Google Advanced Search

Google advanced search is one of the most helpful tools I use. In case you’re not familiar with it, it allows you a very easy way to find content that you know is on a particular site, but you just don’t know where it is.

There are probably a lot of other uses for Google Advanced Search, but the one I just told you about is the way I used it most.

You can access the advanced search tool in a couple ways:

It could be that there is a link to it on your Google home page. If there isn’t, you can use this link:

Google Advanced Search

Below is what the top part of the page looks like. You can see I’m doing a search for a blog post that I wrote a long time ago, one where I implemented a 4 hour work day as an experiment (workday, not work week!).

See, I typed 4 hour work day in the field for “this exact word or phrase”. You can click the image to see a bigger version; there are instructions next to each field on what to put in it.

Then, in the lower half of the advanced search page you specify where Google is supposed to search. I use the domain URL field most of the time, because I know what website the content is on, but I just don’t know where the content is.

Then, you click the “Advanced Search” button et voila, there is the page that I’m looking for:

 

This little trick is definitely not hard, as you can see! It’s just a very simple way to get more specific searches done when you need them. I use this for work all the time, and it’s a time saver.

How To Create An Online Procedure Manual For Your Virtual Team

Your online procedure manual is basically an “intranet” for your business. You and everyone on your team (even if your team is just you and one other person) will use this intranet when doing various tasks associated with the operations of your business.

It’s for your eyes and your team’s eyes only–although your business’ procedure manuals are online, they should be password locked so that only the people on your team can see them.

Last time I was telling you 5 reasons why it’s really smart to set up your procedure manual when your business is small and less complicated. Believe me, your work will be so much easier if you start compiling your manual when there aren’t that many tasks.

Where should you keep your procedure manual?

I would recommend installing a blog on your own server and using that as the “procedure manual”. The different categories can represent different types of procedures involved with your business. The access should be “locked” so that only people with a password can get in to see the manual. This isn’t the sort of thing that will be visible to anyone but you and your team.

If you can’t have a blog installed on your own server, then use a paid blog platform such as TypePad.

Where shouldn’t you keep your procedure manual?

  • Don’t put it in Google docs — Google docs is great for sharing shorter documents or things that you don’t mind losing, but don’t use it to store anything really valuable. Google docs is out of your control–you don’t own it and you aren’t paying anything for it, so you have no grounds for complaining if a technical issue occurs and your documents disappear one day. I’m speaking from experience here–For years, one of my clients had all of his procedure manuals in Google docs, and then one day without much warning, they were gone. Thankfully, I had made copies of the manuals before they completely disappeared, but otherwise the procedures would have been lost. Remember, this procedure manual that you’re creating will be valuable–it takes time to create, and if you lost it it would take a long time to replace. Keep it in a safe place.
  • Don’t put it in a free blog platform, such as Blogger or WordPress.com. If the platform isn’t on your own server or isn’t one that you’re paying someone to host for you, whatever you put on that blog can be lost, and you don’t have much traction for getting it back.
  • Don’t put it in a Word doc. You want to keep this procedure manual online, so it can be easily updated by you or your virtual assistant and everyone else on your team can see the changes immediately. It would defeat the purpose to keep the manual offline.

How Do You Organize The Manual?

You’ll have the blog set up to function as the “Mission Control” of your procedure manual, and you’ll give permissions to each person on your team (that may just be you and your virtual assistant).

It depends on what type of blog design you have, but I’ve seen folks use the categories to separate the different topics.

We’re talking about big categories, like “Customer Support”, “Affiliate Program Procedures”, “FAQs”, etc. At this point you might not know every type of procedure that you’ll be using, and that’s just fine. You can actually get more specific on your categories later.

For every single recurring task that you assign to your virtual assistant, ask her to also create a procedure to go along with it.

For example, let’s say you asked me to set up your newsletter every week in Aweber (or whatever newsletter distribution service you use). I would write down, step-by-step everything that I did to get the newsletter ready for distribution, starting with the first step. I would also put any instructions meant to accompany that procedure, for example:

This newsletter is to be put together by Thursday of each week to be distributed each Friday at 10 am.

1 – Go to Aweber.com and login. 

2 – Go to Messages => Broadcast

and so on….

I also recommend including screenshots of each step. Visuals always help people to learn.

Also, if customer support is involved in your business, start accumulating a FAQs section in your manual. Each post would be one question (listed in the title) and the answer (listed in the post body). This is so helpful in maintaining consistent answers for frequently asked questions. It also saves time.

Conclusion

A detailed step-by-step guide for each recurring task that your virtual assistant will do is a beautiful thing!

You’re creating order in your business and ensuring that the work is done with consistency. It’s also just plain practical–there are some tasks that your AsssitU trained VA will do that have numerous steps, so the manual will guide her as she does the task each day, week or month.

If you need more convincing about getting a procedure manual for your business going, see this post:

Virtual Teams and Small Businesses: Procedure Manuals Are A Must!

How To Market A Book Online: The Series Wrap-Up!

For the last several weeks, we’ve been covering how to market a book online. Here’s what we’ve covered:

How to Market Your Book Online: Your Book’s Website: This post was the reader question that started this whole series.

My first novel is due to come out in the next few months. Rather than looking for a traditional public relations expert, I thought it might be interesting to contact you and brainstorm what ideas you might have to work as a virtual assistant in developing an online marketing campaign to include blogs, articles, newsletters, etc..as well as developing relationships with various online media in order to promote the book.

This post covers the first step in marketing a book online: Setting up a website where you can capture email addresses.

Step 2, Setting Up A Blog For Your Book : This post talks about the crucial step of having a blog for your book. The blog helps funnel traffic into the book’s website. It’s also a place where you build a community around your book.

Step 3, Article Marketing : In this post we cover how to do article marketing, why it’s beneficial, and what types of articles you should be writing.

Step 4: Your Newsletter : This post details how having a consistent newsletter can increase sales and build relationships between you and your potential customers.

Step 5: Social Media : No online marketing campaign would be complete without social media. This post gives you a starting point entering the world of social media.

Step 6: The Virtual Book Tour : This post talks about different ways to take your book on a “tour” on the internet.

Now, these marketing techniques that we’ve covered aren’t just for marketing books–they will work if you’re marketing a website, a product, a service, or your business.

None of this stuff is brain surgery. You can probably do it yourself, but the question is–do you have the time and do you have the interest?

If doing online marketing is not your cup of tea or if you would rather spend your time doing other things for your business, you can easily delegate some or all of these tasks to your virtual assistant.