Dawn At Your Service’s Blog

How Social Media has Helped my Business

A friend of mine asked if Facebook has helped my business. I get this question a lot and being a fan of “re-purposing” for blog entries, I thought I’d share my response.

Facebook has absolutely helped my VA business! Actually, the way I have it set up is my Twitter account feeds to Facebook (both are publicly indexed by the search engines if privacy settings are adjusted accordingly) and I spend most of my time on Twitter.  At the end of the day, social media is social media so I guess it doesn’t really matter where you spend your time as long as you’re participating. What I like about Twitter is it’s easier to follow a specific target audience and since I’m a chatterbox, I like the ability to chat back and forth with people.

A few ways social media helps my business:

  • Increased traffic to my website & blog – I always see a downward spiral when I’m not active.
  • Higher search engine results that are keyword specific – so when someone is searching for a VA that does say WordPress web design, by constantly posting working on a #wordpress web design, I’m more likely to return in search results.  And now that real-time search has come along, it provides an even greater advantage. (That number sign is a hashtag which is similar to a tag you would use in a blog when used in conjunction with a word to allow people to find specific keywords by search.) For more information on boosting search engine rankings by using Twitter, check out this article by Search Engine Land.
  • Turning business acquaintances into friends-I have SO many friends all over the world that I correspond with on Twitter. I love making new friends and growing relationships. I am a total people person. Eventually they are likely to be awesome referral sources (or turn into clients) and often valuable resources for things I need in MY business.
  • Credibility-Many leads gone clients tell me that they checked out my Facebook & Twitter account and were inpressed with my authenticity. It allows people to know me before they consider my services. If they don’t like what they see, I’m sure they move on which is my goal. Love me for who I am or leave. This has allowed me to attract like minded people so my clients & I get along great! Plus since I offer social media management as a service, if they like what they see, they’re more likely to contract me for social media management services.
  • Gained exposure-I am always profile building. Anytime I stumble across a quality social networking site, I build a profile. Nowadays, most social networks have an application for a twitter or facebook feed. So although I may not be able to participate on every social network, my profile is constantly updated and shown in a time-line allowing me gained visibility.
  • Lastly, All of your big names are on Twitter & Facebook. You can find industry related news & info, but what I love best is that if I’m ever stumped on something, I can throw a tweet out there and most of the times I get the answer to my twitter replies in minutes! It’s like a direct connection to a customer service agent. I love it!
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March 25, 2010 Posted by | Business Development, How To, Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) | , , , , | Leave a comment

Search Engine Optimization 2009

I know I am kind of a dork when it comes to Search engine optimization (SEO). I subscribe to a lot of SEO blogs and newsletters and try to stay up to date on all of the latest SEO news and gossip. I guess I just assume that everyone has the same addiction, so when I make a statement about the Google algorithm changes that began in the beginning of this year and people look at me like I’m crazy, I wonder why no one else seems to know about this??  I want to share my resources and spread the word. I would love to know what other people think about these changes and wonder what types of alterations SEO professionals will be making to their services.

The following video with Bruce Clay: “Ranking is Dead” from the 2008 Pub Con in Las Vegas provides a great overview of what I found to be the most significant changes in search results and Page Rank.

In Conclusion:

I don’t have a full understanding of what’s what in the way of terms. What I do understand is that Google has made a major advancement in technology and the way search results are returned.There is a Universal Search system that blends listings from video, images,  news, books and local listings into their main web search results. Crawlers are now able to convert soundtracks to text, pull text out of flash files and jump into the middle of videos. They are using IP addresses, third party cookies and other things to track search history and provide more relevant results based on past inquiries, causing results to be biased. Demographics also contribute to the bias of our search results.

    What does this mean for me?

    First of all, I think it’s time to invest in a web cam! It sounds to me that video is going to be a standard for SEO.  If I want to get those top results, my chances will be a lot less likely without video(s) on my website. (It’s important to make sure you use keywords in your video titles, descriptions and tags.)

    Being a Virtual Assistant, demographics biasing the results may impact me. I will just have to continue to work on getting traffic to my website from inbound links.

    All in all, I think it will be very interesting to see what 2009 brings us in the way of Search Engine Optimization. Just when we finally think we have a grasp on it, the search engines outsmart us!

    Resources:
    Bruce Clay, INC.
    Web Pro News
    Search Engine Land
    The Forrester Blog

    February 6, 2009 Posted by | Search Engine Optimization (SEO) | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Gaining Exposure

    I had a very productive week last week! I participated in a phone interview via teleconference with Jennifer Edwards from the Blog Train and talked about my virtual assistance business. Jennifer is wonderful and the conversation was a lot fun! She flattered me with all of the nice tsuccessinbloom125hings she said about me and my business.

    I also wrote an article that was featured on Success in Bloom, Celebrating Successful Women Owned Business Owners . I could have wrote on and on but didn’t  want to bore the poor readers to death.

    On Thursday I had a meeting with my local SBA counselor (DCEO in Illinois, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity). He was very nice and reassured me that I am heading down the right track. I am following an appropriate marketing plan. I’m not putting my eggs all in one basket. I’m utilizing several different marketing strategies, monitoring them and have slowly saw the return that generally occurs. The SBA counselor said that just because I haven’t seen a return on marketing tactics I have tried in the past does not mean I won’t in the future. Often people need to see an advertisement a few times before they will remember my existence. He suggested follow up phone calls after a direct mailing goes out and more than one mailing to the same list is OK as long as they have not expressed disinterest.

    Although the counselor did not appear to be very familiar with internet marketing, I still feel confident about my visit with him. He has a lifetime of experience helping thousands of people create and manage small businesses. His assistance can’t hurt. And how awesome is it that my local SBA/DCEO adviser works directly with thousands of people that are my target audience? Being familiar with my type of services is another resource he can provide to his clients.

    Friday I had a business lunch with a woman I met at a networking event last month. She called me out of the blue and asked if we could meet so she could gain a better perspective on the scope of my business. I agreed even though I knew she would not likely be a potential lead, nor me for her. (And it was not so I could sneak away for a delicious lunch-I swear 🙂 ) I am totally up for networking with other people who attend leads groups and networking events! She attends social networking groups several times a week. I work with other small business owners that could possibly utilize her printing and fax/copy equipment. Having a relationship with someone who is somewhat focused in the same direction is mutually beneficial.

    We ended up having a delicious lunch, a lot of laughs and great conversation. I felt we clicked right away. She is a very sweet woman and I look forward to establishing a friendship with her.

    By increasing exposure, educating people about who I am, what a virtual assistant does and what At Your Service can offer other small business owners, gives me the feeling that my business is growing. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that the word is spreading and my business is continuing to blossom.

    December 9, 2008 Posted by | Business Development, Marketing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Being Productive During Down Time

    What do you do with your time when business is slow? Working from home makes it a lot more tempting to slack off during down time. I could sleep in if I want to and/or take a nap. I could go to lunch with my girlfriends. I could catch up on laundry (yuck!) or start a home improvement project. Even if your office is outside the home, when business is lacking it can be tempting to play games or shop online, chit chat with friends or if feasible, catch up on your favorite soaps. But how are these actions going to contribute to gained success? Isn’t that why we are business owners to begin with? We are business owners to advance in our careers and become successful entrepreneurs.

    The past few weeks I’ve had a lull in my VA business. I have taken this opportunity to create this blog 🙂 I have completed every insignificant task that sat on my to-do list for months. I’ve been spending a certain amount of hours per week practicing and sharpening my graphics skills on Gimp. (Online tutorials rock!) I’ve been working on a research project on search engine optimization. I’m hoping to attain enough knowledge from my research to write an informative article on SEO. And naturally I’ve been marketing like a maniac! I’m spending hours a day participating in forums. I went to a networking event this afternoon and have two more lined up within the next week.

    I only have one super small project going at the moment which I do monthly. I’ve picked up a small assignment here and there. And although my billable workload is next to nothing, I still put in a full work day Mon-Fri. I admit, I’m guilty of waking up at 8am instead of 7am, but hey, I’m human. I don’t feel too bad for being in front of the computer (including interruptions) 9 hours a day instead of 10! I still structure my work day schedule as normal, rather than filling the slots with client projects, I fill them with my own research, my own marketing and my own continuing education.

    The bottom line…perseverance is essential for success! key-to-sucess

    November 11, 2008 Posted by | Business Management | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Where Traditional Marketing Landed Me

    I just fulfilled a 3 month contract with a client who actually lives locally, which is not very common in the Virtual Assistance industry (depending on how you market). When I began my VA business in April, I combined traditional and online marketing. On the traditional end, I built a mailing list for my target audience and sent brochures and business cards out. (Tip: Handwriting the envelopes increases the chance of it getting opened!). Initially I did not see a response (or ROI) so I decided it wasn’t worth my time and money to do traditional marketing. I was having much more success through forum participation and Craigslist which are both obviously free.

    Needless to say, in late August I was contacted by a women who owns her own marketing business. (She does strictly traditional marketing.) She had received my brochure and held on to it. We met in person for lunch. She is the only client (not including family/friends) I’ve ever met in person. Virtual Assistants work remotely so I thought this was pretty cool! We clicked right away and a couple of weeks later we signed the contract.

    She was great to work with. We had excellent communication, which is by far one of the most important aspects of this type of business relationship. I got the work done and even though I didn’t make her as much money as I would have liked, she was very happy with the work I did.

    Her busy season is over now and I look forward to working with her again next year. But the best part is that she has been referring me left and right. She has invited me to a Chamber event she participates in so she could introduce me to her fellow small business owners and friends. And to top it off, she asked me to create an ad for my business that she could insert into her invoices for the next three months! How awesome is that?

    I feel so blessed to have met her. I haven’t participated in traditional marketing since, but I think the couple of hundred dollars I spent was well worth it and I need to get back on that wagon!

    November 7, 2008 Posted by | Marketing | , , , | 2 Comments