Monthly Archives: July 2019

How to Pick the Right Tagline for Your Business

Did you eat “The Breakfast of Champions” today? Was your coffee “Good to the Last Drop”? Many of us may recognize these taglines from two famous brands – Wheaties cereal and Maxwell House coffee.

According to Entrepreneur.com’s Small Business Encyclopedia, a tagline can be defined as  “A catch phase or small group of words that are combined in a special way to identify a product or company.”

This article by Laura Lake titled “The Marketing Definition of a Tagline” also give a helpful description:

“That’s a tagline, a short, memorable description that–hopefully–becomes something like a public earworm, getting stuck in people’s brains. A good one may be used for years to come, tossed into conversations as a long-living reminder of the product [it’s] attached to.”

The moment I hear the words “good to the last drop,” I immediately think of Maxwell House coffee. And “The Breakfast of Champions” tagline reminds me of old commercials from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s where basketball player Michael Jordan would say, “You better eat your Wheaties.” In fact, I used to quote that commercial at school, saying, “I’d better eat my Wheaties before that exam.”

Screenshot via https://www.wheaties.com/

In our Freelance 101 course, co-founder and instructor Craig Cannings explains that as a freelancer or virtual assistant, you are a brand too. And your tagline uniquely identifies your business so it can become a household name.

But how do you choose the right tagline? Here are four steps you can follow:

1. Brainstorm what your business is all about.

When creating your tagline, Craig says the big question is “What kind of brand do you want to convey?” Or “What do you want your business to be known for?” First you need to step back and take a close look at yourself and your business. Understand who you are and what you do.

Some key ingredients that make up your brand are

• Your unique personality traits
• Your values
• Your passions
• Your skills and experience
• Your target market

In an article titled “How To Write a Great Tagline For Your Company,” Paul Suggett also recommends listing your strengths and weaknesses to spark ideas. For example, Avis Car Rental used the tagline “We Try Harder,” acknowledging that they were a smaller company than Hertz.

At this stage you might want to use an online tool like MindMeister to visualize your thoughts.

Screenshot via https://www.mindmeister.com/

2. Describe your business in a few sentences.

After you’ve brainstormed the key ingredients that make up your brand, pick out some words and phrases from your brainstorming and mould them into a brief description. You can think of it as the type of description you’d include on an About Page or a LinkedIn profile, about five or six sentences.

As you create your description, focus on these elements:

• What you do (the main purpose of your business)
• What services you offer
• What clients you work for

Michael Luchies gives some good advice in his article “The 8 Characteristics of a Perfect Tagline: Picking the Right Motto or Slogan for Your Small Business.” He says,

“One of the simplest and most important characteristics of a great tagline is that it aligns with the brand it’s associated with. Your brand isn’t just the name of a business, a logo, or a building; it’s a cohesive collection of everything your company does and represents to the world. Your tagline is a piece of that, and it has to fit in with everything else your brand stands for.”

He stresses the importance of making sure your tagline represents your brand properly and flows with the name of your business. For instance, the tone should match the lightheartedness or seriousness of your brand. Ali the Happy VA is an example of a company whose name and brand inspire a lighthearted tagline.

3. Edit your description down to two or three sentences.

This process is good practice for editing content. Your goal is to make your description as concise as possible so you can grab its essence. Now that you have five or six sentences, try whittling them down to two or three sentences. Sometimes at this stage you might even end up with one long sentence.

Here’s an example that Craig provides, describing his personal brand:

Screenshot via https://my.freelanceu.com/courses/freelance-101

If we consider the Wheaties cereal example, we could craft a short description like this:

“Wheaties is a hearty, satisfying breakfast cereal to help people start their day off right. It gives athletes and sports champions the energy and strength to succeed.”

And if we think about Maxwell House coffee, we could say,

“Maxwell House strives to provide quality coffee products that taste good from the first sip to the last drop at the bottom of the mug.”

As you can see, the taglines for these last two brands are hidden in the descriptions. It’s simply a matter of manipulating the phrasing to tease them out.

4. Trim your description into a bite-sized phrase or sentence.

In the Maxwell House and Wheaties descriptions above, I worked backwards from the taglines. But let’s pretend we’ve never heard their taglines before so we can watch them emerge from the longer sentences.

And a word of warning for this stage – As Charles Gaudet advises in his article, “How To Craft A Powerful Tagline For Your Business,” you don’t need to worry about creating a tagline that’s “overly clever or cute.” People just need to be able to decipher what you do and what your value is. At the same time, he advises injecting a little personality into your tagline.

But as you inject personality, try to resist the urge to make your tagline a joke. In Paul Suggett’s article, he says a tagline is “not an attempt to make people laugh; it is something that should make people think of your company and what your product or service represents when they hear or see the tagline.”

The same could be said for taglines that are negatively political or shocking. Be sure that your taglines are memorable for positive reasons.

So, turning to our Wheaties example, what phrases can we pull out of these two sentences?

“Wheaties is a hearty, satisfying breakfast cereal to help people start their day off right. It gives athletes and sports champions the energy and strength to succeed.”

We could come up with a few possible taglines:

• “Hearty, satisfying breakfast cereal”
• “Breakfast energy for athletes”
• “Cereal for success”

And from the Maxwell House example, we could pull out these phrases:

• “Quality coffee that tastes good”
• “Good from the first sip to the last drop”
• And the actual tagline, “Good to the last drop”

With your own tagline, you’d just continue to follow this process, whittling down the description into one bite-sized sentence or phrase that distinguishes you.

Since we already know that Wheaties chose the phrase, “The Breakfast of Champions,” it’s easy to see why it’s a great tagline. First, it’s short and succinct – very catchy and memorable. Second, who doesn’t want to feel and perform like a champion when they eat breakfast? And how many cereals can boast that? In just a few words, Wheaties has communicated its value and how it’s distinct from other cereals.

Screenshot via https://www.wheaties.com/history/

The Wheaties website explains the origin of its tagline:

“In the 1930s, testimonials from athletic greats like Lou Gehrig and 46 of the 51 players on the 1939 Major League All-Star team turned the modest wheat flake into something of a legend. It was what you ate if you wanted to be like the professionals. They even revamped the product to match the marketing, truly making it The Breakfast of Champions.”

Sometimes your tagline finds you. But if not, you can create the ideal one for your business using the steps we’ve outlined in this quick guide. As Craig says in the Freelance 101 course, we should think of taglines as a “Mini Mission Statement.” In a few catchy words, they communicate what we do, what we’re all about, and the benefit that we offer clients.

Have you found it difficult to create a tagline for your freelance or virtual assistant business? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And If you’ve already created a tagline, we’d love to hear any tips or strategies that worked for you!

Five Best Ways to Share Your Message on Video

In your freelance or Virtual Assistant business, do you think of yourself as a celebrity? If you use online video to share your message, you are! And if you haven’t yet, you still can be!

When I was in high school, a local cable TV station interviewed me about some miniature sculptures I’d made and displayed in an art festival. They asked me how I made them and gave me a chance to share my thoughts and creative process.

It was the early ‘90s, so the show aired at a certain time, and students walking through the school hallways caught a glimpse of it on TVs hung in the corner. My parents recorded the show on our VCR so we could watch it again.

Image of a black video cassette.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

After the interview, I enjoyed a small burst of popularity. People said they saw me on TV, and they were interested in learning more about my art. For a while, I was seen as a bit of an authority on miniature sculptures.

Fast-forward to today, and being on TV still has that sparkle and excitement. It gives a person star power and 15 (or more) minutes of fame. In the old days, you had to catch someone on your TV set at the right moment. But now online video is available 24/7. You can catch someone live on your mobile device, or watch on demand from the palm of your hand.

It’s a great way to share your message with the world in an accessible manner. If I had been making those sculptures now, I wouldn’t have had to wait for someone to request an interview. I could have created my own instructional videos and broadcast them over the internet. And it would have been possible to get a lot of exposure.

The online videos would also have a longer shelf life. I have no idea where the VHS recording of my old interview is, so I have no way of replaying it. My miniature sculptures have been long forgotten.

But your message can be long remembered! Wyzowl recently published some eye-opening statistics from their survey on “The State of Video Marketing 2019.” They discovered that 87% of people would like to see brands create more videos in 2019. And 96% have learned more about a product or service by watching an explainer video.

So the time is ripe to leverage this important content marketing channel in your online business! And to help you get started, here are five of the most popular video platforms people are using to broadcast their message with the world.

When choosing a platform, consider these two factors:

• Which one will most effectively reach your target audience?
• Which one provides features that suit the types of videos you’d like to create?

1. Facebook Live and On-Demand – https://live.fb.com/

Screenshot via https://live.fb.com/about/

If your target audience hangs out on Facebook, you may want to use Facebook Live. This platform lets you connect with viewers instantly and interact with them in real time through your Facebook Page or profile.

Your followers can receive a notification when your live broadcast begins, and you can respond to their comments either verbally or in writing. You can also see people’s live reactions throughout the broadcast – their “Like,” “Love,” “Haha,” “Wow,” and other sentiments.

After the live broadcast, your recorded video can remain on your Page or profile, allowing followers to watch it on demand. If you’re a student of Freelance University, you may have seen co-founder Craig Cannings’ Facebook Live sessions that take place once a month. We look forward to these sessions as a way to hear Craig’s message and interact with him through comments either during or after the broadcast. It’s a great way for both Craig and students to be heard.

Facebook Live is free with a Facebook account.

2. IGTV – https://business.instagram.com/a/igtv

Image of a man and woman dancing on a wooden floor with light curtains closed behind them.

Screenshot via https://www.instagram.com/

If you use Instagram as a social media marketing channel, you may already be familiar with Instagram Stories, where you can post photos or short one-minute videos that disappear after 24 hours.

IGTV is available through a standalone app or on the web. It lets you upload vertical, full-screen videos that can be up to an hour long, and they won’t disappear. Instead, they remain on your IGTV page. Each page is called a “Channel,” and viewers can search for channels to watch through their regular Instagram app.

An Instagram Business article titled “Introducing IGTV” shares the exciting potential of this new platform:

“As with stories, IGTV is built on Instagram leveraging a global community of more than 800M people. When your followers open IGTV, they will instantly see original content from you, and new people can also discover your brand.”

IGTV is free with an Instagram account.

3. YouTube Live –  https://www.youtube.com/live_dashboard_splash

Screenshot via https://www.youtube.com

According to Statista’s “YouTube: Statistics & Data” page, this online video platform has “almost 1.5 billion users worldwide,” a figure that’s “projected to grow to 1.86 billion global YouTube users in 2021.”

So, if your target audience is on YouTube, your message can have a wide reach! If YouTube were around when I was creating miniature sculptures, I could have started my own channel and broadcast tutorials to my classmates.

For your freelance or Virtual Assistant business, you can reach your audience through the “Stream now” option, where you spontaneously “jump online” to share your message. Or you can schedule “Live events,” where you can control when to start and stop the stream, and preview it before you go live. You can also reply to your viewers’ comments during the live broadcast.

If you’d prefer not to broadcast live, you can create videos beforehand and upload them to your YouTube channel to be watched on demand.

Screenshot via https://www.youtube.com

YouTube is free with a Google account.

4. Vimeo – https://vimeo.com/

Screenshot via https://vimeo.com/

If you enjoy being part of a video creation community, but with higher video quality and no ads, Vimeo might be the right choice for you and your business. According to the Vimeo site, you can “distribute your videos across devices to 240M+ creators, viewers, and fans.”

This platform provides an ad-free player that supports HDR, 360 video, and 4K Ultra HD. You can easily publish videos as native posts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, or you can embed a playlist on your website. The Vimeo player can be customized and branded with your logo.

Another great feature is the new Vimeo app on macOS, which includes automatic uploading. You can also integrate Vimeo with tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro, iMovie, Slack, Squarespace, and more. The Premium paid plan lets you use live streaming to reach your audience in full HD 1080p, with unlimited live events streamed to multiple destinations.

With a Business or Premium paid plan, you can add email capture to your videos for lead generation, and sync your captured emails with Infusionsoft, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, or Constant Contact. Videos can end with a call to action, sending viewers to any desired link.

The Vimeo Basic plan is free with limited features. Paid plans start at $13/month CAD (discounts with annual billing).

5. Wistia – https://wistia.com/

https://wistia.com/video-marketing

Another option for video marketing is Wistia, a popular platform built specifically for businesses. This platform is also ad-free, and it doesn’t show suggested video content.

You can customize the player, as well as the video thumbnails, and add calls to action and Wistia’s email collection form, Turnstile. Wistia also includes video SEO elements so your videos will rank for your website’s pages rather than for YouTube.

Wistia can be integrated with tools like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, and Constant Contact, as well as HubSpot, Zendesk, and many more.

By installing the free Wistia for Chrome extension, you can share a video via Gmail and include it on a Squarespace or WordPress website. You can also share videos via social media.

In addition, Wistia offers a free or paid Soapbox Chrome extension to create quick presentation videos.

Wistia is available as a free plan with a 3-video limit. Pro plans start at $99/month USD. The Soapbox Chrome extension is available for free, or you can access Pro features for $300/year.

So there you have it, five best ways to share your message on video! There’s a star power to traditional TV, but it’s hard to beat the personal connection you can build with your target audience through online video.

And the sky’s the limit – it’s YOUR message, so be unique and tailor it to your own particular Virtual Assistant or freelance business. The tools are there to expand your reach far and wide.

Have you used these video platforms in your virtual business? Are there any others you’d recommend? Please share your thoughts below!

Your Guide to Optimizing Your Daily Schedule

“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

Have you heard this quote from Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip by American cartoonist Bill Watterson? As a Freelancer and Virtual Professional, I often feel like I never have enough time to do nothing. I love to just daydream, watch a sunset, putter around, and recharge.

But if I look closely at how I’m using my time during work hours, I notice that I’m often doing nothing when I want to be doing something. As I sit down to write this blog post, I find myself staring into space, thinking about another project on the go. Or in the middle of writing, I’ll hear an email notification, and all of a sudden my attention has shifted to answering messages that aren’t always urgent.

Although I have been doing something, by the end of the day, I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing.

If you’re in this boat too, remember that it’s not always a case of being lazy or irresponsible with our time. Sometimes we’re unproductive because of how much we care about our clients. We get distracted because we want to respond quickly to emails, and we daydream about other projects because we want to do them well.

In any case, here are some tips and strategies to help you optimize your daily schedule so you can get work done:

1. “If I had nine hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first six sharpening my ax.” – Abraham Lincoln.

Many activities in life include a warm-up or a “sharpening” of tools. If you play sports or a musical instrument, there’s a period of time where you limber up so you can safely and proficiently accomplish great things.

It’s interesting then that in our businesses, we often hit the ground running before we’re even out of bed. In an article titled “5 tips for optimizing your crazy workday, from a productivity expert,” Courtney Connley shares advice from productivity expert Julie Morgenstern. To start our day off right, Morgenstern recommends “ditching” the smartphone and using a traditional alarm clock to wake up. Doing so can help us “create an enriching morning routine that does not immediately begin with work” instead of reaching for our smartphone and checking emails as soon as we’re awake.

Since YOU are the most important tool in your business, easing into the day with an “enriching morning routine” will make you sharp and ready to accomplish your tasks. This routine may vary, depending on your individual needs and preferences. Some examples are

• A healthy breakfast
• A great cup of coffee
• An early morning workout
• A little bit of TV, music, or reading
• A time of quietness and reflection
• Whatever you need to start the day off right!

2. “Starve your distractions. Feed your focus.” – Anonymous

I like to think I have a good memory and a sharp focus. I can remember watching my parents put up wallpaper in my bedroom when I was two years old. But when I’m distracted, I forget whether I put water in the coffee pot two minutes ago. I also have the dubious distinction of forgetting to put coffee grounds in the filter and brewing up a tasty mug of plain hot water.

As much as possible, it’s important to limit your distractions and create an environment where you can focus deeply on one thing at a time. You may want to silence your email notifications and plan regular intervals to check your messages. You may want to close the door to your office so that other activity in the house won’t interrupt you. And you need to find a way to focus your mind on the task at hand.

If you charge by the hour, or if your client requires timesheets each month, you may already be familiar with time tracking software and Pomodoro timers. Setting a timer like Toggl for a certain period of time, especially when it’ll be recorded on a timesheet, is a good way to “feed your focus.” Even better if your promise yourself a nice break and reward at the end of your concentrated work time.

In a previous blog post titled “Ten Tools for Working Smarter and Faster in Your Virtual Business,” we also discuss RescueTime and other handy software and apps that can help limit distractions and optimize your efficiency.

And if your mind drifts and you have an “Aha!” moment about another project, sometimes scribbling the ideas down on a piece of paper or typing them into an app like Evernote can help you do a quick brain dump and then return to the task at hand.

3. “Success is 20% skills and 80% strategy. You might know how to read, but more importantly, what’s your plan to read?” – Jim Rohn

It’s hard to be productive without a plan. Depending on what stage you’re at in your Virtual Assistant or Freelance journey, you may have one client or twenty clients. You may have varied tasks or similar tasks. Whatever the case, coming up with a plan of attack can help you optimize your daily schedule.

Sujan Patel recommends we “eat the frog first” in his article, “Optimize Your Daily Schedule for Maximum Productivity — Here’s How.” He explains,

“If you eat a frog first — do your worst task before anything else — then the rest of your tasks will seem easy in comparison. You’ll be able to better focus on them because you won’t be thinking about that dreaded task.”

He also recommends grouping your similar tasks together and getting those done in one chunk of time. In my case, I would follow his advice by answering emails and social media comments within the same time frame, and designating a different time frame for all kinds of research (like content research for an article I’m going to write and internet research for a client). Then I would group all types of editing into one time frame, and article writing for another separate time frame.

And these different groups of tasks should ideally fit within a defined office hours schedule you create for yourself. Setting office hours can help you reach your goals for completing tasks and give you a finish line to strive towards.

4. You can have it all. Just not all at once. – Oprah Winfrey

The first few strategies we’ve talked about apply to those hours when we’re working from home on our online businesses. If you’re a full-time Virtual Assistant or Freelancer, you likely have some flexibility for how you plan your time. But what if you’re juggling a job on the side?

You may feel like you’re spinning plates, and the minute you focus on one plate, another one is in danger of falling to the ground. Oprah’s quote is good encouragement to pace yourself. If your goal is to transition to working full-time from home, there may be a few bumps along the way as you prioritize items on your daily schedule. But it’s doable.

In her article “How to start freelancing (without quitting your day job),” Lindsay Van Thoen says, “The trick is making sure that your freelance life doesn’t interfere with your day job.” She advises setting expectations with your clients so they’re aware that you’re unavailable at certain times.

In other words, avoid doing your Virtual Assistant or Freelance work while you’re at your other job. It’s like the strategy we mentioned above about grouping similar tasks together. It’s hard to focus and be productive if you’re dividing your attention.

And then there’s all those good things like sleep, recreation, and quality time with family and friends. If you’re working an eight-hour job outside the home, it’s hard to fit everything in. But the juggling act can be beneficial, as Ayush Goyal explains in an article titled “How Freelancing is an Energy Booster for Full-Time Working Professionals.” He says,

“Working on something apart from what you did throughout the day at the office actually maintains a balance in work. It has a huge impact on the mind game that makes one feel more relaxed during office hours too.”

In my freelance journey, I’ve found that it’s important to pinpoint when you’re most productive and decide what type of schedule works for you. If you’re a morning person, you could get up earlier and fit in some virtual work before you head out to your other job. If you aren’t a morning person, that type of schedule may quickly burn you out.

If you’re a night owl, you could get up at your usual time and then spend some hours at night on your virtual work. The important thing is to try not to burn the candle at both ends, and make sure you schedule time to recharge on your own and with your loved ones.

So, optimizing your daily schedule is a bit of give and take. But it can be done! As Calvin and Hobbes would say, these tips and strategies we’ve talked about can help you do some of “the nothing you want” by freeing up time that might otherwise be wasted.

How do you maximize your time in your Virtual Assistant or Freelance work? We’d love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.