Personal Invitation

Hi Ladies!

I thought I’d drop by and send you a personal invitation to contact me through Upwork. For those of you who aren’t registered as clients on Upwork yet, Upwork has made it easy by providing a direct link for you to create your account and get in touch with me to discuss a job. I have provided that link below. Hurry though! The email message they sent me said this is for a limited time only.

https://www.upwork.com/signup/create-account/client_contact_freelancer?ciphertext=~011eb2912da5483620

I am skilled in transcribing, proofreading, data entry, customer email support, writing blog articles and web content, Etsy and EBay listings, Twitter and Pinterest posts, Google Blogger and WordPress experience.

Let me help make your job easier by taking on some of the work for you. Mom to mom, wife to wife, daughter to daughter, woman to woman.

Recommendations for the Art Video Producers

There haven’t been many new jobs listed on Upwork lately that I’m interested in. So, I have been making recommendations to some of the clients I do regular work for.  One group I work for produces art DVDs. I have been transcribing their video lessons since October 2014. Because of this, I am continuously thinking of ways to help make the process easier for both the group and their students.

They have recently acquired several new students that are likely unfamiliar with the terms and phrases this particular artist uses. The artist does quite a bit of explaining throughout the lessons; however, the explanations get lost within the lessons themselves, so I have recommended that they create a video defining as many of the words and phrases as possible that I can transcribe for them. If that seems too difficult, I recommended that they make sure they use a few of these words and phrases per video. Whichever way they choose to go, I am willing to create an art dictionary for them with the artist’s unique vocabulary and convert it into a downloadable PDF for students to familiarize themselves more easily with the method of drawing that is being taught.

That’s my current campaign to acquire more work through them. In a couple of months, I may also recommend that they consider letting me create blog posts for them. As of now, this group doesn’t have a blog, which I believe would be very helpful in recruiting new students on a regular basis.

If any of you busy ladies could use this sort of assistance, please contact me via my Upwork link: http://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011eb2912da5483620/.

Thanks so much for dropping by today.

 

Life as a Virtual Assistant

My life as a virtual assistant started in July 2007. Up to that point, I had been a stay-at-home mom since 1991 raising two great kids, home schooling, cleaning house, crafting and making patterns to teach others how to make my cute items. I also took a children’s writing course in the mid-1990s and a freelance writing course in 2015.

My interest in children’s writing never went beyond the writing course. I simply wanted to enjoy life with my own children while they were young. Crafting and pattern making was one of the things I enjoyed as my children became more independent and after lessons were finished for the day. I joined an online crafting community and it was there that I found my first job as a virtual assistant in 2007 working for a nice lady who owned several online crafting/crafty websites.

Throughout the week, I answered customer support issues for three of the websites – Instant Printables, Pattern Mart and eCraft Classes. I also made two to three blog posts each week for Pattern Mart as well as prepared and emailed the newsletters for Instant Printables and ECC biweekly and Pattern Mart weekly. Eventually she started another website, Prim Nest, for crafters to sell their finished items on. So, I would prepare and email the newsletters for that site twice a month when that site opened for business.

I was able to learn those site operations quickly, so before long, I was also assisting sellers with their upload issues. I worked closely with the sellers for other reasons as well. I was in frequent contact with them when I needed sale patterns or printables for the newsletters or free patterns for Pattern Mart surveys and for an online magazine that my boss also owned, Creative Times Magazine. I would also contact the site sellers when any of the sites, newsletters or magazine needed to fill advertising spots. This involved not only collecting names of advertisers and patterns, but also downloading patterns, images of the items, item descriptions and usually a couple of additional emails reminding them to send me the URL links to their personal websites, which Paypal email address to direct their payments to and the appropriate advertising banners.

Because of my impeccable organization skills, my job duties soon increased to assisting crafters who were interested in advertising or being featured in the bi-monthly magazine (we featured craft spaces and individuals and their craft businesses) along with keeping a detailed list of what should appear in each magazine, how much paid advertisers paid, hiring writers, reminding writers of their deadlines, proofreading all content before it was distributed for publishing, testing links in the final draft before the magazine was uploaded to the server to be downloaded by readers, serving as backup writer when writers didn’t turn in their articles, writing my own columns. I had the privilege of interviewing some very impressive people such as fabric designer Debbie Mumm, Jodie Davis creator of the online quilting show QTV, the famous crafter Terri O, poet Rita Quillen and several more to add spice to the featured crafter section. I also wrote the Quick Tips column which involved everything from crafting tips to household tips to life tips. I collected everything for the magazine and sent it to the layout designer a couple of weeks ahead of time for publication.

Although the magazine was published bi-monthly, the work was ongoing. When my younger son started high school lessons, I had to stop doing the work for the magazine so I could concentrate on his high school requirements. At that time, my boss decided to sell the magazine and the Prim Nest site to someone else.

Somewhere along the line, she bought another website from one of her competitors. The site operations were much different than her other websites. These differences were very difficult to maneuver for most of the pattern sellers she had invited from Pattern Mart to sell on the newly purchased site, Crafty Avenue. I, however, caught on very quickly and assisted them with either any snags they ran into or simply uploaded a few patterns for them each week. The latter was easier for both them and me. My boss sent out the newsletter and kept a tally of the sales herself for Crafty Avenue since she received the money for all sales and kept 40% of the proceeds for herself. This meant she also had to distribute the other 60% to the appropriate sellers who sold patterns. This was tedious and didn’t last but a few months. She closed the site down just prior to selling the other two sites.

In 2010, my husband and I actually purchased ECC from her. I knew the site was doing poorly. I simply thought it was because she was sinking so much time into Pattern Mart and Instant Printables. I eventually figured out that YouTube was probably my enemy. I worked very hard for the first two or three years updating, advertising, allowing easier ways for instructors to deliver their craft classes, uploading classes for them myself. It’s just difficult to compete with free tutorials that are provided on YouTube. I finally closed the site down last month after seven years of trying.

I’ve actually had a couple of other online stores myself through DIYWebsites. I don’t think that lady is even in business any more. Again, the new competition with all the new DIY sites like Wix, etc. can destroy businesses that can’t keep up.  She sold the craft forum I mentioned earlier and EZShoppes to someone else. I sold on EZShoppes also for a while as well. I tried selling on Ebay. Eventually, crafts stopped sell well on Ebay. I discovered Etsy and I’m doing very well on there. I am using my domain names for my blogs now. The Sew Practical blog is a great way to keep people up-to-date with my Etsy store and the eCraft Classes blog is a great way to discuss my crafting endeavors and offer free tutorials.

I enjoy blogging both on WordPress and Blogger. I do use YouTube and Twitter. I tried Linkedin. I decided only after a week that I could do just as much with blogging as I ever could there, so I closed my account. I have never had any interest in Facebook. And I’m a whiz at Upwork, of course. I also sell my book on Amazon and hopefully will have a few more ready to sell by the end of this year. I have used Dropbox and Google Drive on occasion. My point is that I find new online platforms interesting and easy to learn. I hope to land a job using Hootsuite soon. I’m discussing it with one of my Upwork clients now.

I started working on Upwork in September 2014 because of the new interests I had in Virtual Assistant work. This included writing on different niches for blogs and websites, proofreading, transcribing, data entry and research. My career took off more quickly than I realized it would. In August 2015, I finally announced my resignation with my original boss since she had only two websites remaining and my son graduated from high school in 2015 as well. My boss spent the next four months preparing to run these two sites on her own. Everything was in place by the time my last day of employment for her arrived on December 30, 2015. She and I are still in touch, and I will be forever grateful to her for giving me my first VA job and having so much trust in me.

Quitting my other job and finishing with my home school responsibilities allowed my freelance work on Upwork to blossom.  I, now, do weekly transcribing work for two clients and random transcribing for two other clients. I hope to pick up the Hootsuite job with one of these clients. I do random data entry work for another client.

Off Upwork, I rewrite content and do some uploads on Houzz for a marketing client and I write blog posts and web content for another marketing client. I plan to contact another marketing client if I ever see her ad in the local paper again. This type of work is extremely random so I look for this type of work to fill in voids.

Proofreading is very random work as well, but that is always welcome. I do my own proofreading for the transcribing work I do as it’s very important to me to turn in work that is done well.

The research itself comes in when I am hired to write blog articles or web content or when I need to learn how to spell words like Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and enkephalins.

All of my clients, except one, are women juggling careers, hobbies, family and more. I still work directly with a woman for the art company I work for. I prefer working for women because women understand women. Womenpreneurs also take weekends and holidays off, which allows me time to clean the house, cook the meals, exercise, do the laundry, update my blogs and Etsy, craft, read and to be able to spend time with my family which is extremely important to me. I hope to write at least two more books by the end of the year as well. For now, I’m decluttering so my mind won’t wander to those crammed closets and cabinets. I’m down to cleaning out three closets now and I’ll be finished. After that, my mind will be free to write those books.

All of this is possible because I have a supportive husband. He understands how much I enjoy my work, hobbies and writing, and that is probably the best help I could ever receive. Yes, he wants to help around the house, but he has his work and hobbies as well. So I firmly refuse his help around the house.

I enjoy having a well-rounded life. It gets hectic sometimes but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am happy to say that I remain fully committed to God, my family, my health and my work, which also includes my hobbies. Don’t let the terms freelance or work-from-home fool you. These jobs are just as fruitful and rewarding as working for a major corporation. Those of us who work from home are also helping the environment since we don’t have to drive to work every day. So, I guess we could also be called green employees.

Are you a busy lady who could use some occasional help running your business?

When logged in, Upwork clients can hire me and send me messages at http://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011eb2912da5483620/.  I’m usually available each weekday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. U.S. eastern time.

 

 

Healthy Virtual Assistant

Working from a desk all day can be unhealthy if you don’t have an exercise routine to counterbalance the effects. I challenge myself every week to take a few breaks from my computer work and get some exercise. My goal by the end of each week is to have 35,000 steps or more and to climb at least 100 flights of stairs. It has taken me a year to work up to this level, and this week, I just started working in other 30 minute or less exercises two to three days a week using Fitstar by Fitbit. I also strength train a couple of times a week with an exercise band and two 2 lb. dumbbells. The new workouts will provide additional strength training.

This may not sound like much exercise to some of you ladies. But let me tell you, my muscles will argue that something is better than nothing. I’m also finding out from some of my recent transcribing projects that this is at least a good start. I’m not training for a marathon. I just need to keep my strength up so I can have the energy to keep up with the demands of a VA as well as family life. I’m turning I can’t into I can. I have to in order to prepare for what lies ahead with aging parents who will eventually need me to be strong for them, and I don’t want any grandchildren I may have in the future to think I’m old even when they’re older. For now, I’m doing this for me. It’s not just good for my muscles, it’s also good for my mind.

Etsy Experience

I’ve been selling items on Etsy since October 2011, so I have quite a bit of experience with Etsy operations. Just a few tweaks have improved my sales and increased favorites clicks from others. I have special ways people can find me by my titles and the tags I use. Just today, I updated the section titles so my items would be easier to find. If these don’t bring in more sales, I have other updates I’ll try at the end of next month. I also have a blog where I post this information with prices and links to the items as an additional way for people to find me. There are a few other strategies I use that have been helpful in gaining attention and sales.

If you’re a crafty woman who needs assistance setting up your new Etsy store, contact me at my Upwork link below and I’ll help you get started. I’ll charge $25 to set up the Etsy basics and $1 to post each item with my special strategies. Upkeep of a blog will be an additional $1 per post. Please keep in mind that you will need to be available to answer questions over the course of the first week or so for the initial setup and listing of the first few items. My availability depends on other work I may be doing at the time. However, I should be able to begin on your Etsy shop within 1 to 7 days.

When logged in, Upwork clients can hire me and send me messages at http://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011eb2912da5483620/.

What is Ad Hoc?

keep-calm-and-hire-a-virtual-assistant-5

Ad hoc is a term used for “as needed”. I have no idea why people don’t just say as needed instead. : ) Anyway, an ad hoc virtual assistant is great for busy women who just need someone to work for them a couple of times a week or so. Ad hoc work may not be frequent enough to deal with on a daily basis, but it’s often enough to interrupt other business duties.

Some examples of ad hoc work would be replying to comments on social media or online directories, scheduling social media posts to Hootsuite, replying to emails while you’re on vacation or on a business trip, research, uploading YouTube videos or transcribing occasional videos for SEO purposes.

When logged in, Upwork clients can hire me and send me messages at http://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011eb2912da5483620/. I’m usually available each weekday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. U.S. eastern time.

Fixed or Hourly Pay?

As an Upwork freelancer, there are two ways I get paid – fixed pay and hourly pay. Whether you’re hiring or looking for work, you’re probably wondering which is the best choice for the project. Either is fine. In most cases, I’m going to choose hourly pay over fixed rate pay. However, fixed rate pay may work better for awkward jobs.

Fixed Rate Jobs

If a job will take less than an hour to complete, fixed rate payment works best. Depending on the time it will take to complete the job will determine the amount to settle on. Here are a few examples of fixed rate project ideas.

Once, I had a client who was paying me by the hour and she gave me a quick job to do which involved downloading an image from a website, renaming it, then uploading it to Houzz with a quick description and keywords. That took only six minutes. The Upwork timer doesn’t even register time worked until 10 minutes so I didn’t get paid for that job. I could have charged her at least $5 if I had requested a fixed rate payment. Most of the work I did for that client was less than an hour after a couple of months of heavy hourly work, so I closed the hourly paying job and have requested that we work on a fixed rate scale for any future work.

Many people don’t like to pay an hourly rate for research needed to write an article. If they do allow hourly pay, the time is usually limited to a couple of hours. However, they don’t mind paying a $30 to $45 fixed rate for a finished article. Research typically takes an hour or two depending on the subject. The written material may take another 30 minutes to an hour after that so I don’t mind getting paid a $30 to $45 fixed rate for a 300 – 500-word article. Sometimes a simple re-write of an article to pass Copyscape is all a client may need. I charge $12 to $25 for that depending on the size of the article up to 2000 words.

Once, I was paid $1 for each of my quotes by a client who was using them for Twitter tweets. They paid me by the bulk, whether it was 25, 50 or 100 quotes I could provide in a week. That’s good pay until ideas run out. : )

Transcribing a 60-minute audio or video file can take anywhere from four to six hours depending on quality, number of speakers, use of timestamps, accents and turn-around time. Most clients want to pay fixed rate for transcription work. I prefer hourly pay for transcription work, but if fixed pay is demanded, I listen to the file for quality and speakers’ accents, request the number of speakers (more than three is difficult to keep separated unless they can be seen in a video), timestamp recurrence (I prefer not to have to add timestamps or at least to only have to add a few) and when the work is expected to be completed before I decide on a per minute rate. I’ve charged between $20 and $60 to transcribe 60 minutes of audio. 

Hourly Pay Jobs

Hourly pay is definitely the way to go if quite a bit of hourly work is required. If a fixed rate pay scale works out to appropriate hourly pay in the approximate time you think the job can be completed, that’s fine too.

Research and writing are great hourly paid jobs if the client agrees to this. Transcribing is as well. When I get an hourly transcribing job, I charge only for the transcribing and not the proofreading that follows.

If the job involves copy/paste/data entry, that is very time-consuming, so of course this should be an hourly paid job. Downloading or uploading a large number of files to and from websites, such as uploading dozens of YouTube videos and descriptions definitely calls for hourly pay. If you’re required to sit at your desk for several hours and handle customer support emails as they come in, then charge an hourly fee. Proofreading and editing is another job that partners well with hourly pay.

Note to Clients and Freelancers

Remember, clients, the cheapest freelancer isn’t always the best choice. I have seen so many clients who chose a $5.00 an hour freelancer who worked for hours and hours on a job that should have only taken a few hours. In the end, they may have paid $100 to a freelancer with lower hourly pay when they might have only paid $70 to the freelancer with a higher hourly pay. Bonus! They also received the finished work sooner from the freelancer with the higher hourly pay base. Not all low hourly freelancers extend the work to earn more money nor do all high hourly freelancers provide better work. I’m just saying you should beware, review feedback carefully and don’t be afraid to give new freelancers their first job.

Freelancers, you simply must realize you won’t get top pay for every job. Sometimes charities, churches and new businesses need help and just don’t have the funds to pay your top dollar amount. So, weigh those jobs carefully with your heart. Job sites like Upwork won’t allow free work because they rely on a percentage of your pay to make site improvements and to keep the site running; however, you can accept lower pay for some jobs.

These are only a few examples, but I think this will give you a good idea which pay structure will work best for you. As long as clients and freelancers are fair to each other, everything will work out very well.

When logged in, Upwork clients can hire me and send me messages at http://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~011eb2912da5483620/.