Posts Categorized: Guest bloggers

3 Things Clients Want In Their Dream VA

Susan Drumm spent over a decade teaching companies like L’Oreal, Viacom and Conde Nast how to lead their teams towards multi-million dollar growth. Now she uses those same skills to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses to seven figure success. Your success as an entrepreneur depends on your ability to hire, inspire and lead team. Get her free ebook on hiring your dream VA here. 

hire right

So you finally (finally!) feel like you’re getting this whole ‘self employment’ thing figured out. You can attend holiday dinners and discuss work with Nosy Aunt Ellen … and she might even understand what you do! You’ve got a nice roster of clients, a healthy profit margin, you’re even booked out a few months into the future. This is me, raising my glass to you.

What you don’t have a lot of?
Breathing space.
Wonderfully unscheduled afternoons for spontaneous coffee dates and reading in the park.

You need a virtual assistant.

I’ve helped hundreds of executives build sales-making, profit-multiplying, freetime-increasing teams, so I know a thing or three about hiring right.

If you’re ready to hire your first assistant - this post is for you.
If you’re interested in becoming a VA - this post is also for you!

Of course, every client and every job is different, but here are three things that will keep just about any client happy and just about any VA steadily booked.

1. Timely and honest communication

For clients
When you send your VA an email filled with instructions and tasks and a huge attachment, you want to make sure they actually, you know, received that email. You also want to know if they understood your request, have any follow up questions, or hit a snag.

When you’re interviewing candidates, rather than asking them how long it usually takes to respond to emails, ask them a more open ended question, like “what do you do when you receive an assignment?” and see what answer they volunteer. Do they mention that they confirm receipt and ask questions within 12 - 24 hours? You’ll get a more honest answer because they don’t know specifically what you are looking for and are more likely to tell you their true process/behavior. Follow up by asking them  what they’d do if a project was taking longer than they expected.

For VAs
Most clients will expect you to respond to their emails on the same day they send them (unless they send it after business hours.) Some clients don’t care - make sure you figure out which type your client is. If nothing else, most clients appreciate a “got it!” email with follow up questions in the next day or two.

Similarly, some clients would prefer that you spend an hour Googling a solution rather than asking them for help. Some want to know the minute you have a question. During your interview, ask your potential client about their communication ‘pet peeves.’

2. A basic grasp of 2-3 social media platforms and scheduling tools

For clients
Unless your business is completely offline, you’re probably on social media and you’re probably sick of spending hours writing tweets. You probably won’t find a VA who’s a bona fide expert in Facebook AND Twitter AND Pinterest AND Instagram AND Youtube (and if you do, they’ll probably be really expensive). It is, however, reasonable to expect your VA to have a good working knowledge of two or three platforms. They should understand how to schedule updates on those platforms and know some best practices associated with them.

For VAs
If you’re only proficient in Facebook, take some time to learn at least one other platform and definitely learn Hootsuite, Buffer, or Tweetdeck. If you’ve done social media work in the past, pull your analytics (average clicks per tweet, how much you grew a client’s profile, etc) and include that information in your resume.

3. A willingness to learn (like, really)

For clients
We all say we want to hire people who express a “willingness to learn” but when you’re working online it’s particularly important. Five years ago, Instagram wasn’t even a thing and seven years ago, blogging was a totally different animal. You’ll probably need your VA to learn new platforms and acquire skills that don’t even exist right now! When you’re interviewing VAs, ask them about the skills that they’ve learned in the last six months and what skills they plan to develop over the next six months? This way you’ll get a specific answer and get a good idea of where they’re all with these newly-acquired skills.

For VAs
Show potential clients that you’re serious about learning and improving; take classes, read trade journals and websites. Find a way to work this information about yourself into your interview!

The right VA (or the right client) can totally change your career. Hopefully, these tips will help you get a bit closer to finding one!

Have your ever hired a VA? Or worked as one? In the comments, I’d love to hear how you found your VA or your client!

Edited to add: this post was originally titled ‘3 things bosses look for in their dream VA’ but as many commenters validly pointed out, the relationship is much more client/vendor than boss/employee. Susan and I apologize for the ruffled feathers!

photo by jeff sheldon // via unsplash // cc

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Crowdfunding Your Business


This guest post comes to us via Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes who co-founded MoolaHoop. It’s a rewards-based crowdfunding platform created by women to help women leverage the “power of the crowd” to grow their businesses. MoolaHoop enables female entrepreneurs, business owners and managers to garner financial support for their projects by reaching out to their customers, offering Rewards in the form of special pricing on their products and services and unique experiences. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter

So, you’ve heard the impressive crowdfunding success stories and are looking to launch your own campaign for your business. Great! Crowdfunding can be an excellent debt and equity-free way to raise funds to grow your company.

However, a crowdfunding campaign is a full-time marketing campaign. It involves a lot of preparation and hard work. Before you start your project, you should assess whether it is the right funding tool for you. Here are five questions to ask yourself to determine if your business is right for crowdfunding:

  1. What kind of business do I have?

Crowdfunding works best if you have a consumer product or service.  If your business serves other businesses, this may not be the method for you.

Rewards-based crowdfunding is essentially a pre-sale of products that your customers want right away. So the most successful campaigns offer early availability of new products or exclusive deals on things your customers love.

  1. Do I have a “crowd”?

Before you take on a crowdfunding campaign, you need to have a concrete list of who your customers are.

Collect their e-mails, invite them to like you on Facebook and have them follow you on Twitter. Once you have your followers, you’ll be able to start a conversation and engage real people in your business.

You can do things like provide special discounts, event invitations or access to behind-the-scenes content. Offer them something exclusive that is only available to people who join the community

Before you start a campaign, you need to determine how big your social network really is. How many people follow you on Twitter? How many receive your e-mail newsletter? These are the people you will be inviting to support your campaign, so the bigger your crowd, the wider your reach.

40-50% of your pledges will come from your direct social network and the remaining 50-60% will come from their networks. This means you have to have a big crowd and a story that people are compelled to share with their friends and family.

  1. How do I tell my story to best engage my supporters?

People always want to be part of a success story. They want to be able to say that they “knew you when.” They like the idea of supporting you in building your dream.

So, you have to tell your story in a way that lets your supporters be a part of an exciting narrative. Rather than saying “I can’t make my rent payments for the next three months, please donate to my campaign,” instead tell people that there’s enormous demand for your product or service but that you need their help to raise the funds to bring your product to market or move your business to a larger space. Always frame your story in a positive light to get people excited about your next step.

  1. Can I offer appealing rewards?

A crowdfunding campaign runs for a limited period of time so your rewards have to invite people to act now. That means either they get the product before anybody else, or they get a deal or experience that will never be offered again.

Get creative. For consumer products, considering offering a limited edition color or style. For services, a special event or a behind-the-scenes experience can be very enticing.

Offering things that are currently available on your website or at your place of business is unlikely to elicit enthusiastic support.

  1. Am I that person?

A crowdfunding campaign is a 24/7, nonstop marketing push. It requires you to ask and ask and ask for support. That will mean personal calls and e-mails as well as face-to-face meetings. This is definitely not for everyone. You have to be willing to really sell your business (and yourself) to be successful. You can’t just sit back after you’ve launched your campaign and hope for the pledges to roll in.

In addition to your supporters, you’ll need to get writers, bloggers and press interested in your story to give your campaign some extra PR fuel. It’s best if you’ve built some of these relationships prior to starting your campaign. In other words, you have to be constantly getting the word out.

This checklist should help you determine if crowdfunding is going to be the right method to help you to obtain the capital you need to expand your business. We look forward to seeing you grow!

Have you ever crowdfunded a project? How did it go? Share your stories and tips in the comments!

photo by david marcu // cc

6 Things Your WordPress Site Wants You To Do Every Month

This guest post comes to us from Norma Maxwell, founder and CEO of Connect Interactive, LLC, a digital creative agency that specializes in WordPress design, development and strategic online success building. Her passion is helping clients create a strategic online presence that not only connects with the right people, but resonates long after they have made their first contact. Connect with Norma on Twitter or Facebook. 


WordPress is like a car. It needs regular tuneups to keep running smoothly.

Having your own self-hosted WordPress website is a beautiful (and necessary) thing for any serious business owner or blogger. Unlike websites hosted on proprietary platforms owned and controlled by someone else, a self-hosted website is 100% owned and controlled by you.  It’s like the difference between owning your own car, or renting from someone else.  When you rent, you follow someone else’s (always changing) rules, and you pay a lot more money for the privilege.

But, just like owning a car, having a self-hosted WordPress website requires upkeep.  You keep the oil changed and schedule regular maintenance to make sure your car keeps running smoothly. In the same way, your website requires regular maintenance to make sure it stays up-to-date, secure, and runs like it should. You can change the oil and run the maintenance on your car yourself, or hire a mechanic to do it for you. Either way, you owe it to yourself to make sure your website stays secure and maintained, so you won’t find yourself broken down on the side of the Internet highway.

How to Keep Your WordPress Website Maintained + Safe

  1. Create a weekly or monthly (depending on how much content you stand to lose if you do it less often) complete backup of your WordPress database, images, and all content.
    You can do this by purchasing a backup plugin that will help you create the backup. I use the Backup Buddy plugin on my clients’ websites. Store the backups locally on your server and on a remote storage account (such as Amazon S3). Although some hosts offer backup plans, if something happens to their server, you’ll have a complete backup of your website stored elsewhere, which gives you peace-of-mind-just like keeping your important papers stored in a safety security box in a bank.
  2. Keep your WordPress software, themes and plugins updated.
    If you don’t, you run a real risk of your website getting hacked and infected with malware. Every time WordPress releases an update, it’s because the developers have discovered a vulnerability, or are making the software perform better in some way.  The same thing goes for themes and plugins you’re using on your site. You get an alert in your administration panel when an update has been released, and it’s a two-three click operation to update your software.  Whenever you log in, if you see a plugin, theme, or WordPress requires an update-just do it.
  3. Remove unused themes and plugins, and get rid of unnecessary plugins.
    Any extra software on your website creates risk. If you’re not using a theme, delete it.  Same thing goes for any disabled plugins on your site. If you have plugins installed on your site that aren’t absolutely necessary, get rid of them.Less is definitely more in this case because the most important thing you can do for your visitors is offer them a safe visit to your website, and maintaining a healthy, fast website is the best way you can do this for them. A bunch of plugins you don’t need = slow site performance. Slow site performance = lost visitors to your website and lost revenue for your business.There are thousands of plugins available for WordPress, but that doesn’t mean you should use them all!

    Any developer in the world can create a plugin which means the quality can vary a LOT.  Some plugins are great, and some not-so-much.  Check to make sure the plugins you use are supported and regularly updated by the developer.  Read user reviews to see if people are having positive results from the plugin.  You can find all this information on the page for that plugin (if the plugin you want to use isn’t listed there-it’s a red flag, so I would recommend you don’t use it).

  4. Perform regular security scans.
    Hackers are busier than ever wreaking havoc on innocent websites. It’s a fact of life that can’t be ignored because one malware infection can cause you to lose all of your website content, put your site visitors at risk, and potentially cause your website address to be blacklisted by Google. All of which would definitely NOT be good for business. You can monitor your WordPress website for malware by using a plugin like WordFence or setting up a subscription web service like Sucuri to make sure you’ll be notified of any vulnerabilities your site has immediately.
  5. I also recommend installing the iThemes Security plugin to give yourself an extra layer of protection against threat by hiding vital areas of your site, restricting access to important files, preventing brute-force login attempts, detecting any attack attempts, and notifying you by email if there are any issues with your site.
  6. Use a comment spam prevention plugin like Akismet to control comment spam.
    You can review any spam comments it catches in the admin section of your site.
  7. Create a secure username and password and change it regularly.
    A secure password is 18 characters long, and contains a combination of special characters, capital and lowercase letters, and numbers. You can use a free application like Passpack Desktop to help you generate secure passwords and store them securely in one place so you can always look them up when you need them.

I know it seems like a lot of work, and it does take some time, but if you take these steps, you’ll have a safe, secure website that runs like a charm and doesn’t stress you out.  Your website takes care of you in so many ways, so it makes sense that you need to take care of it to make sure it functions as it should.  If you’d rather have dental work than do this yourself, I have a Monthly Maintenance for WordPress package just for you.   I’ll take care of making sure your website is safe, secure, and running smoothly so you can focus on what you do best!

What updates do you run on your site? What are you favorite plugins? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. 7 ways to spring clean your blog and How to use Google Webmaster tools in a non-overwhelming way.

How To Create Your Own Infographics

This guest post comes to us from Cristina Roman. She’s a Digital Strategist at CMR Strategies and the founder of One Woman Shop, a resource site for freelancers and solopreneurs. In her spare time, she drinks too much Starbucks coffee, volunteers, plays tennis, blogs, and makes gluten-free meals. Want to connect with Cristina? Find her on Twitter or join her email list!

Who hasn’t heard of infographics by now? These colorful graphics have been circulating the internet for the past several years - a quick search on Pinterest generates thousands of results. A fun side note: though infographics have been having their heyday recently, they’ve actually been around for centuries- cave paintings and the Washington DC Metro map can both be considered infographics!

If you’re looking to capitalize on the popularity of this visual trend but worry about your lack of graphic design skills, take note of these tips for the amateur designer.

Get inspired
Browse Google or Pinterest for design ideas that grab your attention. Use the description area on Pinterest to add notes on what you like best about the design- is it the amount of white space? The use of various types of graphs? The incorporation of interesting angles and shapes? The theme (maybe it’s vintage or digital or 80’s…)? Obviously, copying another designer’s work is never cool, but don’t be afraid to pull elements that you love from other pieces.

Choose a palette
If you’re creating an infographic for your brand, consider sticking to your brand colors and fonts (here’s where that style guide will come in handy!). Not sure what colors your designer used? Upload an image of your logo or a screenshot from your website to this handy tool to figure out the HEX code of the color used. If you’re looking to experiment with new colors, check out one of these 10 super useful tools for choosing the right color palette. Lastly, find lighter and darker shades of any HEX color with this tool from W3Schools.

Choose fitting fonts
 Slap a cool font on anything and it instantly jazzes it up. offers free downloads of fonts available for commercial use. Love a font that you saw while browsing Pinterest but not sure which one it is? Use WhatTheFont! (how awesome is that name?!) to determine the font style. If you’re completely overwhelmed by all of the fonts out there, check out this infographic on the psychology of fonts (see what I did there?) to find a good fit for your purposes.

Take advantage of free tools
With the rising popularity of infographics in marketing, several websites have cropped up to make it easy to create professional-looking infographics in minutes. Both and offer pre-made templates that you can insert your own data and content into. allows you to create interactive (read: clickable) infographics from your data. It quickly converts data from Excel into an infographic and has lots of themes to choose from. On the down side, there are limitations to the graphical elements you can insert and no branding is available with the free version.

Looking to create infographics for internal use? Link to your Google Analytics account or Facebook Insights! Want to take advantage of the infographic trend? can be connected to your LinkedIn profile.’s limitations include the inability to customize certain data and, like with, no branding is available on the free version.

Ready to design your first infographic? Get out there, you future design whiz! Once it’s complete, read up on a few tips for promoting your colorful and informative marketing visual.

Do you use infographics for your business or blog?  How do you create them or find them?

infographic via // by alberto antoniazzi

Finding Your Ideal Clients (no really, the perfect ones) Without Going Broke

finding ideal clients

Every business owner has heard of the elusive “ideal clients” — the unicorn-like creatures who pay what you ask when you ask it, offer up only witty and charming questions, and love your business more than all of their first cousins, combined.

It’s easy to say that’s a pipe dream being touted by marketing experts and business bloggers the world over to trick small business owners into feeling bad, but it’s not.  Ideal clients are very real, and you deserve to find yours within the next few weeks!

Best of all, you can find your ideal clients without going broke.  Finding your ideal peeps requires payment in courage, not currency.  

If you’re tired of having less-than-dreamy people buying from your business, it’s time to get to work.

Ideal client finder step 1: choose them

Let’s say that you’re shopping for a wedding dress.  You go into a store and say, “I’m here to find my wedding dress!” Any salesperson worth her weight in taffeta will ask follow-up questions, like, “What’s the silhouette you’d prefer? Would you prefer traditional or modern?  What sort of details do you like on a gown?  Do you prefer floor-length or a bit shorter?  Would you like a train?”

Let’s say that you answer, “I don’t know.”  Your salesperson is suddenly deflated, as she’s seen this “I’ll know it when I see it” scenario play out before: the indecisive bride-to-be always leaves disappointed.

The same goes for you and your business if you don’t define your ideal clients in a loving yet precise way.  Yes, they can afford your products or services, but go beyond that: who are they as human beings?  What defines their inner life?  Their outer life?  What do they aspire to be or to do in the world?

The more detailed you can go into defining who you’re trying to draw to you, the more likely you are to actually draw it to you.

Ideal client finder step 2: tell them who they are, and often

My peeps are heartstrong (yep, I made up that word) entrepreneurs who laugh at a good “That’s what she said” joke every time.  No matter what stage of their business they’re in, my peeps are interested in doing more than making money with their business.  They’d like to change their lives, change their industries, and/or change the world.  They like to be entertained when they’re learning, and they’re not adverse to my use of inappropriate analogies.

I mention these attributes to them in blog posts and in the Start Here page that introduces them to my business.  We all love to feel like we’ve found “our” people!

Ideal client finder step 3: show them who you are, and often

It’s only by being willing to go too far that I find out how far I can take my business, and the same is true of you and your enterprise.  (More about that below.)

A few questions to check in with whether you’re an ideal-client magnet:

Have I defined my ideal clients in more than vague terms?
Your ideal clients will be just like you, so start there.  If you’re into the jazz scene and attending festivals for the genre, your clients will adore music.  If you’re into reading and consider a good date night one spent at a bookstore, your clients will be bookworms, too.  Scribble down the attributes most likely to matter when it comes to interacting with your business, and you’ve got a good start to your ideal client profile.

Do I explicitly tell my peeps who they are somewhere on my blog/website?
If no, go ahead and add a sentence that sums them up to your bio, your introduction to your company, or in your newsletter opt-in.  Easy peasy!

Do I share any elements of my personal life on my blog or website regularly?
Whether you’re addicted to homesteading or you can be found at live concerts three nights a week, the details of your life DO matter.  They make you interesting, they make you quirky, they make you human.  Don’t be afraid to tie your personal life into your blog posts more often!

Am I willing to offend some people in the name of drawing my ideal clients closer?
Since my peeps aren’t offended by swearing, it’s easy to offend people who aren’t for me: I swear.  That’s not me being a jerkface, that’s me acknowledging that I’d rather not cause heart attacks if one of the easily-offended should purchase my products or services.  I consider it fair warning for my trucker mouth.  It means I issue no refunds and I don’t get chastising “you’re such a pretty girl, why do you have to swear?” e-mails.  (The pretty girl line is still my Mom’s favorite, but that’s a different issue.)

If you’re an activist for animal rights, gay rights, human rights, or hell, daffodil rights — your ideal peeps will be drawn to you because of that.  So share your feelings, your deep desires, and what you’re working to change in the world!

Yes, some people will be offended.  But the others?  The ones you really want to work with?  They’ll be drawn closer to you in a powerful way.  A powerful way that leads to more clients on your calendar, more money in your bank account, and more satisfaction in your heart.

Have you found your ideal clients?  How’d you do that?  Share your tips in the comments!

This guest post comes to us via Kristen Kalp who is a writer, orphan hugger, and business whisperer. Follow her adventures on Facebook or Instagram!