Friday, February 26, 2016

The Early Bird always catches the Worm



 
My philosophy has always been ‘get in first’, ‘be ahead of the crowd’, and to ‘stand out from my peers’ and I do just that in South Africa. I go by the phrase ‘An early Bird always catches the Worm’ and I do. I have always had clients contacting me all the time and always found it easy to talk the client into using my services at my price rather than go to the next VA down the line. If I want a job I will go all out to get that job, I will convince the client of how good and how I am able to assist. My office has a continuous flow of typing and my main service that I offer clients is Typing. If it can be typed I can do it. I am very old school and I find that saying this to clients helps draw them to using my services.

I started out wanting to run a typing company and never thought I would get to this point, but I’ve done it and proved that you can run a company just doing typing. I know where to look for my clients, if I want to take on more clients, I know how to get clients and am not afraid to sell my services and tell clients how good I am at what I do.

I answer emails fasts, as an email comes in and I see that it’s from a prospective client I then quickly respond, clients are impressed with a fast response, they want a VA who is pro-active and assertive.

I love the variety that I get with typing. You would think typing would be boring, typing the same thing over and over, yet I don’t I have such a variety in typing from PowerPoint presentations to graphs, tables, charts, and graphics. This is the job I always wanted to do.

 

Be like me and be the early bird that catches the worm. The faster you respond the better chance to get the prospective client.


  

 

Women's state pension petition wins parliamentary debate | Money | The Guardian

Women's state pension petition wins parliamentary debate | Money | The Guardian

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Typing Services

 
What is involved with offering Typing as a service?
 
Can anyone type, yes, but can everyone offer typing as a service? Typing can be more than just copy typing. Typing can involve creating spreadsheets, equations, figures, graphs, charts etc., or even creating graphics. So you need to ask your prospective client what is involved with the typing before quoting.
  • Is the typing just plain copy typing, what you see is what you type, is there any tables, graphs, charts as they must then be created, you might have to create a graph or chart in excel and copy it across to word, that is time taking and is not straight copy typing, as you must create the graph etc. Sometimes you might have to scan an image from an book, so that means you need to scan it on a scanner and then resize to insert it into your document, so that is not straight copy typing. You might need to find an image on the Internet, so that will involve research, finding the image. You might have to create a graphic, the client might have drawn an image, maybe a flow diagram, you will need to recreate this in the document this can also involve using graphic software then copy and insert within your document, and also this is very time consuming.
  • A client might send you to copy a PDF document for typing. Not all PDF conversion software works nicely when you convert a PDF document into word. You might find you still have to reformat the document this is time taking and often much quicker to just type the document from scratch. Note here the client will know the document is not typed from scratch, they will know you have used conversion software to convert the document and often this is not the quickest route to take.

  • You might need to firstly print out what the client has sent you so that you can type from it, it takes time to print out a document, and it costs to print from a printer.
  • At the end of your document you need to proofread and perform a spell check, this should be part of your quote or terms and condition; this task must always be done. Make sure you list this so that clients can see that you perform this task.
  • Sometimes clients might want their document saved to a memory stick (flash drive) you need to charge for this as it is time taking and you maybe you need to a buy the memory stick.
  • If you offer typing as a service make sure you state that you can create graphs, tables, charts, brochures, graphics, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations. Do not assume all typing is simple copy typing, often it is more involved.
  • You may need to insert equations, this takes extra time to do this, so make sure you feature this time into the length of time it will takes you to complete the typing.
  • You can no longer send large files through email and often you have to make use of Google docs, Dropbox, Send this File etc so make sure that your Internet bundle (capped or uncapped) can cope with offering typing. Files will need to be downloaded and uploaded. A file with graphics, graphs etc will take time to load and is very time consuming loading to Send this File or Dropbox etc, especially if it has more than 20 pages. A large manual with graphics, graphs and flows, a large spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation can take a few hours to upload, you have to remember this when it comes to your deadline and getting the work back to the client in time.
  • If you contract typing out to a subcontractor make sure you check the work thoroughly and ask the subcontractor to make sure they proof their own work then you double proof the work when you get it back. Often a subcontractor will just do the work and send it back to you and tell you it is proofed, don’t make the mistake of sending it to the client without you doing a proofread and spell check. You are the one the work is sent to from your client and not the subcontractor so it is up to you to make sure you send back a quality document.
  • When offering typing services sometimes you will get in tasks that you don’t like doing, maybe lots of figure typing, typing of tables, this can be boring for some, listen to music as you type, this will help the time go a bit quicker.
  • When pricing typing the norm is to charge on a per page basis but it can also be done on an hourly rate, whichever works out best for you, is what you offer.
  • Authors and students may ask you for a charge per word, roughly you normally get ±750/1000 words to an A4 page at Ariel at a size 12 font.
  • If you have a table within the document, check out the other tables within the document, maybe you can just copy and paste your first one and just change the data, this can save you time.
  • Know how many pages you can do in an hour, day, or week so that you can let the client know if you can reach their deadline, remember if you have graphics, graphs, charts etc within a document it might take you longer to create these so therefore affecting the time it takes to complete your document.
  • Ask for client preferences: fonts, size of text, colour in graphs, flow diagrams, spacing, justification, ask if the client can provide you with the company logo’s/graphics, templates if required. etc.
  • Do not take on typing work if you do not know how to do it, you can subcontract it out, if that is the case make sure your subcontract has the experience to do the job.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Contact Information



If I go to a website and then go to the contact page and that page has a form with no other contact details, I quickly leave that site and do not bother looking further. Putting a form on your contact page to me, puts people off contacting you further. Now if I see full contact details I will take the time to contact you further. It’s a pet hate of mine to find a contact form because half the time you will fill in the form, submit it and then that is it, the receivers of the form often do not bother to contact you further, so to me, putting forms on your website is a waste of time, to me that makes your site unfriendly. But that is just my opinion.

Your contact details should be available on all pages. You can be sitting on a page and then think of a question you want to ask, if the contact information is there you can quickly phone or send an email but if you have to go to the contact page and fill in a form, well why bother.
In your contact information you need your full contact details. It is not necessary to put your address but put in your location as people like to know where you are situated before contacting you. Some clients could be local and where you are situated may matter to them. Give clients the option to contact you on your cell/mobile phone, your landline, skype, email and Whatsapp. These days I get lots of whatsapp contact from clients as it is easier and quick.
The quicker you reply to a potential client and if you can assist that client the better chance you have of impressing the client and getting the job – ‘The early bird catches the worm’. If a client contacts you and you are busy, get back to them at your first available opportunity.

Make use of the mail format signature in email, on every email you send, have your full contact information. Your aim with your advertising and marketing is to give the client contact details, many clients don’t have much time so will want to contact you quickly, don’t make your contact details difficult to find. Client’s want to contact you using the tool they use most often so make sure you give them all your social media details. Be accessible.
A word of warning, clients will contact you after hours if you do not want this or like it, state it in your advertising and marketing, state your hours of business and stress no contact after hours.

amftyping@mweb.co.za - alison@amftyping.co.za - +27 0828713452 - +27 011 7685028 - Skype: amftyping,
 
 
 
 



 

Friday, August 7, 2015


Barbara Blackburn, the World's Fastest Typist http://rcranger.mysite.syr.edu/famhist/blackburn.htm

 

What is the secret as to how Barbara Blackburn could type so fast? The key, so to speak, is in the keyboard design. Blackburn would type on nothing but the Dvorak keyboard, which has vowels on one side and consonants on the other, with the most frequently used letters on the centre row. "It makes much more sense than the standard, so-called QWERTY keyboard (named after the first five letters on the top row)," Blackburn said. In fact, it was the QWERTY keyboard that was her undoing in high school typing class back in Pleasant Hill, Missouri.

 

"Typing was the bane of my existence." She remembered how her I-minus (I for Inferior) typing grade kept her from graduating at the top of her class. As it was, she graduated third in a class of 46 students. In 1938, as a freshman in Business College, Blackburn first laid hands on a Dvorak keyboard. She took to it like a fish to water. In only a few years her speed was up to 138 words per minute.

 

Blackburn had been such a whiz in her other high school classes, it was no surprise that she would attempt to better her record as a typist, given a chance. The Dvorak keyboard was what gave her the chance. When a representative of the Royal Typewriter Co. came to her business college looking for someone to train as a demonstrator of the Dvorak keyboard, she decided to give it a try.

In no time at all she was as good a typist as she was a bookkeeper and stenographer. She had won state-wide contests in the latter two fields as a high school student, but the woman who taught all three courses at Pleasant Hill "was ashamed to admit I was in her typing class," Blackburn remembered.

Carrying her own Dvorak typewriter with her wherever she worked after graduation from Business College, Blackburn's extraordinary talents paved her way. From 1939 to 1945 she worked as a legal secretary, and when she decided she needed a change of pace and left the law firm, "I left with the reputation as the best legal secretary in Kansas City," she proudly recalled.

 

Suddenly there was a mad scramble of executives trying to nab her for their personal secretary.

 

Blackburn next worked at an electronics company, first as office manager and then as a sales engineer. She did speed typing demonstrations at the Canadian National Exposition and the Canadian Educational Conference. It was then that she was clocked for the Guinness Book of World Records, in which she was listed for a decade as the world's fastest typist (the category has since been removed). Blackburn went to work at State Farm Insurance in Salem, where she was employed in the word processing department until she retired in 2002.

Also, she starred in a television commercial for Apple Computers, which offered a switchable Dvorak-Qwerty keyboard with its Apple IIc model. When she was in New York to tape the commercial, she appeared on the David Letterman Show. But Letterman made a comedy routine out of what she thought was to be a serious demonstration of her typing speed, and Blackburn felt hurt by the experience. In her own words:

 

"The show aired on Thursday night, after I had returned back to Salem. They had taken my PR photo and blown it up to gigantic size) with the typewriter sitting on a stand (covered with a Plexiglas cover) in front of me and a little to the side with three men seated at a table with a big copy of my Thursday night paper sitting on an easel at the side. My photo took up the entire area behind the men. Letterman was standing beside the typewriter - his opening remark was "No doubt Ms. Blackburn is a very nice lady, but she has to be the biggest fraud and con artist in the world." That he is still running it about every year completely astounds me! I have a complete tape of all of my TV appearances during my publicity reign, but I REFUSE TO WATCH THE LETTERMAN FIASCO."

 

In the intervening years, Letterman's comedy style has become better-understood and we've grown more accustomed to it. Nevertheless, anyone who has seen her whizzing fingers in action, as well as the flawless results on paper (her error frequency is two-tenths of one percent), can have no doubt that Barbara Blackburn will forever hold her place as the world's fastest typist. Mrs. Blackburn passed away in April, 2008.

-- End --


 

 

 
THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS
Typing, Fastest. Mrs. Barbara Blackburn of Salem, Oregon maintained a speed of 150 wpm for 50 min (37,500 key strokes) and attained a speed of 170 wpm using the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (DSK) system. Her top speed was recorded at 212 wpm. Source: Norris McWhirter, ed. (1985), THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS, 23rd US edition, New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
 

 

Permission granted to post Article about Barbara Blackburn by Sonya Pulvers (Barbara Blackburn's daughter)

 

From: Sam Sent: 07 January 2014 22:32
To: Alison Fourie
Subject: Re: Feature article on website
 Allison,
Thank you so much for asking permission. Absolutely that would be fine, my mother was an incredible woman and an icon when it comes to the world of typing.
Have a great day.
Sincerely,
Sonya Pulvers (Barbara Blackburn's daughter)
-----Original Message-----
From: Alison Fourie
Sent: Jan 7, 2014 5:22 AM
Subject: Feature article on website

Hi I would like to ask your permission to place your article about Barbara Blackburn http://rcranger.mysite.syr.edu/famhist/blackburn.htm on my website http://www.amftyping.co.za. I run a typing company and I found your article very interesting, and would love to display it on my website.
Looking forward to hearing from you.   Regards Alison    AMF Typing Services©® Est 2001
 

 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Typing Information


What is involved with offering Typing as a service?

Can anyone type, yes but can everyone offer typing as a service? Typing can be more than just copy typing. Typing can involve creating spreadsheets, graphs, charts etc or even creating graphics. So you need to ask your prospective client what is involved with the typing before quoting.

·             Is the typing just plain copy typing, what you see is what you type, is there any tables, graphs, charts as they must then be created, you might have to create a graph or chart in excel and copy it across to word, that is time taking and is not straight copy typing, as you must create the graph etc. Sometimes you might have to scan an image from an book, so that means you need to scan it on a scanner and then resize to insert it into your document, this is not straight copy typing. You might need to find an image on the Internet, so that will involve research, finding the image. You might have to create a graphic, the client might have drawn an image, maybe a flow diagram, you will need to recreate this in the document this can also involve using graphic software then copy and insert within your document, and also this is very time consuming.

·              A client might send you to copy a PDF document for typing. Not all PDF conversion software works nicely when you convert a PDF document into word. You might find you still have to reformat the document this is time taking and often much quicker to just type the document from scratch. Note here the client will know the document is not typed from scratch, they will know you have used conversion software to convert the document and often this is not the quickest route to take.

·              You might need to firstly print out what the client has sent you so that you can type from it, it takes time to print out a document, and it costs to print from a printer.

·              At the end of your document you need to proofread and perform a spell check, this should be part of your quote or terms and condition; this task must always be done. Make sure you list this so that clients can see that you perform this task.

·              Sometimes clients might want their document saved to a memory stick (flash drive) you need to charge for this as it is time taking and maybe you need to a buy the memory stick.

·             If you offer typing as a service make sure you state that you can create graphs, tables, charts, brochures, graphics, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations. Do not assume all typing is simple copy typing, often it is more involved.

·             You may need to insert equations, this takes extra time to do this, so make sure you feature this time into the length of time it will takes you to complete the typing. Maths Equation typing is not easy and is time consuming, it is not straight copy typing as you need to go into the maths equation to get symbol etc you need.

·             You can no longer send large files through email and often you have to make use of Google docs, Dropbox, Send this File etc so make sure that your Internet bundle (capped or uncapped) can cope with offering typing. Files will need to be downloaded and uploaded. A file with graphics, graphs etc will take time to load and is very time consuming loading to Send this File or Dropbox etc, especially if it has more than 20 pages. A large manual with graphics, graphs and flows, a large spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation can take a few hours to upload, you have to remember this when it comes to your deadline and getting the work back to the client in time.

·              If you contract typing out to a subcontractor make sure you check the work thoroughly and ask the subcontractor to make sure they proof their own work then you double proof the work when you get it back. Often a subcontractor will just do the work and send it back to you and tell you it is proofed, don’t make the mistake of sending it to the client without you doing a proofread and spell check. You are the one the work is sent to from your client and not the subcontractor so it is up to you to make sure you send back a quality document.

·             When offering typing services sometimes you will get in tasks that you don’t like doing, maybe lots of figure typing, this can be boring for some, listen to music as you type, this will help the time go a bit quicker.

·             When pricing, look at the task at hand and charge accordingly for how long the task will take and what is involved in doing the task. Most typing is charged on a per page basis but it can also be done on an hourly rate, whichever works out best for you, is what you offer.

·              Authors and students may ask you for a charge per word, roughly you normally get ±750 words to an A4 page at Ariel at a size 12 font.

·             If you have a table within the document, check out the other tables within the document, maybe you can just copy and paste your first one and just change the data, this can save you time.

·              Know how many pages you can do in an hour, day, or week so that you can let the client know if you can reach their deadline, remember if you have graphics, graphs, charts etc within a document it might take you longer to create these so therefore affecting the time it takes to complete your document.

·              Ask for client preferences: fonts, size of text, colour in graphs, flow diagrams, spacing, justification, ask if the client can provide you with the company logo’s/graphics, templates if required. etc.

The Concept of being a Virtual Assistant/Person running your own Business


A virtual assistant runs their own business from a virtual location/area. When you run your own business you will do the same tasks as management would do in a larger company, the difference is you might be doing these tasks yourself unless you get assistance from other like-minded people. The concept of running a VA businesses is that you are running a business, you are doing the marketing, bookkeeping, networking, the work, debt collection, invoicing etc, you do it all yourself.
You are your own boss.

As you are running a company you are on the same level as other company bosses, CEO’s, managers, directors etc. You are no longer in the situation where you are a PA or Office Manager getting instructions from a Boss, you are not working for someone else that can give you instructions, you have to get the work, you have to draw the clients to you through having presence on social media, online/offline advertising, website, blog, networking, advertising in your area etc.

You organise your company, one of the tasks you organise is, your pricing structure, you as the company owner need to have prices/rates for the services you are offering or the products that you are selling. Part of running your company is setting up your pricing structures. You do not contact a potential client and wait for them to give you a price for the services you are offering, you have a pricing structure ready and you tell the client your price.

To run your company/business you need to have a company structure and follow set procedures to be organised. Specific things need to be done at specific times, like your office administration, invoicing your clients, keeping your work schedules up to date etc. You need to have a structure of how you are going to deal with clients; how you are going to be doing the work, a structure of dealing with subcontractors should you need to use them. You need to know how long it will take you to say transcribe a 1 hour file, how long would it take you to type up a 100 page document, how long will it take you to organise an event etc. These are things you need to know as working for many clients you need to be organised and be able to schedule the work and be able to meet deadlines that are set by your clients.

As a VA you need to be able to do multi-tasking, you could be working for a few clients at the same time, this is where you will use your time management and prioritising skills.

Being a VA is about running a business, being your own boss, scheduling your work times and procedures yourself. You are an Entrepreneur in a worldwide industry that is growing daily.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The life of a Virtual Assistant: Part 1 – coping with urgent work


The life of a Virtual Assistant: Part 1 – coping with urgent work

 


More often than not we do urgent work for clients. To meet the work deadlines we have to work long hours, public holidays and weekends. As VAs we have to be here for our clients and we often need to work our schedules around our clients, if we don’t the client can simply move onto another VA, who will work the hours they want.

As I work from home, I don’t mind working extra hours/time. I am safe in my own environment and don’t have to travel to and from work, my office is a minute away. I can schedule my family around the hours I work. When I put in extra hours I can also take that time off when I am low with work, or take an hour off here and there to suite myself.

Some deadlines can be negotiable, often a client does not know how long a particular task will take to do, it helps the client by you knowing how long tasks take, therefore, you can negotiate your time sometimes.

If you cannot do an urgent task, talk to your client, explain that you must finish what you are doing first and then you will attend to their work next, explain you want be long and give the client a rough estimate of when you can start their work and when you can have it ready by.

If you are organised you should be able to handle urgent work with your normal scheduled work and be able to cope. If you know what work you have for the day and know your deadlines, dealing with urgent work should be easier.

You can also ask for assistant from other VAs that you know who are not as busy.  Subcontracting the work out can be another way of coping with urgent work.