. They spend many, many hours at pre-event planning meetings; and I encourage all the VAs following the tour as well as Tawnya’s regular readers to support the convention and join us at the informative seminars being presented by an outstanding group of top notch presenters.
Well Tawnya, it’s time to move on to the next stop. Yesterday, I visited Sally Kuhlman of Virtual Simplicity. Tomorrow, I’m dropping in on Jeanne Fuller of Access Referral Network. Jeanne is a perfect example of what I’ve talked about often during this podcast and blog hopping tour. She is not a VA, but is a business owner who appreciates virtual assistants and is supporting us in this campaign to spread the word about the industry. Ms. Fuller, along with other small business owners such as Ann Zuccany of Vermont Shortbread, Shannon Cherry of Cherry Communications, Biana Babinsky of Avocado Consulting, Rima McDonald of Business Resource Podcast Directory, and Scharlene Redway of Full Circle Mentoring are also supporting the industry. At least 10 additional small business owners are helping us spread the word, too. So, let’s do our part – and I’ll see you at the convention. Oh, the clue, I don’t remember it today – let me check, that’s right, it’s utcnoartsbc.

About Sharon Williams

Sharon is the Chairperson of the Alliance for Virtual Businesses and OIVAC, and president of The 24 Hour Secretary an administrative, secretarial and internet-based marketing support services company. She is the 2006 recipient of the Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award and co-founder of Virtual Business University an e-learning environment for entrepreneurs ready to step towards their greatness.

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