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Virtual Assistant or Virtual Project Manager?

Virtual Assistant or Virtual Project Manager

Every business needs assistance large or small, corporate or private, someone has to answer the phones, respond to emails, organize meetings, and create a long term business plan. The list goes on. Accomplishing these daily tasks and long term goals takes work; it can be overwhelming, time consuming and tedious. As an entrepreneur you could apply your time as a jack of all trades, but it’s likely not the best idea for growing your business. Instead, consider enlisting a Virtual Assistant (VA) or a Virtual Project Manager (VPM) to support you. But wait, which one? Are they different or are they the same? Both roles are critical to your success, however, before you can delegate work to someone else – you must understand the difference between them and choose which best suits your requirements and business objectives.

Here are some (but not all) essential tasks of a Virtual Assistant (VA):

  • Marketing Support: It’s important to stay on-deadline with your marketing calendar. These tasks are recurring, are time-consuming and need daily attention. They involve Social Media posting and upkeep, posting new blog articles, setting up newsletters blasts, website administration and maintenance.
  • Sales Support/CRM Administration: In order to keep your business flowing and your sales pipeline moving, answering client inquiries by email in a timely manner are essential to a healthy client base. Updating and accurate client scheduling are also primary necessities to keep your business structured.
  • General Administration/Organization: Being organized about time management helps you complete tasks that have deadlines; and most importantly doing so efficiently and accurately. It’s critical to manage customer contact lists, maintain multiple calendars, plan meetings and keep tasks prioritized.

The tasks listed above are just a few of many that a VA can perform. Virtual assistants work on hourly retainers or have set packages and they charge anywhere in the range of $25 to $55 per hour in the US. As with any service provider, the more experience a Virtual Assistant has or if they cater to a specific niche or specialty – the more they can charge. Succeeding as a VA takes skill, attention to detail, personal organization and continuing education to assist online businesses and the vital programs needed to run a virtual office. There are several types of programs a VA should familiarize themselves with; such as task management programs, CRM’s, help desk applications, email marketing software, social media management tools, and the list goes on. The client delegates the tasks they need done, and the VA is responsible for getting them completed by deadline. VA’s set their own work schedule and a high quality of work is expected of them (without supervision).

Here are some (but not all) requirements of a Virtual Project Manager (VPM):

  • Project Planning: A Virtual Project Manager is the lead on a project and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of a project and maintaining a successful implementation/outcome. VPM’s create project action plans, timelines, manage other virtual team members, and resources.
  • Team Organization: Similar to planning, a VPM understands all aspects of the project action plan they create and will organize the team and resources so that all members are assigned roles (based on their own skills or strengths) and holds everyone accountable in all aspects to successfully execute the final outcome.
  • Leadership: A VPM is comfortable with ironing out complex issues, leading the team, monitoring the tasks, and making sure the project is executed properly and the finished objectives are met. Making sure that all team members stay motivated is fundamental to their client’s success.

A VPM’s niche and experience whether marketing or technical assumes a key part in what they charge their customers. Virtual Project Managers can make an upwards of $55 to $100 per hour in the US. They are generally the go-to person that ensures the client’s goals and expectations are met to create a successful end result with any project.

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to know when to seek help and the type of support you need.

To learn more about CT Virtual and the Virtual Project Management, Marketing, PR, and Creative Services we offer –Schedule your free discovery session! Have specific project management questions, ask me on Twitter! Visit our Online Creative Portfolio!

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5 Reasons Why Research is Crucial for Start-ups & Customer Development


5 Reasons Why Research is Crucial for Start-ups & Customer Development

There are many businessmen and women who become alarmed when hearing that 80% of small businesses fail within the first five years of being started.

If your business is a start-up, then you know that a successful plan for business marketing has little to do with gut feeling. It is however based on sound market research. If you have already come to terms with this, then you will have a competitive advantage. Despite the fact that market research is crucial for understanding the competition, many startup ideas are focused on the business opportunities and creating successful products. If startup businesses spend more time on understanding competition on all levels: segment competition, product competition, technology competition, future competition – they will be better equipped at devising highly effective competitive action plans.

Below we will outline reasons as to why research is crucial for startups and customer development:

  1. Poor planning: One of the major reasons as to why research is crucial for startups is poor planning. This can compromise the unplanned financial management, unplanned business administration, and unplanned marketing efforts.
  1. Marketing yourself well: Instead of marketing your general profession, you should stay focused on your niche. For example, if you market yourself as a “Research Startup”, you are too general and not specific enough. Try marketing your idea as “On-demand Media Research for Publishers” or “DIY Market Research Platform for Small Businesses”.

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Build Your Author Platform in 6 Easy Steps

Building Your Author Platform

Sometimes it’s called an author platform, writing platform, branding, social media presence, or what have you, but essentially, all these things are based on the same principle: you need to create a solid foundation for your writing business in order to build awareness, sustain it, and sell more books.

The word “platform’ might seem terrifying, but if you know all the variables involved ahead of time, and break them down into actionable goals, building your author platform is easier than you thought.  In this article, we will set you up with a plan on how to build up and maintain your author platform and connect everything, with small steps, so you can experience a gradual, steady increase in your visibility and reputation. So, let’s get to it!

  1. Author Websites: Yes, you might think that in 2015 a website is not quintessential anymore because of other existing platforms – but it is. In fact, most book marketers believe, next to email marketing, your website is the most important entity of your Author Platform. You need a stable foundation for your online presence, one that you have complete and unlimited control of. Building a solid author website is not necessarily a huge burden on your time if you have great author website designer, but there are other options as well. You can hire professional designers, or create one yourself using Wix or Grid, without having to write a single line of code. Blog engines like WordPress or Blogger also offer beautiful templates, but a blog template site may not have all the features you want. In this case, you can hire a Virtual Assistant Company that specializes in WordPress to enhance your site and make it complete. Alternatively, you can register on a personal branding site network like me. These are not the same as completely functional websites, but it can do the trick until you have a real site up and running. As an Author, it is important that you buy a personal URL or domain under your author or pen name.
  1. Contacts and List Building: Digital media offers a wide selection of tools to boost you author platform. But first, make certain to utilize your your personal and professional contacts, who can help you grow, give you feedback and spread the word, and create an opt-in list for them to join or for you to add contacts manually. This is referred to as your “Core Fan Base”. Next, make a list of people outside your network. This list should include your favorite authors (who write the same genre as your books), experts on the subjects you write about, and other stakeholders and media professionals. Now you can start looking for ways to use the first group to give the second group access to your author platform. Continue to build your lists by continuously sharing your opt-in list signup and by manually adding new contacts you meet.

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What Do Literary Agents Look for in Self-Published Authors?

What Do Agents Look for in Self-Published Authors?

I need an agent!

Over the past few months, I’ve been asked (and tested) by many clients to answer this question. And although the answer is not as cut and dry as most would hope, the truth is more and more literary agents are opening their doors to the self-published community. This comes as no surprise with all the success stories posted online about how one author turned his self-published ebook into a best-seller, but it still doesn’t resolve the question.

In my pursuit for more knowledge and bettering the services we offer clients, I’m tickled pink to declare we’ve scheduled interviews with two top literary agents in New York (that offer representation of self-published writers) to throw more light on this subject. Don’t forget to check get back later in the month – we’ll post their Q&A sessions.

In the meantime, since we promote many self-published authors, I will share two areas you should be working to improve, that can facilitate selling more books and getting consideration from agents.

  1. Amazon and Goodreads Reviews: I know I’ve said this in earlier posts, but I’ll say it once more. The more reviews you have on these two sites, the better your rankings will be. Take advantage of Amazon’s Free eBook Promotions or Goodreads Book Giveaway in the beginning. People tend to follow others, and the more people who hear about your book, the better your sales will be. Great rankings are impressive and agents view these sources before deciding if they will invest in an author.
  1. Author/Book Promotions: Most self-published authors are confused where to put their time wisely or they haven’t yet put aside a marketing budget. While a national book tour or promotion campaign may fall outside of what you can afford to do, you will need a firm presence on Facebook, Twitter and especially Goodreads. There’s also a difference between standard website design and author websites. Before going off on your own author campaign or creating your own website, consult someone who knows your category and the publishing industry. It’s critical for authors to interact with others and their target readership, and having a creative plan and PR strategy first, packs a powerful punch in the final stages. Literary agents will also ascertain your previous marketing efforts.

For more information about our administrative, marketing, and creative services for Authors and Speakers – schedule your free 30-minute consultation today.

How to Promote Your Speaking Career and Book Using Internet Radio

Cyrus Webb of Conversations Live interviews Author, Speaker and Fitness Pro Tamara Jackson.

Of all the PR and promotional strategies we use to promote our Author and Speaker clients, booking internet radio interviews is my top favorite approach. Internet radio makes it easy for us to reach a broader audience, and with many shows that interview guests in all different niches, it is very effective for aligning our clients with the right fan base.

My favorite internet radio platform and the one we use to promote our clients is Blog Talk Radio (BTR). BTR has provided us an excellent opportunity to promote our clients’ books, e-courses, and knowledge in specific areas or expertise. As opposed to paying for scripted radio spots that rarely convey enough substance to connect with your audience on a personal level, interviews on BTR are featured spots, more personal, and completely free to conduct. Interviews can run anywhere from 30 minutes up to an hour. Read more…

5 Techniques for Finding & Booking Speaking Engagements

Securing Speaking Engagements and Getting Booked

When I first started working with Authors, Speakers and Coaches to source good speaking gigs; it felt just as hard as finding a needle in a haystack. As discouraging as it was at times, luckily I stayed focused and within a year, I am now able to streamline the process for my clients. If asking me “How does one go about finding viable leads for speaking engagements?”, below are my “Top 5 Techniques” to finding good contacts and getting yourself booked!

1. Define Your Niche: I can’t stress how important it is to find your niche early on. It’s not only important for your success, but it’s an integral part of marketing and representation process. How will any organization or industry know your value or worth, if you haven’t set yourself apart? By defining a clear niche immediately, you are making significant strides to becoming an expert in your field.

2. Define Your Target Audience: If you want to be hired and paid for speaking engagements and you’ve already established yourself as an expert in your field, you need to define your target audience. For example, if you are an Online Business Coach and work with Mompreneurs; you will need to target specific women’s organizations, networks, and groups. Technical associations can also be your target if helping these women to succeed in their online business.

3. Free Speaking Engagements: If you are not a paid speaker yet, but want to start earning money for the valuable advice you bestow; you need to start somewhere. There are great places locally and within your community that will help you build your roster. Check your local libraries, schools, Kiwanis, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary clubs. Get involved or become a member. Most likely these associations and contacts will lead to a paid gig down the road.

4. Social Media Groups & Communities: Many gigs I’ve secured for clients have resulted from being active in groups and communities on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. These social media platforms have many valuable business networks where information is passed back and forth. There are information seekers and information providers. People can pose questions and experts can provide their advice. Social media is a great place for establishing yourself as expert in your field. Research groups and communities where you would find your target audience as well as industry related networks where other business professionals could use your expertise to share with their connections. Stay active and be consistent. Over time, the exposure will build.

5. Speaker Directories: In addition to researching gigs or creating your own speaker series, getting found online can be expensive and time consuming. The good news is there are websites that list speakers for free and that charge for listings. Event and Meeting planners will often go to these directories looking for a speaker on a certain topic. I prefer the directories that take the guess work out by providing “by program”, “by budget” or “by genre” directories. Here is one of many directories I use and recommend for my Author, Speaker and Coaching clients:

If you seek assistance with securing speaking engagements, establishing yourself as an expert in your field online, or you need a Speaker Media Kit that clearly defines you and your brand – please contact Michelle Anastasio for your free 30-Minute Consultation.

VA for Authors: Helping Authors Promote Their Books Online

As an Author, wouldn’t you rather be writing than marketing and promoting your book? You can if working with an experienced Virtual Assistant. There are a plethora of marketing and PR agencies out there that will book you — and if you have the funds, by all means, move forward.

But what are the alternatives if you’re promoting your book on a tight budget? There is always the “free” option to become something you are not; the type A personality that thrives on being their own marketer, brander, web designer, event planner, spokesperson and social media expert. In my opinion, working on marketing and promotions is not time spent on writing. If writing is your passion and your business plan for paying the bills, is this option really free or cost-effective in the long run?

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Google Plus Blog Series: Day 2 of 7

Google Plus Hashtags

As today is Day 2 in our Google+ Blog Series, I would like to focus on the use of Hashtags on Google Plus. Read more…

Google Plus Blog Series: Day 1 of 7


How many of you have considered Google+ to be a huge waste of time? You have thought this way for some time now and the idea of incorporating Google+ into your social media platform has taken a back seat. You are not alone in your thinking; I was one of these people until I decided to really explore this social media network. Read more…

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