Today everyone is selling something on line. But there are so many choices out there that it leaves one wondering what the best method is for me?

Today we are going to be covering many of the common carts and the pluses and minuses of each.

WooCommerce– This is a free shopping cart and has been relied on for years. The issue is if you want to accept payments from someone other than PayPal, you will need to buy add on packages. Most of the common ones will cost $49 upward to $199 each. As you can see, these extensions can add up quickly. Also there is a NEW policy by PayPal that if you are a NEW PayPal customer, you will have to have all of your WooCommerce purchases confirmed by the customer before payment will be processed.  As you can imagine this could be a headache for you, and the client.

Ithemes Exchange– This is a great little plugin that is similar to WooCommerce. The plug in is free however, like WooCommerce, the add-on pack is an additional $197.00 per year. This does give you over 20 add-ons including

  • Membership Add On
  • Shipping Charts
  • Canadian Tax and US Tax Charts
  • Hook ups to your Autoresponder
  • Product Variations
  • And lots more.

This plug in is very easy to install and configure and is recommended as a great starter cart.  It also does not have the PayPal restriction as WooCommerce has.

Ecwid Shopping Cart– This cart had both a free plan with 0% transaction fees as well as paid plans up to $69 a month. Their plans are based on the number of products. You would take payments via Paypal or it supports over 40 other payment providers. It also includes a complete shipping chart so that you can ship via multiple carries.

1Shopping Cart- This is a great cart with some great features. It includes a autoresponder and a basic CRM feature in the monthly fee.  They also have no limits on the number of contacts.  They allow you to hook up your favorite merchant account to the cart. If you do not have one, you can sign up through them and get a small discount. They also will lover the percentage that they take on the sale.  In many cases this is lower than the fee PayPal takes.  The starter package runs $34 per month and the ultimate package will cost you $249 per month.  Note the starter package DOES NOT include Affiliate management, but for $34 a month, this could be a cheaper option than paying for an autoresponder program and the additional PayPal fees.

Ontraport– This cart is a nice alternative to Infusionsoft. The cost of this cart starts at $79 a month and limits your contacts to 1000. The next package will cost you $279 a month and allows you to have 25,000.  This price also include the ability to add memberships and affiliate management. Like 1shopping cart, is also includes an advanced CRM and autoresponder programs.  There is also a “If-Then” feature that will help you expand and build your sales funnels via your shopping cart.

Infusionsoft This is considered one of the best carts out there. It can be expensive and is recommend for the coach who is making at least $75K or more. The prices start at $199 a month and can cost up to $599 a month for the complete system. It is also based on the number of contacts. The starter package only allows up to 2500 contacts. For coaches that have a large email base, they would have to buy the complete package that allows 10,000 contacts. This cart allows for a full build out of sales funnels, a complete CRM and a complete Sales mismanagement feature. It is important to note here that most coaches that choose this will also have to find a VA or an Infusionsoft certified professional to manage the program and build your funnels. Support is there to help but at times this could be limited and wait times could be a little long, however if you are earning the money and making the sales, this is a great option for the higher end coach.

It is also important to note that there are other ways to accept money. Today Mailchimp, Aweber and Active Campaign allow you the option now to add PayPal buttons to their emails and allow you to accept payment via this system. Also naturally, you can use the PayPal button codes as well to accept payments. In fact, ActiveCampaign also allows you to build funnels and many of the common features of Infusionsoft for a starting price of $9 per month up to $300 a month.  Again, this is based on the number of contacts that you have on your list.

There are also other free carts such as ZenCart, OpenCart and many others that you can also choose to use. Most of these also are hooked to using the PayPal or Stripe payments.

The key to find the right cart for you is to determine what do you really need from your shopping cart. Do you want a CRM? Multiple Shipping Platforms? Affiliate Management? Sales Funnels? Multiple Payment Methods? Autoresponders? Once you know what you really want, the next step is to compare pricing and also ask for a free trial and take the time to really test them to make sure they meet your needs.

If you are needing more assistance in picking or setting up your shopping cart, we are here to help. Click here to set up your free consultation call today.

 

Today, social media is prevalent. It’s the preferred communication among the younger set and studies have shown that a considerable amount of hours are spent on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during work hours. Most companies would respond by banning social media site access in offices as it is believed to take away from the productivity of workers. But this strategy simply boomerangs negatively, with employees instead opting to resign and move where rules are not as strict or resort to checking their sites on their own devices with data plans anyway.

In a nutshell, this is the best way for companies to deal with it: lose in the battle but win the war. Accept that social media is not entirely good or bad in itself, it is just a matter of having the right perspective and providing the right controls – the kind that respects the employee and at the same time, benefits the organization. Here are some ways to accomplish this in the long term:

1. Have a social media policy.

Most strict rules come from a place of fear. For companies, they are usually afraid of what the employee will share and the amount of hours they will spend online. First of all, owners should work with HR in accomplishing a holistic rule list when it comes to content. What’s deemed as confidential? What can help the marketing team? Be specific and if needed, list down the documents which can harm the company if shared. The last thing the company wants is to have an open ended memo which can be interpreted in many ways. Having so also protects the employees from other colleagues who may want to malign them online.

Instead of coming from a place of fear, come from a place of opportunity. Word the policies in such a way that they benefit the employee instead of seeming to stifle them. The goal is not to censor them but to ensure their safety and privacy as well.

2. Set smart limits.

The amount of bandwidth that is used for watching movies on YouTube for example can be detrimental for the company. So instead of banning the sites altogether, opt to have a social media hour for example so that these sites are not on round the clock. Rules such as not allowing downloading of movies or music are understandable. If the company security is compromised, invest in tablets which anyone can use for socials instead of individual PCs logging in.

This way, employees shift their mindset from something negative to positive. They are seen as the responsible adults that they are who plays a big role in maintaining the professional integrity of their workplace.

3. Provide the content.

When it comes to marketing, employees are the best brand ambassadors. It’s literally a gold mine usually untapped by most organizations. Since people are inclined to use social media, why not make them talk about the efforts of the company as well?

Nothing beats a company’s employee when it comes to announcing all its messages. And with the right guidance, it just might be the secret sauce to the company’s sustainable success, one post at a time.

Let’s face it: there are a lot of virtual assistants today. Due to cheaper laptops and PCs as well as more reliable web connection right at the comfort of one’s home, setting up practice for virtual assistants is very easy. But still, not all can maintain their practice and there is more to having a slew of clients to keep one’s business sustainable.

This is where the benefit of having a strong personal brand as a virtual assistant comes in. Having one makes the person not just a producer but also an expert in the job – one that ensures clients will always choose them over everyone else. Personal branding elevates the person into a different level of providing service to someone who is also a great strategic partner for several projects.

How does one even begin? Let us count the ways:

1. Find a niche.
For beginners, it’s understandable for a virtual assistant to accept every project that comes their way. However, creating a list of clients who pay well should also serve another end: finding one’s real passion. From this, the virtual assistant can find out which type of work they will be more than happy to extend their names to and do for a very long time. Passion fuels interest and this leads to one being willing to studying that field until he or she reaches the expert level.
Then once that is established, getting more projects in that line of work makes him or her attributable to that field. Finding a niche can also come from careful study of what is in demand; this ensures lasting demand for one’s services in the long run.

2. Start a blog and have social media presence.
Having a blog and writing about the topic further, beyond the needs of the client, establishes one as a go-to person. This also makes one’s name stand out on search engines as clients search for people to connect with to help them with their needs.
Having social media presence also makes the person more reachable. With a carefully curated posting schedule, social media can work wonders for one’s reputation. At a glance, client will know the kind of person they are dealing with.

3. Let them talk about you.
Good PR is talking about one’s self, great PR is other people saying good things about you. Just like that famous saying that what people say when you are not in the room matters, working on one’s PR always makes for a fantastic business. Testimonials from clients matter and sharing these on Facebook or Twitter are not in bad taste at all – it is simply about letting people know of the good you do.
Connecting with local media and the community is a good strategy as well in getting the word out when it comes to one’s practice.

4. Network.
Being a virtual assistant can be home-based but it does not have to 100 percent home bound. Attend conferences and network. Meet people in the same business. Effective networking makes one aware of the latest in the field. At the same time, it is the best time to know more about the competition.
The best of them, with the strongest personal brands, are always ready to tackle it head on.

]The biggest misconception that people who work from home such as virtual assistants and freelance writers and designers have is that they do not need to work on their leadership abilities compared to their 9 to 5 warrior counterparts.

But they are the very ones who have the most opportunity to maximize their leadership due to 1) their lack of a superior, 2) lack of hours they need to strictly lock in, and 3) their ability to change their workloads as they wish.

Here are specific ways for virtual assistants to take the next step when it comes to leadership skills:

1. Read more books

Sharpening the ax never ends and reading is one of the best ways to do so. Every article on executives lists reading as their number one activity that helps them be a step ahead of the pack and be aligned with their purpose.

Business books such as those that are into customer service or even biographies can help them be inspired to take stock of their lives and provide better output to their clients. Magazines and trade-specific literature is also a great way to stay updated in the industry they are in.

2. Attend seminars on leadership and finance

Attending forums and talks are always a networking opportunity aside from the learnings that they can glean from the speakers. Being out with people in the same industry provides them with an idea as to their hours and pay. Think of it as benchmarking to ensure that they are at par with the rest of them.

Finance seminars are also important as it creates in them the idea that there is more to life than simply doing the work that pays weekly or monthly. Creating wealth is the name of the game of leaders and virtual assistants and they can tap into this power for themselves as well.

3. Outsource their work

Creating more leaders is the best way to be one. Virtual assistants, especially those who have been in the industry and have a cadre of clients, can create jobs for other people as well. They can hone others into becoming successful virtual assistants as themselves and they can also become thought leaders in the subject by coming up with blogs or webinars.

Doing so is a winner in all aspects: they get to provide job opportunities to other people and at the same time, increase their profile, making them the virtual assistant of choice – something a great leader is ought to do.

Business relationships are going virtual and the demand for virtual assistants is growing gradually day by day. Professionals and business owners are struggling to balance their career and personal life. This causes them to feel overwhelmed and constantly stressed out because their work pile has become a complete hassle. These everyday tasks really can be a pain when trying to find time for yourself. Scenarios such as this is what leads professionals and business owners to find a quick, inexpensive alternative to relieve them of the chaos they are experiencing.

Virtual Assistants Are Versatile
Virtual Assistants are definitely considered “on-call” for a reason. They will work around the clock, if needed, to keep their clients happy. (This includes weekends and holidays.) As independent contractors, virtual assistants take their work seriously and put their best effort forth at all times. Here’s a look at the many valuable skills VAs possess, manage on a daily basis:

1. Newsletter Maintenance
Keeping in contact with your loyal clients is vital to keep your business afloat, this we do understand. Newsletters are a great way to reach out to your clients weekly or daily. This is also a great way to grow your target marketing audience.

2. Social Media Marketing
Social media is a great way to promote your products or services to the public. It is definitely an inexpensive option if you are on a budget.

3. Website Design & Maintenance
Websites are necessary for a growing, successful business. Many consumers have gone virtual, so you are more likely to keep a steady flow of sales with a running website. Your Virtual Assistants offers domains for as low as $9! If you already have a website, it can still be maintained but sometimes changes are good for business.

4. Graphic & Video Design Creation
Visuals are VERY important in the rise of technology. Consumers frequently share graphics and videos through social media networks. This is a great way to reach new people. Graphics and videos are also used when building or reconstructing a website.

5. Shopping Cart Maintenance
When selling through your website, you will need to set up a shopping cart like Shopify, WooCommerce, InfusionSoft, etc. Shopping carts can be a hassle to set up if you are not sure of what you are doing.

6. SEO
Complete optimization of your website means you will generate more traffic and gain more exposure.

This is just a brief summary of what a virtual assistant can do for you and your business. (To view a complete list of services provided by Your Virtual Assistants — click here.)

Virtual Assistants Can Also Save You Money
Believe it or not, hiring a virtual assistant can save yourself a good chunk of change by reducing labor and hiring costs.

1. Virtual Assistants are independent contractors and pay their own taxes.
2. You will not be required to provide worker’s compensation or employee benefits.
3. Virtual Assistants will only charge for their time spent on tasks that are assigned.
4. Office space & equipment does not have to be furnished because VAs already come equipped.
5. Training costs are pretty much thrown out the window once you hire the right VA. Many of them already have experience needed. Just be prepared to send thorough instructions and have plenty of work ready.

If you are ready for more personal time without worrying about your business declining, it may be time to consider a reliable VA to handle all your dirty work while you focus on more important things (like golfing).

In today’s competitive business environment it is essential to find ways to reduce costs and increase revenues while keeping productivity and quality high. One of the best ways to achieve this is through hiring and retention of outstanding employees.

Far too often hiring managers rush through the hiring process due to being reactive rather than proactive when filling positions. With some preplanning in the hiring process and implementation of sound strategies once people join your organization, you will lower the cost of doing business by considerable amounts.

As you prepare to hire consider the following:

• What type of person are you looking for?
• What are the values that drive your company?
• How difficult is the job you are filling?
• Do you have anyone internally who can do the job?
• How long will it take to find the right person for the position?
• What are you willing to negotiate with the potential candidate?

In looking for potential candidates you may want to try more than the traditional employee search. Tap into your network of professional connections. Some of your best candidates may be working for your competitors. Be careful about hiring someone just because they are a friend or family member. Not that friends and family members don’t make good employees – often they can be fantastic. And yet, if you are hiring them only because they are a friend or family member, you are setting yourself up for some big problems. With the wrong choice morale with other employees can go down. With the right choice it is just as likely to go up.

Think through the compensation package. Are the wages fair for the job, industry and market? Make sure your benefit package is competitive for your industry. Find out what other companies are offering as far as compensation and consider matching or beating their offerings.

There are occasions when someone may take a position without thinking through income, benefits or fit. Once they have gotten settled in and are feeling comfortable with the position and the company, they may realize the compensation and the job is not all it could be. That can cause some discontent on their part. To avoid this, do your homework.

Another key to keeping good employees is to make sure they are treated with respect, dignity and appreciation. This may seem like common sense and yet, it often doesn’t happen. I consult with various types of organizations employee retention and how to gain more commitment from the staff. I often will meet individually, in private, with a cross section of the staff. I spend at least an hour with each employee in a confidential meeting to find out their view of the company. Inevitably, the areas that are most lacking for the employee to be fully satisfied are communication and appreciation.

Once the area of discontent has been identified I design programs for the company in which to address the problems. What is amazing is the problem is often on the way to being solved by virtue of the fact the organization has brought me in. A common comment is, “Finally, someone is listening to me.”

Often, a company’s problems can be lessened with some good coaching and training of management. It is amazing how many managers and supervisors were put into their position without any training in interpersonal skills, management and supervisory skills, and how to communicate effectively. Nine times out of ten the people who need the most training are the ones who think they need it the least. And, they are often the biggest obstacle to the success of a company.

In order to stay competitive on all fronts you must keep your entire team on the leading edge. By doing so you will be in business for years to come with a happy, dedicated and productive team. And that will equal profits

thWhile the rest of the world have developed many barriers and protections to keep their e-mail accounts spam-free, there are also those that subscribe to mails that promotes their products, services and their site. This is mainly because these subscribers want to know more about what the sites are offering and how it can be beneficial for them. They expect to be kept posted on what they are interested in and what are new in the market or field they have chosen.

Businesses would be so lucky to have these kinds of customers; the basic element needed to get these type of people is trust. When your customers trust you they will reward you with their loyalty. Many internet users have gone to great lengths in protecting their email accounts from spam mail. Some free-mail internet providers and internet service providers offer spam protection while there are also some internet based companies that screen your mails for you.

With an opt-in mail list, the mails you send containing your promotional materials such as newsletters, catalogs and marketing media will go through. Your intended recipient will be able to read and view what you have sent making it a successful transfer of information. To be able to be allowed to do so, you will need permission from your recipient, to get this permission; you need to be able to get their trust. With the great lack of disregard for privacy on the internet, getting the trust of an internet user you don’t personally know is a big achievement.

To build a good opt-in list you need people to trust you, for a faster and quicker build up, you need to get your opt-in subscribers to trust you quickly. The faster you build your opt-in list the faster word about your site and company gets to be spread. The bigger the scope of your opt-in list the more traffic you get spelling more profits. Its easy math if you think about it. Getting the numbers is not that simple though, or maybe it is?

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11298757724_897e461d43_mSometimes I think that the internet marketing gurus make the information marketing model confusing so that they can sell you a solution.

Seriously, the more confusing you can make something, then the more you can charge for the solution, right?
And I’ve been thinking lately about how really easy it is to create a fully-functioning, profitable, information business. Then a friend of mine sent me a 9,800 word ebook he wrote in his niche, and he wanted my thoughts on it. And my response was that he could just turn it into a business!

This is what I told him:

Just create a new website, put some excerpts of that on your blog, make that your free download, then create a 3 hour audio course teaching EXACTLY what is in that report, sell for $97

Then have a blogging coaching program for $97 a month

That’s it.

That’s the model.

Nothing more.

Then just write an email a day.

Drive traffic to your blogging free giveaway page.

Then each week, record one hour of new training, sell it on the warrior forum each week.

Put warrior forum leads into your automated funnel selling your $97 blogging book and your $97 a month coaching program.

That’s it.

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9027538753_7342f33762_mContent marketing is probably the single easiest traffic source online today. In fact, it has been for many years, but it has been overlooked.

First, a definition: Content marketing is the process of writing content online for the purpose of getting people to read it and take action on your site.

So why don’t people talk about “content marketing” that much, and yet many sites online drive almost ALL their traffic with content?

Well, I think one of the reasons is that content marketing is actually the root source of article marketing. You see, articles are just one little way to generate content online. And a few years ago, article marketing, as a content generation traffic method, became really popular because it was really easy to write the same article and post it on lots of article directories and 100s might post your article. But then Google got wise to it, and nixed the method of sending the same article to multiple places.

But… content marketing itself still works! In fact, it works better than ever, because you aren’t competing with thousands of article marketers that are writing the same junk over and over again.

Now, you have to write original content and have it manually approved by a human at a reputable website or blog.

So what are the steps to content marketing?

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Hire-a-Online-Business-ManagerWhether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, feel like you have the gift of gab or just don’t know how to make small talk, networking know-how is very important for your business success. There is a notion in business that I believe most of us subscribe to that says “all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those they know, like and trust.” And the key to this is obviously being able to develop relationships.

Think of networking as the cultivation of mutually beneficial, win-win relationships. In order to be win-win, there must be GIVE and take (notice the emphasis on give). Networking shouldn’t be viewed as “events” where you go to sell your business. When effective networking is taking place, the parties involved actively share ideas, information, resources, etc.

Ok, so you know that you should be networking because it is one of the most cost-effective lead generation activities when used wisely, appropriately and professionally. But, maybe that seems easier said than done. Here’s a seven step plan to really get going with networking for your business.

1. Check out several groups to find the best chemistry and perceived value. Most groups will allow you to come and visit at least a couple of times before you have to join. Go and ask around to find out why others have joined and what value they get out of belonging.

Resist the urge to just go join the Chamber of Commerce simply because everyone tells you that’s what you need to do. If that’s not where your target group can be found, then you might just be wasting a considerable amount of time (and money).

I’m not telling you not to join the Chamber. Just be clear about what you’d like to get out of this or any other group. If it’s to find prospective clients or referral sources, then you need to be networking where those resources can be found.

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