The Reverse the Tide team

Exciting new project – Reverse the Tide

A new venture

I’m really excited to tell you about a new project that I’m involved with, along with some other fabulous business owners, called Reverse the Tide.

Reverse the Tide is aimed at business owners from all over the world who want to develop their skills and collaborate with others in order to grow their own business.

We are currently building a website which will become a complete hub for advice, resources and support.  It will include some free resources as well as a members’ section and will be available on a smart phone, tablet and laptop making it accessible globally. 
 
To accompany the site there will be a Facebook group to enable the members to network and support each other.

Meet the team:
 
The founder of Reverse the Tide is Sally Marshall from Marshall’s Consulting. The rest of the team comprises:  
 
Mark Smallcorn – IVQ Designs
Dom Bradbury – The Love Social Co.
Pete Bresser (credit for above photo to Pete) – Bresser Photography and Digital Media
Mike Hacker – Hax Media
Gavin Munnings – Stonk Creative
Jon Pankhurst – Splat Web Works
Rachel Wall – Lighthouse Virtual Assistant

More details about the launch date and future plans will be published on here as things progress.  In the meantime you can get involved as I’m looking for bloggers to contribute to the website, a great way to help other businesses and promote your own at the same time. If you are interested then please email me: rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk and I will send you more details.

Surviving the school summer holidays

Don’t stress during the school holiday

The summer holidays are almost here again and when you run your own business the thought of the holidays looming can fill you with dread wondering how you’re going to juggle everything. You have work to manage and possibly more than one small person demanding your full attention which can all lead to a rather stressful time.

Survive the school holidays

           Plan well to avoid stress

Let’s face it most of us started our own business so that we can manage our work/life balance better so this should also apply to the holidays.  With a careful bit of planning, you can have the best of both worlds and keep your clients and your children happy. Below I share some of my tips for a stress-free holiday…

  1. Plan ahead by scheduling
    Schedule all you can before the holiday starts such as newsletters, social media and blogs. HootSuite is great for social media and for newsletters I highly recommend Mailchimp’s own scheduling system
  2. Delegate
    Outsource and/or delegate where you can to other members of staff or to a virtual assistant
  3. Communicate
    Let your clients know in advance if you’re going away on holiday and ask them to send you any work in advance so you can complete it in time

    Plan ahead for the school holiday

               Plan ahead for the school holiday

  4. Be flexible with your hours
    If you can, occasionally work in the evenings to catch up, but don’t overdo it
  5. Prioritise
    Prioritise any important work so that it’s done early and leaves you less stressed
  6. Use your out of office
    Use your email and phone out of office to inform people when you’ll be available. Point people to your website and in particular your FAQs to keep inquiries to a minimum.  Don’t forget to remove your out of office messages when you return after the holidays
  7. Don’t be proud
    If you have friends and family that have offered to help with childcare then don’t be too proud to accept it
  8. Keep an eye on your workload
    If you’re able to afford it try not to take on any new clients until the holidays are over
  9. Spend time with your family
    Lastly and most importantly make time for yourself and enjoy the precious time with your family. Remember, everyone is entitled to a holiday even when you run your own business so don’t feel guilty about some downtime. 
    Have a wonderful Summer

    Get more of my business tips over on my Facebook page. 

    Need a hand with your business so you can have a stress free holiday?  See how I can help

 

 

Tips to get more Instagram followers

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a great way to tell your story through photographs and is becoming hugely popular with over 500 million people (14 million in the UK) now taking to the social media platform to share their life in pictures.

Instagram users tend to be mainly women (68%) under the age of 35, although more and more men are signing up, and come from a diverse community with equally diverse interests.

Instagram users are growing rapidly

Instagram users are growing rapidly

Why use Instagram for my business?

As the platform is growing quickly and offers a unique way of sharing a photographic story then Instagram is great for small businesses and even better if your target audience is women under the 35. It’s also wonderful if your products or services are easy to photograph such as cakes, jewellery or dog walking for example.  I love the way you can use hashtags to highlight the topics you’re discussing and you’re not limited to a certain number of words.

I’ve set out some tips below of how to attract more Instagram followers and build the ideal audience for your small business:

  1. Use great photos and ideally ones that are square in size as this is the layout Instagram prefers and will therefore save you time on cropping 
  2. Include a great intro bio with a link to your website or landing page where you can collect leads

    Include a great Instagram bio with a link to your website

    Include a great Instagram bio with a link to your website

  3. Support your business network by sharing and tagging your client and supplier posts
  4. Don’t forget to include hashtags – take a look at what’s trending at the time and if appropriate use these
  5. Currently you can’t use links within your posts so instead use a Call To Action telling your followers to go to the link in your bio
  6. Combine the use of video and photos as videos are very easy to upload but try and keep them short
  7. If you offer a service that doesn’t have tangible products don’t let this put you off.  You will always find a photo to link in with what you’re talking about.  Uploading photos of your team or what’s happening in the office is great content 

    Share Instagram posts from your clients and suppliers

    Share Instagram posts from your clients and suppliers

  8. You can get carried away snapping great pictures so be careful not to bombard people with your updates, once a day is enough
  9. Instagram needs updating from your moblie so to save yourself time scedhule your content in advance
  10. Finally don’t forget to include a link to your Instagram account across all your other forms of marketing such as Facebook, Twitter, your website and in your email signature and newsletter

Need help setting up your Instagram account or managing it?

If you’re not sure how to set up an account or simply don’t have the time to research and post your content then I offer this service to my clients, so for a free half an hour consultation to find out more drop me an email rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk or call 01303 647101

You can also sign up for my free newsletter for great marketing, time and money saving tips straight to your inbox.

 

 

 

 

Are you making these social media mistakes?

Social media is a great way to promote your small business, it allows you to build relationships with current and potential clients and you can easily interact and show the ‘person’ behind the brand.

It’s important to remain professional but also to be friendly. However, if you get it wrong on social media this can be disastrous for your business especially as once the content is out there it can be shared so quickly and easily.

Here are my tips for how to avoid social media mistakes:

  1. Have a separate business account
    Don’t use your personal account as your business page, it looks so unprofessional. People who are friends with you might not appreciate seeing you constantly promote your business and actually quite a few of them won’t be in your target audience anyway, so you’re wasting your time. If you have a personal page as your business this means you have to become friends with someone to connect and not everyone will do this with someone they don’t know. Some platforms such as Facebook will actually shut your account down if you continue to do this.  Make sure your business page is full of fabulous content so people want to like your page and hear what you have to say.
  2. Don’t share your business posts constantly to your personal page
    Sharing your social media business pages to your personal account is okay to do when you first set up your business or as a little reminder now and again of what you do, but not constantly.  Again, make your business page good enough that people want to like it and follow you there.  A little tip is to make sure that your personal page states where you work with a link as this will then be obvious to your friends and if they are interested they will follow you.
     
  3. Don’t push sales
    Don’t post sales, after sales posts.  This is a sure way to annoy people and lose followers.  Instead, think about what you can ‘give’ your audience.  Give them advice and some free products or downloads so that you can build those all important relationships that will help people get to know you and trust you.  As a guide, only one in four posts should be sales related.
     
  4. Be consistent 
    We’re all busy but if you want to build your brand and get your business known you need to post consistently to your social media accounts.  This is why I advise that you only use two or three platforms, to begin with, so you can keep up with them

    Constant sales posts is a sure way to make people leave your social media page

    and provide great and regular content. There’s nothing worse than viewing a page that was posted to a year ago.

  5. Don’t like your own posts!
    I don’t think I need to say how desperate this looks!
  6. Engage with people
    A sure way to lose followers is if you ignore people that are interacting with you.  It’s called social media for a reason so if someone comments on your posts, retweets your tweet etc. make sure you reply/say thank you.
  7. Don’t hide behind your brand
    Inject some personality into your posts.  I don’t mean post pictures of your children or you out with friends having a few too many (another reason to keep your business and personal pages separate!) but show your followers that there is a real person behind your business.
     
  8. Personal pages don’t give you insights
    Business pages give you statistics to show when your fans/followers will be online and how they are engaging.  Personal pages don’t give you this information which is so important for your marketing.Remember with your social media posts that if you wouldn’t want it published on the front page of a newspaper then don’t post it!For more tips on social media and ideas for content have a look at my other blogs. You can also follow Lighthouse Virtual Assistant on Facebook for more marketing tips.If you need help managing your social media accounts then this is a service I offer my clients.  Find out more or contact me, Rachel, on 01303 647101 or email rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk

Tips to make your website wonderful!

Regardless of the type of business you run you need to have a website to showcase your products or services.  I don’t think it is possible to do this effectively on just social media so would recommend that you look at WordPress.

What is WordPress?

WordPress launched in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with very few users. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.

 

WordPress is simple to use and free

WordPress is simple to use and free

You are free to use it for anything from your hypnotherapy business to a shop selling the latest fashion and all without paying anyone a license fee.  It is extremely easy to use and I love the fact that the blog tool means you can always have fresh content on your site which is great for those Google rankings!

Get my tips to make your website look wonderful and your customers wanting more:

  1. Keep it simple
    Don’t over complicate it.  Make it easy for the user to find what they need.  I’m not a huge fan of all the pop-up banners that ask you to sign up for this and that as it annoys me when I’m trying to read an article and then I end up just closing the site but this is of course up to you.
  2. Stay true to your branding
    Make sure that your branding is obvious, it should link up with how your business looks everywhere else: social media, business cards, vehicle graphics etc.
  3. Talk to your ideal client
    You should have a straight forward home page that is aimed at your ideal customer. Make it clear what you do, how you do it and how your ideal customer will benefit from it.
  4. Show some of your personality
    Have an ‘About Page’ that allows the potential customer to get to know you and let your personality shine through.

    Keep your content fresh to help with your Goggle ranking

         Keep your content fresh to help with your                                      Google ranking

  5. Give clear contact details
    Make a contact page so that it’s easy for people to get in touch, include your phone number and email address.
  6. Build your list
    I’ve talked before about building your list so that you can send emails to current and potential clients.  It’s a great idea to build this list through your website and you can do this by including a newsletter sign-up, free download or to get a copy of your new e-book.
  7. Have a FAQ page
    If appropriate have a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page so that people get an idea if you can help them before they contact you directly.
  8. Use a call-to-action
    Include a call-to-action on each of your pages – this is what you want the user to do next, do you want them to call you, go to your shop, email you?
  9. Include videos
    Include videos where you can as this will really help with your Google ranking.  For example, I have a video testimonial from a client on my homepage.
  10. Display testimonials
    Don’t forget to have a testimonial page from all your lovely clients, people like to know what others say about you.

    Check your site regularly to make sure your links work

      Check your site regularly to make sure your links work

  11. Track your statistics for your marketing
    Install Google Analytics so you can track how people are finding your site and what they do when they get there.  Use this information when planning your marketing.
  12. Keep your site updated
    Lastly and most importantly keep your website up-to-date.  WordPress is fantastic for blogging so do it regularly to keep your content fresh and remember to share your blog on all your other marketing platforms (Facebook, Twitter).  Check monthly that all your links still work.

Have a look around my site and feel free to leave me your feedback, it’s always great to know what you think.

If you need help with your WordPress site then drop me an email for a free consultation rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk

9 LinkedIn tips for small businesses

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an online business networking tool which allows you to connect with others that can help your business or with people that may need your services.  It’s a great way to promote your business and educate others about who you are and what you can do for them. On the site you can build relationships with your connections so that learn more about you and trust you, as once you gain trust people are more likely to buy from you. The site now has 433 million members in 200 countries.*  Below I give you some tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn by building a great profile.

LinkedIn’s background:linkedin-689760__180

LinkedIn’s founders are Reid HoffmanAllen BlueKonstantin GuerickeEric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant with the company first starting out in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman in 2002. The site officially launched on May 5, 2003 and at the end of the first month in operation, had a total of 4,500 members in the network.  It’s Headquarters are now based in Mountain View, California with offices based all over the world.

9 LinkedIn tips for your small business:

  1. Fill out your profile completely.  This will ensure that you get more profile views.  It may take a while to get this right but is crucial so that you and your business look professional. This information is a showcase to your brand and is what people will see first before that may get chatting with you.
  2. Include a professional profile photo, you will be 14 times more likely to be found if you have this in place.
  3. When it comes to your business description don’t just write ‘business owner’ this means nothing to anyone else. When you post a status, comment or like someone else’s post your name and business details pop up for everyone to see.  Use this as opportunity to ‘pitch’ to demonstrate how you can help someone, so my details say ‘Lighthouse Virtual Assistant provides ad-hoc marketing, PR and admin services to businesses, individuals and charities.’
  4. Connect with lots of people and accept invites for those wishing to connect with you. You may think you should only connect with those you know but people will only learn you’re out there if you tell them, so find lots of new contacts as well as those you know well.

    A client recommendation on my profile

    A client recommendation on my profile

  5. Recommend others.  It’s great to endorse people for skills that you know they have.  This helps them out and improves their profile and they may return the favour.  You can also recommend people which is a way of writing a testimonial for someone you’ve worked that will show up on their profile.
  6. Use the publishing tool ‘publish a post’ icon so that you can pop a blog straight into LinkedIn.  This will showcase your knowledge and give you authority in your industry as well as increase your profile views.
  7. Engage with other people’s posts – give your thoughts on their comments, like and share
    The URL next the blue arrow

    The URL next the blue arrow

    them.

  8. Add a video to your profile and this will make it stand out – you’ll see that I have a video testimonial on my profile from one of my lovely clients.
  9. Don’t forget to get your LinkedIn url so that you can share a link to your profile across your other social media platforms and on your website.

If you would like help with writing your profile or a one-to-one tutorial to show you how to get the best out of LinkedIn then give me a call on 01303 647101 or drop me an email rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk

See my full LinkedIn profile here.

*Source LinkedIn

Tips to create a fab video for your business

Why use videos?

A video is such a great way to inject your personality into your brand.  It shows the real you, the way you talk, smile, explain things. People buy from those they like and trust and a business video will help establish these traits enabling you to connect with your audience. Once someone gets a ‘feel for you’ they are more likely to buy from you. Here’s an example of one of my videos:

Videos on your business website will help you achieve all of the above but will also push your site up the Google ranking making it easier for potential customers to find you. Remember your video doesn’t need to be a Steven Spielberg production so you need to get over that fear of talking to the camera and what you look like and get yourself out there!

To give you confidence here are my tips to get you started:

1.   Work out what you’re going to say and pop a few bullet points on a post-it-note

You can buy an external mic like this online

You can buy an external mic like this online

2.  Make sure the location you are recording in has good lighting and is quiet.  I find it best to have my laptop slighter higher as well so you’re not looking down (this can be quite unflattering!)  You may also need to buy an external microphone (like the one I have in the picture, which I think costs around £10 online)

3.  Look presentable.  I’m not suggesting you go and have a make over but it’s important to look professional

4. Use your video  software on your computer or I also use screenomatic which is great for screen sharing. Place your post-it-note with your bullet points just under the camera to prompt you so you don’t forget what you’re saying

Use a post-it-note with bullet points on to prompt you

Use a post-it-note with bullet points on to prompt you

5.  Speak slowly and relax, remember not to use industry jargon – if you’re not happy you can re-record!

6.  Watch the video back to make sure the sound and lighting is okay and that the background behind you looks professional (no snoring dogs or an untidy desk!)

7.  Include a call to action – what do you want your viewers to do after watching your video

8.  Get sharing!  Pop your video on your social media sites, website and YouTube Channel.

9.  Most of my clients look at me in horror when I suggest they create a video and say they wouldn’t know what to talk about.  So a few ideas include: a tutorial on how to do something, showing how a product works, introducing a member of staff or a virtual tour of your shop.

Pop over and subscribe to my YouTube Channel to get some more ideas and free marketing tips.

 

YouTube will help market your business

7 YouTube tips for small businesses

YouTube Background

YouTube now has one billion users with 4 billion video views per day!  Everything seems to be moving towards creating great video content and this includes in the business industry. With these figures, small businesses should be looking at including YouTube in their marketing strategy to help promote their business and build relationships with their target audience. Video is a great way of showing the face behind ‘the brand’ and your personality, after all it’s you that makes your business unique!

My tips below will help get you started:

  1.  Personalise your account with your branding
    Setting up an account is easy and once you have done this make sure you personalise your Channel so that the description and cover picture match the branding across the rest of your social media.  Canva.com is a great tool to create graphics for this and already has a template to work with.
  2. Engage
    Engage with other users, look for other small business channels in your local area or within your industry to subscribe to and interact with.

    Make sure your cover details match the rest of your branding

    Make sure your cover details match the rest of your branding

  3. Make it easy for people to find you
    When naming your video think how someone might search for that topic in Google and try to include this in the title.
  4. Describe your video clearly
    Fill out the description box for each video so that it’s clear what the subject is and use tags so that your content can be found easily.
  5. Evaluate
    I always talk about how important it is to find out if your marketing is working.  YouTube has an insights tab for each video so that you can see how people found your video as well as how many views it received.

    Promote your channel in your newsletter and across other social media platforms.

    Promote your channel in your newsletter and across other social media platforms.

  6. Content ideas
    If you’re stuck for ideas on content then here are a few ideas: try giving tips and advice, show how to do or make something, upload a video testimonial from one of your clients, showcase your product or service, interview a team member or industry leader.
  7. Promote, promote!
    Don’t forget to promote your Channel across your other social media platforms and in your e-marketing.

My YouTube Channel has lots of free marketing and business advice so pop over and subscribe.

Do I need a business Facebook page?

Facebook now has 1.5 billion users and so promoting your business on this platform can be a smart move but people ask do I need a business Facebook page‘ or can I just use my personal page?

Firstly, as I always advise, make sure that Facebook is the correct platform for your business.  Is it where you are most likely to find to your ideal client?  If it is then setting yourself up on Facebook is a great way to build relationships with current and potential customers.

I feel very strongly that you should have a business Facebook page separate to your personal one.  Firstly it makes you look more professional – who wants their clients to see them in the pub or tagged in a slightly offensive meme! I will never friend request a business as I don’t want someone I don’t know to see all my personal details and so this is a sure way to lose any potential ‘likers.’

My Facebook page

Lighthouse Virtual Assistant Facebook page

One of the other huge advantages of having a business Facebook page is that you only get the ‘insights’ button with it.  This is how can you can track how effective your posts are, when you should be posting and other fab marketing tools (see my Facebook blog to get more tips).  To not track your marketing efforts is a waste of time.

It's crucial your customers know where to find you

It’s crucial your customers know where to find you

Your business page also gives you the opportunity to list your contact details, which is obviously extremely important, and you can link to your website, include a call to action and now even list your individual services.

Facebook also penalises you by not showing as many of your posts in news feeds and can even shut your page down if using your personal page as a business one.

So if you’re thinking of setting up on Facebook make sure you get a separate business page.  I offer one-to-one tutorials (the social media stress buster tutorial) to show you how to set up and get the best from your social media, as well as managing client’s platforms so if I can help you please email: rachel@lighthouseva.co.uk You will also find Lighthouse Virtual Assistant on Facebook.

Small Business Saturday UK special offer

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday UK

highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

The day itself takes place on the first shopping Saturday in December each year, but the campaign aims to have a lasting impact on small businesses.

Lighthouse Virtual Assistant is a small business and is proud to take part in Small Business Saturday by offering a special promotion for today (Saturday 5th December) only.

The offer is for a 20% discount* on your first invoice and all you need to do to receive it is sign up below today (the offer is only available if you sign up before midnight today 5th December 2015). Once you’re signed up you will receive my free one hour consultation so we can discuss exactly where I can help save you time in your business. Find out more about the services I offer.

*(Discount is not available with any other offers)

Sign up for 20% discount on your first invoice

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Find out more about Small Business Saturday UK.