Monday, November 21, 2011

Clients contacting you for a Quotation

When a client contacts you and asks for a quotation please do not simply email back with a price/rate. Firstly contact the client, find out the requirements, ask for details and as much information as possible

Prepare for yourself as part of your business plan a company schedule/procedure for answering clients who require quotes. Have a form ready with everything you need to ask a client and then all you need to do is fill in this form and base your quotation on this form, keep them handy in a file on your pc or printed out on your desk, ready to use if a call or request comes in.

Always prepare a company quotation on company documentation and attach this to an email, this is much more professional then just sending an email with a rate. Your quotation must have your contact details and include your terms and conditions and any information that you have agreed to do for the client. Submit your quote as a pdf attachment to an email, and refer the client to this in your email.

Remember the faster you send that quote in the quicker you could be to getting the client to contact you further and you can beat the competition. With quotations it’s all about beating your competition. Make sure your wording is right, make sure you are inviting the client to contact you further.

For a client looking for a virtual assistant or transcriptionist to partner with, they are usually not looking at price, they are looking at your skills and experience in the business. Some times when putting in a quote it can be months later when you hear from the client again, some clients take that little bit longer to decide if they really do need a virtual assistant especially so when it’s for regular work.

For once-off/adhoc jobs it’s often the case the client will take the cheapest or near to cheapest quote, that is the way the industry is at the moment. It is up to you to decide is it worth quoting a low rate for the job. But, think before you quote what is involved with that job, how long will it take and decide your quote on that, that is the best way to quote. Going in on a low rate sometimes you will find that once you get the job it’s not worth doing as it is costing you more to do it than what you are getting for it, there is no profits to be made with doing jobs that way.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Using Subcontractors and Subcontractors Contracting Out

Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants are using subcontractors. Often when the VA or Transcriptionist have work that is too large for them to do, or they are busy and need assistance with tasks, or they themselves cannot do the task, they will ask for assistance from subcontractors.

For VAs or Transcriptionists who are newbie’s in this field, one of the best ways to learn about this business is to contract yourself out to other VAs and Transcriptionists. It is a great way to learn, and this gives you a good start in the industry as to how things work and the kinds of work that is available for you to do. But while you are contracting out to another VA don’t forget to still do marketing and networking for your own company/business. The aim must always be to get your own clients as you are running a business.

When a Subcontractor works for a VA/Transcriptionist that VA/Transcriptionist is her/his client, you need to treat that VA/Transcriptionist as you would a real client. You keep in touch, you need to communicate about where you are with the work, and if you cannot cope with it, you tell the client (VA/Transcriptionist) and she/he can make a plan. Do not leave communication to the last minute when the work is due back, communicate within plenty of time ahead of that deadline so that the client will have plenty of time to find alternative routes to get this work done and still meet there deadline, one reason is if you are no longer available to complete the task. Deadlines are important they can determine whether the VA/Transcriptionist keeps or loses their client.

Guidelines to follow which are important:

  • The VA/Transcriptionist you are assisting is your client; they should be treated like clients. This is an important point to remember as often subcontractors don’t think of the VA/Transcriptionist as their clients. 
  • Follow the client’s (VA/Transcriptionist) instructions to the letter; do not do your own thing. You are assisting another VA therefore you do as you are asked.
  • Communicate with your client (VA/Transcriptionist) and let them know how you are doing, keep them updated, it is their clients work you are doing and they need to be informed of your progress, because clients have deadlines to maintain and often clients like to know what is happening.
  • Proofread your work, before sending it back to the client (VA/Transcriptionist), it is your responsibility to make sure that your work is proofed as surely your reputation is at stake if you send back shoddy work.
  • Make sure you get clear instructions from your client (VA/Transcriptionist) if they are not clear ask to repeat what the instructions are and ask for it to be sent to you in an email.
  • If for some reason you cannot complete your task on time, contact your client and let them know you are running late and ask can you extend your deadline, or ask for assistance. Also let your client (VA/Transcriptionist) know if you have power failures, storms that mean you must switch off for a period of time, etc. as this can cause delays.
  • The Client (VA/Transcriptionist) must make sure she has all the contact details available for the subcontractor. Subcontractor, make sure your client (VA/Transcriptionist) has all your contact details, be available on Skype, messenger, cellphone, sms, whatsapp, Facebook chat etc.
  • If you cannot perform a task and you know you will not have it ready for the deadline, do not take on the work in the first place.
  •  It is up to you to keep in contact with the client (VA/Transcriptionist), clients don’t have time to run around after you for the work, they are busy that is why you are assisting them. Communication is very important.
  • A subcontractor will earn in the region from 30% to 45% of the actual fee that your clients (VA/Transcriptionist), client pays them.
  • A subcontractor might have access to the client’s business information; you are not to abuse this information. A subcontractor can be sued for abusing client information. You cannot as a subcontractor, now that you have the details go and contact that client, this is a big no in the industry, and you could be sued for doing this, so please note this
  • A Contract Agreement should be signed between Client (VA/Transcriptionist) and subcontractor to cover both parties in the event of things happening.

The contract must state payment terms and conditions. It could be a good thing to place wording in the contract to cover the situation whereby the client does not pay the VA/Transcriptionist then the subcontractor cannot be paid, this situation should be covered in the contract so that the subcontractor will know what the procedure is, if no payment is forthcoming for the job/task. Often with large jobs clients are very slow in making the payment, this fault lays with the client not the VA/Transcriptionist. All the VA/Transcriptionist can do is to contact the client nonstop and keep reminding them of this payment.

The client (VA/Transcriptionist) must communicate to the subcontractor what payment terms will be with each job. The subcontractor needs to know when they can expect to be paid.

The norm is that when the client pays their invoice at the end of the job/task then the subcontractor will be paid their portion.

Often there is a problem with payments as some clients will not pay immediately on receipt of invoice, this happens a lot, and it can be very often out of the client (VA/Transcriptionists) hands, all they can do in these circumstances is to keep contacting their client and asking for the payment. The only way is to pester the client no end, as payment is deserved upon receipt of the work and invoice. Again communication comes in here as the client (VA/Transcriptionist) must let the subcontractors know when they are having problems retrieving payments from clients.

Another thing that can be done to sort of help a bit with payments is to get a 50% to 75% deposit up front. You provide a rough estimate of your invoice and the client pays you before the job is started, work commences on payment of deposit. This is a good way to go with all new clients, there is no reason why this cannot be negotiated up front with your client, and it can be part of client liaison, terms, and conditions. Payment details must be worked out before any work is started. Do not just take the job on because the clients says it is urgent make sure you work out payment terms beforehand. Nothing is more urgent than your payment at the end of the day it’s all about money.

Everyone at some time or another battles to get payments from clients, when it happens to me I just contact the client nonstop and use the means necessary to communicate. I have not taken other routes like small claims court which can be used in these circumstances.

I have gone over and over on some points here, but it is because those points are important.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Figg Excel Accounting Products

Hi guys,

I just want to introduce you formally to Figg Excel accounting products. I’ve become a dealer in these products

Essentially, this is a cheap and professional way to manage the accounts of your business. The products are based in MS Excel and include things like Cash Book, Business Plan, fully integrated products … all of them come with full back up and support and tutorials to explain what is happening. It’s accounting for non accountants. Really beneficial for small businesses and those starting out.

Take a look at the page above and contact me or click on the banner to order.

Warm regards,

Gaynor Paynter

Talking Point Media Consulting / Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC

Cell: +27834424689

BBM 21A23A57



You'll get by, if you smile through your fear and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow, you'll see the sun come shining through - for you.

Payments and Clients

As part of your business plan you need to write up a procedure for dealing with your clients and payments.
How do you want to receive your payments?
When are you going to invoice your clients?
With once off jobs/tasks I would suggest you start of by asking for a 50% deposit before starting work, then on completion of the task and the client has came back to say they are happy with the work then you send an invoice. Do not start the work no matter how urgent before receiving your 50% deposit. Your payment is also important as is the clients work.
My clients have 10 days to pay me from date of the invoice. If that client has not paid me I then follow up and keep following up until payment is received. With once off clients you invoice on completion of the job, not at month end. You point out your payment terms to the client and ask nicely when you can expect to receive payment, especially so when you work with subcontractors as those contractors need to know when they will be paid.
If I take on a client and they become  regular clients I then move the payments to monthly payments. I try to get my invoices out around 28/29 of the month, I try, its not always possible as often I can be too busy. Invoicing is important and I try to maintain that (try).
My monthly clients either pay on receipt of the invoice or within a few days. If the clients dont pay I send a friendly skype or email reminder. Our clients can also be just as hectic as we are.
Note: we will get the clients that do not pay, that is an accepted part of the job and part of every business.
Have payment terms on your invoice and as part of your terms and conditions in your clients contracts.
There is no need to be afraid of invoicing your clients, its is part of dealing with clients and part of doing the work for clients, you are a business owner and you must think as one.
Keep track of all your invoices, payments in and out, its important to know how much you earn and what profits you are not making or are making. You need to know where your company is financially at all times. Your basic bookkeeping must be part of your monthly procedures for your business.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to get Clients?

The big question every VA asks is how do  I  find clients. Let me give you a few pointers to do this, I will take from my  own experiences of how I do it as I have no problems finding clients.
Watch this space.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tips for Newbie Transcriptionists


I suggest that you join a forum aimed at VAs and transcriptionists. For South Africans I would recommend TAVASA. Working from home can be a lonely experience and trying to sort out technical problems can be very daunting. By joining a forum you will be in contact with people who understand exactly what is required and can assist with questions.

Best of all, this is where the more established people post their requests for assistance with overflow work. Having secured a shot at subcontracting this overflow work bear the following in mind:

• Obtain a template from the contractor and STICK to it – every comma, every underlining, every space. Do not get creative and do not try to improve on the template.

• Often the contractor will send a sheet through with his or her typing preferences and requirements. Read it carefully before you start typing and again before you proof your work and ensure you abide by the instructions.

• Communicate – if you are having problems with the recording it may be a bad recording. On the other hand, if you are the only typist experiencing problems then it is probably an incorrect setting or your equipment may be faulty. The only way to find out is by asking the contractor about the recording quality. Do not go merrily ahead and turn in a transcript littered with [unclear], [inaudible], etcetera.

• Make notes as you go, especially for names and words that you are not sure of. Should these become clear as the transcript progresses, it makes it easy and quick to do a global replacement.

• Proof your work thoroughly. Put those earphones on and go through the whole transcript – this is time-consuming and quite often expensive – it takes a long time to type your very first transcription and it can be quite discouraging in terms of your hourly rate, but you would be amazed at what you pick up on the second run-through. Words previously indecipherable will be clear once you are familiar with the context of the transcript.

• Spell and grammar check – spell checking is an absolute requirement but adding the grammar check function is very useful in picking up mistakes other than typos. Bear in mind that transcription is usually rendered verbatim and the most common grammar mistakes are made in speech. Do not be tempted to tidy up the speaker’s grammar unless specifically requested to do so.

• Google is your friend. If, for instance, you pick up a name and a designation but not the company name, chances are you will find it on Google. Many terms are industry-related or, in the case of medical transcription, the names of patent drugs, etcetera, are unfamiliar to most people. It is not enough to spell a word phonetically, add a question mark and move on. In the long run your efforts will be rewarded.

• Ask questions. We were all new at this once and I believe we would rather answer a dozen seemingly insignificant questions rather than receive a badly-typed transcript.

The above steps are very, very important. It is as well to remember that not only do contractors offer the jobs that will get you started as a transcriptionist but that they often recommend – or not – typists to other contractors. Shoddy work will put a halt to your career before you start. Commit to producing high quality transcription from day one.

Michele Johanson is based in Cape Town and owns Good Hope Transcription and Typing Services which offers general and legal transcription, typing, article and content writing and editing/proofreading functions. Recently we have added recording of small meetings to our profile.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is it like being a Virtual Assistant

I have been doing my job as a Virtual Assistant now for 10 years. No two days are the same. I think my job is harder now than what it was as a secretary. It is not easy running your own business, there are many things involved that have to be fitted into your schedule. Not only do you sit and do the clients work but you do the many tasks that have to be done with running a small business. There is the marketing, networking, advertising, debt collecting, liase with clients and virtual assistants, keep up to date with what is going on with virtual assistants on the many forums I belong to, keep up to date with VA newsletters that I subscribe to. I try to do online marketing a few times a week, just adding my details somewhere new, often looking for places where there is no VA's advertised or where there is just a few advertised. Keeping up with social media, that is very time taking, but its something that has to be done as its part of keeping your business fresh out there in the corporate world. Updating my website and blog, adding new content or changing a word here and there. Every opportunity I get to network with other people and tell them about my job as a virtual assistant is worthwhile, as you never know when that person may pass on my details to someone further who may need my services. My phone, skype and email are busy non stop, I get enquiries from Virtual Assistants and potential clients all the time, I always try to assist when I can. Monthly administration has to be done, no matter how busy I am, schedules need to be kept of work coming in and going out, schedules need to be kept of monthly expenditures in and out etc, invoices need to be done monthly and also for adhoc jobs as they are completed.
Being a Virtual Assistants is my career choice its hard, difficult but its a job I love doing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What is Typing?

Typing is the process of inputting text into a device, such as a typewriter, cell phone, computer, or a calculator, by pressing keys on a keyboard. It can be distinguished from other means of input, such as the use of pointing devices like the computer mouse, and text input via speech recognition.

The world's first typist was Lillian Sholes from Wisconsin. She was the daughter of Christopher Sholes, the man who invented the first practical typewriter.


Civilian Conservation Corps typing class, 1933

Typing the theory is anyone can do it, but can they. To me typing is a skill; there is a process involved therefore that makes it a skill. You can just sit and type but can you type properly. There is one finger typists, two finger typists and then you get the person who can type with all fingers like me. I was taught touch typing during my school years.

While at school many years ago I took typing classes, in those days we used old manual typewriters, the key board was very high between levels on the keypad. I was taught how to place the fingers correctly on the keypad, and how to hold your hands. We were also shown which fingers you use on each specific key. As we progress through learning we were also taught about speed typing. Paper was placed across our keys and we were taught to type fast while listening to music keeping up with the beat of the music by typing. It was fun and I eventually learnt how to be a very fast accurate typist.

This is a skill I have carried with me for years and now put into practice daily through owning my own typing company. I offer type services to clients. I can sit and type for hours and it’s a skill I enjoy providing to my clients. Anyone can type but are they accurate, are they fast.

I am what can be called an old school typist. Many people who use keyboards today don’t position their fingers correctly therefore you cannot type as quick as what you can when your fingers are placed correctly.

Written by Alison Fourie, AMF Typing Services

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Does your client work all hours or do they work 8am to 5pm?

Does your client work all hours or do they work 8am to 5pm?

Your clients working hours will impact on your working hours, so make sure you are both in sync about the hours you work.

The reason I am asking is because if your clients are working all hours, weekends, you will be expected to be available these hours unless you state different. I am available to suit my clients and every one of them works all hours and weekends, but that is my preference. My children are at a stage where they are not dependent on me, they can do things for themselves, my husband understands my work and the hours that are needed for my clients so both of us work around our businesses and make things work for the family.

If you want to work 8am to 5pm make sure you go for the types of clients that work these hours.

Make your availability known to your clients as part of your client agreement contract which you should both sign at the beginning of your working relationship.

If you are starting out your business and still working full time, make sure you tell potential clients that you are working full time and only working on your business part time at present, as this will affect your deadlines. An idea can be for you when starting out is to subcontract jobs out to a full time VA till you are able to go full time within your own business.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dictaphone - Transcription - Typing

Dictaphone - Transcription - Typing 'the difference'!

There is a difference between Dictaphone, Transcription, and Typing.
Dictaphone and Transcription are similar so we charge at an audio hourly rate or hourly rate and these are not referred to as typing in any way, they are both a skill in themselves and not everyone can do them. With both you listen then type up what you hear (Transcribe). This involves excellent listening skills, good grammar, english knowledge, knowledge of punctuation, and concentration etc.
Dictaphone is normally one person, could be a doctor or an attorney recording into a digital machine, recording device and then you as a Transcriptionist listen to that tape and transcribe it. This is normally quicker to do than doing a transcription of many people involved.
Transcription can be more involved, it can be a recording of a meeting with a few people present, a conference session, court hearings etc. It is usually when more than one person is speaking and the event is being recorded. Court recording are difficult to do as they can involve a lot of speakers and different language challenges and maybe a translator being involved. A focus group is difficult to transcribe as often there is a lot of people involved and cross talking all at once.
These two skills are not the same as copy typing, they are more involved and can take many hours to transcribe into a document therefore there is normally an hourly or audio hourly rate involved not a per page rate. It will normally take between 4 to 6 hours to transcribe a one hour file. Transcription of a Focus Group meeting can take a lot longer.
A lot of people have no idea that transcription and typing are not the same thing, a client can ring you and ask you to do typing and its not really typing it is transcription, make sure you verify this before quoting on the work, ask the client for an example, they can send you an example of a transcription sound file or a page taken from what they require copy typing. Ask for details/information on these tasks before quoting, the more detail you have the easier it is to quote. Do not quote blindly.
With transcription you need to listen to the file before quoting. There could be multiple speakers, cross talking, background noise, dual languages, if you listen first it can give you a good idea of how long you think you will take doing the transcript.
Typing is what it is and is not either of the above and it’s charged at a per page rate or a per word rate (sometimes students like it per word, but not often). Typing is normally when you type from written notes, PDF documents, author's books, reports, tenders, copy typing, company correspondence etc.
With typing you need to ask the client for an example, a client can say well its just copy typing, that maybe but copy typing can include graphs, flow diagrams, graphics, scanning of graphics, all these take more time to create and this must be taken into consideration when there is deadlines and you need to meet that deadline. If you scan that is time taking, if you need to do a graph or flow diagram they need to be created from scratch which is also time taking, this is not simple copy typing. A graphic can be scanned or involve being retreaved from the internet therefore you may have to find it, which can involve internet research, this time has to be featured in as part of your quote. To do a flow diagram it can take quite a few hours, remember this if you charge on a per page rate. Flow diagrams are not quick and easy, you have to build it from scratch, the layout has to be right, they can be very involved. Graphs and charts can mean that they need to be done in Excel then copied across to word into your document, this is also a process of creating and copying, time taking.
So you see copy typing is often not just copy typing.
These are just points to remember if you get asked to quote on Dictatation, Trancription and Typing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Starting up your own VA Business

  • Determine what kind of business you want to start, look at your skills and see what you enjoy doing, make a list of jobs you have done in your career, say you did e.g. Typing, Transcription, PowerPoint Presentation etc and that is what you enjoy doing, so start your business by offering the services you enjoy doing the most and expand your business from there as you get to learn and know other jobs.
  • Learn about the industry for your business, do Internet research around the world. There are many VA sites worldwide that you can visit to see what the industry is about. Search for ‘Virtual Assistants’ via Google etc.
  • Check out the market for your business, study your competition, speak to other experienced VAs, ask how they started up, etc. And if an established VA will assist you as your mentor, grab her and don’t let her go,
  • Educate yourself on running a business. Learn what a Business Owner is and what Business Owners do, you have your company books, invoicing, customer liaison, quotations, networking, marketing, debt collecting etc. There is more to running a business than just taking in typing jobs. A Virtual Assistant runs a business/company.
  • Join Associations, Chamber of Commerce, small to medium business networking groups, women’s business groups etc for networking purposes, locally.
  • Name your business, have a business name that reflects what you are doing and who you are. Design a company logo and a company slogan. This to me was one of the most exciting tasks to do when I started my company, ive been through quite a few logo's since starting and I am now happy with my current logo as it reflects what I am doing.
  • Perform a trademark search on the name you choose for your business to make sure no one else is using that name.
  • Register a domain name for your website; first check that the name you have chosen is not used by someone else. My domain name is, the domain being ‘amftyping’.
  • Design/Acquire a website/blogging (Example: site, this is a great marketing tool, you can list your website on search engines and add your website and company details to search engine listings, classified sections, and in directories via the internet worldwide. Your website and blog are your internet advertising tools; they portray you on-line, make sure your content is good and draws clients to you. If it’s not working within 3 months relook at your content and change it.
  • Determine business structure (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation).
  • Evaluate your personal budget, know what your budget limits are, and work within these limits.
  • Write a business plan, list your objectives and values, create your mission statement, update as your business grows. Set up the way you are going to run your business (Procedures/structures), document it, edit, as you need to, but put it in writing.
  • Register your business with the Deeds Office in (for South African VAs only, VAs from other countries must check their own country regulations) Have a choice of company names; check out your company names via the internet, because if you find someone with the same business name you will have to change your name as they were here first.
  • Organise your office and office space.
  • Order signage, I have a sign attached to my gate with business name and details. Place signage/magnets on your car, as you drive around, you are advertising your company.
  • Obtain business tools (computer, printer, fax machine, office supplies, and fixtures, ADSL line, Broadband/wireless connection). (Make sure you have the bandwidth to cater for your job, if you are doing transcription/typing you will receive large files, you need to be able to download and upload these files so you bandwidth must be adequate.
  • Order/Create business stationery (business cards, letterhead, brochures, forms etc). You can create your own office stationery via your computer, it saves money.
  • Set a launch date.
  • Plan a grand opening event; create press releases, flyers, and notices. Send announcements to everyone you know that you are opening your business. Let people know about this, advertise strongly that you are opening your business, let other VAs know, report it on forums, Facebook, networking sites/social media. But get your opening information out there.
  • Evaluate your marketing/networking strategy/plan often and do the same with your business strategy/plan as your business changes then make note of the changes and new procedures in your business strategy/plan. Your business plan should be a working ongoing document.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Company Procedures

What I find works for my company is having company procedures in place for the way I work. I fully believe that every company needs procedures.
I have a set way I do my invoicing, I have procedures that I use when I chat to new clients and potential clients, I have procedures in the way I work every day. I feel I have to be organised as if not then the wheels will drop off and I dont know what I am doing. So I run my business with good procedures in place.
Part 1
As I have had many of my clients a long time, they just send me an email, sms, skype or call and let me know they are sending work, or sometimes they just send. When I receive the work I then check out what it is, work out how long it will take me, what is involved and I then document all this on a spreadsheet. I then get back to the client and let them know how long the job will take and let them know whether I will or will  not make the deadline. Sometimes jobs are too big and that deadline cannot be reached therefore I will go back to the client and let them know I can't meet their deadline, but this is the deadline that is reachable, is this ok and they always come back and say that is fine, or ask me to get as close to it as I can. It's always worth it to negotiate with your client and let them know that a deadline is unreachable. I always check what work I have at that moment and how I can work everything in so that all the work gets done, this is part of keeping records so I  always know what I am doing and when. Sometimes it can get too hectic to do this, but I will do it when I get a gap.
I cannot work without my procedures in place as I just have too much work. I will follow this post and let you know my procedures and share with you some of the forms I use as I go.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Naming your Business and finding a company logo

One of the most interesting tasks to do when you open up a new VA business, is to give your business a name. Your business name needs to reflect what you are doing, what your business is about. Once you find that name use that name as your website domain name, your user name. You need your business name to be memorable, something that people will connect with you straight away. I am AMF Typing Services and everywhere you will see me using the user name 'amftyping' its short and easy to use and immediately it can be connected with my company name. Make your name unique to you.
Another great task is finding or creating a logo to suit your company name, I choose a typewriter as it matches my company and user name and my main company function is typing so the typewriter is very apt. You can play around with your initials, find a good graphic and play around with it making it unique to your business. It took me a few different logo's before I came up with this one, I played around with my initials for a while coming up with different combinations.  You dont need fancy graphic software to do a logo, you can do many things just playing around in powerpoint or word. Make sure you feel comfortable with the name and logo you choose.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

6th Annual Online International Convention




May 19-21, 2011

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The 6th Annual Online International Virtual Assistants Convention (OIVAC) is just 2 months away! The Convention runs a continuous 16 hours, daily, and because it’s all ONLINE, you can access everything directly from your home computer! No travel or hotel costs to worry about.

If you’re interested in learning, mentoring and networking with stellar virtual assistants, speakers and small business experts, register for OIVAC from March 31st to April 2nd, during the April “Don’t be Fooled” Days registration special. And this is no prank!

Just a few of the benefits of attending:

• Access to 35 business and virtual assistant industry experts over three Convention days

• 40 different topics (with downloadable recordings) to help grow your business; including marketing, business development, technology and social media; plus networking, training, and mentoring.

• Entrance to 4 Ask the Expert VAs panels where you’ll hear first-hand how Expert VAs manage and grow their businesses, and get answers to YOUR questions about YOUR business

• The chance to win prizes at the International Virtual Assistants Day (IVAD) Celebration

• Access to Building Profitable Product Launch Systems for Your Clients! training

• A VA Goodie Bag - a stash of amazing resources

• And much more!

Don’t miss out – this AMAZING Special is only available from March 31st until April 2nd!

Special Convention Pricing

$159.00 – Full Convention – March 30th – April 2nd ONLY

After April 2nd, registration is:

$89.00 – 3 Seminar Package

$159.00 – 5 Seminar Package

$399.00 - Full Convention (with optional 2 installment payment plan, if registered by April 15)

$499.00 – Full Convention (After April 15)

Sign up now! Take advantage of the special offer NOW and plan to “Move Your Business from 1st Gear to Hyper-drive” on May 19-21, 2011.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The 6th Annual Online International Virtual Assistant Convention is taking place on 19 to 21st May 2011, there is lots of exciting topics and speakers attending. An event not to be missed, Its a great place to network and meet other VAs from countries worldwide. See you there.

Global Virtual Assistants Week 16th – 21st May 2011
OIVAC Online Convention 18th – 21st May 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reaching deadlines knowing how long a task takes

You must know if you can reach deadlines or not. You need to know how long each task you do will take, for example: how long will a 1 hour file of transcription take to transcribe, how long will it take you to type up 100/200/500 pages. When a client contacts you, you have to be able to let them know if you can or cannot reach the deadline they set.

You must give yourself time to proof your work, time to check the layout and formatting, make sure the grammar is good, the punctuation done, sentence construction etc. Also you need to make sure you give yourself time to take breaks/lunch and for interruptions. You need to know with interruptions, can you still reach the deadline.

When you feel a deadline is not reachable, negotiate, you will be doing the work, you know how long it will take, give yourself plenty of time to do the work and be negotiable on a deadline that you can reach. It is up to you as a business owner to tell you client ‘this deadline is unreal’ explain what is involved within the job, a lot of clients have no idea how long a particular job will take. They will give you very unreasonable deadlines. Only you know what you are capable of and you know your limits. This is often a problem in Transcription, the clients do not know how long it actually takes to transcribe and often the deadlines are tight but its up to you, as you are doing the job to negotiate this with the client, not the client to set this deadline for you, simply explain what is involved,

Do not take on jobs you have no idea how to do, a client will quickly find out you cannot do this job and they will not have confidence and trust in you again. Only take on the work that you have experience in doing, especially so when you are just starting out. If you take on a job that is new to you, let the client know it’s new to you, but that you are very willing to learn and try. New jobs will take you longer to do, remember this with deadlines.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Series - Work Schedule

Another article in my 'How to Series'.

I keep a work schedule of every item of work that I get in. I list the date/time, name, description of work, urgent/non urgent, who does the work, (myself or contractor) proofing (I sometimes send work out to a proofreader), time/date complete and comments, time worked, price of job. I keep all this information in an excel spreadsheet and have it set up monthly.
I work for a lot of clients on a weekly basis, so keeping good records of the work helps me to stay organised and know what is going on, it assists with time management, priorising the work and keeping track when I send work out to a contractor. It also gives me the stats at the end of the month to see how many jobs I do on a monthly basis and how much I make on each job that I do. These stats are important to have as you are running a business.
As a client send me in work, i then enter that work on my spreadsheet, giving as much details as is involved, then when the work is complete I finish the entry on the spreadsheet.
I hate doing admin at month end but this is such a help when it comes to doing my invoicing which I do at month end as my clients pay monthly.
If you have any comments on this procedure please share with me, I would love to hear what you do and how you run your VA business.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OIVAC Launches Speaker Interview Series

OIVAC Launches Speaker Interview Series

During the next 30 days, Ms. Lyn Prowse-Bishop of Executive Stress Office Support interviews 20 speakers scheduled to appear at the upcoming Online International Virtual Assistants Convention 2011 (OIVAC -, Thursday, May 19 thru Saturday, May 19,

During this 6th annual event, virtual assistants will rev up their businesses and shift them from 1st gear to hyper drive, as they learn innovative marketing, networking, and business management strategies to assist with their business growth and development and
topics that will positively impact client relations and services, and their pocketbooks.

This week's interviewees and topics located at the OIVAC YouTube
Channel ( include:
* Kathie Thomas - The Importance of Networking.
* Annemarie Cross - Five Powerful Steps to Follow When the Product You are Promoting is You
* Ivana Taylor - How to Get Your Ideal Customer to Choose You
* Dawn Jensen - Social Media Toolkit: Managing Your Clients and Your Business
* Christine Giri - Unleash the Power of Focus
* Cindy Greenway - The Essential Secret Ingredient Clients Want From Their Virtual Assistants

Visit our convention channel today to view these informative videos, and register as a subscriber. Stop by the convention website for complete speaker profiles and seminar details (

Take advantage of our early bird specials and register for the convention today!

To your success,
Sharon Williams
OIVAC Steering Committee
Alliance for Virtual Businesses

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Answer to comment

Awesome post. Do you mind if I ask what your source is for this information?

Hi I would like to answer this question above, all the information you see on the blog is my own, it is my experiences over the 10 years that I have been AMF Typing Services. I have many clients and have many experiences with those clients. I like to share my experiences to assist others especially new Virtual Assistants.My 'How to Series' are what I do, what I go through, to show you how its can be done.
New VAs need to know how things are done, if my experiences help at least one VA every now and again then its worth my letting everyone know.
I welcome all comments on my blog positive or negative, please if you enjoy the blog leave your comment. regards Ali

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How to Series

Quoting on clients work.
You need to know roughly how many pages can you type of plain copy typing in 1 hour, you need to know roughly how much transcription you can roughly do in 1 hour.
Clients will say to you, I have a 250 page document for typing, how long will it take you and what will you charge, to quote on this you need to give an estimate, so knowing roughly what you can produce in 1 hour of work will assist you in gaging what you can do.
I know I can type anything from 15 pages to 30 pages per day, but it depends on what the content is, whether there is graphics, flow diagrams, graphs, drawings in that content, these will take longer to produce. I know I can do these quickly but not everyone can, each typist is different but you need to know what you can and cannot do. If it will take you a few hours to do a flow diagram that must factor in your quote and whether you can meet the deadline set.
With transcription there are factors involved that will determine how long you take with transcribing, there could be multiple speakers, background noise, language difficulties if its court transcription, a focus group meeting can take twice as long to transcribe as often a lot of people will talk at once. You should roughly be able to say a 1 hour transcription will take plus/minus 4 to 6 hours to transcribe.
Data entry, you need to see what they require, see how many entries you can do in an hour, know what you can do at all times.
Look at the job you have, work out can you do it in the deadline stipulated. Can you produce a quality job, also remember you will have to spell check/grammar, proof your work and check your layout, all these things are part of the job you need to do. If you need assistance with a quote give me a shout. My advice would be for you to ask for a sample of the work that is required before you quote, this will assist you in quoting and always ask as many questions as you can think of about the task.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Africa VAs

Tavasa - Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa
Tavasa blog:
Entrepreneur Buddy ~
African Virtual Assistants Network(Afrivan) ~
Business Without Boundaries ~
Be Virtual Wise -

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