apps

Link Love // The Friday Files

The end of the week has always been about reflection for me. A time to wind down, shake off the cobwebs of the week and look forward. Admittedly, this week has been filled with a thousand lessons - of patience, of compromise, of vulnerability. I have felt strong, weak, confident and unclear - sometimes all at the same time. I have come to understand that growth - both personally and professionally - is a constant in life.

We are always growing, changing, learning and improving don't you think? That goes for this blog, my business - and yours. It's a sometimes challenging yet necessary process in life and this week I've tried to embrace that craziness that comes with learning new things. Here's to wild rides and weekend adventures (not to mention some pretty great link love below)...

  • This post certainly caused a lot of discussion – thoughts?
  • Our E-Course Scholarship Application is OPEN – good luck!
  • My dinner party essential
  • Head over heels in love with this home tour
  • Follow us on Instagram? Join the party as we share tons of behind the scenes Blog Society magic
  • Time saving apps you need to know about
  • Lessons learned about building a business you love

3 Tips For A Virtual Business

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By Kristy Smith

With the rapid changes in technology reshaping the way we work, it’s crucial for modern businesses to adopt a new way of thinking, and open themselves to the possibilities of ‘going virtual’

The way we do business is changing. A recent survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that more than a third of micro businesses now use the internet to enable staff to work from home, which represents an 8% increase in two years, while for larger businesses, more than 75% now have the facility for staff to use the internet to work from home. 

With telecommuting on the rise, the traditional 9 to 5 office workday will soon be a thing of the past. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this shift in business mindset by setting up flexible and scalable business models that allow themselves and their staff to work remotely with adaptable and accommodating schedules. Some of the benefits of ‘going virtual’ include:

Reduction in costs - with overheads such as office space and commuting expenses eliminated the costs of running business are greatly decreased. This allows entrepreneurs to create adaptable business models that can scale very quickly to suit market trends

Increases in productivity - Over two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters 2 this is thought to be due to a quieter work environment with less distractions and the ability to have a more flexible work schedule, unhampered by commuting

Flexibility – with no need to travel each day and the ability to work outside of traditional office hours, going virtual suits the busy schedules of entrepreneurs and working families alike. 

So how do we leverage all the wonderful benefits of remote working? Well the devil is in the details when it comes to setting up and working in a successful virtual business. 

1. Make The Cloud your Friend
With all the wonderful technological advances of the past 10 years, there are a plethora of options when it comes to cloud based SaaS programs you can use to take your business virtual. So do your research and educate yourself on all the necessary and relevant systems that will enable you to work remotely.  Choosing and setting up these systems should be your # 1 priority if you want to ‘go virtual.’ Solid systems and administrative practices are the foundation of a successful business. Don’t know where to start? We’ve included a handy list at the end of this article to help you get the ball rolling.

2. Communication is Key
Without the face to face office time you’d get in a traditional work set up, you need to ensure that both you and your team communicate on a regular basis. This means regular skype meetings, project updates, phone calls and emails. For example, you could set up a weekly skype call each Monday to communicate with your team and go through the status of current projects. The key is to keep in contact regularly. When working with a remote team there can be the tendency to ‘set and forget’ and you can become of touch with your own staff, so make it policy to keep in contact regularly

3. Be Accountable
There needs to be clear cut parameters around how your remote staff will work and what’s expected of them. Virtual roles need well-defined job descriptions, and project management procedures must be carefully documented and followed. Many managers say that while they trust their staff, they feel better if they can actually see them and monitor their work. There are programs such as Screenshot Monitor that can assist with this virtually, and implementing a ‘results based’ merit system that focusses on the quality and output of your staffs work is a good way to gauge that your staff are being accountable whilst they work independently.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a handy list of some of the most popular cloud based business software:

  • Project and Task Management: Basecamp, Asana, Trello
  • Accounting: Saasu, Xero, Shoeboxed
  • Email Marketing: Mailchimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft, Web Chameleon
  • CRM: Highrise, Zoho, Salesforce
  • Google for Business: Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar
  • File Sharing: Dropbox, Google Docs
  • Social Media Management: Hootsuite, Buffer
  • Content Curation: Feedly, Zite
  • Communications: Skype, Eventbrite, Go to Meeting
  • Blog Administration: CoSchedule

Kristy Smith is the energetic founder, director and driver of Virtual Elves, a business that provides you an understanding of how to work with a virtual assistant. Connect with her at www.virtualelves.com.au

Blog Biz // Top 5 Instagram Apps For Business

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I'm an Instagram addict.

I'm that person that needs to snap a photo of breakfast before I allow anyone to touch their food. I check my Instagram feed first thing in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed. I use it for business and blogging. To connect and escape. Yes, it's a sick (and probably unhealthy) addiction but I love the visual feast that I get to consume everyday and the amazing people I've met - and it seems I'm not the only one.

There are over 1.5 million Instagram users in Australia and as more and more bloggers and brands hop on the Instagram bandwagon, this platform is only going to continue to grow and evolve. Changes are already happening - have you noticed? Go on and take a look at the 'Explore' tab and you'll notice that the selection of images is no longer random but instead carefully curated to reflect your habits and preferences.  With Facebook pulling the strings behind the scenes I expect to see a lot more changes like this in the coming months including the introduction of advertising and sponsored posts that are launching this year here in Australia. 

With all this change in the air, it's more important than ever to make sure your images stand out and stay true to your brand. I couldn't think of a better time to share my Top 5 Instagram Apps For Business or bloggers. These apps will absolutely change your snap happy moments for the better...

  • Snapseed - My absolute favourite photo editing tool. I don't post a photo before I clean it up in this app first, it's amazing and easy to use.
  • WordSwag: Hands down the best typography & text overlay program I've found - thanks The Daily Guru for the heads up!
  • VSCO - I'm pretty sure I fell hook line and sinker for VSCO after checking out their gorgeous website and tagline, 'let's build something beautiful together'. I mean any app that can produce such stunning images and encourages users to create with reckless abandon all for the love of craft and community is okay in my book. Trust me your photos will never look the same.  
  • Little Moments by Fat Mum Slim - A true testament to the power of blogging, this brand new app from blogger Chantelle Ellem is a dual photo editor and A Photo A Day companion. Brilliant.
  • Iconosquare - This app is an absolute must if your brand is on Instagram. Easy to digest analytics and at a glance monitoring makes this metrics app one of my go to blog biz tools.

Want to meet other Instagrammers? We're teaming up with Williams-Sonoma and Little Paper Lane on 23 July to host our Christmas In July Instameet. RSVP now!